And God said: Language and Nature

The study of the natural world has been in decline, like many areas of intellectual activity. A contemporary response is the advocacy of “scientific literacy,” the ability to apply scientific methods. Among the strategies is the inculcation of terminology and basic facts. This would be more fruitful if the targeted students are personal cultivators of their language – reading, writing, and speech. Most of the time the efforts of ‘scientific literacy’ is like pouring new wine into old wine skins, as in the students possess not the mental/emotional substance (maybe even spiritual) to engraft the information. Language is a primary way we interact with everything under the sun. It is how we understand.

Simply memorizing facts and figures does not shape one’s internal use of language. In the long run, it is what someone values, practices each day. If a student does not actively try to expand their vocabulary to better understand the world around them, any terms someone embarks to teach them will not take root. If the general focus is trending not structural, words do not grow into fields of thinking. They are more as consumer goods to be used then disposed of when obsolete. The minimization or replacement of grammar and phonics during elementary education attests to a culture lacking a foundational stone of language.

No building blocks, no development. Even during the 1100s of the Middle Ages, scholars & clergy belittle language instruction, since words could supposedly mean anything in the grand scheme of things. A church leader reminded his peers of its necessity:

“Reason would remain utterly barren, or at least would fail to yield a plenteous harvest, if the faculty of speech did not bring to light its feeble conceptions, and communicate the perceptions of the prudent exercise of the human mind. . . . Deprived of their gift of speech, men would degenerate to the condition of brute animals, and cities would seem like corrals for livestock, rather than communities composed of human beings united by a common bond for the purpose of living in society, serving one another, and cooperating as friends.”

from: Book 1 – chapter 1 of The Metalogicon by John of Salisbury (1159)

It is quite something to have encountered numerous educators who softly scoff at prioritizing language and arithmetic over ‘science literacy.’ Apparently, it is foolish to focus on the building blocks of thought and calculation before delving into rigorous scientific activity. This is like failing to practice diet and conditioning prior competitive sports. Sure, one could still learn something, except they grow a sapling instead of a forest of understanding over time. Who is to say they even are able to maintain the young tree after the official activity is done? Going back to John of Salisbury, the students’ neglect of language will not promote any social/intellectual endeavor. They go about their days more as animals, concerned with what they currently desire.

Indeed, speech in the mainstream is more for knowing information to meet the whims of politics and economics. The political games of left/right, Democrat/Republican has a major part in forming language. Heck, the main purpose of obtaining a college education is to be of higher value in the job market! Our culture’s speech essentially hinges on a simulated “Game of Thrones” and Monopoly. This has been an ongoing battle for generations, the struggle to speak according to Godly rather than mortal things.

“The heralds of the truth, it is written, “have proclaimed the works of God, and have understood His doing.” Scientific knowledge, by the nature of things, must precede the practice and cultivation of virtue, which does not “run without knowing where it is going,” and does not merely “beat the air” in its battle against vice. Rather “it sees its goal, and the target at which it aims.” It does not haphazardly chase ravens with a piece of pottery and a bit of mud. But scientific knowledge is the product of reading, learning, and meditation. It is accordingly evident that grammar, which is the basis and root of scientific knowledge, implants, as it were, the seed of virtue in nature’s furrow after grace has readied the ground.”

from: Book 1 – chapter 23

The general culture neither teaches speech/grammar nor the pursuit of virtue. We therefore are of no mind or heart for genuine understanding. Our sinful ambitions are seen to be more real than the natural world itself. Learning ones language requires discipline, a self motivation that is truly beyond what we feel is a need/want. Only when we deny our selves to seek after the things of God do we address the truth, good, and beauty in nature. In doing so, vice is not our master, with lustful ignorance not dictating how we learn to speak, as social beings that need to interact with our natural world. Christ’s natural law in our hearts and minds lifts us beyond the cravings of beasts, as well as the warped passions of demons. After all, He is the Word before the beginning.

