Atheism - Skepticism

I consider myself as both, a skeptic and an atheist, using both words separately even though I implicitly consider both as related.    Hearing lately some people declaring themselves as skeptics but not as atheists, I wondered, why this could be.  

On the level of cognition, atheism and skepticism are distinguishable.    On the level of skepticism as a behavioral paradigm, a skeptical approach to the claim of the existence of a deity can only lead to atheism.   Otherwise the person is applying skepticism only partially without being a skeptic as a personality trait. 

I already made the point, that a-theos means nothing more except to be without a god.  Being an atheist means to live as if I have never even heard of the option to believe or to let a belief determine my behavior. 

When being without a god is the baseline, then this does not even need to be the consequence of a choice due to having an option, it can just as well be a state of oblivion.    A person, who has never even heard of the possibility to choose a belief is automatically an atheist, as is a newborn or a monkey or even a fly.    Believing is a choice, either by a conscious believer or by the parents, who brainwash a child to believe.   Stopping to believe is a choice.    Someone calling himself an atheist describes the awareness of choosing to not believe in spite of this being an option.     

Skepticism means doubting any claim offered as an option to believe as if true.    Someone can as often react as a skeptic as he is confronted with claims.  He cannot doubt claims that he has never heard of.    Skepticism supplies the doubt, but not automatically also the best judgment and evaluation.    The latter depend on available information and upon scientific thinking and empiricism are methods to deal with the doubt. 

But all this would not be of much importance were it not for the unavoidable requirement of making decisions based upon insufficient information as part of the survival of every day life.  Buying food means relying on the claims of the producer of its healthy ingredients.  But we need to buy food to survive.    
Gullibility and skepticism are the two opposite methods of making decisions when dealing with other persons' claims. 
The gullible believes everything and allows himself to be manipulated, he survives by imitating others' decision and evaluations, which are sometimes good, often detrimental but not often lethal.    This is why gullibility persists.
The skeptic doubts everything, but he is still under the pressure to make decisions or to perish.    The skeptic refuses to make decisions based upon accepting others' claims as true, the skeptic avoids the misinterpretation of his own experiences like apparent contingencies.    A true skeptic does not believe.    A true skeptic estimates the probability of something being true.   If a skeptic is lacking sufficient information to estimate the probability, he does it consciously as a haphazard decision, if deciding cannot be avoided. 

Example.   A gullible person with a headache takes the remedy, that is presented to him with the strongest claim by the most sympathetic or manipulative person.   The gullible person believes, that it helps, no matter what it is.
A skeptic refuses to take homeopathic water.   But if he is a not trained in pharmacology, then the choice between different over-the-counter painkilllers is mainly a haphazard decision.   But as the headache needs a remedy, the skeptic buys one in the full awareness of not being able to evaluate the choice as really the best possible.

Therefore on the level of decisions, atheism is a logical outcome of skepticism.  Applying skepticism upon the claim of the existence of a deity can only lead to doubt this existence.      Someone with a headache refuses to buy homeopathic water and he refuses to pray to a god.   Both are claims of irrational remedies.     


This is a slightly modified copy from

http://egalitarianrationalcommitmentparadigm.blogspot.com/2011/08/3...

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Tags: atheism, skepticism

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Comment by Maruli Marulaki on January 16, 2012 at 6:53pm

I better correct something not expressed well.   Believing or discarding a belief are only superficially and theoretically choices.   When a mature brain continues to cling to beliefs, this is a result of gullibility being stronger than rationality and skepticism.  

Skepticism + the suggestion of an irrational belief => The belief is rejected.  

Gullibility + the suggestion of an irrational belief => This belief is added as an additional delusion.  

Atheism as the conscious rejection of the suggestion of a religion allows to conclude, that there is skepticism.  

Atheism as the choice of the prefered weird irrational belief like reincarnation and nirwana, that fulfills the need better than a deity, is another expression of gullibility and is as insane as is theism.

Comment by Richard K. Emms on October 11, 2011 at 9:15am

Maruli,

   I could not agree more.  It should follow suit, that if one is a skeptic, what better subject to be skeptic of than religion.  I can't see one without the other.

 

   Rick

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