Is Skepticism the Antithesis of Faith?

Inspired by KIA…thank you, KIA!

Certain unbelievers like to claim that skepticism is the antithesis and opposite of faith, and thus the implication is that to have skepticism is not to have faith, but the problem is that not only is such a point of view philosophically uninformed, it is also, ultimately, backwards, for while it is true that a limited or selective skepticism  might seem to remove “faith” from one’s beliefs, the fact is that real and unvarnished and genuine and universal and un-selective skepticism not only does not remove faith from one’s heart, but it actually shows us how we all ultimately rest ourselves and our most fundamental and unavoidable beliefs on faith, for, for example, skepticism shows us that (barring theism) there is no non-circular way to justify our trust in our reason, and thus our acceptance of the validity of our reason rests, ultimately, on faith, and so too is the same (barring theism) with taking the reliability of our cognitive faculties on faith, and so too, as the great skeptic Hume showed us, does (barring theism) our trust in induction–the basis of nearly all science–rest on faith, and so too does skepticism show us that (barring theism), our trust in the value of and use of such explanatory values as simplicity rest on faith, and so on and so forth; thus, not only is skepticism not the opposite of faith, but rather, barring theism, skepticism shows us that nearly all our beliefs–again, barring theism–rest on nothing but faith, and so, perhaps with a deep irony does skepticism teach us that the very people, namely unbelievers, who claim that their skepticism is the opposite of faith are actually about as mistaken as they can be, for when skepticism is coupled with unbelief, it shows that all the unbelievers most fundamental beliefs–trust in reason, reliability of cognitive faculties, truth of induction, use of explanatory virtues, etc.–rest, ultimately, on little more than faith…and so those unbelievers, often claiming to have the most skepticism and the least faith, actually hold a position that has the most faith, and they actually have the least skepticism, for they do not realize that their dependence on faith given their lack of skepticism (and it should be noted that perhaps a few readings of the genuine skeptics, rather than just the “I-call-myself-a-skeptic-but-am-nothing-more-than-a-standard-materialist / naturalist” would be assistive in this regard).

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2 thoughts on “Is Skepticism the Antithesis of Faith?

  1. What you’ve argued and what you claim to have argued are not the same here.
    You have argued that scepticism is the complete opposite of faith, and that scepticism leads to not believing anything. (From which a conversation about Descartes and Russell, no doubt would ensue.)
    But you say you have argued that scepticism is not the opposite of faith, and instead that scepticism shows that one has faith. (Note: this is a non sequitur. I think what you mean to argue is that scepticism, which is in fact the opposite of faith, cannot be the entire way in which ‘sceptics’ function because, as you see it, there are only circular ways of making human reasoning alone reliable.)

    See that those are very different argument?

    I think a larger discussion about knowledge and ‘certainty’ might be useful and interesting, but I would really benefit from you clarifying your position.

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    • Allallt…although I am obviously trying to be somewhat “witty” and “poetic” in my posts, my point is, quite simply, that rather than leading us away from faith, true skepticism, when applied consistently and fearlessly, actually shows us that essentially all our core beliefs (trust in reason, use of induction, etc) rest on faith, for there is no non-circular way to justify those beliefs. So far from leading away from faith, skepticism leads us directly towards it, and it shows us that to be skeptical means that most of the way that we operate is on faith. Think, for example, of the skepticism of Hume. Hume’s skepticism led him to deny that we could know most commonsensical things. And yet his solution was to simply say that nature just inclines him to believe in these things in daily life, so he just believes, which is another way of saying that he takes these things on faith.

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