I hear this kind of thing all the time these days from people who are smart enough to know better. "What I think," they might say, "is that everyone goes to heaven, and all our pets will be there too."
"That's interesting," I respond, no longer a big fan of the Wishful Thinking School of Metaphysics. "What's your source of authority?"
"It's just what I believe."
Oh. Well, then, it must be true.
"What's your source of authority?" is really a great question. So is "Who exactly are you trusting for the truth on this issue?"
Now that I finally do know better than to trust my own thinking -- which, after all, is forced to function without comprehensive knowledge of our universe, let alone a clue about the Great Beyond -- I find it fascinating that this is the ONE puzzle we believe we can solve on our own, without even a shred of outside assistance.
We can’t organize our possessions these days without calling in an expert. We can't prune a lilac or tune up a lawn mower or even properly fertilize the grass without at some point consulting someone who knows more than we do. We don’t even know what we like in terms of style without taking a look at what the authorities are pushing this year.
And yet we take the most enormous and eternally important questions of all and trust ourselves to answer them simply by spending a few minutes thinking things through.
I don't recall anyone ever challenging me on this point. Which is sad, because it might have forced me to question my reliance on my own brainpower years before I was forced to consider the possibility.
Would questioning your beloved skeptic's source of authority spur him or her to seek the truth? Only God knows, of course, but it's certainly worth a try.