Skepticism is a large component of atheism – as most atheists are, by definition, skeptics.
What does being a skeptic really mean? According to the dictionary
1. a person whoquestions the validityor authenticity of somethingpurporting tobe factual.
2. a person who maintains a doubting attitude, astoward values, plans, statements, or the character of others.
3. a person who doubts the truth of a religion, especially Christianity, or of important elements of it.
Believe it or not, most Christians are skeptics as well. Think about it — most Christians are raised from birth in their belief structure.
While some may “experiment” with other religions during adolescence, or ignore it altogether, over half will remain in, or fall back on, the religious beliefs of either their parents or spouse when it comes time to choose a church and raise children of their own.
Against this backdrop, say you are Catholic and a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness knocks on your door to bring the good word to you. Are you not immediately skeptical of their claims as they contradict your informed religious beliefs?
Religious conversion rates, according to the Pew Center (graphic above) show that, even when people do convert, they tend to convert within the broader context of Christianity (for example, Baptist to Methodist or Catholic to Episcopalian).
Here’s the point – if you are skeptical about someone telling you about the glory of magic underwear, or some other far-fetched component of their faith, is it such a stretch that an atheist or agnostic would apply the same level of skepticism to the underpinning story of your own faith?
What may seem to you to be clearly true, doesn’t necessarily pass the same level of evidence required by a skeptic to accept as the truth.
Let’s start with the bible – since without it, the whole thing falls apart. Christians accept one of two things – the bible is either the living word of god or at the very least is inspired by god even if it is not god’s word verbatim.
Therefore, in order to convince a skeptic, one would have to show that the bible is one or the other. For a skeptic, this is a high bar to overcome!
First and foremost, the skeptic will require correlation and cross-referencing. Does the recorded history of the bible correspond to independent records of history of the time and geography?
Second, and just as important, can independent sources of god’s intervention be shown from both within and outside the bible? From a biblical standpoint, on nearly every occasion god reveals himself to his people, it is done through a single prophet or messenger. This is similar to Joseph Smith’s founding of the Mormon Church. He alone could have access to the sacred plates, instructed by an angel to not show them to anyone else.
In today’s world, when people claim they talk to god, they’re either running as a Republican for political office or they get that hairy eyeball look from passersby (sometimes both apply).
|The 4 billion include Christians, Muslims, and Jews worldwide
The point here is that god rarely reveals himself (at least in the sacred texts) to more than a single individual at a time – a skeptic might easily think that the bible is the recorded word of a bunch of nut jobs claiming to have had “conversations” with god.
Most skeptical atheists are not against the idea of god per se, they just require proof over faith. Praying for them to “see the light” probably won’t sway them in the end, but if a good case with powerful evidence was presented, it would be far more effective.