Faith amidst Cynicism and Skepticism

Today’s world is cynical of all things not least of faith. Even the most sympathetic to the Christian faith struggle with the sense of certainty. In a world as pluralistic as ours, it is difficult to feel any real sense of certainty about what we personally believe. We are often plagued by the questions of social conditioning and historical context. “What if I believe what I believe simply because I grew up in the Bible Belt”, for example? Or “Have I been predisposed to believe because of the home I grew up in and the world around me that supported those beliefs”? Or “Would I have lived in another time and another place would I have been a Muslim instead?” Questions similar to these often plague people of faith. What’s more, these kinds of questions are the meat and potatoes of skeptics.

Others have become disillusioned and cynical because of their experience of the Church. For some there is a deep wound os some kind hidden behind a sharp cynicism of organized Church.

I think, however, that having faith is superior to cynicism and skepticism. Here are six reasons.

  1. Neither position can claim a place of “higher ground” in regard to certainty.
  2. Neither path is less risky.
  3. Neither is less susceptible to error.
  4. Faith opens up the possibility for that illusive sense of meaning in life as one commits oneself to something.
  5. Faith is open to ways of knowing beyond methodological naturalism.
  6. Faith can better incorporate the human predicament, that is the limits of the human condition.

For anyone struggling with skepticism an excellent book I’ve recently read is Daniel Taylor’s The Myth of Certainty. It has been out for a while, but still as relevant as it was a decade ago, perhaps even more so in the second decade of the 21st century.

  • Anonymous

    I think you mean elusive, not illusive in #4, right?

  • Anonymous

    As a skeptic, I need to be convinced! ;)

    The power of claims #1-3 kinda depend on the persuasiveness of the last three.

    #4 I look around me and find that those with faith and those without seem to find some measure of meaning in life. It is not clear to me that the faithful have lives of more meaning than the rest of us. Perhaps I am just too jaded…

    #5 The big question here is whether “ways of knowing beyond methodological naturalism” produce higher quality truths. Everyday, I encounter those of faithful who seem to “know” all sorts of squirrelly things.

    #6 Can you expand on this? Do you mean that belief in a higher power explains the futilities of human existence better than facing the raw fact of human limitation? It seems to me that such an attitude papers over the human predicament. If by “incorporates” you mean “makes bearable” you have an arguable point.

    These all sound good in theory but the truly clever can spin an elegant, self-consistent theory out ether and fairy wings. For this reason I always look to how well a claim matches the everyday experience of real people (see#5!) For instance, if faith brings greater meaning in your life, I expect to see a peace in your demeanor that cannot be explained away.

    I am assuming that by “faith” you mean Christian Faith and not mere adherence to any transcendent believe? Number 5 doesn’t seem consistent with a faith that I will someday win the lottery.

    • Tom

      “Can you expand on this? Do you mean that belief in a higher power explains the futilities of human existence better than facing the raw fact of human limitation? It seems to me that such an attitude papers over the human predicament. If by “incorporates” you mean “makes bearable” you have an arguable point.”

      I guess belief in God explains better why we rail against such futilities; we were made for something more.

  • http://1minutedailyword.com/ Steve Martin

    I spent a good portion of my life not believing. I didn’t want to.

    There’s a part of me that still does not want to. I want to be a god unto myself. Have everything revolve around me.

    But Christ came (somehow) and grabbed a hold of me, and gave me faith. Not that I still don’t have some doubts now and then, but those doubts don’t overwhelm me and take over.

    I would never have guessed in a million years that this would have happened to me. Maybe it’s not quite as dramatic as Saul who on his way to Damascus to arrest and maybe kill a few Christians…becomes one himself when Jesus grabs a hold of him.

    He truly is an amazing and unpredictable God, that’s for sure.

    Thanks.

  • Joseph Bryant

    I remember growing up in the church and being taught about Jesus as Savior, but I admit, until I met him for myself it may had been “Faith amidst Cynicism and Skeptism”. Now, I know He is real because He lives inside me.


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