Day 5: Evidence to the Contrary
So if you've been keeping up with me you know I finally got around to watching the X-Files. And it has not disappointed. Sure, it's very much a 1993 show, with awkward CGI, big hair and bizarre sexual politics, but it has certainly scratched the binge-watch itch in a way no show has since, say, Friday Night Lights (or the third time through Gilmore Girls, or the twelfth time through Buffy).
I'm a sucker for good scifi. At its best (Fringe, Doctor Who) the genre can explore what it means to be human from entirely novel angles, ones inaccessible to more "realistic" genres and narratives. And I expect the X-Files will go there. In fact, within the current TV landscape, I'll bet the X-Files invented "going there" to some degree.
The philosophical underpinnings of the show begin to shine between the cracks remarkably early in the series' run. In fact, the moment which has stuck out clearest to me in the season and a half I've already watched (still a ways to go), came at the end of the second episode. Series protagonist Fox Mulder is conducting a back-alley meeting with his dubiously-trustworthy informant Deep Throat, when they have the following exchange:
"Deep Throat: Mister Mulder, why are those like yourself, who believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life on this Earth, not dissuaded by all the evidence to the contrary?
Mulder: Because, all the evidence to the contrary is not entirely dissuasive."
"All the evidence to the contrary is not entirely dissuasive."
Whoo. Gotta sit on that one for a minute.
Mulder is the consummate believer, at least when it comes to aliens. As he asserts throughout the first season, he "want[s] to believe". And at times this blind fidelity to his cosmological beliefs steers him temporarily away from where the evidence would lead him otherwise. But, in the first place he is also almost always right, and further it's not as if the beliefs are fundamentally contra-evidence. He knows what he has seen, what he has experienced, and it is irrefutable. Could he be dissuaded? Sure, but it would take enough evidence to cancel out his surfeit of experiences. And at a certain point, you can't un-see what you've seen.
So there may be evidence to the contrary, as Deep Throat asserts. But if it is not as significant or as meaningful as the evidence or experience informing one's current beliefs, it is not entirely dissuasive.
At least on an intellectual level, that's what faith is for me. It is a commitment to belief in a worldview which best answers the questions at hand, best contextualizes the information ("evidence") one collects day-to-day.
I believe in God, in Jesus, because it best makes sense of the last ten years of my life. I could be dissuaded, but not without an experience significant enough that it could cancel out what I've seen, what I've experienced.
And at a certain point, you can't un-see what you've seen.