Why Bother Learning?

I haven’t been very active on here this week, but my school schedule has been pretty hectic. Yeah. I know. You don’t believe me. Fine. Let me delineate…

– I read two chapters of The Consequences of Ideas, on Rene Descartes and John Locke.

– I finished reading Oliver Twist, about 225 pages.

– I read the preface and first two chapters of The Industrial Revolution by T.S. Ashton.

– I’m reading The Mortification of Sin by John Owen, am currently on Chapter 7 of 14.

– I started Insanely Simple by Ken Segall, a book on Apple and their success. Who doesn’t enjoy reading about Apple? 🙂

– I watched a couple Khan Chemistry videos (covalent, ionic, covalent bonds, etc…all that fun stuff!)

– I reviewed the Khan Simple Geometry series and finally mastered the Solid Geometry exercises.

– I watched a Western Civilization History video on early Hebrew history.

And that’s between working 5-6 hours a day. And trying to have some kind of life besides work and school.

This week I still need to finish reading Insanely Simple, The Industrial Revolution, and The Mortification of Sin. Along with the first few chapters of Conceived in Liberty, Volume I. Oh, and a video lecture on Understanding Free Will. Then I will be all done! And ready for next week! 🙂

I think people sometimes wonder how crazy I am to be doing so much studying. After all, I did graduate high school already. And I’m not attending college. I’m not getting college credit for all this. So, why bother?

1) Learning is my hobby. I know it probably sounds intimidating. It sounds high-brow, uber-intellectual, and maybe snobbish. I don’t mean it that way. I don’t learn in order to put others down because of their comparative ignorance. I simply enjoy learning. It makes a lot of sense in light of my introverted personality. The intellectual introvert’s dream is to simply read (alone) for hours on end. Education is conventionally done in a group setting, but as I’ve mentioned before, I have never experienced that. For me, studying is the direct connect between my mind and the world around me. But it is at my pace. In my own time. The way I want it to be. Not forced, not rushed, not at some deadeningly slow speed. Just me and my books. What’s not to love about that?

2) I strongly believe in the importance of understanding the world around us. I think everyone needs a better idea of the bigger picture. There is more to this life than your own little sphere. We all have our spheres. Work. Family. Friends. Our city. Our church. But what about everyone else? What about the universe around you? How do things work? How does the car you drive every day actually work? What do other people do in their spare time? What inspires and motivates them? What do other people believe? How do they think? It seems there are two reasons for people not having a curiosity and interest in what is around them:

In the older generations of our country there seems to be a sense of fear and self-satisfaction. They are afraid that maybe someone else might have it better off than they do, and so they close their minds to that possibility and refuse to consider the validity of other cultures, other ways of living, other ways of thinking. They try to convince themselves that they are better than everyone else, but deep down are afraid that maybe that isn’t true, so they refuse to discover anything else, in case it might be better. Maybe this is an American trait as well, because it is easy as Americans to look down on the rest of the world and ignore the things we could learn from others. They insist that we are the best at everything, our way of life is far superior to that of everyone else, and they just need to try to be exactly like us and then everything would be right in the world. There’s a distrust of differences. Anyone from the Mideast must be a terrorist because they wear different clothes. Maybe Americans are insecure because these Muslims have the courage to be different and stand out in our U.S. culture. Maybe their passion threatens the “easy-believism” and “health, wealth, and prosperity” preaching of modern evangelicalism. I think they have abandoned or lost any moral absolutes, and consequently are left without any justification of their beliefs except “this is how we’ve always done it” or “this is the American way.” This is no answer to the very real problems and questions around us, and they know it but don’t know how to escape the moral confusion, and instead just ignore it altogether.

However, I feel that view doesn’t apply to my generation. I think people my age tend more towards cynicism. A weariness and disinterest in anything new or different. Perhaps this is because they have already attempted to find the purpose for life in knowledge, in new things, in the different and the novel, but being disappointed that it can’t offer the ultimate answers, they don’t think it can offer answers to anything. Without a coherent worldview, without a purpose for being here, without an explanation of how we got here, what reason is there to pursue education? I think this generation has recognized the futility of life, that it is a mere chasing after the wind, and they’ve given up on it. If there is no more to life than this moment, than why live for the future? Why live for eternity if it might not exist? Why think about tomorrow when there is no explanation for it and no promise of purpose? Instead of trying to hold together a patched-up moral framework based only on cultural principles, this generation realizes that doesn’t work, and instead are at least honest in proclaiming the non-existence of any moral absolutes.

I have observed both of these ways of thinking, and it troubles me. Both types of people are trapped in the confines of their minds, when there is so much more. Why live in this tiny little world when there is a grand universe around you?

Christianity and the Christian worldview has given me answers to both extremes:

A) There is a coherent moral framework as given to us by God. There are absolutes. There is such a thing as absolute black and white. Right and wrong. Good and evil. We can be confident in making judgements about certain actions. There are things in this world which are absolutely wrong. We can stand boldly and proclaim them as wrong, and our authority won’t be our cultural background, but the infallible Word of God. We have a filter, a worldview, through which to determine what to take from other cultures and belief systems and what to leave as unbiblical. The Bible also gives us a way to judge what is important, to know which issues are truly moral problems and which ones are not significant in light of eternity. The Bible is a guide to know what battles to fight, and what battles to simply walk away from. There is no time to waste on bickering over the little things; we can’t get distracted, for there is a battle between right and wrong going on in this world.

B) God has given us dignity and purpose in this life. As His creation, every human being is important. We are not the products of slime and mud. We are not simply the descendants of apes. We were created in God’s image. And why? Why are we here? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. This gives us purpose in life. We are here for a reason. We try to run away from this, to ignore it, to hide from the reality, but it is still there. We are supposed to be living for God, not ourselves. This gives us the ultimate reason to exist. And because of that, we can rejoice in this glorious world God has given us. We can study science not to wonder at the order and reason which has come out of supposed non-existence and chaos, but to marvel at the Creator’s wisdom in ordering this universe to function so well. We can read and enjoy fiction because every good book gives us a glimpse into the greater Story of the world that is being written. Everything points us to the Creator and Redeemer of this world, and through Him we are able to enjoy and appreciate what He has made.

I could give other motivations for learning, which I might do in a later post, but those are my primary reasons. It does make it somewhat complicated when someone asks me, “why?” because it would take about an hour to explain my answer, and most people don’t have the time for that 🙂 So that’s why I’m writing this…when they ask, I can simply say to go read my website instead 🙂

 

 

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