His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power. Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love. If these are yours and increase in abundance, they will keep you from being idle or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone who lacks them is blind and shortsighted, forgetful of the cleansing of his past sins.

2 Peter 1:3-9

 

Public Education: Mandatory Mediocrity

How can I have even remote respect for something that as a result of rejecting the Creator/Christ, it lacks the substance to grow a person? Based on the grand assumption all just came into existence, young minds are instructed to know simply for the sake of knowing, that is whatever the government (public) wants them to value. Mix in democracy and opportunism, then you get a mutating alphabet soup of concepts that students are tested on without reason. Instead of gazing into the infinite mind of God, inspired to expand our mental abilities for His glory, most of us are taught to randomly learn for a vain and vague common good.

Fortunately, I was spared this institution very early on. It did not take my parents too long to decide that daycare itself was a poor option for their children’s well being. Now, I am well aware of the objections to homeschooling, as well as private school. The key counterpoint is why worry about the quality of these forms of education, more so the former, when the public system itself is a decrepit failure? Sure, not every child receives an edifying non-public upbringing. Whereas the public school system is a sub par factory. On top of it all, the government decides what values to interweave during the average seven hours at their institutions.

“Moreover, the society of which the child is to be a member is, in the United States, a democratic and progressive society. The child must be educated for leadership as well as for obedience. He must have power of self-direction and power of directing others, power of administration, ability to assume positions of responsibility. This necessity of educating for leadership is as great on the industrial as on the political side. . . . Apart from participation in social life, the school has no moral end nor aim. As long as we confine ourselves to the school as an isolated institution, we have no directing principles, because we have no object.”

from: chapter 2 of Moral Principles in Education by John Dewey (1909)

Public instruction is anti-God and average by nature. It is a supposedly neutral space that is intended as an education for all. How do you stay neutral teaching youth for at least thirteen years of their childhood? How do you employ a universal standard that meets the needs of every student? Why trust politicians and bureaucrats, let us not forget the random administrators and instructors, such utter strangers to have a critical impact in forming what children think and value? It is said we should not trust many perhaps most parents because they are ignorant themselves. Well, it is only fair to make sure everyone shares in the universal mediocre indoctrination.

The number of times I have encountered educators admitting the system is broken but is the best way for children is surreal. No faith in God, though there is plenty for the eventual fruition of the ideal education for all. Amid the fractured reading, writing, and arithmetic, wicked teachings on race, sex, and human life pervade. People and events of history/government are taught according to general racial profiles. Sexuality and gender are treated as casual pleasures. Humans are of primal animal origin and valued according to popular opinion. And who decides all this? State/Federal authorities, along with anyone directly involved politically and/or economically, dictate the information/ideas the youth of a nation are to master.

“In so far as the school represents, in its own spirit, a genuine community life; in so far as what are called school discipline, government, order, etc., are the expressions of this inherent social spirit; in so far as the methods used are those that appeal to the active and constructive powers, permitting the child to give out and thus to serve; in so far as the curriculum is so selected and organized as to provide the material for affording the child a consciousness of the world in which he has to play a part, and the demands he has to meet; so far as these ends are met, the school is organized on an ethical basis. So far as general principles are concerned, all the basic ethical requirements are met. The rest remains between the individual teacher and the individual child.”

from: chapter 4 of Moral Principles in Education

Advanced pupils are still vulnerable to this mortal system. It was a fair number of students that really helped me understand the deficiency. They explained their AP/honors courses, especially the former, are customized for the standardized tests. This means substantial content is absent. A number of them, along with post-secondary students, acknowledge or at least eventually discover their inability to immediately transition into higher levels after graduation. The standard is thereby not excellence.

