“Three Bears” View of Skepticism

When I walk into a car dealership, I anticipate getting taken advantage of.  When my mechanic recommends work, a voice in the back of my mind wonders, “Are all of these repairs needed?  Is the cost fair?”  I delete chain emails because I doubt my not annoying sending to ten people will result in years of misery and misfortune.  I ignore anyone trying to lure me in to a conversation with the promise of anything free, because I know that one “yes” is enough to leave me vulnerable to the rule of reciprocity.  My answer is always “no.”

In our world, we are wary of unsolicited emails – we know one click can introduce a virus that will wreak havoc on our PC and drive us mad trying to fix the damage.  We watch a magician saw a woman in half or turn a scarf into a dozen white doves and we know it’s an illusion.  By our frame of reference (the rules we’ve learned about the world around us) we know these things couldn’t possibly happen.  (Now if said magician could make our abundant supply of pigeons disappear, I could rethink my stance.)

I’m sure people of Jesus’ time also had a grasp of their world.  They must have been stunned when they witnessed Jesus order demons from two men (Matthew 8:28-34), heal a paralyzed man (Matthew 9:1-8), bring a girl back to life (Matthew 9:23-26), or restore senses to a blind man and deaf man (Matthew 9:27-34.)  Some witnesses praised God, but others found excuses or other explanations for the miracles.  Their hearts wouldn’t allow them to believe in the power of God.

Two thousand years later, with the benefit of hindsight, I can read the accounts in the Bible and think how cool it would have been to be there; to be in the presence of Jesus.  Yes, it would’ve been incredible, but I wonder if my skeptical mind might have prompted me to react with fear and doubt – convinced that someone was playing an elaborate trick on me.  I have too much skepticism.

In our recent history, there have been religious sects that seem “crazy” to those not involved.  (For example, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate, and the sect of RLDS led by Jeffrey Lundgren.)  Perhaps those followers would have benefited from a little more skepticism.

I pray that God will guide me and keep my skepticism balanced, so that my heart is open to His truths, but not easily overcome by inaccuracies perpetuated by our society.

I want to believe the beggar in the corner isn’t a scam, but realize that wiring $1,000 to a stranger won’t earn me $10,000.

I want the perfect balance of skepticism.  How’s your level of skepticism – do you need more or less, or are you just right?

Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them.  (Matthew 7:15-16)

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18 thoughts on ““Three Bears” View of Skepticism

  1. carldagostino June 12, 2011 / 7:43 AM

    Fortunately there is a way to be in the presence of Jesus. Just gotta accept the free invitation.

    • jannatwrites June 12, 2011 / 8:45 PM

      Yep, that invitation is there, Carl. That’s the one thing in life that really is free 🙂

  2. Debbie June 12, 2011 / 8:20 AM

    Another thought-provoking post, Janna! You’re right that striking a balance is in order — between falling for every con out there and being open to God’s leading. Hindsight shows us how wrong those cults and their leaders were, but people in the days of Jesus weren’t as “educated” and “sophisticated” as we think we are. Even their leaders had trouble recognizing Him as Who He was! We just have to pray we will recognize His Truths and follow where He leads.

    • jannatwrites June 12, 2011 / 8:51 PM

      You’ve summarized very well exactly what was on my mind. It seemed that no matter what miracle Jesus did, there were some that wouldn’t accept him as the Christ. But then there were others that would throw themselves at his feet. Sometimes I wonder if people want Christ to come in their lifetime so badly that they miss the signs that the cult leader isn’t authentic. Human behavior fascinates me (can’t you tell?)

      Thanks for visiting and leaving your comment, Debbie!

  3. pattisj June 12, 2011 / 1:57 PM

    I’ve become more skeptical the older (and more experienced) I’ve gotten. I do wonder which side I would have been on 2,000 years ago. I know where I am now, though, and that’s what matters.

    • jannatwrites June 12, 2011 / 8:53 PM

      As long as you know where you are now, that is what really matters. Skepticism isn’t necessarily a bad thing – as with most things, moderation is key 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Patti!

