The Religious Roots of
the Universities in the
by Tom Faulkner
I'd rather have a department of pornography than adepartment of religion at this university.
In the eighteenth century a remarkable transformation occurred in Western civilization. To a significant extent, intellectual life and religious life parted company, like two streams rising from the same source but flowing in opposite directions down the slopes of a continental divide. One current was Apollonian, understanding itself as cool and rational, carrying with it the universities; the other was Dionysian, given more to the romantic and the emotional, carrying with it the Christian churches. The bifurcation was not absolute, but it left religious intellectuals with a certain amount of explaining to do. In an earlier period Tertullian might be dismissed for asking what Athens has to do with Jerusalem—after all, people could say, he finished as a heretic. But for the past 200 years the situation has been different. It is true that not all modern intellectuals obey Voltaire's order, “Écrasez l'infâme!” 1 But then, neither has there been any doubt in anyone's mind that his synecdoche implies religion.
Western civilization continued to be both intellectual and religious despite this tendency to distinguish the rational mind from the pious heart, and even