Christian Ethics - Lesson 12

Problems in Public Education

In this lesson, the topic of American education is introduced through a discussion of the book The Closing of the American Heart by University of Chicago professor Alan Blum. Blum argues that American education is experiencing a closing of the American mind, as students and teachers become captive to a new kind of relativism. The lesson's author argues that while Blum's book is good, it fails to adequately address the important role that values, standards, and morality must play in any adequate education. The author's book, which aims to complement Blum's, argues that to reopen the American mind, we must reopen the American heart. One way in which the crisis in American education is seen is through the three kinds of illiteracy that currently afflict Americans at every level of the educational process. The first kind of illiteracy is functional illiteracy, which refers to the inability to read, write, or use numbers well enough to get along in society.

Ronald Nash
Christian Ethics
Lesson 12
Watching Now
Problems in Public Education

Social Ethics

Part 7

VII. Problems in Public Education

A. Allan Bloom

1. A new relativism

2. Omissions by Bloom

B. Three Kinds of Illiteracy

1. Functional

2. Cultural

3. Moral and Spiritual

C. Relativism

1. Values clarification movement

a. McGuffey Readers

b. Definition

2. Ethical Relativism

a. A position without an argument

b. Will Herberg - A creeping conviction

c. Clarify their thinking

i. Incorrect definition

ii. Correct definition

d. Epistemological relativism

e. Absolutist Agenda

f. W. T. Stace

g. With no standards there is no basis for judgments.

3. John Dewey

a. No truth

b. Dewey's dilemma

i. Goal of education is growth.

