Tom Gilson

“The End of the University:” Substituting One Morality for Another

Very insightful, from Roger Scruton writing at First Things on The End of the University:

Hence, despite their innate aspiration to membership, young people are told at university that they come from nowhere and belong to nothing: that all preexisting forms of membership are null and void. They are offered a rite of passage into cultural nothingness, since this is the only way to achieve the egalitarian goal. They are given, in place of the old beliefs of a civilization based on godliness, judgment, and distinction, the new beliefs of a society based in equality and inclusion; they are told that the judgment of other lifestyles is a crime. If the purpose were merely to substitute one belief system for another, it would be open to rational debate. But the purpose is to substitute one community for another.

And also, I would add, one judgmentalism for another, one exclusivism for another, one inequality for another, one morality for another.

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30 thoughts on ““The End of the University:” Substituting One Morality for Another

  1. A university promotes pluralism but since Christianity is too judgemental and irrational then it has to be outlawed. That’s why we fight the good fight. Soon we Christians may be forced underground .Persecution is on the way
    Do not be afraid . Stay strong in The Lord against the authoritarianism of secularism

  2. Yes it is, and soon if this is true:

    ““And the bad news is about to get worse,” he said.

    “My read — and this isn’t just conjecture, but based on conversations with leaders on the other side – is that assuming that the marriage case in SCOTUS goes against us, the next step from the other side is what they call something like a ‘Campaign for Full Equality,’ to give full civil rights protections to LGBT people.”

    That is, to make it where no discrimination based on LGBT status is permitted — at all.”

    In other words, the next step is “sexual orientation” being added to the Civil Rights Act. Which may not sound so ominous if it were not for the fact that discrimination based on sexual behavior or same sex “marriage” is considered by the courts to be discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation identity.

    In addition, they are making the argument that traditional beliefs on sexual morality are not necessary to be Christian and accordingly those beliefs are just bigotry.

    In other words, that same Civil Rights Act will *not* protect any traditional minded Christian from discrimination because those beliefs will *not* be considered religious in nature. Anywhere.

    Not sure how that will exactly play out, but I (also) imagine Christian schools are going to be the next in line and that their continued future is bleak.

  3. Yes, precisely, and if SCOTUS acts – as many believe it will – and makes Same-Sex marriage legal, nothing about sexual relations will change. Because in reality, this debate isn’t about sex, it’s about allowing people to call things whatever they want. In this case, calling things that are not marriage – marriage.

    But if homosexual marriage becomes the law of the land, heterosexual partners will still be able to engage in intercourse, and have children, and homosexuals will still be able to engage in sexual activity (notice that I did not say (“have sex). The only thing that will change is that the law will mistakenly use the word “marriage” to refer to two different kinds of sexually intimate human relationships – one of which is marriage, and the other which isn’t.

    To quote James Skillen from The Center of Public Justice:

    “If this happens, we will need to pay close attention to the consequences. Judges and public officials will then be required to recognize as a marriage any sexually Intimate bond between two people who want to call themselves married. Which means that there will no longer be any basis for distinguishing legally between a heterosexual union and a homosexual relationship. Which means henceforth that there will be no legal basis for restrictions against a homosexual couple obtaining children in any way they choose, for such restrictions would constitute discrimination. And it will mean that when a mature mother and son, or father and daughter, or trio or quartet of partners come to the courts or to the marriage-license bureau to ask that their sexually active relationship be recognized as marriage, there will be no legal grounds of a non-arbitrary kind to reject the requests. Because if it is now arbitrary and unjust to recognize heterosexual marriage as something exclusive and different from homosexual relationships, then it will be arbitrary and unjust not to grant the request of other partners to call their sexually intimate and enduring relationships marriage.”

    We are on a very slippery slope at the precipice of a cliff which will send us over the edge toward a destination where any sexually deviant relationship is not only allowable and accepted but is to be tolerated and in fact celebrated, much in the way we see “gay pride” being celebrated today. And if you aren’t on the bandwagon and a full participant in the parade, then you are going to be labelled a “narrow-minded, bigoted, intolerant hater”.

