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Professors and Pharisees

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Recently, someone wrote to me complaining of a “recent and dangerous trend” of attacks on intellectuals coming from “those on the right.” The writer’s ostensible purpose was to shield intellectuals from “attacks.” His real purpose was to shield them from criticism.


Nothing could be more dangerous than shielding today’s intellectual, particularly the secular university professor, from criticism. It is precisely because they are so coddled and shielded (read: tenured) that they have become modern day Pharisees.

Jesus was not nice to the Pharisees. In fact, He had this to say to them: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23: 27-28).

David Wheaton, author of University of Destruction, correctly points out that there were two principal reasons why Jesus reserved his harshest judgment for the Pharisees. The first was that they were proud. The second was that they were liars, or false teachers.

It has long been understood that academics are a proud bunch. But few realize just how dishonest academics have become. This hasn’t always been the case. But the increasing secularization of higher education has reduced the felt obligation of academics to adhere to the truth. In fact, many question the very existence of truth, perhaps as a way of avoiding condemnation for refusing to tell it.

For ages, professors have been guilty of advancing ideas before they were supported by evidence. Today, they are guilty of the far greater misdeed of continuing to advance ideas long after they have been refuted by evidence. Examples of this trend are numerous.


Today, feminist professors continue to advance the idea that there are no innate differences between men and women despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. They continue to advance the idea of widespread gender discrimination in pay despite mountains of evidence to the contrary.

Liberal Arts professors continue to promote the idea that there is widespread racism in the loan application process despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. They liberally continue to promote the idea that there is widespread racism in the application of the death penalty despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. (In reality, most of those who commit murder are black while most of those who are executed are white).

Sadly, this trend is not limited to the social sciences and humanities. It has infected the hard sciences as well. Intellectuals continue to promote the idea of global warming despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Even those caught in the act of fudging data are unwilling to relinquish their cause.

Apparently, no wealth of evidence is so great that “intellectuals” cannot suppress it in order to preserve their role in finding a “solution” to our collective “problems.” Yet their prideful lies are all uttered under the guise of serving the best interests of “society.”

Those who sincerely believe that recent attacks on academics have been too harsh should turn their attention to Proverbs 6:16-19, which says: “There are six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.”


Of whom do you think first when you read about “a lying tongue” and “hands who shed innocent blood”? Is it the feminist professor who tells her students that having an abortion is no different from picking a scab?

Of whom are you reminded when you read about those who sow “discord among brethren”? Is it the 88 professors at Duke University who wrote a letter condemning their own students for a “racially motivated rape” that never happened (and refused to recant after it was shown that they were wrong)?

Why did the Duke Professors perpetuate the lie? Was it simply a matter of pride? The parallels between the Pharisees of Jesus’ time and the intellectuals of our time are simply too numerous and too chilling close to ignore. Yet most ignore them.

Psalm 14:1 says that “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.” These seem like harsh words but many have observed that the flood of strange and foolish ideas flowing from the ivory tower has followed closely on the heels of the efforts of intellectuals to expel God from the academy.

Today’s intellectual should not be offended by the notion that he is a fool, rather than someone with special knowledge deserving of special recognition. In fact, today’s intellectual is more likely than ever to proclaim that every idea is equal to the next. So the idea that he is wise can be no better or worse than the idea that he is a fool.


Before we elevate the intellectual to a position that is above criticism, we must remember that every human being has ideas. And this should serve as a reminder that the professor’s sole justification for existence is that his ideas are better than ours. And we should judge the value of the intellectual’s ideas in light of the consequences they have for our own lives.

I take recent academic proclamations of moral relativism as an invitation to critique the academy. And I advise students who hear a professor proclaim that all ideas are equal to drop his class immediately. If he believes such a thing his ideas are no better than that of a student. He is therefore intellectually unfit to be a professor.

Of course, the professor who insincerely proclaims that all ideas are equal is unqualified for a different reason. He is a liar and, therefore, morally unfit to be a professor.

The recent trend of intellectual allegiance to postmodernism and moral relativism is overwhelmingly insincere. Ironically, the intellectual feigns a disdain for judgment because it gives him an air of moral superiority. That is why the intellectual lies and pretends to adopt beliefs he professes to be no better than others. He does it so he will appear to be better than others.

If the postmodern intellectual is right about one thing it is that he is no better than the Pharisee. That is why he is deserving of harsh condemnation rather than ritualistic devotion.


For further reading: Intellectuals and Society, by Thomas Sowell; University of Destruction, by David Wheaton.


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