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WHY JOHNNY CANíT REASON

And what to do about it!

Our Founding Fathers were great debaters.  I wonder why.  Do you suppose it was because they were able to use well their God-given ability to reason?  Read about the great Christian debater, Patrick Henry and the great speech he made in the debate (that speech can be read here), after Great Britain had attacked the colonists, as to whether Virginia should "take up arms."  Your child could emulate this great man.

Have you noticed that, when your son or daughter needs help with their home work they spend a lot of time filling in blanks?  (Maybe your child doesnít attend a public school, however, the tendency today is to follow its method of schooling.)  Children today "read the lesson" and then answer questions about it using the words of the author.  Whose thoughts will they be thinking?  Try answering the questions below from a California public school text book1:

THE FIRST PEOPLE

TO LIVE IN CALIFORNIA

1. Name four kinds of houses the California Indians made for themselves.

2. What did the Indian men wear?

3. What did the women wear?

4. What was their chief food?

5. Name four plants they ate.

6. What meat could they get?

7. Tell how the cooking was done.

8. What was their chief handwork?

 

The words "what," "name," and "tell" are some of the words used.  "When, where and how" are other words that may be used. How do these kinds of questions challenge the child?  How do exercises that ask "Johnny" to "fill in the blanks," "match words in the left column with ones in the right," "choose the correct answer from the three given" help him to ask: "Now what caused that?"  What word is missing in the above list?  Of course you know itís "why."

When children start to school, they could give you a clear cut answer to why questions.  But, after theyíve been programmed to do hundreds of exercises like the above, what happens to the childís reasoning ability?  It turns off!

Not only have these children lost the ability to use the "faculty of their minds by which they should be able to deduce inferences from facts or from propositions," they cannot distinguish truth from falsehood, and good from evil.  This happens daily in most of the schools in our country.

Most home schooling parents do not deliberately set out to cripple their childrenís reasoning ability, therefore, the children continue to ask the right questions: who, what, when, where, how and why!  With that last question their sense of logic goes into gear and, presto, they begin to see that there is a cause and effect in everything.

Parents can nourish this marvelous God-given ability. We can start asking our children the question theyíve been asking us: "Why, Johnny?"

There are those who have deliberately set out to prove this is a universe in which the god "Chance" rules.  They have deliberately insisted on training our children (and us!) to look at everything as though it happened by chance.  But even they canít seem to delete the word "because" out of their vocabulary!

This is not a chance universe; there is no such thing as things happening "by chance" even when it seems that way.  "I just happened to run into an old friend of mine."  You can prove this.  Just go back to the cause and effect behind this "happenstance."  Do this a few times and it will soon be obvious we are using a euphemism to describe what really happened.  Everything in this universe is both cause and effect-until one gets back to the first great Cause: God himself.

We help our children grow in their ability to reason by asking them the right questions and by demonstrating reasoning from cause to effect as we talk with them: "when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up," (Deuteronomy 6:7)

We should never leave God out of our teaching.  He does have rules that govern discussion.

Reasoning from cause to effect, using the rules of reasoning, make us rational creatures answerable to the Creator of the Universe.  But when Jehovah God is left out of the equation, there is no one to answer to; there is no one to go to for wisdom, insight, clarification of ideas, rules.

Here are some rules for discussion.

1. Honesty: if a statement contains false or misleading information, one comes to wrong conclusions.

2. Do not be devious (crooked): irrelevant information brought into the argument confuses the issue.  (God condemns such: Deuternomy 32:5: "They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation."

3. Do not impugn the character of the debater: this does not tell us either that the premise or conclusions are false.  It merely accuses the person in the discussion of being evil.  ("He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit,...deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil,"  Proverbs 12:17 and 19b)

How would you critique this "argument"?

"Mr. Black is bigoted.  He said abortion is wrong.  He is forgetting that women are free to choose their own destiny.  The thing in her body isnít a child."

Judge it by the above criteria:

1. This implies the child is not a separate human being and it is all right for her to do what she likes with it.  The correct question is: "Is it true or false that this 'thing' is a separate human being?"

2. The argument that a "woman should be free to choose her own destiny" implies that she has a right to do what she pleases with the "thing" in her body.   Could we say that such an argument is "crooked" thinking?  Do not these people know that, physiologically, the child is a separate being from the mother?

3.  What does Mr. Blackís character have to do with the question as to whether a child in the womb is a human being or not?  Either it is or it isnít a child.  This  is an evasion of the questions: Is she responsible for the welfare of the person in her womb?  Does she have a right to kill another person?  Is she answerable to God?

Has the inability to reason from Godís Word by those schooled in the public education system had any effect on the above tragic evil being perpetrated in our country?

If one examines the arguments for wrong doing in any area of life today, it will become plain that change in this country can be made when those in places of authority use the ability to reason as God intended.  We must all discipline ourselves to give logical arguments based on Websterís proposition in regard to the faculty of reason.  Studying Godís Word is great exercise.

Reason, in the English language, is sometimes taken for true and clear principles; sometimes for clear and fair deductions; sometimes for the cause, particularly the final cause.  It is a faculty of the mind by which it distinguishes truth from falsehood, and good from evil, and which enables the possessor to deduce inferences from facts or from propositions...

We must learn to reason; others must be taught to reason; still others must be given a new heart.

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ," (II Corinthians 10::4- 5)

Yes, Johnny can reason.  He can learn to reason.  Itís just doing naturally what God intended us to do.  It really isnít that difficult.  He can learn to deduce inferences from facts or from propositions by asking the right questions using Godís rules.  He learns this from us; he learns it when he is questioned and is pressed to give honest, forthright, true answers.  He can study logic for himself!  Perhaps we should take a good course in logic!

Perhaps Johnny will become a great debater like Patrick Henry and others of our Founding Fathers.  Isnít that something excellent for which to aim?


Footnotes:

1. Flower, Enola; A Childís History of California, California State Department of Education, 1949, p.183.  (Back to article)


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