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NRB Chronicles 2023: Assumtions Institue

The Christian Car Guy / Robby Dilmore
The Truth Network Radio
January 23, 2024 12:07 pm

NRB Chronicles 2023: Assumtions Institue

The Christian Car Guy / Robby Dilmore

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It's a continual feast here at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention of what God's doing with all so many wonderful people. The creativity never ceases to amaze me. Obviously, there's some creativity involved in what we're going to find out here. So, the gentleman in front of me, Dave Richardson, has Assumptions Institute, right? Yes. And so, immediately, my boss is Stu Epperson, okay?

And he always says, you never want to assume. Yes. And so, what's Assumptions Institute? I'm curious.

Obviously, everybody is. Yes. Well, Assumptions Institute, what we do is we teach critical thinking. What we're doing is we're helping Christ followers learn to discern what's true so that they can flourish in their faith, engage the culture, and influence others for Christ. So, what we're doing is where I've developed an actual system of critical thinking that I've used with college professors, but it's so simple I can actually teach it to middle schoolers and high schoolers so that they can learn how to figure out whether the messages they encounter every day in social media, in TV shows, movies, in classrooms, or the culture at large, you can tell whether the messages are true or not based on not the sophisticated argument or the complex ideology, but the simple assumptions that are underneath the argument. So, I'm shooting for those. And when I do that, I can learn to discern whether something is true or not and whether it matches who God is and the truth in His word or not in as little as 30 seconds. All right.

Well, I'm game. So, is this a place essentially you go into schools and that kind of thing? How is that delivered, this curriculum? Well, we have some video-based courses for individuals and for small groups that kind of gets your feet wet, learns the basics of the skills, and even goes through some applications of it in some contemporary issues like wealth and equality or race and gender and other issues like that.

We go at those head on and looking at what are the assumptions underneath those issues that aren't true so that you know what is true and how to connect truth from God in the Bible to those issues. But also, we have semester-long courses that we've developed for Christian schools where they can teach the skill to their students more in depth. And likewise, we've done a version for home schools and home school co-ops. Oh, cool.

Cool. So, if I'm a home school mama, how do I get that information? You go to learntodiscern.com. Ah, it's not Assumption Institute.

No. Learntodiscern.com. Learntodiscern.com is our website for all of our courses. We've got some of them ready right now and the rest of them will be ready later on this summer.

But we're going to have them ready for the school year so that parents can learn the basics for themselves and likewise be able to pass it on to their students. It applies Christian faith to real world issues. So, like I'm sure everybody that's ever interviewed you, how do you do that? Well, actually, it's a very simple four-step process that I go through using what I call the critical assumptions test that I've developed. And we've actually automated the critical assumptions test with a phone app so you can carry it with you wherever you go.

And as you're watching TV shows and movies, as you're in a classroom listening to a lecture, as you're reading an article or a webpage or whatever, whatever form the message is coming at you at, you can tell immediately, based on its assumptions, whether the message is true or not and whether it matches who God is in the truth and his word or not. Using a four-step process, I ask the question, does this have to do with people, yes or no? If it does, then there's four questions that I will look for. If it doesn't have to do with... Okay. Well, let's just... Sure.

Because you have me, I'm... Okay. So, let's just say, you know, and I'm one of those people that like I get some medical tests back yesterday. Yeah.

It says my Billy Ruben or something's up, right? Mm-hmm. So, naturally, I Google, what am I eating that's causing my Billy Ruben to go up, right? Sure.

So, it says, the one article I read immediately said, it's got nothing to do with what you eat. Now, how do I go... So, that doesn't have to do with people. So, what do I do with that? Well, if it doesn't have to do with people, then it'll have to do with one of four other kinds of questions.

Okay. And those questions are, what's really real? Where does everything come from?

How does everything work and where is everything going? So, when you're talking about scientific kinds of things, you're talking about the question, how does everything work, right? And I'm looking more at just the basics behind, not always the detail. But there's three different ways a person tends to answer that question based on how they assume about reality, what's really real, what's really here. There's some people that are materialists. They think that everything is just physical only stuff.

And so, how would you explain how everything works? Well, it's natural laws that run things. That's all there is because there's no God. There's no angels and demons and spiritual powers.

It's just natural processes. That's all there is. If you start with a different assumption that the physical world really isn't all that important, the thing that is important is something non-physical, something spiritual, something mental. So, really this physical world you think is real is really actually run by and is a spiritual force or spiritual power of some sort of thing like that. Or a human ideal that we can achieve if we all work together and we can build a better world.

It's a notion of a spiritual or a social ideal. Or the third way is the universe runs with natural laws that are reflection of God's unchanging character because he's the one who made it. So, depending on which one of those core assumptions you start with, it's all physical, it's all non-physical or there's two realities, a creator and a creation. You'll understand every issue in fundamentally different ways. And that core assumption controls what you think, what you say, and what you do.

