Living with the Dilemma: Religion and Higher Education


J.L. Wall

J.L. Wall is a native Kentuckian in self-imposed exile to the Midwest, where he teaches writing to college students and over-analyzes Leonard Cohen lyrics.

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57 Responses

  1. Avatar Koz says:

    It would be interesting to read First Things’ review of Charlotte Simmons. IMO the sex and alcoholism (and religion) are more or less ancillary.

    For me, the heart of the matter is whether we are necessarily swallowed up when facing strong social pressure. Btw Wolfe himself hedges his bet on this. His literary work says no, but some of his nonfiction implies yes.

  2. Avatar Kyle Cupp says:

    Drunken debauchery is not a good. In fact, it’s an ill. There: I’ve said it. But the people who break with religion during college because they were unable to resist cheap beer, cheaper vodka, and scantily clad peers are not all of those who fall away — and, frankly, should probably be less a concern than those who fall away because they can’t see a way to reconcile two (or three! or four!) seemingly irreconcilable truths. At the very least, the former don’t necessarily have an intellectual break, which may be harder to repair.

    I agree. And “falling away” is a good description of losing one’s religion to drunken debauchery, whereas those who reject their religion on intellectual grounds don’t so much fall away as walk or run away. Their break is more active, and therefore, in general, more difficult to repair.Report

    • Avatar ThatPirateGuy in reply to Kyle Cupp says:

      @Kyle Cupp,

      It isn’t something that needs repairing. Walking away from religion is the repair. Staying with religion is just letting the problem fester.Report

      • @ThatPirateGuy,

        Well, sure, from the perspective of one who leaves his or her religion (or who holds such departures to be a good thing), the break isn’t something meant to be fixed, but a separation that implies a new freedom and a new wholeness.

        From the perspective of believers, on the other hand, the break is precisely the kind of separation that needs repair, or healing, or pick-your-metaphor.

        Anyhow, J.L. Wall’s point stands whether the break from religion is a good or bad thing.Report

  3. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I’m up to my neck tonight in a paper for a conference tomorrow- on religion pilgrimage and the Romantics incidentally- but I do have thoughts on this topic. Right now, though, let me say that the more’s the merrier as far as blogging about the classics. And welcome!Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    But the people who break with religion during college because they were unable to resist cheap beer, cheaper vodka, and scantily clad peers are not all of those who fall away — and, frankly, should probably be less a concern than those who fall away because they can’t see a way to reconcile two (or three! or four!) seemingly irreconcilable truths.

    I don’t suspect that this is the dynamic as much as “holy crap, I’ve been lied to!”

    Beer is fun. It’s fun to drink beer and get drunk. Wine even more so.
    Sex? Heck, if it’s even vaguely healthy between the two of you, you can easily get to “I can’t believe they think that this should be only for marriage!”
    Weed? Damns. Weed is even more innocuous than beer.

    Going from “I’ve been lied to!” can easily make one start to question things like Heaven, Jesus’s relationship to God, and even God’s existence in the first place. (And it doesn’t help that the first time people go swimming in Nietzsche is probably in college as well… right in the middle of that whole “I’ve been lied to!” thing.)

    It’s not that the debauchery pulls people away, it’s that the debauchery is sooo debaucherous, it takes years before the kids realize that, no, it is bad to get that drunk that often and, yeah, I probably should have waited until a life partnership situation before I went past second base.Report

    • Avatar Barrett Brown in reply to Jaybird says:

      @Jaybird, I enjoyed your comment, which was very will written, but which through my own fault I actually thought to be going in a slightly different direction than it actually did. I’m curious about the very last part; do you think that, given a generally improved sense of understanding over time, the reasonable person will look back and regret that he or she engaged in something more intimate than “second base” with someone with whom said person did not end up in a longterm relationship? And if you are saying so, can I ask why “second base” was the example given – by which in turn I really mean to ask how does one go about determining what particular manifestation of intimate/sexual interaction becomes damaging by virtue of not being followed up by a formal relationship?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Barrett Brown says:

        @Barrett Brown, I’ve been yelling “keep it to second base!” for a while now. Otherwise you’re going to end up crying on the side of the bed. Or the other person will.

        Looking back at my life at the various people with whom I went past 2nd with, I wouldn’t say that I *REGRET* having done so… but I would say that if I were a better, stronger person that I wouldn’t have done so. Fewer people would have gotten hurt.

