Renaissance, Science and God: Paradox of Modern Western Education—XI [And here is the conclusion]

We need education that gives a sense of peace, and creates a balance among the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of our lives
"Slowly and discreetly, modern western education finally succeeded in shaping the mind of modern man to accept materialism as normal and materialistic education as the only way to know."
 [Representational Image]
"Slowly and discreetly, modern western education finally succeeded in shaping the mind of modern man to accept materialism as normal and materialistic education as the only way to know." [Representational Image] Special arrangement

In the conclusion, it looks better to summarize what has been said before in the preceding ten articles of this series.

I have so far tried to convey to the readers that Western civilization assumed its present materialistic shape after passing through many stages.

The whole story revolves around religion which acted both as a persecutor and persecuted. The Western religion persecuted the free thinkers for their thinking, and it was the same religion that was persecuted in retaliation by the same thinkers.

We knew that before the 16th century, religious clergy and scientists were at loggerheads in the West. This led to the persecution of scientists like Galileo, Bruno, and many others.

This tussle resulted in the West turning to materialism and a materialistic education system was devised to justify everything that was against religion and spirituality.

Slowly and discreetly, modern western education finally succeeded in shaping the mind of modern man to accept materialism as normal and materialistic education as the only way to know.

The stalwarts of the unholy war against the spiritual nature of man and the universe started collecting the booty right from the emergence of the Renaissance in the 16th century.

Then the 18th-century French revolution and the ensuing ‘Enlightenment’ opened doors for all that is now called ‘Western Civilization’. It paved way for what they call ‘objectivity’ and ‘scientific method’ which culminated in the belief that there is no absolute power called God.

The Enlightenment bore rationalism that created a wave of social unrest in France which swept away, along with many other things, the political power of the Catholic Church with the main aim to establish a reason-based order instituting the ideals of liberty and equity.

Although the philosophy of materialism lost a lot of its attraction in the 20th century, instead of returning to the true religion the void was tried to be filled by creating new gods. Humanism and individualism, subjectivism and relativism, secularism and cynicism, and many other isms viewed the world and its phenomena through a materialistic prism.

The obsession with materialism did the greatest disservice to the man himself at first hand who lost not only the vision of his Creator but also the very purpose of his life. This is the real crisis that modern man has to suffer and modern civilization has to bear the fruits of. Modern Western civilization, due to its exclusive materialistic-rationalism, is bound to fall.

Religion and religious belief in the West were eroded by so many philosophies, ideologies, and movements, as a result of which such generations were born who could hardly know anything about religious truth. As a matter of fact, people born early in the 20th century got replaced by subsequent generations with very weak religious convictions.

This situation needs to change and modern man needs a sound and balanced education that enables him to rediscover and revitalize his lost spirituality. The present education system is one-eyed with only a materialistic outlook while it is utterly blind from the spiritual point of view.

Contemporary man needs to encourage spiritual values to be a part of education to bring growth in his mind, body, and soul, which will in turn develop his true character as Ashraf al-Makhlūqāt (the most honoured of all the creation).

It is only a balanced education, by which we mean a system that caters to the needs of both the physical and spiritual existence of man simultaneously, that can give a sense of peace, wholeness, and balance among the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of our lives. And a balanced education is one that was inculcated by the all the prophets of God who had been sent for the overall guidance of mankind.

They taught that what you see is not the whole reality. Their teaching involved all the virtues of heart, mind and body. They commanded justice and what is good and forbade all what is bad and unjust.

True and undistorted religion is the only remedy to the ills of the one-sided materialistic education. We need an education that bridges the gap between the rational and the revealed.  We need to open he eyes of the heart that can enable us to see beyond manifestation.

Man is not just a machine like a robot but he has a divine potential within him and the purpose of a balanced education is to fulfill that divine potential of our children and to prepare them for true life. A balanced education can give them the tools they need to keep on learning throughout the many experiences that will come to them.

Religion, revealed and retained in its pristine purity, is an important expression of human experience.

Therefore, learning through religious and moral education can enable our children to learn about and from the beliefs, values, practices, and traditions which in turn can empower strong relationships between children and their environment.

Through these relationships, children develop and strengthen their identity and make sense of their cultural values, beliefs, and norms. A mere materialistic education cannot deliver in this direction as the students of a materialistic education may possess poor academic behavior. They might be distracted by their own materialistic possessions and their worldly life.

As materialism tends to be associated with treating others in more competitive, manipulative, and selfish ways, as well as with being less empathetic, such behavior is usually responsible for distress and cynicism in society. That is why the more educated a person is today, the more unsatisfied and stressed he is.

By giving all importance to material possessions like clothes, shoes, electronic gadgets, houses, cars, etc. materialistic education has rendered our students as mere commodities. As a result, values have become meaningless for them.

The west could not understand the pitfalls of materialism until it fell headlong into the pit of uncertainty and lost its purpose in life. Religion could bring it back but it had already done a great disservice for it had lost its own divine character. It had been monopolized by its very friends while its foes gave it the final death blow.

The Western man suffered a lot and now the East is treading the same path of suffering — suffering by getting lost in the wilderness; suffering by losing the sense of being lost. The modern man is lost but he will never let his children come to consciousness by indoctrinating them in schools that they are social animals.

In this series, I tried to present the problem and now in the next series, I shall try to present the solution. Insha Allah

Dr Nazir Ahmad Zargar, Coordinator, Department of Religious Studies, Central University of Kashmir

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not refl ect the views of GK.

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