ii. No criterion for measuring growth

D. Positivism

E. Secularism, Naturalism and Humanism

  • Gain insights into philosophical ethics and Christian responses, and the Christian role in society regarding the state, justice, economics, and education.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Nash introduces you to the concept of hedonism, which is an example of a consequentialist ethic. He reviews non-hedonistic consequentialist philosophies, psychological hedonism, and ethical hedonism.
  • This lesson introduces you to the theory of deontological ethics and Emmanuel Conte. You will learn that the deontological ethic judges morality by examining the nature of actions and the will of agents rather than goals achieved.
  • In this lesson you will learn about the system of ethics that focuses on virtue and introduces the Four Cardinal Virtues, which are temperance, wisdom, justice, and courage, and emphasizes the importance of being the right kind of person who possesses the traits of character, and C.S. Lewis's book "Christianity" provides an informative treatment of the Four Cardinal Virtues and the Three Theological Virtues.
  • You will gain insight into C.S. Lewis's views on Christian ethics and the morality analogy he presents, where morality is like a fleet of ships that must fulfill three conditions to succeed: every ship must run properly, the relations between ships must be proper and orderly, and the fleet must head to the right destination.
  • You will learn about the importance of distinguishing between society and the state. Society is a voluntary organization of people, while the state is the group of people who claim a monopoly on the use of coercive force within a geographic boundary. By understanding this difference, you can prevent the government from interfering with your voluntary associations.
  • You will gain an understanding of how the professor's theory of the state in Social Justice in the Christian Church aligns with the New Testament. He explains that the state is a God-ordained institution to check against sin, and he is a moderate anti-statist who recognizes the need for government but also the inherent evil in any concentration of human power. The New Testament recognizes constraints upon governmental power, and Revelation 13 is an example of how the state can symbolize anti-Christian government. The lesson also discusses the concept of justice and how it is often invoked without a clear understanding, suggesting that Christians should study ancient Greece for a better comprehension of the term.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insight into the evangelical civil war that happened 20 years ago, learn about its early stages recorded by Clark Penick, understand the harmful effects of left-wing evangelicalism, and see how many evangelicals on the left became enamored with their own self-virtue in what they thought was a crusade to help the poor.
  • By studying this lesson, you will gain insight into the major differences between capitalism, socialism, and interventionism. You will learn that interventionism is often responsible for economic crises that are attributed to capitalism. You will also learn about the overlapping and continuum nature of economic systems and the gray area where an economic system may be viewed as socialism or interventionism.
  • This lesson discusses the decline of old liberation theology and how some of its proponents are now advocating for capitalism and democracy as being what the poor of the third world need, and presents shocking quotations from individuals characterized as evangelical, such as Jose Marquez Bonino, who promotes Marxism and praises tyrants like Castro and Mao Tse tung, as well as material about the three major kinds of Marxism that have existed in the world.
  • This lesson will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of interventionism and its role in the Great Depression, including the fact that blaming capitalism for the depression is based on four myths, and that interventionism actually deepens recessions by disguising the information produced by a market economy.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain an understanding of the crisis facing American education, as highlighted by Alan Blum's book The Closing of the American Heart and the author's complementary book. The focus is on the importance of values, standards, and morality in education, and the need to reopen the American heart to reopen the American mind. The lesson introduces the three kinds of illiteracy currently affecting Americans at every level of the educational process, with a particular emphasis on functional illiteracy, which refers to the inability to read, write, or use numbers well enough to get along in society.
  • In this lesson, you will learn about the incompetency of public school teachers in America, caused by academically weak students being attracted to the profession, lack of content courses in their college curriculum, unimpressive and radical left-winged professional educationists, and the National Education Association being an enemy of America's young people, with four essential steps to improve education, including getting a clear focus on the educational role of the family, increasing local control of education, changing the curriculum to prepare students for life after school, and changing teacher education programs.
  • Gain knowledge of the difference between the biblical ethic and other philosophical systems. Though it may seem simple, it is an underlying system that can lead to complex issues. The divinely revealed scriptures are the starting point for moral reflection, but not a ready-made answer. Some New Testament commandments are archaic or obsolete, and many modern moral problems are not discussed in the Bible.
  • You will gain insight into the pro-life stance and be equipped to inform others. Christians need not be timid about talking about these issues.
  • This lesson explores the arguments and counterarguments surrounding abortion, arguing for caution and conservatism in ending any life, emphasizing the need to balance the right of the mother with the rights of the infant, and briefly touching on the issue of rape and how it complicates the matter.
  • As you go through the lesson, you will learn about infanticide and euthanasia, and how the disrespect for unborn human life has led to an increase in cases of infanticide, along with some suggestions for what Christians should do in the case of children born with life-threatening handicaps.
  • In this lesson, you will explore the five major passages of Scripture related to homosexuality, including different interpretations of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and concludes that the Bible clearly condemns homosexual activity.
  • This lesson explores the topic of capital punishment in the context of Christian beliefs, arguing for consistency and emphasizing the need to view Old Testament laws in the context of specific situations that are no longer applicable.
  • This lesson discusses the three approaches to war and peace and distinguishes between principled pacifists and hypocritical, unprincipled pacifists, who are members of the political left and denounce American military actions but support violent revolutionary organizations.
  • You will gain an understanding of the growing issue of divorce and remarriage within the church, the responsibilities of Christian leaders in addressing it, and the need for Christians to think through what the Scripture teaches on these matters and formulate principles that will guide their thinking and conduct.
  • This lesson provides insight into how responsible Christians can make ethical decisions about birth control, considering the importance of intention, distinguishing between ethically acceptable and unacceptable forms of birth control, and emphasizing the importance of wise and careful means in achieving family planning goals.

Theoretical and theological basis for Christians  living an ethical life.

Dr. Ronald Nash

Christian Ethics


Problems in Public Education

Lesson Transcript


Now we begin talking about American education. And that means that we turn to our next textbook, the closing of the American heart. And let me tell you the reason why. The reason for the title of this book, a University of Chicago philosophy professor named Alan Blum, wrote a book called The Closing of the American Mind. He did this several years ago by and Blum made a lot of important arguments. He said there are all kinds of horrible things happening in American education, both at the grade level and the college level. What has and this involves a closing of the American mind. We're really losing our access to truth information. And to a large extent, this is a consequence of an educational philosophy. And teachers and students will become captive to a new kind of relativism. Alan Blum says there's one experience that every college professor has had, and that is that the odds are that when he stands before his class for the first time, most of the students in that class will be relativists. They don't know why. They may not know what relativism is, but they really have no respect for truth. They have no consciousness, no awareness of the fact that the difference between truth and error is as radical as the difference between life and death. Well, one, what a good book. But in my opinion, he admitted he admitted an important matter from his discussion of American education. He failed to point out adequately the important role that values that standards that morality must play in any adequate education. He did a good job of pointing to the fact that we must reopen the American mind.


