Sunday 20 May 2012
WHAT EDUCATION DOES NOT TEACH US
We spend so many years of our early life to attain a level of education which prepares us for the working world. Yet there are many things education does not teach us (or if it does, it barely scratches the surface).
It can impart a lot of facts and figures to us, including the tallest mountain or the deepest ocean. But how about wisdom? Not necessarily so.
Education teaches how to calculate but does not teach us what is of greatest value in life.
It hardly teaches us how to be a good father or mother; or how to be a good spouse.
It does not equip us with basic financial literacy so that we can attain financial independence -- hopefully before we retire.
It does not teach us that being ‘street smart’ takes us further in life (in many instances) than being ‘book smart’.
It does not lead us to conclude that we cannot find God merely through intellectual prowess, logic and reasoning.
It does not teach us the significant factors that need to be considered in the decision-making process; how to make wise decisions in so many different areas of life. For example, how to choose a life partner.
Education can transform a man into a dignified, learned and well-respected member of society. But can education give him adequate answers to these troubling questions: Who am I? Am I created by God? Or am I a product of accident or evolution? Why am I here? Is there a purpose in life? Where will I be when I leave this earth? These metaphysical questions continue to confound philosophers and scholars through the ages.
One of them was 17th century French mathematician, physicist and philosopher, Blaise Pascal. Being a scientist, he studied objectively the concepts of vacuum, invented the syringe and created the hydraulic press.
Yet he recognised this truth: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”
Unlike many other philosophers, Pascal believed that “we know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart.” Man cannot know God through the rational process — no matter how great his intellect. Faith, the means by which man comes to know God, is not against reason; it transcends reason. Reason can only help to build faith but it (reason) can never ultimately bring a person to know God.
Here was a genius who happily discovered that God can be known — through faith —and that knowing Him is not incompatible with science or reason.
Like other fellow scientists, Pascal looked for the absolute truth in science. But he eventually found it elsewhere.
These words testify of his conviction up till the time he lay on his death bed:
“Certainty, certainty, heartfelt joy and peace.
God in Jesus Christ.
The world forgotten, and everything, except God.
Let me not be cut off from Him forever!”
In the final analysis, what’s the point being so highly educated, if we’re unsure where we (our souls) are heading when we leave this earth? On this issue, Pascal wrote: “The immortality of the soul is a matter which is of so great consequence to us and which touches us so profoundly that we must have lost all feeling to be indifferent about it.”
For believers whose faith is anchored in Christ, their final hours on earth will be filled with rejoicing: “O Death, where is thy sting?” They can certainly identify with Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Prize winner in Literature, who wrote: “Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”
Thankfully, we can know God by faith in Jesus, the One who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.