  4. Carol Ann Hoel June 12, 2011 / 4:31 PM

    Training in how to recognize counterfeit money does not involve examining counterfeit money. Instead, trainees are immersed in continual, detailed study of authentic bills. At the end of such training, a quick glance at a counterfeit bill will quickly reveal its deviance from the authentic. The best way to detect false doctrine is to be thoroughly schooled in the details of the authentic Word of God. The better we know and understand the truth, the more difficult it is for liars to deceive us. Blessings to you, Janna…

    • jannatwrites June 12, 2011 / 8:59 PM

      I love the counterfeit money example you used, Carol. It is true. I handled money so much in my fast food/dining restaurant days that I could recognize when coins sounded different dropping them in the register or when a paper bill didn’t feel right. Of course now, they have those handy markers that detect counterfeit bills 🙂

      I’m still in the early learning stage, so your comment encourages me that I might become more sure as my journey continues. Thanks for your wise words, Carol.

  5. Tori Nelson June 12, 2011 / 6:22 PM

    My first response is always skepticism. There’s just about nothing harder than believing in the good of someone when your head tells you you’re being scammed.

    • jannatwrites June 12, 2011 / 9:02 PM

      I hear you, Tori. I’ve also gotten burned by not going with my gut (which screamed to stay away from a person) because I thought my snap judgment was too harsh. More times than not, my initial reaction was right on.

      I’m glad you stopped by today!

  6. Lavender Blue June 12, 2011 / 11:29 PM

    I am an extremely gullible skeptic. How about that. I don’t trust much but I want to believe in everything. I think our intuition can lead us a long way, but it helps even more to have a strong foundation of faith in something, whatever we believe in, it’s nice to feel like we have back-up, you know? But I’m gonna go on and tell you that if you try to sell me a pretty bracelet that will balance and rotate my chakras for me while washing my car, I’ll probably buy one from you 😉

    • jannatwrites June 13, 2011 / 8:08 PM

      You’re hilarious, Lavender Blue! I can relate to being a gullible skeptic (been there) and agree that a belief in something is essential to keep us stable. Now, I’m not sure what it means to balance and rotate chakras, but I’d buy a pretty bracelet that promised to keep my car clean if I wore it. Hey, I’d buy two!

      Thanks for sharing your comment – I needed a laugh today!

  7. Blossom Dreams June 15, 2011 / 3:12 AM

    Great post! You sound a lot like me; I am always wary of anybody in the situations you refer to.

    I think, like you say, getting the balance “so that my heart is open to His truths, but not easily overcome by inaccuracies perpetuated by our society” – is the key. How to do that, I guess comes from trusting your instincts….and actually listening to them!

    Chloe xx

    • jannatwrites June 15, 2011 / 7:56 PM

      You make a good point about instincts. We all have instincts that are mighty accurate, but we do seem to ignore them from time to time. I’m not sure why that happens, but maybe if we’re more in tune to it, we will recognize when we stray? Just a thought.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Chloe!

  8. pattyabr June 15, 2011 / 8:55 AM

    Yes I believe there are false prophets. But, I also believe, there are people who have some form of the devil that has taken over them due to their vulnerabilities, poor self esteem and insecurities. They will befriend you using common traits and interests and portray themselves as like-minded to your beliefs. They will convince you to join them in pursuits that appear to be legit and yet it ends up taking advantage of your good nature. That has happened to me several times and the skepticism was there but I was overwhelmed with other stressors in my life that I saw that friendship as supportive even though eventually it almost did me in in the end. With a lot of courage and reclaiming my self worth and self care skills I set my boundaries and was able to break free.

    • jannatwrites June 15, 2011 / 8:17 PM

      I’ve had a “friend” like what you have described. It’s weird because if there were any warning signs, I completely disregarded them. Then, one day, it hit me and I wondered what happened to me. Getting back on track wasn’t easy.

      I’m glad you were able to recognize the destructive relationship and break free from it before it wore you down. Thanks for sharing your experience, Patty. It sounds like it made you stronger in the end 🙂

  9. fivereflections January 31, 2012 / 8:41 PM

    interesting post interesting comments

    • jannatwrites January 31, 2012 / 8:54 PM

      Thanks, Fivereflections. I appreciate you taking time to read an ‘older’ post 🙂

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