Secular Education

by Prof. Paul Eidelberg

According to one study, 97 percent of all teachers in Nazi Germany were members of the Nazi party. Many of these teachers taught the humanities, for example philosophy, literature, the fine arts. Many others taught various social sciences, such as sociology, political science, psychology, anthropology, history.

Clearly, the study and teaching of the humanities and the social sciences do not make people virtuous. We should not be surprised. For the prevailing doctrine in the humanities and the social sciences in our time is moral relativism, which holds that there are no objective standards of good and bad, right and wrong.

As for the exact sciences, such as physics and chemistry, they are more obviously “value-free” or ethically neutral. Still, how did German scientists respond to Nazism?

In Walter Moore’s Schrodinger: Life and Thought, we read: “There is no known instance in which a professor of physics or chemistry without any Jewish family ever made any open protest against Nazi activities. Even among the German intellectual elite, the scientists were conspicuously unanimous in this respect, since a few protests can be found among scholars in other fields.”

“It is true that after 1934 open opposition would have been dangerous … In the early years if Nazi power, however, opposition was not yet suicidal, and it was during 1933 and 1934 that the scientific establishment, led by Max Planck and Walter Nernst, washed its hands of the growing terror and concentrated on defending its own special privileges.”

Planck, the father of quantum physics, even sent a telegram to Hitler thanking him for his “benevolent protection of German science.” German science nonetheless suffered greatly from the expulsion of Jewish scientists from German universities and research institutes. This expulsion was welcomed by many German scientists, for it paved the way to their own personal advancement.

Science and technology can serve dictators as well as democrats. (Suffice to mention Iran’s nuclear weapons program.) Clearly, science does not make scientists or their societies decent, no more than teaching the humanities makes people humane.

Because secular education is morally free or ethically neutral, it cannot but corrupt youth. Whatever decency we experience today we owe to the influence of the Torah.

Unfortunately, the influence of the Torah in the non-Torah world is waning. The reversion to paganism is evident on American university campuses, where homosexuals feel quite at home. They and their academic defenders would have us believe that homosexuality is “progressive.” The truth is that tolerance of homosexuality is reactionary, a throwback to the paganism condemned by the Torah.

To sexual perversion add the nudity, pornography, and bloody violence purveyed by the entertainment media, which some semi-educated secular psychologists justify as providing an “escape valve” for repressed instincts.

Has it ever occurred to these educators of our youth that the nudity now commonplace in the cinema or on television is indicative of superficiality? Has it ever occurred to them that pornography, which reduces love to lust, generates vulgarity? Has it ever occurred to them that media violence undermines kindness and compassion?

Thanks very much to secular education and of course to those who profit from the commercial exploitation of sex and violence, people are more concerned about the quality of things that goes into their stomachs than the quality of things that goes into their minds — or into the minds of their children. But this is the inevitable consequence of contemporary democracy, whose supreme principle is unfettered freedom of expression.

Do not expect the high priests of democracy to reverse the logic of democracy, the religion of our times. Yesterday, Weimar Germany, a liberal democracy steeped in moral relativism spawned an unmitigated tyranny. Today, another liberal democracy steeped in moral relativism may make Barack Obama the President of the United States.

Source: Email commentary by Prof. Paul Eidelberg, president of the Foundation for Constituitional Democracy. His other writings are found at the Foundation website.

Prof. Eidelberg became professor of political science at Bar Ilan University in 1976 after writing a trilogy on America’s founding fathers: The Philosophy of the American Constitution, On the Silence of the Declaration of Independence, and a Discourse on Statesmanship. He also designed the electronic equipment for the first brain scanner at the Argonne Cancer Research Hospital.

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