[00:02:23] My book is basically designed to complement his to go beyond his by saying that to once again return to an acceptable education in America, we must reopen the American heart as well. Now, one of the ways in which I develop this theme in the book appears in an early chapter titled The Three Kinds of Illiteracy. In fact, I sometimes think it's possible for people to preach sermons on this and in that way introduce people in the church, people in the pews to the crisis in American education and what Christians should be doing about that. So let me see if I just can't give you a kind of outline of how a message about the crisis in American education might develop and will will draw from certain themes that appear in the closing of the American Heart book. One of the ways in which we see the crisis in American education is through these three kinds of illiteracy the presently afflicting Americans at every level of the educational process. The first kind of illiteracy is what I think is what everybody call functional illiteracy. Somebody is functionally illiterate. If he cannot read or write or use numbers well enough to get along in society. In my book, I point out some horrible statistics. One, for example, that says that every year America's public schools graduate 1 million. Functionally illiterate youngsters. I think it's Time magazine that reports that presently in America, there are 24 million functionally illiterate people walking around, all of whom have high school diplomas, but they can't read their own high school diplomas. They've gone through 12 years of grade school education in America, and they can't read or write or use numbers well enough to get along in society. Now, when I think about those 24 million illiterates, I wonder how many of them voted in the election of 1992 and who they voted for.


[00:04:44] There's another statistic I point out in that chapter, and that is that and this is based upon a survey of American 17 year olds. 95% of all American 17 year olds cannot read well enough to understand a literary essay. 95% they can't read well enough to understand the daily newspaper. They cannot read well enough to understand the Bible. This is functional illiteracy and the public schools of America. Are in the business of turning out functionally illiterate kids. As a matter of fact, in my book, I'll give you a few examples of the large number of large number of American teachers who are functionally illiterate. If you've never played a role, if you've never had a role in graduate, the kind of graduate work that colleges of education produce, you have no idea what goes on. You've got to imagine a situation. Now, these are people who somehow snuck through college, can't read or write very well. Now they're earning masters degrees and a college of education, and they get automatic A's simply for showing up and being nice and friendly to the education professor. In my book, I tell the story about a professor. I had it I knew at Western Kentucky University who in the semester I checked, had over had 221 students in his four classes. He gave 220 of those students A's, and he gave one student one of those students a B. And I said, Why did you give that one student a B? And he said, he never came to class. Never came to class. That's what goes on in America's colleges of education. There's another story in the book about a I'm a graduate student in education at the University of Massachusetts who couldn't read or write very well and who failed a psychology class that she had to take from a responsible professor.


[00:07:02] And so this professor naturally assumed that this young lady would eventually be flunked out because there was no way she could compensate for that if in a graduate program, if he didn't follow up on that. And to his horror, he discovered a year later that somebody in the College of Education office had simply dropped, had removed, that if it never was, it never appeared on a transcript. And this lady proceeded to get straight A's and all of her other education courses when she couldn't read or write. Today, who knows where that lady she may be teaching your children. She may be a principal of your school, but she has. She's the proud holder of a bachelor's degree and a masters degree in education, even though she can't read or write. She she passed with flying colors, all of the education classes that she was asked to take. Functional illiteracy. The second kind of illiteracy is cultural illiteracy. Now, somebody is culturally illiterate. If he's ignorant of the basic information that he needs to get along, to get along in society, listen to these statistics. And they may not be exactly right, because I'm doing this from memory right now, but almost 33% of American 17 year olds can't place Columbus's discovery of America within the right 250 year period. The question was, did Columbus discover America a bit before 1750 and one out of three American 17 year olds got that wrong. 40% of all American 17 year olds do not know what event started World War Two. They never heard of Pearl Harbor. Now, these are American kids who've taken history classes in high school and college, and they don't know anything. 70%. I think the statistic is can't place the presidency of Lincoln or the Civil War within the proper 20 year period.


[00:09:07] Now, we're not talking here about playing Trivial Pursuit. We're talking about American youngsters who will soon be voters, who will soon be voting for our future political leaders who are fundamentally ignorant about the history of this country. When they become voters, they are voting in an intellectual vacuum. People like this are ready prey for tyrants and dictators who will simply give them some lie and lead them down some primrose path to some promised utopia. And they're too dumb to know otherwise. Cultural Illiteracy. The third kind of illiteracy is moral and spiritual illiteracy. I listen the public schools of America deny that they're culpable in the matters of functional illiteracy and cultural illiteracy, not all of which we turn out well. Educated youngsters that they can't read or can't write. They're ignorant of all. Basic stuff. But the Public schools of America are proud to announce their role in continuing moral and spiritual illiteracy in America. Your children will never hear about God in our public school. They'll never hear the Bible read in our public school, we're told. But of course, six year old girls will learn the proper use of a condom. Sixth graders will be taught the techniques of sodomy and other features of the homosexual lifestyle. You and I need to realize the extent to which America's public schools and our university have changed in the last ten years. The things they should be teaching are not taught, and the things they shouldn't be teaching are the only things they do teach. These youngsters come out as experts on various techniques of homosexual or lesbian practices, but they have no understanding at all about where they are in this universe with respect to God. Just a couple of weeks before I taped this particular message, some great judge in the state of Louisiana decreed that a sex education curriculum that stressed abstinence was to be prohibited in the state of Louisiana.


