I am concerned about the nature of our modern academic institutions and the confidence that we put in them. I am convinced that intellectual pursuits are a fundamental aspect of our whole Christian soul. If the ideas of Christianity are necessary for a proper understanding of reality how is it that we have allowed our children to be educated by means which are often antithetical to a complete Christian understanding of truth?
Today, I was fortunate enough to listen to Dr. JP Moreland lecture on some basic principles that establish the proper way in which we should understand truth and knowledge. Dr. Moreland stated that as humans we have at a fundamental level the ability to know reality and make true statements about it. It is this access to reality that enables us to make decisions about how we live in this world. These capacities are given to us by God so that we can live in accordance to his truth.
Many within the discipline of education are driven by naturalist commitments in which human existence is understood only by what you perceive through your senses. Others in education who have postmodernist leanings believe the thing you call knowledge are just a social construct. For postmodernist to say that something is true is to say that you are using language in a manner that is proper within your community. These two ideologies hold much sway within the discipline of education.
Dr. Moreland points out that in both of the instances the naturalist and postmodernist are unable to get at the real nature of the object that we are describing. Both naturalist and postmodernist do not have access to the basic sources of reality. They are limited by what they believe is accessible to humans. Naturalist do not see, for example, the object itself—they see its wave length. Postmodernists do not believe you have true access to any object only to some type of social construct of the object.
What does this mean to education? If education is about enabling individuals to gain access to the sources of reality then naturalism and postmodernity are not real options in the educational sphere. If either naturalism or postmodernism is true then education cannot be about getting to and understanding reality, but must be about helping you shuffle the intellectual paradigms around in socially acceptable ways.
This turns education more into a social skill on the level of good table manners rather than a real pursuit that enables us in understanding the universe. One does not have to know what is true or false, but what sort of academic terminology corresponds to academic societal convention. C.S. Lewis nails it in The Screwtape Letters. In it Uncle Screwtape reminds his demon nephew Wormwood that it is not about things being true or false, but about getting their human charges to buy into the value of jargon rather than argument.
An argument is about determining the truth or falsity of a statement, and it can only be done if one’s philosophical construction is realist in nature. If we want to educate our students properly we must hold to worldview in which reality is knowable and that the truth and falsity of our statements is discernible. Education must be about more than convention. It must be about the reality of the world spoken in to being by God who has made it truly good.