Why should you, as a parent, invest in this training?
Because the operative word is “when,” not “if.” Parents don’t have to wonder “if” their student will be challenged. Their trust in the Lord will be challenged, especially given our current secular culture. These are challenges that typical church life and typical American parenting leaves them unprepared for. According to a 2016 Pew study, most religious “nones” (those who do not identify as religious) no longer identified with any religious group due to religious skepticism. When asked the question, answers such as “I learned about evolution when I went away to college,” or “rational thought makes religion go out the window,” or “I just realized somewhere along the line I didn’t really believe it” were common. Many other studies confirm this. For instance, Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith found in his research on American young adults that those that left the faith most commonly did so due to intellectual doubt. Most studies put the percentage between 60%-80% of young adults raised in a religious home will leave the faith soon after leaving home.
Some might debate about what the exact percentage is or the details of the data, but the bottom line won’t change: in general, most American young adults are ill prepared for what awaits, and this often shakes their trust. They will be in a college class with a professor who is antagonistic to the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. They will be living in a college culture where a sexual free-for-all attitude passes as enlightened thinking and morally progressive, while sexual restraint is seen as retrograde or even bigoted. They will be thrown into an environment where they are assaulted with logical fallacies, including intense character attacks, rhetorical sleights of hand, and straw men masquerading as authentic Christianity. The assumption that enlightened and smart people throw off tradition, religion, and moral constraint as unduly binding will be presented as common sense. The orthodoxy all around them will be that the autonomous individual, not a higher authority, ultimately determines truth. A dogmatic relativism, where each individual does what is right in his or her own eyes, will be the moral zeitgeist of the day. This is the milieu in which they will be formed. We could go on, but this very short partial list demonstrates the point. This will be in the air they breathe, and to the unprepared, it will be intimidating and hard to stand against. If they do not go to college, they will still face many of these challenges in their work lives, social media lives, and personal lives, for our culture is turning more secular. We live in a very tribal age, and the man or woman who wants to wisely navigate such a culture must have the tools to do so. Overcoming all this and remaining faithful takes many things, but one essential is a strong Christian *mind.* These tools do not grow naturally. As mentioned before, the youth group culture that is focused more on “fun” than preparation, and the spiritual inheritance of American culture—what sociologist Christian Smith dubbed “Moral Therapeutic Deism”—is not much protection against such a culture. In surveys of youngsters who end up leaving the faith, the response “it just didn’t make sense to me anymore” features prominently in the overwhelming majority of times. Young adults who went to church and youth group every week, came from solid Christian homes, and who were church youth leaders are not immune to this by any stretch. Something more is needed.
Why the focus on logic/worldview/philosophy? Why these specific classes?
I have both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Philosophy and have continued to study logic, worldview, and philosophy on my own since. In other words, I have roughly 21 years of deep study in those domains. I have also taught logic units in my English and philosophy classes as a public school teacher for many years, and regularly incorporate philosophy and worldview into my class lessons. I have plenty of experience.
Logic, worldview, and philosophy are factors in the overwhelming majority of challenges that your young adult will face, or at least they are directly connected in some way to these challenges. While life cannot be reduced to mere belief and ideas, most go wrong on the idea level, and ideas have consequences. These domains are intensely practical; they are not about mere intellectual puzzles.
They are incredibly versatile. Foundational study in these domains will give your young adults a basic thinking toolbox that they can apply to almost any challenge faced. To mention but one example, learning how to recognize logical fallacies and how arguments go bad will help your students defend themselves in any arena, whether it be in science, politics, religion, history, or any other arena. The conversational pulse of our society beats with argument, and the domain foci of our courses teach the moves of argument.