Personal Reflection

Is Critical Thinking Anti-Faith? — Part 1

Critical thinking is an important tool used to evaluate an argument. One of the traits of a critical thinker is being open to other arguments by listening to alternative conclusions. What should a Christian do when critical thinking threatens his faith in the Gospel and the authenticity of the Scripture itself? If critical thinkers base their decisions on well-grounded evidence and change their position when they encounter new evidence and fresh reasons, shouldn’t Christian thinkers do the same? To what extent should Christians entertain views contrary to the Christian faith? Is critical thinking anti-faith?

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If a critical thinker listens to the arguments of those with whom he disagrees, it is assumed that the critical thinker has great awareness of the best arguments for his position. It is not wise to listen to opposing views when one is not on the sure ground with his own views. Or if his mind is not made up yet, he must carefully listen to both opposing views with the same analytical mind. For those who feel that their Christian faith is threatened by critical thinking based on an assessment of evidence and fresh reasons, the best advice is for them to equally analyze the rationale behind Christian beliefs, including the existence of God, the trustworthiness of Scripture, and the historicity of the resurrection.

Are Christians guilty of already making up their mind and merely doing research to defend their view instead of gaining deeper and better accuracy? The answer here is yes. Doesn’t that prove, then, that critical thinking is antithetical to Christian faith? Before one makes that conclusion, he must realize that everyone—the Christian or the non-religious—enters in with certain sets of presuppositions. Critical thinking is not done in a vacuum. Secularists are rationalistic, presupposing that the human mind has full authority. Christians, on the other hand, presuppose the claims of the Bible. Both have presuppositions.

This doesn’t mean, however, that Christian thinkers should not wrestle with opposing views—that they must do!  How open should a Christian be when it comes to changing his mind on theological issues? It is possible to be open in changing one’s views while holding on to one’s presuppositions. From history, we see that when the Christian’s view of the inspiration of Scripture was threatened by new evidence, it led to a sharpening and better accuracy on the understanding of inspiration and inerrancy. In this instance, the Christian maintained his presupposition, but his openness led to changes regarding his view of inspiration and inerrancy. Though held by many for centuries, the dictation model of inspiration and other modes have been debunked. Critical thinking is not anti-faith because Christianity, though not rationalistic, is rational.

 

 

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