Tag Archives: education

Think Again: What Is a Genuine Education?

Learning to think for oneself is one of the most important intellectual duties in life. Truth needs to be pursued and apprehended by each individual person. And one of the great benefits of being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27) is that human beings have been given the faculties to hunt and gather the truth.

kids-graduatingAs a logic instructor I seldom, if ever, tell someone what to think (i.e., what position to adopt as the conclusion of their argument). Instead, I attempt to assist others in learning how to think (helping to order a person’s thinking according to principles of logic). Logic can be defined as “ordered thought”—that is, thinking and arguing in a manner that is consistent with the laws of logic and the rules of rational inference.

Genuine education is not indoctrination. Rather, authentic learning takes place when the best arguments for and against a position are presented and students are provided with the tools to fairly evaluate those truth-claims. There is a time and a place to advocate one’s position, but teachers have a sacred duty to help their students discover the truth by being as fair and objective as possible. Teachers need to encourage their students to grow in their intellectual maturity so that they can truly think for themselves.

Studying logic and critical thinking is an ideal discipline for pursuing a genuine education because it empowers the learner to know how to evaluate truth-claims. So, again, logic teaches a person how to think instead of what to think. It is similar to the adage of making people self-sufficient by teaching them how to fish rather than giving them a fish. The best education always provides tools for students to become sufficient in facing life questions and challenges.

I am concerned that much of education today, especially in the social sciences, involves little more than indoctrination. I believe the way to successfully battle this ideological stronghold is to teach people to think for themselves. How about you? Are you ready and willing to hone your critical thinking skills so that you can be empowered to tackle truth and make careful judgments for yourself? If so, stay tuned for more articles on logic as we attempt to think again!

See other installments in this series here: Part 1 and Part 2


  • My former podcast, Straight Thinking, contains many episodes given to the topic of logic and critical thinking. It is archived at reasons.org. Specifically, I recommend that you listen to “Ordered Thinking: The Value of Logic.”
  • Two chapters in my book A World of Difference are devoted to the subject of logic. Most formal logic texts (even used ones) are very expensive, but RTB sells my book at a very reasonable price. Moreover, the logic chapters are conjoined with a detailed discussion of worldview thinking from the perspective of historic Christianity.

Don’t Let Your Kids Major in Philosophy and Religion

My son, Michael, graduated from high school this year and is now formulating plans for college and his vocation. I recently told him that if he decided to become a Christian apologist, I would give him all of my choice Power Point presentations in such subjects as philosophy, logic, theology, and apologetics.

A lot of booksHis response was a polite, “No thanks, I want to pursue a college major that will make me rich.”

“How rich?” I asked.

He replied, “Stinkin’ rich!”

In light of this conversation, I began thinking my son may hold a practical view of life quite similar to the one my father held. I remember telling my dad, in the late 1970s, that I planned to major in philosophy and religion. My father, who had been raised during the Great Depression and had served as a frontline combat soldier during World War II, bluntly asked, “How much money does it pay?”

I said, “I don’t care about money; I just want the truth!”

He said, “You can’t handle the truth!” Okay, that last line might be from the Jack Nicholson movie A Few Good Men—but it captures the essence of my dad’s response.

A recent Yahoo! article listed five college majors parents ought to dissuade their kids from choosing. Sure enough, philosophy and religious studies made the list. The author of the article, Danielle Blundell, writes:

I think, therefore I am. Too bad Descartes’ famous ditty doesn’t carry as much weight when it comes to snagging a job with a degree in philosophy or religious studies. Get ready to sweat if your son or daughter chooses one of these heady courses of study.

The article goes on to state that young men and women graduating in these fields face a higher than average unemployment rate (10.8 percent). Blundell comments:

And unless you plan on continuing on to grad school and working as a philosophy professor, Reynaldo [a college admissions consulting and major matching specialist] says that the problem with philosophy is that the principles behind it—questioning existence, thinking about knowledge—are perceived as “useless” in the workplace.

Education, Jobs, and God’s Calling

There is, of course, a lot of truth in this article. In academic fields like philosophy and religion it is virtually essential that a person attain a doctoral degree in order to compete for employment—even with an advanced degree the job market is challenging. A lot of talented Christian apologists I’ve known with degrees in philosophy and theology struggle financially. Even when someone lands a job in these fields, the comparatively modest pay can make it challenging to provide for a family.

Nevertheless, it is tragic and painful to hear people say that the philosophical and logical skills of thinking clearly and carefully about the big questions of life are viewed as “useless” in the workplace. I know that a person with an ordered and critical mind can make important contributions in almost any employment field. However, to its detriment, our society continues to devalue the life of the mind. Many people view philosophers and theologians as irrelevant “eggheads.”

Yet, as I told my father some 30 years ago, National Socialism and Communism are, at their core, philosophical ideologies—and as C. S. Lewis so eloquently stated in his book The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, “Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”

Yes, Christian young people who are considering philosophy and theology need to balance practicality with reflective spiritual discernment. But let’s not forget that Christ’s church needs committed and well-trained pastors, theologians, philosophers, and apologists—and as many of us have experienced, where God guides, God provides.

Are You a Renaissance Christian? 12 Tips for Pursuing Knowledge and Wisdom in Daily Life

I first heard the expression “renaissance Christian” from apologist and attorney John Warwick Montgomery in the early 1980s. Montgomery gave a lecture at the former Simon Greenleaf School of Law on the importance of developing the Christian mind. The lecture left a deep impression on me. Continue reading