An Open Letter to Skeptics


Dear Skeptic,

Many people insist on evidence before they believe something. They want to know what data exist, what verifications have been done, and how reliably a phenomenon can be repeated. They want to know that B always follows A. Such dependable results help define reality.

When religious people insist that they know something, skeptics ask for evidence. Real, hard and fast, physical evidence. Experimental data. Statistics. And, that's when the communication breakdown begins, because by the very definition of the terms used, spiritual matters are not physical. But that doesn't mean that there isn't any evidence. It just means that to examine the evidence you have to change your search parameters or use different tools. Consider the state of medicine when germs were first proposed as an agent of disease. Many doctors disbelieved the existence of these tiny organisms until new tools, microscopes, helped render them visible.

Much of the evidence for the spiritual component of reality exists in a nonmaterial domain. But because humans employ physical sensory experiences for communication, the language used to discuss spiritual topics includes metaphor, story, and paradox—linguistic tools that help the mind transcend its corporeal limits. Spiritual influences also affect the physical realm in ways that can be directly observed. Count the number of independent cultures that developed religious notions. Look at the numbers—historically and currently—of people who claim spiritual experiences. Examine artifacts from every human civilization, in every age, and in every type of medium. Do you find abundant attempts to express spiritual themes? Does this evidence suggest the possibility of a spiritual realm with religious meaning?

The word religion may stir up strong feelings. Bad things have been done in the name of religion. Bad things have also been done in the name of science. Bad things have been done in the name of politics, economics, and anthropology. Bad things have probably been done in every endeavor involving human beings. And, among religious people—just as among scientists—there are often disagreements about the best ways to interpret matters. These disagreements don't negate the phenomena about which they are centered; they merely underscore the fact that human knowledge is incomplete.

So, what do you believe? Are you willing to conduct your own experiments rather than rely on the second-hand reports of others?

New tools, new knowledge, and a new attitude toward experimentation can help build bridges that reach across the current physical-spiritual divide. Pier Press wants to help. Our monthly newsletter, Observations, includes facts about the natural, material world along with introspective essays intended to focus a light on spiritual matters. We're developing Bible study tools that let readers approach this sacred text in a way that preserves each individual's quest for experimentation and personal discovery. We're adding materials to our bookstore to help spiritually minded people understand the physical sciences and to help scientifically minded people understand the nonmaterial aspects of reality. Finally, we're creating an arena where all people can discuss their observations and questions. Please join us. We think it will be mutually enlightening.

The Pier Press® Team