APL 510 Session 4 Discussion Critical Thinking Apologetics

In this post, I refer to the variation principle and a Christian, Citizenship, and Quality Management Apologetic. It includes a link to my book that was written for the general public for those relatively new to the quality concepts.

I broke up the Session 4 requirement referenced in the Instructions into several sections that are highlighted in bold.

“Applying” critical-thinking skills in reaching the world for Jesus Christ requires a “method” in the context of a “worldview” that will support an apologist’s capabilities in communicating and defending the gospel.

World view. “A world view is defined as a mental model of reality — a comprehensive framework of ideas & attitudes about the world, ourselves, and life, a system of beliefs, a system of personally customized theories about the world and how it works — with answers for a wide range of questions.“[1]  “Ravi Zacharias defines the four main questions of life: origin, meaning, morality and destiny and the answers to these questions can determine if a worldview is coherent.” [2]

Method

Rene Descartes (1596-1650) in his essay of “Rules for the Direction of the Mind” reinforced the importance of a method for finding out the truth [3]  In the field of Quality Management (QM), W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993) – a devout Christian, developed a new philosophy and method for pursuing Truth. One day, Deming’s contributions may be considered among the great philosophies in human history. Deming estimated in 1986 that it would be another 50 years (2036) before the philosophy was more commonly known.

The scope of Deming’s method ranges from concept (reducing variation) through practical application that can and is being applied by children as well as by adults throughout the world.

A “method” is applied in the context of a system and the “system” determines the quality of the result.  Apologetic “methods” include classical, evidential, presuppositions, cumulative case, and reformed epistemology.  Methods can be limited in what they can accomplish which leads to the development of additional methods. The “What’s New?” with a Christian, Citizenship and Quality Management apologetic method is that it provides a context that provides a foundation that can support any other method that accepts that reducing variation from the ideal leads to more perfect outcomes: This fact represents biblical truth and is also an accepted axiom in quality management.

“Creatively explore three to five ways in which applying critical thinking enhances one’s ability to communicate the gospel effectively, either in a defensive strategy or as a compelling presentation.”

1. Critical-thinking can eventually lead an apologist to develop a more conscious awareness and understanding of the variation principle. Variety was a fundamental design feature in God’s creation of heaven and earth. Variation provides a context for assessing and improving the results from applying any apologetic method which shares the aim of reducing variation from the ideal.  

 2. Critical thinking supports the development of a good argument that results in a conclusion in support of a position or belief. In apologetics, this can lead others to consider the position and choosing to take the needed follow-up actions.

3. An effective critical thinking method should reinforce that no method is perfect and must be adaptive to the needs of individuals, groups, cultures.

Presenting a Good Argument – Examples of  Five (5) Systems

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone
who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness
and respect” (
1 Peter 3:15 NIV).

1. T. Edward Damer developed a “system” that supports the development of what he defines as a “good argument” that he has documented in his book “Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments.“ [4] The fact that the current version represents the “7th Edition” reinforces the application of a learning and improvement cycle. An outline of Damer’s system is provided at the following link: https://wp.me/p9vJtr-1P9

Relative to quality, the three types of quality are perceived, actual, and expected. Dr. Mark Foreman in his presentation on Rhetoric reinforced that in addition to fallacies, the application of rhetorical force and devices influence perceptions and expectations that can drive decision making.[5]  Arriving at the Truth of the matter requires an alignment of perceptions and expectations with the actual situation based on facts and evidence. Additional information provided in the post: “Advertisement, Argument, Rhetoric” is available at the following link: https://wp.me/p7eYCh-hP

You, therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried
away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness.
” (2 Peter 3:17 NASB)

2. The U.S. Justice System provides another example of a system designed to arrive at the Truth and requires a jury to make a decision regarding the quality of the arguments. In Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ”, he identified eight (8) types of evidence that should be considered as part of a good argument.

3. Department of Defense (DoD) – Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP).  Probably one of the better decision-making processes in the world for making a “good argument” that leads to the selection of the best course of action. The overall system recognizes the strengths and weaknesses of human nature and the evil that has been perpetuated by man throughout history.

