Author Topic: Christianity and critical thinking, how could those ever go together?  (Read 508 times)

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Offline Schizoid

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I work for a well known religious organization that runs homeless shelters.  They have sort of a "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it comes to one's personal religion or lack thereof.  I am not an evangelical atheist and keep my own counsel feeling no need to convert anyone there to my way of thinking.  They pay me to do a job and I do it, not getting into anything religious or spouting off about being a nonbeliever out of respect for them.

Anyhow, to the point of my topic, I was talking with the Major (oops, did I just give away which organization it might be?) and he was lamenting how the public schools today do not teach critical thinking.  That statement amazed me since the last thing I would think a minister would want would be for Christians to think critically.  In fact thinking is discouraged much less critical thinking.  You just "believe".   A google search on the subject brought up more than a few believers who lost their faith in short order after they began to use critical thinking in regards to their Christianity.

So is it possible to engage in critical thinking and still be a religious person?

Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: Christianity and critical thinking, how could those ever go together?
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2013, 12:40:15 AM »
Your major probably didn't mean THAT kind of critical thinking. He was probably saying that people should learn to be critical of anything he doesn't agree with.

Something like that.

If he really wants critical thinking to be taught in schools, I don't think there are many in the secular community that would disagree. But I think that most religious folks are smart enough to know that such a change would not be a bright idea, from their perspective.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Christianity and critical thinking, how could those ever go together?
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2013, 08:54:47 AM »
So is it possible to engage in critical thinking and still be a religious person?

I think so.  But I think you cannot be consistently both.  You have to make exceptions.  You have to carve out an exception to critical thinking for religion.  And vice versa.  And of course, the people who do this never see the contradiction. 

What's the old addage?  One can engage in critical thinking while being religious like one can engage in adultery while being happily married.

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Offline Aspie

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Re: Christianity and critical thinking, how could those ever go together?
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2013, 05:54:53 PM »
Compartmentalization is a powerful thing. It's quite possible to exercise critical thinking in many aspects yet hold pet theories and beliefs as off-limits. The few times I've seen those of two different religions debate with each other on these forums they've argued against the claims of their opponent's religion as effectively as any atheist, but each would consistently overlook how their own arguments apply just as equally to their own. If, say, a passage from their opponent's holy book seemed silly or barbaric that would become evidence that it's just ancient mythology, but if their opponent followed suit with a gem from their own suddenly that would be completely different; it's not silly or barbaric, it's sophisticated - you just don't understand it.

Offline shnozzola

Re: Christianity and critical thinking, how could those ever go together?
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2013, 06:13:03 PM »
SPAG.  I think many Christian college professors change the definition of god to suit their views, and pick and choose the parts of Christianity that fit with their beliefs, with the emphasis on the love of Christianity, and merrily go on.
“I wanna go ice fishing on Europa, and see if something swims up to the camera lens and licks it.”- Neil deGrasse Tyson

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Christianity and critical thinking, how could those ever go together?
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2013, 06:23:23 PM »
Most people are not very good at thinking critically about the things they take for granted, unless someone or something jolts them out of it.

Offline Irish

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Re: Christianity and critical thinking, how could those ever go together?
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2013, 06:40:26 PM »
Critical thinking and religion can only coexist in a person if that person allows a host of contradictions and vindications for the contradictions to also exist.  And then this person is such a mental mess of contradictions it's only in the long run that we see the mess catch up with them.
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Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: Christianity and critical thinking, how could those ever go together?
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2013, 07:04:41 PM »
PZ had a great example of "critical" thinking today. It is short but nowhere near sweet. It is stupid in the form of idiocy.

Short version. Why are there "Deer Crossing" signs popping up all over the country? Deer can't read.

And it's not from The Onion.

http://avon-oh.patch.com/blog_posts/animals-cant-talk
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Offline Schizoid

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Re: Christianity and critical thinking, how could those ever go together?
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2013, 09:11:09 PM »
PZ had a great example of "critical" thinking today. It is short but nowhere near sweet. It is stupid in the form of idiocy.

Short version. Why are there "Deer Crossing" signs popping up all over the country? Deer can't read.

And it's not from The Onion.

http://avon-oh.patch.com/blog_posts/animals-cant-talk

Well, the picture of the sign doesn't have the words "Deer Crossing", just a picture of a deer.  I wonder if deer know they look like deer?  Living and driving on Wisconsin's rural roads I appreciate the signs, but deer have a nasty habit of jay walking and not crossing in the proper places.

The one I've loved is the "Slow Deaf Child in the Area" sign.  I had fun with that one when my daughter was young having her watch for that slow deaf kid.  No critical thinking, just a good laugh.

Offline Tykster

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Re: Christianity and critical thinking, how could those ever go together?
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2013, 10:14:51 AM »
To the OP: they compartmentalize. Shermer's "Believing Brain" explains this at length.
rhocam ~ I guess there are several trillion cells in a man, and one in an amoeba, so to be generous, lets say that there were a billion. That is one every fifteen years. So in my lifetime I should have seen two evolutionary changes.

Offline Schizoid

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Re: Christianity and critical thinking, how could those ever go together?
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2013, 10:52:11 AM »
To the OP: they compartmentalize. Shermer's "Believing Brain" explains this at length.

I googled the book, looks interesting and makes sense.  Unfortunately those who could gain the most from reading it would not only refuse to look at it but would condemn it sight unseen.

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Christianity and critical thinking, how could those ever go together?
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2013, 11:57:25 AM »
PZ had a great example of "critical" thinking today. It is short but nowhere near sweet. It is stupid in the form of idiocy.

Short version. Why are there "Deer Crossing" signs popping up all over the country? Deer can't read.

And it's not from The Onion.

http://avon-oh.patch.com/blog_posts/animals-cant-talk
I dunno, I thought the comments were great examples of critical thinking.

...oh, you meant the article!  I just kind of skimmed it over on my way to the comments.

Offline Noman Peopled

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Re: Christianity and critical thinking, how could those ever go together?
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2013, 12:19:56 PM »
How they could go together?

They can't, really. I don't see how a religion could have an epistemic basis that does not allow for knowledge through faith and/or authority, and that's kind of a no-go for an epistomological toolbox such as sekpticism or logic.
However, in that religion is not necessarily required to be internally consistent, it can incorporate a different epistemiology for different areas. Otherwise religious people would be no good at ... well, anything the modern market pays more than a pittance for.
"Deferinate" itself appears to be a new word... though I'm perfectly carmotic with it.
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Offline Tero

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Re: Christianity and critical thinking, how could those ever go together?
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2013, 01:02:01 PM »
Many people think clearly about events in the physical world. They may even agree about an old earth. But when emtion and religion enters the discussion, they are fairly dogmatic. About lufe, meaning, purpose etc. They see an agent who is not there.