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Posts Tagged ‘critical thinking’

In his article, “Are We Dumb and Getting Dumber?,” Regis Nicoll writes, “Distinguishing between science and faith is problematic, given that there is more than a little measure of faith in science; especially, materialistic science:

  • Faith that nature is a mechanism that can be explained by physical laws,
  • Faith that those laws are universal and unchanging,
  • Faith that our senses reliably perceive the world as it really is,
  • Faith that our minds accurately interpret those perceptions, and
  • Faith that the origin, diversity, and complexity of nature is the unguided product of chance and necessity.”  (Breakpoint – Published May 6, 2011)

Nicoll continues, “Similarly, discriminating conventional wisdom from actual wisdom is difficult-to-impossible, given their considerable overlap.  The conventional wisdom that ‘what goes up, must come down,’ is congruent with the actual wisdom of Newton’s laws.  In the same way, conventional beliefs about things like murder, cruelty and rape accord with the universal conviction of their actual immorality.”

Nicoll notes that, “Our real challenge is not discerning between such false dichotomies but discerning science from science fiction and truth from falsehood.  When a frog-turned-prince tale is dismissed as myth until the time frame is changed from a bibbidi-bobbidi-boo instant to 150 million years, it signals a discernment deficit.  When the time frame is extended to a few billion years to spin a neutrino-turned-prince tale, it signals a discernment crisis.”

Who are the “gatekeepers” of truth?  Nicoll recalls a NOVA special featuring an astrophysicist who stated, “We’re descended from neutrinos!”  Then, after a reverential pause, he added, “They’re our parents.”  (This… from an astrophysicist?  He’s joking, right?)  Nicoll writes, “The gatekeepers have spun many an imaginative yarn about how the universe came to be and how matter ‘went live.’  But despite the intellectual charm of creative neutrinos, cosmic inflation, multiverses, emergence, abiogenesis, and the like, their ever-inventive tales remain, and will always remain, just that: tales with no more claim to truth than those of a court astrologer.”

I came across Nicoll’s article in Breakpoint (5-6-11) while trying to respond to my agnostic friend.  He’s the one who threw into the “hopper of our discussion” the quote from William Inge (see Part I, previous post).   I explained to my friend that I am a builder of relationships.  I am a woman who, because of both facts and faith, accepts and finds joy in my defined role of “helper.”  My Biblical worldview defines my role in Genesis 2:18.  “The the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ ”  (The Hebrew word for “helper” is ezer, which elsewhere in Scripture also means “assistant” or “ally.”  Thus, my blog name ezerwoman.  In no way do I find “helper” to be inferior; rather, I find order, sanity, and hope in a chaotic, insane, and hopeless world.)  As a builder of relationships and a “helper,” I could have been blessed with a brain that easily processes scientific data and enjoys doing so.  But, no.  Such a brain belongs to my husband and sons.  Nevertheless, I do possess reason and logic.  My reason and logic agrees with Nicoll when it comes to these “gatekeepers of truth.”

Nicoll writes, “The idea that ‘in the beginning were neutrinos’ that went bump in the cosmos to form intelligent beings is as fantastic (more so, really) as the Mayan account that ‘in the beginning were only Tepeu and Gucumatz . . .[who] sat together and thought, and whatever they thought came into being.’ ”

Are we witnessing an intentional change in education?  Isn’t the proper goal of education to teach students how to think, not what to think?

“Intelligent design and Darwinism,” writes Nicoll, “are controversial theories that enjoy wide currency in the marketplace of ideas.  Teaching one theory to the exclusion of others, and without presenting its weaknesses along with its strengths, is indoctrination, not education.”

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