Spiritual Question 25

Why is academia Atheist ?

How did the universities come to be an anti-religion project? What is it about higher education that makes it Secularist? 

All of the first universities were religious in origin. Specifically in America, they were Christian. What happened to turn higher education against religion? What happened to turn higher education in America against Christianity?

I would appreciate references or a reading list in the comments, please.

Thank you.

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43 thoughts on “Spiritual Question 25”

  1. Only about seven percent of Americans are Atheists.
    If there are so few Atheists, and since there used to be a social stigma that prevented many Americans from publicly acknowledging their Atheism, then how is it that American universities are dominated by Atheists? What is it about higher education that makes it so closely associated with Atheism?

    Big Education in America is clearly an anti-religion project.
    This situation bothers me. I get a constant flow of notices in the Christian niche media of incidents such as the one where a middle school student was instructed by a public school teacher to wash off the ashes that had been imposed at a morning mass on Ash Wednesday. Or the many instances of public schools ending longstanding traditional Christmas celebrations because a scare letter by Freedom From Religion Foundation sent the school board into an anxiety attack. Or a coach fired for openly praying. Or religious organizations removed from the roster of recognized student organizations. Or distinguished speakers disinvited because they had said Christian things, sometimes many years ago.

    Part of the problem is with news media. They report on these incidents only when they get loud at local political meetings, and then they typically report on only one side of the issue.
    But anti-religious media bias does not explain the Atheist tilt in the universities.

    I am counting on my fellow Ratburghers to enlighten me. How did western universities become so overwhelmingly Atheist/ Secularist/ Materialist in their core disposition?

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  2. MJBubba:
    Big Education in America is clearly an anti-religion project. This situation bothers me. I get a constant flow of notices in the Christian niche media of incidents such as the one where a middle school student was instructed by a public school teacher to wash off the ashes that had been imposed at a morning mass on Ash Wednesday. Or the many instances of public schools ending longstanding traditional Christmas celebrations because a scare letter by Freedom From Religion Foundation sent the school board into an anxiety attack. Or a coach fired for openly praying. Or religious organizations removed from the roster of recognized student organizations. Or distinguished speakers disinvited because they had said Christian things, sometimes many years ago.

    This is an easy one. It’s a grasp for power and control  and even as a secularist, I despise this attack on freedom of religion because first and foremost, I am a Constitutionalist. These people who “outlaw” Christmas celebrations or Ash Wednesday frighten me. It is all too reminiscent of Muslims who bomb synagogues and espouse anti-Semitic propaganda.

    I know you requested references and reading lists so hopefully some members here- I have MLR and Hypatia in mind- can provide forthwith.

    Good post and great questions!

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  3. I think that it began in the latter part of the 19th century. Theologically, there was higher criticism of the Bible. There was also an increasing emphasis on credentials over time. Today, you need a Ph.D. to get tenure at a first class university. And today there is strong prejudice against conservatives. A brilliant friend got nixed for tenure at Lake Forest College. He had several lean years before he got a position at North Park. Given the prejudice, most conservatives will go elsewhere. Just like conservative face bias at Google.

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  4. If you wish to rule the world and your vision requires 90% to be serfs without assets or capability to survive, you remove all the pillars that make people independent of state control.

    Guns, Religion, Privacy and Survival skills are all being stripped from the populace.  It makes your utopia for the elites easier to manage.

    Nothing personal, religion is just in the way.

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  5. A great introduction to a different take on this is the story of De Rerum Natura, itself a treasure, as related in The Swerve.  Links to follow.  On my phone here.

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  6. My 2 cents.

    High IQ and intellectualism can be a trap, makes one proud. Then before you know it you begin to think like old slew foot.

     Isaiah 14: 13-14

    13You said in your heart:

    “I will ascend to the heavens;

    I will raise my throne

    above the stars of God.

    I will sit on the mount of assembly,

    in the far reaches of the north.b

    14I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;

    I will make myself like the Most High.”

    The thing about god’s. They are very jealous.

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  7. I called this “Spiritual Question 25” for a reason. Not long ago I posted Spiritual Question 1, and I think there are at least twenty other spiritual questions that may be asked that are more spiritually urgent than this question about academia.

    I would not mind if other Ratburghers wanted to ask spiritual questions.

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  8. Richard Easton:
    I think that it began in the latter part of the 19th century.

    I am really curious about how secularization of academia got traction.   America was evidently much less hostile and suspicious of Atheists than we are told in history books.   I suppose that is because history is written by Atheists?

    Theologically, there was higher criticism of the Bible.

    This is only a part of the story, but I do have some knowledge here.   Christians wanted to be nice, and they were talked into stretching Christian pluralism into a pluralism that tolerated clearly nonChristian preachers.   I blame the ambition of the Church of England, with their aim of being a church body for all Christians.

    There was also an increasing emphasis on credentials over time. Today, you need a Ph.D. to get tenure at a first class university. And today there is strong prejudice against conservatives. A brilliant friend got nixed for tenure at Lake Forest College. He had several lean years before he got a position at North Park. Given the prejudice, most conservatives will go elsewhere. Just like conservative face bias at Google.

