PROFESSING SKEPTICISM BEFORE COLLEGE
For the first time in its 382 year history, Harvard University’s next graduating class (2019) has more professed atheists and agnostics than professed Christians. Nearly forty percent (37.9%) of the 2019 class have openly claimed to be atheistic or agnostic.
The Original Rules and Precepts observed at Harvard included “Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ . . . and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning” (Federer, America’s God and Country , pp. 280-81). The original Harvard motto, which will be 375 years old this coming December 27, is Veritas, which is Latin for Truth. In 1650, the motto was changed to “In Christi Gloriam,” meaning “For the Glory of Christ.” In 1692, the Harvard motto became “Veritas pro Christo et Ecclesiae,” which means “Truth for Christ and the Church.” In time, Harvard continued down a path into deep secularization. Veritas exclusively became the one word motto to the exclusion of any of the former references to God or Jesus Christ, who the original rules and precepts of Harvard had described as “the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.”
Why has there become such a disconnect from God and Jesus Christ at Harvard? Why, especially in light of the fact that Harvard’s administration once affirmed that students at this prestigious academic institution should be instructed and pressed to consider the main end of their life and studies as knowing God and Jesus Christ? Long before the incoming 2019 graduating class at Harvard began its studies, this university, and numerous others like it across the land, were sowing the seeds of religious skepticism in the departments of philosophy, sociology, psychology, theology, science, et al. The late William F. Buckley, Jr. exposed this in his 1951 classic book, God and Man at Yale: The Superstition of “Academic Freedom.” In his book, published immediately following his undergraduate years (1946-50) at Yale, Buckley affirmed and demonstrated his premise that the presence of a number of atheistic and agnostic professors in classes at Yale every year caused a large number of students to be weaned away from religion “by relentless disparagement of the whole fabric of Christianity.” As an example, he referenced the Yale Department of Sociology, concerning which he wrote, “It is safe to say that a large majority of its personnel regard religion as nothing more than a cultural ‘phenomenon’ caused by human ingenuity to serve as an opiate to make life seem more meaningful, and to promise—falsely, of course [according to the religious skeptics]—an after-life.” Buckley identified the names of numerous Yale professors, like Professor Raymond Kennedy who “never left room for doubt as to the contempt in which he held religion, Christianity in particular. His class was consistently one of the largest (I believe the largest) at Yale, and his influence far-reaching.”
Twenty-five years following the release of Buckley’s book, Dr. Thomas B. Warren wrote, “The loss of faith in God . . . has led to the abandonment of religion and the rejection of objective standards of morality. . . . How has this situation come about? . . . Without doubt an important factor has been . . . the fact that so many colleges and universities around the world are now veritable ‘hotbeds’ of atheism and agnosticism. . . . [T]hese schools train those who become teachers, writers (of newspapers, books, plays, television programs, movies), political leaders, etc. . . . [I]t is obvious they play a crucial role in advancing skepticism.”
Think deeply about this: Less than 40 years after Warren’s observations, Harvard University’s 2019 class has more professed atheists and agnostics than professed Christians for the first time in the school’s storied 382 year history. Most of these young religious skeptics made this claim as incoming freshmen in 2015, before ever spending even one semester at Harvard! The growing global influence of religious skepticism, especially in America, is being seen earlier than ever before. The trickle down effect is being seen in a more obvious way. Skeptical teachers, preachers, politicians, entertainers, writers, etc., many of whom were influenced by academic environments that are atheistic or agnostic, have now influenced the last couple of generations so much that more kids seem to be claiming skepticism at an earlier age. These individuals are breeding young religious skeptics, and government has often failed to protect religious freedom, declaring God unconstitutional in the public square. Is it any wonder why incivility is sweeping the land?
Charles C. Pugh III