His neighbor rows by and calls “take this rope and pull yourself in.” “No” says Billy, “God will save me.” His neighbor shrugs and paddles off.
Ten minutes later a military search and rescue boat slices right up next to him, a voice calls “jump in man, you are saved.” Billy says, “no, God will save me.” The military man says “come-on man, your house will be swept away in a minute or two”. But his words were met with silence so he zipped off looking for others who needed help.
Then Billy looks up, a massive log bumps right into his house and slowly slides right under his feet and stops for just a second, all he needs to do is slide right on and he is saved. But no Billy is thinking “God will save me.”
About that time his house crumbles under the water pressure, Billy is now standing before God and he says “God, I prayed and had faith, why didn’t you save me?” God responds “I sent your neighbor with a boat, a military boat and even a large log. What more were you looking for?”
Wisdom. I think you got the idea. Using your head and resources that God has given us is pleasing to him. God has given us many resources of knowledge. But one can know much but not know how to implement that knowledge. That is where reason, logic and wisdom come in. These are God given gifts so we can discern.
Radio host and writer, Dave Ramsey, seems to be always dishing out advice to people concerning their money. He does this not only with a large foundation of knowledge but also a proper implementation of that knowledge. We call that call that wisdom or common sense.
Wisdom and clear thinking skills are intentionally placed after my other posts (here, and here) on knowledge. Knowledge is a prerequisite to wisdom and deep thinking. When I use wisdom here, I am talking about common-sense. For our purposes here, even though technically they may be different, I’m going to lump in logic and reason as well.
Wisdom is necessary for properly seeing truth from error. If you don’t have much, there is a simple way to get it liberally, pray for it (James 1)! But as goes the old saw “God helps those who help themselves”. The book of Proverbs also abounds with the praise of wisdom and understanding and exhorts us to grow in them through instruction.
Deep thinking skills are necessary for growth in wisdom. It is a very very active process. Wisdom is knowing how to use knowledge and truth, we call this mental activity to come to this point as “critical thinking.” The Bible tells us to “prove all things”, maybe this was speaking about one specific type of thing to test, but it does seem to give us a grounding for critical thinking. By the way, critical thinking is a new term with an old meaning, classical educators have always called it “advanced intellectual skills” (1).
Proper Thinking, Proper Conclusions
One of the most mundane topics we can talk about is thinking about thinking (technically metacognition), but what must be, must be. As we live our lives, we have come up with words to describe this whole process, of thinking correctly with valid reasoning, reasonable judgments, proper justification and reasonable principles: we call this something logic. What intrigues me the most is that many Christians from diverse backgrounds have been persuaded by the same thinking as atheists, incorrectly. Many think that reason and logic contradict faith. But this is not the case, there is no contradiction. In fact they are necessary for each other, helping each other. For clarification, in the biblical worldview, faith is not “wishful thinking”, it is not like “blind-faith” or “simple faith”, rather it is trust grounded upon good reason. The opposite of reason is not faith. The opposite of faith is unbelief. The opposite of reason and logic is being illogical and irrational! We need reason before we can even use wisdom that we are taught to grown in! And we need reason before we can even have faith!
Being Reasonable and Rational
So many times I have seen it in myself and in others. We don’t always think in a cogent manner. Here are ten hodgepodge thoughts to build wisdom and proper thinking:
- An opinion is when one will not explain the facts used to come to his/her conclusion.
- Consider a source as unreliable if he/she does not source the information.
- Primary sources are generally more reliable than secondary sources.
- Sources from people who have no reason to lie are considered more reliable.
- Bounce your findings off of others who are knowledgeable or authorities on the subject.
- One once said “The only barrier to truth is the presumption that you already have it.”
- For every essential belief, you should have justified reasons.
- Almost every issue has at least two viewpoints, so don’t assume yours is the only one.
- Just because something is possible, does not mean it is probable.
- “Love many, trust few, always paddle your own canoe” (I’ve had to learn this the hard way!)
6 Logical fallacies
As far as I know, Jesus never committed one logical fallacy! Would you expect anything less? You see a logical fallacy is a common error in reasoning or chain of reasoning. Logical fallacies and other errors in reason hide truth. Many, especially unbelievers, are often arbitrary and inconsistent in their reasoning. Sadly Christians also are masters of logical fallacies. This ought not be. We know that God is truth and demands truth. Biblically and reasonably, truth is essential.
Yes, I know, these are the colorless “logical fallacies” that scares everyone away. But it is essential to stay away from them, and to be aware when others commit them. Being familiar with them helps one focus on the issues while exposing error. Here are just eight of them, there are many more we could talk about as well:
- “Just because everyone else jumps off a cliff does not mean that you should too”, I hope your mom said this to you! However, maybe without knowing it, she was pointing out a logical fallacy. I hear some make a case for an idea because the majority of the people within the culture or a subculture do it. This is a logical fallacy of “Appeal to the Popular”. Here is a quick note, there is also an opposite fallacy as well, this says that since everyone else is doing it, it must be wrong.
- Check this one out, have you ever heard someone use the same word, but in a different way to make their case? Yes, this too is a fallacy, the “fallacy of equivocation“. For example, “since the Bible teaches love, and since gays love each other, we should accept same-sex marriage and approve of gay relationships”. However, what is happening is people are equivocating on the word love. The Bible is using it in a totally different way!
- The next one is a dandy; it’s pompously called the “false dichotomy fallacy”. For example, “Either you live by faith, or you are a rational thinker” or “I cannot accept the Bible because I believe in science.” This is when only two choices are given when actually there are more than two available! Of course you can be rational and full of faith! We all have both (at least I hope). The Bible vs. Science? Ya right! What is the foundation of the scientific enterprise? Yep, Christianity!
- Have you ever heard “since Christmas used to be a pagan holiday, we should not practice it”? This is called the “Genetic fallacy”. Just because the origin or history is bad (or good) does not make something bad or good!
- “Hitler wore a suit and tie, therefore suites and ties are bad.” This is called the fallacy “Guilt by association”. We should not reject something because of another person doing it or not doing it rather we should look at the reasons given. The same goes with people, just because you are friends with someone, you hang out together or speak on the same platform with another, does not mean you agree with everything he or she says!
- Just because someone in authority believes something is true, does not necessarily mean it is true. One needs to give evidence. For example, “Professor Jones believes in E.T. aliens, so they must exist”, this is an “Argument from authority“.
Two Recommended Books
Do you want to prepare with better reasoning and think more clearly? Check out these two books on Amazon, “The Fallacy Detective” and the “The Thinking Toolbox”. These are easy to read and many times they are a little funny!
Wisdom and Clear Thinking
There is more to come. In this post, I just gave you items over wisdom and proper thinking to help prevent deception. Next I want to talk about ways to help affirm the knowledge and wisdom in your mind so you will be prepared. Then I would like to wrap up this series on deception prevention. You will not want to miss the future posts. If you found this helpful, you will want to keep an eye open for them. Join others and click here, because then you can receive them straight to your inbox so you don’t miss out! (Click here.)
I have a passion to have answers for my faith. I think this is only reasonable for me to do. If you also desire to have answers when you are challenged, you will want grab my free quick guide download, “Why Science Points to God: 8 Quick Reasons I Think Science Affirms The Creator.” I want to send it to you for free. In addition, you will not want to miss the next posts and latest resources, I’ll send them sent straight to your inbox!
So what think you? Do you have more “wisdom” to share on this issue? Do you have any other logical fallacies that would help others? Please comment below!
Image source: flickr/U.S. Geological Survey | Public domain