Discussions Religion and Theology, Scriptures, Bible Debate, etc.
A QUESTION ?? - can a REAL skeptic believe in god yet still be a skeptic ??
you see i have a problem with that concept as the vast majority of the worlds religions say there is or will be ( dependent on version ) some form of afterlife /continuance - YET as a true skeptic ,by your own arguments , there can BE no form of afterlife , YET , how many skeptics go to church or profess to be christians ,Muslims , Jewish , etc etc - rather a contradiction in terms methinks
unless of course one believes in the concept of the pseudo christian /Muslim /Judaic etc - which i do as many ostensibly "religious " people are quite hypocritical in reality - i had a classic example in my own father , who was a religious fanatic ( not the "I kill you " achmed the dead terrorist type fanatic , and if you have not seen this go google "achmed the dead terrorist - is funny ) - but a wife beating hypocrite who would pray to his god a couple of times of a Sunday and be seen as an upright person by other christians - then come home and beat my mother ( until i dropped him when old enough to do so - he did not want to fight someone who could and would stand up to him )
so how say you - if you are supposedly a skeptic - can you also believe in god /gods ? - or can one be a skeptic and be selective in your beliefs regarding these things ??
LIFE - just filling the bits between birth, death and taxes
First by definition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skepticism
In religion, skepticism refers to 'doubt concerning basic religious principles (as immortality, providence, and revelation).' (Merriam–Webster)
The word skepticism can characterize a position on a single claim, but in scholastic circles more frequently describes a lasting mind-set. Skepticism is an approach to accepting, rejecting, or suspending judgment on new information that requires the new information to be well supported by argument or evidence. Individuals who proclaim to have a skeptical outlook are frequently called skeptics, often without regard to whether it is philosophical skepticism or empirical skepticism that they profess.
Contemporary skepticism (or scepticism) is loosely used to denote any questioning attitude, or some degree of doubt regarding claims that are elsewhere taken for granted.
Now since we are talking about religion: In religion, skepticism refers to 'doubt concerning basic religious principles (as immortality, providence, and revelation).' (Merriam–Webster)
So I would say, 'Yes, a skeptic can believe in God', since by definition it is 'doubt' concerning basic religious principles. I would also say that a believer can not believe in God as well.
Religion is not something that is chosen, it's taught or passed on by family beliefs early in life. Some stick with their teachings and some don't. You don't have to be a full blown skeptic to think that there's something not quite right with your religious upbringing. Question just about any of the basic principles of any religion and you are bound to find plenty of holes.
Unfortunately, I can't speak for other people or skeptics so I don't have an answer for Brett's question. For myself, I just answered that in another thread. I don't see why they can't believe in a God however. Can someone who is skeptical of Bigfoot, aliens, and ghosts believe in psi based on empirical evidence? I don't see why not. A true skeptic, as Ninja pointed out, likes to see evidence before making a decision based on critical thinking. If the evidence they have researched points them in the direction of psi or of a higher being, then that doesn't make them "unskeptical" necessarily.
But even if you do believe in God, how do you explain why he never physically comes out into our world, the way our parents come out to us? Why would a loving Father hide and be invisible all the time and leave you questioning his existence? Why doesn't he appear to everyone on Earth and say "I'm God and I exist. End of story." at least?
That obvious question is perhaps the hardest and more perplexing to answer.
For those of you who believe in God, you gotta wonder then about why evil, suffering, cruelty and injustice exist? The standard Christian explanation for those things don't make sense and don't add up. Is God all powerful or not? If he is, then how could he let such things exist?
If you don't believe in God, you've got to explain the existence of design in the universe and in life on Earth. Evolution does not explain everything. And you gotta explain why some prayers are answered and miracles happen that defy explanation and coincidence.
Either way, you have a mystery on your hands.
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Since things are a little quiet around here this week, I was re-reading some older topics and came across this excellent question that was never answered.
My responses are all predicated on "IF", so bear that in mind.
One obvious answer is "How do we know that he doesn't?" As with many things that we discuss here, just because something can't be physically seen or scientifically proven, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.
