FAYETTEVILLE, AR—Craig Schaffner, 46, a Fayetteville-area computer consultant, has earned the pity of friends and acquaintances for his tragic reluctance to embrace the unverifiable, sources reported Monday.

The tragically skeptical Schaffner.

"I honestly feel sorry for the guy," said neighbor Michael Eddy, 54, a born-again Christian. "To live in this world not believing in a higher power, doubting that Christ died for our sins—that's such a sad, cynical way to live. I don't know how he gets through his day."
Coworker Donald Cobb, who spends roughly 20 percent of his annual income on telephone psychics and tarot-card readings, similarly extended his compassion for Schaffner.

"Craig is a really great guy," Cobb said. "It's just too bad he's chosen to cut himself off from the world of the paranormal, restricting himself to the limited universe of what can be seen and heard and verified through empirical evidence."

Also feeling pity for Schaffner is his former girlfriend Aimee Brand, a holistic and homeopathic healer who earns a living selling tonics and medicines diluted to one molecule per gallon in the belief that the water "remembers" the curative properties of the medication.

"Don't get me wrong—logic and reason have their place," Brand said. "But Craig fails to recognize the danger of going too far with medical common sense to the exclusion of alternative New Age remedies like chakra cleansing and energy-field realignment."

Eddy said he has tried repeatedly to pull Schaffner back from the precipice of lucidity.

"I admit, science might be great for curing diseases, exploring space, cataloguing the natural phenomena of our world, saving endangered species, extending the human lifespan, and enriching the quality of that life," Eddy said. "But at the end of the day, science has nothing to tell us about the human soul, and that's a critical thing Craig is missing. I would hate for his soul to be lost forever because of a stubborn doubt over the actual existence and nature of that soul."

Gina Hitchens, a lifelong astrology devotee, blamed Schaffner's lack of faith on an accident of birth.

"Craig can't entirely help himself, being a Gemini," Hitchens said. "Geminis are always very skeptical and destined to feel pain throughout life as a result of their closed-mindedness. If you try to introduce Craig to anything even remotely made-up, he starts going off about 'evidence this' and 'proof that.' If only the poor man were open-minded enough to stop attacking everything with his brain and just once look into his heart, he'd find all the proof he needed. But, sadly, he's unable to let even a little bit of imagination drive his core beliefs."

Perhaps the person who pities Schaffner most is his brother Frank, a practicing Scientologist since 1991.

"It's bad enough when someone has the ignorance to reject Dianetics in spite of its tremendous popularity," Frank said. "But Craig isn't even willing to try a free introductory course. Scientology has the potential to free humanity from the crippling yoke of common sense, unshackling billions from the chains of century after century of scientific precedent, and yet he still won't give it a try."

"I realize that Craig seems very happy with his narrow little common-sense-based worldview," Frank continued, "but when you think of all the widely embraced beliefs that are excluded by that way of thinking, you have to feel kind of sad."