Informed Skepticism: The Tool Every Christian should Use to Evaluate the Rationality of her Beliefs

Image result for image of the outsider test for faith

I’m reading a new book.  It is by former Christian turned atheist John Loftus’—The Outsider Test for Faith.  I will post an occasional excerpt as I read through the book.  Here is the first:

Every rational adult knows what it’s like to be a skeptic or to doubt something.  Since we all know how to be skeptics, we must distinguish between two types of skepticism, only one of which is a reasonable and informed one.  There is a kind of skepticism that is born of faith. Faith based skepticism causes believers to doubt other religious faiths simply because they believe that theirs is the true one.  This same type of faith-based skepticism causes believers to doubt scientific findings whenever those findings undercut or discredit their faith in some way.  This type of skepticism caused many believers to doubt that the sun was the center of the solar system in Galileo’s day.  It also causes Mormons to doubt the DNA evidence showing that Native Americans are not descendants from Semitic peoples.  This type of faith-based skepticism should be avoided as much as possible, if not altogether, if believers truly want to know the truth about their religion.

Faith-based skepticism, because it refuses to question its own premise (ie. faith), cannot help us solve the problem of religious diversity [Why are there so many different religions each claiming that they alone possess the truth?].  It has a proven track record of not helping people reasonably examine their respective faiths.  It has a proven track record that runs counter to the progress of science itself.

The other type of skepticism is born of science.  It’s a reasonable skepticism that demands sufficient evidence before accepting some claim as true.  Even people of faith utilize scientific findings in every area of their lives (except those rare findings that directly undercut or discredit their respective faiths).

…This informed skepticism becomes the default adult attitude when examining any religion, including one’s own.  It is an attitude expressed as follows:

  1. It assumes one’s own religious faith has the burden of proof.
  2. It adopts the methodological-naturalist viewpoint by which one assumes there is a natural explanation for the origins of a given religion, its holy books, and its extraordinary claims of miracles.
  3. It demands sufficient evidence before concluding a religion is true.
  4. Most importantly, it disallows any faith in the religion under investigation, since the informed skeptic cannot leap over the lack of evidence by punting to faith.




End of post.





4 thoughts on “Informed Skepticism: The Tool Every Christian should Use to Evaluate the Rationality of her Beliefs

  1. Gary, I thought I would let you know — Rev. Jeff Baxter (jb) died this last Tuesday night, January 15. He still, even recently, thought of you as a friend. He will be buried and given a full military funeral with honors. Just thought I’d let you know. I hope you remember him … Abby


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s