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Backyard Skeptics Message Board › List BIBLE VERSES for or against critical thinking

List BIBLE VERSES for or against critical thinking

Cary C.
Tustin, CA
Post #: 64

I've heard many pastors make an equally long-winded case for the entire Bible revealing a gestalt, and overall picture exhorting childlike belief in what one is told. The nature of gestalt arguments is that one can intuitively agree or disagree with them. But unfortunately one can't find anything in them substantial enough to prove right or wrong by means of logic.

I assume that you are not proposing verses on the pro-critical thinking side, but rather objecting to counting them. If I'm wrong, please suggest some verses.
A former member
Post #: 64

I was not saying that one can't count verses (in fact I gave you three at the beginning of my post, which you seemed to have ignored), but that there is more than just looking for verses when dealing with the issue of critical thinking and the Bible (unless, of course, you are trying to stack the deck when dealing with the issue of the Bible and critical thinking). You can't cherry pick a few verses and say that the bible is against critical thinking; when, in fact, it is filled with arguments directly aimed at giving reasons to believe. As I said before you may not like the content of the arguments. but to ignore the arguments themselves is dishonest.

Now, my position may be irrelevant, if indeed you mean something by "critical thinking" something other than the use of arguments and the giving reasons to affirm a position. I believed Gil asked you to define critical thinking early on, and you dismissed him and his question out of hand. I am afraid I must press you on it again. For, it seems to me that you are rejecting examples of the use of critical thinking as evidence that the Bible supports critical thinking.

I would submit that every passage in the bible that uses argument to give people reasons to believe is a passage that shows the Bible supports critical thinking. Thus, all of the passages I cited are verses that are supporting the use of critical thinking in the Bible. Would you like a few dozen more?
Lake Forest, CA
Post #: 9
I completely agree that focusing on specific verses is looking at the trees and not understanding the forest but when I step back I see a very different forest. The lesson of the bible that I read is to use faith first and the words of the priests second and don't actually investigate anything for yourself.

Even the parable of the lame man standing and walking boils down to "here is something unusual so accept at face value that god did it". The bible mentions "reason" and "knowledge" and similar terms many times but the words aren't being used to mean what I would mean when I use them.
A former member
Post #: 65

Thank you for your comments. I am glad we can agree on something, although we both know we don't agree on all things, especially the content of the arguments, as you mentioned. If we did agree on the content, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

You mentioned how the Bible uses the words "reason" and "knowledge" and how they differ from how you would use them. I find that would be a interesting discussion; because I don't believe you have different laws of logic than those found in the Bible, nor a different understanding of induction; but I could be wrong. I do think that you may be reading the word "faith" differently. Given what you wrote, I think there may be a misunderstanding of what the Bible means by faith, That too I would find an interesting part of a discussion. and such a discussion would be to further clarity; whereas agreement would be nice, clarity must be preferred where agreement is not possible.

However, I don't want to hijack Cary's thread. so, if you would like to start a new thread, I would enjoy that conversation.


Cary C.
Tustin, CA
Post #: 65

I didn't ignore your 3 verses. I didn't address them because it would have been irrelevant to your gestalt argument.

ISA 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord”
The word "reason" is there, but there is no critical thinking encouraged. There is just "Believe me because if you don't, you will get clobbered." I'll count it only to get something on the pro-critical thinking side. But if anyone challenges me on it, I'll cave, and tell them to argue with you.

1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts revere 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.”
John 14:11 “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.”
These 2 verses work only for eye witnesses to miracles. You don't need to use critical thinking to determine if statements are true, if you personally saw a miracle. I'll count these verses for the same reasons as above, but I won't defend them if attacked.

Cherry picking: I've invited both sides to cherry pick. Nothing unfair about it.

I've defined critical thinking elsewhere as the principles of truth recognition. The first set of those principles is called logic.

You say, "It seems to me that you are rejecting examples of the use of critical thinking as evidence that the Bible supports critical thinking."
That is correct. I set up the contest to list Bible verses which either support or discourage critical thinking. A verse which happens to show an example of it would not necessarily encourage it. Just about every complete and sensible sentence anyone says is an example of some degree of critical thinking.

You say, "Every passage in the Bible that uses argument to give people reasons to believe is a passage that shows the Bible supports critical thinking."
You've cited some passages which use personal experience to give people reasons to believe, but none that use argument - such as an argument to believe someone who claims a personal experience.