        Had I kept it until marriage, God only knows how much better off/healthier I’d be today.

        The problem with most of the advice given by most of those in the evangelical situation is that they don’t know how to talk about beer, let alone sex.

        So when kids end up jumping into the deep end of the pool, they end up being so overwhelmed by how much fun they’re having that they don’t realize how much damage they’re doing.

        I suppose it’s always been thus.Report

    • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Jaybird says:

      “debauchery” is such an ugly, serious word. One person’s debauchery is another person’s sacred memories of Bourbon Street, say 1982, a woman in red, a roll of cash, snort, slurp, boink, bingo!Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to MFarmer says:

        @MFarmer, yeah yeah. Nothing’s more fun than 2 hours with an incest survivor.Report

        • Avatar Sam M in reply to Jaybird says:


          But that’s the thing. You’re just assuming that the only people who are drunk and debauched are incest survivors? Or damaged in some way? I assure you that’s not the case.

          You mention that people come to terms with the fact that they shouldn’t get drunk that often. I disagree. I think most people realize it was great to get drunk that often, but that you become sort of a sad sack if you keep doing it over a long period of time. Like the old guys who still go to high school parties. That’s not an indictment of high scool parties. They are great… for high school kids.

          Drunken debauchery can be a wonderful thing. I figure it’s much better than sober debauchery, and MUCH better than drunken modesty.

          I look at it like tobacco. Know what my message would be to young people? Smoke. Why? Because smoking is awesome. It’s so awesome that culture after culture that has encountered tobacco have elevated it to almost spiritual significance. It is just absolutely fantastic. But of course, it’s also dangerous if you puff on it a lot every day for many, many years. So smoke and enjoy it when you can, knowing full well you’ll need to stop some day, and that will suck. Some won’t and will die. But the vast majority of people manage to quit while they are ahead.

          Then you can be like me. And every once in a while, when the stars line up and the kids are at grandmas, you can sit at home and have a beer and a cigarette with a friend. Or even go out and get drunk and debauched. Because if you do it rarely, it’s good enough for the soul that it easily pays for any short term physical damage.

          And I never, ever cried on the edge of the bed.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Jaybird, no, I’m assuming that more damage is done to more people through drunken debauchery in the name of “good clean fun” than fun is had.

          And there are more people regretting such than saying “woo hoo yeah debauchery”.

          One would think that if anywhere near as much fun was had by all as reported, we’d have different laws that were, at least, loosening up rather than clamping down.

          (Yes, I know about Prop 19. That’s an entirely different dynamic.)Report

        • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Jaybird says:

          Incest survival? I didn’t know that. Damn, now I feel guiltyReport

        • Avatar Sam M in reply to Jaybird says:


          “One would think that if anywhere near as much fun was had by all as reported, we’d have different laws that were, at least, loosening up rather than clamping down.”

          One would only think that if one assumed that 18 year olds make the laws. They don’t. Old people complaining about kids these days make the laws.

          And who ever said anything about good clean fun? I never said it was clean. But people are people, and people have what seems to be an innate passion for drunkenness, and a biological urge to debauch themselves. So it’s fun. Almost the definition of it.

          I am not arguing that somepeople don’t overdo it, or that pregnancy or STDs aren’t issues, or that some people are emotionally scarred by it. But there are ways to minimize most of these risks if you are smart about it. Some people spin out of control, sure. Just like some people spin out of control with booze. Or marijuana. Or fatty foods. Or sex. Or gambling. But that’s an argument for some basic level of caution, not an argument against these things in and of themselves.

          I am a firm believer that moderation does not require NEVER indulging, but that it requires picking and choosing the right times and places to indulge.

          So yeah, a bottle of grain alcohol leading to astomach pump and an STD and an unwanted pregnancy? Too much, man. But a 12-pack and some shots leading to a tryst with the attractive person from history section? Worse things could happen.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Jaybird, moderate debauchery?

          Sounds like “safe sex”.

          If it’s the one, it ain’t t’other.Report

        • Avatar Ethan in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Jaybird, So there isn’t a safe way to drive a car either?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Ethan, compare driving a car today to driving a car in 1955 (or 1925).

          The stuff that comes standard today was optional (or laughed at) back then. Indeed, had you made a fuss about riding in the middle in the back seat without a shoulder-strap seatbelt, you would have been stared at.