  4. Here, I think, is a key quote from Scruton’s article:

    In The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom lamented the languid relativism that had infected the humanities—the belief, shared by students and teachers alike, that there are no universal values…

    True though Bloom’s observation is, it is not the whole truth. Moral relativism clears the ground for a new kind of absolutism. The emerging curriculum in the humanities is in fact far more censorious, in crucial matters, than the one that it strives to replace. It is no longer permitted to believe that there are real and inherent distinctions between people. All distinctions are “culturally constructed” and therefore changeable. And the business of the curriculum is to deconstruct them, to replace distinction with equality in every sphere where distinction has been part of the inherited culture. Students must believe that in crucial respects, in particular in those matters that touch on race, sex, class, role, and cultural refinement, Western civilization is just an arbitrary ideological device, and certainly not (as its self-image suggests) a repository of real moral knowledge. Moreover, they must accept that the purpose of their education is not to inherit that culture but to question it and, if possible, to replace it with a new “multicultural” approach that makes no distinctions between the many forms of life by which the students find themselves surrounded.

    The problem is when you begin with the claim there is no truth—that everything in the area of epistemology and morals is relative—you are proclaiming a truth about truth which is self-refuting. If that is “true,” what is the basis of the new absolutism which grows out of ungrounded relativism? Only two things are left, power and passion. The old elitism may be gone but it has been replaced by new pseudo-intellectual elitism that only knows how to manipulate passions with rhetoric (slogans, sound bites and “half-truths”) to gain power and influence. Meaning, purpose and morality in our “brave new world” are nothing more than fleeting fads. The problem is that each succeeding fad becomes just that much more damaging and destructive. We’re witnessing the decline of civilization and the end of human rights. Human rights used to be based on timeless truths, now they (the new so-called rights) are based on arbitrary and temporary whims. Unless something is done soon that is where we’re headed towards the end of free and open democratic societies. Who is going to step up and try to stop that madness?

  5. Just wanted to say what excellent comments these are. The madness that has engulfed the modern university is so absurd that it’s become it’s own SNL skit. Whether it’s the Duke lacrosse team or Mattress Girl, a UVA fraternity or some convoluted regulation that denies on-campus organizations the right to set their own standards of membership the intellectual elite never cease to amaze. However, the dark side of all this is the rise of a fascism that is so similar to what the last century encountered yet seemingly invisible to those who are part of it. The group think and thought police are all in place. We can only hold our breath on where it goes.

  6. Does anyone have an idea if it is possible that the upcoming marriage ruling if based on making homosexuality a suspect class could effectively add sexual discrimination as a class to the Civil Rights Act? I am not a lawyer, so forgive me if I am asking the question all wrong. Basically, if the Supreme Court does say that absolutely homosexuals are a “suspect class” that the same federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate based on race will be used to say it is illegal to discriminate based on homosexual behavior. If so, the day that Christian schools and colleges that have not hired (or kept on staff) open and practicing homosexuals and have had behavior codes that said students could not engage in sexual activity apart from a (man-woman) marriage being forced to change their policies or be shut down may come sooner than later.

    There is Thinkprogress article where it says outright that their goal is for sexual orientation to be added to the Civil Rights Act with absolutely no exemptions for religious institutions. This is not merely some oddball conservative fear. They are quite open what they intend to accomplish, and we know quite well what that really means.

    Buried in this excellent piece is a link to the Thinkprogress article:

  7. Thanks for the link DR84, here’s the link to the article. There’s a nice bit worth quoting here:

    Meanwhile, perhaps feeling backed into a corner by the backlash, the people who normally say bad things about LGBT people are actually saying worse things than usual, in many cases portraying them as aggressors while inciting panic. Mike Huckabee is warning that the gay community won’t stop “until there are no more churches, until there are no more people who are spreading the Gospel.” Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel compared the LGBT movement to terrorists, “people who have a zero-sum game and they don’t want you to exist… If you do exist, they want you to promote and applaud their sinful lifestyle.” Pat Robertson similarly expects that everyone will be forced to like anal sex and bestiality, with Colorado Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt forecasting that 20 percent of Americans will be recruited into homosexuality over the next hundred years. Glenn Beck predicts concentration camps, but rather than slaughter, Bryan Fischer is worried that “the homosexual lobby” will compel people into submission: “That is involuntary servitude. That is slavery.” A sitting Senator, Tom Cotton (R) of Arkansas, is telling gay people to chill out and just be glad they aren’t being executed like they are in other countries. shared this graphic to suggest just how scary the LGBT movement is:

    If you actually step back for a minute and look at “your side” (and history), maybe you might see that if anyone needs to be worried about loosing freedoms or facing persecution its gay people.

  8. d-

    Yes, they probably should be concerned that their turn is coming, and that is a good reason they should be concerned that Christians are facing persecution and loss of freedoms in the more near future.