This question is based on applying human aspects to something that isn't classified as human. Descriptions and definitions of 'God' vary from religion to religion.
There are many written stories passed down through the ages that say that this has happened as well as the story of Jesus Christ. None of that seemed to work too well according to these stories.
The answer could very well be no gods exist.
Disclaimer: This is probably a somewhat touchy subject. I am going to give my thoughts, and feel free to disagree or agree as you see fit. Just understand that no offense is meant by me.
To me, skepticism is a search for clarity and understanding using critical thought and the scientific method. The goal is to be as close to the actual truth as is possible when it comes to the observable world.
Religion, on the other hand, is based on faith in a set of precepts. While portions of almost any religion will deal with natural, testable specifics, such as historical events or special powers, the parts that really make it a religion are metaphysical in nature and thus cannot be tested, falsified or proven true using critical thought or the scientific method. In it's most basic sense, religious belief in a deity falls outside the scope of critical thought and science.
Based on that, I see no problem with a skeptic believing in a diety. Belief in a diety is a purely personal decision that has to be made on personal judgement alone. Any answer is about as valid as the next, because none can be falsified. I know that many scientists do hold religious beliefs. Being skeptical or scientifically minded does not automatically exclude the possibility of having faith or belief in a metaphysical concept. I see no problem with a person employing critical thinking skills in various aspects of their life, but also choosing to believe in metaphysical concepts for whatever reason. It would only be intelectually flawed if they claimed that their metaphysical belief was some how proven true by science or critical thought. Likewise, anyone claiming to be able to falsify a religion's metaphysical precepts using science is also quite wrong.
This is why being a skeptic and an atheist are two entirly different things to me. Although there is a good bit of cross-over in the two demographics, intelectually, they are as different as a rosary & a test tube.
There is nothing wrong with having a little faith if it makes you a happier person. There are days when I wish I had some myself.
Last edited by caniswalensis on Thu Jun 24, 2010 4:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"It is proper for you to doubt ... do not go upon report ... do not go upon tradition ... do not go upon hear-say." ~ Buddha
Yes! Good explanation from my viewpoint.
A lot of it comes down to terms First, “God”. As I have stated. I am a polytheist. I stopped considering myself a Christian when a fundie sunday school teacher told me I was going to hell.
In reflecting upon my alleged damnation, it occurred to me that I had no reason to believe Xianity was more true than the preceding polytheism or Hinduism (I don't think I knew of any others then) So I assigned the same truth value to them all. I didn't see any reason why I should prefer the Eden myth to the Theogeny or Enima Elish. I still don't.
Thus, I am a polytheist. Of course, my definition of “god” for this purpose is the same as my definition of “idol” or “fetish” By this definition, it is impossible for a skeptic not to believe in gods. Of course, this says nothing about the existence of gods outside of our own heads.
Someone once said you can only be an atheist in the religion you were born to. I can see that. I disbelieve in the National god the US, but other national myths are just stories to me. I have had personal experience of my mind's conceptions of der Teufal in Himmel and GI Jesus, so I know they exist in my mind at least, but the alleged ontonlogical god that Indigo child says we all believe in, I do not “believe” in that, especially conflated with Yahweh/Allah, but also all alone in the empyrean where Plato and Epicurus left it, as I can not convince myself that the three O's can exist simultaneously in one entity. It fails the mindfact truth test of internal consistency. If its all powerful and all knowing, it ain't good by human standards, and in any case, its irrelevant.
If I misunderstand your reference, indigo, please clarify.
Now, Brahma, who lacks the goodness and creates from necessity, could be the reality you perceive and referred to. If so, yes, in a real sense, that one is the closest thing I have to a value for the ultimate unknown, since I also have had the experience of perceiving it.
Back to the above bit about atheism about childhood faiths, what I disbelieve in most is the concept of Good/Evil. I have observed that there is a conflict between synergy and entropy, which looks, on the epiphenomenal level, like the conflict that accompanies aesthetic creation. If I believe in any fundamental epiphenomenal conflict, it is between tragedy and comedy.
One last bead on my braid to this thread. As an agnostic, reason is my fetish (slight difference between an idol and a fetish. An fetish is an idol that performs some function in the factual world. I can't think of another example, because, like all sufferers from delusions, I believe my delusion is real.)
