Author Topic: The Nature of Skepticism  (Read 643 times)

The Nature of Skepticism
« on: March 30, 2021, 05:36:15 AM »
A friend of mine defined Skepticism as ''being open to the possibilities'' and ''to never close oneself in certainties''.

Now, I short of knew this before he wrote it to me. But here was I thinking: the first sentence doesn't really boil down to ''consider everything''? Not engage in every claim, of course, especially those without preexisting evidence, but considering this definition, is it really a sin to ''consider'' that a saint's intact tongue MIGHT exist somewhere?

I am not trying to start up another topic about this, or to defend it, I am just using it as an example.

And to ''consider it all'' could be by extension an invitation to ''examine it all'', too. So it isn't excludent at all of assessing supernatural phenomena.

What do you think being a skeptic consist of, and what are 'methods' of skepticism?
« Last Edit: March 30, 2021, 05:55:27 AM by Paolo »

Re: The Nature of Skepticism
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2021, 07:33:56 AM »
Maybe you can can explain how somebody can prove anything supernatural with the natural sciences?

Re: The Nature of Skepticism
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2021, 09:04:01 AM »
A friend of mine defined Skepticism as ''being open to the possibilities'' and ''to never close oneself in certainties''.

Now, I short of knew this before he wrote it to me. But here was I thinking: the first sentence doesn't really boil down to ''consider everything''? Not engage in every claim, of course, especially those without preexisting evidence, but considering this definition, is it really a sin to ''consider'' that a saint's intact tongue MIGHT exist somewhere?

I am not trying to start up another topic about this, or to defend it, I am just using it as an example.

And to ''consider it all'' could be by extension an invitation to ''examine it all'', too. So it isn't excludent at all of assessing supernatural phenomena.

What do you think being a skeptic consist of, and what are 'methods' of skepticism?

Once again, your 'friend' is too vague in his statement about a subject.  What type of skepticism is he referring to:

Definition
In ordinary usage, skepticism (US) or scepticism (UK) (Greek: 'σκέπτομαι' skeptomai, to search, to think about or look for; see also spelling differences) can refer to:

-an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object;
-the doctrine that true knowledge or some particular knowledge is uncertain;
-the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism that is characteristic of skeptics (Merriam–Webster).

In philosophy, skepticism can refer to:
-a mode of inquiry that emphasizes critical scrutiny, caution, and intellectual rigor;
-a method of obtaining knowledge through systematic doubt and continual testing;
-a set of claims about the limitations of human knowledge and the proper response to such limitations.

He needs to define what it is he is talking about.

When you ask:' ... is it really a sin...'  you are using religious talk that presumes a ton of ideas and suggestions that the religious simply accept on belief/faith.  I reject the idea of 'sin'--there is no such thing.   Just as there is no final authority of what is moral/ethical or not.

Can a 'saints' (what is a saint anyway, Paolo???) tongue be 'intact'?  What does that mean??  Mummified?  Sure, there are quite a few of those in existence around the world.  Go to Egypt and you can see some.  But what do you mean by an 'intact  tongue'??  You use the term supernatural--there is no such thing.  If it is not 'natural' then it simply is not.  Can you name a single thing that is beyond nature??  I will  answer for you--you cannot, for it does not exist.  It is a religious term used by the religious  to answer the question of ' how come?' ; rather than say 'I don't know', they use the term supernatural.   
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Online Hydra009

Re: The Nature of Skepticism
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2021, 03:04:23 PM »
A friend of mine defined Skepticism as ''being open to the possibilities'' and ''to never close oneself in certainties''.

Now, I short of knew this before he wrote it to me. But here was I thinking: the first sentence doesn't really boil down to ''consider everything''? Not engage in every claim, of course, especially those without preexisting evidence, but considering this definition, is it really a sin to ''consider'' that a saint's intact tongue MIGHT exist somewhere?
First off, the burden of proof is on the person seeks to establish the existence of a miraculously intact tongue or other extremely abnormal occurrence running counter to what's currently known.  Scientists do this by rigorous study and data backing up new understandings of the world.  Religious people...take a very different approach, essentially "trust me, bro" to put it simply.  This is far from acceptable.

And while yes it's true that skeptics should keep an open mind about gods and magic and unicorns and ESP and ghosts, the reality is that none of these things are taken the slightest bit seriously without some sort of evidence.  For me personally, all I want is some sort of evidence that this phenomenon exists outside of your own head.  That's it.  Give me that and we'll talk.  Give me the run around, shift the burden of proof, and play rhetorical games instead of showing proof - all that looks very suspicious and damages your credibility significantly and leads inevitably to the conclusion that you're just claiming something that you want to believe is true rather than something that is actually true.

