People feel so skeptical these days. We eye science, medicine, and even history with suspicion. “History is written by the victors,” as they say. It is true that sometimes our great institutions of knowledge let us down. But how much … Continue reading Can We Trust History?
Summer, 1998. I traveled to Europe (Hungary, to be precise) and sat down in a little restaurant one day for a bite. I ordered the “Greek salad.” I love Greek salad! I’ve eaten many Greek salads growing up in Florida: … Continue reading Is There Evidence for God?
In October, I started conducting interviews in the “free speech zone” at the University of Missouri. I sit at a table with a sign inviting “Skeptics Only” to come and talk about why they are skeptical about God or religion, … Continue reading Can Atheism Be Justified?
Twenty-One Pilots captivates their audience, in part, because of their honest portrayal of a complex and often painful mental life. Along with anxiety and depression, they talk about their own struggles with faith and doubt. In their song, “Doubt,” Tyler Joseph writes: [I’m] scared I’ll die of uncertainty Fear might be the death of me, fear leads to anxiety Don’t know what’s inside of me Later in the song, he says that he’s “shaking hands with the dark parts of [his] thoughts.” This kind of experience isn’t unique to people of faith. The song can apply to a variety of … Continue reading Dealing With Doubt (Podcast), Part 2
We all deal with doubt, no matter what you believe. It is a normal, healthy part of a thinking life. But doubts can cause distress and anxiety for many of us, especially when we think it’s wrong to have doubts, or when we really want to believe something. Most of us experience significant doubts between middle school and college, when we really start asking questions. Too often, when we go to adults or teachers for help, they dismiss our concerns or imply that there is something wrong with us. (I suspect this is because most adults also have unanswered doubts!) … Continue reading Dealing With Doubt
Why isn’t God more obvious? This is a fair question. Large parts of the Bible evade our understanding. Many people lack any recognizable experience of God. If God wants everyone to believe in him, why doesn’t he have better marketing? This line of questioning attacks the coherence of the Christian worldview. God should provide more/better evidence, but God doesn’t . As a Christian, I have to acknowledge that this seems problematic. Here’s how I might represent the problem: (skeptics, tell me if you think I’m getting this wrong) If God simply wants more people to believe that he exists, then he … Continue reading Why Isn’t God More Obvious?
Can our motives cloud our judgment? Yes. Without a doubt. (See this post and this post.) But does this mean we should always suspect our judgments and the judgments of others? That seems unreasonable. When I say that motives or psychological states can “cloud our judgment,” what I mean is (roughly) this–if we want something to be true, we tend to see the reasons for that view more favorably, and when we don’t want something to be true, we tend to see the reasons for that view less favorably. “More/less favorably” just means that the reasons appear to have more/less force … Continue reading Do Motives Cloud Judgment?
Law and Order: SVU. (Start the video at 9:36, but you may have to watch some ads.) Notice the shift in mood. Scene: detectives asking a restaurant owner (Lyla) to look at the photographs of two criminal suspects, a man and a woman. Seemingly frustrated, she looks at them but doesn’t recognize either. Lyla: I’m not really good with faces. I’m more of a word person. Detective #1: Here’s a word. Focus. [Lyla abruptly hands the photos back to the detective and walks away, obviously offended.] Detective #2: What my partner means to say is that maybe you’re just underestimating … Continue reading Bad Thinking, Part 2: Mood Matters