As they walked, they noticed a building that they had not seen before. It was concealed by the crowd and above the door it had a sign that revealed it as a public school. People stood on both sides of the border between Power and Religion. The citizens of Religion spoke out against the public school system while those in Power proper defended it, calling it necessary.
“They teach lies as fact!” those on the side of Religion proclaimed loudly and without apology.
“You are just scared that the truth will discredit what you believe!” Those in Power proper yelled back at them.
Christian and his cohorts were funneled between the two crowds of people, who continued to argue loudly with each other, and directly to the front doors of the public school, so they went in. They walked through the hallways and from the classrooms they heard math, science, art, music and humanities all being taught to young children. Thinking that they were parents of perspective students, the principal met them in the hallway and asked if they’d like a tour. “My name is Education,” she said so that she could relate better to them.
“We would love a tour!” Encouragement blurted out, “There is nothing like a solid education to prepare young minds to think well.” He turned to the others hoping that they would acknowledge his new emphasis on encouraging others rather than criticizing them, but they just nodded and followed along. In mathematics the children were being taught complicated algorithms to find simple answers. They were taught specifically the pattern for each math problem and were expected to solve those problems like a computer program. The education they were receiving was not helping them to be problem solvers, but instead to be computers that had to follow a specific programming. Any other word would classify this as brain-washing. In humanities, they were taught the specific events that happened in the past. Encouragement lost it. This transformation would be a struggle. It would not be easy. This sanctification would hurt him and he could no longer hold it in.
“Teacher,” he inquired, “how do you know that these events happened as you describe them?”
“I have studied these events for thirty years,” replied the teacher, “I am certain that what I am teaching is accurate.”
“Were you there?” Encouragement asked.
“No, but archeologists find artifacts and records. Stories have been passed down to us.”
“How do you know that records and stories are accurate?”
“Well, they have been compared to other records and stories of the time and are confirmed. So far as we know, there are not contradictions between the events recorded,” the teacher answered confidently.
Encouragement smiled as his critical habits continued to resurface, “So far as we know?”
The teacher was silent.
“It might be more appropriate to think, then, that what you are teaching is a perception of past events through the lens of records, stories and artifacts.”
The teacher gave in, “Yes, I suppose that would be more accurate. Is this a problem?”
“Not a problem,” Encouragement conceded, “I simply wanted to point out that what you are teaching is inductive conjecture that relies heavily on speculation. You have to have faith that evidence has been interpreted the correct way and your students have to have faith that you are representing the information well. Tell me, what do you do to help your students to think for themselves?”
The teacher responded, “I’m not sure, but I see that you are correct.”
One of the students threw his textbook on the floor, “So much for school!” He was probably the class clown.
Education, now less confident, led them out of that classroom and into the science classroom. This was probably the classroom that caused the most controversy between the two parties outside of the building. Just like in the history classroom, Darwinian evolution and the age of the universe were two things that were being taught as historical fact.
Encouragement, who was still hot-headed, asked, “How do you know that these things are fact as you insist?”
“Well,” the science teacher replied in a very matter-of fact manner, “This is what the evidence points to.”
Encouragement smiled again. He got joy out of being correct all of the time, “And who, might I ask, pointed the evidence in that direction?”
The science teacher did not answer immediately, so encouragement continued, “It actually seems to be an interpretation of the evidence that supports some sort of theory. Evidence itself is unbiased and is interpreted by biased individuals. These are not fact, only inductive conjecture that relies heavily on speculation.”
The science teacher then replied, “No, it’s fact!”
“Let us consider evolution,” Encouragement began to make his argument, “What evidence points to the fact of evolution?”
“Similarity,” the science teacher exclaimed, “Similarity in the fossil record, in DNA structures, in zygotes, in behaviors, in reasoning and so on.”
Encouragement continued, “Then similarity is the fact where there is actually similarity. From that similarity, common ancestry is inferred. Inference relies on speculative and imaginative thinking. Yet, you call this a fact. Perhaps you should teach Darwinian evolution as an idea and not as a fact. That is, if you want to do justice to the subject. There is no way to empirically verify or test Darwinian evolution, thus it must remain in the realm of speculation!”
After making his point, Christian convinced him to leave and he stormed out of the school. The principal did not know what to say, so Christian addressed him, “I am sorry about my friend. He is struggling personally right now.”
Education spoke candidly, “I think he is right. The major flaw in our education system is that we teach students facts that may or may not be facts based on the curriculum that is handed to us and we are not free, for the most part, to be honest about it because of regulation. We are being forced to raise a generation of philosophically challenged young men and women because we teach them to memorize rather than think. We give them the conclusions of one group rather than the facts that will enable them to draw their own conclusion. It’s a wonder so many of these young men and women do not care about their education. It does not benefit them. I let your friend continue because the students might learn something valuable from him that our teachers cannot teach. They might learn to question everything and that not everything taught in a public school as fact is actually fact. The history we teach here, whether in humanities or science, must be accepted by faith for they do rely on inferences made from evidence gathered. While there was a specific way things happened, we may not be correct in our telling of those events or in our timing of those events because we are reproducing a historical narrative from very little.”
The party stepped outside and saw that the crowd had dispersed.
“What about the instruction manual that the King has given us? Can it be accepted as fact or must we accept the story there by faith as well?” asked Witness.
Christian replied, “It is always by faith. The difference is: we can know the King personally. If He is the one guarding what is written in the manual, then we can have greater confidence in our faith in that manual than we can in our confidence in other recorded or proposed histories. To believe any history, though, requires great faith.”
Parents and children: Remember these things as you engage any level of learning. What is taught as fact, on most occasions, is actually inductive conjecture that relies heavily on imagination and speculation. We should always be cautious around someone who does not admit at least this.
While there is great value to imaginative thinking and while it has profited humanity in many ways, it does not and cannot produce fact.
If someone ever uses these “facts” to try to discredit Scripture, first be sure that these facts are actually facts. Chances are, though, that like Darwinian evolution and the age of the universe and historical tales in the history books, that the historical events or progression of events was pieced together by people who have inductively interpreted a body of evidence according to some sort of worldview bias. Because of this, we should always be humble, admitting that we might have pieced the puzzle of history together wrongly.
Do not be afraid to learn, just realize these things.