True Skepticism

For nearly half my life I considered myself to be what is commonly referred to as a skeptic. Specifically, I was a left-wing agnostic, nearly Marxist in my politics, a materialist in my metaphysics.

I was skeptical of any sort of religious belief, or even the ability to know with any degree of certainty what might exist beyond the bounds of the material world.

The second half of my life has been spent as a believer – a Christian who believes in the veracity of Scripture, one’s ability to have assurance about one’s eternal destiny, to be confident in God’s love, power, and good intentions.

What has surprised me recently is the realization that in my early years I was hardly a skeptic at all – I am in fact much more skeptical now then I was as a youthful agnostic, less likely to than I was then to accept certain claims without reasonable warrant. What follows is a list of that which I have become skeptical of:

  1. I am skeptical that science can provide answers to all our questions about how we came to be, how we should live, and what we should do or not do in the future. Science has a limited and powerful application as a tool for learning in limited ways how nature operates, but beyond that it is extremely limited in terms of gaining knowledge and wisdom.
  2. I am skeptical of material explanations of the origin of the universe, life, and basic human characteristics. I now find it absurd to think universe can appear unbidden, falling into just the right order so that all that is necessary for our existence just happens to align itself from the basic constants that undergird its operation down to the precise molecular make-up of the planet on which we exist. I am skeptical that the machinery and information systems which operate in even the ‘simplest’ cells could arise without guidance, a notion that is contrary to all our experiences, and believe the only reason for accepting this as true is an intransigent adherence to a faith in materialisms ability to provide explanations in the future.
  3. I am skeptical of the notion that the human mind, which is presumed by atheists to be able to produce great delusions like religious sentiment, spiritual inclinations, notions of absolute morality, and inherent meaning and purpose, as well as ideas of being endowed with certain rights, is also simultaneously reliable enough for us to observe and confidently comprehend how the universe actually works. The mind is either reliable or it is not; it cannot logically be both at the same time.
  4. I am skeptical of the notion that the purpose of government is to take care of my basic needs – that apart from the guiding hand of the state, I cannot have health, wealth, an education, or get along with my fellow man. I am skeptical that the government can continue to amass power and wealth, and remain beneficent in its use of it.
  5. I am skeptical of the notion that humans are inherently good, and that if the state provided everyone with the right amount of money, or education, or opportunity, then all our societal ills would significantly diminish.
  6. I am skeptical that the Bible, the product of some two thousand years of consistent writing, the result of the authorship of people from every walk of life imaginable, and the foundational document of some of the most enduring and important human institutions, as well as the being fundamental to the existence of some of the freest and most prosperous nations on earth, as well as a revolutionary tool for those who would expand human happiness and goodness, is merely a collection of fables and myths.
  7. I am skeptical of the notion that Jesus, a figure unprecedented in history whose teachings and wisdom have never bettered by anyone since, who inspired followers not only to teach what he taught them but to live in an wholly unique and admirable way, even to the point of sacrificing their own lives for others is merely an ordinary human like a million others before or after.

These are just a few of the things I have become skeptical of in more recent times. There are many more I could list. Taken together I realize that anti-religious skeptics aren’t all that skeptical at all, but accept as tenets of faith claims that I think the vast majority of humanity has rightly found to be absurd.

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