TFVNews: How I found God at Columbia
How I found God at Columbia
December 2, 2003
Very few people can say that they found God or religion at college or
graduate school. The university, after all, is a radically secular
institution that either ignores or disparages religious belief in God.
Yet, one day, when I was a graduate student in international affairs at
Columbia University, I had what can honestly be called an epiphany.
I remember it very clearly. Since entering graduate school, I was
preoccupied with this question: Why did so many learned and intelligent
professors believe so many foolish things?
Why did so many people at my university believe nonsense such as Marxism? I
was a fellow at the Russian Institute where I specialized in Soviet affairs
and Marxism, and so I encountered professor after professor and student
after student who truly believed in some variation on Marxism.
Why did so many professors believe and teach the even more foolish notion
that men and women are basically the same? At college, it was a given that
the differing conduct of boys and girls and of men and women is a result of
different, i.e., sexist, upbringings. The feminist absurdity that girls do
girl things because they are given dolls and tea sets, and boys do boy
things because they are given trucks and toy guns, was actually believed in
the mind-numbing world of academic intellectuals.
And why were so many professors morally confused? How could people so
learned in contemporary history morally equate the Soviet Union and the
United States, regard America as responsible for the Cold War, or regard
Israel as the Middle East's villain?
One day, I received an answer to these questions. Seemingly out of nowhere,
a biblical verse -- one that I had recited every day in kindergarten at the
Jewish religious school I attended as a child -- entered my mind. It was a
verse from Psalm 111: "Wisdom begins with fear of God."
The verse meant almost nothing to me as a child -- both because I recited
it in the original Hebrew, which at the time I barely understood, and
because the concept was way beyond a child's mind to comprehend. But 15
years later, a verse I had rarely thought about answered my puzzle about my
university and put me on a philosophical course from which I have never
It could not be a coincidence that the most morally confused of society's
mainstream institutions and the one possessing the least wisdom -- the
university -- was also society's most secular institution. The Psalmist was
right -- no God, no wisdom.
Most people come to believe in God through what I call the front door of
faith. Something leads them to believe in God. Since that day at Columbia,
however, I regularly renew my faith through the back door -- I see the
confusion and nihilism that godless ideas produce and my faith is restored.
The consequences of secularism have been at least as powerful a force for
faith in my life as religion.
If our universities produced wise men and women, curricula of moral
clarity, and professors who loved liberty and truth, not to mention loved
America -- there is no question that my religious faith would be
challenged. I would look at the temple of secularism, the university, and
see so much goodness and wisdom that I would have to wonder just how
important God and religion were.
But I look at the university and see truth deconstructed, beauty reviled,
America loathed, good and evil inverted, elementary truths about life
denied, and I realize that one very powerful argument for God is that
society cannot function successfully without reference to Him.
So as much as I shudder almost every time I read of another academic taking
an absurd position, I also feel my faith renewed.
Ironically, the worse the universities get, the greater their tribute to
Damian J. Anderson damian@... http://www.unification.net