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God the educator

By Dr. Samuel L. Blumenfeld

If we want to understand what God had in mind when He created man, all we have to do is read Genesis 1:26-28 in the King James version of the Bible:

    And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.

What does this mean? It means that God created man to be like Him, not to be another god, but to be like God, with creative powers and intelligence that no other creature possessed. The ability to have dominion meant that man would be superior to the animal kingdom and be separate and apart from it and be able to make use of it for his benefit. To replenish the earth and subdue it meant that man was to become a farmer, a horticulturist, a conservationist, a gardener. He was to treat the earth as his possession, to nurture it, to care for it, to gain nourishment and wealth from it. He also gave man the power of language, which was not given to any animal. It was the power of language, the power of fine definition that permitted man to take dominion and convert God's raw materials into food, clothing, and shelter.

God then did something quite significant. We read in Genesis 2:19-20:

    And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field.

In other words, God made Adam into an observer of the natural world, a scientist, and a lexicographer -- an expander of language, a maker of dictionaries. This was God's first step in educating Adam, to make sure that Adam knew he was not an animal, that he was apart from the animal kingdom, with gifts that permitted him to dominate the animal world. In other words, man was created by God to be a scientist, explorer, inventor, and also husband, father, head of his family, and, as we read in Deuteronomy, educator to his children.

And God accomplished all of this by programming Adam's brain so that it would have innate natural faculties, which no animal would have. Thus it is that every child learns to speak his own language virtually from birth, so that by the time he is ready for some kind of formal education, he or she has developed a speaking vocabulary in the thousands of words. The gift of language was the necessary and indispensable instrument for dominion.

Darwin's theories changed all of that. He claimed that human beings were merely higher animals that had evolved from lower animals, and that all of our special faculties were the result of evolutionary accidents and not any special natural gifts from God. B.F. Skinner, the famous behavioral psychologist who developed operant conditioning as a teaching technique, called language "verbal behavior," an evolutionary development from the bark, the chirp, and the meow.

Since the 1930s, progressive educators have worked overtime to reduce American education to animal training. It was Edward L. Thorndike, the eminent educational psychologist at Teachers College, Columbia University, who early in the century formulated the stimuli-and-response "laws" of animal training as they applied to the teaching of children. He wrote, "The best way with children may often be, in the pompous words of an animal trainer, 'to arrange everything in connection with the trick so that the animal will be compelled by the laws of his own nature to perform it.'"

Indeed, it was Thorndike who did more to integrate evolutionary theory into educational practice than anyone else. In the last paragraph of his book, "Animal Intelligence," published in 1911, he wrote,

    Nowhere more truly than in his mental capacities is man a part of nature. His instincts, that is, his inborn tendencies to feel and act in certain ways, show throughout marks of kinship with the lower animals, especially with our nearest relatives physically, the monkeys. His sense-powers show no new creation. His intellect we have seen to be a simple though extended variation from the general animal sort. This again is presaged by the similar variation in the case of the monkeys. Amongst the minds of animals that of man leads, not as a demigod from another planet, but as a king from the same race.

Telling children that they are animals, part of the animal kingdom, and training them as animals has been the downfall of American education. It is the reason why the Bible cannot be permitted in the public school, because it claims that man was created in God's image, is separate and apart from the animal world, and was instructed by God to take dominion over the animal world.

Today, over 4 million children in American public schools are required to take the powerful drug Ritalin to make their behavior conform to school demands. Student violence is at an all-time high. Functional illiteracy is rampant among students. Sexual promiscuity is widespread among teenagers, resulting in an epidemic of venereal disease, unwanted pregnancies, abortions. We are producing barbaric children and young adults who do not know how to use their minds because they no longer have them. Their intellects no longer exist. They have been denied God's curriculum, which is so clearly outlined in the Bible by the creative capabilities He gave man.

Is this not a crime? Is it not a crime to take a perfectly healthy, normal human child, train him or her up as an animal, destroy the special intellectual gifts which God gave that human being, so that he or she will live the life of a stunted mental cripple, unable to enjoy a good book, a philosophical conversation, or a sense of what it means to be a child of God? That is why all talk of education reform is just so much hogwash, so much establishment hot air, so much political posturing. For as long as behavioral psychologists control the curriculum, including the content and instruction methods of public education, the schools will never be able to attain the intellectual competence they once were capable of.

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