Unbridled skepticism undermines our thinking. It is a revolt against knowing.
The belief that nothing can be known for certain has run amuck in modern western culture. People claim they are absolutely certain that nothing can be known for certain.
Therefore, I refer to it as ‘unbridled’. Why do I say that?
The history of Western thought is for another day. Sufficed to say, during the Renaissance man made himself the center of all existence, completely autonomous and jettisoned meaning. This gave rise to humanism – which has no basis for right or wrong. In the 20th century, Post-modern philosophy claims that there is no objective truth (relativism).
Relativism is the root of unbridled (modern) skepticism. The presupposition of relativism is that objective truth cannot be known. This presupposition self-refutes because its an objective truth claim. In addition, it rejects any basis for knowing truth. Therefore, truth is subjective and relative to the individual (arbitrary). Unbridled skepticism manifests itself in contradiction, hypocrisy and ultimately futility. It undermines itself.
Conversely, I believe healthy skepticism is essentially a search for truth in the matter of things that matter most. In fact, in Greek, skeptomai means ‘to search, to think about or look for…’ The most important endeavor in life is the search for truth. Without it, existence is meaningless and leads to futility like doubting one’s own existence.
Ravi Zacharias says that one must test a truth claim by asking two essential questions:
- Do the facts (claims) correspond to reality?
- Are the corresponding facts (claims) coherent? Or to put it another way, when you pull all of the corresponding facts together, do they make sense logically?
Unbridled skepticism constantly undermines itself because it’s based in relativism. Therefore, it can’t seek truth as healthy skepticism can because what the ‘unbridled’ skeptic is seeking is amorphous.
An anchor thrown into a cloud will not hold a vessel.
Unbridled skepticism rebels against knowing anything for certain.
I find G.K. Chesterton’s following statement interesting when I observe unbridled skepticism.
“All denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind and the modern skeptic doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then writes another book, a novel in which he insults it himself. As a politician he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then as a philosopher that all of life is a waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie.
The man of this school goes first to a political meeting where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts. Then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is forever engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for tramping on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for tramping on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt becomes practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”
– G. K. Chesterton
You may or may not agree, but it is worth considering.
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Darkness is defined as the “absence of light.” Goodness must have good as it’s source. The ancient Hebrews described this as ‘light’. Evil is the absence of good and described as ‘darkness’.
Evil (darkness) is not something. It is the lack of good (light).
The rightness of the moral law reflects the righteous source of the moral law.
“Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules.” (Ps. 119:137)
An intrinsically good source produces goodness. It is reflective of it’s essence. Where there is no good, evil exists. Where there is no light, darkness exists.
“The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.” (Ps 119:130)
If it is raining outside, how you ‘feel’ about the rain won’t stop it from raining. The reality of the rain cannot be changed by how you feel about it. If you refused to believe that it is raining outside, all you need to do is walk outside and you’ll experience reality in the form of water falling from the sky.
How you ‘feel’ about your situation does not change the reality of it. When a person denies reality, they deny truth. When they deny truth, failure will be the outcome. Denying reality is the same as intentionally believing a lie. When one makes choices based on lies, reality will be the wall on which one breaks himself.
In the final analysis, failure is the only outcome when decisions are rooted in lies. Emotions don’t always correspond with reality. Emotions are important but not as a primary driver in decision making.
God is completely unlike anything we know or can comprehend. Man is very knowable. It seems completely rational that we can trust that which we know over that which we can’t completely comprehend. But, is that really the case?
Can we trust in that which we can’t fully comprehend?
Due to a busy life with work and family, writing is a rare pleasure these days. I don’t post on my blog as often as I like but I do continue to journal. I decided to share the outflow of some of the experience here.
As I wonder down the path of walking with God, each day brings a new experience. Recently I finished Dr. Ravi Zacharias’ ‘Grand Weaver’, I returned to a book that I’ve meaning to finish for several months, ‘The Knowledge of the Holy’ by A.W. Tozer. This classic dives into the nature of God. The study of the Bible makes up the majority of my reading and study.
The question many ask is ‘What is God like?’
We cannot fully comprehend the infinite because we are finite. Our limited capacity to understand that which is holy (separate and unlike anything we know) brings us to the edge of our understanding. It is at the edge of our understanding that we peer into an expansive and immeasurable light that is pure and endless. Welcome to the brink of the eternal. (more…)
I wish I could have been in Boston on Monday. 36,000 people participated in the Boston Marathon. I got a sense that this was going to be a special race like no other. I would have loved to be there. But, like many of you, I caught glimpses on Social Media. There are so many touching and amazing stories emerging from event. Whether its the stories of amputees returning to race in Boston or folks running in memory of their fallen loved ones or participants carrying exhausted strangers toward the finish; we learn something about who we are. It is an encouragement to see others finishing the race.
Having personally participated in several very mentally and physically grueling endurance races, I can only imagine what it felt like to cross that line. It must have been so bitter-sweet and joy-filled words can’t describe it.
We have a choice:
When an event or loss devastates our lives, we are left with a choice. Whether it is the loss of a spouse or job, health issues, or broken dreams… We have a choice. We can linger in the bondage of that dark time or we can press on and finish the race.
Redeeming the experience
The tough and dark times are rich with value that can be redeemed. Maybe not immediately, but at some point in the future. When the participants crossed the finish line on Monday in Boston, they redeemed something of transcendent value that cannot be measured. The word ‘priceless’ seems like a cheap description of it. As onlookers, we sense it and feel it as we see and hear the stories pouring out from the race.
Pressing on: Finishing the Race
We all experience trials in life. Most we cannot escape. We must endure it. Personally, I believe that pain and suffering have a purpose and have a much higher value than pleasure. If I can encourage you to do one thing. I encourage you to press on and finish the race. There will come a time when you will be able to redeem it and bring forth more good than you ever expected. Plant those roots good and deep. When the heat and trials come, you will endure. And when the quenching rains come you will burst forth with the good fruit of life that has transcendent value. There will be folks cheering you on as you finish your race. It is yours to run. Who knows, maybe you’ll have the privilege of carrying someone else toward the finish line with you.
Encouragement from the Bible:
“Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isa 40:28-31)
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Gal 6:9)
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There is no need to put a needle in your arm or smoke, snort or drink. There is no need to break the law either. I’ve found the ultimate narcotic! It is cheap, effective and the supply is only limited by the amount of time you have to enjoy it.
Pleasurable effects of this drug:
1. Stimulating and sedative (simultaneously)
2. Reduces pain and tension
3. Provides a sense of control
4. Enhances a sense of relaxation and euphoria
5. Long lasting (the drug after-effects last for several hours)
6. Stress-free, quiet absorption