Being a religious individual, I know I don’t qualify as a Skeptic with a capitol “S”. While I fervently support skeptical inquiry, and work towards many of the same goals as the skeptic community, it would be misleading to call myself a Skeptic. However, I also feel that I am also misleading by describing myself as definitively not one.
Here’s an analogy to explain what I mean: I do not describe myself as a Feminist. I much prefer the term Egalitarian. My reason in abstaining from the Feminist label is not rooted in any objection to their goals, but because of the specific focus they have. Egalitarianism has a different, less specific focus, and while it overlaps with Feminism in significant ways, has its own approach to social ills.
I am not a Skeptic in the same way that I am not a Feminist. While I have the highest respect for both groups, it is still somewhat inaccurate to count myself as one of them. The reason for this ramble, is that just as Egalitarianism overlaps Feminism, I think there is an overlap between Christianity and Skepticism; at least, I think there should be. One of the most common criticisms I’ve heard in my life as a christian individual is that religion is inherently irrational and hostile towards open inquiry. It’s always difficult to hear this without becoming defensive; mostly because while I don’t think this in inherently true of religion, the reality of it often is.
Religion is not science. It deals specifically with subjective questions that do not have an objective solution. There are plenty of people who would disagree with this, but that’s a different topic altogether. The questions of whether or not God exists, or if people have a soul, are in my opinion fair game for logical examination, but beyond human ability to answer with finality. However, the implications of these questions usually land much closer to the realm of quantifiable properties. When life begins may be a controversial question, but the progression of life is observable. The psychological ramifications of prayer, and whether or not it effects reality, is also testable under the right circumstances.
Because of this, Skepticism is not only beneficial, but an invaluable tool for the religious; for exactly the same reason it’s invaluable for anyone. The fact that Christianity has inherently subjective questions at its core does not absolve us of the responsibilities of intellectual integrity or rational cohesion. If anything, it should give us a greater sense of responsibility to subject our ideas to logical examination. History is full of examples of what happens when we don’t. That’s not a history I want to repeat.
To that end, here are today’s questions:
In your opinion, what would a more skeptical approach to Christianity look like from within Christianity?
How does someone wanting to be a better Skeptic get started?
How do different ideological groups establish a truly open and equal discourse?