Science in Christian Perspective



Philip B. Marquart, M.D.

From JASA 8 (September 1956): 21-22.

Dr. Junis Romein of Mitchell College, Kentitcky has written an eminent volume dealing with those two neighboring areas to our own. education and philosophy.* Needless to say, it deals with psychology too. The author seems to have a cognizance and sympathy with a Christian Theistic viewpoint.

The author takes up the various current practices in education and the schools of thought upon which they are based. These include the humanitistic classicists, embracing also the Thomistic group. They propose the older traditional methods. The second school is John Dewey's pragmatists who support progressive education. The third school is a diverse group who build upon the pragmatic contribution with an especial emphasis upon social and economic issues. The more radical in this school are actual supporters of Soviet practices. The fourth school is called the Christian viewpoint. However, the Neo-orthodox is the only Biblical viewpoint supported. The author leaves no place for a truly Biblical Christianity and its implication upon education. His commendation for the Neo-orthodox (Neo-reformed) educational program is largely acceptable, but he sounds no warning about some of their unacceptable tenets.

The currently dominant progressive program of John Dewey and his reconstructionist successors are given much space. Dewey was a philosopher, the leader of a pragmaticism school, which was naturalistic, and inclined toward materialism and mechanism. Its educational expressions are called progressive education. Its psychological implications are known as functionalism, which means that personality is nothing but process or function. Progressive education is largely a, matter of method. The author feels that much of this method is acceptable, provided we reject its setting.

Progressive education is founded on the assumption that all learning comes by experience and that the learner learns by doing. Hence an "activities program". Of course this leaves out all learning of Christ by revelation. There is also a revolt against everything, and especially all absolutes, whether theological or philosophical. Reality is only known through sense

*Roniein, Tunis, Education and Responsibility, University of Kentucky Press, Lexington, 1955.

experience. There is an attempt to put the learner's thinking on a scientific basis and to reject all else. Human nature is continuous with all nature and has nothing transcendant to animal nature except in a quantitative sense. Pragmatism is the faith of the progressivist. "Democracy is its faith in action."

A later emphasis of Dewey and his reconstructionist successors was a Depression stress upon improving the environment and especially the economic environment. This places the progressivist on the same basis of thinking as the radical soviet dialecticism. The author does not emphasize this similarity, nor does he mention that Dewey was an American Socialist supporter of Norman Thomas. However, these facts should emphasize that Christian thinking is the only basis for a patriotic American, even though some progressive methods may be countenanced in school.