Thoughts on Teaching Logic and the University

This semester I taught my first two sections of Introduction to Logic. Of course, I love teaching students as per my undergraduate degree in education. What I specifically love about teaching students is the learning process.  It is a rich experience to see people grasp a concept and then utilize that concept in their lives.

My students grasped the importance of good argumentation and reasoning and then began to utilize this learning in their lives. I heard stories of interactions with friends and family members. I listened to their exasperation at the material fallacies present in the presidential and vice-presidential debates.  I smiled as I saw their faces light up when they realized they could make good arguments for their beliefs.

The best part for me was realizing that they were learning to “love God with all their mind” as part of Jesus’ commands in Matthew 22:37.

These students live in a time with much negative press towards the Christian faith in mainstream media, as well as from best-selling new atheist authors.  Our cultural environment can feel somewhat hostile and degrading to young Christian students. For example, Sam Harris’ states that “Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings.”[1] Richard Dawkins views religious teaching as “child abuse.”[2] The student, who hasn’t been taught to break down these arguments, may uncritically accept some of these conclusions as true.  Conversely, when we teach students how to criticize and analyze an argument for validity, they can thoughtfully engage with some of the poor arguments espoused by these prominent figures in our society.

The university is supposed to be a place where students can think through ideas, evaluate them, and search for what is true.  That is what we hope to encourage at Houston Baptist University: that every student should search for what is true.  College students are a time in their lives when they are moving from accepting the teachings of the authorities in their life (clergy, parents, youth ministers) to examining these claims for themselves. This is a time when they begin to “own” their beliefs.  Unfortunately, Bradley Wright’s research demonstrates that university professors, in general, still harbor the most negative feelings towards Christianity in our country (specifically evangelical Christians).[3] To quote the famous NASA line: “Houston, we have a problem.” Well, Houston, we also have a solution!

Parents and students, when you are looking for a world-class education, don’t forget to include places where students will be mentored to actually think for themselves.  Come to Houston Baptist University! We want to help you love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.

[1] Harris, Sam. The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (New York: W.W. Norton & Company),173.

[2] “ the same way as Amnesty works tirelessly to free political prisoners the world over, we should work to free the children of the world from the religions which, with parental approval, damage minds too young to understand what is happening to them.” Richard Dawkins. “Religions Real Child Abuse.” The Dawkins Foundation website. Available from: Accessed November 30, 2012.

[3] Bradley N. Wright. Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites and Other Lies You’ve Been Told. (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House).

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