Thursday, November 24, 2016

Critical Thinking and the Religious Right

"Critical thinking" is the objective analysis and evaluation of a statement or issue in order to form a judgment of its verity.

Franklin Graham is telling his flock that God showed up on Election Day and that is why Donald Trump won.  God wanted him to be His man, His "Cyrus", to lead this country.  (See Isaiah 45.5)  His flock believes that and praises God with joyful song... and vitriolic condemnation of those godless, atheistic progressives who voted against him.  Objective analysis?  That's liberal egghead talk meant to divert one's attention from the real issue of God making America a great Christian nation again.  Judgment of its verity?  Well, Franklin Graham said it and he has the mind and heart of God.  And if you doubt it, well, you're a doubting Thomas and unless you fall on your knees and intone "My Lord and my God!" you will languish in unbelief.  That's in John 20.28.

But the next verse is where we have the Biblical condemnation of thinking critically: John 20.29: "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

Believing without seeing is a blessing.  Believing it when you see it, that's critical thinking.  So if you're a critical thinker, you're at best a backslidden Christian and at worst a godless atheist.  So critical thinking has no place in Christianity.

But wait!  There is a long, long history of critically thinking Christian apologists dating from Paul himself, through Augustine and Thomas Aquinas to C S Lewis, Alister McGrath, and others still alive today.  Are these guys "godless atheists"?  Apologetics is a systematic set of reasoned arguments in justification of a religious doctrine or a scientific theory.  Read the Epistles of St Paul, St Augustine's City of God, St Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica, C S Lewis's Mere Christianity, and/or Alister McGrath's trilogy A Scientific Theology.  Critical thinking itself is really not godless or even progressive.  But listening to evangelicals today, you'd think it is.

There is a video of Gina Rodriguez's interview with President Obama that was taped November 3, 2016 in which she says, "Many of the millennials, dreamers, undocumented, citizens -- I call them "citizens" because they contribute to this country -- are fearful of voting.  So if I vote, will Immigration know where I live?  Will they come for my family and deport us?"

Obama answers, "Not true.  And the reason is, first of all, when you vote, you are a citizen yourself.  And there is not a situation where the voting rolls are somehow transferred over and people start investigating..."

It was clumsily worded, but critical thinking will let you know that the President of the United States would not on television encourage "illegals" to vote.  What he was saying was, first of all, if you are voting, then that is proof you are a citizen, and citizens will not be deported.  Then he went on to say that your voting record is totally confidential and no one is going to give all the addresses of all the Latina and Latino citizens to Immigration to come and hunt down your possibly undocumented friends and family.

Critical thinking will let you realize that if you're undocumented, you can't even register to vote, let alone actually vote.  You need proof of citizenship to register.  You need to be registered to vote.

On the other hand, if you want to smear President Obama and rile up your conservative Christian followers, you'll skip the critical thinking part, hope your audience doesn't know how to use it, and claim that the President made this shocking statement that illegals can safely vote without being followed up on and deported.

Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.  Blessed are they who just take Franklin Graham's word for it and don't analyze or evaluate.