I’ve always been curious about what people believe, why they believe them, and the rationale or factual validity of their beliefs. What I have noticed is that there are two spectrums of attaining belief, faith and skepticism, which happen to be opposites of each other. Simply put, faith is belief without evidence or question and skepticism is to ask for evidence or to question the validity of a belief before accepting the belief. Faith has a simple problem. It can’t be tested, confirmed, or falsified, which is a very irrational method of attaining beliefs. Fortunately, there are some rational applications of faith. If I put a bottle of water in my refrigerator, I have faith that it will be cold the next day. If I put some food in a microwave, I have faith that the microwave will make it hot. If I plug my cell phone into a charger before I go to bed, I have faith that I will have a fully charged phone in the morning. The two fundamental aspects that justify these faiths are that they can all be tested, confirmed, and potentially falsified, and that they can all be explained by natural methods. In other words, skepticism can be applied to them.
Now what about faiths that cannot be tested or confirmed? If one holds a belief that cannot be confirmed within their lifetime, or is not testable or falsifiable, then such a belief is irrational and should be frowned upon. Also, if something cannot be explained by naturalistic methods, putting faith in a supernatural story to explain such a thing is irrational because it can’t be tested, confirmed or falsified. Skepticism can never be applied to such a belief and nobody will ever know of that belief is true. Examples of irrational faiths are beliefs in a God or deity, belief in reincarnation, and belief in the supernatural, since one who believes in these cannot get confirmation of them during his or her lifetime. The examples of rational faith that I mentioned in the first paragraph would become irrational if they were never ever tested. It would be irrational to believe that my refrigerator made the bottle of water cold if I never touched the bottle or drank its contents. If it’s not being tested or questioned, then why believe without evidence? To do so is just irrational and ignorant.
One might ask what the benefits of skepticism are. Skepticism is merely asking the question, “How do I know that this is true?” Skepticism is the rational inquiry of all aspects of life. Without skepticism, humanity would have never advanced, we would never have developed technology, and we definitely would never have made any efforts to learn and understand how the universe works. Without skepticism, we would still be in the Stone Age. If we just kept faith in old beliefs and tradition, we would be an ignorant species. As a human race, we are better than that. We can rationally investigate why we believe what we believe. There is no belief that should remain unquestioned. Question everything. Do not hold anything to absolute certainty. Do not believe without evidence. Untested faith is a handicap.