Be a Skeptic!

I’m not trying to convert anyone. What, I wonder, would that be? There is no skeptic’s religion. Being skeptical is a stance, a way of thinking critically about the world, a method of engaging with information. After all, you can’t believe everything. It is not a religion. Skeptics may be Jews, Christians, atheists or agnostics. Skeptics have no commandments, no sacred texts, no sectarian law. They don’t discriminate on the basis of sex, ethnicity or sexual preference. Most importantly, they have no idols – so even monotheists can feel comfortable as skeptics. After all, skeptics aren’t pagans (rural folk, as it were) venerating little carved figurines by an open fire.

Anyone can be a skeptic, and all of us are already skeptics in a certain sense. For example, it has been pointed out that as far as Greek mythology goes most of us are skeptics. Not many people alive today believe in the gods of Olympus or the Delphic oracle. Ditto a whole slew of ancient gods and divinities which we group together as myths, or rather stuff other peple believed in long ago. It goes without saying that, for an atheist, יהוה is a mythical god. So is Jesus, for that matter. This is not to disparage them, however. Many skeptics are devoted readers of the bible. They just don’t believe in it.

Though even skeptics recognize that many people do indeed beleive in Jesus, יהוה, and many other gods (“all of us worship the same god” is a politically expedient myth ; we don’t) and goddesses, angels, devils and heavenly intermediaries of all types: the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, Gabriel, Metatron etc… the list is long and tedious. Jews are necessarily skeptical of Christian claims, as are Christians of Muslim claims. I mean, either Jesus will return or he won’t. Either moshiah will come or he won’t. So far, so bad. They can’t all be right.

A skeptic makes no such claims about the nature of the universe, but limits himself (or herself) to interpreting facts and making educated guesses. A skeptic has no trouble saying, “I don’t know (right now).” The religious mind, on the other hand, often seeks utter certainty on one hand and fathomless mystery on the other. Needless to say, this is incompatible with a skeptical worldview.

 

 

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