Critical thinking is an essential skill that every person should have. A critical thinker asks questions and evaluates the reasoning behind statements and conclusions to give him keen discernment in decision making and forming viewpoints on important life issues. Thinking critically guards a person against forming beliefs that are based on weak or even false reasoning. One of the hindrances to critical thinking is belief perseverance, wherein a person evaluates evidence while already having presuppositions. If Christians view the evidence with preconceived beliefs regarding faith in Christ, can Christians truly practice critical thinking?
While Christians have presuppositions about their faith, it is a mistake to conclude that the Christian’s faith is void of any understanding. Christianity does not demand faith despite a lack of evidence or apparent irrationality; rather, the Bible provides a reliable witness of historical events and revealed truth that is rational. Granted that Christians don’t believe only once they have a full understanding, but they also don’t believe with an irrational “faith” that is disconnected from reality.
In addition, it must be pointed out that everyone who practices critical thinking has preconceived ideas. Everyone has their background, experiences, education, and presuppositions—whether they acknowledge it or not—when they evaluate evidence. No one thinks in a vacuum. Christians need not abandon their high view of Scripture when practicing critical thinking.
How carefully thought out is the reasoning behind Christianity? One of the criteria for evaluating new evidence is durability. How long will this evidence stand the test? In any field, especially in the sciences, what seem to be groundbreaking discoveries often get debunked. If there is new evidence, it must first stand the test against the claims of Christianity that were held by many rational critical thinkers of the past and present for over two millennia. This is not merely an argument by popular vote; in every generation, brilliant believers carefully thought through the claims of Christianity. The attacks on the beliefs of Christianity are not new. Works written on the defense of Christianity (including scholarly research in apologetics, historical criticism, and textual criticism) must be understood and analyzed. Thus, Christianity is not as irrational as some have thought it to be. Since Christianity has been based on reliable and historical beliefs, the burden of proof would be on its critics. Therefore, Christians are not necessarily guilty of faith perseverance since they are holding on to historically attested core beliefs.