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Thomas The Skeptic - Something For Ironhorse


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Since you don't seem to understand what a skeptic is, what skepticism is and how to think skeptically, Ironhorse... this is for you.

 

John 20 : 24 - 29, NIV.

 

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

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Thomas was thinking and acting skeptically.

The default position of skepticism isn't belief - it's un-belief.  Skeptics don't believe without evidence.  Thomas asked for evidence and Jesus gave him that evidence.  Therefore, Thomas believed on the basis of the evidence he saw.  He didn't believe without having the evidence he wanted.

 

Now please note the following, ULTRA-important point!

 

After Jesus ascended into heaven it was impossible for anyone to believe like Thomas - using the direct evidence of their own eyes to confirm that Jesus was indeed raised from death.  So, every believing Christian since then has done what is outlined in the verse 29.  They have believed WITHOUT seeing. 

 

Believing without seeing is NOT skepticism.

It is the opposite.

 

You can prove this to yourself by doing two things.

 

1.  Answer this question truthfully.

Did you get to see the Jesus' wounds in his hands and in his side BEFORE you believed?

If you didn't see any physical evidence, in the same way as Thomas did, then you believed without seeing and were not thinking or acting skeptically when you did so.

 

2.

Check every reference in the NT about people coming to believe in Jesus, after he ascended.

Did the Corinthians, the Romans, the Galatians or any of the believers in Jerusalem and Israel ever do as Thomas did and see the evidence of Jesus' resurrection BEFORE they believed?  Did Damaris, at the Areopagus?  Did Paul and Barnabus' jailer?  Did anyone?

 

You see how this works?

We are skeptics.

Like Thomas, we will not believe unless we see the evidence.

That is what being skeptical means.

 

Thanks,

BAA.

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"Because you have seen me, you have believed;

blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

 

~John 20:29

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"Because you have seen me, you have believed;

blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

 

~John 20:29

So you admit that you are a believer and NOT a skeptic.

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"Because you have seen me, you have believed;

blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

 

~John 20:29

 

Are you trying to fight me, when I'm trying to help you, Ironhorse?

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"Because you have seen me, you have believed;

blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

 

~John 20:29

 

Exactly!

 

This is the whole point of this thread.  You have not seen, yet you have believed.  Therefore, you are NOT a skeptic.

 

Please confirm that you understand that you are not a skeptic.

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Some further passages of scripture for your consideration, Ironhorse.

 

Galatians 3 : 1, NIV.

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.

 

None of the Galatians ever saw the evidence of Jesus' resurrection as Thomas had - with their own eyes.

They believed in what they were told about Jesus, because he was PORTRAYED as crucified and risen to them by Paul.

 

Hebrews 11 : 1 - 3, NIV.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 

This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

 

Please compare and contrast this definition of faith with the words and actions of Thomas.

He was thinking and acting skeptically.  As a skeptic he had no confidence in and no assurance about what he did not see.   He needed to see for himself and to critically examine the evidence of the Jesus' wounds, BEFORE he would believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead. 

 

Thomas' 'show-me-and-I'll-believe' approach is the very definition of skepticism. 

It is the total opposite of your, 'I-believe-without-seeing' approach to Christ and Christianity.  Which is why you are NOT a skeptic, when it comes to your Christian faith.  You accept and believe and trust and have faith, without question and without questioning.  This is not skepticism and you are not thinking skeptically, when you blindly (without seeing) accept what the Bible tells you.

 

Here are some useful secular definitions of what skepticism is for you.

 

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/skepticism

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skepticism

 

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/skepticism

Do you see what the Antonym (opposite of) skepticism is?  

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So, assuming you now understand that when it comes to your Christian faith, you are NOT a skeptic, please indicate your agreement.

 

Thanks,

 

BAA.

 

 

 

 

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Please confirm that you are NOT a skeptic, Ironhorse.

 

Thanks,

 

BAA

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Is someone trying to be both a believer and a skeptic at the same time?

 

Someone's trying to save face but failing at it (cough, IH...)

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Is someone trying to be both a believer and a skeptic at the same time?

 

I am.

