Critical Thinking— What Is it and Why is it Important to Believers?
By Ben Witherington
Critical thinking has become something of a hot topic in reason years, even within the context of conservative Christianity. Here, to start us off are several definitions culled from the Wikipedia page on critical thinking—
Critical thinking has been described as “reasonable reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do.” It has also been described as “thinking about thinking.” It has been described in more detail as “the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action”. More recently, critical thinking has been described as “the process of purposeful, self-regulatory judgment, which uses reasoned consideration to evidence, context, conceptualizations, methods, and criteria.”
You will notice that ‘critical thinking’ often comes up in the context of persons trying to decide what to believe and what not to believe. Unfortunately, ‘critical thinking’ has sometimes gotten a bad name, especially in very conservative Protestant circles because it is associated with people negatively assessing or even criticizing the Bible. This is unfortunate on various grounds. If you want to see a presentation of what the component of critical thinking known as ‘deductive logic’ is like watch any episode of the recently acclaimed series Sherlock (BBC) in which Benedict Cumberbatch plays Sherlock. But critical thinking is not just the ability to construct syllogisms and thinking logically. Nor is it merely the ability to reason from a hypothesis to a conclusion…
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