          “Safe” changes over time. I’ve no doubt that, in 40 years, people will shake their heads at the backwards tech we thought was “safe”.

          1 in 4 people have an STD. 1 in 5 have Herpes. When I was a kid, “safe sex” meant “birth control”. Now it means “disease control”.

          God only knows what it’ll mean 20 years hence.

          Have a blast with your car driving.Report

        • Avatar Ethan in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Jaybird, So you would agree that like driving a car, which is safer today than before, sex today, is often safer than before?

          What if we were to compare instances of unwanted pregnancy and STDs, with 50 to 100 years ago?

          Would you be find with amending “safe sex” to “less risky sex”?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Ethan, is sex today safer than before?

          Well, I am one of those old-schooly conservatives who doesn’t see pregancy as a negative side-effect of sex (it’s a wacky worldview, you should try it on once or twice in the interest of broadening your horizons) and who does see STDs as awfully bad.

          As for by history, there’s this:

          But that’s only 10 years. It tells us nothing of the 1800’s, right? Ironically, it’s very difficult to find rates of STDs throughout history… got any links?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

          And another thing.

          These safety features mean that if you drive carefully, you will be safer. You will not be safer if you drive at high speeds on ice, say. (“But I have all-wheel drive!”)

          I remember reading somewhere that hospitals are now having to deal with lower body trauma in automobile accident victims that they’ve never had to really deal with before because of airbags. Once upon a time, these people would have been dead and that would have been the end of it. Now? They’ve survived and civilian medical science doesn’t have experience with damage of this type.

          “Safety features” aren’t safety features if they inspire boneheaded behavior on behalf of those who now think that they’ve got a bulletproof vest because “things are safer than 1955”.Report

        • Avatar Ethan in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Jaybird, So if unwanted pregnancies aren’t bad, then the negative consequences of sex would be the potential contraction of an/many STDs and potentially hurt feelings.

          I think the hurt feelings can be left behind, as many activities allow for the possibility of hurt feelings, but are not regarded as “unsafe” because of it.

          If you want to go further than “hurt feelings” toward something more like psychological trauma, than I would definitely agree, if that’s going to be the result, both people should probably keep it in their pants.

          So one is left with STDs. I took you as making a more sweeping statement, that rounding third-base before marriage is “unsafe,” but if that is an unfair interpretation on my part, I apologize and should be corrected.

          If two people are black out drunk, I have to agree with you that that “safety” of any sexual encounter will plummet. On the other hand, the more numerous circumstances in which people have sober premarital sexual encounters would fix the problem of alcohol’s contribution to the entire affair.

          So are you saying that two sober people with somewhat developed personalities and understandings about themselves de facto cannot be involved in “safe-er sex”?

          And thanks for the data. I’m surprised Mississippi takes the cake for Chlamydia (the only STD which has been increasing in occurrence if I read the chart correctly).

          With regard to auto-safety. You don’t think there is a distinction between safer technology and safer outcomes? Perhaps people do have a certain risk threshold they are willing to entertain, so safer technologies just allow us to be that much more irresponsible, but that doesn’t change the fact that if you controlled for responsible driving over time, safer technologies have led to safer outcomes i.e. if a safe driver from the 50s drove just as safe today in a safer car, it would lead to a safer outcome assuming the majority of the rest of drivers aren’t speeding around like maniacs everywhere. And that might be the if that you’re getting at. So I guess we’d have to wheel out some data one injury from vehicular accidents over time.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Ethan, So are you saying that two sober people with somewhat developed personalities and understandings about themselves de facto cannot be involved in “safe-er sex”?

          Of course they can.

          And, more often than not, it leads to one of two things:
          1) a long-term relationship where sex ceases to be particularly “safe” (without dental dams! OH THE HUMANITY)
          2) a short-term relationship where one of the two partners resents the other

          We all know the difference between “in theory” and “in practice”, right? Well, in practice, people start to resent each other. (And, yes, it’s mostly the chicks who do.)

          In theory, we could all be polyamorous folks who understand that the human heart is large enough to handle not only multiple partners but partners who have multiple partners.

          In practice you’re left with, well, what poly folks are like in practice.

