Evangelicalism, intellectual honesty and academic freedom

 Evangelikalismus, intellektuelle Ehrlichkeit und akademische Freiheit

First of all it is vital to realize there are two types of Evangelicals.

1) Conservative Evangelicals believing that everything the Biblical writers intended is true and the Bible is the unique revelation of God to man.

2) Progressive Evangelicals holding the counter-intuitive view that the Biblical writers did mistakes but that everything that God intended through the text is without errors and that the Bible is the unique revelation of God to man.

It turns out that a considerable number of ID-creationists (proponents of Intelligent Design) are conservative Evangelicals.

ExpelledNoIntelligenceAllowed_883476004990_500

They complained very loudly about the alleged lack of academic freedom of defending their form of creationism within the Academia through their film Expelled.

This raises the obvious question: how well does academic freedom fare in Evangelical universities, seminaries and colleges?
The answer is: it is very far from being perfect (which is probably the understatement of the year).

Thom Stark relates the case of Dr. Rollston who got fired because he accurately reported that in most parts of the Bible, women get described as humans of second class (like in all other cultures of the Ancient Near East).

Even more baffling is the fact that Mike Licona got fired, tough he is himself a conservative Evangelical. He wrote in one of his books about the resurrection of Jesus that he believed that Matthew at end of his Gospel did not mean that an army of zombies invaded Jerusalem but intended this as an allegory.

Atheist anti-apologist John Loftus reports similar cases on his blog.

All this non-sense led progressive Evangelical Peter Enns to write a post about the intellectual suicide many honest academics have to go trough within Evangelical institutions because they have no other choice than holding fast to narrow views.

However one might disagree with progressive Evangelicalism, it cannot be denied that this does not lead to the intellectual disasters one sees in fundamentalist circles.

Before whining because they are not allow to teach ID-creationism in public schools, conservative Evangelicals would do much better to keep themselves in check.

Let Jesus have the final word.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

(Mattew 7.3)

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19 thoughts on “Evangelicalism, intellectual honesty and academic freedom

  1. I think the solution could be found in more open debate…”there is nothing new under the sun” with these all these interpretations whether one liberal or conservative, it could help to get some more of the back and forth going? Argument writen and verbal is helpful in getting the schools out in the open.

  2. “They complained very loudly about the alleged lack of academic freedom of defending their form of creationism within the Academia through their film Expelled.”
    – This is the classical fundagelical persecution complex, curiously almost only observed in the USA. Fundagelicals are allergic to equality, if they don´t get special rights, they will complain all day long about what poor little persecuted souls they are.
    Think prayer in schools, if fundagelicals are not allowed to *force* an entire class of students to pray, including students that don´t even identify as Christians, this is obviously anti-Christian bigotry. And if fundagelicals are not allowed to teach their pet-theories in schools without doing some actual research first and convincing the scientific community that their theory is indeed sound, this is obviously also anti-Christian bigotry.

  3. And a quibble with this one:
    “Let Jesus have the final word.

    3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
    – I see how these verses are fitting. However, since you mentioned the “expelled” movie earlier in the post, this does imply that evangelical / christian views actually are persecuted and that evangelicals are just not in a good position to complain about it because they do the same. While it is actually *only* evangelical (and mormon) colleges where academic freedom is being infringed upon, no secular university or research institution has ever fired a tenured researcher for being an outspoken creationist (and they couldn´t do that even if they wanted to).

      • But that´s not the point – white protestants might be discriminated against in Saudi Arabia and other places. That doesn´t change the fact that in the USA, they have *only* priviliges and are nowhere discriminated against while they discriminate against others all the time (even against fellow Christians, particularly in the US military).

        • Yeah but a nice and respectful young-earth-creationist would have a real hard time getting recruited as a lecture.

          I believe that YECreationism is utter non-sense, but it is not morally offensive, and as soon he is kind and respectful, he should not be discriminated.

      • Trouble is, Marc, in the US YECs, no matter how kind and respectful, are continually trying to get their nonsense taught in public school science classes. They are a powerful political force, and are also largely responsible for the climate change denial that is keeping America from doing anything about it. That I do find morally offensive.

        • As long they are respectful I will be respectful to them even tough they also have morally offensive beliefs.

          Currently, I am trying to start a conversation with the people of the Gospel Coalition blogs.
          I try to be kind and respectful. But most of my messages get ignored :=(

      • “Yeah but a nice and respectful young-earth-creationist would have a real hard time getting recruited as a lecture. ”
        – Well first of all, he would only have trouble finding a position in the natural sciences, he would have no trouble at all finding a position in every other field. And even for the natural sciences, he would have no trouble at all finding a position at one of the dozens of private evangelical or mormon colleges, or finding a position as a science teacher for private or even public(!) schools (around 30% of high school teachers for Biology are YECs in the USA…) .
        Second, how is that discrimination? Do you think it is discrimination to not hire a flat-earther to teach a geography class? Do you think it is discrimination that a witch doctor will not get hired as a surgeon? Do you think it would be discrimination to not hire a Richard Carrier to teach sunday school classes for an evangelical church?
        I wouldn´t feel discriminated if I don´t get hired as a sunday school teacher for an evangelical church – I *literally* could not be more unfit for the job they would want me to carry out, and the only possible reason I could have to apply for such a job in the first place, would be because I want to sabotage the church.

        • What I meant is non-official discrimination, people will automatically dismiss their CVs.

          Of course I believe that young earth creationism is utterly ridiculous and absurd and I would not hire such an individual for teaching biology because they would lead astray their students about all the evolutionary aspects.

          However if I were to choose someone to teach applied pharmacology, I would TRY not paying attention to the fact she believes the earth was created 6 thousands (or 3 for that matter) days ago.

          But this is just me.

      • “However if I were to choose someone to teach applied pharmacology, I would TRY not paying attention to the fact she believes the earth was created 6 thousands (or 3 for that matter) days ago.”
        – Of course. Neither would I. I would believe that he is a fool in this respect but I wouldn´t make this a reason not to hire someone for such a job. And there is no evidence that such discrimination in fact happens. There are thousands of YEC engineers (most YECs with academic credentials tend to be engineers), doctors etc. How are they discriminated against? Take Dr. Ben Carson – he is an excellent (even outstanding) neurosurgeon and the fact that he is a very devout christian and a YEC doesn´t hurt his career at all, quite the opposite, the republicans desperately want to get him to run for politics because the religious right loves him.
        This discrimination is very asymmetrical, in politics for example most Christians would never vote for an out-of-the-closet atheist but this virtually never happens the other way around – admitting that you are an atheist is a political death sentence unless you run in an *extremely* liberal district. Admitting that you are a devout christian or a YEC doesn´t hurt your chances at all. Even the “Committee on Science, Space and Technology” of the United States Congress is full of YECs (and climate change deniers and assorted other ignoramuses).

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