FOR AND AGAINST SECULARIZATION
YET ENSURING SOME COHERENCE in learning met only half the problem. For disciplinary specialization threatened not just to crack the unity of learning, but also to cut the ties that bound knowledge to God.
Granted, the threat looked pretty remote in the late nineteenth century, when Protestant Christianity still ruled all but one or two limbs of the academic roost. Granted, too, most researchers who found themselves pursuing specialized work never imagined that their practices might have epistemological implications hostile to monotheism (most probably never imagined their work as having epistemological implications at all). In fact, modern academic specialization in the United States initially developed mostly within explicitly Christian institutions. Granted, further, from the pedagogical point of view, as distinct from epistemological, any problem seemed a merely theoretical one. Colleges and universities were mounting more and more Bible courses, and in general religion flourished in great good health on American campuses. The decades around the turn of the century were the golden age of college YMCAs and Christian Associations.
All this being conceded, a problem nonetheless remained. The protracted mortal illness of moral philosophy was gradually depriving American collegians of their once sturdy understanding of how the world embodied the will of God and how knowledge bodied forth a Christian view of reality. Its demise was also stranding students without the ethical meaning of knowledge, and the moral instruction that followed from it, once likewise provided by moral philosophy. Disciplinary specialization, though still infant, rode the rising tide; the actual fragmenting of academic knowledges made intellectually implausible any project to re-create in higher education an integrated Christian frame of knowledge closely equivalent to moral philosophy. (This is not to speak of other secularizing forces, tending to the same outcome.) In colleges where moral philosophy soldiered on and the faculty slumbered, the crisis might be postponed, but their number was dwindling.
Still, no sense of crisis prevailed, for ways of taming the problem were not in short supply. Key was the long association of Christianity and science in Anglo-American culture, explained in detail in Part I. 1 All truth was God's one truth, whether writ in the Book of Nature or the Book of Scripture; eventually it must all cohere, however dissonant sci