Offline aitm

Re: The Nature of Skepticism
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2021, 04:56:53 AM »
A friend of mine defined Skepticism as ''being open to the possibilities'' and ''to never close oneself in certainties''.

I have never considered skepticism as “being open to possibilities”. I call that “gullible”
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

Re: The Nature of Skepticism
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2021, 09:24:32 AM »
I have never considered skepticism as “being open to possibilities”. I call that “gullible”

I believe he was refferring to Philosophical Skepticism.

Re: The Nature of Skepticism
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2021, 09:57:22 AM »
I believe he was refferring to Philosophical Skepticism.
Most of the time when you pose these questions or ideas or beliefs, you have the feel of a sniper.  For me, you seem to hide behind what a 'friend' says or a 'person you talked to' and never reveal what it is you believe or think.  And when people answer or attempt to answer you, you 'snipe' at them from behind the cover of what your 'friend' said.  You rarely, if ever, just come forward and state what you think.  So, what do you think about the nature of skepticism?
« Last Edit: March 31, 2021, 12:55:28 PM by Mike Cl »
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Re: The Nature of Skepticism
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2021, 10:02:25 AM »
Most of the time when you pose these questions or ideas or beliefs, you have the feel of a sniper.  For me, you seem to hide behind what a 'friend' says or a 'person you talked to' and never reveal what it is you believe or think.  And when people answer or attempt to answer you, you 'snipe' at them from behind the cover of what your 'friend' said.  You rarely, if ever, just come forward and state what you think.  So, what do you think about the nature of skepticism?

Isn't it obvious that I want people here to help me figure out these issues? At least that's what I intended.

So I actually may don't even have an ''opinion''.

Re: The Nature of Skepticism
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2021, 10:31:03 AM »
Isn't it obvious that I want people here to help me figure out these issues? At least that's what I intended.

So I actually may don't even have an ''opinion''.
No, it is not obvious.  You frame your 'question' as though you have a hidden agenda.  It would be very helpful if you would tell us what your opinion is, even if you don't have one; let us know you are simply asking for ideas. 
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Re: The Nature of Skepticism
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2021, 10:44:55 AM »
Isn't it obvious that I want people here to help me figure out these issues? At least that's what I intended.

So I actually may don't even have an ''opinion''.
Let me ask again. How would one go about gathering evidence to support any 'supernatural' claim? Evolution makes claims and predictions and natural physical evidence supports those claims. Many of the predictions (such as the existence of "genes") are now considered to be facts.

Would a supernatural claim require "supernatural evidence" (isn't that a nonsensical word?). Could someone use natural evidence to prove something supernatural? If you claimed someone was dead for 3 days and then just rose up because of a particular god, how would I prove that was true? If I was to monitor the heartbeat of a dead person and it was flatline for three days and then started beating and the person arose what does that tell us? What evidence would prove it was supernatural cause or a certain god did it? Basically you still have no known cause.

So the setup to show legitimacy of just about every religion goes like this:
-An prophesy is made and recorded predicting that some unlikely event will occur
-A claim is made and recorded that the unlikely even has happened with many witnesses
-See! our religion is true. Look how great is our god !

Re: The Nature of Skepticism
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2021, 09:27:03 AM »
Most of the time when you pose these questions or ideas or beliefs, you have the feel of a sniper.  For me, you seem to hide behind what a 'friend' says or a 'person you talked to' and never reveal what it is you believe or think.  And when people answer or attempt to answer you, you 'snipe' at them from behind the cover of what your 'friend' said.  You rarely, if ever, just come forward and state what you think.  So, what do you think about the nature of skepticism?

First off, those friends actually exist, though most of them are online friends. Sort of like you and I.

What I think? I think skepticism can be defined as ''doubt''. But doubt extends both ways. It can't ''favor'' nor ''run counter'' to the supernatural: all claims must be examined impartially, at least as much as humanly possible.

Does that count for an answer (not a rhetorical question, by the way)? It is my current ''opinion'', though it can change, of course.

Re: The Nature of Skepticism
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2021, 09:32:33 AM »
Let me ask again. How would one go about gathering evidence to support any 'supernatural' claim? Evolution makes claims and predictions and natural physical evidence supports those claims. Many of the predictions (such as the existence of "genes") are now considered to be facts.

Would a supernatural claim require "supernatural evidence" (isn't that a nonsensical word?). Could someone use natural evidence to prove something supernatural? If you claimed someone was dead for 3 days and then just rose up because of a particular god, how would I prove that was true? If I was to monitor the heartbeat of a dead person and it was flatline for three days and then started beating and the person arose what does that tell us? What evidence would prove it was supernatural cause or a certain god did it? Basically you still have no known cause.

