Though written almost 30 years ago, this look at 20th-century education discusses the origins of many of the trends in education fully extant today. We hope the reader finds the study illuminating.
Take a quick look at our institutions of higher learning.
Let me give you a few intriguing thoughts from the mind of Dr. Clark Kerr, former president of the University of California. He is the outstanding theoretician and proponent of a certain view of the university of today and the future.
Universities in the United States, he says, have not yet developed fully their unique theory of purpose and function. The first great transformation in the American university, he says, occurred during the last quarter of the 19th century, with the injection of German intellectualism and the land grant movement. It is now undergoing its second great transformation. Since World War II, the university is being called on to channel new intellectual currents—to serve expanding needs of government and industry.
We are becoming conscious of the question of human survival, due to the population explosion and the ever-increasing production of weapons of mass destruction. Simultaneously we are facing a campus-enrollment explosion. As knowledge production increases, so does the diffusion of knowledge. Before World War II, the college-educated student was the exception. Most stopped off with high school graduation. At the turn of the century only 4.01 percent of men aged 18 through 21 were enrolled in colleges. That is less than one in 20. In California today, four out of every five high school graduates seek to continue in college.
Dr. Kerr sees the function of the university as knowledge production. Knowledge, he says, is suddenly exploding along with the population explosion.
The “knowledge production,” he says, is growing at about twice the rate of the rest of the economy. The railroads were largely responsible for the development of the United States during the last half of the 19th century, the automobile during the first half of the 20th. And what they did for those two half-centuries, “the knowledge industry will do for this last half of the 20th century.”
The production, distribution and consumption of knowledge is said to account for 29 percent of the gross national product.
Does this not sound good?
Does all this not intoxicate us with human intellectual vanity? Production of knowledge is tantamount to being a God-level accomplishment!
May we not congratulate ourselves with a thrilled sensation of the super-greatness of the human intellect?
Cause and Effect
But—what about the effect?
Everything, we will do well to remember, is a matter of cause and effect.
One inescapable effect we see all about us is the astounding, rapid acceleration of evils besetting humanity on every side.
What could be the cause of these effects threatening the destruction of civilization—the extinction of the human race?
Knowledge production is supposed to be the way to cure all our evils. Given sufficient knowledge, the great minds have assured us, we shall have the solution to all humanity’s problems, ills and evils.
Why, then, this paradox? Why do we see new and increasing evils all about us worldwide, accelerating in almost exact proportion with the increase in knowledge? Why?
Is there a relation between the two?
Could the one—knowledge production—be the cause of the other—the evils besetting us?
In this feverish development of knowledge production, universities have been placing great emphasis on academic freedom. Academic freedom is defined as the independent judgment allowed teachers, scholars, scientists, students in the pursuit of knowledge.
Higher education has exercised the academic freedom to postulate a creation without a Creator—to engage in the activity of knowledge production with rejection of God as Creator and Ruler of the universe—with total rejection of any possibility of the miraculous, the supernatural, or anything outside the realm of the material—with total rejection of biblical revelation.
Personally, when I made my first research into the theory of evolution, I studied Lyell, Darwin, Spencer, Huxley, Haeckel, Vogt, Chamberlain and other proponents of the theory. I read also More and other scientists who were critics of the theory, although they believed it. But I wanted to be open-minded and fair. So I looked also at the alternative possibility—the biblical statements about special creation.
I would venture to say that most of those whose higher education has been received during the past quarter-century, however, have been taught and have accepted without question the evolutionary theory, not having examined with any seriousness the biblical account of creation. To go along with evolution is the scholarly, “in” thing. In most higher education circles, this world’s “Best Seller” has been dismissed without a hearing.
Ever stop to inquire in retrospect why you believe what you do? People generally believe what they have always heard, read or been taught—by carelessly taking it for granted without question—and, of course, without proof. Also, people willingly believe what they want to believe—what they must to “go along”—and they refuse to believe whatever is not accepted in their particular little world.
Could it be possible that higher scholarship and general acceptance of advanced thought be, actually, tragic error? Could the theories accepted by the superior minds prove to be, after all, mere fable? Could the process of inductive reasoning, considering only one side of a two-sided question, be so infallible that we dare not question their conclusions, or examine the evidences on the other side?
Is it not human to err?
Could it, then, be possible for the most highly educated minds to have been misled—intellectually deceived?
Do we dare question the theories generally accepted by advanced scholarship?
Would it be academic heresy to look at the other side of the coin? Do we dare appropriate the academic freedom to look at, and carefully examine, that which has been dismissed without examination?
