Stereotype of the Stubborn Skeptic

I mentioned while talking about Once Upon a Time that the protagonist, Emma Swan, was yet another skeptic who wouldn’t believe what was in front of her face until something major happened. This is a pretty common trope, with the skeptic being so closed-minded that they can’t even see things that are magical or miraculous in nature, even though the audience is being shown that they’re true. Hey, skeptics, why can’t you just take a leap of faith? The problem is, wouldn’t a leap of faith be just as likely to lead to believing the wrong thing as the right one? I guess that’s part of why, even though I suppose it’s time-tested to some extent, I’ve never thought too highly of the trope where something only works when a person believes in it. Why should that matter? It strikes me as all too close to the religious notion that belief in Jesus due to faith will somehow accomplish something that belief due to actual proof wouldn’t. But are skeptics really hard-nosed, closed-minded people who just won’t accept anything outside their paradigm? Maybe some are, but I tend to think of skeptics in general as quite open-minded. It’s just that they (we) want some proof, not just gibberish about faith.

As of what I know now, I don’t think dragons are real (and no, komodo dragons don’t count), but if I were given some actual evidence I’d be willing to change my mind. If atheists were really the sort of people who just didn’t WANT to believe in gods, why do so many of them identify as agnostics? If you admit you don’t know, that means you’re theoretically open to pretty much anything. The catch is that it has to be supported by something real, not just a feeling. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s often the most hardcore religious believers who are the most notorious at putting down the beliefs of others. So who’s closed-minded now? That’s not always the case, of course, but it bugs me that our society tends to associate open-mindedness with gullibility, and to regard blind faith as a positive thing.

See? Even this religious leader agrees with me. That is, if we assume this quote is accurate, which we probably shouldn’t.

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4 Responses to Stereotype of the Stubborn Skeptic

  1. Anthony Will says:

    well, I’m going to say God Bless You, even if you don’t believe in God. I find Acts or Psalms to be the most faith building books of the bible, if you’re ever short on reading material

  2. Do some “atheists” really identify as “agnostic”? I thought they’re two separate things, that atheism really HAS closed down to the idea of the existence of gods, but agnostics are willing to allow for the possibilities.

    That said, it’s always bugged me (as someone who is both rational and a Believer) when atheists claim that anyone who’s truly “freethinking” would be atheist. I always thought the default everyone should be is agnostic, and then they search for what works for them from there. I believe faith is a different sort of thing, OUTSIDE of reason (rather than instead of)– a person with faith and a person without can look at the exact same evidence and just SEE that evidence– experience the meaning of the evidence– in completely different ways. Sure, there are people of faith who are stubborn and stupid and not rational at all, who ignore or discredit evidence completely, but there are stubborn, stupid atheists too who believe that all faith and all people of faith are like THOSE people… and lots of people of faith who are open to things, who believe in science and the scientific method, but who also believe that there’s something MORE to the universe, is all. It’s not all or nothing.

    • Nathan says:

      I always used to think atheists and agnostics were different, but I’ve often heard that the former is a matter of belief and the latter of knowledge. If you don’t know whether or not there’s a god, you can believe or not believe as you choose. Therefore, you could be an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist, but I don’t know too many of the former.

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