Skepticism and Gullibility

Which side has them? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently on the Unbelievable Facebook group, there has been a discussion about skepticism and gullibility. The idea is some people are rational and thus skeptical of the fantastic stories in the Bible and God decides to give them Hell for this whereas as the gullible Christians believe everything they read and get rewarded. Some of you are already seeing problems with this.

At the start, it assumes that if someone believes the Bible they must be gullible. Now we could say if someone was skeptical of the Bible, they are a skeptic, but there is a rational skepticism and an irrational skepticism. It is also possible to be a Christian and also have a skeptical mindset. I would describe myself as one such person.

For an irrational skepticism, I was in a discussion not too long ago with someone on Facebook who was making statements about the invalidity of prayer, so I pointed him to Candy Gunther-Brown’s work. He insisted I didn’t know what peer-review was to which I gave a definition. He then wanted to know this work was peer-reviewed. I pointed out it was published by Harvard University Press which does peer-review and that wasn’t enough.

I then emailed the author who told me it went through a rigorous peer-review process since that is what Harvard has. I then had to take a screenshot of the email to show that it was real and that this had been done. Then the skeptic kept insisting I give parts of the book to them so they could see the claims. I was already getting tired of that and decided to move on. I consider this definitely an irrational skepticism.

One other sign of this is that it asks for unreasonable amounts of evidence. If you insist the only way you will believe in Jesus is if you have a personal experience, then there is really no point in debating. After all, you have already decided the evidence will be insufficient.

However, while it is the case that too many Christians can be gullible, atheists can also be gullible. How many buy into the idea that Jesus never even existed as if this is a hot debate in the field of scholarship? What is amusing is how many of these people go after young-Earth creationists.

I realize some of my readers are YECs and I think they would certainly admit that yes, their ideas on the history of Earth are not accepted within the academic community. So are they not outliers like mythicists are? Yes, but there are more PhDs in a relevant field who are YECs than there are in corresponding fields who are mythicists. Not only that, at least YECs can say that they base their arguments on the authority of God, which I can understand even if I disagree. Mythicists don’t have that.

There are other myths that are believed. What about accounts such as millions being killed in the Inquisition? What about the idea that the Middle Ages were a dark period where all science was banned? What about the idea that if you found one contradiction in Scripture that all of theism and Christianity would be disproved?

And where are many of these claims found? On the internet. Ideas that were tossed aside decades ago are given new life on the internet and treated like a big secret that is being covered up. These are conspiracy theories for atheists.

Someone could be a skeptic, read both sides, and decide Christianity has the better arguments. Remember, skepticism is for a purpose. It is to help keep you from believing false beliefs, but it is not to keep you from believing anything and too many Christians and atheists both are very prone to believing something that already agrees with them. (This also happens in politics.)

As for if God will reward someone for being gullible, such a person just goes in the right direction and God doesn’t cast them out because they have bad epistemology. A non-Christian will not be punished because they were skeptics per se. It will be for the sins that they committed. Christianity is a faith that tells us to examine all things and hold to what is true. We should still do that.

I encourage skepticism, especially in the age of the internet. Go out and read the best books as the best material will not be found on the internet, and I say that as one who regularly puts material on the internet. If you are skeptical, be an informed skeptic and not an irrational one.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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