But dogmatic atheism is rare compared with the sceptical type, which is identical with agnosticism in so far as it denies the capacity of the mind of man to form any conception of God, but is different from it in so far as the agnostic merely holds his judgment in suspense, though, in practice, agnosticism is apt to result in an attitude towards religion which is hardly distinguishable from a passive and unaggressive atheism.
But the train of thought is deeply embedded among characteristic sceptical hesitations.
He dwells with delight on the unselfish patriotism of the old heroes of the republic. In those times children obeyed their parents, the gods were still sincerely worshipped, poverty was no disgrace, sceptical philosophies and foreign fashions in religion and in daily life were unknown.
To the sceptical the truth of Islam is held forth; and a certain, not very cogent, method of demonstration predominates.
Captain George Vancouver (1758-1798), in charge of a British exploring expedition then engaged in mapping the coast (1792-1794), was sceptical of the existence of the river, but Captain Gray, undiscouraged, persisted in the search and on the 11th of May 1792 anchored in the river which he named Columbia in honour of his ship. The later claim of the United States to all the territory drained by the river was based chiefly upon this discovery by Captain Gray, who had succeeded where Spanish and British had failed.
Zola's Lourdes (Paris, 1894), a criticism from the sceptical point of view, in the form of a realistic novel, has called forth many replies from the Catholic side.
His destructive criticism thus tended to reintroduce the dualism between faith and reason which Scholasticism had laboured through centuries to overcome, though Scotus himself, of course, had no such sceptical intention.
Conversation turning upon whales, the Commodore was pleased to be sceptical touching the amazing strength ascribed to them by the professional gentlemen present.
All the assaults of the sceptical Academy had failed, and within fifty years of the death of Carneades his degenerate successors, unable to hold their ground on the question of the criterion, had capitulated to the enemy.
It was begun by Ugolino Vieri of Siena in 1337, and was made to contain the Holy Corporal from Bolsena, which, according to the legend, became miraculously stained with blood during the celebration of mass to convince a sceptical priest of the truth of the doctrine of transubstantiation.