4. Quality Management (QM) introduces methods and tools for assessing the capability of systems and processes for meeting needs.  Data is used to develop a “good argument” and support fact-based decision making. The scientific method is applied to validate an improvement theory and assess if a change resulted in improvement.  Basic tenets in QM methods include the following:

  • “All and any action” is accomplished through a process.  A process can include variables such as people, methods, technology, equipment, information, and feedback needed to help transform inputs into outputs to achieve an expected outcome. Other terms for process are habits, routines.
  • A system is a collection of processes with a common aim for meeting a need (s). The system determines the majority if not all, of the result.
    • Commuting to work or school is a process that is executed in the context of a Transportation System. This system includes the needed infrastructure – roads, laws, insurance, police, cars, fuel, etc.
    • Cooking a meal is a process in the context of a  Food and Nutrition System.
    • Brushing teeth is a process in the context of a Health System.
    • Praying is a process.The Bible provides the context for the System.
  • The variation principle includes proven methods for determining the predictability of a process (habits) and system (routines) in meeting needs “If you always do what you always did (good or bad), on average, you will usually get what you always got.”  A few questions for assessing a habit or routine:
    • What are you currently doing? Why are you doing it? What results are you getting? Are the results good enough? Any plans for improvement? How will you know that change will result in improvement? Can the improvement be sustained?
  • A common continual improvement and learning cycle is referred to as the Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) Cycle.  Examples on the application of the cycle from the perspective of Jesus, God, Lee Strobel, Students and CCU Apologetics Program Managers is available at the following link: https://qualityleadershipblog.com/2020/10/23/c2qma-pdsa/

5. Brown County (Indiana) Leader Network.  The approach includes customizing DoD’s decision-making process to support county and community decision making. Currently in the proof-of-concept phase.

Defensive Strategy — Christian, Citizenship, and Quality Management Apologetic

The conclusion to the argument for the Christian, Citizenship, and Quality Management Apologetic apologetic method is that “reducing variation from the ideal results in more perfect outcomes.

A defensive strategy would support a secular approach to improvement. An offensive strategy a non-secular approach. A “mixed” strategy a flexible and adaptive approach.

For instance, a group consisting of atheists, agnostics, and Christians work together in achieving a goal of reducing property crime in their community by 10%. This provides an example of good citizenship and reducing variation from the ideal. Successful projects like this could lead to more initiatives and opportunities to build relationships and establish a dialogue that leads to a discussion on Christianity.  There is a direct correlation between improvement methods and Christian principles.

Secular

The field of quality management – prevalent throughout the world, supports a non-secular approach to improvement. It accepts the axiom that the closer a product or service is to the ideal, optimum, nominal, the higher the quality and the lower the cost to society (customers, suppliers, other stakeholders).

In this approach “man” (customers, suppliers, other stakeholders) determine and define the criteria and standards for the “more perfect” products and services. These products and services range from treatment and cures for diseases to the products and services relative to the “sin industries.” [6]  In his article “The Election to End all Elections” that includes his review of the book “America at the Point of No Return” by Michael Anton, Angelo M. Codevilla illustrates the impact of porn on spirit and culture: [7]

  • The current porn-drug tsunami is an evil much too great and deliberate to be called a failure. Its purpose is to deaden you—to drain you of any sense of dignity, self-worth, fighting spirit, or inner belief that you are worthy of respect. Above all, it’s to render you unwilling to stand up and demand—to fight for—what you’re owed as a human being and citizen.

Non-Secular (Religious) Perspective

God created the heaven and the earth”. (Genesis 1:1) His creation included variety (variation). Variation is represented through comparisons, differences, choices, and opposites. Examples in Genesis: Man-women, heaven-earth, God-Satan, fruit from the Tree of Life that would lead to eternal life and fruit from the “Tree of the “Knowledge” of Good and Evil” that would lead to sin and death. The Garden of Eden was the perfect world on earth free of sin (imperfection) compared to today’s imperfect world that through Jesus Christ, will one day return to a perfect world. (Book of Revelations)

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  (Mathew 5:48 NIV). Jesus Christ is the standard for perfection. What is God’s expectation for Christians in working towards being more perfect? Should we be contributing to more needs being met? If so, by what method?

