Saturday, 8 March 2008

Rogue's gallery no.6: the universities

Why is it that the universities and the academic establishment are such a notorious bastion of support for the culture of death? So much so that pro - life groups are almost banned from activities in campus. I remember well in my student days how the induction guide openly proclaimed that the university was openly sympathetic to abortion, and students would have no problems in getting referrals from the health centre.

Perhaps it could be said that their support may well be due to the fact that some of them are actively involved themselves in cloning and human - animal hybrids, and that they receive much of their research money from the pharmaceuticals sector. Therefore they should have a natural vested interest in backing all this. That is one factor, yet I do not believe it is the main one. It would not explain why 'pro - choice' sentiment is particularly virulent not so much in the sciences but in the humanities, who have nothing to gain from it.

In order to explain the attitude of the academic to the doctrine of human dignity, I think we need to look at the culture of modern academic life that has been inherited from the enlightenment and the nineteenth century eras. To hold the position of a scholar has always been one of great respect, but before the modern era learnedness by itself did not automatically confer an unquestionable authority. The universities were not considered a institution that could claim to be above political or religious censure. At that time objective truth was believed in by most people, and the authority the academic held was largely determined by his conformity to that truth, just like everyone else.

The concept of objective truth was seriously weakened however by the scepticism of the enlightenment. This led the way to the development in Russia of an idea which has had tremendous influence on academic life today. This is the notion of the intelligentsia, a class of people who by their way of life and intellectual powers have a right of moral influence and say in society. It is not objective truth that gives them authority, position and status, but rather their powers and abilities of reflection and thinking.

In other words, the academic and intellectual achieves a priestly status, and the university becomes a church: the established church of secularism. The academic establishment now is a new priestly intelligentsia that is very jealous of its position and status, and greatly resents the authority of that other rival priesthood, the Catholic church. And in some places it is an exclusively scientific priesthood that wears white coats instead of black cassocks.

The hostility of the academic establishment to the doctrine of the dignity of the human person is because it implies the existence of an objective natural law and revealed truth: a standard by which they are not exempt from and are made accountable to. They see it also as an emphatically christian teaching, a teaching of a rival priesthood that restricts their power and position. To them, the pro-life movement is a threat to their academic, priestly and moral authority.

It should therefore come as no surprise why the universities have been in the vanguard of secularism and unbelief. Yet in repudiating the notion of objective truth, they have opened the door to pseudo scholarship and quack science, and academic tenure to being a completely self - appointed position without any real standards. In embracing the culture of death, the universities are sowing the seeds of their undoing.

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