Wow. And so, obviously, part of the methodology is to understand these questions that are behind the question. Yes. And what are they really talking about? Like you said, the Assumptions Institute. So, you're going in there and trying to find out the basis of what their thought process is.

Yes. I've worked in academia for a long, long time. I have two postgraduate degrees. My ministry for 20 years with Campus Crusade for Christ was with college and university professors at major state universities. And I was trying to help understand how to reach atheist and agnostic professors for Christ. That was my initial motivation in ministry that led to all of these other things that I've developed over the succeeding years where I discovered not only does this help Christians who are professors in major universities connect truth based on God in the Bible and teach it in a state university classroom in a way that's relevant and appropriate, but it also is a basic critical thinking skill for students so that they can figure out for themselves what's true.

They don't have to be told what's true. They can find out for themselves what it is and know that it is. So, I'm definitely curious now about the, you were working with atheist professors. Yes. And so, obviously, that's part of the way you developed the criteria that you're using.

Exactly. And so, have you got a story like where you went into this atheist professor and what happened? I've had lots of conversations with atheists over the years. In fact, my dissertation at Oxford University was studying these guys. So, I did hour long interviews with them. The thing that was really interesting to me is you would think, oh, these guys are just really hardened people and they have no interest or concern for this. I remember sitting down with one sociology professor and we'd done this hour long interview and then at the end I asked him, is there other things that I haven't talked about that you want to add to or something you need for me to clarify or something else you want to add to it?

After a few minutes, he looked at me and he said, you know, to tell you the truth, I'm deathly afraid of dying. If you believe in Jesus and ask him for forgiveness of sins and things like that, that sounds actually quite appealing. But there's that faith thing. I just can't wrap my head around that because he's a rational kind of guy. I understand from the interview with him as well as many others that there's two things that if Christians could master this, they could have effective conversations with skeptics. One is that Christians, in their mind, are a bunch of hypocrites. They're poor witnesses to God in the church. They use this label, Christian, but they don't really seem all that much different, really, than anybody else. But the thing is, we do have a message that addresses that, and that's the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

If a person is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, it's Jesus himself living his life through us, and we will actually be different than if we were just doing it ourselves, living in the flesh. But we just don't preach that message much. But that helps solve the problem. But the other one is that God is not a very good explanation for the world and how it works. So when you invoke God as an explanation for something, you know, in science or in economics or other things like that, that makes no sense to them. But the few Christian scholars who have figured out how to relate truth from God in the Bible to their academic discipline in a plausible way that makes sense and actually contributes to knowledge, they want to talk to that guy. They're not interested in the excellence of your character. They're interested in the excellence of your academics. And when you can bring God in a plausible way into that world that works, that's different.

I've never seen anything like that. Tell me how that works. And then they want to engage with you, because if God is really real, that's very different than just does God exist. A lot of people say, well, prove that God exists. That's not the question. God exists at the very least as a concept of mind.

That's not the issue. The issue is, is God real? If you've met Jesus, you know he's real.

And for most skeptics, they don't know God is real because they've never met him. And so you're with this guy, and he's deathly afraid of dying, right? Wonderful story.

What happened? Well, in that particular situation, because of the rules of academic research, I could not give him the answer, which is really sad because there are rules and regulations that I have to abide by with that. But I've had other conversations. There's another professor who's an English professor. When I first met her through a mutual friend, I taught her the basics of how to use the critical assumptions test in her classes so that she was motivated to help her Christian students better understand her non-Christian students than the other way around. And as she began playing with it, she discovered this is a great audience analysis tool. If you understand the assumptions behind your audience, you can make a more persuasive argument because she teaches rhetoric, persuasive writing, and persuasive speaking. And so I taught her all these techniques, and she used them for five semesters in her classes.

She loved it. It was really effective for her as a professor. But then the thing that was absolutely shocking to me is I learned later on down the road that when she was learning this from me, she was not a believer at all. She, in fact, was a liberal progressive feminist who was looking for a way to dislodge these quaint superstitions and myths held by her Christian students so that they could understand a more enlightened way about the universe. Her husband was a believer, but she was not. But by accurately teaching this tool in her classes, she was quietly having to re-evaluate her own assumptions and discovered they didn't work, and she became a Christ follower as a result. And she's actually written a book about it now that tells her story of how she went from clear over here to all the way over here, and now she thinks it's her responsibility and privilege to introduce her students to Christ through her classroom instruction using the critical assumptions test.

There you have it. Wow, I hate we're out of time, but Dave Richardson, Cookville, Tennessee. No, actually, that's where my publicist is.

I'm just out of Atlanta. And so how do people find out about this one more time? Well, learntodecern.com is where our education resources are. My book, Transparent, that started the whole discernment revolution is at thetransparentbook.com. You can download the app that I mentioned that automates that critical thinking process from that website, and our organization is assumptionsinstitute.org.

Assumptionsinstitute.org. Thank you so much. God bless you. Robby, thanks for having me on your show.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-23 14:35:46 / 2024-01-23 14:41:28 / 6

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