Thursday, January 12, 2017

Free Thinking

I'm pretty sure you've heard the term: "free thinking". It is a term almost exclusively used by atheists. It is primarily defined as "a philosophical viewpoint which holds that positions regarding truth should be formed on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism, rather than authority, tradition, or other dogmas." Odd, isn't it, that "free thinking" is defined by limiting how it is done? The first step is the rejection of certain aspects of life -- authority, tradition, or dogmas. The second step is the irrational claim that authority, tradition, or dogmas can have no basis in logic, reason, or empiricism which, at its core, is a logical fallacy known as the false dilemma. They pit one -- logic, reason, and empiricism -- against the other -- authority, tradition, and dogma -- as if it is "either/or", as if the two sets are mutually exclusive.

It appears that the aim of "free thinking" is to untether oneself from limitations. That seems to be okay, except when "limitations" include little things like "logic" or "reality". The world these days is indulging in this kind of "free thinking" in the realm of gender, for instance. "You simple people are limited by 'binary gender' -- by the tradition of 'male' and 'female' -- but we are not. We can be anything we want!" Except that science, empiricism, logic, reason, and experience all say otherwise. "Because I feel that way" may feel like a good reason to change genders, but it doesn't make a male body capable of bearing children or a female body capable of impregnating a female body. It doesn't change the bone structures or chromosomes. "I feel" doesn't make a male a female or vice versa any more than it makes a white woman black. It makes no sense. Still, "free thinking" allows for it because, well, it's free thinking.

To further add to the mystery of "free thinking", it appears that the loudest of atheist "free thinkers" do not want to allow you the same freedom if it contradicts their views. So the "Freedom From Religion Foundation" has asked the president-elect to keep God out of his inauguration over against the longstanding traditions to the contrary. Why? To spare the feelings of the 70 million irreligious Americans ... over against the feelings, I suppose of the feelings of the other 252 million who do care or who don't. They want to say that you're free to think your beliefs are true ... as long as you don't bring them out in public. This, of course, is an actual impossibility. Humans always act on what they truly think and believe, so it cannot be that believing in Christ would not affect how we speak or live.

I've seen this kind of thinking in many parents. "Don't limit the kid. Let him discover everything on his own." So they try not to "inflict" thought on him (or her). You know, "thought" like "There is a God" or "Running out in the street can get you run over" or "No, you cannot sit on a broom and fly like Harry Potter did." That's "free thinking", you see. Let them figure it out for themselves. Free thinkers work this way. "Don't bother me with your reality; I'll figure it out myself." Except that they typically go a step further and tell you, "Your reality is wrong! Learn to think my way."

So I'm baffled by this "free thinking" concept. I'm not confused by the idea of being free to think rationally and reasonably to your conclusions. I'm confused by the notion that limiting how you can think is "free thinking", that ruling out possibilities out of hand (like "God" or the like) can be defined as "free". I'm not at all clear how "There is no God because I've thought it through and come to that conclusion" is "free thinking" but "There is indeed a God because I've thought it through, examined all the evidence, and followed the logic" is not. Nor can I figure out why it is not possible for authority, tradition, and dogma steeped in logic, reason, and evidence cannot be of real value. Ultimately, of course, the moral question has to come into this. Who gets to decide that "logic, reason, and empiricism" is "good" and "authority, tradition, and dogma" is "bad"? And if God is out of the question, on what basis would anything be classified as "good" or "bad" in a manner that would affect more than the person making the evaluation? Makes no sense. But, I suppose, "free thinking" as it is commonly used isn't particularly concerned about making sense.

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