Blast From the Past: Public Education, A Christian Perspective: The Responses, Part II

This was originally posted 11 December 2005, and is a continuation of this (with explanation.)

Dr. Saul Adelman’s piece in the Fall 1990 issue of the Forum was not the end of the back and forth. His hard-hitting piece did get two responses.

One, from Georgia, discussed some intentional distortion of the Bible translations during the time of the Reformation. With the plethora of Bible translations—including the one we offer for download—we feel that this situation can be corrected in our time, so we will not pursue this further.

The other, more germane to the discussion, came from Thomas Schwengler of Danville, IL, and was on this wise:

quote:


Saul Adelman’s “Antifundamentalist Rejoinder” is more a denunciation of fundamentalists than a refutation of Don Warrington’s Winter 1990 Article. Warrington’s article was written to explain fundamentalist political involvement and to refute the charge (from an earlier National Forum article) that fundamentalist pressures had forced religion out of textbooks. Adelman, however, barely addresses these issues.

Instead, Adelman attacks fundamentalists, appealing to virtually every antifundamentalist stereotype and prejudice extant in our society. In various places, he calls fundamentalists anti-intellectual, intolerant, militant, totalitarian, dangerous and arrogant. He links them to Muslim fundamentalists, openly mistrusts them, and implicitly accuses them of hypocrisy. He even derides their children as uncritical, brainwashed, intellectual cripples.

Adelman’s disdain for Christian fundamentalists is so strong that it seems to have precluded a rational discussion of Warrington’s thesis. I am personally disappointed that a man of Adleman’s intellect would resort to such blatant, prejudice-based ad hominem instead of a carefully reasoned argument.


Honestly, I couldn’t say it much better, and was glad for the help, as the Forum was unenthusiastic about such a response from myself. With Adelman matters were different; his response to Schwengler’s letter found its way into the Winter 1992 issue, two years after my original piece:

quote:


I considered Don Warrington’s article (Winter 1990) solely on its own merits. Thomas Schwengler’s response (Spring 1991) to my “Antifundamentalist Rejoinder” (Fall 1990), rather than rationally addressing my arguments, hysterically dismisses them as a collection of stereotypes and prejudices. He strengthens my contention that fundamentalism is a universal religious phenomenon by finding that my disdain is directed toward Christian fundamentalism rather than that of my co-religionists. Although I have found that many fundamentalists are sincere in their beliefs, nevertheless I am profoundly disturbed by individuals who desire the products of our modern scientific revolution yet reject its pragmatic, rationalist points of view. This is hypocrisy.


Hypocrisy is a moral fault. In a purely materialistic scheme of things, morality has no objective reality, along with many other things that people take for granted, such as the “meaning of life.” Secularists want to have it both ways, rejecting any religiously based morality and ethics but at the same time expecting people to adhere to a standard of their own making. The only secularists that have made a serious effort to eliminate morality are the Marxists, and the wreckage they have left behind have forced other secularists to attempt to cover this serious lacuna up. But ultimately they cannot.

Perhaps the best way to express what I want to say about Adelman’s whole view of things is to relate it to personal experience, not irrelevant since we are both products of a scientific higher education. Four years after “Public Education: A Christian Perspective” was published, I began graduate school, pursing a master’s degree in civil engineering. I thank God that I did not have to face the attitude evidenced in “An Antifundamentalist Rejoinder.” Instead I had four men who were aware of my faith commitment and who judged my work very fairly and on its merits. (You can click here to view this thesis.) Two of them have since passed into eternity. The third brought me back to teach Soil Mechanics and Foundations on an adjunct basis. The fourth is a Jewish mathematician from the old Soviet Union whom I consider one of the most brilliant human beings I have ever met, and who took my understanding of mathematics to a new level. He too wanted me to teach on an adjunct basis, but for mathematics we were stymied by the requirements of SACS, an institution that Dr. Adelman is all too familiar with.

Adelman frets that fundamentalism will dull the minds of children. But we now see that secularists are trying to use their pet dogmas as litmus tests wherever they can, rather than simply laying out the actual requirements and judging the results. Such policies—policies necessary to solve the “hypocrisy” problem Adelman posed in his last riposte—will discourage talented people whose convictions are not to the secularists’ taste from entering the sciences, and the “pragmatic, rationalist” results that Adelman so cherishes will be come scarcer than gratitude.

4 thoughts on “Blast From the Past: Public Education, A Christian Perspective: The Responses, Part II”

  1. In an earlier posting, this site made reference to an article by Saul Adelman entitled “Antifundamentalist Rejoinder,” written in response to Warrington’s 1990 article dealing with Christian public education. In the posting, Warrington notes that I cite Adelman in my recent book, Stories of a Recovering Fundamentalist: Understanding and Responding to Christian Absolutism (Alexander, 2008). Warrington takes issue with Adelman’s comments (in a 17 year-old article) and my citing of it. He is especially concerned that he didn’t get credit for inspiring Adelman’s article in my book. I would like to respond to this on several fronts. As freely admitted elsewhere on this site (quoted– approvingly, I might add), Adelman does not respond to Warrington’s appeal to add ‘a pinch’ of fundamentalism to the public school curriculum. Adelman instead offers a rather ‘free ranging’ assessment and rejection of fundamentalism. Indeed. It is in that assessment and critique that I use Dr. Adelman as a source. Why not? Even this site recognizes the nature of Adelman’s assessment.

    Currently. Warrington has posted the article he intended for publication in 1990– the one which elicited Adelman’s “Rejoinder”– in full. It is available on this site. However, Warrington states that the published version was greatly truncated and the one posted on his site is the real McCoy. How are we to evaluate Adelman’s response relative to a version of Warrington’s article which was not available to him? It seems to stretch the generally polemical character of Warrington’s site into the realm of the absurd.

    I did read Warrington’s full article. I was non plussed. It sets up the favorite fundamentalist straw man, “secular humanism,” and attempts to set the record straight when it comes to public schools. Supposedly, the article responds a quote by Franklin and Parker, and states the quote is nonsensical (see this site). Point well taken, it is. But what is the context? After pulling the “here’s my full article” trick in attacking Adelman, I take Warrington’s quote with a grain of salt. He says he desires to see a “Christian viewpoint represented.” By this, I think he means a Christian fundamentalist viewpoint, for he surely does not speak for all Christians. In fact, he suggests we should consult the folks at Regents University to give us history and philosophy lessons. Does he refer to Regents University founded by Pat Robertson, the guys who begs daily for money, heals folks and offers prophecies over the TV airways, and promised to “pray back” a hurricane when he was running for president? Yeah. Sure. That’s a good place to learn about logic, reason, history, philosophy, etc.

    Warrington makes a case for the role the Founding Fathers recognized for “Christianity in our society at all levels.” Sorry, Don, try though you may, you cannot make the Founding Fathers into a bunch of fundamentalist. The Creator they spoke of is decided not the fundamentalist God you represent.

    You seem to imply that the assessment that most Americans don’t want a religious state is wrong (see quote in article by Ralph Martin). In a September 11 Pew Poll, less than 40% found abortion a very important issue in the current elections and less than 30% thought gay marriage to be a deciding issue. But these are THE big evangelical/fundamentalist issues– and that is exactly the group that seems concerned about them.

    All in all, I find a basic problem with all parts of your web site. The overall idea is that you are right and everybody else is wrong. Of course, as an evangelical/fundamentalist you are compelled to make sure the rest of us are as well (see http://repentantfundie.blogspot.com/2008/05/election-day-or-why-fundamentalists.html) .

    James Alexander, Ph.D.
    http://repentantfundie.blogspot.com

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