  9. …their goal is for sexual orientation to be added to the Civil Rights Act with absolutely no exemptions for religious institutions. This is not merely some oddball conservative fear. They are quite open what they intend to accomplish…

    Despite the openness of the LBGT movement about this it seems people don’t get what this means for them personally and otherwise. And even one post later we still have d giving us the “…you might see that if anyone needs to be worried about loosing freedoms or facing persecution its gay people.” company line.

  10. Indeed, and a caller to the Stand to Reason show this week shared a story of how things can go when sexual orientation is included in any in discrimination law (in Canada, but the same will likely be true here). Anyway, her daughter lost her job because she refused to march in a pride parade. This callers daughter inquired with the relevant authorities if there was any legal action she could pursue and was told there was not because she was guilty of discriminating. I cannot imagine that any employer could fire an employee because they did march in a pride parade. This strikes me as a perfect example of how sexual orientation anti discrimination law works in practice.

  11. Fired because they didn’t march in a parade? Wow! I mean, unless this is part of your job responsibilities it should be optional. It seems the line between work and personal life is dissolving due to the megaphone of social media (blogs, FB, twitter).

  12. As a supporter of SSM and gay rights, I too find it more than appalling that that anyone would be fired for not marching in a parade. Can anyone provide any links to a reputable news source to see if this is what actually occurred? It almost sounds like urban myth.

  13. Yep, and it had nothing at all to do with her job. This example also shows that merely keeping quiet about your beliefs may not be enough to get by. At least not for those unlucky enough to be employed by those that demand they march in pride parades. Outing those that do not celebrate homosexuality will be easy.

  14. DR84,

    Please let me know if you can provide the link I asked for in #12. I would be interested.

    Thank you

  15. DR84,

    Thanks for trying, but that was just a link to the podcast with what could just be hearsay, or an extremely biased misconception. Lots of people are fired all the time and are not aware of the reasons they are really fired. So far this is really just a one-sided story and we don’t here from the people that fired her. Perhaps it is for the reasons she states, perhaps it is not. From this, I can not know. That is why I asked for a reliable news source. Please let me know if you have anything.

  16. Bill L

    Why does it matter to you if the story is related in a conversation vs. being in the news? Do you disbelieve every story that was not reported in the news somewhere?

  17. DR84,

    I don’t even believe all stories that are reported in the news, let alone one-sided stories presented to an uncritical host. I don’t mean it was his duty to be critical during that call, but I’m not just going to take everyone for their word for something that sounds so unbelievable.

    There’s usually more to the story that we haven’t heard. I think we should be especially careful when stories conform so strongly to our prior prejudices and beliefs.

    Perhaps I just don’t know enough about Canadian discrimination laws (quite frankly, I don’t know anything about them), but something just doesn’t seem right about her daughter-in-law’s story… This employer (doggie daycare) seemed to really like her (the letter of recommendation). But they offer to wait until the parade to fire her? Why? If they don’t agree with her religious position, then fire her there. If the daycare place is obligated to participate in the parade, then just excuse the employee for the day.

    Perhaps she was just fired for some other reason, and just doesn’t want to admit to herself that those reasons were real. She could just be inventing some imaginary (or highly exaggerated) excuse as to why she was fired.

    Perhaps she was constantly speaking out to the owners of the daycare place about her anti-gay rights stance and they didn’t like it; maybe they even asked her not to mention it several times. They may have fired her for that reason, and though that would not be the best reason to fire someone (unless she was berating costumers or something) it does not mean she was fired for not marching in a parade.

    As I said earlier, I at least want to hear the other side of the story. I guess i’m just not the kind of person who is so quick to believe somewhat fantastic stories without proportional substantiating evidence.

  18. What about the story is fantastic? It seems completely plausible to me. There was nothing about it that was sketchy. If it is a fake, someone went to a lot of effort. Getting the other side of the story is great, but that is atypical when the story is part of a conversation.

  19. What seems fantastic is that anyone would be fired not participating in a parade.

    I am not suggesting that anyone is ‘faking’ anything… rather what seems more plausible is that someone believes they were fired for one thing while in fact it was something else.

    Perhaps this would be a bit more believable if I knew Canadian law actually permitted such a thing. That is what really seems fantastic, and if true, I would be totally appalled. Do you have any knowledge on the subject of Canadian discrimination laws?


  20. Bill L-

    Does it seem fantastic that someone might get fired for having the “wrong” view about homosexuality? It does not to me. Her views were exposed in context of the parade. Her employers were willing to let her stick around until it was proven she did not celebrate homosexuality.

