Faith and scrutiny don’t have to be at odds. Careful reasoning and critical thinking can encourage experiences that deepen our faith.
Can critical reasoning and religion work together? Science and the process of critical reasoning are often depicted to be at odds with theology and religious thought. But Dr. Ed Gantt, associate professor of Psychology at Brigham Young University, asks us to see past this mindset in his article “Faith, Reason, and Critical Thinking.”
Instead of further encouraging this divide, Gantt reasons that bridging the gap between critical thought and religion is necessary. “As people of faith,” he says, “we should always be willing to think critically about all of our beliefs.” Critically pondering our beliefs offers an opportunity to strengthen those beliefs, building a foundation that, in the face of life’s tribulations, outmatches the fragility of blind faith.
But how do we begin to think critically about what we believe? Critical reasoning invites explorative questions that, as Gantt explains, “are not full of skeptical and paralyzing doubt, but can rather reflect the attempt to more deeply understand (and live) our beliefs.” By pairing this critical reasoning “with the guiding influence of spiritual sensitivity,” he says, “we can become more discerning and thoughtful religious believers.”
In today’s world, our beliefs are consistently put to the test. Many tenets of the LDS Church are becoming increasingly difficult to reconcile with the will of the world, engendering a state of spiritual turbulence for many members of the Church. Instead of letting these questions or doubts tear down our faith in the face of trials, we may find that engaging in critical thinking about our religion will serve to strengthen our faith so that when trials come, our foundation is stronger than ever before.
Read Dr. Ed Gantt’s article “Faith, Reason, and Critical Thinking” to learn more about how critical thinking can work alongside religion to fortify our faith.
Source: The Wheatley Institution
—Morgan Reese, Mormon Insights
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Find more insights
Find spiritually healthy ways to address questions about your faith in Mark T. Hales’s Mormon Insights article “Asking Hard Questions in the Gospel.”
Read “Faith and Intellect,” an Ensign article by Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye (who holds a PhD in Chinese History), to learn about one Latter-day Saint’s experience with her own faith and critical thinking.