Skepticism: Faith and Authority


Most are not 100% skeptical all of time. For example, I consider myself a skeptic, but I don’t spend my time questioning whether the grass is really green or whether water is composed of H2O. I could, but I am fairly certain my original position that grass is green and water is composed of H2O is the correct one. There are certain people who will blatantly say that is never okay to take things on faith and authority, and when the idea that many people take, say science, on faith they try to weasel their way out.

However, taking things on faith and authority, in a very limited way, can be acceptable in certain situations. I think blind faith is generally a bad idea. Still, we need to consider non-blind faith. In other words, we need to consider faith that has a basis to exist. For example, I’ve studied evolution to some degree and I know some of the major findings supporting it. I don’t know a lot of the more complex studies having to do with evolution, but I generally accept most the mainstream findings of scientists. Why? Because, “faith” in these scientists is not blind. It is based on something factual and objective about this science in the first place. Also with science, I know the method. I trust the method; because, it’s method does weed hoaxes and the like. It is open to change and scrutiny. Is this improper? Given it’s record, I don’t think it is. I know how the scientific method works, and as far as can tell, it is working quite well at the moment. If, for example, I had actual knowledge that every part of Catholicism was true but I just wasn’t sure whether the deity was triune, I might take it on faith that my priest was right about God.

Also, I think it is appropriate to take things on authority sometimes, but it depends on the authority. Is the authority reliable/trustworthy? Does the authority have a good tract record? Does the authority have the knowledge to dispense a particular claim? Does the authority have his/her mental facilities in good working order?  Is the authority unbiased? These are questions that need an affirmative answer. The problem is that a lot of people depend on an authority who does not meet the previous qualifications. I’m not going to ask my tv repair man what’s wrong with my car. Likewise, I’m not going to ask a science question to a cleric.

I think most skeptics would agree with. Although, they might argue with how I’ve treated faith. They might say that what I’m arguing isn’t faith at all, but I’d like to hear an argument on why faith should be redefined. People don’t seem to realize that we greatly depend on faith and authority a good portion of the time. It isn’t always universally wrong to do so, but we should question ourselves from time to time about what ideas we’re accepting and why.

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