Today we think of skepticism and religion as necessarily opposed. Religion by its nature promotes dogma, and skeptics are above all else dogma’s enemies. Is there a way to reconcile these warring siblings, the doubter and the dogmatist? There may be, but we will have to delve deep into the skeptical way to find it. In contrast to modern “debunking” skepticism, classical skepticism has significant points of contact with mystical ideas of post-rational states of mind, and explains a way to be open to religious ideas and trances without believing in them.
Skepticism uses reasoning to deconstruct reasoning, promising a happy state of suspended judgment known as ataraxia. Parallels to ataraxia include mystical enlightenment, the koans of Zen, the undifferentiated awareness of Yogic samadhi, and the English mystic Aleister Crowley’s “crossing the Abyss.”