UPDATE: Check out this interesting article on "How to Teach a Child to Argue"
Recently, I have come across several items that emphasize the importance of critical thinking. This is something that is often missing from science-based curricula. Sure, advanced mathematics, chemistry, and physics involve a great deal of critical thinking, but the fact is, if you are not enrolled in a graduate program in these areas, you are rarely exposed to material that helps one develop their critical thinking skills. I don't want to come off apologetic towards a liberal arts or humanities based education, but for the most part, these subjects teach young ones early on how to think logically, analytically, and critically. I advocate, like many others over the centuries, for a philosophy-based curriculum starting from elementary school onwards.
This probably sounds like something out of The Republic by Plato (try the Spark Notes version for easy breezing). But, in a recent article in The Washington Post, Rajdeep Singh drops that knowledge and offers an interesting perspective on the power of critical thinking in relationship with faith-based religious reasoning. Here is an excerpt:
"One of the most offensive aspects of many religious traditions (or interpretations thereof) is an insistence on religious exclusivity--the belief that if you belong to some other religion, or none at all, you are inferior or immoral (and, in any case, going to Hell), regardless of the actual content of your character. What makes this belief troublesome is its enormous popularity among people of multiple religious traditions in America and abroad. Although many such believers are perfectly content to relegate infidels to Hell in the comfort of their own imaginations, this attitude gives ideological cover or license to religious fanatics, who often kill, hurt, or oppress others in the name of the very same beliefs. My-way-or-the-highway is, by its own terms, a zero-sum game, and an especially dangerous one in the context of religion."
Also, I recently came across a similar, but slightly more aggressive in tone, YouTube video highlighting the problems in forcing metaphysical premises down people's throats. Though the narrator overlooks some epistemic, logical, and even metaphysical problems in his argument, I think overall he does a fine job conveying the crux of his argument (though coming of mean and condescending at times! He should take a culturally relativist approach next time and consider his audience when doing these pieces) Enjoy: