Appropriately Skeptical Thomas

Appropriately Skeptical Thomas April 6, 2013

The above cartoon depicts the caricature of a doubter, and specifically of Thomas who became known as “Doubting Thomas.” But is skepticism in the face of seemingly incredible claims really inappropriate? Was Thomas the fool depicted in the cartoon above, or wiser than far too many gullible Christians today, whose unwillingness or inability to doubt in an appropriate way makes them liable to become the victims of charlatans?

On this topic see also Steve Pankey’s post, “Doubting Thomas Didn’t Doubt” and Cameron Trimble’s “The Faithful’s Doubt is our Saving Grace.”


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  • Dan Ortiz

    What fascinated me about Tomas, is that his scepticism lead him to declare (or maybe even better, make the connection) that Jesus was divine. When he stated “My Lord My God” he was re-using the Shema to declare Jesus as Adonai.

    • I think that reading the Shema into that passage is perhaps going too far, especially given that the author earlier depicted Jesus as calling the Father “the only true God.”

  • ginmemphis

    I don’t know why Thomas was picked on. Jesus had already shone his wounds to the other disciples. (John 20:20)

  • Thanks for linking to my blog.

  • T. Webb

    It depends. For many (very many?) the skeptical approach is presented as if it is “neutral” or “objective” or a “default” position, but a skeptical approach has its own baggage that is rarely questioned, as far as I can see. Or it would be heresy against dogma to suggest such at the university I attended.

  • beallen0417

    Is it the belief of the author of this post that there is certainty regarding the existence of a historical Thomas, the disciple?

    • Certainty? It has been a long while since you’ve commented here, and you have learned nothing about how history works in the interim? How disappointing.

      • beallen0417

        “Was Romulus a political genius or simply lucky he arrived at the right spot at the right time?”

        Is that something someone with a knowledge of history would write without any qualification?

        I would argue that they would not. A person with knowledge that a character is likely fictional should make that issue plain. Thomas as depicted in the gospels is a narrative man. There is no historical evidence for a real Thomas who was an actual disciple. Speaking about whether he was smart or not is like speaking about whether Gollum was fussy or not.

        • There is not “no evidence” but thank you for reminding me of why I gave up trying to have serious conversations with you on a past occasion. It is all flooding back to me now.

          Be that as it may, it certainly makes sense to talk about how characters are portrayed in literature, as I was doing in my post.