          Feel free to fall back on the capabilities of healthy people as justification for doing whatever you want. This makes it easier to say something like “I had no idea she was so fucking psycho” after she wants to move up to the next level and you don’t.Report

        • Avatar Ethan in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Jaybird, Maybe I misunderstood your position.

          In the case of a monogamous premarital couple, rather than casual flings, is your argument they will either inevitably start having “unsafe” sex, or break up?

          I guess I’m wondering, outside of casual sexual encounter, and sexual encounter corrupted by alcohol, do you regard long term sex within a premarital relationship to be equally as disastrous or unstable as in the above cases?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Jaybird, In the case of a monogamous premarital couple, rather than casual flings, is your argument they will either inevitably start having “unsafe” sex, or break up?

          What’s the other option?

          Bed death?

          do you regard long term sex within a premarital relationship to be equally as disastrous or unstable as in the above cases?

          Is there anybody out there that would answer “yes” to that? I’m curious.Report

        • Avatar Ethan in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Jaybird, Sorry to keep after this Jaybird. Just to sum up, what do you feel is the damage being done when youth jump into the deep end of the pool?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Ethan, it’s mostly psychic (for lack of a better word) with a spattering of STDs.

          We’ve got people mistaking sex and love, mistaking love and fun, mistaking their ideas of the other person and the actual other person, and doing damage to each other that restraint and temperance would not result in.

          And it has always been thus.

          It’s likely to always be thus.

          But I’m not going to lie or otherwise mistake the way things are with things being great.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to MFarmer says:

        @MFarmer, Debauchery has way-too positive-connotations in my experience to accomplish what Jaybird’s trying to get from it…Report

  5. Avatar Francis says:

    “Drunken debauchery is not a good.” Why not? People have been getting both drunk and debauched (I assume you mean laid, as opposed to just being rowdy or, horrors, dancing) for so long as there have been people (and possibly before — there’s some evidence that Neanderthals knew how to brew), and the species as a whole has thrived. (a little too well, some might say.)

    Alcoholism, unintended pregnancy, rape, and other crimes are not good. But plenty of young (and even middle-aged) men and women manage to have a good night of drinking and f*****g without committing any of the above. (present company included, thanks very much — it’s a matter of knowing when to give up the car keys.)

    There’s a strong thread in the Episcopalian Christianity I was raised in which seems most concerned that someone, somewhere, is having fun.

    This may explain why I’m now agnostic.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Francis says:


      I’m going to have to second you here, Francis. We’ve already seen what trying to rid the world of drunkenness looks like. Given the options on the ground, I’ll take drunkenness. Please!

      As to debauchery, I’m all in favor of a little debauchery too, and for the same reasons. The cure is worse than the disease.Report

    • Avatar J.L. Wall in reply to Francis says:

      @Francis, When I said “drunken debauchery is not a good,” I didn’t mean to imply that I hate fun! Or a few fingers of bourbon! Or even cheap crappy beer — or even what I’ll now refer to as “shenanigans.” (I actually meant the phrase as a tongue-in-cheek curmudgeonly euphemism for “hookup culture” or some other such descriptor– to which, regardless of the sound of time’s winged chariot at my feet, I object.)

      I wouldn’t even say there’s anything inherently wrong with drunkenness (other than the health hazard): you can easily get shit-faced drunk by going to your most stereotypical Frat-tastic party or by celebrating Purim/Simchat Torah with a bunch of Chabadniks; you can also just stay with a happy semi-drunk buzz at either. While I don’t see the need for the amount of alcohol at the latter, I wouldn’t call it debauchery: there’s more self-control; the aim of the drunkenness isn’t to tear down regulatory walls, or to disorient.

      There’s nothing inherently wrong with pleasure, either. Pleasure is a good. Hell, I’ve even written somewhere at phaidimoi logoi arguing about sexual pleasure as a religious good. I suppose I’m somewhat in line here with what Jaybird’s been saying — that at some point “debauched” pleasure ceases to be pleasure, the good, and becomes something else. Part of it has to do with self-control and self-awareness…Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to J.L. Wall says:

        @J.L. Wall, I get where you’re going with this. My own position- actually, I like the term “Dionysian revelry” over “debauchery”- is that pleasure and drunkenness and joy can serve as paths closer to the divine but not quite there. Certainly there are numerous Greek and Sufi poets who claim as much. Robert Anton Wilson’s line was that he couldn’t remain an atheist because it wasn’t enjoyable to yell out, “Oh, random chance!” during sex. But I digress.