    This only explains how Secularist hegemony is maintained.   How did it get so firmly established in the first place is my question.

    I agree with you that credentializing is used as a screening tool to keep Christians and other conservatives out of the academies.

     One of the issues is the credentialing process that grants PhD degrees. The time required to proceed to PhD has grown over the years. Back in the 1970s there were a number of programs where about 2.5 years of postgraduate study could yield a PhD, though three years was more typical. Now it is frequently heard that five years is common, and sometimes even longer.

    Five years of postgraduate study is really expensive and really sets back the family finances for a young family. Young people who wish to start families probably do not have the patience to labor for student wages for an extra five years before launching a career. And, if they are going into a teaching position at a university, the first five working years are typically not paid all that well.

    Since it is conservatives who are more likely to prioritize starting families, then conservatives get screened out of academia. That has contributed to the Leftward tilt of academia. And we all know that Leftists are much more likely to be Atheist or agnostic, or adherents of odd spiritualisms and New Age religions.

     

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  9. Kevin Schulte:
    My 2 cents.

    High IQ and intellectualism can be a trap, makes one proud. Then before you know it you begin to think like old slew foot.

     Isaiah 14: 13-14

    13You said in your heart:

    “I will ascend to the heavens;

    I will raise my throne

    above the stars of God.

    I will sit on the mount of assembly,

    in the far reaches of the north.b

    14I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;

    I will make myself like the Most High.”

    The thing about god’s. They are very jealous.

    This is the answer Bubba. If you think you have all the answers, then you begin to think yourself god and therefore have no use for the one true God.

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  10. An article I read on Am Thinker this AM made me think of the play Inherit the Wind,  more specifically of the verse  on which it’s based, so I looked it up:

    ”For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind,”

    […yeah, so far, so familiar, but wait:]

    “…it has no stalk, the bud shall yield no meal; if so be it yield, the stranger shall swallow it up.” Hosea 8:7

    Inherit theWind  is of course based on the Scopes trial in 1925, which as everyone knows was not a Christian fundamentalist attempt to prevent the teaching of evolution; it was a Progressive attempt to squelch the idea of “social Darwinism”.  Can’t have Americans thinking success has anything to do with individual “fitness”!

    I just listened to Hillsdale’s course on the Constitution, which dealt at length with early American Progs like TR( I dunno, I think he may be the scariest, his life so well disguises his beliefs!) and Wilson.    Wilson once gave a 4th Of July speech in which he said, if you want to understand the Declaration Of Independence, Leave  out the first paragraphs. Y’know, all men created equal, endowed by their Creator  with certain inalienable rights.   The American “idea” was merely: get rid of George III.  Done! He’s dead a long time now,  so move on to what the government can do for you, to ensuring the survival of the  unfittest.

    of course the Founders were Deists not Christians, but the NT is just as threatening to Progs: I can do all! things through Christ Who strengthens me, said ( I think) St Paul.

    (i also read Elmer Gantry,  about the period in the early 20th Cent. when fierce wild evangelists roamed our land. Billy Graham was just the tail end of that, late enough in time to get to be on TV. Everybody oughta read that book ( and all of  Lewis’ books; he is so great!)   If that’s anything like an accurate snapshot, well, you have to wonder if things hadn’t maybe gone a bit overboard in the other direction.)

    So the wind was sown in the universities ( Wilson came outta academe)  and now indeed we have a “stalkless” generation, which doesn’t even wanna reproduce itself: they “shall yield no meal”—

    or if they do , “the stranger”  shall swallow up what little they generate. ( open borders?)

    ( BTW, so much for Biblical “compassion toward invading “strangers “— and Jesus despises them too, at least until He realizes the Jews  aren’t gonna scarf up His banquet— why, He pretty much called the Woman of  Canaan a dog!  But she came back with a witty réposte  which made Him change his mind: a woman was the only person to ever best Jesus in an argument! Matt 15: 21-28.  Take that, feminists— sorry, big digression…)

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  11. EThompson:
    This is an easy one. It’s a grasp for power and control  and even as a secularist, I despise this attack on freedom of religion because first and foremost, I am a Constitutionalist.

    This. We have failed to teach and instill Constitutional principles in academia. We are now in crisis.

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  12. Just a quick note.  It is of a piece with the march through the institutions.  Real embedded socialist true believers made a million little decisions and we laughed them off.

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  13. Hypatia:
    the Founders were Deists

    And so am I. All this means is that we believe in a power that created a system and  left us to our own devices to realize the goals of good and live our lives accordingly. Our Founders were more concerned with those goals than with worshipping. I interpret Deists as expressing themselves with this quote from the Bible: “God helps those who help themselves” and this I can relate to.

    It also means that more observant Christians such as you, MJB, and I can co-exist peacefully because we share the same objectives.

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  14. Certainly not all the founders were deists. That would have been news to Roger Sherman of Connecticut who was a preacher and one of the few northern Jeffersonian. He led the effort against Madison’s desire to have the general constitution apply to the states and have a negative against state laws.

