Harvard: No Longer “Truth for Christ and the Church”

Yesterday our pastor shared with the congregation an interesting story about Harvard University’s seal and motto. The original motto, “Truth (Veritas) for Christ (Christo) and the Church (Ecclesiae),” was adopted in 1692 and was a part of their original seal as seen below (in Latin):

Original Harvard seal

The motto and shield with this original verbiage can still be found at multiple places on Harvard’s campus. It may be difficult to discern from this picture, but the Harvard Graduate Christian Community website states the following:

Interestingly, the top two books on the shield are face up while the bottom book is face down. This symbolizes the limits of reason, and the need for God’s revelation.

At some point in Harvard’s history the motto was changed to simply “Truth” and the seal changed to that pictured below:

Modern Harvard seal

Notice all three books are now face up. This symbolizes a belief that there is no limit to man’s reasoning and God’s revelation is no longer needed. The change in the motto reflects a change in the university’s mission. The Harvard Graduate Christian Community website states this:

Harvard University was founded in 1636 with the intention of establishing a school to train Christian ministers. In accordance with that vision, Harvard’s “Rules and Precepts,” adopted in 1646, stated (original spelling and Scriptural references retained):

2. Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisedome, Let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seeke it of him (Prov. 2:3).

3. Every one shall so exercise himselfe in reading the Scriptures twice a day, that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein, both in Theoreticall observations of Language and Logick, and in practical and spiritual truths, as his Tutor shall require, according to his ability; seeing the entrance of the word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:130).

This is obviously no longer their mission, and thus “Christ and the Church” were removed from the motto. How sad to see a university that was founded by a minister—solidly believing that knowledge, wisdom, and understanding come only from God’s Word—now believe that truth can be found apart from God and elevate man above God as the ultimate authority.

As I was searching the Harvard website, I came across this article entitled, “Intuitive? Try God.” The article related the research done by several students and professors at Harvard showing that people who believe in God are more likely to rely on intuition then people that don’t. The article states the following:

By linking religious belief to intuition, the study supports the idea that there is something in the cognitive makeup of humans that promotes belief in a higher power. For example, the natural tendency that people have to see a purpose behind random events, or the need to reduce uncertainty in their lives — as well as the anxiety it causes — may promote a belief in God.

In other words, the reason we want to believe in God or some higher power is due to our “cognitive makeup” which is the result of millions of years of evolution and thus may afford some evolutionary advantage.

The Bible states that people believe in God for very different reasons than the Harvard researchers postulate.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:18–22, emphasis added)

Oh, how the hearts of those at Harvard have been darkened, and how foolish they have become because although they know God, they deny Him. Instead of rejoicing in the truth that comes from God’s revelation (1 Corinthians 13:6), they suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). We’ve come to expect such thinking from secular institutions like Harvard, but sadly, this same form of thinking has infiltrated many Christian colleges today.

I encourage you to get our book, Already Compromised, to learn more about the compromise in American Christian colleges today. Also if you’re a student preparing for college (or parent of one!) and want to explore colleges and universities that affirm AiG’s Statement of Faith please attend our College Expo and Conference November 11–12 at the Creation Museum.

Keep fighting the good fight of faith!