Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Who Are The Skeptics?

The "skeptical" community consists of atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, humanists, non-believers and the like. We are generally united in our skepticism towards supernatural and pseudo-scientific claims. But what about those of "faith" who believe in god and their religion's fantastic claims? Are they skeptical? Well, theists actually are just as skeptical as non-believers are, but they're only skeptical towards things that contradict their religious beliefs. Take creationists for example, they're extremely skeptical towards evolution and they'll look for any possible way out of actually having to accept its evidence, but then they'll believe in talking snakes, people living inside fish, and that two of every animal and insect once shared a single boat during a worldwide flood.

So where is the consistency with skepticism? Why only apply it towards things that contradict your faith? Why believe something just because it's written in a book, but disbelieve in science that at least has evidence backing it up? Most theists behaves this way towards their religion: When it comes to their religion, they'll believe whatever is required that they believe, no matter how improbable or how impossible. They'll believe it because their religion requires it. But if their faith is strong, then anything that contradicts that belief they will have already decided can't be true, and so they throw up a wall of extreme skepticism that blocks the passage of any evidence. This is not true of every theist, however. There are at least some who constantly doubt their religious beliefs and do allow evidence to change them.

So both non-believers and believers are technically skeptics, just in different ways. I certainly am skeptical about the supernatural claims made by religions, and since theists cannot offer any real scientific evidence to back up their claims, I am within reason to continue doubting. I've heard the best arguments theists have for the existence of god, like the cosmological argument, the fine tuning argument, etc. and I've seriously considered all of them very deeply. In the end, neither of them are proofs, they're probability arguments founded on intuitive logical assumptions. There exists natural explanations that describe non-supernatural processes that can result in our universe and its apparent fine tuning. And as long as a plausible, natural alternative exists to a supernatural one, I can reasonably maintain my doubt and skepticism.

So whose skepticism is more justified? Certainly not the creationists. Neo-Christians who accept the cosmological explanations of our galaxy, sun and earth, and who accept evolution certainly are on better footing, but it seems to me that as time goes on and our understanding of the world through science gets greater and greater, the skepticism of the atheist becomes more and more justified. The more we understand, the less and less we need the hand of god as an explanatory device.

1 comment:

  1. To earn the label "skeptic", I think a person has to be generally skeptical, not limiting their skepticism to certain things they are likely to disagree with. At the same time, they can't be so skeptical that they fall into simple denial or paralyzing indecision.

    Obviously there's not time to be skeptical about everything, and trust must be used. But a skeptic should be able to explain to another skeptic their reasons for using trust as they do, and that other skeptic should find it at least reasonable, even if they don't do the same. I think it's very difficult.

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