Citizenship.  The design for the U.S system of government was influenced by Judeo Christian principles. The aim of our system is for “We the People” (citizens) to work together in taking action that will result in “a more perfect Union.”  What is God’s expectation for us in working together in pursuit of “a more perfect Union?”  Should we be contributing to more needs being met? If so, by what method?

  • The two-party system (politics) leads to results that are often perceived as a zero-sum where some win and some lose. The losers may then mobilize to overcome their defeat thus repeating a never-ending cycle.  In this political system, truth – what may be the best decision for all Americans should be but is not the aim. A new method needed?
  • In his article, “Christianity’s Quest For ‘Relevance”, Pastor John MacArthur offers an assessment on the vibrancy of the Christian faith in America and reinforces that “Our most important responsibility is to proclaim the word of God.”  Does demonstrating relevance through the immediate application of Christian principles in any area and in any aspect of life reinforce the value and relevance of the Christian message?

Mixed – Secular and non-secular.

W. Edwards Deming through his philosophy and methods embraced an indirect strategy.  Deming stated that if he was to reduce his message to just a few words, it all has to do with reducing variation.  In the first edition of his book, “The New Economics (philosophy) for Industry, Government, Education”, he used the term metanoia – spiritual conversion, to raise awareness as to the effect of the application of Christian principles. In essence, Deming provided a proven transformation framework that he did not directly associate with Christianity.

“My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways”  (Proverbs 23:26 NIV)

A Compelling Presentation?

Reducing variation from the ideal leads to more perfect outcomes.  In a Biblical context, this would include actions that reduce the support for the “sin industries” and a downward trend in the number of abortions.  It would also include actions that result in outcomes where everyone benefits because more needs are being met.

The intent for a Christian, Citizenship, and Quality Management apologetic is to offer a practical approach that can broaden an apologists’ respective worldview and continually improve their methods (individually and collectively) in achieving desired outcomes.

Imagine a database or website available via CCU that captures all the stories from apologists that would describe successes as well as strategies that were not as successful. This information could help others improve their approach and successes.  Similar in concept to the legal system where databases are available that store various court cases that are used by attorneys to bolster their cases based on past precedents.

If you made it this far in reading through this post,  Smile  any initial reactions or thoughts?  Weak points regarding the position that reducing variation from the ideal lead to more perfect outcomes?

References:

[1] The American Scientific Affiliation. Accessed Oct 28, 2020. https://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/views/index.html

[2] RZIM, A Coherent Worldview accessed Oct 28, 2020. https://www.rzim.org/listen/just-a-thought/a-coherent-worldview

[3] Descartes, Rene. “Rules for the Direction of the Mind”. https://learning.hccs.edu/faculty/robert.tierney/phil1301-3/substantive-course-materials/unit-iii/descartes-rules-for-the-direction-of-the-mind/view.  See also: Popova, Maria. “Rules for the Direction of the Mind: Descartes’s 12 Timeless Tenets of Critical Thinking.” www.brainpickings.org/2016/03/31/descartes-rules-for-the-direction-of-the-mind/.

[4] Damer, T. Edward. “Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments”, 7th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2013

[5] Dr. Mark Foreman –Video: Rhetoric and Critical Thinking (32:10)(Embedded)  This presentation covers the way rhetoric and rhetorical devices can subtly impede critical thinking.

[6] Quora accessed Oct 28, 2020.  https://www.quora.com/What-is-a-sin-industry?share=1 Some of the ‘universally accepted’ sin industries are Alcohol, tobacco, drugs, prostitution (sex), pornography, adulteration, arms (including chemical arms) and unfair trade practices, etc. The list can get endless.

[7] Angelo M. Codevilla, The Election to End all Elections. accessed Oct 25. 2020. https://claremontreviewofbooks.com/the-election-to-end-all-elections/

[8] McArthur, John, Christianity’s Quest For ‘Relevance’ accessed 10/27/2020 https://www.dailywire.com/news/macarthur-christianitys-quest-for-relevance