Once a Skeptic, Always a Skeptic

Seth Andrews tells a great story of Amanda, someone who was raised in a religious home but just asked too many questions… you can take a wild guess as to how this story ends.

My guess is that her history aligns closely with many of yours:

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • SteveS

    Great video! I have always been the “turd in the punchbowl” in my family. When I came out at age 10, my Mother went out and bought me a King James bible… It didn’t have the desired effect.

  • kevin

    If one is born a skeptic, then the truly skeptical move is to be skeptical of skepticism.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LJ3YWZEE6A46RUDHWPGYVSK4DI david e

    Yes, but skepticism holds up under scrutiny.

  • jose

     I’d like to add that having a skeptical attitude doesn’t mean remaining in doubt and undecisive forever. A skeptic gathers info, evaluates different possibilities, and then we use that to reach a conclusion. That’s the whole point, really: trying to make an inference to the best decision.

    Then, you should be skeptical of skepticism, and you may conclude that it’s a good attitude to have because it works.

  • ortcutt

    Being skeptical means being inquisitive.   I would certainly encourage everyone to be inquisitive about everything, including their own inquisitivity.  

  • OregoniAn

    Y0u’re being sarcastic.. Right?? It’s been a long day, and I’m almost at the point where I believe someone would be dumb/stupid/crazy enough to actually say something like that. Nawww “Yer kiddin’.. Funny post there Kev!!  =)

  • kevin

    No, I’m serious. Challenging the views (even one of skepticism) at the core of one’s identity is a vital part of personal growth.

  • Trickster Goddess

    When I was 15 I asked our youth pastor a lot of questions about God that he found difficult to answer. After several months of questioning, he grew frustrated with me and ended it by intoning that there were some things we just weren’t meant to know.

    To that I responded with one final question: “Then why did God give me the curiosity to wonder about these things?”

  • Msironen

    Being “skeptical of skepticism” makes literally no sense. It would basically constitute thinking to yourself “Hmm, perhaps I should just start accepting various truth claims without any inquiry”. 

    Skepticism cannot lead into rejecting skepticism much like rationality cannot lead into irrationality (kinda like when Spock complains about Kirk’s “irrational” play style after losing to him in chess, when actually by winning Kirk must have played rationally by definition).

  • http://www.facebook.com/rob.rennie.56 Rob Rennie

    The Bible is full of supernatural phenomena, but this doesn’t mean it’s not true. It just means that you haven’t experienced anything supernatural. If you did, you would renounce your atheism immediately.  

  • kevin

    A problem with skepticism is that those applying it often seem to pretend they do so from a neutral position.  I’m skeptical of skepticism with the hope that I become more aware of my own prejudices, for only in considering how someone else views my views can I begin to see the unspoken prejudices in my views.  When I simply write off someone else’s views skeptically, I never get the chance to see the strangeness in my own views thru their eyes.

    Another problem with skepticism is that it is assumed to lead to truth, but there is no way to show that it actually does.

  • John

    Well, I would need some way to verify that it wasn’t just a hallucination or some sort of trick.  If it could be proven as supernatural, then you’re absolutely right, I would accept it.  But since there hasn’t ever been a proven supernatural occurrence in the past, I don’t think it’s too likely that it’ll happen in the future.

  • Maria

    This is a great video. When I told my mother in high school how I felt, I also mentioned that a few of my friends felt the same way. She then interpreted that to other people (as in telling a woman at church) as my friends were influencing my thoughts. But I have vivd memotries of just sitting and thinking these things through. This would be a great video for her to see to perhaps understand where I was/am coming from. Can’t say I went to a religious school, but the beginning of the video is exactly me! I had memorized all the stories and commandments and whatnot, never stopping to actually asses whether I genuinely believed. Once I did, (around 16) well, we all know from there. It just always frustrates me to think that my mother seems to think I wasn’t thinking for myself.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    My wonderful wife was the same way as a teen, asking her Lutheran confirmation teacher difficult questions. The class began to giggle whenever she spoke up, anticipating that he wouldn’t be able to give a smooth reply. So he took her aside and clearly implied that he’d make trouble for her parents in the community if she didn’t shut up. Both being handicapped, her parents were vulnerable in the community, so she did shut up, but that was the end of her interest in organized religion. 

  • Elisha C

     I’ve experienced plenty of strange things in my life, but that doesn’t send me running to the Bible. First of all, I acknowledge that many “supernatural” things have logical explanations. And furthermore, a belief that there are things outside the realm of human understanding is not the same as a belief in a god, let alone any one particular god. If I were to experience something that I truly could not find a rational explanation for, that still would not mean that I’d immediately accept that there is one all-knowing all-powerful super-being that created everything around me and I am somehow beholden to. I wouldn’t renounce my atheism, I’d just say that there are some things that can’t be easily explained.

    Also, supernatural phenomena aside, the Bible is full of so much garbage that has been scientifically and historical disproven that I can say pretty confidently that it is not true.

  • brianmacker

    Exactly the position of pan-critical rationalism.

  • brianmacker

    He is an actual well thought out philosphical position.   See William Warren Bartley III

  • brianmacker

    Here is a great book review of “Retreat to Commitment” which should get the ball rolling for you.  


  • brianmacker

    It makes sense if you have a well defined philosophy of skepticism. Then skepticism itself becomes a truth claim. I define skepticism as holding all knowledge tentatively with one’s mind open to the possibility it might be proven false. There is no reason one can’t hold such a belief (or principle) tentatively. No contradiction arises, and yet it might just be a false belief ( or principle). I have yet to hear any good argument or evidence against my brand of skepticism, but that doesn’t mean it is nonexistent.

  • brianmacker

    I have experienced the supernatural and I am still an atheist. I opened a jar of smuckers hot fudge and when I flipped the lid over some fudge was stuck to the inside in the likeness of a smiley face. From what I understand this is a miracle, or at least the people who see Jesus on toast think so.

  • Marco Conti

    What you are really doing is proofing yourself against skepticism. By taking this stance against it, you can honestly say to yourself that any criticism of something you believe in can be discounted a priori because coming from a skeptical point of view it is safely ignored. 

    It is not true that skepticism always arrives at the truth, but among all the different ways that we can approach reality, skepticism does give you a better chance than the alternatives.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Tracy.Bradley1 Tracy Bradley

    I experienced plenty of things that I thought (at the time) were supernatural, and I was an atheist… didn’t ‘renounce’ atheism at all. Though I’m not sure one can renounce a lack of belief in something.