Atheism Does Not Imply Skepticism

Being an atheist does not imply (or shouldn’t at least) skepticism.

“Whoa!”, you say. “An atheist is skeptical of the existence of god(s), so doesn’t that automatically make an atheist a skeptic”?
Not really. Being skeptical about one thing does not necessarily lead to being skeptical of anything else.
I know theists that are “skeptics”. Yep, I do. They’re just not willing to be skeptical about the existence of their god. They don’t believe bigfoot exists, or that aliens have in the past or are presently, visiting our planet. Most people however, would never refer to a theist as a skeptic. How strange then that people believe that atheists are natural skeptics.
Atheists are no different than anyone else in that we, too, have our own set of prejudices whether we want to admit it or not.
The obvious example for me is in the realm of politics. Most atheists I know identify with a liberal ideology. In most cases, at least with the people I know, that becomes a “neither here nor there” for me in that yes, they identify as liberal, but they are also willing to listen to a different perspective. There are some however who will refuse to deviate from the party line. As much as these want to refer to themselves as skeptics, in this one particular instance, they’re not. The same goes for conservative atheists. If you buy into the “facts” that you want to believe are true without bothering to look at the whole picture, you can’t claim to be a skeptic.
Now, I can already hear some dissension here in that people are thinking I’m a “Dictionary Skeptic”. Well, no not really.
As humans, it’s inevitable that we all fall into these ideological traps. Everyone does it, atheist or not. What’s important for me at least is to recognize when I’ve either fallen into a trap, or am about to fall into the trap.
In today’s world, we have “information overload” in that there are so many blogs, online publications, cable news shows, that I believe we all need to take a step back and try to fairly evaluate the information we’re being fed. My first question has become, “Does this person have an agenda?”. If I can determine that the person does, I am less likely to believe anything the person says, or writes. I tend to at that point check every “fact”. Sometimes I find that what I’ve read or heard is true. But honestly, anecdotally, I would have to say that it’s less than 50%.
For me, that’s the definition of being a skeptic. To take information, determine if it’s driven by an agenda or just simply a personal bias, and act on that information based on the determination. I attempt to remove all my personal biases while trying to make that determination. That’s the hard part. Sometimes, it’s difficult for humans to come to a realization that they’ve help a certain belief for a long time that’s absolutely wrong.
We should all strive to do the best we can though in evaluating things we read or others tell us. We’re not perfect by any means. I think though that we can take more time to work towards that as skeptics.
It’ll never be 100%, but we can do our best to make sure that before we automatically believe something, we take a closer look. No matter the source. No matter the “name”.

2 thoughts on “Atheism Does Not Imply Skepticism

  1. Most people, left and right, rely on dogma or groupthink to arrive at their beliefs.

    Immediately following the Zimmerman verdict, Facebook was awash with “shares” of a story about Marissa Alexander, a Florida woman arrested for shooting at her “abusive” husband. Like GZ, Alexander claimed Stand Your Ground, but unlike GZ, she got 20 years. Proof that the system is racist/sexist! Except: 1) GZ never claimed SYG; 2) Alexander grabbed a gun during a shouting match; 3) she shot in the direction of her kids, too. Yet nobody bothered to look beyond the lurid ThinkProgress headline.

    Among conservatives, the meme spreads that the First Amendment ‘guarantees freedom of religion, but not freedom from religion.’ That’s specious, as the cases under discussion always involve state-sponsored displays of religion, expressly prohibited by Amdt. I. The clause is 16 words long; read it, people.


  2. Pingback: You’re Either With Us, or Against Us | Conservative Skeptic

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