SKEPTICAL CLAIMS ABOUT SUPERNATURAL BELIEFS
Two points from my List of Key Points about the resurrection relate directly to skepticism about the supernatural:
1. Nobody KNOWS that supernatural beings exist.
2. Nobody KNOWS that supernatural events occur.
There are two more related points that should be added to the above two points:
21. Nobody KNOWS that supernatural powers exist.
22. Nobody KNOWS that supernatural forces exist.
One form of skepticism about (1) and (2) concerns the question of the TRUTH of supernatural claims:
10. It is IMPROBABLE that any supernatural being exists.
11. It is IMPROBABLE that any supernatural events occur.
So, we can add two more improbability claims in relation to the two added skeptical claims:
23. It is IMPROBABLE that any supernatural powers exist.
24. It is IMPROBABLE that any supernatural forces exist.
In my previous comments about skepticism (see Skepticism about the Resurrection), I point out two different forms of qualified skepticism:
- Denial that beliefs or claims in area X are JUSTIFIED/WARRANTED.
- Denial that beliefs or claims in area X are TRUE.
So, in addition to the four improbability claims above, (10), (11), (23), and (24), we can add four skeptical claims about the lack of justification/warrant for supernatural claims:
25. Nobody has a JUSTIFIED/WARRANTED belief that supernatural beings exist.
26. Nobody has a JUSTIFIED/WARRANTED belief that supernatural events occur.
27. Nobody has a JUSTIFIED/WARRANTED belief that supernatural powers exist.
28. Nobody has a JUSTIFIED/WARRANTED belief that supernatural forces exist.
REASONS FOR SKEPTICISM ABOUT THE SUPERNATURAL
My main reasons for skepticism about the supernatural may be summarized this way:
Skepticism about the supernatural may be based on a combination of science and cynicism, and cynicism itself is supported by science.
I’m not claiming that all skeptics think this way. Rather, this is a representation of my own thinking, of why I am a skeptic. This is a summary or overview of how I would defend skepticism, especially skepticism about the supernatural.
By “cynicism” I mean a collection of negative beliefs about human thinking and behavior that provide reasonable grounds for suspicion and doubt about the rationality and truthfulness and reliability of human beings in general, such as:
30. Many people are stupid.
31. Many people are ignorant.
32. Many people are uncritical or sophistic thinkers.
33. Many people are influenced by egocentric and sociocentric biases.
34. Many people form important beliefs based on indoctrination, propaganda, or group think.
35. Many people are dishonest or deceptive.
36. Many people have false beliefs based on unreliable memories.
37. Many people have false beliefs based on unreliable eyewitness testimony.
38. Many people have false beliefs based on cognitive biases.
39. Many people are mentally handicapped or are mentally ill or are addicted to alcohol or drugs.
Here is one simple fact that strongly supports cynicism: nearly half of Americans who voted in the last presidential election (46% of voters) voted for Donald Trump. Here is a related fact that is almost as depressing: 72% of Republicans say that Donald Trump is a good role model for children, and only 22% of Republicans say that he is NOT a good role model for children.
SCIENCE SUPPORTS CYNICISM
Psychology, Sociology, and other human sciences provide empirical data and empirically confirmed theories and generalizations about human thinking and human behavior that generally support a cynical view about human thinking and human behavior. Thus, scientific investigation supports cynicism, in the sense that I have explained above.
SCIENCE CASTS DOUBT ON SUPERNATURAL BELIEFS
Many ancient supernatural beliefs have been cast into doubt by scientific investigation into the relevant phenomena. Many contemporary supernatural beliefs have also been cast into doubt by scientific investigation into the relevant phenomena. Whenever careful objective scientific investigation is conducted into alleged supernatural phenomena, it turns out that either the phenomena doesn’t actually exist, or it exists but is the product of deception and/or that the phenomena has a natural explanation and can be reproduced by natural means. As the years go by, more and more phenomena can be given plausible natural scientific explanations, and fewer and fewer phenomena remain as potential candidates for having a supernatural cause or explanation.
40. Science casts doubt on belief in supernatural agents.
41. Science casts doubt on belief in supernatural events.
42. Science casts doubt on belief in supernatural powers.
43. Science casts doubt on belief in supernatural forces.