Perhaps, I am too stupid to understand the grandeur in learning according to the hopes of political/corporate powers. Indeed, forsaking the whims of Christ’s cross to be a consumer of false promises and products is not that appealing. So many of us, including the founders of communities if not nations, did not need the hand of government schooling to pursue knowledge in what God has wrought. Language, history, math, science, the arts and world view are fruit of His obeyed in accordance with holy Scripture. Christ – the Logos – is the incarnation of Creation/Order whom walked among unholy ambitions of men. Fearing God is the beginning of timeless knowledge. To fear anything or anyone else is learning to be an intellectual slave of self, men, and the Devil.

Need for Fidelity.18 Therefore, take these words of mine into your heart and soul. Bind them on your arm as a sign, and let them be as a pendant on your forehead. 19 Teach them to your children, speaking of them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up, 20 and write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that, as long as the heavens are above the earth, you and your children may live on in the land which the Lord swore to your ancestors he would give them.

Deuteronomy 11:18-21

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:4-9

Students of the Savage Spirit

This past week I encountered two groups of students (5th/6th grade) of contrasting culture, though possessing a raw impulsiveness. One (Expeditionary Learning model) is well versed in the concrete facts of their physical world. The other (Montessori method) is more imaginative in their outlook. Still, in a unique way they expressed a deliberate self-will. There actions, planned or immediate, were deemed as only natural without thought of moral consequence. Now, what happens when they become discontent perhaps come to despair with the sinful world they inherit?

This is not to say that these children were terrors. Actually, there were a number of redemptive qualities for each group. What I am really getting at is the world view these young ones held. If continued in thought/practice as they grow older, there will surely be disastrous outcomes. Like I said, a raw impulsiveness. In other words, will anybody be able to control them when they come of age? Someone who can direct these headstrong beings shall very likely be of the same mind, just only more cunning.

The first of the two are definitely textbook learners, with the ability to comprehend technical ideas. Displaying excellent communication and motivation, they seem well on their way adapting to the modern world. What may bite this world a decade or so from now is their self-awareness in their role of the evolutionary process. For you see, they spoke indirectly of a view on morals that combines the necessity of animal survival and contemporary social rules. Believing they are animals on close terms with all members of this kingdom, their bodily needs are practically as important as what is right. After all, the first core value of their education model is “The Primacy of Self-Discovery.”

The second is of a more tactile drive, learning according to their individual abilities. They can be intensely engaged and focused on what interests them. Likewise they possess a genuine innocence, a dreamy sense of wonder for the world around them. Behavior often hinges on childishness, not child likeness, for most of them. They are trained to adhere more to their wants than what is outside their concern. Self-control being of secondary value, they are not reliable to adapt to social environments or work together in ongoing tasks. The world is pretty much extensions to their personally customized class rooms.

The inspiration/founder of both educational systems were ‘reformers’ discontent with contemporary society of the early 1900s. They were advocates for science by their own distinction, sharing the attitude that the approach needed to be more man-centered on the individual student. Kurt Hahn, whom Expeditionary is based on, believed that youth were innately good, needing to grow in self-development, less they be corrupted by society at large. Maria Montessori, physician & psychologist, desired children to be influenced in their self-direction towards the “spirit” of science, with the intended goal of curiosity for imaginative mastery of the “mechanics.”

C.S. Lewis, lead Christian author of the 20th century, wrote a lesser known character of a rather forgotten book, which illustrates an ideological force lying in wait to engulf civilization. In “The Pilgrim’s Regress,” the newly converted Lewis depicts the nihilistic ‘Savage’ as a sophisticated conqueror in barbarian dress. He represents a mindset/spirit not of a unique personality but an apathy to modern society due to disillusion from all the ideals and promises unmet. Casually under his elaborate orders are social movements akin to fascism and communism.

The beings for these ideologies in Lewis’ allegory are sub-human trolls, meant to be a parody of the grand ideal humanity is supposed to become under these social systems. Savage was raised in the world below his “honey-combed” mountain fortress. Leaving it behind, seeing it as vain talk, he desires to destroy it, for according to him, “The excellent deed is eternal. The hero alone has this privilege, that death for him is not defeat, and the lamenting over him and the memory is part of the good he aimed for; and the moment of battle fears nothing from the future because it has already cast security away [italics added] (“Furthest North” of book 6).”

