Author Jonathan Noyes
Published on 08/16/2021

Don’t Let Fear Keep You from Thinking Critically

When we’re afraid discussions about truth will get us labeled intolerant, that fear stifles critical thought and hampers productive discussions about religion, values, ethics, morals, and worldviews.


I want to say something that’s really, really important here. Okay? This is the big deal. This is the point. All people are equal, but not all ideas are equal. And I say that this is really important to understand because we want to make sure that we treat people equally, right? People are valuable apart from their ideas because they’re made in the image of God. That’s what makes people equal. We’re all equal because we’re all made in the image of God, regardless of what we believe. But not every idea is equal.

There is such a thing as a dumb idea. There is. I’m sorry. I remember in grad school, Clay Jones actually taught me that there is such a thing as a stupid question. I’m sorry. There is. Peter Kreeft actually—he’s out of Boston College—he says it this way. I think it’s amazing. He says that we should be egalitarian regarding persons and be elitists regarding ideas. So, we think of others as equals, but we realize that some ideas are better than others, and this is where we get ourselves into trouble. This is where we start to think—or I used to, as an atheist—to start to think the Christian or anybody who held to an objective standard was intolerant.

You know, one of the reasons that relativism has become so popular is because of the fear and then the awkwardness of saying that we think we’re right, and then when we say that we think we’re right, usually it’s in the context in the discussion with somebody, and we’re also saying that the other person is wrong. Now, for me, I’ve always enjoyed the argument. I have. My background is in legal. I like the fight. You know? I like the debate, but a lot of people don’t, and that’s actually one of the reasons relativism crept into the church, because there’s conflict. “Oh, I don’t want to be intolerant.” We’re afraid of that label, and then this fear stifles critical thought, and I think it hampers productive discussions about religion, and values, and ethics, and morals, and worldviews. And this fear is unjustified because people are confused about what tolerance is and what it isn’t.