    Brendan Eich got driven out (effectively fired) for having the “wrong” views.

    Kelvin Cochran got fired for having the “wrong” views.

    I bet there are many other examples that just did not make the news.

    Do I need to mention Indiana too? People were threatening to boycott the whole state for apparently having the “wrong” view.

    It baffles me that this story sounds fantastic to you.

  21. Bill L,

    It’s a pretty good cartoon and has a valid point. But you also have to remember that Christianity isn’t a call to pacifism but a call to activism. And discrimination against people for their beliefs is discrimination, period.

  22. I’m sorry DR84, I guess I’m just not so quick to accept things based on so little evidence. Let me know if you come up with anything.

    Thanks again

  23. Bill L-

    I am curious, would you be equally “skeptical” if you heard a story about a person getting fired after it came up at work that they marched in a pride parade?

    I am asking to better understand if you just do not believe any story unless you hear both sides and it is reported by a legitimate news agency, or if you just do not believe that what was said to happen in Canada could really happen. That someone being fired because they made it clear to their employer that homosexuality is not a cause they support is up there with someone getting fired for saying they prefer Pepsi over Coke.

  24. Also, I mean this mostly as an aside. It is the case that I am not up on the details of anti-discrimination law in Canada. However, I do know that the so called pro-gay advocates have been arguing for a long time that the views of those in opposition to them are just like racist and segregationist views. Views that homosexual behavior is immoral and that marriage involves a man and woman are based on nothing other than animus and bigotry against a particular class of people. By and large the people making this argument have won in the court of opinion and particular among the social elite. I also know that by their very nature, anti-discrimination laws do not protect racist and segregationist views…as those are exactly the views that such laws are meant to address. It seems to me that the exact same reasoning with respect to so called homophobic views means that anyone who holds them will *not* be protected by anti-discrimination law. At least not because of those views, if they are black, their employer wont be able to fire them for that reason, but they can be fired if they are known to believe a marriage involves a man and woman and/or that homosexual behavior is not to be celebrated (and quite possibly their employer may be legally obligated to fire them*). Again, because that is exactly what the anti-discrimination law is intended to do.

    *I do not know for sure, but I think it is likely an employer that knowingly kept white supremacists on staff would be found guilty of discrimination against any black employees they have for creating a hostile work environment. Same will go for employers that knowingly keep people that do not celebrate homosexuality and/or believe marriage involves a man and woman based on the arguments that so called pro-gay people make.

  25. …and here I thought I was done, but one of the reasons why the city of Atlanta cited for firing Kelvin Cochran has come to mind in support of my last point. Even though it was determined he did not discriminate against any employed under him, the city was still concerned that they could face discrimination lawsuits from homosexual employees of the fire department simply because of Cochran’s viewpoint. Lawsuits that the city may not be able to win. At least that is how I understood things.

  26. DR84,

    I am curious, would you be equally “skeptical” if you heard a story about a person getting fired after it came up at work that they marched in a pride parade?

    I am asking to better understand if you just do not believe any story unless you hear both sides and it is reported by a legitimate news agency, or if you just do not believe that what was said to happen in Canada could really happen….

    I’m shortening this a bit since I don’t have much time:

    Those are good questions. I’m not sure about the answer… I suppose it would depend on the kind of “pride parade.” To use an extreme example, if it were something like a white-supremacist parade, I would not be surprised. If it were something like a “anti-gay” parade, and the employers were gay-supporters, then I would be surprised, especially if no violence were advocated in the parade. And I think we are in agreement that firing someone on such a basis should not occur.

    But the Canada situation is something different… someone was supposedly fired for not doing something that no one (of any belief) should be required to do. Something about this story just is not ringing true.

    Let me say it this way… not supporting something, and showing that lack of support by not participating is one thing. Actively working against something is entirely different. I do not think anyone should be fired for the first (and I find it fantastic that anyone was – but I would love to know if I’m wrong); but I could see where people may be fired for the second (I’m not saying this is ethically de facto right or wrong).

    I think what would really help in this situation is if either of us knew a bit about the law(s) in question. Until then, it seems to be a case that seems to fit a little too easily with the “anti-gay rights” paranoia.

