Peter Thiel’s Reformation-University Comparison Isn’t So Good

Peter Thiel’s Reformation-University Comparison Isn’t So Good

From Breitbart.

Technology giant Peter Thiel argued this week that American universities are as corrupt as the Catholic Church of 500 years ago.

Speaking to a group of conservative students on Wednesday night, tech legend Peter Thiel compared American universities to the Catholic Church of 500 years ago.

“The analogy that I’ve used is that perhaps the universities today are as corrupt as the Catholic Church was 500 years ago,” Thiel said. “If you think about the eve of the Reformation when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the church doors, there were all these priests that did not do very much work in much the same way that college professors and administrators are today. You had to pay these indulgences the way that you have to pay runaway tuition today.”

Thiel went on to argue that American society teaches young people that the quality of their lives will be determined by their success at college. “It’s also a story of salvation,” he added. “If you get a college diploma, you will be saved. If you don’t get one, you will end up in a very bad place. We need a sort of reformation. I’ve often described the universities as the atheist church. It’s not going to reform itself from within. The reformation will come from without.”

This isn’t such a good analogy overall. True, as we have talked about many times, universities are largely busted. But they are not busted in the way the Church was, or not entirely. The University has already had its Great Protest. What it lacks is its true re-formation, its return to Truth.

It’s true the sale of indulgences was busted, as it the sale of “degrees” now. But salvation is still necessary, as is education. You can only get the former through the Church, and the latter in a genuine academy. Problem is, everybody needs salvation, but not everybody needs education—at the university or highest level, that is. The idea that all need go is one of the primary errors promulgated by the Great Protest.

The Church itself needs still needs fixing, as the Cardinal McCarrick scandal is teaching us now. And universities need to be gutted and rebuilt, but without moving to that awful idea introduced in the wake of the Great Protest 500 years ago.

That awful idea? Sola scriptura is already ensconced at universities. It didn’t do any good for Protesting Christians—Truth is draining out fast at all original Protesting sects, and even the newer ones, like Baptists—and it isn’t doing any good for universities, where “truth” never appears without scare quotes. In both cases, people are encouraged to believe whatever they like, as long as it conforms to the ideology du jour. Universities need to return to placing, as Cardinal Newman called, the Queen of Sciences to the forefront.

Most “degrees” are of little to no use, and teach information that could be better learned in a six-month intensive training courses at a fraction of the cost, or taught on the job. Communications as a “degree”? Business? These are largely filler “majors”, nothing but the sale of indulgences for recipients to show HR departments. Who have no imaginations whatsoever.

And don’t get started on “studies” degrees, where students emerge even more ignorant than when they went in, with the detriment of believing much that is false.

Some fields are still okay, of course, and require years of study to master, but social justice ideology is overrunning these, too. These fields are supported by mandatory research. For professors, it’s pay for yourself, not with student tuition, but with government largess. Pay or you’re out. It would be vastly more efficient to move genuinely needed research to institutions devoted to it. Most professors have no business doing it. This move alone would cut out maybe 80% of what is currently called “research”.

Requiring “research” leads to rampant scientism and great nonsense. Here is one out of an endless stream, found by Real Peer Review, who summarized the “study“, “Researchers chatted with 6 long-distance walkers who thought that their walking was beneficial.”

Phenomenological interviews were conducted with six long distance walkers. Data were transcribed verbatim before researchers independently analyzed the transcripts. Participants reported a cumulative effect with positive feelings increasing throughout the duration of the walk.

Research is anyway largely a way to pump “overhead”—the 50% or so of additional funds given by our most beneficent government tacked on to grants—to deans and administration, funds which in turn are used to fund bloated, unnecessary, and harmful programs (i.e. anything to do with “diversity”). Yet, somehow, more money is always needed for larger and larger non-teaching programs. Costs soar.

Maybe something from 5-10%, and that 10% is likely too high, of folks need what used to be considered higher education. 100% need salvation.


  1. Sheri

    Are you sure you’re not just upset you said we had to nuke universities from space and Thiel is now equating the universities to the Catholic Church of the past?

  2. Sola Scriptura is not the problem. Leftist infiltration and deliberate vandalism is. Just as it is in Rome, which has the additional weight of centuries of ignoring Paul’s simple words and thereby promoting homosexuals to positions of power and authority in the Church. I give Rome full credit for this, though – they still don’t allow women to be priests. The ‘equality’ and ‘God loves you no matter what’ movement are the greatest lies the Adversary has spread.

    We can all learn from the Jewish faith about the eventual effects of abandoning the source documents in favor of researching the research of the researchers who researched research.

    Agree wholeheartedly about the idiocy of even trying to send more than 20% of the population to college. Only about 12% have any business going to 2 year colleges, about 6% to 4 years, and about 2% to post-graduate work. (Yes, I made up the numbers. But the ratios should be about right.)

