“A skeptic is one who prefers beliefs and conclusions that are reliable and valid to ones that are comforting or convenient…— Steven Novell
Does skepticism resonate or conflict with your initial view of ideas and beliefs?
Almost everyone you talk to would agree with the above statement on skepticism. Even the religious believer would agree as long as they could qualify what they think is reliable evidence. So, let’s continue with Mr. Novella and his explanation of a skeptic.
How A Skeptic Applies The Scientific Method
… therefore rigorously and openly applies the methods of science and reason to all empirical claims, especially their own. A skeptic provisionally proportions acceptance of any claim to valid logic and a fair and thorough assessment of available evidence and studies the pitfalls of human reason and the mechanisms of deception so as to avoid being deceived by others or themselves. Skepticism values method over any particular conclusion.” — Steven Novella
This is a nice way of saying the all hypotheses and claims need to stand up to the rigorous scientific processes and verifiable evidence. And, one should be on guard to avoid being deceived into believing sources which point out the inconsistencies. The true meaning of skepticism has nothing to do with doubt, disbelief, or negativity. Skepticism is the process of applying reason and critical thinking to determine validity. It’s the process of finding a supported conclusion, not the justification of a preconceived conclusion. This is also the basis of the scientific method.
What Exactly is the Scientific Method?
Science doesn’t care what you believe. The scientific method is a process for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry is commonly based on empirical or measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. We can describe this process in six steps:
- Make an Observation
- Record and Communicate the observation accurately as possible
- Form Questions concerning what is observed to find out more
- Form a Hypothesis based on the Evidence and what it could mean
- Conduct an Experiment
- Analyze the Data and Draw Conclusions.
The Six Step either confirms the hypothesis or leads to other questions. The ability to make good observations is also essential to the development of other science process skills: communicating, classifying, measuring, inferring, and predicting. So, Skeptic is a Freethinker guided by Logic.
Defining the Various Shades of Skepticism
Scientific skepticism and rational skepticism are really the same things. And, both of these are sometimes referred to as skeptical inquiry or methodological skepticism. However, scientific skepticism is different from philosophical skepticism. The New Skepticism described by Paul Kurtz is scientific skepticism.
Philosophical skepticism deals with our ability to claim any knowledge about the nature of the world and how we perceive it. Methodological skepticism is nothing more than using a systematic process. Subsequently, testing, being skeptical about or doubting findings and conclusions one reaches. That’s the same as the various forms of science-based skepticism.
Religious skeptics question religious authority and are not necessarily anti-religious. However, they tend to be skeptical of all religious beliefs and/or practices. There are some religious skeptics that question whether religion is a viable topic for criticism given that it doesn’t require proof. It’s a system based on belief. Others, however, insist it is as much as any other knowledge except that it requires faith. And, most often their test of reliability is their sacred texts or their religious leader’s opinion. So, their skepticism is qualified.
They are taught to apply their skepticism to external sources only. For example, anything that contradicts their paradigm is automatically unreliable. Anything that points out the errors, contradictions or fallacies of these texts is an unreliable source. This also applies to sources any otherwise scientific sources or processes. Skepticism is reserved for external sources.
“Briefly stated, a skeptic is one who is willing to question any claim to truth, asking for clarity in definition, consistency in logic, and adequacy of evidence. The use of skepticism is thus an essential part of objective scientific inquiry and the search for reliable knowledge.” — Paul Kurtz
How to Be A Skeptic and Spiritual Explorer
So, are you on-board with this methodology of seeking spiritual truth? Above all, this discussion should make you think about how religion has integrated itself into the fabric of your life. Even if you aren’t ready to become a methodological skeptic you should learn to question the cultural narrative. It should make you think about all of the other ways religion has integrated itself into the fabric of our modern lives. Thankfully you don’t have to believe in religion to engage in spiritual exploration. In fact, developing a skeptical mindset is a part of the tools of logical reasoning. This is just one of the components we recommend you include in your own spiritual toolbox.
What are Spiritual Technologies?
Many people don’t understand that spiritual exploration is at the opposite end of the spectrum from religion. Spiritual exploration has nothing to do with doctrine or dogma. It involves the application of spiritual tools/technologies to expand awareness and open the doors of consciousness. These spiritual technologies stand up to the test of science as having repeatable common experiential phenomena.
There are many ways to list these processes. We like this simplified method. Some of these technologies could be in more than one category:
- Firstly, the application of logical reasoning. This includes both deductive and inductive reasoning. In addition, there are several “logical tools” to sharpen your ability to discern fact from fiction.
- Another important tool is The Enneagram Personality Profile. This tool enables us to understand the mechanisms of Ego, personality, and instincts. It’s also an important doorway to understanding the virtues and gifts of the spirit.
- Progressions of seated meditation. This includes a range from Basic Mindfulness Centering exercises through Japa Meditation and the Siddhis of Patanjali.
- Next, progressions of moving meditation. For instance, this progression includes several methods of energy collection, like Forest Bathing, Qigong, and Tai Chi, Tei Ke.
- Lastly, there are a number of Healing modalities, including but not limited to Pejut, Reiki, and Shiatsu. This modality also includes awareness and consciousness expansion pathways such as Lucid Dreaming and the Shamanic Journey or Guided Meditation.
Finally, if this article resonates then please check out our blog. To see how this exercise fits into our blended learning process. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey. Interested in learning these processes? Follow the link to learning options, and our page under FAQ.