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  15. Robert A. McReynolds:
    Certainly not all the founders were deists. That would have been news to Roger Sherman of Connecticut who was a preacher and one of the few northern Jeffersonian. He led the effort against Madison’s desire to have the general constitution apply to the states and have a negative against state laws.

    To varying degrees the important ones were- Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin.

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  16. EThompson:

    Robert A. McReynolds:
    Certainly not all the founders were deists. That would have been news to Roger Sherman of Connecticut who was a preacher and one of the few northern Jeffersonian. He led the effort against Madison’s desire to have the general constitution apply to the states and have a negative against state laws.

    To varying degrees the important ones were- Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin.

    That is the comic book view of history. They all played important roles and I would argue—and the historical record does more to support this than not—some more important than Adams and Franklin.

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  17. Robert A. McReynolds:

    EThompson:

    Robert A. McReynolds:
    Certainly not all the founders were deists. That would have been news to Roger Sherman of Connecticut who was a preacher and one of the few northern Jeffersonian. He led the effort against Madison’s desire to have the general constitution apply to the states and have a negative against state laws.

    To varying degrees the important ones were- Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin.

    That is the comic book view of history. They all played important roles and I would argue—and the historical record does more to support this than not—some more important than Adams and Franklin.

    You didn’t answer my question and FYI, I don’t read comic books so this reference was lost on me!

    So I will address your argument about Adams only because I believe Franklin was an “important” one and give you Hamilton and Madison:

    Considered to have been a deist, James Madison, late in life, wrote, “Belief in a God All Powerful wise and good is so essential to the moral order of the World and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources.”

    These men were not Atheists; they believed natural theology, once also termed physico-theology, is a type of theology that provides arguments for the existence of God based on reason and ordinary experience of nature.

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  18. For instance Mr. Sherman is who introduced the Connecticut plan at the Constitutional Convention. I would argue his presence in Philadelphia in 1787 is much more important than Jefferson (minister to France), Adams (minister to Britain) and Franklin (whose role would be merely as a voter and would die within a decade).

    In short it just depends on what phase of the founding period you are talking about.

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  19. EThompson:

    Robert A. McReynolds:

    EThompson:

    Robert A. McReynolds:
    Certainly not all the founders were deists. That would have been news to Roger Sherman of Connecticut who was a preacher and one of the few northern Jeffersonian. He led the effort against Madison’s desire to have the general constitution apply to the states and have a negative against state laws.

    To varying degrees the important ones were- Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin.

    That is the comic book view of history. They all played important roles and I would argue—and the historical record does more to support this than not—some more important than Adams and Franklin.

    You didn’t answer my question and FYI, I don’t read comic books so this reference was lost on me!

    So I will address your argument about Adams only because I believe Franklin was an “important” one and give you Hamilton and Madison:

    Considered to have been a deistJames Madison, late in life, wrote, “Belief in a God All Powerful wise and good is so essential to the moral order of the World and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources.”

    These men were not Atheists; they believed natural theology, once also termed physico-theology, is a type of theology that provides arguments for the existence of God based on reason and ordinary experience of nature.

    Okay if comic books don’t get the message across how about Cliff’s notes version, used for those who just need the surface info to pass a course instead of having any real knowledge of the subject.

    I am not denying that a substantial portion of the founders were deists. I am saying that declaring all of them were deists is simply wrong and has zero credibility historically. And plucking some out to make a point is lazy. They were not all Christians or deists or atheists. They WERE all products of the Enlightenment so it is no doubt they would have a rationalist view of God and religion.

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  20. Robert A. McReynolds:
    I am saying that declaring all of them were deists is simply wrong and has zero credibility historically.

    I said no such thing. Read my “cliff notes” at #15:

    To varying degrees the important ones were- Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin.

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  21. Robert A. McReynolds:
    And plucking some out to make a point is lazy.

    No, I didn’t plucked out “some,” I plucked out the most influential.

    As a point of common courtesy, pls never again refer to my observations as lazy. That is not only ill-mannered but highly incorrect.

    You were, in fact the lazy reader by assuming I referred to all of our Founders as deists.

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  22. Also, never rudely refer to cliff notes and my writing/observations again. Cliff notes were considered a defamation of the honor code at my university.

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  23. EThompson:

    Hypatia:
    the Founders were Deists

    And so am I. All this means is that we believe in a power that created a system and  left us to our own devices to realize the goals of good and live our lives accordingly. Our Founders were more concerned with those goals than with worshipping. I interpret Deists as expressing themselves with this quote from the Bible: “God helps those who help themselves” and this I can relate to.

    It also means that more observant Christians such as you, MJB, and I can co-exist peacefully because we share the same objectives.

    Try to keep up. I was referencing Hypatia’s comment. The founders were not deists in absolute terms. Some were. Some weren’t.

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  24. Robert A. McReynolds:

    EThompson:

    Robert A. McReynolds:
    I am saying that declaring all of them were deists is simply wrong and has zero credibility historically.

    I said no such thing. Read my “cliff notes” at #15:

    To varying degrees the important ones were- Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin.

    Increasing the font size does not make it true.

    Respond to my challenge and stop dancing around with issues of font which btw, were not my intention. The font showed up on my end as similar size.

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