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Every time we overcome sin, we have deep joy, yet we keep refusing joy. God keeps offering us joy in His right hand and misery in His left, and we keep saying, "Duh, I think I'll try the left hand. That's one of the meanings of Original Sin.
If we only lived logically, we would all be saints. Instead, we think illogically and uncritically. We keep uncritically falling for the Devil's advertisements, eating the worms on his fish hooks. We desperately hope that there is some other way to happiness than God's way, even though no one has ever found it. That is not critical thinking! For instance, every morning we are faced with our first choice of the day: do we give our first thoughts to God, do we take that first thought captive and bring it to the feet of our Lord, or do we claim it for ourselves and use it to gratify our own way to happiness, whatever we think that is?
Or do we mercilessly murder those little bastards from Hell by the authority and power of the God who is a consuming fire, and trust ourselves and our day to Him? Do we think: I am going to be so busy today that I have no time to pray? Or do we think: I am going to be so busy today that I must begin my day with prayer, because if I do not give Christ the meager loaves and fishes of my time, they will not be multiplied and at the end of the day I will be frazzled and frizzled like hair in a hurricane?
Usually, we selfishly eat these loaves and fishes ourselves, fearing any diminution of them if we give them to the One who alone can multiply them and always does, if we give them up — which we well know from repeated experience. We all know the results of these two experiments: every single day of our lives we have performed one or the other of them, and the results have never varied. Yet we insist on singing Sinatra's song "I Did It My Way" instead of "God's Way is the Best Way" day after day, even though Sinatra's song is the song they all sing as they enter Hell, while the other one is the one they all sing on the way to Heaven.
This fourth aspect of critical thinking — its practical application — is of course the most important one of all because it makes the biggest difference to our lives. In fact "important" may fairly be defined as "making a difference to your life. The very first and best known line of the best known and best loved Buddhist book, the Dhammapada, says:. This is even more crucial to a Christian, who knows that the end of the road is not just temporal but eternal happiness or misery.
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As one obscure writer has reminded us:. So for a Christian, critical thinking means not only thinking that has been purged of illogic but also of sin; not only thinking that has been subjected to the honest judgment of the theoretical reason, but also to the honest judgment of the practical reason, or reason about practice, i. The judgment of the theoretical reason consists in these three logical questions: 1 what does it mean?
Library : Critical Thinking for Christians | Catholic Culture
In other words, are there any ambiguous terms, are there any false premises, and are there any logical fallacies? If not, the conclusion is true. The judgment of the practical, moral reason consists in a single question: is this good or evil? A crucial difference between the judgment of the theoretical reason and the judgment of the practical reason is that the judgment of the practical reason is almost always clear, and immediate, and certain.
We know what is good and what is evil far more clearly than we know what is true and false. Our conscience is louder than our logic. Most problems of discerning God's will are moral, not intellectual. Jesus Himself said, when asked by the Pharisees how they could understand His teaching, "If your will were to do the will of my Father, you would understand my teaching.
My first point is finished: what I mean by "critical thinking. But how can that be true if it is something we do and something we are responsible for? God does not do our critical thinking for us.
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It is God's gift for two reasons. First, because it is the exercise of an essential part of the image of God in us.
Critical Thinking Skills
Our minds are mirrors, and God is the sun, and all the light we generate is reflected light from Him; yet it is our choice to turn our mirrors to the sun or not, and to keep them clean or not, and to keep them unbroken or to break them into fragments. Every time we think wrongly, we misuse a divine gift, just as whenever we misuse our free will we misuse a divine gift. Both wrong thinking and wrong choosing are sacrileges, because they desecrate a holy thing. What we pervert in wrong thinking is the mirrored powers of God's own mind that He gave us in giving us His own image.
We pervert this image whenever we move our minds into the dark and away from the light, just as we pervert the mirrored powers of God's will which He gave us in giving us free will as part of His image in us, whenever we move our wills to evil and away from good.
God continues to uphold in existence His spiritual gifts, the two powers of His image in us, even when we pervert them, just as He continues to uphold the physical universe even when we misuse it. At the moment when He said "Be" in creating the universe, he said "continue to be" to Cain's rock even as it split Abel's head, and to the nails we used to pierce His own Son's flesh on the Cross.
Critical Thinking and Christian Living
The second reason critical thinking is God's gift is because grace perfects nature, and this is an essential part of human nature, the ability and the desire to think logically as a means to thinking truly. The fact that grace perfects nature means that the very same things that are truly ours, and come from our own human nature and activity, can be truly God's, and from the actions of His grace. This principle, by the way, is the central and simple key to reconciling free will and predestination: what is divinely predestined is precisely our truly free choices.