        The problem with college revelry isn’t that there’s anything abnormal, or even really unhealthy, about kids at that age wanting to enjoy themselves- it’s that a lot of them come to university with the idea that it will be four years spent “getting it out of their system” and doing little else. I’ve noticed how many college party movies treat drunkenness and screwing as an expression of contempt for everything else that one might do in college, as opposed to one experience among many.

        At an adminstrative level, a lot of universities ignore college drinking because it’s both (stupidly, in my opinion) illegal and they know all the kids do it anyway. So it’s better to turn a blind eye than discuss it openly. I don’t think they need to be blue noses, but I do think they should question the mentality by which university is nothing but a four-year chartered booze cruise spent before settling into a stiffling bureacratic job and loveless marriage. Revelry has an important place in life, but it shouldn’t be a substitute for the rest of life.Report

  6. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    Oh, and welcome to the League!Report

  7. Avatar North says:

    Welcome to the League, I’m delighted to see some new hosses in the stables.Report

  8. From one Kentuckian to another – WELCOME!

    I am UL fan and an alumni so no promises about UK athletics though.Report

  9. Welcome, JL! Always good to increase the Schwenkler Diaspora contingent at this site!

    However, as a disinterested party who enjoys watching argumentative bloodbaths, I demand no less than a 1500 word post on how Rick Pitino is the Anti-christ.Report

    • Avatar J.L. Wall in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      @Mark Thompson, I hate to disappoint you, but I think I’m mellowing in my old age. I’ve started to feel bad — and sadly nostalgic — when reading about/watching him. (This might also have to do with the end of the Billy Clyde era at UK — I REALLY hated Pitino while UK’s program was in a seeming death spiral.) But I’m sure I can find a few people who’d be more than happy to expound that for you, Mark — hell, depending on what happens this season, it might even be me.Report

  10. Way to pretend that people “fall away” from religion in college because they get caught up in the drunken debauchery rather than because they’re allowed to think for themselves for the first time and are coming into contact with new ideas and new thoughts.

    The non-college bound also engage in drunken debauchery, but they don’t leave religion as often as the college kids.

    Leaving religion is correlated not just with higher education but also with higher IQ. Pretending that it’s about debauchery is ridiculous.

    Also, the honest intellect doesn’t have to wrestle with Franz Rosenzweig. That’s for dishonest intellects looking for excuses to believe.Report

    • Avatar J.L. Wall in reply to JewishAtheist says:

      @JewishAtheist, I was trying to make a similar point — that “drunken debauchery” may not (from certain perspectives, at least) be a good thing, but it’s not the threat to belief during college that FIRST THINGS, etc., should be concerned about.

      Re: IQ and religion — is there data on that? I’m curious.

      And I wasn’t trying to say an honest intellect has to wrestle with Rosenzweig: I’ve understood maybe 5% of his writings that I’ve read. But both he and Spinoza argued themselves out of Judaism through philosophical inquiry; the difference — and what I think is deserving of inquiry — is that Rosenzweig argued himself back into it. Say what you will about his arguments for Judaism and religion; it’s his openness to religion despite having argued his way out of it that makes him a worthwhile figure for this discussion.Report

      • @J.L. Wall,

        Thanks for replying! Sounds like I misunderstood your point — I apologize.

        I’ll admit not knowing a ton about Rosenzweig, but it looks (from wikipedia) that the impetus for returning to practicing Judaism was a “mystical experience” and it was only after that that the arguments came.

        In other words, he didn’t “argue himself back into it,” but had an experience, changed his mind, and then came up with the arguments. This appears to me to be a common pattern even among alleged religious “thinkers” or “philosophers” — the belief comes first, and only then the arguments. The human brain’s capacity for denial and rationalization being what it is, even the smartest (especially the smartest?) people can rationalize any decision or belief that they want to, so I think we have to treat such arguments (and reason in general) with great skepticism. That’s why I personally put so much more emphasis on empiricism than on reason.Report

        • Avatar J.L. Wall in reply to JewishAtheist says:

