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Critical Thinking For Christians

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Some slides to teach a few of the basic concepts of critical thinking to Christians who want to be better at defending their faith, or at countering destructive arguments

Published in: Spiritual, Technology

Critical Thinking For Christians

  1. 1. Why do you believe what you believe? Or: How to defend your faith really, really badly and get everyone totally confused
  2. 2. arguments and conclusions flaws and assumptions handling evidence NOT specific answers to everything NOT a way of avoiding hard work NOT a complete course in thinking
  3. 3. The rapidly secularizing world: Shifting goalposts
  4. 4. Five arguments Either the Bible is what it says it is - the inerrant, literal Word of God - or it's a sham, a hoax, and a waste of print and paper which should be burned as worse than useless. Richard Dawkins, who does not believe in God, is now on his third marriage. This proves that without faith in God, true morality and constancy in relationships is impossible. Over the last century belief in God has declined dramatically. In that time, we've seen the rise of violent crime, the break-up of millions of families, and the two greatest wars in human history. Doesn't this prove that Christianity is vital to our well-being? If we do not stand against the teaching of evolution, a whole generation of children will be brainwashed into believing that God is a fantasy, Scripture is a lie, and human life is to be lived on the level of our animal nature. The standards of life in civilized society, based on a firm trust in God's unchanging word, will gradually slip and we will enter a nightmare age of anarchy, sexual perversion and unchecked evil. The Bible is the true, reliable word of God. We know this because it clearly says so!
  5. 5. Does it really matter? 12 quot;But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 This will result in your being witnesses to them. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 All men will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By standing firm you will gain life.”
  6. 6. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. 9 [A leader] must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
  7. 7. 3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
  8. 8. [Paul] baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
  9. 9. Meeting the arguments: What needs to be taught? Christian answers facts arguments Christian integrity clear thinking Christian mind framework building
  10. 10. Raisa is the only person with a key to the safe. The money went missing when she was in the building on her own. So the police are bound to treat her as a suspect.
  11. 11. The police are bound to treat her as a suspect The money Raisa is went the only missing person when she with a key was in the to the building on safe. her own.
  12. 12. Scottish people have a reputation for being mean. Lachlan comes from Inverness. Therefore he is unlikely to give a lot of money to charity.
  13. 13. Lachlan is unlikely to give a lot of money to charity. Lachlan Scottish comes from people Inverness. have a reputation for being mean.
  14. 14. conclusion reason reason reason reason
  15. 15. The train leaves at 10:50. It takes twenty-five minutes to get to the station, and the traffic can be difficult at that time of day. We need to leave at 10:15 to be sure of catching the train.
  16. 16. We need to leave at 10:15 to be sure of catching the train It takes 25 The traffic The train minutes to can be leaves at get to the difficult at 10:50 station that time of day
  17. 17. Completed tax forms and payments must be received by st July. Late payment may 31 result in a fine not exceeding 100 dollars. Your payment did not reach the tax office until 12th August.
  18. 18. You are in very deep doodoo! Late Your Completed payment payment tax forms and may result did not payments in a fine not reach the must be exeeding tax office received by until 12th 100 dollars. 31st July. August.
  19. 19. What Jesus taught has been changing lives for centuries. People are still becoming Christians in large numbers today. Therefore it makes sense to listen to his words.
  20. 20. Therefore it makes sense to listen to his words. People are What still Jesus becoming taught has Christians in been large changing numbers lives for today. centuries.
  21. 21. Therefore it makes sense to It just shows how easily people toa Christian. become his words. listen can be fooled. People are What still Jesus becoming taught has Christians in been large changing numbers lives for today. centuries.
  22. 22. Three is an odd number. Only even numbers are divisible by two. Therefore three is not divisible by two. John says that three is an odd number. John is a liar. Therefore three is not an odd number. quot;Mark is late for work. Either his car has broken down, or he has overslept. We telephoned and learned he isn't at home, so his car must have broken down.quot;
  23. 23. All human opinions are random by-products of the brain. You think you are choosing logically, but what you believe is determined by your biology. Archaeology demonstrates the Bible’s truth. But, of course, if ALL the archaeological evidences disagreed with the Bible, we would still believe the Bible was true.
  24. 24. conclusion reason reason reason reason
  25. 25. There are two kinds of people in the world today: those who gladly accept the Christian gospel, and those who wilfully and selfishly reject it.