This mode of thought is the extreme product of a world view/morality based on the individual will. Being social beings, we assemble ourselves with those of a likeminded will. This applies to a desire to carve out a world for the ‘truly’ fit or one forcefully levelled for all to be equal in social standing. The expeditionary students seemed ready to decide who/what would thrive after the culling of survival. The Montessori pupils only care to strive for what catches their immediate fancy. Those who can manipulate such raw yet refined impulsiveness, can acquire a self-driven horde for self-justified amoral acts, as well as systems of savagery. Lord Jesus Christ, may your Spirit be with us disciples of your Word, to speak and live the Truth before the deceived younger generations, while encouraging those who know You to allow your will be done.

“In the beginning a was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that m Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

John 1:1-13

The Cult of Knowledge as Power

“Knowledge is power” – Words rooted in the worship of human strength – hideous with all the foolish stupidity that comes with our thinking. Power to do what? Some say to rule, others to make good in the world. Some desire to accomplish both. Unfortunately, we shall reap neither. The more total the rule, the more thorough the destruction. The good made decays with corruption. What more to expect from those who learn to acquire power? Aye, more so when there is poor discernment in the knowledge sought.

These seemingly noble ambitions are made a danger when set upon the imperfection, the sinful existence of man. The objection: Yes, humans are imperfect but we must progress to what is better for the good of humanity. If only a stained washcloth could help set fine dishes for a meal. Perhaps everything on the table will look clean, only the food is still contaminated by our folly. Good enough, at least we are trying, so is said. This arrogantly stated until those soaked in sludge, Lord forbid blood, take over hosting.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), a witness to the bloodbath of the English Civil War, wrote “Leviathan,” a book of lasting influence which calls for “consent” to a king and government with absolute power. It is worth noting that he is the focus of the above theme illustration for this post. He had this to say about knowledge (Scientia/science) and its relation to a person:

“The Power of a man (to take it universally), is his present means to obtain some future apparent Good. . . . The Greatest of humane Powers, is that which is compounded of the powers of most men, united by consent, in one person, natural or civil, that has the use of all their Powers depending on his will; . . . The Sciences, are small Power, . . . not acknowledged in any man; nor are at all, but in a few [only some can possess this power]; . . . The Value, or Worth of a man, is as of all other things, his Price; that is to say, so much as would be given for the use of his Power: and therefor is not absolute; but a thing dependent on the need and judgement of another. . . . For let a man (as most men do) rate themselves at the highest value they can; yet their true value is no more than it is esteemed by others. . . . The public worth of a man, which is the Value set on him by the Commonwealth, is that which men commonly call Dignity. And this value of him by the Commonwealth, is understood, by offices of Command, Judges, public Employment, or by Names and Titles, introduced for distinction of such Value.”

from chapter 10 of “Leviathan” (1651)

Now, do people really benefit of good (& peace as Hobbes would have it) when absolute power is given to us mortals, whether one or the few? Most are hesitant, perhaps for now, but if we only seek to improve our lot in the world by our own means for what we desire, it is tempting to have faith in sinful souls for a perfect way of life. Did not God warn His chosen Hebrew people not to put their trust in the might of a mortal king – 1st Samuel Chapter 8. Even after explaining the oppression and tragedy a ruler would set on them, they still demanded it, so as to become rich and powerful like other nations.

Instead of gaining the knowledge of God, to be only subject to Him, independent of human power, we often choose the security promised by others, often believing we too shall share in the power. But no, the earthly powers that be think too highly of themselves, categorizing everyone into mere tools for whatever Good they deem worthy. Why fear God, who is supposedly love? Well, because Christ is truth, goodness, and beauty, being the perfect Creator, we too share in these blessed things, gifted through absolute power. On the other hand, we will have to admit the raw fear of a fellow fallen man, either of us being corrupt enough in our knowledge to be sure we have the authority of the Almighty in our own position of life. In reality, behind all our pride, a spiritual power of dark principalities are the ones really pulling the strings of puppets too intoxicated by their lies to see the way, truth, and life God offers as our birthright.

