Darrow Miller and Friends

When God Dies, Education Dies

If God is dead, everything based on His existence—love, morals, truth, beauty, the significance of each human life, etc. … all of that is dead as well. So is education.

Fredrick Nietzsche put it this way:What Nietzsche says about the death of God applies to education

When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means self-evident… Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole.

When God is dead, man as imago Dei is dead. If God is dead, we are at best merely beasts or worse, soulless robots. Our lives are without purpose, simply cosmic accidents. If God is dead truth has died. If God is dead, we inhabit a futile, amoral universe.

If God is dead, so are the philosophical and theological assumptions that allowed the Western world to develop and give birth to the freest, most flourishing societies in human history. As the foundations collapse, the institutions and structures built on them collapse as well. Before our very eyes we are witnessing this collapse of the Western world in real time.

An institution which has been the crown jewel of the Western world, higher education, provides citizens the opportunity to pursue truth, wrestle with ideas, engage in thoughtful dialogue and reflection. We have mostly lost higher education in the West. Institutions created to pursue truth have drifted from their purpose and are wandering in the wilderness without a North Star.

What has happened to our universities?

Mark Mitchell is Professor at Patrick Henry College and the founding president of the Front Porch Republic. In his essay, “The Death of God and the Death of Higher Education,” Mitchell writes:

Mark Mitchell writes about educationAs colleges and universities become increasingly consumed by identity politics and social justice ideology, higher education is disintegrating. True education is being eclipsed by political movements hell-bent on destroying the very institution that made higher education possible.

This has been a long time coming, but once education was separated from a religious principle capable of justifying the rational pursuit of knowledge, the demise of the university was merely a matter of time. Sound far-fetched? Let me explain.

The modern university was invented in Medieval Europe, but its roots go back to antiquity. Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, along with Christian thinkers who came later, held that the cosmos was an intelligibly configured reality and that human beings could flourish only if their lives conformed to that reality. To act justly was to act in a way that corresponded to a reality “outside” of the self, a reality that existed prior to human will. The intellect and the will, therefore, were subordinate to (or obliged by) a divine reality that humans did not create. To act contrary to this intelligible order was to condemn oneself to frustration, unhappiness, and incoherence.

Culture follows worship

As we have written in this space many times, culture is upstream from social, economic, political and educational institutions. Worship – cult – is upstream from culture; we create culture, and the societies born out of that culture are based on the nature of the God or gods we worship. When we exchange our worship of the Glorious Lord and Creator God for the worship of man or nature, the culture erodes and so do the institutions and structures in our societies. This is true for education, whether primary or secondary school, or higher education. This is exactly Mark Mitchell’s point. His short article is well worth a read.

If you are concerned about education from witnessing the decay of public schooling and you want to push back, to restore the Gospel of the Kingdom to the public square, you will want to read our book, just published: Don’t Let Schooling Stand In the Way of Education: A Biblical Response To the Crises In Public Education.

  • Darrow Miller

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