  26. 26. excluded middle There are two kinds of people in the world today: those who gladly accept the Christian gospel, and those who wilfully and selfishly reject it. ACCEPT ACCEPT REJECT REJECT
  27. 27. You claim that this man is innocent, but you cannot be trusted since you are a criminal as well. You believe Christians are changed people because you're an optimist, but if you were more cynical and less nice to others, you'd see things differently. Christopher Hitchens argues fiercely against Christianity. So what? He is a drink-soaked divorcee and friend of Holocaust deniers who has often been wrong before. He was a Trotskyist who could only scrape together a third-class degree at Oxford. So we can safely dismiss anything he has to say about God.
  28. 28. ad hominem Christopher Hitchens argues fiercely against Christianity. So what? He is a drink-soaked divorcee and friend of Holocaust deniers who has often been wrong before. He was a Trotskyist who could only scrape together a third-class degree at Oxford. So we can safely dismiss anything he has to say about God.
  29. 29. More and more young people are attending high schools and colleges today than ever before. Yet there is more juvenile delinquency and more alienation among the young. This makes it clear that these young people are being corrupted by their education. Ice cream sales correlate with the number of people who drown at sea. Therefore, ice cream causes people to drown.
  30. 30. false connection Ice cream sales correlate with the number of people who drown at sea. Therefore, ice cream causes people to drown.
  31. 31. Global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of pirates since the 1800s Lisa: That's specious reasoning, Dad. Homer: [uncomprehendingly] Thanks, honey. Lisa: By your logic, I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away. Homer: Hmm. How does it work? Lisa: It doesn't work. (pause) It's just a stupid rock! Homer: Uh-huh. Lisa: But I don't see any tigers around, do you? Homer: (pause) Lisa, I want to buy your rock.
  32. 32. All human opinions are random by-products of the brain. You think you are choosing logically, but what you believe is determined by your biology. Archaeology demonstrates the Bible’s truth. But, of course, if ALL the archaeological evidences disagreed with the Bible, we would still believe the Bible was true.
  33. 33. self-defeating argument Archaeology demonstrates the Bible’s truth. But, of course, if ALL the archaeological evidences disagreed with the Bible, we would still believe the Bible was true. Archaeology Archaeology is Archaeology is is important important unimportant and it supports the if it turns out not to because it supports Bible support the Bible the Bible
  34. 34. circular argument We know that the Bible is the Word of God because it says so. And it must be telling the truth, because it is the Word of God. The Bible is the Word of God It must be It says so telling the truth
  35. 35. We know that the Apocrypha shouldn't be accepted as part of the Bible, because some apocryphal books promote unbiblical concepts, e.g., prayer for the dead (2 Macc. 12:45-46).
  36. 36. incomplete context Last year the church in Senegal grew by 30%, while in America churchgoing declined by a million worshippers. This clearly shows that God has removed his blessing from the US church and instead is moving in power in Africa and the Third World.
  37. 37. Senegal America
  38. 38. There are 200,000 places where the New Testament manuscripts differ from one another. So we can’t possibly know what the real reading should be!
  39. 39. 200,000 variant readings But - most are differences of word order or spelling - others are obviously wrong readings - others can be cleared up by background knowledge - the rest are absolutely trivial `The variant readings about which any doubt remains among textual critics of the New Testament affect no material question of historic fact or of Christian faith and practice.’
  40. 40. Caesar 9-10 900 yr Tacitus 2 650 yr Livy 20 350 yr NT 6000 300 yr
  41. 41. Book Lines In doubt % corrupt Iliad 15,600 764 5 Mahabharata 250,000 26,000 10 New 20,000 40 0.5 Testament
  42. 42. Jim will hate this book. For a start it’s a biography, not a novel. But worse still, it’s about mountain climbing.
  43. 43. Jim will hate this book. It’s a It’s about Jim hates Jim hates biography, mountain biography books not a novel climbing about mountain climbing
  44. 44. The Bible claims that God chooses us, but also that we choose God. This makes no sense and shows that Christianity is founded on illogical claims. Christianity is founded on illogical claims. There is no The Bible Contradictions way that this claims two make no sense. contradiction contradictory can be things. harmonized.
  45. 45. I have known many Christians who were hypocrites, thieves and liars. The conclusion is inescapable: Christianity doesn't work. Christianity doesn’t work. If Christianity All Christians I have known worked, – or at least many people would most of them Christians not be - are who were deceitful and probably hypocrites, wicked. hypocrites, thieves and thieves and liars. liars.
  46. 46. Answers to prayer could simply be coincidence. There is no human account of an answer to prayer that can't be explained in some other fashion. Therefore prayer is useless; God simply doesn't answer. Prayer is useless because God doesn’t answer. All “answers Any Answers to to prayer” alternative prayer could can be explanation be explained as must be coincidence something better else