Begin at the Beginning
Ithink we must begin the biblical narrative of the forbidden fruit at the beginning—the first chapter in the first book of the Bible.
To get quickly to an examination of the forbidden-fruit narrative, certain high-spot statements from Genesis 1 and 2 are necessary.
I have noticed that scientific and historical writings dealing with origins and developments are generally profuse with such expressions as the following: “We know little about this, but there are several guesses.” Or, “We are coming to believe.” Or, “We may safely assume.” Or, “It might well be.” “Probably.” “Such and such may have occurred.” Or, “It would appear that such and such might have happened.”
It might be interesting to take such a book and underscore all such words as I have italicized above—then look back and read all your underscored words. Do it in red pencil. Let them stand out. It might be fun.
One thing is different about the biblical statements. Whoever wrote them seemed to be pretty sure of what he was saying. They are positive statements.
So we begin: “In the beginning, God….” The statement definitely puts God before all else. No postulate—no guess—no “perhaps”—just the simple statement: “God created the heaven and the earth.”
Something tremendous is indicated to have occurred between what is stated to be the original creation in verse 1 and the statement in verse 2. “And the earth was [became] without form and void [Heb. tohu and bohu—meaning ruin, confusion, emptiness—see any Hebrew-English lexicon] and darkness was upon the face of the deep [fluid surface—oceans].” What occurred between these two verses is stated in many other biblical passages in both Old and New Testaments.
And this, of course, allows for any duration of time between the two verses. In other words, so far as the Bible narrative is concerned, the original creation could have occurred millions of years prior to the events described beginning verse 2 of Genesis 1.
Nevertheless, at the time described by these first three chapters of the book of Genesis, beginning with the second verse of chapter 1, biblical chronology dates those events as slightly less than 6,000 years ago.
Coming to the 26th verse, chapter 1, it is stated, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness….”
Coming to chapter 2, beginning verse 7: “And the Eternal God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” It might be noted that the flat statement here is that what was made of material substance, dust of the ground, became a living soul—a plain statement that the “soul” was made from the dust of the ground—material substance, not spirit.
Next comes the statement that God planted a garden eastward, in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. So the statement is that Adam was created elsewhere and then put into this garden.
The statement follows that there were beautiful trees in the garden, including fruit trees. And in the midst of the garden, two special trees: one called “the tree of life,” the other, “the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
Now verse 16: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
Although the narrative here is exceedingly brief, touching only on high spots, there is every indication that what is intended is that God gave Adam and Eve considerable basic instruction, sufficient for their needs for the moment, only portions of which are recorded.
Now chapter 3.
“Now the serpent was more subtile than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made” (v. 1).
Much of the Bible is symbols—but the Bible explains its own symbols. Of course it’s very out-of-date to believe in a devil today, but the Bible, to the contrary notwithstanding, plainly speaks of the presence of a devil. In Revelation 12:9 and 20:2, the devil is called, symbolically, the serpent. It is, then, no “guess” to say that this serpent is intended to be merely a symbol for the devil.
Notice the temptation. He subtly went first to the “weaker sex”—(the Bible refers to woman as the weaker sex, whether or not one wishes to agree), to get to Adam through his wife.
“And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Gen. 3:1).
“And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (vv. 2-5).
The narration here attributes astute subtlety to the devil. First he discredited God. In effect, he said, “You can’t rely on God’s word. He lied to you. He knows you will not die—you can’t die—because you are an immortal soul.”
The Appeal to Vanity
Next, this devil is represented as being clever enough to avoid saying, “Believe me instead of God. Let me be your teacher. Let me give you the knowledge of what is right and what is wrong.” Instead the devil is represented here as saying, “You can’t rely on God, since He lied when He said you could die. But rely on yourself! If you disobey God and eat this fruit, then your eyes will be opened. You’ll come to realize what a great intellect you have. You have a perfect mind—you can think and reason—you can observe explore, discover—you can decide for yourself what is good and what is evil. It is a God function to produce the knowledge of what is good and what is evil—what is right and what is wrong. Your mind is so perfect, you can supply this God function—and by observation, experimentation and reason you can produce the knowledge of what is good and what is evil. You can be as God yourself! Forget that tree of life. You already have that—you are an immortal soul. You have the tremendous intellectual powers of God. You cannot rely on the God that lied to you, but you can depend with confidence on yourself, and your ability to produce this knowledge.”