So the setup to show legitimacy of just about every religion goes like this:
-An prophesy is made and recorded predicting that some unlikely event will occur
-A claim is made and recorded that the unlikely even has happened with many witnesses
-See! our religion is true. Look how great is our god !


This very friend I spoke about in the OP said that the only definition of supernatural which does make sense is this:

''Any physical event which does possess a NON-PHYSICAL cause''.

Do you think that definition makes sense?

P.S.: I did not know evolution predicted the existence of genes. That's very cool.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2021, 09:39:56 AM by Paolo »

Re: The Nature of Skepticism
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2021, 10:12:48 AM »
First off, those friends actually exist, though most of them are online friends. Sort of like you and I.

What I think? I think skepticism can be defined as ''doubt''. But doubt extends both ways. It can't ''favor'' nor ''run counter'' to the supernatural: all claims must be examined impartially, at least as much as humanly possible.

Does that count for an answer (not a rhetorical question, by the way)? It is my current ''opinion'', though it can change, of course.
That is a start of a discussion.  In my view, considering a viewpoint or idea or statement, I use a method.  Historical method, scientific method or the weighing of evidence for court; those are all good methods of attempting to find the truth.  It is about understanding and evaluating the evidence of any particular stance.  Let's consider George Washington.  Did he exist?  We have to look at the evidence.  There are hundreds/thousands of primary documents (created by a personal witness to a person or event) testifying to his existence.  We then examine each source to figure out if they are relating factual evidence or made up evidence.  Not every source can be deemed to be useful or factual.  For example, a Rev. Weems wrote about Washington to illustrate good character traits all of us should use.  He uses a story of a young Washington chopping down a cherry tree and then not lying to his dad about it.  Good story; not a truthful one, though.  How do we know?  Because there is not a mention of that story by anybody prior to Weems; nor another source for it after.  He made it up to fit his agenda. 

Supernatural.  Look at the word.  The 'super' means beyond nature.  For me nature is simply what is in the real world; it can be seen, touched, interacted with and is what is.  Empirical evidence shows us what it is.  There is nothing beyond nature that is real, for if something is real it is nature.  The 'soul' is not natural, for example.  It is quite common to refer to a person's 'soul'.  Yet there is no empirical evidence to support it's existence.  I don't express doubt about the existence of a soul, I say that it doesn't exist.  No doubt.  Why?  Because in the history of this planet, there has not been one single piece of empirical evidence produced that supports the existence of a soul.  I do not leave any wiggle room in saying it is my 'belief' that it does not exist.  But I do have an open mind--which means that if some empirical evidence is produced, then I will change my stance and accept the existence of souls as being true.

Empirical evidence is what allows us to understand what nature is.  Doubt has nothing to do with it.   
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Offline SGOS

Re: The Nature of Skepticism
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2021, 10:53:01 AM »
I like to see a comprehensive debate about the invisible pink unicorn, because some people may believe in one.  Then we should move on to Bigfoot, and the teapot that is said to orbit Jupiter.  These are all reasonable debates because each of those things, and millions of other similar things have been posited by actual people.  In the process of doing all this, the forum should be renamed "Redefining Skepticism to Make it More Usable for the Mentally Challanged."  After all, if you're going to be a true skeptic, you must be skeptical enough about skepticism to get rid of it when it no longer suits everyone's agenda.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2021, 10:55:45 AM by SGOS »

Online Hydra009

Re: The Nature of Skepticism
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2021, 11:08:07 AM »
What I think? I think skepticism can be defined as ''doubt''. But doubt extends both ways.
It's a related concept, but the two are very different.  People doubt that a god exists.  People doubt that the moon landing happened.  Some people even can't believe that it is not butter.

Of crucial importance is the reasoning that goes into these doubts.  A position commonly argued by atheists is scientific skepticism.  It's essentially a position of initial neutrality when a claim comes up, and a call for such claims to be investigated and either confirmed or disconfirmed.  This is a sort of middle path between dangerously taking claims on faith (the adoption of beliefs on mere say-so) and dangerously rejecting any new claim out of hand.  The key aporism is "keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out".

Scientific skepticism's foundation is empiricism - that claims can be investigated and supported by physical evidence.  In my dragon example, it's not enough for one person to swear up and down that they saw a dragon or for whole communities to say that there are dragons, it has to be empirically investigated - one has to find physical evidence that only a dragon could produce.  In this way, we winnow truth from mere stories.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2021, 11:10:00 AM by Hydra009 »