  27. Some time ago I said the following– though it’s now been somewhat revised:

    “Christians need to realize that we hold the winning hand. If I was playing poker and I was holding a royal flush, I would be holding a hand that cannot be beat. If I lay my cards face up on the table my opponent knows that I cannot be beat– tied maybe, beaten no. (Though highly improbable, he could also be holding a royal flush.) It would be absurd for him to try to bluff. But that’s exactly what the interlocutors who show up here are trying to do. It’s time we started calling their bluff.”

    From what I have seen, after peeking at the typical interlocutor’s hand, is they cannot beat the hand Christians hold. They do not have any cards that match the cards that we have. In other words, they don’t hold any of the top cards. So why has the bluff been working? Why has secular progressivism been able to have an increasing hold on western culture and society? It’s been partly because Christians have been their own worst enemies. Beginning in the 19th century many Christians began to abandon the life of the mind.

    The Christian philosopher and missionary, Francis Schaeffer, sketched the history of this trend in a short little book entitled, Escape from Reason. According to Schaeffer modern western man has abandoned rationality for rationalism— that is, he has traded away true reason for the pretence of reason where one’s worldview cannot provide any truly rational answers. Without God, or anything else that is transcendent and universal, modern secular man and society struggles to find rational answers in the areas of meaning and morals. Ideologies motivated by power and passion have replaced belief grounded in reason.

    Christianity according to Schaeffer has rational answers in the area of morals and meaning but tragically many Christians have bought into the secular mindset that sees faith as divorced from reason—a position known as fideism. It is not only the so-called “new” or liberal theology that has become fideistic but this is also true to a large extent of evangelical theology, which more often than not, emphasizes an experience of Jesus, or the subjective/experiential side of faith, over and above any defense of the Bible as having historical or rational content.

    Like Schaeffer I think (notice, I did not say believe) that faith is not an irrational Kierkegaardian leap-of-faith but is actually grounded on certain rational presuppositions, as well as objective evidence. In other words, I believe in tenets of the Christian faith because of the evidence, not in spite of it. It is not an oxymoron then to describe Christianity as a rational faith.

    Take, for example, the concept of human rights. If rights come from eternal transcendent Creator (God) they are timeless and universal. If they are human inventions they cannot be timeless and universal. They are not really rights. So how can some so-called right that was created whole cloth by a small group of ideologues within that last 60 years become timeless and universal? Logically it can’t. I am not just talking about “gay rights” or SSM here, but also “abortion rights”, “animal rights” the “right to die” etc. These all grow out of a anti-religious, anti-Christian secular-progressive ideology. It is nothing more than their self-righteous group think and their intolerance of anyone who disagrees with them.

    Only God can grant us rights. Human rights are NOT granted to us by society, government or some self-appointed group of “enlightened” thinkers.

  28. The OP quote is a mesh of a common Christian misunderstanding (“you guys believe in nothing”) and unfortunate anti-intellectualism.

    The OP writes; “And also, I would add, one judgmentalism for another, one exclusivism for another, one inequality for another, one morality for another.”

    I am at a loss as to why this would be a problem. Substituting positions based on reason and reality in place of positions held by tradition seems an honest improvement.

    In the comments there follows a whole lot of parochial chicken-little worry. I’m sure any worry can be put to rest by looking beyond US borders to countries slightly ahead of you on the moral curve. The sky has remained resolutely in place.

    The thread about Christians fired for their beliefs I can only assume is irony. Aren’t Christian organisations given special exemption by law to practice this very same discrimination?

    John D writes; “Soon we Christians may be forced underground .Persecution is on the way”.

    That seems doubtful. But even if your fears are justified take heart, the KKK managed to survive despite their religious freedoms being restricted.

    DR84 writes; “… discrimination based on sexual behavior or same sex “marriage” is considered by the courts to be discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation identity.”

    Sexuality is something you are, not something you do. Would you honestly say to someone “I do heterosexuality” or “I am heterosexual”? It seems the courts too understand that this distinction is a transparent attempt to justify prejudice.

    JAD writes;“Christians need to realize that we hold the winning hand. If I was playing poker and I was holding a royal flush, I would be holding a hand that cannot be beat. If I lay my cards face up on the table my opponent knows that I cannot be beat– tied maybe, beaten no. (Though highly improbable, he could also be holding a royal flush.) It would be absurd for him to try to bluff. But that’s exactly what the interlocutors who show up here are trying to do. It’s time we started calling their bluff.”

    It might be time to show your hand. If you have some secret argument that is actually persuasive then now would really be a good time to wheel it out. As it stands all arguments against marriage equality, both in court and in the public sphere, have been terrible. It looks exactly like Christians cannot justify their position.

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