Snyderian Truism #11

Another semester comes to a close tonight with the fall commencement at Southeastern University. I’m in my twenty-fifth year of teaching at the college level and have now witnessed a multitude of these. As I watch the graduates cross the stage and receive their diplomas, I hope that the four years they have invested were worth all the effort and the money that was spent. At least I have a higher comfort level at a university like SEU, knowing that a significant portion of what they received came from professors, for the most part, who are dedicated to providing a Biblical grounding for their subject matter. But that’s not the norm nationwide, which is what leads me to share another Snyderian truism. This one’s quite short and to the point:

Higher education sometimes isn’t.

Harvard CollegeA new report has just been made public. At Harvard College, the undergraduate school for its Arts and Sciences program, the most common grade is an A and the average grade is A-. Back in 2001, 91% of its students graduated with honors; the grading system has become even more lenient since then. Even in 2001, the Boston Globe called Harvard’s grading system “the laughingstock of the Ivy League.” And this is supposed to be the “gold standard” for university education in America?

I’m sure this story could be repeated at a great many of our institutions of higher education. Personally, I believe that university education as a whole has been dumbed down over the last few decades. The basic American history courses I teach are what students should have learned in high school, yet most of my students are fairly ignorant of even the most noteworthy people and events in our history. A college education now can be equated with a high school education of yesteryear. Now you need a master’s degree to obtain the type of education you would have received at the undergraduate level decades ago.

We’re also on a “critical thinking” bandwagon. We say students need to be critical thinkers, but we don’t offer them any solid worldview from which to do their thinking; most wander in the realm of moral relativism and nihilism, without any grounding at all. Critical thinking degenerates into uninformed, but firmly held, opinions.

Another hobby horse is “diversity.” We apply it externally to admissions policies, focusing on percentages of minorities entering the institution; internally, we say we value diversity of views in teaching. Right. Do you really think most public universities would welcome my views on American history and government, complete with Biblical principles for arriving at those views? Diversity is a sham, but it’s trendy.

Thought Diversity

Of course, as the above comic reveals, real diversity must operate within a certain framework of general agreement. That’s why a Christian university comes closer to the real definition of the term—we have a Biblical framework within which we can hash out different views in our subject areas. The secular university is a no-holds-barred free-for-all with no unity at all, except for a general disdain for the Biblical worldview.

So, anyway, those are some of my thoughts today as another commencement looms. I want to do all I can to ensure the students who pass through my courses are challenged to do their best, are grounded in a Biblical worldview to enable them to do critical thinking, and when they graduate, are closer to the ideal of what a higher education should provide for them.

The Depopulation Bomb

Regular readers of this blog know that I consider Mark Steyn’s book America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It to be a serious warning about our future as a society. I’ve offered two glimpses into the book already. It’s time for a third.

The first full chapter is called “The Coming of Age,” and it portrays a demographic challenge that the Western world is now facing. In short, Steyn tells us that we are aging rapidly in the West while the influx of Muslim immigrants is filling in the population gap.

Steyn says a nation, in order to maintain its current population, needs a fertility rate of at least 2.1 live births per woman. That’s where the U.S. is now, but old Europe, Canada, and Japan [which is connected with the West culturally and economically now] are well below that mark. Canada is the best at 1.48, Europe as a whole is at 1.38, with Japan coming in at 1.32, and Russia at 1.14. “These countries—or, more precisely, these people—are going out of business,” Steyn warns.

As usual, he has a fascinating way with words; in this case, he couches his warning in phrases that stick with the reader:

Unless it corrects course within the next five to ten years, Europe by the end of this century will be a continent after the neutron bomb: the grand buildings will still be standing but the people who built them will be gone. By the next century, German will be spoken only at Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels and Goering’s Monday night poker game in Hell. And long before the Maldive Islands are submerged by “rising sea levels” every Spaniard and Italian will be six feet under. But sure, go ahead and worry about “climate change.”

Meanwhile, Muslims—many of whom are radicalized—pour into Europe. At the time of his writing, there were twenty million Muslims in Europe. “That’s the equivalent of the Danes plus the Irish plus the Belgians plus the Estonians. You do the math.”

There are some statistics that may startle: “What’s the Muslim population of Rotterdam? Forty percent. What the most popular boy’s name in Belgium? Mohammed. In Amsterdam? Mohammed. In Malmö, Sweden? Mohammed. By 2005, it was the fifth most popular baby boy’s name in the United Kingdom.”

Steyn reviews all the foolish talk that came out of the 1960s and 1970s about a population bomb that was going to overwhelm us. That never materialized in the way the doom-and-gloom crowd wanted us to believe. In fact, their over-concern probably helped create the modern view that family is rather passé. The problem is, no one told the Muslims they were supposed to stop having children. And as they crowd into Europe and Canada, in particular, a reverse assimilation is taking place:

Instead of a melting pot, there’s conversion: a Scot can marry a Greek or Botswanan, but when a Scot marries a Yemeni it’s because the former has become a Muslim. In defiance of normal immigration patterns, the host country winds up assimilating with Islam: French municipal swimming baths introduce gender-segregated bathing sessions; Australian hospitals remove pork from the cafeteria menu.

