Thursday, June 26, 2008

Critical Thinking III

Interestingly, a regular reader, for whom I have considerable respect, has faulted me for the following sentence in Critical Thinking posted on June 24 in the comments section. “It implies the need to cast the known aside to establish the new law of the universe and enter into a new age. “ He suggested my choice of the words, “known” and “new” invalidated the premise of the piece. We find “known” defined as “generally recognized.” The first definition of the word "new" declares, ”having existed or having been made but a short time,” and, is followed by two additional suggestions: recent, modern.

The argument against criticism-ism is not an assault on everything new. Most scientific and inventive genius has been a result of using “known” postulates to establish improvement in our modern life. On rare occasions (nuclear weapons) devices have called upon breakthrough technology in development. Computers, although thoroughly modern, require proven mathematics and established physical principles to exist. The success of the moon landing was not a result of arguing with gravity but overcoming it. I’m certain in each case, the developers engaged in some intense discussion on how best to thwart the obstacles to the enlargement of their dreams. I do doubt that these serious men of science tolerated much nonsense in contentious discussion which was not directed to the completion of the project but offered for the sole sake of “critical thinking.”

The comment suggested that biggest problem with critical thinking was that so few engaged in it. I suppose if you dismiss the entire education establishment, their collective student bodies, that half of religious bodies who are of the “feel good” bent, more than half of those interested in politics and the practitioners themselves, ninety percent of America’s fastest growing occupational segment, social workers, one might mistakenly come to that conclusion. Rodin’s famous sculpture is the image the critical thinker would love to imagine as defining him. To ponder, weigh, inveigh, contemplate, consider and imagine are not what is implied by critical thinking. It is an insidious process designed to confuse, obfuscate, divert and generally cloud great truths. Its favorite victim is faith.

Faith, plainly stated, as witnessed in God Almighty, is in my mind, another way of saying truth. He is! He lives! His presence is not open to debate. God is the easiest target for the critical thinker. Without personal faith and experience with the Almighty, He then represents an unseen force to the non-believer. It is only when the door to Him is opened and his Spirit is allowed to imbue the sinner at his own invitation that His reality is apparent. For those of us who have felt His hand directly in our lives and felt His healing power, it as much a fact as the beauty of our companion or the smiles of our children. This knowledge of God is also accompanied by a contrite heart when we act to displease Him.

Those who have not had the will or the opportunity to know and understand their Creator unfortunately can fall victim to critical thinking and seek to destroy Him, of whom they have little or no knowledge. Our duty as Christians is not to disparage those who lack that knowledge but rather bring them to a full rich knowledge of the Lord as He has directed. For some, their light shines so brightly that that is their witness. For others, (present company not excepted) the pain of sin and subsequent redemption through repentance is the viable lesson. To carp, complain, and nit pick the scriptures for self elevation is not the best path to the heavenly throne. Better to seize “the rod of iron” and hold on for dear life.

The old can serve, as pointed out above, as the avenue to progress. I’m not sure what the allusion to the Muslims was about but I do have an observation. Any culture which manages to maintain Stone Age traditions, subjugation of women, polygamy, beheading, and the failure to insist on benign leadership warrants little notice aside from contempt. Given their truthfulness in dealing with other peoples they are indeed representative of the subject of these essays.

Inherent in the final comment is the suggestion of a “flat earth” mentality on my part. This constitutes argumentum ad hominem and may be persuasive in a circle of critical thinkers and certainly used to excess. As Mom used to say, “I’m just…just…so disappointed in you.”

Critical thinking, as in use today, is a destructive force hiding behind a benign nom de plume. Personally, I would prefer serious thinking, especially where faith is concerned. Celebrate the constructive, elevating words which are so readily available in our scriptures. Read them carefully and completely and let God do the rest.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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