Do these modern men of science and politics believe there are no spiritual higher powers? Trailer for “Symmetry” – hadron collider project https://youtu.be/Cllqr1nmdYk & ceremony for this project attended by world leaders – https://youtu.be/2YS8r6pg9NM

“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.  And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”

2 Timothy 2:20-26

“Then the Lord told Moses, “Early tomorrow morning present yourself to Pharaoh and say to him: Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: Let my people go to worship Me, or this time I will hurl all my blows upon you and your servants and your subjects, that you may know that there is none like Me anywhere on earth. For by now I would have stretched out my hand and struck you and your subjects with such pestilence as would wipe you from the earth. But this is why I have spared you: to show you my power and to make my name resound throughout the earth! Will you still block the way for my people by refusing to let them go? . . . Some of Pharaoh’s servants feared the warning of the Lord and hurried their servants and livestock off to shelter. Others, however did not take the warning of the Lord to heart and left their servants and livestock in the field.”

Exodus 9:13-17; 20-21

Ignorance – Worse than Chains

“Ignorance, my brethren, is a mist, low down into the very dark and impenetrable abyss in which, our fathers for many centuries have been plunged. The Christians, and enlightened of Europe, and some of Asia, seeing the ignorance and consequent degredation of our fathers, instead of trying to enlighten them, by teaching them that religion and light with which God has blessed them, they have plunged them into wretchedness ten thousand times more intolerable, . . . Ignorance, as it now exits among us, produces a state of things, Oh my Lord! too horrible to present to the world.”

from: Article 2 of Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World;David Walker (1796-1830)

From a man who witnessed slavery first hand, the worst harm was not the whip or forced labor. The brutal exploitation was the product of a people made vulnerable by a deep state of ignorance. Is the lack of knowledge dealing with technology/science? History/heritage? Business/wealth? Formal/vocational education? No, the root of ignorance, which precedes all that has been listed, is not knowing the will of God and our identity in Him. Thus, as Walker states, the African people were already in ignorance, though now it had been worsened by people who knew the truth but decided not to live in submission to Him.

 What peoples of the world would discover, absent chains and beatings, bondage could still be inflicted by others, no less the self, so long as the people existed in ignorance. In the lack of knowledge of God’s sovereignty, we are prone to also dominate one another. After all, African, European, Asian, and Native American partook in chattel (think cattle) slavery for centuries. It is easy to treat beings as objects when you refuse to acknowledge anything resembling the dignity of being created in the image of God. Indeed, a person has to live in if not deceitfully feign ignorance of this truth, that they may raise up the things previously mentioned in their image.

A state of social status is not the primary issue for an individual’s life. Ignorance of the truths pertaining to God’s will is the underlying evil for society/culture in the long-run. Walker and other black souls were born into or achieved freedman status due to the controversial argument in law that they were creations of the Creator. Generations later, succeeding the era after the national abolition of slavery, whites and blacks were almost equally targeted for cheap labor, both as free citizens. It was common for slaves not to be permitted to learn to read, even the Bible. Why? If the enslaved masses knew what Scripture said, they would make poor cattle. The same could be said for whites who recognized that this unholy institution was a blight on everything they held dear.

Those who were more mindful of the things of Christ treated their property more as human than beasts of burden. Because of this defiance of custom, which declared in some form slaves must be kept in spiritual ignorance, state governments, eventually national (Union & Confederacy), increased their stranglehold on these people. Most so Southerners, people intimately acquinted with the God given humanity of blacks, were systematically forced by law to be more ignorant or at least pretend when it came to the truth. Politics and economics were prioritized above His divine rule of law.

