Answers in Genesis Explains “Critical Thinking”

One of the favorite phrases used by creationists when they’re trying to legislate their beliefs into public school science classes is “critical thinking.” They mindlessly chant that teaching “both sides” of the imaginary scientific controversy about evolution will benefit students by training them in critical thinking.

But what are creationists talking about when they speak of critical thinking? It appears in the Discovery Institute’s Academic Freedom Act (where they call it “critical inquiry”). They never define it, or give any examples. Nevertheless, they insist that it’s a worthy goal to pursue. We’ve written about it before — see What Is “Critical Thinking”? There we concluded:

Critical thinking (or critical analysis) means starting with a desired conclusion (or worldview, or presupposition) and then criticizing (that’s the “critical” part) any unwanted conclusion that was obtained with another worldview — scientific materialism, inductive reasoning, logical thinking, or whatever term one might prefer. That’s the goal of the enemies of our civilization.

Today we bring you some confirmation of our definition. It comes from the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG). Their new post on this topic is Critical Thinking Questions. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

We are all bombarded with truth claims. The news you hear, the blogs you read, the television shows you watch — all want you to believe what they are telling you. To really determine what is true and what is false requires that you test everything in light of the only source of ultimate truth — God’s Word.

So how do you know if the latest fossil find actually lives up to the exalted claims of the headline? How do you evaluate the claims of the history lecture at the public library? How do you train your children to spot the false thinking in that cute dinosaur cartoon? … The answer is to ASK the right critical thinking questions with the Bible as our foundation.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Not very subtle. Let’s read on:

When we look to God’s Word as the standard for understanding truth, we have a solid foundation from which to begin applying critical thinking to claims we hear. Further, God does not leave us alone in this endeavor. He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us and other believers to support us. Working together with the body of Christ from a biblical framework and empowered by the Holy Spirit, you can discern truth from lies, even in areas where you may not be an expert, by asking the right critical thinking questions.

You don’t need to be an expert. Just ask “the right critical thinking questions.” AIG then gives us a specific methodology. The bold font in the three bullet-point items is theirs:

Whenever a truth claim is presented, you have to determine whether you will accept it as true or reject it as false. Here is a framework that you can use, as well as teach to others, to evaluate those claims. When you hear a claim, stop and ASK some questions:

• What is this person’s Authority to make such a claim?
• From what Starting point is this person looking at the world?
• How do they Know what they claim to know?

Ah, so that’s the framework for critical thinking! Observe that it’s not even remotely like the scientific method, but this is what the creationists want your children to learn. Regarding the first item, authority, we’re told:

When addressing the issue of authority, you must decide the threshold you require based on the way you intend to use the information. Look for the appropriate level of authority for the situation, acknowledging that you must ultimately trust others to some extent when evaluating a truth claim. … Use critical thinking to analyze their worldview in light of Scripture and consider how they claim to know what they know.

Yes — to evaluate someone’s authority, just look to see if they have a scriptural worldview. Simple. Then they turn to the next item — the starting point. They say:

Once the authority question is answered, you need to try to discern the starting point of the person making the claim: Does this person base their thinking on human philosophy or God’s Word? In other words, do they have a biblical, Christian worldview or a humanistic worldview? Ultimately, these are the only two options — you either trust God or you trust man. Although humanistic philosophy must borrow ideas from a Christian worldview in order to make logical arguments, it is very dangerous to make human reasoning the absolute standard.

It seems to us that the questions of authority and starting point are really the same. They both demand a scriptural approach to the issues. Now we come AIG’s discussion of their third item — how does the expert know what he’s talking about? AIG instructs us:

Is the claim being made an interpretation of data or the data itself? Most often, the claim is an explanation or interpretation of the data. Evaluating whether the interpretation is correct is the goal of this framework.


Ultimately, the knowledge claim must be compared to the truth of God’s Word. If the truth claim disagrees with a clear meaning of Scripture, it must be rejected.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! All three points in their framework for critical thinking are the same! No evidence, no reasoning, no testing — just bible, bible, bible. Near the end, they say this:

Admittedly, this is a simplistic critical thinking tool — hopefully simple enough for a child to use. But it is also flexible enough to allow for extensive study within each area so that it can be used on complex truth claims. If you will stop and ASK about the ideas you are receiving, you will be able to discern whether they are true or not.

So there you are, dear reader. That’s creationists’ critical thinking. Surely you agree that it’s a worthy goal to pursue in public school science classes.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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22 responses to “Answers in Genesis Explains “Critical Thinking”

  1. Now that is a great methodology. Why go through all that explanation if all they intend to say anything that disagrees with the bible is to be rejected?

  2. Dave Godfrey

    Even by Mr Lie’s standards, this is garbled garbage.

  3. Richard Olson

    This pitiful AIG contortion is almost certainly modeled upon (and an indirect rebuttal for) A Manual for Creating Atheists [Paperback]
    Peter Boghossian (Author), Michael Shermer (Foreword).

  4. And Bill Nye needs to mention this… a lot.

  5. Hambo’s creation “scientists” piece shows why it’s futile to attempt reasoned argumentation with the committed creationist. They are simply impervious to evidence gathered in the real world. Hambo’s posse of poseurs, upon signing his “Statement of Faith,” gave up their seats at the table of thinking people.

  6. Bill Nye should read this and recognize the futility of having a debate with people who think like this.

  7. test everything in light of the only source of ultimate truth — God’s Word

    Do they apply that to heliocetrism?

  8. Kenny Ham pontificates, “God does not leave us alone in this endeavor. He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us and other believers to support us.”

