Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Non-Critical Thinker’s Manifesto

 From Crisis:

I trust in the deposit of faith that our Savior has given us through His Holy Church, but that trust is certainly not blind; I have studied and prayed my entire life to cement that trust. Blind trust is the ticket to short-term rewards—an intellectual line of credit: you do the thinking for me; I’ve got a life to live. By this means, we create intellectual debts that cannot be repaid. In the business of life’s decisions, if you’re not investing, you’re a parasite endangering yourself and others.

Blind trust is what people often engage in when they vote with their feet. Why stay and work hard to improve something—a marriage, a family, a business, a faith community—when it’s so much easier and so much more ego-plumping to simply declare your troubles someone else’s fault and reassign your blind trust to a new target. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a change is necessary, but it should never be a blind change of menu or venue; it needs to be the result of critical thinking.

The Holy Father points to blind trust as the fertile breeding ground for a clericalism that enabled the clergy sex-abuse scourge (and in the next breath, he plays the clerical card by deeply insinuating that an attack on him is a satanic attack on the Church—but that is a subject for another day). Blind trust has been enabling a Marxist takeover of our education systems. Many among us have attention spans far too short to be critical thinkers—to be concerned about things that we can simply entrust to others. Most non-critical thinkers are nice folk—unpretentious, unsuspecting, trusting, kind—but they are malignantly naïve and a danger to themselves and civilization.

Of course, none of us can get through life without trusting someone to do something. Not only is there nothing wrong with trusting someone, it is unavoidable. But to do so uncritically, like doing anything in life uncritically, is an error, and quite possibly, a grave error.

Following the teachings of an autocrat is an act of blind trust. The claims of Muhammad, Jim Jones, and Joseph Smith could not attract critical thinkers. They were all autocrats: self-proclaimed prophets, their own witnesses—their only witnesses—and they led flocks of uncritical thinkers, who in turn created larger flocks through violent coercion. A throng of emotional, uncritical thinkers is a formidable foundation for the next dark age.

And no, the pope is not an autocrat; his authority is only in the realm of faith and morals and only within the bounds of the deposit of faith; going uncritically outside of those bounds can get him anathematized (at least, posthumously), as it did Pope Honorius I. Furthermore, no pope creates his own position or nominates himself, and we are called to follow him humbly, but not uncritically. Humility and meekness should never be confused with being uncritical. To be meek is to be teachable, and only critical thinkers are truly teachable. The non-critical thinker can be indoctrinated, but he cannot be taught.

Decades of non-critical thinking have created our odd era, one of those eras that will oft be recalled, by the critical thinkers of the future, with the epitaph, Did they really…? (Read more.)

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