Jesus passed up a golden opportunity to encourage critical thinking in John 20:27. He could have said to Thomas, "Look at my hands, and thrust your hand into my side, and use your mind to determine what's true."
user 115833662
Villa Park, CA
Post #: 1
I started this list last week when the closest we had to a working definition of critical thinking was Cary's statement that it had to come from "examination of reality". So I include examples of both eye-witness and empirical evidence. I will defend those against Cary's more recent claim that personal experience of a miracle does not count as critical thinking later if necessary. Here is the list:

Eyewitness accounts
Exd 19:4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself.
Exd 20:22 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘You yourselves have seen that I have spoken to you from heaven.
Deu 29:2 And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, "You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land;
Job 27:11-12 "I will instruct you in the power of God; What is with the Almighty I will not conceal. "Behold, all of you have seen it; Why then do you act foolishly?
Isa 42:20 You have seen many things, but you do not observe them; Your ears are open, but none hears.
Act 4:20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Act 26:16 ‘But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you;
1 John 1:1-3 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
Empirical Evidence
Lev 25:20-21 'But if you say, "What are we going to eat on the seventh year if we do not sow or gather in our crops?" then I will so order My blessing for you in the sixth year that it will bring forth the crop for three years.
Deu 18:21-22 “You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
Jdg 6:36-40 Then Gideon said to God, "If You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken, behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken." And it was so. When he arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he drained the dew from the fleece, a bowl full of water. Then Gideon said to God, "Do not let Your anger burn against me that I may speak once more; please let me make a test once more with the fleece, let it now be dry only on the fleece, and let there be dew on all the ground." God did so that night; for it was dry only on the fleece, and dew was on all the ground.
Mal 3:10 "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.
Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
Wisdom/Rationality Encouraged or Valued
1Ki 4:29-30, 34 Now God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore. Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. [...] Men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.
Psa 16:7 I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.
Pro 12:8 A man will be praised according to his insight, But one of perverse mind will be despised.
Pro 15:14 The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on folly.
Pro 22:17 Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your mind to my knowledge;
Ecc 1:16 I said to myself, "Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge."
Ecc 1:17 And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind.
Act 26:22-26 "So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles." While Paul was saying this in his defense, Festus said in a loud voice, "Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad." But Paul said, "I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I utter words of sober truth. For the king knows about these matters, and I speak to him also with confidence, since I am persuaded that none of these things escape his notice; for this has not been done in a corner.
1Cr 14:15,19 What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. […] however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.
Intellectual Honesty Despite Hardship
Ecc 1:13 And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with.
Ecc 7:4 The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.
Ecc 7:25 I directed my mind to know, to investigate and to seek wisdom and an explanation, and to know the evil of folly and the foolishness of madness.
Heart and Mind
Deu 6:5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
NOTE: When Jesus quotes this commandment, he divides “soul” into two parts “soul” and “mind”. I can’t say for certain, but I take this to mean that he wanted to emphasize the rational aspect of the law in contrast to the “mindless” legalism of his opponents, the Pharisees. This seems clearest in the Mark 12:33 passage below
Cary C.
Tustin, CA
Post #: 69
Welcome RCSmith. I was hoping for more people to support the "pro" side in this contest.
Before I respond to you, I would like to see what some of the atheists have to say about your verses.
Cary C.
Tustin, CA
Post #: 70
RCSmith, thank you for your work. Obviously it took some time.
Apparently the atheists have lost interest in this topic. And apparently its partly my fault. I thought "Bible verses which either support or discourage critical thinking" was clear in its meaning. Obviously the "support" part is unclear. Even if I had defined critical thinking up front, as Gil suggested, the problem would remain.

On the PRO-critical thinking side, the atheists (and I) would prefer to count only those Bible verses which advise the reader to use critical thinking to determine if what is being said is true or not, rather than to simply believe what they are told.

The Christians, however, want to count Bible verses which:
1. show someone making use of critical thinking
2. praise someone for making use of critical thinking
3. make use of critical thinking (which includes just about all sensible statements)
4. point out past reward for past belief
5. promise future reward for belief
6. tell you to obey with your mind
7. state that someone was rewarded for believing God
8. state that someone has seen God do something impressive, and should therefore believe the person talking, but doesn't say why someone reading the statement, who never saw God do anything impressive, should believe the person writing
9. and probably others

So unless someone can figure out a way to state the ground rules that covers every damn borderline case, I guess the subject is closed.
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