 

From:http://skeptoid.com/skeptic.php

 

To quote Dr. Shermer: Skepticism is not a position; it's a process.

 

The popular misconception is that skeptics, or critical thinkers, are people who disbelieve things. And indeed, the common usage of the word skeptical supports this: "He was skeptical of the numbers in the spreadsheet", meaning he doubted their validity. To be skeptical, therefore, is to be negative about things and doubt or disbelieve them.

 

The true meaning of the word skepticism has nothing to do with doubt, disbelief, or negativity. Skepticism is the process of applying reason and critical thinking to determine validity. It's the process of finding a supported conclusion, not the justification of a preconceived conclusion.

 

It's thus inaccurate to say "Skeptics don't believe in ghosts." Some do. Many skeptics are deeply religious, and are satisfied with the reasoning process that led them there. Skeptics apply critical thinking to different aspects of their lives in their own individual way. Everyone is a skeptic to some degree.

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There was an ancient philosophical movement or "school" actually called the Skeptics, and some adherents of other traditions were known as skeptics, too. A leading edge of their position was epoche, or suspension of judgment in matters where they thought the evidence of our senses can be interpreted in more than one way.  They argued that this stance contributes to a happy life because we don't agonize over stuff that can't be known.  Examples: about the gods, even about what lies behind our sensory presentations.  

I think "suspension of judgment" even today has to be part of an orientation of skepticism.  Many people want to go beyond the point that the ancient skeptics went, though, to form judgments, at least based on probability.  

 

However you want to factor in the history of skepticism, Ironhorse, what you say above reduces skepticism to an attitude of rationality.  You might have been a skeptic at one stage, but i don't see you applying even the rigorous process of reasoning and critical thinking that you extol in your above post.  You've been ignoring all the evidence, for example, that BAA has offered about the history of science. It falsifies your claims that (Protestant) Christianity as a system of thought was a necessary condition for science. 

 

Your last assertion, that everyone is a skeptic to some degree, nullifies any significance you wanted to attach to your earlier claim that you were a skeptic.  If everyone is a skeptic, then it's trivially true that you were a skeptic, so drop the boast/claim, please.

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And since you believed in Christ without seeing any physical evidence of his resurrection for yourself,  was your decision to accept him as savior and lord... a skeptical one?

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Many skeptics are deeply religious, and are satisfied with the reasoning process that led them there.

 

By definition, a religion that relies on faith requires that believers have no evidence; if the religion could prove its claim there would be no room for faith. Skepticism itself does not imply the use of logic or critical thinking. Let's not confuse a simple issue here.

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Ironhorse, I contend that the true meaning of skepticism (as defined by Shermer and Dunning) doesn't apply to you.

Meaning that you are not a skeptic.

 

By quoting John 20 : 29 you've confirmed that you DID NOT apply reason and critical thinking to determine the validity of Christ's resurrection.  Instead you applied NO reason and NO critical thinking at all, blindly (without seeing) believing that he was raised from the dead. That's not skeptical thinking, not skepticism and not being a skeptic.

 

Another example:  Your belief that the Protestant reformation allowed the rise of science in Europe.

Did you skeptically examine this claim and Kobe's assertions?  Did you apply reason and critical thinking to the concept, testing it by searching out examples of science that pre-dated the 1500's?  No and No.  So you weren't thinking skeptically on this issue either.

 

Further examples:  There's too many times where you've blithely stated, "I believe..." for me to cover them all.

Belief without reason and critical thinking is the antithesis of skepticism.  If you had been thinking skeptically in any of those threads, you wouldn't have written, "I believe..."  You would have cited your reasoning and your critical thinking.  But you didn't.  Many times over.  Therefore, you haven't been thinking skeptically - by anyone's definition of that word.

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But I commend your efforts to get out of the bind (being a believer and a skeptic at the same) you're in.

The way you used Shermer's and Dunning's words to try and neutralize the meaning of skepticism shows that you are capable of reason and critical thinking.  At least when it comes to trying to save face.

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Now, if you could just apply that kind of thinking to scripture... wink.png

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Cheers,

 

BAA

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ficino,

 

Does "suspension of judgment" imply admitting that one does not know? And if so, would that essentially be the same as "agnosticism"? Or at least the type of agnosticism that states, "I do not know" in contrast to "I cannot know."

