Doubt As Virtue?

Highlighting the benefits of doubt should come as no shock to an atheist community that has doubted the validity of at least one commonly held societal belief. I'm reminded of this quote from Bertrand Russell:

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
Probably the most interesting effect of this little truism with regards to religion (not that I would necessarily brand all theists as "stupid") is the fact that doubt is seen as an affront to coming closer to their God. While in popular culture doubt is shown to bring people closer to God, the tradition of theism demands certainty. Even though this certainty is rooted in a leap of faith almost paradoxically, I don't believe there can be a lot of compromise between doubt and certainty in a theistic lifestyle. The lifestyle changes that result from the adoption of religion is no simple thing; after all, the logistics seem rather difficult between going to church and praying with the thought creeping in the back of one's mind that there may be a 25% chance of this practice being futile.

I've heard many theists say that for atheists, evolution and naturalism are the "only game in the town" or else our worldviews crumble. Sure, I suppose in a sense it could be true that our conceptions of how humans came to be would be in error, but that in no way shows theism is true. After all, the alternatives could be another brand of theism, deism, or some other naturalistic explanation that we weren't creative enough to contemplate. The benefit of being a self-proclaimed skeptic is that, while you can hold onto beliefs with varying degrees of certainty, we hardly base our entire life's efforts around our worldviews considering we leave the door open for the possibility of being wrong.

Not that all atheists do this, obviously. Some are just as assured in competing moral positions as religious people. But I believe doubting all claims of the metaphysical variety can be a definite bonus to our attempts at gaining knowledge. It also helps tone down a bit of the zealousy that characterizes a lot of this world. This isn't exactly adopting some form of epistemological relativism or even moral relativism for that matter (as those are different discussions), but those are different than leaving the door open to falsification.


Anonymous said...

we're this far from nuking all of you....

the X-MAS vacuum cleaner for the atheists....

shermer, randi, myers, pz, dawkins, harris



why does everyone always want to PUNCH you, shermer?


take your meds, you little fckers...


now we are going to bury you...

And the lesson from all of this? DOUBLE!

What do you want, you little ****ers?

more of these idiots







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