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Is it good to be skeptical? What does it mean to be a skeptic? Are skeptics to be skeptical about all things, or are they able to be skeptical about some things, while being a true believer about other things? Skepticism is generally a questioning attitude or doubts towards one or more items of putative knowledge or belief or dogma. It is often directed at domains, such as the supernatural, morality, theism, or knowledge. “Skepticism is about doubt, and doubt is everywhere in the world around us today.” Are skeptics genuine skeptics, employing skepticism regardless of the subject, or are we really talking about selective skepticism?
This is an issue that should concern every skeptic. The skeptic will generally accuse Christian of being biased, untrustworthy from the start, incapable of being objective. When in fact, it is the skeptic who is being biased, untrustworthy from the start, incapable of being objective, as they employ a double standard. When we are looking at secular history, historians come across balanced, fair, reasonable but when it comes to the Bible, there is a tremendous double standard. For example, OT & NT manuscripts are not even viewed as archaeological evidence, authors are unknowables until they are proven to be so, and the bar is raised when it comes to the level of evidence needed. The normal way of investigating historical events, peoples, and places ostensibly are thrown out the window. There is very good internal and external evidence for almost everything about the Bible. If secular historians had the level of evidence that we have for God’s Word, they would be beside themselves with joy. Much of their evidence is centuries removed from the historical setting and very limited.
The Skeptic says that he tries to treat everything skeptically, but he is really applying selective skepticism. When he comes across what the Roman historian Tacitus said based on 33 manuscripts 750-900 years or more removed, or what Plato said 1,300 years removed in some 210 manuscripts, they do not even pause, and it is accepted unquestionably. However, the moment it is about anything that comes from the 27 books of the New Testament by eight authors that is, but decades removed in a number of manuscripts, and having 5,898 manuscripts to support the New Testament, now selective skepticism is applied.
Skeptics are supposed to only accept things that have evidence supporting them. Yet, they regularly accept without question many things that lack evidence (evolution, secular history, secular archaeology, what a classical ancient person might have said), while being so skeptical against other things that actually have evidence and in some cases an abundance of evidence (creation, biblical history, biblical archaeology, what the Bible says). What they are is selectively skeptical. They are only skeptical about certain types of claims that actually have strong evidence, yet raise no skeptical questions about other claims that are really lacking in evidence. This is a problem because they will ignore real truths in favor of half-truths or no truth at all. Moreover, when they apply their skepticism to certain claims that they really reject out of hand, they raise the standard of evidence, so there is no risk of having to accept the claim as being true.
This really invalidates them as genuine skeptics. In some sense, the selective skeptic is still a skeptic, but he is actually an inadequate skeptic. If the evolutionary skeptic rejects all evidence for creation, he might be correct when he applies skepticism to certain claims of the creation account, such as the literal 24-hour creation days. The selective skeptic might be right in his skepticism to certain claims as he uncovers problems with certain claims. While this skepticism might be correct in a narrow sense, it is not beneficial to anyone. When one looks skeptically at one side of a debate but not the other, or they focus in on one bad aspect of a claim but ignore the other evidence, they will have become a selective skeptic, a partisan [willfully blind] for the side that they are sympathetic for, even if this wasn’t their intention, as their bias may simply be subconscious, as opposed to being intentional. The selective application of genuine skepticism makes them an uncritical defender of the things that they favor or have sympathy for. In this, the skeptic is using his selective skepticism for evil purposes. Rather than being a person who seeks the truth, no matter where it is found, he is selectively applying his skepticism in only one direction, and unevenly at that. He ignores the gaping faults of the claims he favors, and ignores the mountainous evidence for the claims he rejects out of hand. For example, he would focus his attention on the 1,400 years where the New Testament manuscripts were being copied by hand, but ignore the next 500 years of thousands of textual scholars who used the art and science of textual criticism to restore that text. Moreover, he would misrepresent the number of and type of scribal errors in the first period, painting an inaccurate picture.
Writing to the Christian congregation in Colossae, the apostle Paul spoke of the faithful Christian Epaphras as “always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.” (Col. 4:12) Even in the days of having access to the apostles, there could be no room for skepticism and excessive, extreme, unreasonable, irrational, unwarranted, unnecessary doubt. Extreme doubt will lead to unbelief, it is only a matter of time. Those early Christians needed to be firm in the faith and have a firm conviction of what they knew to be true.
We also need to have a firm conviction of what we knew to be true, being firm in the faith. This is so because “the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience” promotes a skeptical attitude, mistrust, and doubt. (Eph. 2:2) Therefore, the Christian who is plagued by doubts, who is skeptical should recognize the threat to their faith and take the necessary steps so as to be firm in the faith and have a firm conviction of what they know to be true.
If doubt starts to creep toward insidious doubts, you would do well to follow the apostle Paul’s counsel.
The marks of a true Christian would be like the different lines that make up a person’s fingerprint, a print that cannot belong to any other person. The true Christians contain their own unique grouping of marks, forming a positive “fingerprint” that cannot belong to any other person.
Are we sure that we are truly walking in the truth? What kind of self-examination is fitting for servants of God? The Apostle Paul exhorted the Christians at Corinth to “ examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” (2 Cor. 13:5) Why should Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians be of interest to us? We can do the same today. It will protect us from being uncertain as to whether we are walking in the truth. What standard do we have for testing whether we are in the faith, and why is that the perfect standard? If we are going to take a test to see whether we are truly in the faith, namely, truly walking with God, we must measure our conduct in light of the Word of God.
William Lane Craig wrote, “Remember that our faith is not based on emotions, but on the truth, and therefore you must hold on to it.” What truth? Jesus said to the Father in prayer, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth .” (John 17:17) By identifying the Scriptures some of which actually say, “ You are my disciples if …,” we can know if we are truly Christian. A test that can actually tell us whether we are walking in the truth should never be based on emotionalism, but rather on Scripture. Do our words, our thoughts, our actions, our minds, our heart attitude harmonize with the Scriptures? Within this publication, we will be able to let the Word of God prove who we really are. Let us follow the Apostle Paul’s counsel, by testing ourselves to determine whether we are adhering to God’s Word.