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