[00:11:58] The reason behind his prohibition was his claim that if a sex education teacher taught abstinence, which, as you know, is the only sure way of avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, the only sure way of avoiding AIDS, the HIV virus. This judge argued that to teach abstinence is tantamount to furthering the cause of religion, that there's an intrinsic connection between abstinence and the teaching of religion. Now, the logic behind that court decision boggles the mind because one could take the logic of that benighted judge and just as easily argue that you can't you can't teach against murder or stealing or lying, because those acts, those prohibitions also further the cause of religion, prohibitions against murder and killing and still link back eventually to the Ten Commandments, and that's religion again. And we mustn't put that in the public schools. Oh, my God. What is this country coming to now? You must realize that while all of this is going on in America, something quite different is happening in the schools of Russia and Ukraine and other states, former states of the former republics of the Soviet Union. I now have made several trips over to the former Soviet Union, where at the request of the Russian Ministry of Education, at the request of the Ukrainian Ministry of Education, I have served as part of large teams in which we have been training Russian and Ukrainian schoolteachers so that they can share the ethics of the Bible and the content of the Bible with their pupils in the public schools of Russia. There is more religious freedom in the schools of Russia today than you have in the schools of the United States. Why would we should do this? Some people ask why. The answer is simple. They have seen what kind of society results when the schools of a country become a training ground in the ideology of secular humanism.


[00:14:27] I heard a man, a member of Boris Yeltsin's government, say once that 70 years ago he said this country kicked God out. And ever since there has been a moral and spiritual vacuum in the center of this country. Many of the new leaders of the new Russia recognize that the problems of their country are a direct consequence of the very educational ideology that is now being foisted upon the families of America. And the Russians are taking steps to counteract that. But we continue to go ever more deeply in the direction of secular humanism, which incidentally, is really the bootleg religion of the American schools. Never. For a moment, think that neutrality with respect to either morals or religion is possible in American education. There is no such thing as neutrality when it comes to something that basic to human nature and human well-being. When the secular humanists kick the Bible, when they kick God, when they kick Judeo-Christian morality out of the public schools, they are not moving in the direction of neutrality. What they are doing instead is simply installing a new set of moral and religious beliefs in the place of those Christian beliefs. And so what we have in its place is relativism. What we have is rampant encouragement of the illicit lifestyles, of fornication, of homosexual activity, of New Age thought religion is being taught in the public schools of America. But it is every religion except Judaism and Christianity. I now want to turn to the subject of relativism in American education and what you find on page 54, and I'm going to skip over this very quickly is a quick introduction to what is called the Values Clarification movement, which is one of the major ways in which ethical relativism has found a home in American education.


[00:16:46] You see, in American schools it's now deemed inappropriate, illegal to talk about the Bible, to talk about right and wrong, to give kids a list of virtues and vices. So what what what people have substituted for and if you want to know what American education was like in the 19th century, get those readers. What do we call those readers? The McGuffey readers. Like Third Man, Those things. Remember, kids would have to write sentences or they'd have to memorize poems, and those poems would always have a moral message to them, a message about truth, a message about keeping your promises. A message about honor. A message about friendship and love and self-sacrifice as well. Talking about those values in the public school system would be all that bad today. So different world 100 years ago. But what we've done is replace that concern with traditional values with a value clarification movement which says this. In effect, there is really no right or wrong. We cannot tell children. We cannot ever tell children that doing this is right or doing that is wrong. All we must be satisfied with is getting them to think up their own reasons for whatever they do and then bless them for whatever they end up doing. So the whole emphasis and the values clarification movement is training kids how to think, but not what to think. And how to think means simply coming up with some reasons for what your basic desires want to do anyway. All right. One guy suggests that this is a little bit like giving a 12 year old kid the keys to the family car without any instruction about the rules of the road or anything else. You just say whatever you do, make sure you have a reason for doing it.


