“Christianity causes mental illness,” stated the elite university professor, as if it were common knowledge. Immediately, almost every hand in the room went up. The professor was peppered with thoughtful questions that left him clearly rattled. He had no answers for most of the questions, which seemed to spur his students to ask even more pointed queries.
Are you shocked the students didn’t just accept the college professor’s statement and write it in their notes as a “proven” fact? What if you learned this was a special one time class for alumni of this elite university? Alumni who had been taught to think critically, to question “facts” and statistics. Adults who knew information can be spun to make it seem to support even the most ludicrous theories.
This really happened a few years ago. I’m guessing the professor had not attended the university and was used to teaching scared college freshman, who were afraid to question anything he said. The poor guy practically bolted from the room, and I’m guessing no longer teaches there.
The “students” in his class modeled an important skill we need to teach Christian young people. It’s called critical thinking. Your first thought might be to recoil in fear of critical thinking, afraid it will backfire and cause more doubts than it solves.
In reality, because God’s truth is actual truth, it will withstand any honest challenge. The problem is we haven’t taught young people to question the world’s twisted facts. We haven’t given them a strong enough spiritual foundation that when they hear something about God or in the Bible twisted, that they are able to immediately know why the challenge is misguided.
Because we don’t give young people these critical thinking skills, we leave them vulnerable. They are likely to accept anything an authority figure – like a professor – teaches them as truth – even when it is not even close to the truth.
What critical thinking skills do we need to teach our young people? How much Bible knowledge do they really need to be unswayed by logical sounding, but misguided arguments? We will address those topics in our next post.
In the meantime, ask your students to analyze the statement the professor in the story made. How quickly are they ready to accept it as truth? How many thoughtful, respectful questions can they ask about the statement that might help them realize it really had little basis in actual facts? How they react can give you clues as to how much help they will need with critical thinking.