My third, fourth, and fifth points will be very short because we all know the answer to them pretty well. The third question is: How should critical thinking order our thoughts? There are many other good ways of thinking than thinking logically —thinking intuitively or mystically or imaginatively or romantically or even sometimes randomly — and there are many occasions when we should think non-logically, but there are never times when we should think illogically, except when we are deliberately making a joke, laughing at laughable follies.
But our lives should not be laughable follies. Thus the answer to this third question, how critical thinking should order our thoughts, is also the answer to the fourth question, how it should order our actions. For "Sow a thought, reap an act. But that is a topic for another day, when we talk about moral vices and virtues. We should "live according to reason," said the ancient Greeks, meaning not that we should be computers rather than human beings, but that we should be human beings rather than animals.
Reason is not limited to logic, though logic is one of the things that sharply distinguish human reason from animal consciousness. The meaning of that great old word "Reason" was arbitrarily narrowed to "calculation" beginning with Descartes and the Enlightenment which I prefer to call the Endarkenment and with the restriction of all approved thinking to what can be proved by the scientific method — which, of course, is self-contradictory since that very principle cannot be proved by the scientific method!
Confusing life with a laboratory is not what it means to live according to reason. Moral conscience, aesthetic appreciation, intelligent, responsible religious faith, intuitive wisdom, and even mystical experience are all part of the powers of human reason in the broad old honorable Greek sense of the word.
7 Ways to Teach Kids Critical Thinking
It would be like Pentecost: an undoing of the Tower of Babel. And the fifth question, how critical thinking should order our secular world, is simply an extension of the fourth question, how it should order our individual lives, for the life of the world is simply the coming together of all our individual lives.
Just think for a moment what a radical revolution it would be if the whole world practiced just one basic virtue of thought, the virtue of honesty — not just honesty with each other but honesty with yourself and with the truth. The world does not lack the knowledge of solutions to its problems; almost any one of the basic virtues —justice, charity, gratitude, compassion, wisdom, honesty — if practiced, would transform the world from a vale of tears to a palace of joys.
How to attain this Utopian dream? There is a very simple way: one person at a time. You have only an appallingly tiny control over whether others join this radical revolution, but you have an appallingly large control, and responsibility, over whether you do. Start working for world peace and justice and understanding. Start inside the walls of your house. The sixth question is: How should critical thinking order our jihad, our spiritual warfare? We are soldiers of the King, and the purpose of our life on earth is to work and fight for His kingdom.
We are at war with the enemies of peace, because He is. He told us that: "I came not to bring peace but a sword. He wants us to make peace with the three parties we are at war with: neighbor and self and God; and therefore His Kingdom is at war with the world, the flesh, and the devil, who are at war with neighbor, self, and God. If we are Christians, we fight; but if we are Christians we fight with weapons like poverty and chastity and obedience, for we fight against enemies like greed and lust and pride.
Now how is critical thinking a weapon in this war? The enemy in this war is Satan and his fallen angels, of course — unless our Lord, His Church, and His Book are all fools or liars. As you know if you have read C. Lewis's masterful expose of the enemy's strategy called The Screwtape Letters, the enemy's two strongest strategies are: Dim the Lights and Divide and Conquer. No matter how powerful an army is, if it is blind, it will lose.
A blind Cyclops will lose to a clever Ulysses. A blind Christian will lose to a clever devil. One form of blindness that is very hard for us to detect in ourselves is a skewered perspective, majoring in minors, missing forests for trees. A shining example of a man who is trying to restore a right perspective today is Pope Benedict, especially in his recent Regensburg address, which from the perspective of the destiny of Western civilization is perhaps the most important speech since Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's Harvard Commencement Address. Benedict does not see Islamic terrorists as the primary problem in today's world.
They are only a symptom of a deeper issue in the Islamic world: is Allah a God of reason or of force? Is Heto be worshipped because He is powerful or because He is good? Christianity gave a sharp and unmistakable answer to that question, on Calvary. If Islam gives the same answer, or something like the same answer, something close to the same answer, then we invite them to join us in an ecumenical jihad, a common spiritual warfare in the name of our common God against our common enemy, which is modern Western atheism, secularism, and relativism, the apostasy and rebellion against that God on the part of the nations of the West that made up the civilization that used to be called Christendom.
Many more things could be said, but I will end soon, with my last point, the eschatological or Heavenly dimension of critiical thinking, because I want to give you time to digest this. For it seems to me that that is the highest purpose of communication: to stimulate thought, which naturally expresses itself in questions and dialog.