What is implied in this narrative of the forbidden fruit is plain. This Satan is represented as appealing to man’s vanity—his pride of intellect. The narrative represents the man, Adam, as having been just newly created and with perfect human mind. We know that the human mind is superior to anything else we can see or know by our five senses. It is easy to understand how this newly created man and woman could suddenly begin to realize they had the capacity to think for themselves. Like a boy with an exciting new toy, they wanted to use it—they became intoxicated with intellectual vanity. They could exercise this God function of producing the knowledge of what is right and wrong.
Vanity resents authority over it. They began to resent God’s authority and His command. They began to think of themselves as having godlike intellect. This lifted them to the God level—reduced God to their level. God became a competitor—a rival in deciding what is right and what is wrong. God had forbidden them to eat the fruit of that one tree—that is, to decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong. God had said it was sin to eat that fruit. Now they determined to decide for themselves. They decided the way to know was to put it to the test—by experiment.
Results of the First Experiment
So, first Eve, then Adam, are here represented as setting out on the very first “scientific experiment.”
The narrative continues, verse 6: “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”
So, one of the first bits of knowledge that came was self-consciousness. Immediately they became self-centered—selfish—competitive in attitude—jealous, envious, resentful toward others. The narrative at this point implies that a drastic change occurred in their minds when they allowed vanity, self-centeredness, the competitive spirit, to enter their minds.
This passage purports to show the very first “scientific experiment.” God said that if they took of that forbidden fruit they would die. The narrative shows them rejecting revelation, just as science does today. They made an experiment. They had to test the matter. They refused to believe their Maker. They made the “scientific experiment.” They ate the forbidden fruit. Result: They died!
The scriptural revelation maintains that only God can determine what is right and what is wrong—that God’s law, summarized in the Ten Commandments, is the way that is right and produces good, and that the transgression of that law (I John 3:4) is the way that is wrong and produces evil.
And the biblical revelation teaches that man for 6,000 years has rejected God’s revelation as the Source of basic knowledge—and has set out on a way of life contrary to that law. Man does what is right in his own sight—not what God says is right. He has piled up a tremendous mountain of books of man-produced knowledge. He has continued to make “scientific experiments.”
Result: Humanity has produced, also, a vast mountain of evils. His fund of knowledge is a mixture of good and evil—true and false—he has produced a civilization full of empty lives, discontent, unhappiness, pain and suffering, crime, immorality, broken homes and family life, corruption, injustice, unfairness, violence, pollution, war and death.
Yet man refuses to believe the results of his own experiment. He has written the cruel lesson in 6,000 years of human experience, but he has never learned the lesson.
University Is “Dead”
Dr. Clark Kerr was president of one of the world’s greatest universities—a veritable multiversity, where he was able to put into action his ideas as an academic theoretician. Result of the experiment? The confusion, division and violence at the home Berkeley campus finally forced Dr. Kerr to resign.
The entire chain reaction of campus protests, confusion, riots and violence really started on the Berkeley campus of the University of California. It started about the time the “God Is Dead” movement was getting under way.
The 1970 Summer Session Bulletin of Claremont University, under classification of “Graduate School Summer Courses” lists the following:
“200s. The Theology of the Death of God.”
“300s. Process and Death of God Theology.”
And, although the University of California is a different institution, it seems poignantly significant that, as I write, these words appeared in a Los Angeles Times headline: “Berkeley Reported ‘Dead.’” The entire headline was: “‘Some Colleges May Be Unable to Reopen in Fall,’ Nixon Told. Two Advisers Cite Severe Student Discontent; Berkeley Reported ‘Dead’ as Institution of Freedom and Learning.”
I happen to be president of a college with three campuses. On these campuses there are no campus protests, no opposition marches, no student rioting and violence, and no hippies. There is peace, happy co-operation between students and faculty and administration. Student faces are wreathed in smiles which are real and genuine—the outward expression of an inner joy. Visitors are amazed.
This is the result!
The cause? We are not a factory of knowledge production but of human character production. Here, we disseminate knowledge. We disseminate both sides of the two-sided question of evolution vs. special creation and give our students and faculties the academic freedom to believe as they see it.
But even as you’ll find Darwin and all the evolutionists in our college libraries, you’ll also find various translations of that volume viewed as “revelation.” Its knowledge is not ignored, rejected and thrown out the window. It is not regarded as the sum-total of knowledge. It was never intended to be that. But it is a revelation of basic and foundational knowledge.
And our scientific experiment very definitely is producing exceedingly happy and joyful results.