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Reason and little faith at Harvard

A few months ago, Harvard attracted a lot of attention by including a "reason and faith" category in its propsed gen ed revisions. Looks like that requirement has been dropped. Perhaps this essay, by Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, had something to do with it. Of course, his sweeping dismissal of religion and of faith--"universities are about reason, pure and simple." Would that be about faith in reason? And then there’s this:

For us to magnify the significance of religion as a topic equivalent in scope to all of science, all of culture, or all of world history and current affairs, is to give it far too much prominence. It is an American anachronism, I think, in an era in which the rest of the West is moving beyond it.

I guess that just about settles it. Professor Pinker’s university is about dogmatic rationalism.

Update: More

Discussions - 5 Comments

Yes, the West has moved "beyond" Christ, and is now moving inexorably towards Mohammad. Europeans have rejected the "superstition" of the incarnation, and have embraced the influence of the stars, the sun, the moon, their horoscope. Check out a Euro magazine, you’ll find page after page of seers, astrologers, horoscope readings. And they delude themselves that they’re secular, that they’ve "moved beyond" Christ.

As for faith, they’ve replaced faith in the son of God, with faith in multiculturalism, faith in "education," faith in a secular bureaucracy, faith in an EU project that will move them beyond the possibility of war, of actually having to defend themselves.

It’s difficult not to deride such sentiments.

It will be a good thing when people stop assuming that what happens at Harvard is still important to proper standards for undergraduate education. Yes, I know they are rich and prestigious (meaning, among the most "competitive"), but they gain leverage by some other unspoken expectation - that they are the leaders. Let’s move on. It will be a sign of maturity.

"Universities are about reason, pure and simple," without any religious roots. Tell that to the founders of a great many colleges across this nation.

Would a university graduate understand literature without a knowledge of the Bible? Can one truly be educated and literate without an understanding of Christianity and its impact upon history, not to mention a knowledge of the world’s religions?

Tony is dead right, and makes a clever, because somewhat forgotten, point. The great universities were ALL founded upon a religion, the predominant religion, Christianity. All of ’em, Oxford, Cambridge, University of Paris, Harvard, Yale, Princeton.

The academic search for truth in all of nature is ALL attributable to Christianity’s belief that God is all mind, all reason, all order, and that order, that mind, can be discovered through study of his creation, the universe, {the Jews, forerunner and model for Christianity in this regard, likewise shares a passion for truth and for academic inquiry}. Thus astronomy, biology, physics, chemistry, metaphysics, etc., ALL are attempts to find insights into the Divine.

Absent that understanding, absent that search, what purpose the university? The incoherence rampant throughout our universities, indeed, throughout all of our educational establishment, flows from the post-Christian ethos.

Seems like today the only reason to get a higher education is to earn more money.

Oh, and Tony’s second point is equally telling. How is it possible to be truly educated without understanding AND appreciating the role that Christianity has played in the formation of Western Civilization.

Degrees don’t mean you are educated, they just mean you’ve jumped through the hoops.

This country has a sad surfeit of overly-degreed incompetents, ostensibly educated historical ignoramuses. It’s bad enough such creatures don’t understand the West, but they also don’t understand the history of islam. And such creatures are enormously influential in our society. The Book of Ecclesiastes has various comments on what will happen to a people and nation, led by such people.

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