A Warning to Idealistic Students
August 10, 2003
In a few weeks millions of college students will begin classes again. I am not worried about students who are in career programs. Job training is the only reason to attend university. However, I am anxious for the innocent souls who are looking for answers to life's big questions.
Today, the study of the humanities cannot satisfy their desire for truth. Unless they understand this, professors will exploit their idealism, blunt their originality and leave them confused and demoralized.
I am not talking about feminists who use their classes for social engineering. Something much more profound is wrong with our universities.
Western civilization was founded on Christian assumptions that spiritual ideals (truth, beauty, love, justice) have an objective existence in a spiritual dimension, which is called God. "God is a Spirit and we worship in spirit and in truth," Christ said. (John 4:24) Man becomes truly "human" and civilized by virtue of his ability to embody these ideals and become God-like. This is the essence of culture.
So-called "modern culture" is virulently opposed to these assumptions; it is anti-Christian, materialist and scientific. If an ideal can't be seen or measured, it doesn't exist. Like deaf men tuning a piano, moderns portray man as if he had no Creator, and no Divine Purpose. Man is an orphan in an indifferent cosmos.
THE CULT OF GREAT MEN
In the modern world therefore, man and not God defines reality. At university you will encounter "The Cult of Great Men" the modern Pantheon who have explained the Godless world, and pre-moderns who have been reinterpreted.
The human spirit will not be denied. Take away God and man creates false gods. Students are taught to worship these Great Men. Their every utterance is treated with mystical reverence. For example, in a seminar I took, a student read a list of obscenities that had been censored from William Faulkner's novel "Sanctuary." After each expletive, the students gasped with horror, as though a religious artifact had been desecrated.
Professors are the highly paid priests of this cult and bask in their master's reflected glory. Students develop a lifelong habit of mental servility. All wisdom proceeds from others, none from them. They cringe at the thought of the Great Books they haven't read. In life, they can only aim to compare Great Men. A professor once told me that I had failed an exam because "only great men can say things like that."
The students' state-of-mind becomes passive and fragmented. They think in terms of reconciling contradictory world-views. One day I had an awakening. I realized that these great men actually lived in the SAME world. This is also the world I live in and can analyse first-hand. Dare I think for myself?
Dislocation takes place in time as well as space. By continually studying the "great" thoughts and deeds of the past, the student is conditioned to think nothing exciting or necessary remains to be done. There are no manifestos to be written, no Bastilles to be stormed. While the present world cries out for direction, the new generation is writing footnotes to dead men.
EDUCATION SERVES ITS PURPOSE
As you've gathered by now, education is not intended to uplift and empower. The world is run by a secretive interlocking cartel that controls the education system. Its goal, in the words of one of its founders Cecil Rhodes, is to "gradually absorb the wealth of the world." Naturally it wishes to obscure this truth. It wants students to be confused and stupid. Professors who don't play the game are fired.
If you haven't noticed, universities are not places to find stimulating inquiry and debate. They are societal backwaters. Many professors are no more than glorified librarians. Raise an idea and they will mention two books in which a similar idea occurs. Apparently this is not new. One 18th Century preacher remarked, "no sort of men think so little as those engaged in the professed study of learning or knowledge."
Ironically most Great Men were bad students or didn't attend university at all. "If I had my way I'd burn every one of them to the ground," George Bernard Shaw said. "They stereotype the mind."
Austrian novelist Stefan Zweig cited Carlyle's dictum that the best university is a good library. "As practical as an academic career may be for an average talent, it is superfluous for individually productive natures for whom it may even develop into a hindrance."
I would only send my son to university if he had no talent. I went because of societal and parental pressures. I did not follow my instincts. Misplaced modesty made me believe that my elders knew better and books held the answers.
"A trust in oneself is the height of piety not pride," Emerson writes in his essay "Self Reliance." "It is an unwillingness to learn from any but God alone." Coming from a secular background, I had accepted the modern view that religion is superstition and hypocrisy. I did not realize that my fundamental drives and needs were spiritual.
If I could turn back the clock, I would have resisted parental pressure and moved away from home. Parents and society suffer from a permanent hysteria over economic security. The young are not permitted any other considerations.
I would have learned a skill and alternated periods of work, study and travel. I would have chosen my teachers from life. Do this rather than receive what is basically indoctrination in error.
GROPING IN THE DARK
Mankind is groping in the dark. "All we know is the wind that blows," Thoreau wrote. We have a false confidence based on technology, which Thoreau calls "improved means to unimproved ends."
In contrast, the underlying assumption today is that man is at the pinnacle of evolution. The humanities' pathetic failure to address our real situation is held up as the latest word on the human condition. Mankind is portrayed as striding like gods on Mount Olympus when morally we have barely crawled from the sea.
I wish that someone had told me that my idealistic desire for truth is an expression of a religious need. It is a cry of the soul for God.
There is a difference between truth and the information that universities purvey. Information is a record of the thoughts and deeds, the meandering and maundering of the Human race. This will fill the mind and feed the pride but only truth itself will satisfy the soul.
WHAT IS TRUTH?
Pontius Pilate asked this question. Jesus answered, "I am the truth." (John 14:6) The truth is a moral and spiritual dimension synonymous with God. Jesus' message to mankind was that our destiny is to obey God, and to enter Reality. Everything else is unreal.
Our desire for security, power, freedom and joy are expressions for the desire for God. But since we don't recognize this, our lives become parodies of this quest. When Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth will set you free," (John 8:32) he was referring to Divine Consciousness. But this statement is also used to justify a grotesque accumulation of useless information. It is the motto of the CIA!
The truth that makes us free is something we have to become, not something we can find in a book. We must become the truth in consciousness before we can understand it. In the words of English philosopher Henry More (1614-1687):
"When the inordinate desire after knowledge of things was allayed in me, and I aspired after nothing but purity and simplicity of mind there shone upon me daily a greater assurance than ever I could have expected, even of those things which before I had the greatest desire to know."
c.2003 Henry Makow Ph.D.
Henry Makow received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982. He welcomes your comments at