    It’s time to rebuild the trade school and apprenticeship structures.

  3. Gary

    But salvation is still necessary, as is education. You can only get the former through the Church, and the latter in a genuine academy.

    Nope, in both cases. Jesus said “No one comes to the Father except by Me”, not by some organization prone to human failing and corruption that fancies itself an intermediary between man and God. The Church may help some, but has hindered many.

    As for education, it really only comes from our own initiative and curiosity, no matter the avenues traveled. We teach ourselves with the tools at hand. The Academy may help some, but like other monolithic enterprises, has hindered many.

  4. swordfishtrombone

    There hasn’t been any time in history where universities have been less necessary than they are today. You can learn pretty much anything just by watching the right YouTube videos – even string theory.

  5. Ken

    “…salvation is still necessary, as is education. You can only get the former through the Church, and the latter in a genuine academy.”

    The above statement is false. (heretical) Gary, above is correct.


    Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, “REDEMPTORIS MISSIO, On the permanent validity of the Church’s missionary mandate,” … “Given in Rome, at St. Peter’s, on December 7, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Conciliar Decree Ad Gentes, in the year 1990, the thirteenth of my Pontificate.”

    Relevant Excerpt:

    “Salvation in Christ Is Offered to All
    “10. “The universality of salvation means that it is granted NOT only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all. But it is clear that today, as in the past, many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the gospel revelation or to enter the Church. The social and cultural conditions in which they live do not permit this, and frequently they have been brought up in other religious traditions. For such people salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his Sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. It enables each person to attain salvation through his or her free cooperation.”

    ALSO: The other core element of the “Outside the Church there’s no salvation” view is Vatican II’s document ‘Lumen Gentium, 16’. But that is not absolute — though appears so from a cursory reading and deficit of diligent study. For an analysis of that see, for example,

  6. Michael 2

    “everybody needs salvation, but not everybody needs education—at the university or highest level, that is.”

    It seems that levels of education exist and are recognized. Why is this not more widely recognized with salvation?

    There is a salvation from, and a salvation to. The “from” is spiritual death, the “to” is somewhat variable, house of many mansions kind of thing. Church exists to help with the “to” part.


  7. Shecky R

    As Feynman might’ve said, humans need salvation about as much as birds need ornithology…

  8. True Faith

    Yes, Feynman, of the famously moral and upright character.
    I think I’ll stick with what Jesus did say.

  9. Sander van der Wal


    The only thing you will learn from watching video’s on youtube is that most people don’t know how to make a watchable youtube video. Let alone a making video you can learn String theory from by mere watching it.

  10. Michael 2

    Sander van der Wal, improperly speaking for others, writes: “The only thing you will learn from watching video’s on youtube is that most people don’t know how to make a watchable youtube video.”

    1. The fact that people watch youtube videos is strong evidence of their watchability. Admittedly some are better than others. Fortunately, for now, I can choose which ones I want to watch.

    2. I learned how to loosen a disk brake rotor from its hub by watching a youtube video. (Screw in a pair of 10 mm bolts and they will push against the hub).

    3. Many people don’t know how to properly use the apostrophe.

    4. “As Feynman might’ve said” The number of things someone named Feynman might have said is probably infinite. A shorter list would be things he is recorded as having said.

  11. Joy

    Feynman knew what he was talking about.
    Give it some careful thought.

    Youtube is a threat to all those who are possessive and insecure about knowledge and information being allowed to pass to everybody. Rather like the Thomas Moores of the day but without the torture.

    Those who fret about the freedom to think of others who are always sources of information to be avoided and not trusted:

    Mainstream media,
    Many teachers and lecturers at all levels, it’s in their blood, some of them,
    Religious fanatics who are losing their grip.
    Proffesionals who have been bloating salaries and making hay while the public is ignorant.
    Odious characters all.

    It’s all and always was about the quality not the quantity of information.

    There are no points for preaching to the choir.

  12. Joy

    Briggs just can’t help himself but childishly refer to his fellow christians as protesting christians. I childishly avoid capitals in my first sentence in protest.

    Universities started IN and WITH the church. So how far back does your superficial bugbear go?

    For a more truthful and less histrionic representation of the reformation, listen to this lecture.

    The depth and breadth of this man’s knowledge on all religion and philosophy is enormous and he presents in a very humble way. Sure sign he isn’t insecure in his facts or his faith.

    As for the changes in church and university. Really it’s nothing that a change in male female power balance wouldn’t solve and that is something very likely to change in the coming years. Briggs would zip it if he thought men had more power. That’s all it’s about. Not some deep and meaningful spiritual truth. It’s all about power.

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