[00:18:59] All right. Oh, make sure your your car's well insured when that happens. Also, part of the values clarification movement is the conviction. And this is really the basic presupposition of it is the conviction that nobody ever has the right to tell another human being how to act. Isn't that great that even parents have the right to tell their children what's right or wrong? All we do is say, think about what you're about to do and come up with a fairly good reason for doing it. You know, and here's a hot blooded teenage male sitting in the back seat of a car with a hot blooded female teenage teenager. And they look at each other and they say, well, we both know what we want to do now we've got to do is think of a reasonable reason. Good grief. That's why we have police in all the public schools. Yeah, those police act is a really unfair restraint upon the passions and desires of these kids. You know, this kid's got a gun in his back pocket and he hates this other kids guts. And he says, What I really like to do is put a bullet between his eyes. And so. According to my values Clarification teacher. All I have to do is think up a reason to do that. I think I did. I don't know what we're coming to. This is this is ethical relativism come home to roost. Now we come to page 65, which is chapter four. I want to start talking about ethical relativism. And this is not just education. This is this course's response to ethical relativism. There's no question but that we live in a society and we are surrounded by institutions who believe that there is no such thing as transcendent right now, no such thing as a transcendent, objective, moral law.


[00:21:12] Whether ethics is relative to individuals or whether ethics is relative to cultures or whether ethics is relative to historical epics or historical periods of time. We live in a society that denies the existence of a transcendent, objective moral order. Now, it is my contention in cooperation with the Jewish scholar, whom I quote in chapter four that ethical relativism is a position that still awaits a demonstration. It is a position for which an argument has yet to be produced. Will Herberg, the Jewish scholar that I quoted frequently in chapter four, let's put his name on the board. And incidentally, this was one superb individual. I was privileged to spend a week listening to Herberg lecture once. Let me just tell you about his background. You heard me mentioned earlier in this course Frank Meier, the Jewish atheist who was a recruiter for the Communist Party in the 1930s. In the 1930s, Will Herberg was also a Jewish nonbeliever, non-practicing Jew who was a member of the Communist Party, and Herbert broke with communism the same way Frank Meyer did over the appalling news of what communism was doing to the poor people who had to live under it in the country. Now, it turned out later on that I discovered that Herberg had developed an understanding of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity, which might have led me to misunderstand his position. Herbert believed in get this Herbert believed that a conservative Judaism was a proper response for anyone who was of Jewish extraction and for Gentiles. What was needed for Gentiles was not that they become Jews, but that they approach your way through Christ. All right. Now, I would not for one moment suggest that this is an adequate response to the Jewish Christian problem of how we get along and how we understand the truth of revealed religion.


[00:23:49] But that would explain at least how a committed conservative Jew like Will Herberg could have as much tolerance and as much appreciation as he did for Christianity. He thought there were two doors to Gateway. Judaism was the proper door for anyone who was a child of Abraham, and Jesus Christ was the only way to Jehovah for anyone who was not of Jewish extraction. Well, anyway, interesting guy. His writings are well worth consulting. In particular, the article that I cite in the footnotes to Chapter four, where Herberg says that relativism is a creeping conviction. That's a nice phrase, a creeping conviction. That is, it enters the culture not as a conscious, formally proven or argued for position. It sort of slips into the culture through the back door and without really being conscious of it and without really thinking about it. Lots of people fall prey to this creeping conviction, which never does really get any kind of argument or formal support. I think Herbert is right. Relativism is is entered our culture as a creeping conviction. Therefore, I argue in chapter four, the first step one must take in dealing with people who are under the influence of this creeping conviction is to try and sharpen their focus, try and help them clarify their own thinking about their relativism. In other words, when you run into somebody who you think is a relativist, the first thing you've really got to do, as with any new age person, I think, is help them become clearer about their own thinking, because chances are they have never really thought about their relativism. Now, here's the way to do that. Ask them to define in one sentence. Ask them to define in one sentence what ethical relativism is. Now, here's what many of them will give as their.