Walker was not shy of chastizing American government for its folly handling the image of God in public policy. Far as he was concerned, only sincerely devout Christ followers witheld the wrath that would befall the nation, the Lord letting the mountainous weight of ingorance crush Northern and Southern ideals.

“Now the avaricious Americans, think that the Lord Jesus Christ will let them off, because his words are no more than the words of a man! In fact, many of them are so avaricious and ignorant, that they do not believe in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Tyrants may think they are so skilled in State affairs is the reason that the government is preserved. But I tell you, that this country would have been given up long ago, was it not for the lovers of the Lord. They are indeed, the salt of the earth. Remove the people of God among the whites, from this land of blood, and it will stand until they cleverly get out of the way.”

from: Article 4 of Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World

Whether technically slave or free, ignorance can bind the soul making one into a simultaneous brute and tyrant. Regardless of status, to be lead by vice is to not be at liberty. How many people with much are envious? Wrathful? In despair? Possess a spirit of defeat? Imagine, the consequences of a generation ignorant perhaps even scorning the things of God. To care not for what they ought to do for their fellow man in obedience to Christ. To view others and also themselves as animals, each with their own authority of right. Will giving them knowledge of economy, technology, politics, and/or fine art cure us of this natural state of lashing out in pride and cruelty? Less we think too highly of ourselves, believing to be more moral and enlightened than our ancestors, such knowledge will only be tools for self-destruction in the long-term.

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of your mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleaness with greed.

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

Ephesians 4:17-24

Morality of Modern Science

The title is quite strange. There are advocates of scientific process whom acknowledge it as a human practice. Strangely, there are others who also regard it as the way to human progress. Studying the natural world will eventually rid the world of its ills, that is if the people of the world embrace a scientific literacy to likewise promote said research endeavors. In “A Scientific Society – the Beginnings,” Glenn T. Seaborg, appointed Chair of the United States Atomic Energy Commission in 1961, summarized the relationship between secular science and morals, “Beyond these principles, my confidence in freedom is based upon a personal faith, originating in my interpretation of human experience [history], to which one must appeal when scientific data are lacking or inconclusive.” Yes, science is a fine tool that will change the world for the better, though unlike idealists, there is a recognition that it is subject to individual whims.

Now, the will of the individual is not necessarily a worrisome thing when one believes a person can be near perfect. If man is not mindful of a sinful state, all he needs is the right method of living to succeed. Remember, to have sin is not necessarily to be evil, yet one is vulnerable to error, no less degrees of vice. To confidently be certain in a human method is only inviting pride before an imminent fall. Science is surely a gift from God to understand Creation for worshipful fulfillment of His command for us to have fruitful dominion. What happens to our ambitions in nature upon directing our ambition away from divine authority? According to early proponent of modern scientific education, Thomas Huxley in the late 19th century:

“They must learn that social phenomena are as much the expression of natural laws as any others; that no social arrangements can be permanent unless they harmonize with the requirements of social statics and dynamics; and that, in the nature of things, there is an arbiter whose decisions execute themselves. . . And, if the evils which are inseparable from the good of political liberty, are to be checked, . . . it will be because men will gradually bring themselves to deal with political, as they now deal with scientific questions;”

from: “Science and Culture” (1880)

Whether it is the realism or Weaver or the optimism of Huxley, human will is at the helm of destiny. My favorite atheist thinker, Friedrich Nietzsche, (1844-1900) witnessed the rise of modern science. He had two takes on people who emerge from this academic field. From the shared secular position of man being the highest mind, authority could swing democratic to totalitarian. After all, not all minds are equally desiring of a greater cause, personal or social. We will be diving into what he had to say about scientists in his “On the Genealogy of Morals”.

