Ravi Zacharias: Learning To Think Critically
Danielle DuRant with Ravi Zacharias
Danielle DuRant: It’s great to be with you, Ravi, to talk about critical thinking and engaging an audience. Would you begin by defining critical thinking for us?
Ravi Zacharias: Let me put it in the simplest words I can. The word “critical” often comes through as negative; that is, you’re criticizing somebody. Strangely enough, if you use the word “critique,” it comes through more positively because you are critiquing a book or critiquing an essay. I think critical thinking has two components to it. The main component is when you’re analyzing any propositional statement or system of thought, you are engaged with critical thinking whether you like it or not. So the only question is, are you doing it well? Are you doing it in a way that is befitting the subject or are you doing it unjustly? The second aspect of it is the ethical implications of whatever it is you have processed.
So I like to think of critical thinking as an analytical process of evaluating the truth component of the statement or thought you are processing. That has to be done. If you are looking at a worldview, any assertion, or any challenge to your own worldview, you have to evaluate it on the basis of truth, the coherence of what is being claimed, and then the implications of what this means for your personal
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life. So first there is an analytical component to it—the truth component, the synthesizing component. And second, at the end of it there must be an application or an imperative component to it. We must think critically especially in defending our worldview or in challenging a counter perspective. So critical analysis of worldviews is what critical thinking is all about.
DD: Many vocations involve critical thinking, whether you are a surgeon, a lawyer, a teacher. Why is it so important for the Christian particularly to engage in critical thinking and to develop critical thinking skills?
RZ: The Christian still for some reason is charged illegitimately with being the only one who is exclusive. I have said it many times before: all worldviews claim exclusivity, but somehow it is popular to hit the Christian as the only one that lays claim to this. Yes, we do lay claim to the fact that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. There is an exclusive claim made by Jesus in the pages of the Scriptures. But exclusivity is also claimed in the pantheistic worldviews and in all of the monotheistic worldviews. So for the Christian, it should be done gently, it should be done efficiently, effectively, and with respect when you are talking to anybody…
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