[00:26:11] Definition and it's wrong. But here's what many people will give. Many people will say ethical relativism is a situation in which different people hold different beliefs about what is right and wrong. Now, that won't work because, you see, it is possible for two people to hold conflicting beliefs about what is right and wrong, but without anything of significance following. In order for ethical relativism to follow. We must believe that both of those people or all of those people and all of their conflicting beliefs are right at the same time. Here is Mr. Ay who says, Well, let's call him Mr. Jones. Here's Mr. Jones who says, Hey, is the right thing in this case. And here's Mr. Smith who says B is the right thing to do in this case. And here's Mr. Brown, who says C, in other words, we have an ethical disagreement. Now, you don't really get ethical relativism until you believe that all of these beliefs, or at least a smaller collection of logically and inconsistent beliefs are true at the same time and in the same sense. In other words, ethical relativism can't obtain. Until people become. Until people insist that logically incompatible positions can be true. Are true at the same time and in the same sense. The law of non contradiction must go out the window in order for ethical relativism to be a a consciously held position. Here's why. Look, there are all kinds of areas in life where people disagree. Let's consider a related disagreement. Let's consider a case where Jones says the world is round. Smith says the world is flat. Now, someone who's especially tolerant, someone who is a relative and an epistemological relativist would say both Jones and Smith are right. Both propositions are true.


[00:28:59] But of course, when it comes to an empirical and empirical claim like this, none of us know anybody who believes that both Smith and Jones are right. The position that we all take with respect to Jones and Smith is this one of them is right. And one of them is wrong. Now, there may be times when we're not sure which of them is right and which of them is wrong. But there is one thing we do know for sure. They both can't be right at the same time and in the same sense. That's when it comes to matters of fact. See? But now, all of a sudden, when we come to matters of value ethics, here is Jones who says abortion and let's say on demand is right. And Smith says abortion on demand is wrong. Now, here we have a classic disagreement. And this would be a case where an ethical relativist would say both Jones and Smith are right at the same time. This is really what you must believe if you're an ethical relativist. The disagreements over values are not genuine disagreements. Both people are right. I don't know why I'm laughing here and giggling, I guess. But of course, this is not a particularly good example because, as you know, this would be one instance where even the worst relativist in the country would say that Smith is wrong. What we find in in principle, in practice is that these so-called ethical relativists really do have an an absolutist agenda on certain issues. Now, what I think is the consistent position to take with regard to this disagreement is is the same position that we took with regard to the flatness or spirit, the spirit city of the earth. And the earlier case is the world flat around.


[00:31:11] One of them is right and one of them is wrong. In the case of an ethical disagreement, I think the wise position to take is that one of them is right and one of them is wrong. There may be times when we can't tell who's right and who's wrong, but at least we can be sure that they're both not right. So here's what you find. If you look at any argument for ethical relativism, you find case studies, you find examples. The Polynesians think this way about sex, North Americans this other way about sex. Okay, So so the Polynesian, the Eskimos think this way about sex. And the idea is that because you have a disagreement, it would be intolerant to suspect that anybody might be incorrect in this. And so we say, well, that's all right for the Eskimos and that's all right for the Polynesians, and that's all right for Southern Baptists. And so ethics is relative when in fact, we should approach that in the same way that we approach any disagreement over any factual matter. Somebody is right and somebody is wrong. All right. Now, we may have to work this out to figure out who's right and who's wrong in this, but nothing less than nothing follows with respect to the relativity of morals, from the simple fact that people disagree. And that's the basic mistake that relativists make. Whenever they find people disagreeing, they simply jump to the conclusion that everybody is right and there's no argument there at all. The more general premise is that whenever you find two people disagreeing over any matter of. What any matter of fact or any matter of value that the whole matter is relative and that argument just doesn't follow. So I want to suggest here that there's a tremendous amount of confusion with respect to the matter of ethical relativism, and we should do what we can to get think people to think more clearly about it.


[00:33:26] Now, I want you to turn I want you to turn here to a particular page in chapter four, page 65. There is a quotation here from a British philosopher named W.T. Stace, and you can check the footnote to see where this quote, the source for this quotation. It's actually a very good article. Now, Stace is no friend of Christianity. He was not a Christian. He's no friend of theism. But at least as a British philosopher, he recognized the in infinite, the the absurdity of ethical relativism. Now, here's the line of argument that states presents, and I want to acquaint you with it. There is a line of argument that we call the mixed hypothetical syllogism. It goes like this. If A, then B not B, therefore not A. If any of you have ever taken logic, this is called this form of argument is called modus tolling. Now, here's the point. If a certain belief implies or entails a false proposition or an absurd proposition, that is, if A implies B and B is false or absurd, then A must be false or absurd. Where A implies B, the falsity of B or the absurdity of B entails the falsity or the absurdity of A. Now, this is the line of argument. This is also called a reductio ad absurdum. You can reject or refute a particular position if it implies consequences that are absurd or false. So here's what it says. If you take ethical relativism seriously, these are the logical consequences of ethical relativism, and they are absurd ethical relativity. And I'm quoting here from the quotation at the top of page 65. Ethical relativity can only end in destroying the conception of morality altogether and undermining its practical efficacy and rendering meaningless many almost universally accepted truths about human affairs in robbing human beings of any incentive to strive for a better world.


