Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Academic Biases

Religion News Service reports that college graduates are more likely to consider the Ten Commandments irrelevant than those with no college degree, according to a recent study. They are also more likely to reject the Bible as the word of God. A "distinct shift" occurs after college regarding beliefs and opinion, said Richard Brake, director of university studies at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. The ISI surveyed 2,508 Americans on questions intended to measure the impact of a college degree on people's beliefs. The study also found that people with college degrees were more likely to support same-sex marriage, as well as abortion available at any stage of pregnancy and for any reason. Graduates were also more likely to believe that public school teachers should not be allowed to lead prayers in schools. The shift may be attributed to the unpopularity of strong religious views in academia, Brake said. "I think one of the reasons you see this shift is the people that work in academia share these same views," he said.

Kent comments:

While it was nice of ISI (a good and useful organization, visit their website to see what they offer), the study only confirms what anyone who ‘hangs around’ campus these days knows from talking to students.  While the situation will vary from campus to campus and even among departments on a given campus, you can expect a solid majority of academia to hold views that are:

1. Opposed to historic Christianity in some degree or other

2. In favor of almost any statist program or policy you can imagine

3. In favor of ‘ethics’ but in the end unable to decide on the content thereof, yielding some version of moral relativism

While this list could become longer and more precise, these are a few of the main points I have noticed.  From my experience, these points and others like them are more likely to be represented more strongly in departments of education and some of the ‘social sciences’ – especially fields like sociology.  Next to or perhaps tied with departments of education in the matter will be religion and philosophy.  (One of the most anti-Christian departments at many universities is, ironically, the ‘religion’ department.)

Naturally, these views get passed along to many students to some extent.  There are always strong exceptions among students – the sharp, independent thinkers sometimes go against the grain.  But most students are usually sucked into a system where the assumptions of academia have tacitly set the terms of discussion in a way that excludes the truth of the Christian faith, assumes the value of some version of statism, and will tolerate no version of ‘intolerant’ ethical absolutism.

It is not that those who lead academia always make a point of drilling these things into the heads of students.  I have seen examples of that, but it is not the usual approach.  Instead, alternatives to current academic orthodoxy are simply never given serious consideration in the discussion.

I have seen small pockets here and there of exceptions to this situation, but they are isolated.

As long as academia remains what it generally is today, we can reasonably expect those who spend time there to absorb these views to some extent.  That means that ‘higher education’ will produce anti-religious, pro-statist, moral relativists.

This will be interpreted to mean that ‘education’ reveals these positions to be true.  What it in fact shows is the nature and extent of the biases that currently infect academia.

If we ever hope to change the downward spiral of our culture, we will need to change the very fabric of academia.  This will not be done easily or quickly.  But in the long run, this is much more important than anything else that could be done to save our civilization.

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