Sceptical

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I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking recently. I have come to the realisation that there is a real importance held within being sceptical, even if you sit within a religious framework.

The more I talk to people, the more I notice that humans take for granted that which confirms their worldview and challenge that which speaks against their worldview. When I was within Christianity, if I heard a story of healing or how someone is now ‘on fire for the Lord’, I would have allowed it to be used as the person telling the story wanted to use it, usually to encourage the audience in their faith. But now I look back on those times and I am really surprised how easily I let ‘facts’ and ‘truth’ evade any sense checking apparatus in my brain, simply because I wanted to believe it was true.

Part of me honestly believes that if I had allowed myself to be sceptical far earlier in my journey out of faith then I would have seen where the actual challenges for and against Christianity resided far sooner. Therefore, enabling me to engage with those areas upon discovery, rather than months or years after I have left the religion.

Even within the ‘Agnostic Atheist’ framework that I talk about in my blog, I need to be sceptical on accepting things that simply re-affirm or encourage my outlook today, because who knows if it is actually true. I think that maintaining a high level of scepticism enables one to test, query, investigate and work through the information that is being passed on in a helpful way. It gives you the ability to believe things that have passed rigorous testing, hopefully, both within the world and within your mind. Of course, people will still believe things that are not correct, even after employing a high level of scepticism, but I think a lot of the issues around a blind belief or confirmation bias based belief would be solved or at least highlighted to the individual fairly more quickly.

Rather it stops your resting on assumptions and forces you to seek real reflections on what is in the world around you. For example, I really do believe that many atheists use atheism as their worldview. Atheism isn’t a worldview, it’s a state of none belief. Being sceptical stops you from living out of ‘atheism’, much like it would stop you from just accepting everything you read or hear from your Christian circles if you are a believer.

Being able to step back from atheism and ask the questions that atheism leads to is vital to living in an honest frame of mind. There is so much that doesn’t get spoken about within atheist circles because atheism is simply the answer when it isn’t – it’s just a statement about what you don’t believe, not why you don’t believe it.

I think there is also a real power in honestly saying ‘I don’t know’. Humans enjoy trying to make everything fit together seamlessly, ensuring that a specific worldview holds answers that cover everything. Life just isn’t like that. Even within religious circles (pick any religion) there are splits and denominations purely because people either believe different things or explain the world in different ways.

I don’t have the answers. This is why I remain sceptical about so much. What I enjoy is learning and asking others ‘what do you think about X’, and the truth is, if someone can change my mind or show me how their worldview interacts with reality then I want to learn more. Because maybe they have something that I don’t, and maybe elements of why they believe X need to be examined more closely.

I am sure there are other reasons to not be sceptical, but it seems to me that on the whole scepticism can be a tool and a healthy way to live your life. It’s important to live honestly as you search, and I think this framework allows people to do both as they journey their way through life.

It is far easier to be sceptical than to bring a ‘truth’ or ‘belief’ to the foreground and defend it against criticism. I also don’t want to sit within something because it makes things easier, life isn’t about ease.

_End of Blog Blurb_

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.

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-Sam

When Belief Dies #77 – 'Carts, Horses & Certainty' with Roger Bretherton When Belief Dies

This week Sam sits back down with Roger Bretherton to look at certainty and what Roger holds as his bedrock to his faith. The video version of this conversation can be found here on our YouTube channel 12 hours after the audio version goes live. Is a relational faith enough? Can it be pinned down? What would undermine this? Is there a circle that one can enter to start to know God? Is it someone's fault if they can't or don't believe in God? We close with a challenge for Roger to complete to push into this more effectively in the next conversation. *Note* I was wrong about where the verses about a hanged man being cursed are found in the OT, it's actually within Deuteronomy 21:22-23. *Note* Roger's Bio: Dr Roger Bretherton is Principal Lecturer for Enterprise in the School of Psychology at the University of Lincoln. He worked as a clinician, manager and trainer in the NHS for over a decade, and joined the University of Lincoln in 2007, where he specialises in coaching and positive psychology. You can find/follow Roger here:   Website University Page The GOD Lab – 8 Spiritual Experiments You Can Try at Home   Twitter (hermit) We hope you enjoy our show. When Belief Dies aims to honestly reflect on faith, religion and life. Your support via Patreon enables us to cover the costs of running this show and look to the future to make things even better as we build upon what we already have in the works. Please take a look and consider giving. Alternatively, you can support the show with a one-off gift via PayPal or Bitcoin. Use the following link to navigate to the website, to find us on social media and anywhere else we might be present online. #Podcast #Deconstruction #God #Agnostic #Christian #Atheism  #Apologetics #Audio #Question #Exvangelical #Deconversion #SecularGrace  #Exchristian
  1. When Belief Dies #77 – 'Carts, Horses & Certainty' with Roger Bretherton
  2. The Ehrman Episodes #1 – 'Christ & Christmas' with Bart D. Ehrman
  3. When Belief Dies #76 – 'Purpose & Pokémon' with Daniel Kelly
  4. When Belief Dies #75 – 'Handbooks, Atheism and Honesty' with Dr Joshua Bowen
  5. When Belief Dies #74 – 'A hell of a topic' with Daniel Kelly

7 Comments. Leave new

  • Hello Sam. Hope all is well with you. Discernment and skepticism—how do you compare them?

    Reply
  • whenbeliefdies
    November 12, 2021 4:03 pm

    Discernment is about grasping what is obscure, and scepticism is about a critical attitude towards knowledge claims. Hope that helps 🙂

    Reply
  • Here’s why I asked…skepticism is not natural or innate; it is learned, either by being taught by others, or by personally experiencing disappointments in life. Small children believe what they’re told. They learn later in life that errors and deception call for tempering unconditional trust, and to require some form and degree of assurance in order to hold an expectation. In a Christian framework, then, skepticism is a product of a fallen world. Where knowledge of truth, honest communication, and integrity are lacking, skepticism becomes a tool created by man for his protection. In the ideal Christian framework, skepticism has no place. However, the Bible does call for making proper judgements about things. It is not done through skepticism, but through discernment. The question is, how does one make the proper discernment? How does one go about “grasping what is obscure?”

    Reply
    • whenbeliefdies
      November 13, 2021 6:11 am

      I would also argue that discernment ‘is not natural or innate; it is learned.’ Discernment of the unprovable requires a learned spiritual framework, that’s usually agreed by a group, such as a denomination, church or family, and then teated, amended where needed and utilised.

      Real discernment comes to those highly trained and skilled, such as a GP or Psychiatrist, but they then go one to see if what they’ve discerned is right or not. They do not stay in the unprovable.

      I feel like your original question and follow up are just trying to push a Christian agenda, rather than engaging with what I’ve said 😒

      Reply
      • Pushing?…not at all. It goes back to your opening paragraph about skepticism within a religious framework. What if skepticism is not the appropriate tool?

  • whenbeliefdies
    November 14, 2021 7:23 am

    The rest of blog post is there for a reason 😆

    You asked me to define the two words, without any reason at the start. I’ve done so and the post sits within and makes sense in scepticism.

    Reply
  • No problem. Knowledge, belief, trust, skepticism, and how and why we choose what we do have long been a fascination for me. I was just looking to go into it a little deeper from your article. Not the place for that.

    Reply

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