[00:36:02] How can you believe it's possible to strive for a better world if there are no objective standards of right or wrong? It takes the lifeblood out of every ideal and every aspiration which has ever ennobled the life of man. Now, that's the end of the quote. Now, let me let me give you my summary of it. If there are no objective standards of morality, we can never be justified when judging the ethics of one culture to be better than another. Think about that. If there are no objective standards of right and wrong, then no one could ever be justified in pointing a finger at Nazi Germany and saying anything they did was wrong. But clearly we we're justified in pointing fingers at Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia and saying all kinds of things that they did or wrong, or pointing at Iraq or Iran. But if ethics is relative, then then we are left without any ground for criticizing anybody else. Moreover, we have no grounds on which we may compare the standards of one age to another. We can't look at the Industrial Revolution or we can't look at any other culture. We can't look at any other period of time and say what they did was unethical, what they did was wrong. Slavery, for example. All right. You can't condemn slavery in America if ethical relativism is true. And the very notion of moral progress is an illusion. How can you talk about societies getting better when there is no fixed goal towards which they are striving? So relativism then, is a position for which the world still awaits an argument. It is self-defeating in the sense that every self-styled relativist is forced sooner or later to appeal to absolutes of his own making.


[00:37:58] And it is a theory that robs life of elements needed for life to have any meaning. It's a position that it's advocates have yet to think clearly about. All right. Now, in the same vein, I want you now to turn to page 90. Now, here's the here's the transition. Here's the connection. John Dewey, the American philosopher who died in the 1950s, developed a philosophical system that was that actually incorporated these elements. John Dewey's philosophy was naturalistic. He denied the supernatural. It was secular mystic. He denied the holy. It was relativistic. He denied any transcendent standards of right or wrong. Take the enemies of the permanent thing. Naturalism, secularism, relativism, positivism, and all the rest. And Dewey System was the incarnation of those ideas. Now, also combine that with the fact that Dewey was really the patron saint of the philosophy of education that grabbed hold of this country during the 1940 and 1950s and 1960s. Please realize I'm not blaming Dewey for what presently exists in the educational mess. I would say present educators have gone far beyond Dewey. But the roots of what is wrong with American education, the moral and spiritual illiteracy that connects that, that that afflicts American education certainly has its roots in Dewey's philosophy. Now, let's put that philosophy out on the table. First of all, Dewey was an epistemological relativist. He ridiculed any belief in transcendent and permanent laws of logical inference. Dewey was an evolutionist, you see. And so do we believe that the laws by which human beings reason have simply evolved over time. And these happened to be the principles that we reasoned by today. But maybe in the future, future men and women will will reason according to different principles. Logic is relative. Logic is a product of evolutionary forces.


[00:40:49] That's what do we set out of one side of his mouth. Now, what did he say out of the other side of his mouth? I know. I'm implying that he was two faced. All right. Maybe he was out of the other side of his mouth. Do we use the laws of logic to argue for his own position? You can't do that. You can't say that logic is relative, but logical inferences are time bound, cultural bound, and then use the laws of logic as a way to defend the absolute truth of your own position. That just isn't fair. All right. So let's let's let's make sure that's clear now. What do we believe about truth? Well, in simple fact, you didn't believe the truth existed. Do we believed that the purpose of education we believe the truth is simply a kind of function of language. Something is true. If it works, something is true. If it functions effectively as an instrument, if it helps us get somewhere. Okay, There is, in other words, no objective standards or canons of truth. Hence, whatever we teach people is not is not a question of truth. Whatever we teach people is a function of whether it helps them adapt to their environment better. Now, this raised an interesting dilemma for Dewey, and here it was. If logic is relative, if ethics is relative, if truth is purely instrumental or pragmatic, what is the whole purpose of education or what do we send kids to school for if there's no truth to give them, if there's no right or wrong to share with them, if there are no canons of proper, would what wouldn't? Wouldn't they be better off studying from a witchdoctor or just as good off? Now, here was Dewey's answer.


