About skepticism

Some time ago, I posted a couple of thoughts about atheism, showing that it is not adequate as a worldview. In fact, it is seriously flawed. Now, it is time to post a couple of thoughts about skepticism. Is skepticism a more viable worldview?

Let’s read what John Blanchard has to say on the subject:

Skepticism obviously falls foul of both theism and atheism, each of which says we do have sufficient data to come to a judgment. The issues are so important and complex that skepticism sounds commendably humble and perfectly reasonable — but is it either? It can hardly claim to be humble. No reasonable theist, however zealous, would seriously suggest that anyone can know everything there is to know about God, and such a person will freely admit that there are grey areas within his overall belief system. Yet that is not the same as skepticism; there is a difference between a mystery and a mirage! The sceptic, on the other hand, makes the bold claim that he alone has a clear picture, in which the truth is that no truth is knowable. Yet this makes the sceptic every bit as dogmatic as the theist (or, for that matter, the atheist). He is a believer; he is convinced that we can know nothing about God. But surely nobody can ever know that he can know nothing about God? After all, the sceptic can hardly shelter behind the principle that the burden of proof lies with the theist, because the burden of proof is always on the one who believes any idea — and the sceptic is a believer. Far from being a modest position, full-blown skepticism is exactly the opposite.

More importantly, is it reasonable? The modern philosopher B. A. G. Fuller points out that ‘the role of skepticism is to remind men that knowing with absolute certainty is impossible.’ But if this is the case, how can we know this statement with certainty? Skepticism claims that there is no objective truth, but in doing so it trips over its own feet. If the claim is true, then we can be sure about at least one thing, the claim itself, and if we can be sure about the claim, the claim itself must be false. Skepticism is self-contradictory, yet it seems happy to live with this, as it avoids the need to defend a dogma. It says that we must accept as certain truth that there is no such thing as certain truth and that we must cast doubt on everything except the statement that we must do so. Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, two professors of philosophy, pinpoint the clear contradictions in all forms of skepticism: ‘They all amount to saying that it is true that there is no truth, or we can know that we cannot know, or we can be certain that we cannot be certain, or it is a universal truth that there are no universal truths, or you can be quite dogmatic about the fact that you can’t be dogmatic, or it is an absolute that there are no absolutes, or it is an objective truth that there is no objective truth.’

John Blanchard, Does God Believe in Atheists?, pp. 35, 36.

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This is a brief assessment of the subject. More to come.

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