There is no doubt in my or there’s minds; I am a sceptic.
It’s in my blood, so to speak. Actually, it’s in my synapses; arranged and imbedded many years ago by some very influential people.
Take Mr. Baldwin for starters. A WWII veteran, ex-Spitfire pilot with one real leg and the other presumably made from the stump of a burnt iron bark tree, and a voice that sounded like the Rolls Royce Merlin engine that got him through his dogfights with the Germans and continued with his battle with Year 11 Physics.
“Dinning! Where is your homework?” And I’d feel the heat of the exhaust from the back row as it scorched it’s was across the cowering students ahead of me.
He was a sceptic of the first order.
“Believe nothing you are told”, he would roar. “Question everything”.
And we did.
He died of cancer.
“They think they can give me quality of life in a palliative care hospital. I’ve had my quality.”
He just walked out of the room one day and never came back.
Then there was the Religious Education teacher. Now there’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever seen one. RE is was called. Bigotry, my old man called it.
I was eight or nine years old. Grade 3 Granville Central Primary School.
RE was compulsory. One hour a week.
The man in the grey suit carrying a bible announced to the class that the earth was no older than 4600 years and evolution was a crock of shite (not his words. I don’t remember exactly how he phrased it but that was his implication).
“No one has ever witness any such mutation that would affect the behaviour of an organism or the formation of subspecies”, he announced to the bewildered throng before him.
Now I had read books. My sisters’ books. Science books. Loads of them, in the hope of finding the reproductive stuff and getting a glimpse of a vagina or two. Along the way I had seem photographs of fruit fly, images of Brassicas and bacteria, mutating away and producing all sorts of species and genera. I had my sisters explain all this to me. They knew lots. By the way, sisters are always to be trusted when you’re 8 or 9. They know lots.
“Excuse me, “ I said forcefully, raising my arm more in rage than courtesy. “Have you seen...” and I went into a 20 minute tirade on how he was an idiot and should go back to school.
I hadn’t heard the term ‘Atheist’ up until that point. I liked the word. It beats being called a Christian or catholic. It became my label of choice after that collision with Christianity.
The one this that is certain: atheists are sceptics.
Then I became a scientist. What a wonderful lot they are. Questions, questions, questions. Why, how, when, what, who (not so much ‘who’), how much? I rebelled in it. Every answer raised an other question. No one was satisfied they had the final answer. Endless, persistent scepticism.
Then I taught. What an opportunity to generate another generation of sceptics.
And now I settle back in retirement and annoy my grand children and great grand children with endless questions. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is final. Nothing is more annoying to the parents of said children when Poppy Tom asks them about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, the Boogie man and the other boogie man: God.
“You can’t say that,” they scream. “[Its] my best slice of punishment you cutting out there” they beg.
Well, find another way.