Robert Gentel wrote:
I, on the other hand, wonder if one can truly exhibit intellectual curiosity without ever holding an absurd belief.
That depends on what you consider "absurd."
Let's say there are two people, A and B. A believes that gravity is the result of particles, called "gravitons," acting on bodies. A bases her belief on scientific tests and educated inferences. Although A cannot prove that gravitons exist, she is reasonably confident, based upon all she knows about quantum physics (of which she is an expert), that gravitons will be discovered as soon as instruments are developed that can measure such things.
B, on the other hand, also believes that gravity is the result of particles acting on bodies. B, however, bases that belief on a revelation he had from L. Ron Hubbard, who appeared to him in a dream.
Now, which of these beliefs is absurd? If you say that both are, then you have to explain why a scientific postulate shares the same level of believability as a mystic revelation. I'm certainly not prepared to go that far.
Rather, I view only B's belief as absurd -- and it is absurd even though B might be right
that gravity is a particle. That's because, even if it is ultimately determined that gravity is a particle, B's belief is still based on something that is completely unreliable, and he would only be right as a result of pure happenstance. In contrast, A's belief is not absurd, even though it might be wrong
. That's because it is based on solid evidence and reasoning.