James Randi is a magician. He knows the tricks. What's different about Randi is that he openly exposes the magic game, as I read in a recent AP story about him.
He gave up performing as The Amazing Randi years ago, but his words to the audience at the end of each show foreshadowed his next act.
''Everything you have seen here is tricks,'' he would say. ''There is nothing supernatural involved here.''
So far nobody has come close to winning the money. No one has even passed the preliminary tests. Not surprising. In the metaphysical arena, talk triumphs over action.
When you say, "show me the proof" (of God, miracles, higher dimensions of reality, whatever) there's no response. Just more talk about why there can't be a response (such as, "I'm not allowed to show my powers to unworthy or skeptical eyes").
Reading the story about Randi got me to thinking about how the more you know about something, the better able you are to see the flaws in it – and to burst the unquestioning belief bubble of the mildly well-informed.
After about nine years of studying traditional Shotokan karate I got disenchanted with this martial art. Some essays by Rob Redmond that I found online helped me make the break to a style that was better suited for me. He said:
If you can't find fault with Shotokan, then you haven't given it much thought. In fact, to me, it is axiomatic that if someone is a true expert at something, they will have many complaints and criticisms of the way things are in their field of expertise.
The more I learn about Shotokan, the less I like it. Every year that passes helps me to find new things that I am disappointed in. The more I progress, the more limitations of Shotokan become apparent to me. If you cannot see the inherent weaknesses and holes in whatever you are studying, you don't know much about it.
After more than thirty years of practicing the meditation, dietary, worship, and other disciplines of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, I was highly knowledgeable about this mystic philosophy.
Heck, I'd even written a "holy book" that was published by RSSB. And written another than was distributed by the organization. Plus, I was on the edge of having still another published by RSSB before they and I parted writing ways.
So I understand how a believer turns into a skeptic. It's almost a given, as Redmond says, if you keep your eyes open to what you've being exposed to, rather than turning a blind eye to anomalies.
Perfection only exists when you don't look too closely at something or someone. Once the details are seen for what they are, flaws become evident. That's reality. We live in an imperfect world. "Perfect" is just a word, a concept, an ideal divorced from the real.
Don't worry if you've been a true believer and are now starting to have doubts.
This is a sign of progress, not of backsliding. It shows that you know enough to understand what your belief system doesn't know. Or at least, can't prove that it knows (which, really, is the same thing – unless you value gullibility).