Skeptical Challenge

Skeptical Challenge

How is RTB—or any thinking Christian—different from the Skeptics Society?

According to its website, “The Skeptics Society is a non-profit . . . organization whose goal is to promote skeptical thinking (i.e. thinking like a scientist).”

As a Christian ministry RTB’s larger (thus, different) goal is “to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries—consistently support, rather than erode confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature.”

But as far as the Skeptics Society’s goal is concerned, RTB’s scholars (and anybody associated with the ministry) affirm such a quest and operate in that manner as a matter of course. Scientists Hugh Ross, Fuz Rana, and Jeff Zweerink would all say skeptical thinking—thinking like a scientist—is a good thing. Philosopher Kenneth Samples might add that philosophical thinking—in fact, any well-reasoned thinking—is also helpful. But is there sufficient warrant for a typical skeptic’s type of skepticism?

Hugh says in Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job (p. 37) that he’s never met a true atheist. “I’ve encountered many individuals who adopt that label, but so far they’ve all been people with complaints against God—or against those who purportedly know him.”

History shows that believers have lived inconsistently enough to justify some complaining, but in the end a skeptic must contend with the evidence, arguments, and reasoning that undergird the Christian faith. If a skeptic says she does not find adequate evidence pointing to the God of the Bible, we’re obliged to believe her—we can’t see people’s hearts, after all—but one can’t help but wonder if it’s not true scientific skepticism, but rather cynicism (contemptuous distrust), that’s at play.

Cynicism seems to be consonant with what Ken Samples calls “hard agnosticism.” Ken provides a helpful description of the problem with hard (or dogmatic) agnosticism in a short, impactful article “Is Dogmatic Agnosticism Logically Self-Defeating?”

[T]he dogmatic form of agnosticism is actually self-defeating (at the same time affirming and denying the identical claim) for the position simultaneously asserts that one doesn’t know if God exists and yet knows enough about God to assert that no one can know that God exists. Hard agnostics, in effect, claim to have knowledge about a topic that they claim is not possible to know anything about.

Believers in God readily admit that there’s much unknown about him, but what is (or can be) known about God is sufficient for human beings to place their trust in him. Reasons To Believe exists to help others discover the variety of ways—from the tiniest, amazingly complex components of the cell to the vast, carefully crafted structure of the universe—the Creator has revealed himself. It is an awe-inspiring climb to knowledge with occasional (appropriate) sidetracks of skepticism, but the overall path fills open minds with ever-satisfying truth.

Are skeptics willing to join Christians on this fulfilling quest? Have we invited them?