| THE DEVOLUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION
By: Jerry S. Maneker
“…Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside
me. Therefore shall evil come upon thee: thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee;
thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.” (Isaiah 47:
10-11) “…Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” (1Corinthians 8:1)
The above verses of Scripture attest to the consequences of vaunting our supposed intellect apart from the wisdom that
is only to be had in God. We have paid a very dear price for removing the reverence for God in our studies; part of this
price entails a dumbing down of higher education to the point where many students and faculty could not care less
about ideas, the life of the mind, and exploration of their intellectual, emotional, and spiritual lives. These consequences
yield desolation of one’s very life and spirit!
In a book that I wrote entitled, Applied Sociology, I have a chapter entitled, “Some Consequences of Educational
Socialization.” This chapter seeks to show some of what has gone terribly wrong with higher education, attributing much
of the intellectual malaise within the universities of our country to the kind of people who are recruited and rewarded in
graduate schools throughout the country.
I would like to quote some parts of this chapter that seek to account for much of the barrenness of the intellectual life.
“Just as the reality shock many people experience upon entering academic life is profound, so is the impact of ‘anti-
intellectualism’ within the academy. There has always been a history of such anti-intellectualism in our country, but only
within the past two decades does it seem to have taken root within the ivory tower stronghold that had hitherto acted as
a buffer and protection for the academic against this onslaught.”
“One of the most salient features of the graduate school experience seems to be its ‘irrationality.’ …The fostered
dependence upon ‘advisors’ who carefully examine every word, whose likes and dislikes, biases and preferences must
be known and adhered to by the student is the reality of the trauma of the dissertation. Ideas do not seem to be as
important as the judicious interpretation of data; the long view and the perspective on the subject do not seem to be as
important as the survey of the literature; …the love of learning is not at all relevant—or certainly not as relevant as the
laborious process of revising one’s way into the academic fraternity.”
“Creativity is risky in these leagues; docility and conventionality are more frequently and regularly rewarded.” “In the
dissertation, the hypotheses are narrow, frequently divorced…from the real world, and also frequently divorced from
substantive theory. Thus, the relationship of data to theory, analysis to interpretation, and the intellectual life to life
itself, appears strongly and awesomely remote.”
People can have much knowledge, yet not be wise! In our desire to feel good, wisdom is certainly not at a premium.
“For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” (Ecclesiastes 1:18) Moreover,
we are enjoined to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ….” (2Corinthians 10:5) This admonition
is no mean achievement, and entails struggle until our corpse is put in the ground. Yet, in our secular colleges and
universities, if one looks at Jesus as anything more that a good and wise teacher, he is looked upon as a superstitious
fool. The reality is that Jesus never left that interpretive option open to us. As C. S. Lewis said He was either who He
claimed to be, Lord, or a liar, or a lunatic. Many seemingly educated people have a difficult time dealing with this reality!
Many academics are mere bibliophiles, yet view themselves as not only intellectuals, but also view themselves as wise.
They refuse to understand the biblical truth, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He
taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” (1Corinthians 3:19) “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Psalm
It saddens me to say that we have a lot of fools in higher education! They think that they are intellectuals, yet many are
“…clouds… without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the
roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of
darkness for ever.” (Jude 12-13)
Whether acknowledged or not we are all spiritual beings! Students sense the spiritual emptiness of the people they
long to look to as role models and, therefore, turn off of education. Many don’t read books or even read a daily
newspaper or listen to the news on a daily basis. Many don’t seem to even care about what is going on in the world or,
frequently, even in their own lives.
Until we substantively address the spiritual dimension in our intellectual endeavors, we can expect even more devolution
in higher education—a devolution that is unfortunately deserved.