 

"...to form judgments, at least based on probability." Would these be "assumptions"?

 

Thanks.

 

The ancient skeptics argued against the possibility of knowledge, in a strong sense, of many things.  I don't have the texts at my fingertips, but they came pretty close to being dogmatists about the impossibility of getting KNOWLEDGE from the senses!  Their goal, as I understand it, was fairly practical, i.e. to remove anxiety by trying to show that we can't get the answer anyway about a lot of things we get anxious about.  I think they tipped into "I cannot know" territory.  Still, they lived in the world, and they didn't deny that "I tawt I thaw a puddy tat" etc.  They just wouldn't say they could prove there was a cat there.  I guess you could say they assumed that probability would be a good guide.

 

I think Aristotle really contributed a lot more to philosophy than did the skeptics.

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Ironhorse, I contend that the true meaning of skepticism (as defined by Shermer and Dunning) doesn't apply to you.

Meaning that you are not a skeptic.Cheers,

 

BAA

BAA,

 

It's been several years since I read Shermer. Would you please summarize his definition of "skeptic" for me?

 

Thanks.

 

 

I just followed Ironhorse's link, Human.  

 

Thanks,

 

BAA

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Is someone trying to be both a believer and a skeptic at the same time?

 

I am.

 

From:http://skeptoid.com/skeptic.php

 

To quote Dr. Shermer: Skepticism is not a position; it's a process.

 

The popular misconception is that skeptics, or critical thinkers, are people who disbelieve things. And indeed, the common usage of the word skeptical supports this: "He was skeptical of the numbers in the spreadsheet", meaning he doubted their validity. To be skeptical, therefore, is to be negative about things and doubt or disbelieve them.

 

The true meaning of the word skepticism has nothing to do with doubt, disbelief, or negativity. Skepticism is the process of applying reason and critical thinking to determine validity. It's the process of finding a supported conclusion, not the justification of a preconceived conclusion.

 

It's thus inaccurate to say "Skeptics don't believe in ghosts." Some do. Many skeptics are deeply religious, and are satisfied with the reasoning process that led them there. Skeptics apply critical thinking to different aspects of their lives in their own individual way. Everyone is a skeptic to some degree.

 

ironhorse,

 

I've read and listened to Michael Shermer. Would you care to elaborate on his definition of "skeptic" and "skepticism"? Please refresh my memory, it's been several years since I read his books. Do you look to Shermer as a source for defining and guiding you through this process?

 

Thanks,

 

+ Human

 

 

I have not listened to him or read any of his books. I do like (and agree) with the passages I quoted by him.

What book by him do you recommend I read? 

 

sdelsolray mentioned childhood indoctrination. As I have said here before, I was encouraged by my parents

to question everything. I was not brainwashed by my parents or a wild eyed preacher.

 

I don't follow any particular guidelines or process. I'm just driven to find out the truth.

I simply read, study, research a topic and

come to, what I believe, is a reasonable conclusion.

 

The dictionary definition of skeptic:

 

"a person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions."

~from a dictionary

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I have not listened to him or read any of his books. I do like (and agree) with the passages I quoted by him.

What book by him do you recommend I read? 

 

sdelsolray mentioned childhood indoctrination. As I have said here before, I was encouraged by my parents

to question everything. I was not brainwashed by my parents or a wild eyed preacher.

 

I don't follow any particular guidelines or process. I'm just driven to find out the truth.

I simply read, study, research a topic and

come to, what I believe, is a reasonable conclusion.

 

The dictionary definition of skeptic:

 

"a person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions."

~from a dictionary

 

 

IH (from another thread)

http://www.ex-christian.net/topic/63596-interactive-chart-of-bible-contradictions/?p=971220

 

I can't prove scientifically God exist.

I can't answer every question about the Bible.

I can't explain every so called contradiction in scriptures.

I can't prove Jesus rose from the dead.

I can't prove any of this with a concrete answer.

 

Now he says:

I simply read, study, research a topic and

come to, what I believe, is a reasonable conclusion.

 

Clearly he is lying.

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There we go, how's it look?

