Antithesis in Education

What is man? Is he fallen and corrupt? Or is he basically good and he does evil acts because of ignorance?

The secular humanistic worldview says that man is basically good and that the problem is somewhere else in the world. The secularist suggests various places where the problem is. It is in foods so people need to diet better. It is in shows and movies so people need to watch better entertainment. It is in safety so people need more regulations to avoid unsafe behavior. And often the central focus is education. People are ignorant and so they need more information in order to do what is right.

The secularist places the problem outside of man.

There are a couple of reasons that the secularist holds to this. First, if there is no spiritual dimension to man, then there cannot be a spiritual problem. This means the problem has to be outside of man. Second, secularists place the problem outside man because it means that man can fix the problem. If it is outside our hearts then we can fix it. We just need to do more diets or schools or programs or whatever. Placing the problem outside of man means that Man has some chance at figuring the problem out and fixing it.

To say that the problem is inside of man, means that the problem is beyond our abilities to fix. The secularist cannot handle that idea.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Russian novelist, said, “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” (The Gulag Archipelago)

If the problem is outside of man then there are some people who are the problem but not everyone. Some are bad and some are good. So all we have to do is find the evil people and put them all together and then educate them or fix them or eliminate them.

But if evil is actually inside of people, inside the human heart, then the problem is inside all of us. This means that no one man is clean, who can fix the problem. All of us are tainted. All of us are dirty. For me to try and fix you is to spread some of my problems onto you. It is like a surgeon wanting to operate on you but he has mud all over his hands. And no one has any soap. He can rub his hands together to try and clean his hands but that only makes them more dirty.

Who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? No one is willing to do that. We need someone else who CAN do that kind of surgery.

This is the other option. Man’s problem is inside his heart. This fundamentally reshapes the issue. This is completely antithetical to the secularist position.

This impacts everything we do. This redefines poverty, politics, and education.

If evil is inside the human heart, then we cannot fix the problem with our own efforts. This means that education cannot fix people. This means that politicians cannot fix people. This means that money cannot fix poverty.

The primary reason these things cannot fix the problem is because all these things are superficial and external to the heart. Who can clean the human heart?

This means that we cannot save ourselves. We need a savior who can save us.

This means that education is a tool that can be used to build up students but it is not the solution to their problems. They need Jesus. They need the gospel.

These two different worldviews shape how we do education and what the purpose is.

The secularist educates to fix various problems: poverty, racism, health, etc. Ultimately trying to make students ready for work.

The Christian educates to make a person who loves God and obeys God’s commands. This will ultimately lead to fixing the other problems in society. And a by product will be that the student is ready to work and provide for others.

The secularist education system by default becomes manipulation and social conditioning. Pavlov’s dog experiment explains this. He would ring a bell and give the dog a treat. He did this over and over again. Eventually he could just ring the bell and the dog would salivate because the dog thought a treat was coming.  Pavlov conditioned the dog to salivate just by ringing a bell.

The secularist teacher in this model rings the bell and the student performs. This is basically what all education comes down to in the secular worldview. The teacher imputes certain stimuli and the student reacts. This kind of education becomes a highly elaborate experiment. And this raises the question: who would want to send a student to this kind of institution?

In the Christian worldview, the student is a full human and deserves the full respect for being made in God’s image. This means that the teacher is not experimenting on the student nor is the teacher trying to condition the student. The goal is to make the student fulfill his highest calling which is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

This means that the teacher does not see the student as an animal but as an immortal who is made to worship God. This means the teacher cannot just do whatever he wants. He must submit to God and God’s rules for how he educates the student. This also means that Christian education will give the student the tools needed to be a free man who can think independently in submission to God’s word.

This is in sharp contrast to the secular worldview which is just creating machines: input certain stimuli and out comes certain outcomes.

Christian education is working to create fully human people. Secularist education is trying to create robots.

These two models of education are antithetical to each other. There is no way to reconcile them. Christians must understand this antithesis in order to educate well.

In this way, we see that education is warfare. Education is shaping students one way or another. Education either submits to man’s desires and whims or education submits to God and God’s word.

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