There’s a new reader rant over at Skepchick and I have questions:
Where are these people?
Where are the “Atheists who proclaim no one with a religious belief should have anything to with Skepticism“?
Where are the people who think, “That person is a Christian, he can’t think critically.“?
Holy crap? Exaggerate much?
Where are these people? I have yet to run across one. Nearly every skeptic I’ve met has encouraged everyone to get involved with skepticism. That’s the whole point of advocating skepticism. Nearly every skeptical atheists I’ve met has not only acknowledged that Christians can think critically, they simply aren’t convinced that they’ve applied this tool to their religious beliefs…and this would be a trivial thing to rebut, if anyone bothered (or could).
I am one of those who question how one can subscribe to the principles of skepticism and still justify theistic beliefs – but it’s a question and it’s one that has yet to be satisfactorily answered. I’ll keep asking it, no matter who gets irritated, because I feel it’s important and some people seem to be working overtime to protect the subject from critical inquiry.
I’m not saying that theists don’t belong in the skeptic movement or shouldn’t be allowed to call themselves skeptics. That’s absurd. I’m saying that theistic beliefs aren’t immune from skepticism and questioning and I’d love to know how someone could claim that their theism is supported by the proper application of skepticism. I’m saying that there is, or should be, some value to calling oneself a skeptic, something to distinguish the title beyond “selectively skeptical”.
Yet I continue to read about this grand threat that risks unfairly excluding people from skepticism and whenever they manage to expand on this idea it is always about one thing:
And the manner in which they address the subject is so… unskeptical.
Won’t anyone address this issue with something beyond “don’t be a dick” or “STFU” or “you’re just as bad as fundamentalist Christians”? Won’t anyone defend the theistic skeptic viewpoint with something more than assertions and whining and deflection?
Here’s the scenario, it’s really simple:
John identifies as a skeptic, advocates skepticism and is active in the skeptical movement. If John believes something (gods, ghosts or garglstropism) that can’t be supported by a critical examination of the evidence, isn’t it definitional to acknowledge that John has not properly applied skepticism to that issue? Isn’t that the point – distinguishing which beliefs are rationally justified and which aren’t?
This isn’t about kicking John out of a movement or telling him he’s not a “true skeptic” or that he shouldn’t use the “skeptic” label…that’s absurd. It’s about acknowledging that John’s view isn’t properly consistent with skepticism. That’s it. It’s what we’d do for ANY claim…right?
If John continue to hold that belief, that’s his prerogative. We believe what we believe.
If John claims that his belief isn’t within the purview of skepticism, isn’t that a claim he should have to successfully defend before others should accept it?
If John claims that his belief is actually supported by skepticism, isn’t that a claim he should have to successfully defend before others should accept it?
I’m not demanding that John defend anything. John can believe whatever his conscience dictates. John doesn’t have to explain himself to anyone, ever. I’m also not saying John is necessarily being a shitty skeptic on that subject. I have no idea whether or not he’s being a shitty skeptic until he actually defends his belief. (Depending on the subject, I of course may well believe that he’s being a shitty skeptic – but I’m willing to defend that belief.)
What I’m saying is that anyone who accepts Johns assertions before they’ve been successfully defended is being a shitty skeptic on that subject…and that’s what’s going on. Those who uncritically accept John’s claims and those who attempt to shield John’s views from critical thinking are being decidedly non-skeptical.
What I’m saying is that the problem in the skeptic community doesn’t seem to be on the side of those who are skeptical of theistic claims (testable or not), it’s on the side of those who don’t think we should be.