  47. 47. All around the world today people are being healed from all kinds of terrible diseases, in ways that completely baffle medical science. It proves that God is still a God of immense power and love. God is still a God of immense power and love. Medical The only People are science is possible being healed baffled by explanation is from terrible why this is that God’s diseases happening love and power are doing it
  48. 48. Do miracles happen today? All of the amazing stories you hear seem to come from Indonesia or Central Africa, and other inaccessible places. It is therefore impossible to verify the true facts. We must therefore conclude that miracles simply do not happen. Miracles simply do not happen. We can’t The people Miracle verify the telling the stories come facts. stories must from be lying. inaccessible places.
  49. 49. We have no eyewitness accounts of Jesus - only traditions which were written down much later, and so were clearly exaggerated. Thus we have no grounds for knowing what he was like, and can probably conclude that he never existed. Jesus probably never existed. We have no If a story If we don’t We have no grounds or doesn’t come know the eyewitness knowing from details of accounts – what Jesus eyewitnesses somebody’s only was like. it must be life, that traditions exaggerated. person is written probably down later. fictional.
  50. 50. Jesus performed miracles. He taught more profoundly than any other Jew for seven centuries. He was recognised by his disciples as being God's Son. Therefore he was the Son of God. Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus taught Jesus was Taken Jesus more recognised by together, performed profoundly his disciples these things miracles than any as being can lead to other Jew for God's Son only one seven conclusion centuries
  51. 51. Weighing evidence FOR FOR FOR AGAINST
  52. 52. The hat band puzzle Pepe Carlos Pedro Sancho
  53. 53. What kind of evidence? meaningful relevant representative reliable
  54. 54. meaningful 78% of British people no longer believe in God, according to a survey of opinion released this week. How many people were surveyed? How were they selected?
  55. 55. relevant W F Albright, the famous archaeologist, declares that “no archaeological discovery has ever contradicted a historical claim in the Bible”. What do other experts say? When did he write?
  56. 56. Your house did not evolve without intelligent influence. It didn’t happen from a pile of bricks getting caught in a hurricane.
  57. 57. representative In my church there are at least five people who have had demons cast out of them. So you can see, demonic possession is happening all the time really. How many people are in your church? Is this typical of other churches too?
  58. 58. reliable Today’s contraceptives make sex a safe, worry-free experience. It’s time to abandon old hang-ups and allow young people to experiment as much as they wish. Might there be other reasons for restricting sexual activity? Is pregnancy the only worry?
  59. 59. RAVENS R eputation A bility to see V ested interest E xpertise N eutrality S ources
  60. 60. R eputation Evolution is ridiculous. Monkeys are alive today, why aren't they having human babies?
  61. 61. A bility to see When the Old Testament condemns homosexuality, it’s really talking about pagan ritual worship. In those days there were male prostitutes who worked at the pagan shrines, and same-sex intercourse with them was a form of worship. Moses is warning against paganism, not gay sex.
  62. 62. It is clear that Joseph of Arimathea was a pious Jew who did not want bodies to be left on the cross over a religious festival weekend. What must have happened, therefore, is that he put Jesus and the other criminals in a temporary grave over the weekend, and then disposed of them. Probably he put them into a common, unmarked grave – the normal means of burial for criminals – and the Christians, who did not know this, simply assumed that the body had magically disappeared.
  63. 63. V ested interest quot;...it is...a fact of history that St. Paul and his successors added to,..., or imposed upon, or substituted another doctrine for...the plain...teachings of Jesus...quot; H.G. Wells (1866-1946) Sexual orientation is innate and immutable. This is why programmes designed to quot;correctquot; it have such an abysmally low success record. The best quot;therapyquot; can hope to achieve is the temporary modification of behaviour tied to the promise of rewards or the threat of punishment.
  64. 64. E xpertise quot;So Jesus had himself tortured and executed for a symbolic sin by a non- existent individual. Nobody not brought up in the faith could reach to any verdict other than barking mad.“ - Dawkins
  65. 65. N eutrality It is quite obvious that where ever there are Christian-dominated societies, there is always a great deal of illegal sex, boyfriend- girlfriend sexual relationships, bikinis, mini-skirts and other sexually arousing clothes, lust, pornography (on the internet and on TV), homosexuality, sodomy, drugs, alcohol, bastard children (children born out of wedlock), and so on.
  66. 66. S ources It’s well known that Jesus had an affair with Mary Magdalene. There are hints about it in the Gospel of Judas where it says that Jesus used to “kiss her on the lips”.

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