Skepticism: Means or an end?

by Mark McIntyre

I seem to recall that in the introduction to at least one of his books, C. S. Lewis offered the caveat that he was not a theologian. In a similar vein, prior to the material below, I must offer the caveat that I am not a philosopher nor the son of a philosopher.

In a post reflecting on the death of Christopher Hitchens, one commentator drew a contrast between skepticism as a pathway to truth and skepticism as a destination. In the former, skepticism is a methodology for seeking truth. In the latter, skepticism makes the statement that there is no truth to find.

It is one thing to be suspicious of truth claims and seek to verify them before believing. It is another thing entirely to reject all truth claims. A piece of lyric from a Rush song comes to mind, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” To maintain skepticism as an end or destination is an attempt to remain as a spectator on the sideline, but ultimately it fails. Skepticism is a choice in itself.

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It seems obvious to me that man is born to believe in something. As evidence of this I would point to the various religions that can be found around the world. Pantheistic, polytheistic, or monotheistic, there is quite a variety of beliefs. While the various religions are in fundamental disagreement on the particulars, they all are a function of belief.

But there is evidence that the irreligious also have a need to believe. Politicians, actors and musicians are followed with a devotion that borders on worship…

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