[00:43:11] What is the purpose of education? What is the criterion of good education? And here's Dewey's answer. Education is good if it assists students to grow. Let's repeat that. Education is good if it helps students to grow. Doesn't that sound nice when they sound American? Doesn't that sound sort of democratic? All right. You help people to grow. But here's the issue. Can a naturalistic secularist stick, relativistic evolutionist, stick, whatever pragmatist like Dewey produce any criterion of growth? You see, I would maintain that little Bobby Little Bobby's growth. And let's put that in quotation marks. Little Bobby's growth requires some criterion of growth. Now, when Bobby grows physically, we can measure it. See, this year little Bobby's that tall, and the next year little Bobby's that tall in the next year. So we have an idea, an objective way of measuring whether Bobby is growing or not. We can point to something outside of Bobby, something outside of ourselves. But if we're talking about Bobby's mental and moral and emotional growth, what's the standard by which there is no standard other than, I suppose, getting along in in, in with his group of peers? But if Bobby's group, peer group happens to be all members of the Mafia. Bobby wouldn't have to grow very much to be better than those clowns. All right, so here's the problem. Do we really you know, if any of you are taking the apologetics course where I talk about worldviews and the need for tests doing cheats from start to finish, he brags about there being no objective standards. And then when push comes to shove and somebody challenges him to come up with a difference between good education and bad education, he ends up appealing to something that really does require an objective fixed standard.


[00:45:41] And do we know where admits that growth? Any objective test of growth requires some appeal, some appeal to an objective standard. Now, what I'm hampered when I'm trying to help everybody see is that the last thing you can expect from any relativist is coherence and consistency. These people, consciously or unconsciously, will try to get away with murder if you're inattentive. Sooner or later they are going to slip into the discussion, a word that requires an objective test if that word is to have any meaning, and that the introduction of that word turns out to be a flat contradiction with this open minded, empty minded relativism to which they appeal to which they appeal throughout their whole system. Well, here's what the world is awaiting a competent, respectable definition of relativism that can be and that can be defended for which there is a competent argument. Until then, all we get is an appeal to a creeping conviction without any argumentation. Chapter four goes on to talk about two other enemies of the permanent thing. Enemy number one is relativism. Enemy number two of a permanent things is positivism. Let's just dismiss this very quickly. Let's write the word positivism on the board. This is another part of the educational estab. Schmidt Another creeping conviction that is used to undermine confidence in the existence of a world of permanent things. Positivism is the belief that this one sentence definition positivism is the belief that a belief is trustworthy and dependable, if and only if it is supported by the scientific method. The empirical method. Positive positivism is the belief that only science. Can support rationally credible beliefs. And if this particular belief that you're holding right now is not somehow supportable by the scientific method, it is unworthy of belief.


[00:48:18] It is irrational. Now, there's a very simple answer to positivism, and I'm sure it has occurred to some of you. All you have to do to unmask positivism is to ask the positive test for the scientific experiment that proves his positivism. Can you repeat that? Positivism is the claim that unless a belief is supportable by the scientific method, it is unworthy of belief. That's the claim. Okay. Now, what is the scientific evidence that supports that claim? Answer There isn't any. Therefore, you have one of two directions to go. Either you abandon positivism because it is self refuting or you admit that because the positive as himself admits some beliefs that are not supportable by the scientific method. There must be other beliefs that are not supportable by the scientific method that are worthy of belief. So, oh my goodness, how can convictions like that possess rational people? And then we come finally to the third enemy of the permanent things, which I summarize in three words secularism, naturalism and humanism. This is a conglomeration of ideas that says man is the measure of all things. There is nothing that exists outside the natural order. Again, if you've taken the apologetics course, we're taking a look at my book called Faith and Reason, You know the Importance of Developing an Argument against Naturalism. Naturalism begins with the premise that the natural order is a closed box and only things that exist within the natural order exist. There is nothing that exists outside the box. There is no God. There is no holy order. There is no moral order, and it is humanism. Man then becomes the ultimate judge of what is true and false and what is right and wrong. If anything is wrong and if anything is false, man is the measure of all things.


[00:50:38] Now, these are the creeping convictions that produce moral and religious nihilism in the world, and they are convictions for which there are no arguments. They are religious presuppositions. They result from a quasar, a set of quasi religious commitments. And yet, you know, the world is full of people who reject theism on these grounds, thinking that these grounds are sufficient to to undermine that which we believe.