The Enlightenment We Seek

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en·light·ened    /inˈlītnd,enˈlītnd/   adjective
  1. having or showing a rational, modern, and well-informed outlook.
    “the more enlightened employers offer better terms”
    Synonyms- well informed, aware, sophisticated, advanced, developed, liberal, open-minded, broad-minded, educated, knowledgeable, wise, spiritually aware.
    (Google online dictionary)

     

Many of today’s college educated youth feel a sense of enlightenment and superiority about their education. I suppose it is normal for a generation of youth to look down on the “old ways” and feel positive and hopeful about their educational experiences.  I suppose, given the definition of enlightenment, there is even good reason that many are conflicted with regard to their understanding of what actually constitutes useful knowledge. But are they indeed enlightened? (Disclamer.  Some may find the following analysis offensive.)  If so I welcome the debate as to where I might be in error.

“Educational enlightenment” is a lot like “progressive politics”, or “modern architecture”.  What is currently modern, or progressive, or even enlightened, quickly becomes passe or even blase.  So let’s look at what might constitute actual enlightenment, and compare the definition with the reality. Lets just take the definitions, and synonyms listed in the above definition in order…

Rational.  O.K. I am good with that.  So far so good. An enlightened person should be rational. But perhaps we should see how rational the remainder of the definition is.

ModernWell that is a guarantee of future obsolescence.  Not to mention that it assumes enlightenment to be whatever happens to be the latest trend.  Socialism has been the latest trend in Venezuela. At another point in history White Aryan Supremacy was the latest trend in Germany. Slavery was once the latest trend in 17th century US farming.  You get the drift. Modern absolutely does NOT equal enlightened.

Well informed by whom, and about what? There is no doubt that US college grads are well informed about LGBT issues.  They are well informed about computers, video games, and utilizing the web.  Most know a lot about the Kardashians. They are generally well informed about any recent POSITIVE developments in theories about evolution.  But ask them about world history, the classics, farming, the constitution, or actual astronomy (like asking them what causes the seasons) and you will find many are woefully uninformed. I have asked numerous recently graduated PHYSICIANS that very question, only to find them confused and unable to answer. (See Educated below.)

Aware of truth… Truth from what source? Truth by whose definition?  I believe most of our colleges now teach there is no such thing now as absolute truth.  How can one be aware of a thing that is nonexistent?

Sophisticated?  Really?  I personally think sophistication is over-rated, but does anyone actually believe that the latest generation of snowflake, crybaby, underwear gamers is sophisticated?  Of course, sophistication is in the eye of the beholder.  It could easily be argued that a bunch of Bible thumping, gun toting, picnic eating Holy Rollers lack sophistication as well!  Sophistication may be more of a compliment, given to folks of similar education and upbringing, than an actual measure of enlightenment.

Advanced.  Doesn’t every generation consider itself the most advanced, looking down on the parents and feeling the power of their superior education? Yet the downward trend of ACT scores and educational scores in general continue to show the failure of our “advance, modern, and enlightened” system of education.  (See education.)

Developed.  OK, that shouldn’t even be in there.  Totally meaningless.

Liberal.  Well that speaks for itself. Most liberals ridicule belief in Biblical authority. Liberals usually consider their viewpoint to be so superior to other viewpoints that debate is unnecessary. Many universities will not even allow free and open debate on college campuses today.  They believe it “goes without saying” that the new, modern, liberal view is the only one. Why are liberal college campuses afraid to allow open debate of other viewpoints?  Why do left leaning Unions refuse debate about open membership. Why do some liberal politicians push failed policies like socialism. I suppose some would call that “enlightened”…

Open-minded/broad-minded… Open-minded enough to allow free and open debate?  Apparently not.  Otherwise why would campuses need “safe spaces”?

Educated.  Education is of course essential to enlightenement.  But what if the instructors of many of the classes of higher learning are themselves not enlightened, but deluded. What if, as we have discussed in prior posts, the instructors waste class time on political harangues, while the US literacy rates plummet in English (14% below basic literacy) (1), science (a pathetic 28% literate) (2), and math (26% literacy). (3)

Knowledgeable.  See above…  ’nuff said.

Wise.  Does anyone really search for wisdom any more? Isn’t the best, most well known, “definitive” example King Solomon, in the Bible?  And have our secular institutions not discarded the Bible and all its teachings?

Spiritually aware! Well isn’t that the coup de grace?  How far we have come, only to return full circle to that which we left behind almost a century ago. Spiritually aware of what?  Are we all not mere accidents of cosmology… advanced apes?  What is this “spirit” of which you speak? “Until the second half of the twentieth century, higher education in the United States was inextricably intertwined with the broad influence of churches, particularly Protestant churches, in shaping the country’s social and political climate.” (4) This was written by Liesa Stamm in 2003 in an article called Can We Bring Spirituality Back to Campus? The ensuing 15 years have done little to improve college spirituality. Secular colleges are a morass of irreverence and irreligiosity.  Nowhere mentioned is the Divine. Stamm goes on to say “To truly create a learning environment that promotes religious understanding, colleges and universities need to use their considerable faculty and staff resources to assist students in developing their personal and moral values, including their religious and spiritual understandings and beliefs within the context of knowledge about the range of global religious diversity.” (5) I couldn’t agree more, but with a caveat. Most American institutions of higher learning were founded on the Bible and Christian principles.  They were successful when they maintained this directive. Certainly all religions are welcome, and freedom of speech and debate should be encouraged. Christian doctrine is strong enough to stand the test.  But these institutions will never again truly thrive until they return to their roots.  As Harvard’s motto stated, “For Christ and Church.” Or as the University of Ottawa motto states, “God is the Master of Sciences.”

 

(1) www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/06/illiteracy-rate_n_3880355.html

(2) www.technologyreview.com/s/407346/216-million-americans-are-scientifically-illiterate-part-i/

(3) nces.ed.gov/surveys/pisa/pisa2012/pisa2012highlights_3_1.asp

(4) naspa.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.2202/1940-1639.1354

(5) ibid

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evolutioncreation1

Emergency Room Physician. Student of science and student of scripture. Defending truth in a post-truth society. I believe that Truth exists, and I believe it is our duty and privilege to seek it out, amidst ignorance, frivolity, and misconceptions.

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