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Education or indoctrination?

When environMENTALism completely takes over your life, perhaps it’s time to take a breath and re-assess. Climate change catastrophism is causing crippling anxiety among young people, particularly in Western nations.

Students worried about climate change are being enrolled in special therapy groups at the University of East Anglia in the UK. According to a BBC report, almost half of all university students were worrying about climate change at least once a week, probably more. They felt 'hopeless, angry, and depressed'. The therapy groups are designed to help students overcome despair about climate change. The curriculum hasn't been made public, but here are 8 helpful tips for those who want to stop fretting over the issue:

1. Breathe. If you can still do that, then the environment is still OK. If not, then you are right to worry.

2. Turn off your electricity and gas, bin your mobile phone, walk everywhere, stop ordering takeaway food and eat only vegan sandwiches. You will soon get over your climate anxiety – I promise!

3. For Australian students - stop watching the ABC, SBS and most other channels. Try to find news sources that give all sides of the story. It's difficult, but not impossible. Have you listened to Peta Credlin and Paul Murray on Sky News?

4. Turn your mind to an actual problem – like World War 3. That blinding flash of light that destroys the world is more likely to come from a Russian missile than from a soccer mum’s taxi.

5. Stop relying on your parents for everything. This will open up a whole new world of worries.

6. Get off social media. Turn off all notifications on your smartphone. (Okay, scrap that one. We all know it will never happen).

7. Go to China (the main emitter of emissions) and glue yourself to a road. Whatever happens after that will probably cure your climate anxiety permanently.

8. Stop complaining about climate change. All of these climate conferences (in far-flung destinations that require emission-spewing jets to get there) are achieving nothing but creating more emissions!

The wording in the title depends on what sort of education we have in mind. Certain subjects are non-controversial, and anyone should be able to access the truth. Regardless of one’s world view most folks know that 2+2=4 and that H2O is the chemical symbol for water. But not all knowledge and learning is so straightforward. Much of what is now taught in schools is taught with various agendas, biases and points of view. History can easily be used in this way, as can economics, politics, metaphysics, ethics and sociology. The Christian takes this even further: real knowledge and understanding is bound up with knowledge of God. It was John Calvin who famously said that: “Our wisdom, insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.”

The two are indeed intimately connected. But as Western education increasingly moves from the dissemination of facts and basic knowledge to the pushing of agendas and ideologies – with propaganda and indoctrination rampant – one has to ask: Whither modern education?

It is easy with hindsight to see just how bad contemporary education has become, but it was far more difficult over a century ago to predict how things would eventuate. However, some could do it. The English writer G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) wrote much about education. Sometimes he just described its essence and what it involves, as in this remark: “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.” But often he warned about the downside of modern education: “The purpose of compulsory education is to deprive the common people of their common sense” and “Public education has not produced an educated public.”

The American systematic theologian and principal of Princeton Seminary A. A. Hodge (1823–1886) also spoke strongly about the dangers of contemporary education – especially as it is divorced from God. The son of theologian Charles Hodge (1797-1878) he gave nineteen lectures just before he passed away. These were turned into the 1890 book Evangelical Theology. The end part of Chapter 12 on 'The Kingly Office of Christ' looks at the issue of modern education and how the State is increasingly secularising it. America had been embarking on a public school system a few decades before this, with a number of states making education compulsory. A.A. Hodge was quite worried about how this would fare. He feared the centralisation of education, and how God would be pushed out of the curriculum!

The public school system in the West today is NOT neutral and impartial: it is riddled through and through with a world view fully opposed to Christianity. As Douglas Wilson once put it: “You cannot send all the Christian kids off to be educated in a school system that is riddled with rank unbelief, shot through with relativism and diseased with perverse sexual fantasies, and then wonder at the results. God is not mocked.”

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