Steyn also points out, “You don’t have to subscribe to the view that every Muslim is a jihadist nutcake eager to hijack a 747 and head for the nearest tall building to acknowledge that at the very minimum these population trends put a large question mark over the future.”

In the summer of 2006, a poll of British Muslims showed that only 17% believed any Arabs were involved in 9/11. What does that say about Westernized Muslims?

You can be perfectly assimilated when it comes to clothes, sports, pop music, the state of the economy, the need for transport infrastructure spending, and a million other issues, but on one of the central questions facing the world today 83 percent of the fastest-growing demographic in the United Kingdom does not accept the same reality as their fellow British subjects. And competing versions of reality is never a good recipe for social stability.

Steyn has a knack for the profound understatement.

Are we to fear for our future? To some extent, yes. But the warning is there for a purpose. It’s to alert us to change course and not accept a divided society. Our experiment in celebrating diversity must recognize when that diversity is a danger to us all. As Hobbes noted in one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, “I’m not sure if I can tolerate that much tolerance.”

Islam and Political Correctness

Is rational discussion at an all-time low? Has political correctness gotten so out of control that no one is allowed to criticize Islam? One might be excused for thinking so after the temper tantrum on The View Thursday. Why anyone would watch The View is beyond me, but sometimes it does have a guest who challenges the liberal worldview.

It was Bill O’Reilly’s turn Thursday to cause the ladies to nearly faint from shock. In a discussion that led to O’Reilly saying that most people don’t want that Ground Zero mosque to be built, he reminded his hosts that it was Muslims who killed nearly 3000 Americans on 9/11.

You would have thought he had uttered something akin to “Adolf Hitler was a nice guy.” The response was immediate and frantic. How dare he say Muslims were responsible for 9/11? He should have added the word “extremists” to be clear. Now, if they had said that in a normal tone, perhaps he would have clarified. Instead, they huffed and they puffed and two of the hosts, Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar (both known for antagonistic comments about Christians), walked off the set.

As O’Reilly later commented on his own show, when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, we didn’t refer to the attackers as extremist Japanese. We merely identified the group responsible. The same is true when we say that Muslims attacked the United States in 2001. Obviously, not all Muslims did so, but the statement is accurate. A group fueled by Islamic beliefs committed those acts. That is the truth, and we should be allowed to say so.

I’m continually amazed—almost amused—by some people’s nearly rabid fear that we are offending Muslims. How many American Muslims have been attacked by the general population? How many have died by rampaging mobs enraged by the events of 9/11? Right.

Yet around the world, reactions against any word of criticism toward Islam can yield spontaneous riots. I know there are moderate Muslims, but they seem to be rather silent. Afraid, perhaps, of reprisals from their “brethren”?

I believe Islam is a false religion. Yet I don’t attack Muslims. What I seek is to lead them into the truth of a relationship with God through Christ, the Son of God. I want to see them enter into the only kingdom that will last forever.

There are two types of diversity. The first comes from God, and is represented by the many variations within the human race, whether of skin color or whatever other natural differences one wishes to mention. God is a God of variety.

The other type of diversity wants to celebrate differences that are not natural, but the result of differing beliefs. You have to be more careful with this type of celebration:

Some differences can be lethal.

Graham, Diversity, & Intolerance

Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, has become the center of a controversy this week. For what? For telling the truth.

He was disinvited from a National Prayer Day event at the Pentagon because of complaints that he has made unflattering comments about the religion of Islam. Graham, in fact, has simply stated the basic Christian position that there is only one way to find relationship with God—through His Son Jesus Christ. He also noted that some Islamic beliefs encourage Muslims to carry out violent deeds. Can anyone seriously debate that? Seriously? For these views he was blacklisted.

According to Army spokesman Col. Tom Collins,

We’re an all-inclusive military. … We honor all faiths. … Our message to our service and civilian work force is about the need for diversity and appreciation of all faiths.

Those words have a familiar ring. It was Gen. Casey who said much the same thing after the Ft. Hood killings, revealing that he was far more upset over how the killings might affect “diversity” than he was about the killings themselves.

Franklin Graham does not spread hatred. His overseas ministry, Samaritan’s Purse, has aided untold thousands. Its website describes the ministry in this way:

For over 35 years, Samaritan’s Purse has done our utmost to follow Christ’s command by going to the aid of the world’s poor, sick, and suffering. We are an effective means of reaching hurting people in countries around the world with food, medicine, and other assistance in the Name of Jesus Christ. This, in turn, earns us a hearing for the Gospel, the Good News of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Our emergency relief programs provide desperately needed assistance to victims of natural disaster, war, disease, and famine. As we offer food, water, and temporary shelter, we meet critical needs and give people a chance to rebuild their lives.

Our community development and vocational programs in impoverished villages and neighborhoods help people break the cycle of poverty and give them hope for a better tomorrow.

We impact the lives of vulnerable children through educational, feeding, clothing, and shelter programs that let them know they are not forgotten.

If you read all that, you know that’s not the work of someone who hates. Graham’s real goal is to bring individuals to a knowledge of the One who gave Himself for them. That includes Muslims. He seeks to show them the new life offered through Christ.

In the name of tolerance, an ugly intolerance has again reared its head.