By Alan Sexton/Green Mountain Scribes
In his August 10, 1787 letter written to Peter Carr, Thomas Jefferson advised his nephew to “Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion.”. Jefferson, if not introducing his young nephew to the practice of critical thinking, he was certainly reinforcing it’s essentiality. And, critical thinking skills are just as important to perfect and utilize now as these were then.
So, why are critical thinking skills essential?
Well, consider that in this same letter, Jefferson also advised his nephew to “Question with boldness, even the existence of God…”
Erroneously, many read only this quote and without questioning or further researching conclude from this alone that Thomas Jefferson was an atheist, if not a proselytizing atheist.
However, as critical thinkers know with certainty, nothing is further from the truth. Jefferson was a consummate critical thinker, but not an atheist. Yet, my intention herein is not as much to address Jefferson’s faith as it is to illustrate the essentiality of restoring-or developing-our critical thinking skills and constantly utilizing these.
And, because this letter from Jefferson is at once an instruction of the essentiality of developing and utilizing critical thinking skills, ironically, because some make erroneous determinations based solely upon selected excerpts taken from this letter, it also serves as a perfect example of why it is essential to restore-or develop-and constantly utilize these skills.
One must research beyond a simple paraphrase or quote to easily self-confirm that Jefferson was not an atheist, and certainly not proselytizing to atheism and, to the embarrassment of those who erroneously believe otherwise, Jefferson was a indeed a man of faith.
Possessing and utilizing critical thinking skills such as Jefferson advocated in this letter will prevent such embarrassments.
Older generations of Americans must dust off and hone our critical thinking skills, while younger generations may actually have to develop these skills. Skills often and sometimes intentionally not introduced or fostered by far too many agenda promoting and ideology implementing “educators” far more concerned with indoctrinating than with teaching.
In today’s world, critical thinking skills are absolutely vital for confirming or discerning the truth from the constant propaganda of many educators, activists, Barack Obama, his administration, Congress, the news media, etc. Utilizing critical thinking skills can reveal that these people are often disingenuous, misleading, even wholly dishonest at times.
Yet, it is possible to discern the truth from all that we read and hear, but we must first learn to “Question with boldness” that which we read and hear, “Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion”, then investigate that which we read and hear utilizing our critical thinking skills.
We each have or can learn and develop the habits of critical thinkers. All that is additionally required of us is a hunger for the truth and the ambition to seek, and discover it.