As an immaterialist, one of the funniest things that I hear is when atheistic-materialists and atheistic-naturalists claim that supernaturalism and theism are “woo woo” style beliefs (or just plain “woo” belief)–and note that “woo” is a term which the Skeptic’s Dictionary claims refers to “…ideas considered irrational or based on extremely flimsy evidence or that appeal to mysterious occult forces or powers” and it is generally used in a pejorative manner by materialists and naturalists in order to describe belief in such things as PSI, the soul, God, an afterlife, etc.–and now the reason that it is so humorous to hear materialists and naturalists use this “woo” term against their opponents is because it is actually materialist and naturalists themselves who, at the foundational level, hold to a belief that is as “woo” as any supernaturalist belief is, and is arguably even more “woo”, and this belief is the belief that matter actually exists, for while we in the West have all been conditioned to believe that belief in matter is the height of rationality, the fact is that the belief that matter exists is, upon reflection, obviously a woo-type belief, and we can see that this is the case in a number of different ways, with the first being the fact that even famous philosopher John Locke, for example, called matter a “thing which I know not what”, which meant that Locke was literally admitting that he had no idea what matter was, which makes matter the prime example of some mysterious thing that has strange occult like powers, and the fact is that progress today is just as bad, with modern philosophers and other thinkers not only unable to define what matter actually is in a comprehensive sense (see Hempel’s Dilemma for one such problem), but they have also changed what they mean by matter over the past few generations, and yet the problems of materialist “woo” do not end there, for belief in matter’s existence is also a woo-belief given that there is literally no non-question-begging evidence for the existence of matter, and no good reason to believe in matter given immaterialism’s explanatory scope and power, and there are actually good reasons, such as an appeal to simplicity–which is an appeal that materialists and naturalists, in other contexts, love to use–to deny the existence of matter, and so, as stated, not only is matter some mysterious thing with occult-like powers but belief in its existence is based on flimsy and easily-rebutted evidence; now, the point of mentioning this fact is not to necessarily support immaterialism–although a weakening of materialism will, practically-speaking, indeed provide some tacit support for immaterialism–but the point is rather to show that the materialist and naturalist has little warrant to condescendingly call supernaturalist beliefs “woo” when a woo-style belief is at the very heart of his materialist and naturalist worldview, and so as far as woo-beliefs are considered, the materialist and naturalist fair absolutely no better than the supernaturalist does.
It is at times contended by certain unbelievers that skepticism is the antithesis of “faith”–where faith is, presumably, meant to denote something like faith in God and/or faith in some religious doctrine–thus meaning that these unbelievers are essentially implying that the faithful, by virtue of their faith, cannot have skepticism, for skepticism would push them away from the type of faith articulated above, but the question thus becomes whether this is or is not the case, and the fact is that it is not the case, for not only can a theist and/or religious believer have skepticism, but skepticism can actually and easily lead a person to faith, such as faith in a divine being, for consider, for example, that a person might be entirely rational to think that either something like theism or atheistic-naturalism is true, but since the same person, via skepticism, could come to utterly doubt the causal power and explanatory viability of atheistic-naturalism to account for such undeniable things as life from non-life, the emergence of different life forms, the emergence of language, the coming about of sexual reproduction, the fine-tuning of the universe, consciousness, rationality, and so on and so forth, then, quite clearly, skepticism about the ability of the atheistic-naturalistic worldview to bring these things about might push one into the arms of theism; now, I am not, of course, saying that this will necessarily or absolutely be the case, but I am noting that it is entirely reasonable and legitimate not to see skepticism as the enemy of faith, but rather as a tool and way of thinking that could, quite rationally, push one to faith, and so those who claim that skepticism and faith are utterly opposed to each other are not only quite mistaken, but, apparently, they themselves were not skeptical enough of their own claim that skepticism and faith are polar opposites.
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).
Unbelievers and atheists often like to label themselves as skeptics and free-thinkers, and indeed, in our modern era the words ‘skeptic’ and ‘free-thinkers’ are almost taken as being synonymous with unbelief, and yet the ironic thing is that I would argue that some Christians are at least as skeptical and free-thinking, and arguably even more so–in fact, arguably much more so–than any typical theistic unbeliever, for take me, for example, a Christian immaterialist, who doubts the actual exists of matter based on my free-thinking, and then compare this doubt to the doubt shown by your average self-professed modern skeptic and you will thus see that in terms of really being skeptical about certain uncritical beliefs that most people accept (such as the existence of matter), someone like a Christian immaterialist truly is more skeptical and free-thinking than a professional skeptic; and so, the point of this point is to simply note that not only can a Christian, not to mention a general theistic immaterialist, be a skeptic and free-thinker, but he can be a mite bit more skeptical and freely-thinking than the unbeliever who calls himself a “skeptic”.