The shame of our schools not teaching history through the eyes of the brilliant thinkers of antiquity is that students come to think John Stewart and Stephen Colbert are smartest people that ever lived. This is not to say Colbert and Stewart aren't wickedly smart people, but they are not thinkers. They are mockers. They make fun of the reasoned notions and the time worn conclusions of everything and everyone that came before them. Whatever value they may add to the culture is meager and fleeting. So be it, they're entertainers.
To single out Stewart and Colbert is unfair, there are multitudes of sharp minds in the modern culture. A sharp mind like Howard Stern's in my eyes has been completely wasted on self aggrandizement and pornography. You can say he's an entertainer and he's just doing his job, besides people like pornography. That doesn't mean it isn't a waste. So too with Chelsea Handler. Clearly this woman is sharp, but like Stern she wallows in put downs and lowest common denominator observations. She appeals to basest parts of our psyche, and because she is a woman it's interesting, but no less a waste. Again these two are just entertainers doing their part to lower discourse and encourage thoughtlessness. Besides, they are cool, and cool is all that matters. Being a Mr. Smartypants is so uncool.
This is as much an indictment of the greater culture, particularly parenting and the educational system as it is anything else. It's entertainers not parents and teachers who inform and literally shape the minds of the young with their flippant and cynical representations of everything good and decent. Eternal truth and beauty are replaced with degeneracy and mental pornography.
It wasn't always like this. There was a time when striving for knowledge, truth and beauty were cool. Before the advent of electronic mass media people like Edison, Tesla and Einstein were stars. The value to the world these people made is incalculable. Contrast and compare to the Kardashian's or JayZ and Beyonce of today. Even just narrowing on entertainment, consider that Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson to name a few were as revered for their contribution to the intellect of the young mind as much as for the entertainment value of their work. One would hope they are still teaching about these great minds in schools.
People today want to think that we are so intellectually superior to the generations that came before that it's pointless to even consider the value of past genius. We are not superior, not by a long stretch. Our technology is but our thinkers are not.
In this age of enlightenment that began in the last half of the 18th century it was the separation of science from natural theology that has lead inexorably to this cultural phenomenon. How many know that the field of "science" was only professionalized within the last 150 years? Natural sciences had been the realm of theologians in the Western world since long before the dark ages. Theology was the most professionalized field in existence for centuries. Every scientific truth uncovered in antiquity that we still recognize today was brought forth by theists and theologians. These facts are no less valuable today. It was theists like Galileo, Copernicus and Issac Newton who set the foundations for astronomy that we still rely on today to send men into space.
There were countless great minds of the past like Blaise Pascal and John Locke and others, theologians and believers whose contribution to modern philosophy is immense. If they are taught in schools at all their Christianity is suppressed. Great thinkers like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas are shunned completely in public schools. Even the modern saint Rev. Martin Luther King (named after the great Christian reformer Martin Luther) has his pastor title stripped in all public discourse. More modern thinkers and Christians like CS Lewis, Walker Percy and Peter Kreeft are merely lost in the cosmos - so to speak - as far as younger generations are concerned.
The old phrase throwing the baby out with the bath water comes to mind. In the all out effort to secularize the culture all the societal and moral value of the Christian era is being systematically wiped out. As if no redeeming societal significance comes from Christianity itself or the great minds of it's believers, past or present. As if washing the hands of the crimes committed by the overarching Christendom that proceeded the historical figure of Jesus Christ is justified, it is the height of insanity to erase the greatest single influence of the Western world. The Jesus of the Gospels never condoned many of things done in his name.
As such it's one thing to downplay or suppress "God" or "Jesus" in every aspect of modern life, it's quite another to be openly hostile to the point of making laws against it - which is where we are heading. There are school districts that are planning to ban Jesus Christ - the historical figure - from the curriculum. The Jesus of the Gospels is probably the greatest cultural teacher that ever lived. Whether one believes in the deity of Christ or not to pretend he or his legacy never existed is a crime perpetrated on children.
The question is why is this happening? Well... Do we really not know?
Anyway, as the natural sciences separated and emerged as a distinct profession outside of theology the false narrative emerged that Christianity was somehow always at odds with reason and rationalism. It is now a given that there is a warfare between "religion and science". It's not true now and it has never been true. Even the battle over Darwinism is a false narrative spoon fed by intransigent atheists on one side and equally intransigent Christians on the other. Most of Christianity sees no real conflict between evolutionary concepts and the providence of God - yes, and especially the Catholic Church.
Modern man thinks he knows so much, but he doesn't or won't know himself; an unexamined soul sees no sin and therefore rejects it. He lives in a culture based on moral relativism, where nothing is more true than anything else, it only matters where you are seeing it from, and more importantly how you feel about it. Therefore nothing can really be known, especially about the self. With his mind steeped in relativism he rejects sin and the existence of evil. He can't draw the line between what is good and righteous and what is vile and disgusting.
For all the smart people alive today do any of them bother to question why the culture is adrift in a sea of turmoil with nothing to guide it to safe shores? I thought not.