Atheists’ Skepticism as Better Explanation?

by Tom Gilson

There are many ironies in the list of “better explanations” atheists graciously provided in response to a recent blog post here, but perhaps none greater than atheists’ skepticism:

I figure if there’s an atheist worldview it might be the same as the scientific worldview, which means questioning things and looking for physical evidence, unlike the religious worldview which means trusting and submitting to authority.

There’s a sentiment in there that’s echoed in comments like,

Skepticism is a better method for examining the claims people make about the nature of reality…. Skepticism and empiricism are so important…. Faith implies belief without reasoning.

Now, here’s the irony: Christianity isn’t what they’ve described it to be, and it’s hard to tell whether they’ve done the investigation to check their facts. I’m not sure skepticism is really their approach to knowledge after all. I think it’s may be something more in the neighborhood of unquestioning disbelief toward positive religious claims and unquestioning belief of negative assessments of religion.

I’m sure that sounds harsh, and I need to temper it by owning up to a harsh reality on our own side. Contemporary Western Christianity has an unhealthy fear of questions. We need more unanswered ones. Our pastors seldom, if ever, end a sermon without wrapping it up neatly, all questions answered, and in this they are not following the example of Jesus Christ. There is even an authoritarian strain within Christianity that tries to command assent and squash doubt by forbidding questions. This is counterproductive. Research out of Fuller Seminary shows that youth whose questions are denied by parents or church leaders are far more likely to leave the faith than students whose questions are encouraged.

Western churches have done a lot right over the past several decades, and we’ve done many things wrong. I wonder whether this might be our greatest error of all: not following the teaching example of Christ, who left a lot of questions unanswered–until his listeners were fully ready for the answers…

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Atheists’ Skepticism as Better Explanation? – Thinking Christian