In 1897, Robert Dabney published a series of works titled, Discussions. Volume IV of this series was simply called, Secular. His focus in this volume was on the consequences that would result if the state or the government became the educators of the children and youth of the country. He warned,
If the State in America becomes the educator, education must be secularized totally.
It is important to remember that the term “secular” means non-religious or non-theistic. When applying this definition to what Dabney said would happen, it would read as follows.
If the State in America becomes the educator, education must be non-religious or non-theistic totally.
In other words, God would be completely removed from the educational process. There is no doubt about the fact that secular education is the dominant education in America today. Public education is definitely secular and most private schools operate from a secular philosophy of education. Unfortunately, a growing number of “Christian” schools and homeschools have also become secular. God may be mentioned in chapels and Bible classes but most of the academic instruction is taught in a non-religous way.
The greatest danger that manifests itself when education becomes secular is that a shift of authority takes place. Authority shifts from God to man. Man becomes the center of everything including the determination of truth. This will always result in children growing up and going out into life with an artificial intelligence. They may think that they are wise but they don’t have any knowledge of the truth!
…always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:7 (NKJV)
There are three words that play intricate roles in the educational process. These three words are closely related to each other. However, they are also different in many ways from each other. These three words are knowledge, understanding and wisdom.
Recently, I came across an interesting table that was developed by the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics. The table explained the differences between knowledge, understanding and wisdom. The chart below has been modified slightly but I believe it will help us understand why secular education will always produce artificial intelligence.As I studied this chart, I saw a progression that will always take place in education. Students will be presented with basic knowledge. As the student matures, he/she should gain understanding of the knowledge he/she has received. Eventually the student will act on his/her knowledge and understanding.
If a school only focuses on “academic excellence”, it may produce good scholars but students will go out into life with very little understanding and, therefore, they will lack wisdom. This is definitely a danger that must be avoided but it is not the greatest danger facing the next generation.
What we too often fail to realize is that there is an educational philosophy that is behind the entire process of education. It will either be a secular philosophy of education or a biblical philosophy. A secular philosophy of education by its very nature will be man-centered. In contrast, a biblical philosophy of education will be God-centered. When you apply this to chart above one can see why the world is in the terrible condition that it is in today.
Both a secular and biblical education will, most likely, teach knowledge in a very similar way. However, when students move from knowledge to understanding, one can see a distinct difference in the two types of education.
In secular education, man is the authority that brings meaning to the facts. Since secular education must be non-religious, there can be no spiritual meaning presented or even implied to any knowledge. Therefore, students will develop man-centered principles for the information they receive which will lead them to reason all of life through a secular worldview. As adults, they will teach these principles to the next generation.
As they apply their knowledge and understanding to all aspects of life, their actions will be based on a humanistic understanding of knowledge. The resulting wisdom will be the wisdom of the world as described in James 3:14-17. They will be disciples. However, they will not be disciples of Jesus Christ but of the culture!
We can clearly see this progression taking place in society today. We are producing scholars that know a lot of facts. These scholars understand the knowledge that they have obtained by means of a secular education and promote or teach those principles to others. As they apply everything they have learned through a secular education, they develop a man-centered worldview become disciples of the culture. All of their actions and attitudes are determined by a secular worldview and are in line with the culture. They have merely obtained an artificial intelligence!
It is imperative that Christians provide their children and youth with an education that is grounded on a biblical philosophy of education. This must take place in the home, church and school. Our children must be taught knowledge with the fear of the Lord as its foundation. This will lead them to grasping true understanding of the facts they learn.
The understanding that they develop through their education must be shaped by biblical principles that will give true meaning to the knowledge they receive. This, in turn, will cause them to develop a biblical understanding of knowledge that will shape their reasoning in every area of life. With understanding, they will teach these biblical principles to the next generation.
Finally, Christians must make sure that their children and youth not only know and understand facts but also are able to how to apply what they have learned — all from a biblical worldview framework. This will lead them to acquire true wisdom from above.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 3:17 (NKJV)
When this happens, the next generation will not go out into life as disciples of the culture but as disciples of Jesus Christ. When this is the result of our children’s education, they will do what our generation hasn’t done. They will turn the world upside down for the glory of God!