Nietzsche’s atheism did not possess a preference for scientific research. It was neither a way to prosperity nor a self-correcting method of natural revelation. He observed the people behind it. There were certainly individuals he found to be admirable. Still, he had this to say, “science today is a hiding place for every kind of discontent, disbelief, gnawing worm, despectio sui [disdain of their own kind], bad conscience – it is the unrest of the lack of ideals, the suffering from the lack of any great love,”. For Nietzsche the majority, more so so-called “free thinkers”, were too people of belief/faith, except they lacked active conviction.

Despite not adhering to the presence of original sin, Nietzsche found that scientists (& academics across the board) would fail to initiate anything resembling the optimism of Huxley’s call to check social evils. There is no universal method for all men to follow, so that the ills of the world can be erased. There are men who will boldly, stubbornly execute “a philosophy, a “faith,” [which] must always be there first of all, so that science can acquire from it a direction, a meaning, a limit, a method, a right to exist.” Just like Weaver’s realism about practicing science, it will be used for whatever motivations of the individual. Weaver did think things would improve in the long-run, hence his advocacy for scientific education. Nietzsche, the man who declared “God is dead” within human value, posed a challenging statement to “modern science”:

“Has man perhaps become less desirous of a transcendental [non-materialistic] solution to the riddle of his existence, now that this existence appears more arbitrary, beggarly, and dispensable in the visible order of things? . . . Alas, the faith in the dignity and uniqueness of man, in his irreplaceability in the great chain of being, is a thing of the past – he has become an animal, literally and without reservation or qualification, he who was, according to his old faith, almost God (“child of God,” “God-man”).”

from: section 25 of “On the Genealogy of Morals” (1887) 

I am quite certain that us mortals are capable of much evil as well as good, struggling to discern between the two. Thereby, a progressing road to perfection seems strongly unlikely. Well, holding to original sin, no chance. Regardless, science is a human tool susceptible to human failure. If divinely created by God as said in Scriptures, then at least we are not alone, able to have an eternal covenant with a just and merciful Sovereign. As for simply coming into existence, we are at each other’s mercy, with varying views of justice.

Think I am being a pessimist about contemporary science? Check the YouTube link below for current info on the practical realities of the field.

https://youtu.be/LfHEuWaPh9Q – “The Crisis of Science” February 22nd 2019

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.”

Romans 1:20-23

Experience of Creative Work

When it comes to labor, it is primarily valued as a means of economic gain. Sadly, the social and political possibilities are shadowed by the drive to material comfort. Lacking foundation based on higher spiritual things, the worker chooses a mental complacency. Instead of mimicking God in universal creativity, we can be resigned to passivity in someone else’s created world. Then the ironic mindset follows of feeling trapped with little to no sense of worth or freedom in our lives.

Experience is a key source of knowledge. Labor is one having the opportunity to create. Now, I can imagine people arguing that most workers do not have such opportunity, that only those with wealth have this liberty. Well, we have a choice. Exercise our God given abilities to create in spite of circumstance. Perhaps, we should just surrender to the preferences of others. To do the first requires the individual to form community, as they learn to be creative beyond their comfort zone. The second is to be personally or collectively content with whatever others make, though be disatisfied by the shared mediocrity.

An educated worker is a creative person with growing skills and social circles. Their knowledge surpasses the task at hand, connecting with others to create more for whatever common cause. This could be individual and/or group opportunity, whether it be acquiring resources and/or enriching the relations of a community. People tend to foregt that those of economic wealth possess their own social circles, far more often than not persist in developing their own creativity. I do not make this as a promotion for how to become materially rich. Modest or lavish, a person is divinely created to live in dignified freedom.

Book learning is of no inferior value, unless it does not coincide with labor, manual/mental, which is putting creativity into practice. Following the emancipation of Negro slaves in the United States, even as second-class citizens, black folk had unprecedented chance to actively cultivate their present. Many individuals took their labor skills outside their localities, relocating to acquire knowledge in communities that would receive them. Others managed or had to stay put, combining resources to improve their homes. Yes, the handicap of slavery smothers souls from existing outside of subsistence. On the other side in freedom, it must be of a people’s culture to labor for basic needs, along with creative endeavors. Risk and responsibility are no light weights to bear. In fact, a free educated worker grows to carry more, especially in good company.