 

skepticism-by-ih-i-simply-study-a-topic-

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sdelsolray mentioned childhood indoctrination. As I have said here before, I was encouraged by my parents

to question everything. I was not brainwashed by my parents or a wild eyed preacher.

 

Childhood indoctrination need not involve brainwashing by parents to a wild eyed preacher.  It often simply involves (i) frequent exposure to certain religious dogma and (ii) expectations of trusted adults and peers.  In your case, since your father was a Baptist minister, and since you were raised and live in the Southern United States, the following sample questions would begin to explore your childhood indoctrination:

 

1)  Did you go to church regularly?  Sundays?  Wednesday nights?  Other times?  Were you expected to go?  Required to go?

2)  Did you attend functions organized by the church (other than worship services), such as Bible studies, prayer meetings, summer Bible camp, musical performances (as player or listener), etc.?

3)  Were you, as a youth, ever elevated to a position of power or control within the church, such as youth leader?

4)  Was there an event in your life (as a child) where you declared your were "saved" or "in the spirit" or some other similar pronouncement?  Was there an expectation that you would do this?  Was there a religious event or ceremony at which this was acknowledged?

5)  What percentage of the children you went to grade school with were Christians?  High school?  College?

6)  Did either of your parents, when disciplining you for perceived wrongful action on your part, invoked any form of religious dogma upon you, such as "God is watching you" or "You should pray to Jesus for forgiveness" or "If you continue down that path you will end up in Hell"?

7)  Did a member of your nuclear family say grace (or some other religious statement) before you were allowed to eat food at the dinner table?

 

I could list dozens of other questions, all focused on (i) frequent exposure to certain religious dogma or (ii) expectation of trusted adults and peers.

 

Your claim that you were not indoctrinated with a particular version of the Christian religion rings quite hollow, most likely because you have yet to realize the indoctrination to which you were exposed.

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I don't follow any particular guidelines or process. I'm just driven to find out the truth.

I simply read, study, research a topic and

come to, what I believe, is a reasonable conclusion.

ironhorse,

 

While this is a process of some sort, it doesn't seem like a process with any clear purpose or even any realistic goal. It seems that you aren't so much "driven" (as you state) to find out the truth, as much as you are simply curious to learn and acquire knowledge. That's okay; it's a good and sincere beginning.

 

You state that you don't follow a process, but it is a process nevertheless. But without "any particular guidelines" you have little or no basis for gauging whether you are approaching or reaching "the truth."

 

You seem relatively young, and this is the way younger people often go about investigating matters of truth, reality, etc. I approached life this way myself for many years, as I scrutinized my own beliefs. Only after a few decades of living, did the coupling of experience and knowledge, along with continual observation and analysis, help me sort things out.

 

However, since you are here and seeking advice from other people who have gone through what you seem to be beginning to go through, you don't need to spend decades of meandering in a forest without a map, compass, or knowledge of the constellations. You can benefit from other people's experiences and perspectives.

 

Best wishes,

 

+ Human

 

2 to 1 says Ironhorse is north of 50 years old.

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Ironhorse,

 

You were encouraged by your parents to question everything.

 

So were you practicing this (skepticism) when you believed without seeing that Jesus was raised from the dead?

 

You weren't brainwashed.

 

So what kind of skeptical  thinking were you doing when you believed (blindly) that Jesus was raised from the dead?

 

You don't follow any particular guideline or process.

 

So you didn't follow Thomas' process of skeptical thinking when you came to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead?

 

You're driven to find out the truth.

 

Except for when you chose to blindly believe the untestable truth of the Bible regarding Jesus' resurrection?

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Quite sure you're skeptic?

 

 

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On July 17, in post #31 of the Interactive Chart of Bible Contradictions thread, Ironhorse wrote...

 

"I am a skeptic of everything I read, see or hear."

 

Therefore I must conclude that Ironhorse came to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead via the medium of braille!

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Ironhorse: Do you think that you can objectively analyze the biblical claims for Xtianity while still holding onto the belief that Jesus was the son of god and rose from the dead? Could you suspend your belief just long enough to complete an honest analysis of the truth of those biblical claims?  bill

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