Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Are You a Critical Thinker?

The other day I was watching an interview in which one of the speakers said that the average evangelical church contains about as much theology as a thimble. He bemoaned the lack of what he called "critical thinking" among the believers he knew. The problem is, he never defined for us what he meant by critical thinking. To engage in critical thinking, you must do at least four things:

You must understand the connections between ideas/propositions.

You must identify and evaluate arguments.

You must detect inconsistencies and mistakes in the reasoning.

You must solve problems systematically. 

Sadly, most of us were never taught critical thinking in school. I know I wasn't. At least directly. That is, in 4 years of college, 5 years of masters work, and three years of doctoral studies, I never had a course called "Critical Thinking." Yet I do believe I was taught critical thinking by example. I have to thank two of my college professors for this. Before I took their courses, I hated writing essays. I was bored and so were most of my teachers. But these two teachers were different. They knew their stuff. I mean, really knew it. What you got was never second hand. They also cared. They cared about their students. They cared about truth. They seemed to truly enjoy learning and mastering things. The majority of my teachers to that point neither cared about their students nor cared about their subject. My lecturers didn't want to be challenged. As a result, I just stopped caring. I stopped thinking. School had become more trouble than it was worth. 

Those two profs were geniuses. But you wouldn't have known it from their comportment. They gave me a totally different perspective and I now understand better what it takes to become a thinker and a writer. Learning other languages was also critical because that caused me to think critically and to adapt my mind to an entirely new thought process. Today I write, not for a class assignment, but because I want to articulate my thoughts. The whole point of an education is to be able to think critically and then articulate your thoughts so that they are compelling and sensible to others. 

Jordan Peterson once said that thinking and writing are the same thing. I agree. In the years ahead, I hope to continue to apply critical thinking to my life and work. I realize that if I'm a better thinker I'm automatically a better writer, and vice versa. 

Try improving upon your life, especially your critical thinking skills, by adding criticality to all you do. That by itself will make you a critical thinker.