In chapter 10 of Booker T. Washington’s “Up from Slavery,” the majority of the fledgling Tuskegee Institute’s students were of the impoverished plantations. Trained in innovative domestic, agricultural, and industrial skill, “the students themselves would be taught to see not only utility in labour, but beauty and dignity . . . how to lift labour up from mere drudgery and toil, and would learn to love work for its own sake.” Trial and failure ensued. Suriving the risks taken for building the institution’s infrastructure, including a brick kiln, the locale as well as many parts of the South likewise grew from the creative excellence across studies/industries rendered by the student body. Social/cultural relations between white and black became more cordial, due to the multiplying intertwining interests.

In chapter three’s conclusion of “The Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B. Dubois, Washington was criticized for seemingly discouraging academically capable blacks from wanting to pursue the position of political office, considering civil injustice being a violent reality for Negro citizens. The educational methods of Tuskegee were rooted in Washington’s realism. Formal political power could be taken from any man; it would not be a crippling blow to an experienced knowledgable people. How many souls possess a university education only to be pathetically ignorant, becoming dependents and perhaps lower tyrants in their social-political circles?

“Our greatest danger is that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labour and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life; shall prosper in proportion as we learn to draw the line between the superficial and the substantial, . . . Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.” [He proceeds follows with a direct push for white Southerners to cast in their lot with the formerly enslaved population, whom have been demonstrably loyal and productive].

from: The Atlanta Exposition Address – Booker T. Washington (1895)

Black denizens in the United States were as a whole believers of some form of Christianity. While they had earthly masters, there was a supreme Master. God had also made them for educated labor. The majority, even unsure of how or where, desired creative community life not restricted to menial regimentation. Skilled workers were no less anxious to set their trades beyond personal wage, for freedom would be more realized when efforts were joined with others to create in the world something distinct from what their masters/employers owned. A non-believer, Dubois still had this to say at the turn of the century:

“In the Black World, the Preacher and Teacher embodies once the ideals of this people, – the strife for another and juster world, the vague dream of righteousness, the mystery of knowing; but to-day the danger is that these ideals, with their simple beauty and weird inspiration, will suddenly sink to a question of cash and a lust for gold. . . . What if the Negro people be wooed from a strife for righteousness, from a love of knowing, to regard dollars as the be-all and end-all of life?”

from: chapter 5 of The Souls of Black Folk (1903)

The concern “Mammonism” would take precedence over spiritual values is indeed something to address. Washington, unlike Dubois, did prize the faith. In chapter 8 of his book, he makes it clear, “The school is strictly undenominational, but it is thoroughly Christian, and the spiritual training of the students is not neglected.” I lean towards vocational education as a preferable means for the majority over higher education. Meanwhile, I am made vigilant by Dubois’ warning. Indeed, it is of a contrasting perspective, though it is still one to be mindful. If we labor for man or Mammon, are we not menial slaves if not pretend masters seeking dominance? Not all men can be supreme. Mammon makes food out of men. Freedom and dignity can become perilously precarious things in mortal hands.

“Man, as we have seen, lives by communion with God through the Divine creative act, and is perfected or completed only through the Incarnation, in Christ, the Word made flesh. True, he communes with God through his kind, and through external nature, society in which he is born and reared, and property for through which he derives sustenance for his body; but these are only media of his communion with God, the source of life – not either the beginning or the end of his communion.”

from: chapter 15 of The American Republic – Orestes Brownson (1865)

“The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the Garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. The Lord God gave man this order: “You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.” The Lord God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” . . . The Lord God then built up into a woman the rib he had taken from the man. When he had brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.””

Genesis 2:15-18, 22-23