          @JewishAtheist, He argued himself (and allowed himself to be argued, by a friend) back into religion: he went from disbelief to an intention to convert to Christianity. For reasons best known to him, he felt that the only “authentic” way for a Jew to convert was to convert from traditional Judaism. The mystical experience (basically a near-collapse at the end of Yom Kippur) was what made him choose to remain a Jew, rather than to convert. It’s still the case that, like Spinoza and Strauss, he was a Jew immersed in the study of Western philosophy, who argued his way out of Judaism and religion, generally. In terms of talking about religion and education, trying to figure out the nature of that difference I’m using R. to symbolize* is, to my mind, a more worthy goal than getting hysterical about drunken sex. (For one thing, drunken sex is probably a much simpler matter…)

          Empiricism can be dangerous, too, even from a skeptical position: Rosenzweig’s proof for the truth of the Jewish covenant was, in large part, the continued existence of the Jewish people. (There are problems with this, of course, and his case is somewhat less blunt than I’m making it sound — but remember, the largest effects of his writing on me were headaches and thorough confusion.)

          *Rosenzweig is clearly not the only example of this. He just worked well for comparison with Spinoza and Strauss (especially since the latter was, for a time, his student).Report

      • Avatar ThatPirateGuy in reply to J.L. Wall says:

        @J.L. Wall,

        Here is a link that should get you started on the whole higher IQ among atheists thing. I wouldn’t link to it if you hadn’t asked as smart people holding a position doesn’t make it true.

        I think other more relevant things make religion not true and more than a little silly.Report

  11. I had a Jesuit Priest teach me ethics in high school. He explained Hindu ethics to me as first encouraging drunken debauchery, so that through experience one might realize how empty it is; then encouraging greed and the accumulation of wealth, so that one might also realize the emptiness of that too; then encouraging the accumulation of knowledge, so that one might also realize the emptiness of knowledge. Once all three of these things are understood as empty, one has reached Nirvana. I think it’s interesting how the two traditions of Christianity and Hinduism seem to reject the same things in two completely opposite ways.Report

    • Avatar J.L. Wall in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      @Christopher Carr, If you look at the life story of the Buddha (the land-roaming version, not the Aquatic one), you’ll also see a rejection of worldly pleasures after/through their experience.

      On the other hand, I’m not certain that Christianity is in agreement with the rejection of knowledge as empty … and if it was Jesuit who said/implied that, well, that just makes me smile.Report

      • @J.L. Wall, I definitely agree with you on that, but there is an element of knowledge being dangerous if in the wrong hands. When the Jesuits first started educating everybody, that was revolutionary and caused a lot of strife within the church. I’m wondering if the Romantic ideal of the blissfully ignorant and pious shepherd grew out of this tradition. Another interesting point to consider would be the scholastic emphasis on the limits of knowledge as corresponding to the wholesale rejection of knowledge as empty. I’m interested to hear your thoughts.Report

  12. Avatar Katherine says:

    Welcome to the League! I’d never have guessed from reading your post that the anti-dissipation line would be the most controversial part of it, or that we had such a strong pro-debauchery contingent here.

    Because there is a tension between the knowledge of the university classroom and the knowledge offered by religion, and while that behavioral tension/challenge/what-have-you exists, too, it isn’t lacking in discussion, intelligent and otherwise.

    I didn’t really notice much of a tension when I started university (granted, I go to a church with a lot people involved in education, and one that’s very committed to applying critical thinking to religion), other than the issue of profs who are outright hostile to religion – fortunately I didn’t get many of those. Clearly the knowledge one gets from faith is different from the knowledge one gets from academic study, but there’s no reason for that to be a problem for Christian students unless their church has deliberately created a conflict between the two kinds of knowledge.Report

    • Avatar Ethan in reply to Katherine says:

      “Clearly the knowledge one gets from faith is different from the knowledge one gets from academic study, ”
      To make sure I’m not misunderstanding you here, are you putting forth that knowledge from faith and knowledge from study/the academy, are about two different things (having two different subject matters), or that the knowledge itself, or way of knowing, is in both cases distinct. Or are you claiming both of these things?

      Thanks for any response!Report

      • Avatar Katherine in reply to Ethan says:

        Both, in a way. I was thinking about what one of my teachers had said about God giving us two books for understanding Him: the Bible, and the book of nature. So scriptural knowledge and science are two things that can both carry us towards the end of knowing God.

        But also, the knowledge one gets from faith is, ideally, knowing God as a person. Academic knowledge of the Bible and about theology is just a means to the end of knowing God.Report