    Ah! That explains why all the greatest advancements in science and medicine have come from the pulpit rather than research universities and institutions.

  9. Hambo tells us how to judge the truth: “Whenever a truth claim is presented, you have to determine whether you will accept it as true or reject it as false… When you hear a claim, stop and ASK some questions:

    • What is this person’s Authority to make such a claim?
    • From what Starting point is this person looking at the world?
    • How do they Know what they claim to know?”

    1) So, what is Ham’s Authority? He doesn’t hold a divinity degree. For that matter, do we know if has even attended college? If so, where? Did he earn a degree? If so, in what field?

    2) We definitely know his Starting Point looking at the world.

    3) And most importantly, how does Ham KNOW what he claims to know? Yes, we understand that he BELIEVES his bible is the inerrant authority of truth, but BELIEVING is not KNOWING.

    Sorry, Kenny Boy, you do not pass your own Truth Filter.

  10. ……”Discoveroids, you got some ‘splaining to do”…..!!

  11. I’m attempting to apply the AiG Critical Thinking analysis to the claims that Australia has utterly humiliated (whitewashed, even) England in the Ashes…

    Fortunately, the reports are not based on Holy Scripture, so I will devoutly maintain they are utter lies!

  12. OgreMkV suggests

    Bill Nye needs to mention this… a lot.

    Indeed. But the folks who have yet to mention the Science Guy vs. Flim-Flam Ham Rumble in the Jungle Event are our friends at the Disco’Tute–and I’m guessing they won’t, even though they have certainly not been reluctant to fling their poo at Nye in their blog over the past year or so. A cursory search turned the following articles on the DI’s blog:

    Bill Nye the Intolerant Science Guy: “Your Kids” Need to “Believe in” Evolution [Casey Luskin: 27 Aug 2012]
    Bill Nye the Red Herring Guy [David Klinghoffer: 11 Sep 2012]
    Bill Nye the Terrible Suicide Hotline Guy [Joshua Youngkin: 26 Apr 2013]
    Bill Nye and Science Lies [Bruce Chapman: 24 Jul 2013]

    So: will they say anything about the ‘debate’ with Ham, and if so, what?

  13. TomS:”Do they apply that to heliocetrism?”

    Or to the Discoveroids’ positions, such as Behe’s conclusion of ~4 billion years of common descent, or his admission at Dover that the designer might no longer exist. Or, since it invokes Christ, to Medved’s and Klinghoffer’s conclusion of his divinity.

  14. Even if you call Shambo a lying son of a dingo it won’t matter.

    Let’s get used to saying “Bill Nye, the Guy.” He doesn’t have a prayer. Literally.

  15. Charles Deetz ;)

    retiredsciguy for the win. He gets all the internets in a wrapped package delivered to his door. Taking the three questions and turning them on Hambo is great. His last point sounds like a restatement of Hambo’s own words: “Were you there?”

    And I’ll agree with everyone else that this posting shows how futile Bill Bill Bill’s battle is going to be. He needs a comeback for this one or he’s toast.

  16. Some “critical thinking” about Ham — He’s been accepting donations and selling “lifetime passes” for his Ark Park for some time now.

    Is there any accounting for these funds? Is he legally required to use the money only for the purpose he stated when soliciting the funds? We can safely assume that AiG is set up as a 501(c)3 organization for tax-exempt status. The IRS has some stringent requirements for how funds that were donated to a 501(c)3 can be spent. I sure hope Mr. Ham is diligent in following the law, and not using any of those tax-exempt funds for his personal expenses.

  17. Neat-o! Morton’s Demon in three easy steps.

  18. Admittedly, this is a simplistic critical thinking tool — hopefully simple enough for a child to use.

    This is not a good thing to admit, AIG- “simplistic” is not the same thing as “simple.”

  19. Charles Deetz ;)

    Found a good read on Morton’s Demon (Talk-origins comes up #1 in search), Con-Tester. Thanks.

  20. Hambo has a book called Genesis which makes a number of wild claims. Are they true? Let’s ASK:

    1. What is the author’s authority to make such claims? We don’t know who the authors were, other than they was members of a bronze age tribe living somewhere in the middle east. It is highly likely that the originators of the stories in Genesis lived long before the stories were written down, so the true authorship will never be known, even if earlier written copies of the stories are found. So – this question doesn’t help at all.

    2. What were the author’s world views? We can surmise, from reading the claims in the book, that their worldview was consistent with other bronze age cultures in that they believed unseen agents were real and responsible for much of what happened in the natural world and in their lives. The authors clearly had little if any education in the rudiments of logic and philosophy that were developing at the time in Greece and elsewhere. So – the answer is a primitive, uneducated world view.

    3. How did they know what they claimed was true? We don’t know, and the unknown authors don’t tell us. Believers like Ham will state that God told the authors what happened, because no human author one could possibly know it otherwise. However, the existence of God is one of the major inventions of the book that we are attempting to test, so we cannot use God as the source of knowledge. (That would be circular reasoning). So – the answer is that there is no known method for the authors to know all of the claims in Genesis.

    The idea that Genesis is factually true history fails Ham’s ASK test.

  21. It’s a classic example of projection, isn’t it? The creationists are sensitive to the valid criticism that they lack the faculty of critical thinking, so they project that lack onto their critics: it’s rationalists who lack the faculty of critical thinking!

    Of course, this accusation necessitates some redefinition of the term “critical thinking”, but that’s easy enough to do when you can tap Higher Authority for the, er, redesigned meaning.