A rhinoceros powdering her horn in the bathroom

We are not going to talk about God and war.

That, apparently, is the attitude and policy of many of our universities. They have stopped teaching students about God or religion. They have stopped teaching about war.

In many schools you may earn a degree in history without studying much if anything about religion. You may end up with a liberal arts degree without any knowledge of war.

Now some academics will offer a hundred reasons why they don’t want to teach these subjects.

They will say that God is dead. They will argue that religions have caused all sorts of problems over the centuries. They will point to some religions today and tell you they keep women in slavery. They will claim that whole nations have been smothered by religions.

They will tell you war is evil. That war gains little in the end. That it wastes resources. And beggars nations. And, of course, butchers their young men and civilians. They will assure you war represents a failure of reason. They may also tell you they despised the Korean War, Vietnam War and Iraq War.



To them I say: You have cited a hundred good reasons for teaching these subjects.

How can you call a person “educated” when the person has no knowledge of religion?

How can you say a person’s mind has been trained when you have kept the person from debate over the existence of a creator?

You surely cannot ignore that religion - or the banning of it - has colored every society, every civilization, every era.

You cannot ignore that religion is at the root of our love - in the west - of individual liberties. Or that it is at the root of the denial of liberties in other parts of the world.

Religion has shaped our attitudes toward architecture. Toward constitutions. Toward art. Toward clothing and how we dress. Toward our foods. And particularly our drink. Toward our holidays. Toward our family structures, and our children. Toward our education.

You surely cannot appreciate the formation and history of this country without understanding various branches of various religions.

How can a university leave the study of religion out of its curriculum? This is like teaching science without teaching about water.

Meanwhile, on another front, war is being ignored. Few universities offer courses on war any longer. Their history departments no longer hire profs who specialize in the subject. Academic magazines no longer publish articles on warfare. Publishers turn down academic treatises on war. One reason is that students won’t buy them. Because there are so few courses on the subject.

This certainly amounts to ignoring the rhinoceros powdering her horn in the bathroom.

Like it or not, war has created most of the boundaries of countries. Obviously, war has crushed the lives of countless millions. You can barely find a spot on this earth that war - or its absence - or its threat - has not affected.

Do the academics feel if we ignore war it will go away? Do they feel this is their contribution to a more peaceful world? That their students are less likely to ever enlist or support a war if they are kept in the dark about the subject? Are they afraid that if they teach about war and warfare they will inadvertently glorify it for students?

How do wars come about? How have they been fought? How are they fought today? How will they be fought in future? How might they have been avoided? How might they have been won, if fought differently? In other words, who did what to whom on the battlefield and high seas? They all seem like questions that any “educated” person should be able to discuss and answer. Along with similar questions about religion.

Pity that academics don’t see it that way.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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