An education which ignores God is worthless. What do I mean by this? Clearly, we can learn certain truths about the world without any reference to God. An unbeliever can rightly learn that two plus two equals four. Not only can he learn this, he must, and it will do him good throughout his life, especially when balancing his checkbook. My objection is not that education cannot teach real things to real people which will have real impact in their lives; rather, my argument is that such a pragmatic view of education is ultimately worthless.
Solomon made a similar observation in Ecclesiastes 1:16-17:
I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.
Solomon, in his quest to break free of the fallen cycles of this world looked to wisdom and knowledge. He sought education as a form of deliverance. He tells us it didn’t work. We think the same way today as we look to education to solve all the problems of our societal ills. The problem is, it isn’t working. It is a striving after the wind. Education cannot save, especially one which does not recognize God.
We live in a purposeless society. We believe there is no God and therefore there is no ultimate purpose. Life is viewed as being relative. Therefore, the only meaning in life is found by satisfying the self. My life is about me, and there is nothing else. If this is true, then life is ultimately meaningless. This is the inescapable truth of the post-modern worldview. This purposelessness is both what we are taught and what we teach in our education. Like Solomon, we are stuck in a repetitive cycle without any hope for it to change.
Without any ultimate meaning, pragmatics take over. Life, including education, becomes about what it can do for me. The problem is, an education which doesn’t recognize God can’t really do much for you because God is the center of all knowledge. This used to be recognized as theology was considered the “queen of the sciences.” The term university comes from, the realization that there is a universal truth to organize all knowledge and education by—the Creator God. To put it plainly, education used to acknowledge that nothing in this universe can be truly known if it is divorced from its Creator.
The truth is, we don’t live in a purposeless and pragmatic world. No, this is God’s world. He made it, and all of it reflects something about God. He is the center of all true knowledge, and therefore, he is the center of true education. The purpose and meaning of education is to know God through his creation. This reality is made clear in Colossians 1:16-17:
For by him [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Everything was made through Jesus and for Jesus and he holds all things together. Jesus Christ is preeminent, that is of utmost importance, in everything (Col. 1:18). Since this is true, Christ is central to everything. Since this is true, education which does not recognize Christ has lost its center, its meaning, and its purpose. Such an education is ultimately worthless. Sure you’ll be able to balance your checkbook which is good, but doing that without reference to God leaves you stuck striving after the wind.
Education has a greater purpose than producing workers for the marketplace. It is ultimately about mankind coming to know its Creator through his revelation. It is only by submitting to Christ that we can escape the pragmatism which distorts our so much of our thinking. There is an ultimate purpose to education and that is knowing God through Christ. Without this center, our education becomes untethered and doesn’t accomplish anything of lasting value. Such an education is nothing more than striving after the wind. If there nothing more to education than pragmatics, then it is ultimately worthless knowledge in a meaningless world.
Levi J. Secord