It’s not that… (5/12/2010)


Often, the most thought provoking things occur as I’m turning off the TV or leaving the room.  I hear something from a talking head that makes me almost stop mid stride. 


Today, I heard one of those heads say something about wouldn’t it just be awful if technology wasn’t available in the classroom (paraphrase).  The implication was that students would need to sit and listen and take notes like we old folks once did.


It quickly occurred to me that the problem in the classroom wasn’t that tools and methods weren’t in use, but that the knowledge being taught and learned was.  Let’s say that a current high school graduate received his degree and went on to be a contestant on “Are you smarter than a 5th grader.” A question was asked about what shape best describes the the earth and the answers were plane, point, and sphere.  We would be shocked and disappointed if said graduate chose a plane as his final answer.  We would be incredulous that someone this educated still believed in a flat earth.


I give you Ben Franklin’s creed:


You desire to know something of my religion. It is the first time I have been questioned upon it. But I cannot take your curiosity amiss, and shall endeavor in a few words to gratify it.


Here is my creed.  

I believe in one God, the creator of the universe.

That he governs by his providence.

That he ought to be worshipped.

That the most acceptable service we render to him is doing good to his other children.

That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this.


These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them.  


As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire,   I think his system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble.


I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequences, as probably it has, of making his doctrines more respected and more observed; especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any peculiar marks of his displeasure.  


Benj. Franklin, Letter to Ezra Stiles, 9 March 1790, in John Bigelow, ed., The Works of Benjamin Franklin, at 12:185-86 (New York: Putnam’s, 1904).


This old man knew more of the truth than the many “wise” men of this age.  The truth contained in his creed is the truth that is missing in the classroom.  The method of teaching it and the tools available are much less significant than the truth itself.


May we once again learn to think God's thoughts after Him. 


May God help us return to a love of His truth.


Copyright 2010 – Mike Fletcher