As an agnostic, in addition to the fetish reason, my world-view ends in an ever-expanded mystery. (the noumena) In the phenomenal world, this is manifested as the anti-god “Ignorance”, which Socrates said we should harass with reason at every opportunity
Thus, paradoxically, in my theology, as a skeptic, I am required to disbelieve in the God Ignorance.
I love paradoxes. May your experiences be groovy.
"What's so Funny about Peace, Love, and Understanding?"
Well, no. The problem with that is what you think a god is. It is someone elses god you don't believe in the the case of "why evil, suffering, cruelty..."etc. Reason it. If a god exists, he/she/it/whatever clearly does not prevent suffering in the world (at least not all suffering). However, this does not logically preclude god from being 'loving'. It just means that for some reason your idea of what represents god's love involves that god preventing all suffering. Is there a reason why a loving god would not prevent all suffering? Well yes. If everything in your life was done for you, there was never any danger or suffering, what kind of life would you have? If you did not have to learn why you shouldnt cause others suffering, what kind of person would you be? Where would free will be? We all have to make our own way.
Also, evolution is not in any way mutually exclusive to god. This is a common myth. In fact, the idea that a loving god would not suddenly remove all suffering ties in quite happily with evolution. No species which does not suffer adversity will survive in the long run. So the "what about the evil in the world" argument hold no water. You must simply change your perception of god to fit facts. I'm a sceptic and I believe in a god/universe/thing - but it's mine. My understanding of it is based on my rational observation of life and the universe - not to mention evolution
I hear what you're saying, but I have a slightly different perspective. As a parent, for example, sometimes I have to use tough love on my kids. I can't just do everything for my kids, for example, they need to learn how to do things for themselves, and sometimes it means that they must suffer in the short term, in order that they may learn valuable lessons for the long term.
But I need to do this only because we do live in a tough world, and if I don't teach them this they will run into trouble down the road. When talking about God, then one must ask: why develop such a tough system? To what end? Perhaps the afterlife is even tougher, I can see how we need to toughen up here on earth, but why design such a tough afterlife?
And the amount of suffering can be tremendous. Take a young girl, sexually abused by her step-father, physically abused by her jealous step-mother. She grows up to be depressed, suicidal, distrustful of others, scared all the time, and miserable. Her pain can be tremendous. To what end? And that's just one example.
As for free will: first of all, I'm not sure it really exists anyway (in the hard determinism sense), but assuming it does, I would certainly give up some free will for a better world with less suffering. I'm not sure why free will should be the highest value. In any event, we don't have unlimited free will: there are plenty of things we can't do, we have lots of limitations. For example, we could have been created with less inclinations towards evil. We could be born knowing all the lessons about good behaviour, etc. etc. The current system, if designed by a creator, seems cruel and capricious. Pain is distributed unevenly and many many people live their entire lives knowing little else but pain and suffering.
Not to mention that the world is predicated on living beings preying and eating other living beings. Most of those living beings are literally torn apart alive.
Strange system for a loving God.
Not that a god needs to be loving. I've never understood why the power to create the universe is thought to necessitate that being being all-loving. Or all-powerful, or all-knowing. Why can't that being be as morally flawed as the rest of us?
The problem of suffering is not an argument against the existence of God. But its a pretty strong one against the existence of an all-loving God.
I see what you are saying, but perhaps the reason it is so tough is because people MUST be left to their own devices. Biological pragmatism must evolve to survive. Our inclination towards evil, as you put it, is actually a evolutionary flaw, and like any evolutionary flaw it must be overcome for survival.
It comes about from the fact that our brains are currently evolved to a certain level. This goes back a LONG time (take it from me, i'm an archaeologist ) and is built to protect us from threat and danger. This system does not function well at all in the modern age. But everything that you could call evil is based on these systems merely trying their best to protect us from danger. If these systems do not evolve - and actually we have a capacity for enough self awareness that we can actively alter the systems we are born with now - then we may not make it as a species. I think humans have to take responsibility for their own problems. That's the universe for ya
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