Some classic topics for a sceptic are ofcourse homeopathy, mediums, and the peculiar views of the Roman Catholic church. Hang on, I have to stop right there. Some people strongly advise against sceptics talking about mainstream religion. I came across an interesting list called “What do I do next?”
It’s aimed at people who would like to do their bit to advance critical thinking. There’s some excellent advice there, such as “Learn from other outreach efforts”. Some of the sceptics I know come across as decidedly less friendly than some of the christians and buddhists I’ve met. Even if we do know it all, we don’t have to be arrogant about it.
But then I found this piece of advice:
“Remember that “skepticism” is different from “atheism”. Lots of active skeptics are religious.”
It goes on to explain that skeptics like Martin Gardner and Houdini were religious. Skepticism is an approach to testable, physical claims. Atheism is a conclusion regarding an untestable metaphysical claim. You don’t have to be against god to be against fraud.
Allow me to tell you about the great mystery of transubstantiation to show why I don’t agree. In Simon Singh’s excellent book “Big Bang” he tells us about George Gamow. He was born in Odessa, his father gave him a microscope when he was very young and scientifically inclined as he was, he employed it to analyse the process of turning bread and wine into the body of Christ.
The outcome didn’t reinforce his Russian Orthodox belief, instead he later wrote:
“I think this was the experiment that made me a scientist.”
Maybe you’d have to accept some fraudulent stuff to keep your faith, sometimes.