I am highly encouraged by what I have begun to read in the beginning of my graduate studies. It seems that what I've been missing in my educational endeavors is now present in my studies at Capella, if the first day of my first class is any indication.
Of course, in this hope, I betray my strong desire, perhaps even need, for such intellectually refreshing material, to the point of assuming the best about the future, something I rarely do. More on this later.
For now though, what is this that I have been missing? To put it simply, intellectual freedom.
For example, I offer an excerpt from the first article I have been assigned, regarding critical thinking.
"Like the honest juror, the critical thinker is ethically committed to the concept of due process-intellectual due process-as the best way to increase the likelihood of finding the truth. This code of intellectual conduct demands giving ideas their day in court before rendering an informed and reasoned verdict. It requires such traits as these:
* Being unwilling to subordinate one's thinking to orthodoxies that demand to be swallowed whole-at the risk of being charged with heresy
* Refusing to dismiss possible merits in ideas that otherwise may be deeply repugnant-at the risk of appearing immoral
* Being capable of saying, "I don't know"-at the risk of appearing unintelligent
* Being willing to judge the truth value of ideas sponsored by demographic and cultural groups to which one does not belong-at the risk of being accused of prejudice
* Being willing to change one's mind-at the risk of appearing capricious
* Being open to the arguments of adversaries-at the risk of appearing disloyal
* Having an acute awareness of the limits and fallibility of one's knowledge-at the risk of seeming to suffer from that dreaded malady, low self-esteem" (Gabennesch, 2006, p. 40)
I find that I resonate with so much of this that I wonder if the writer has looked at my experiences over the past 5 years and written an article. This, of course, is probably exceptionally conceited of me to say, but if you'll pardon the presumption for a moment, I will elaborate.
I've begun to attribute the recent chapter of my life to when I was a small boy and asked God for patience. I think He may just have laughed and simply said "you have no idea."
I have been, at nearly every turn, judged harshly for many of the things I have said. I have had it demanded of me to agree with certain ideas, certain methods, and certain attitudes. When I would not agree, I was accused of not agreeing with Christianity, not agreeing with what everyone in the church thinks, having no foundation for my truth claims, being rebellious, and perhaps most hurtfully at the time, being a heretic.
My problem, the thing that causes me pain, is that I believe in God, that I love the church, and that I proudly call myself a Christian. Though I will apologize for any number of things any part of the church has done that have been simply insane, I am still glad to follow the teachings of Christ. However, I bear no loyalty to what I am seemingly forced to accept with this faith I hold. I find it unnecessary to look at Christianity and any religion as a system that must be swallowed whole or rejected completely. I find it harmful to agree with anything I do not fully understand, even if that understanding must be between myself and God, and must include some type of intellectual mystery. I find it unnecessarily hostile to defend my faith as better than everyone else's, to the point to where I will not do it.
I claim less than most people not because I am more humble, but because I seem to naturally think critically. Or perhaps I do so because of the way my life has gone. However, I would not trade it for the world. It is my approach to life, it is my allegiance to the truth, and a thousand men could accuse me of heresy because of it and I still wouldn't regret it.
What I hope the reader will recognize is that I do what I do and I think how
I think because of my journey with God. I hold a profound allegiance for the truth, and I recognize that my beliefs are not, and never will be, the full and absolute truth. Hence, when I hear another perspective I want to know about it. Because God is this huge, beautiful being that will always have some kind of mystery to Him, because He is just that much.
I Am. We can't even understand His Name completely. I can't believe He would create us with the capacity for critical thought and not wish for us to use it.
Howard Gabennesch. (2006, March). Critical Thinking: What Is It Good for? (In Fact, What Is It?). The Skeptical Inquirer, 30(2), 36-41. Retrieved June 7, 2010, from ProQuest Psychology Journals. (Document ID: 996976231).