Five trends that contribute to the spirit of anti-intellectualism

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Think Apologetics. Tabernacle of David considers this resource trustworthy and Biblically sound.


For those of us that have spent our lives attempting to bring apologetics into the local churches and public square, there has always been an issue with a spirit of anti-intellectualism in both of these places. There is progress being made. However, most recently I was reading an essay in the book above in which the author  believes there are at least five trends that contribute to a spirit of anti-intellectualism:

1. Pragmatism: In today’s world, the first question about any idea is not “Is it true or right?” but “Does it work?” Pragmatism rules over both values and thought. Result-oriented social activists are often supporters of a cause without always inquiring too closely whether their cause has a good end or whether their action is the best means to pursue it.

2. Focus on Results: We have become an impatient generation. Students quickly become bored if there is not a lot of action. “Don’t talk about it—just do it” seems to be the byword. They want to get it done, get results the instant way, or give up on it if it requires extensive thought.

3. Preoccupation with Feelings: We have also become a feeling generation. Feeling triumphs over reason in our decision-making. “If it feels good, do it” is too often the principal criterion for behavior. A subjective experience becomes more important than revealed truth or absolutes in what has been described as our post-secular university thinking. We are admonished to get in touch with our feelings. This is good, especially for males, but requires that a balance with reason also be struck.

4. Ritualism: Ritualistic attitudes have encumbered our intellectual imagination and creativity. In the church it has become an escape route to avoid our God-given responsibility to use the minds that God has given us. In educational circles, it can be identified with rote learning, learning from the professor merely to pass the exam or to be politically correct. The danger of ritualism is that it is mere performance in which ceremony has become an end in itself, a meaningless substitute for intelligent consideration.

5. Intellectual Isolationism: Profound thinkers are being increasingly isolated from the mainstream of human activity. I was once introduced to a very prolific writer who had written several dozen books. He spent all his time thinking about what the world should be like. He sought to inspire others through his writings, but he was so out of touch with where his readers were in the real world that there were few readers to inspire. As a foreign policy planner, I found it relatively easy to write policy; the critical issue was the test of relevance in the light of current events. If the intellect is left on its own, it may become dry and humorless, leading to an academic intellectualism that is devoid of emotion, drive, and meaningful action.- taken from Donald Page, “Developing the Characteristics of a Christian Mind” adapted from Christian Worldview and the Academic Disciplines: Crossing the Academy (McMaster Ministry Studies Series Book 1)
Deane E. D. Downey and Stanley E. Porter.

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