Bible

Is it intolerance to have Bibles in students’ rooms, or intolerance to remove them?

The Students’ Union at Aberystwyth University in Wales voted 300-175 – out of 10,000 students – to remove the “tradition” of Gideon Bibles in residence halls, the U.K.’s Christian Institute reports.

They said it’s “inappropriate in a multicultural university” to provide Bibles to students, but the alumnus who leads the Bible Society responded: “The answer to a diverse and multicultural society is not to remove all traces of diversity. That seems illiberal and intolerant.”

The school will now consider whether to implement the resolution.

Read the story.

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Slate’s Will Saletan has a feature on a professor you’ve probably never heard of, but who is portrayed as a sort of Moses leading his people – scientists who lay claim to both Christianity and evolution – to the promised land.

Rather than massacre the Canaanites, though, the University of Wisconsin’s Jeff Hardin and his ragtag band of chosen people are going to patronize their opponents – evolution-doubting Christians – into submission.

Because this kind of article hasn’t been written hundreds of times before, Saletan (who I corresponded with a decade ago) sets it up for you:

Today, Hardin speaks for an emerging school of Christian thinkers. They call themselves evolutionary creationists. They believe that God authored the emergence of life and humankind but that evolution explains how this process unfolded. They accept what science has established: The Earth is billions of years old, and all species, including ours, have evolved from other species.

Hardin understands why many Christians recoil from evolution. But to believe in a young Earth, he says, you have to reject so much science that you can’t do research in related fields. “Intelligent design” tries to be more sophisticated, but you can’t build science around it, because it makes no testable predictions.

jeffhardinHardin, who chairs UW’s zoology department, made these points in a presentation last month at the Faith Angle Forum. It’s a shindig staged by the Ethics & Public Policy Center, whose stated purpose is “applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy.”

Which makes Hardin an odd choice as a conference speaker for the group, because he appears to be arguing for the same tired “separate but equal” approach, which also exasperates militant atheists.

And he comes off as the stereotypical enlightened scientist who loves Jesus (we had plenty of these at Seattle Pacific, my alma mater), thinking that anyone who questions modern evolutionary science simply needs a soothing lecture with a few Bible verses thrown in.

They remind me of the Gnostics.

Preempting debate with appeals to authority

Let’s all sit down, children, and hear from Dr. Hardin:

Hardin’s first message to believers is that they don’t have to choose between mechanical explanation and teleology, the idea that things work toward a goal. You can recognize the ruthless dynamics of evolution, as Hardin does, while maintaining that it follows a divine plan. “God created the world with the intention that we would be here and that we would one day be capable of interacting with him,” says Hardin. …

Second, Hardin wants evangelicals to trust God. If God made the world, they shouldn’t be afraid to see his creation as it is. Hardin approaches science with serene faith. He believes that the evidence he encounters—what Francis Bacon called the “Book of God’s Works”—will be compatible with the Bible.

Hardin recognizes, crucially, that when the two books don’t seem to match, the error might be in his own understanding of the Bible. Rather than reject what science has discovered, he asks how scripture can be understood better so that it fits the scientific evidence.

This glosses over so much it’s hard to know where to begin. For example, there’s vibrant debate in theology circles over how the violence and gore of natural selection over millions of years can fit into God’s pronouncement of a “very good” creation before the ruinous effects of sin. It goes to God’s very nature.

And that’s the point: there’s a debate. When I hear scientists like Hardin speak, I get the impression they’re looking for a metaphorical wormhole – a shortcut through the messy universe of diverging scientific views.

Minorities and academic freedom

I’ll lay my cards on the table: having worked for the Discovery Institute, among other things the academic home of the intelligent design movement, way back in the day, I was at one point pretty well versed in these issues despite being assigned to different programs.

Since I’m not a scientist, I can’t credibly critique anyone’s defense of a particular theory (remember Stephen Jay Gould’s punctuated equilibrium?).

What I can do is note that I worked with some pretty damn smart people whose own mainstream scientific studies led them away from the mainstream Darwinian paradigm – folks who have Ph.D.’s in biochemistry and molecular and cell biology and astronomy, both agnostic and Christian math geniuses, none anywhere near “creationists,” all arguing for views that make them despised minorities within the scientific community.

In contrast to today’s often ludicrous harassment codes at public universities, some of these folks have literally had their academic careers threatened because they dared to acknowledge these matters can be debated.

I don’t think that’s what Hardin wants, but he doesn’t seem to have a much higher view of the Christians he’s trying to convince.

Such folks may have trouble with the concept of a “very good” creation resulting from God as a Game of Thrones sadist. They may find the evidence for “irreducible complexity,” which Saletan finds goofy, more persuasive than “it somehow sorta happened,” or ask how Hardin accounts for the relatively sudden emergence of major phyla in the Cambrian explosion. They may be fans of Thomas Kuhn and think the neo-Darwinian framework – whose own precise internal components are hotly debated in science journals – is ripe for its own paradigm shift.

It would be great if instead of teaching science Sunday school to those backward evangelicals, Hardin would acknowledge they have valid reasons for being skeptical of his proselytizing.

Are they his brothers and sisters in Christ, or his subjects under the magisterium of materialism?

Greg Piper is an assistant editor at The College Fix. (@GregPiper)

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IMAGE: recapnow/Flickr, University of Wisconsin

Fox News reports:

The family of a second-grade student at a Texas elementary school says their daughter’s teacher took her Bible away during a “read to myself” session.

The Liberty Institute, a nonprofit legal group specializing in religious liberty cases, says the family reached out for assistance after a teacher at Hamilton Elementary in Cypress allegedly told the girl not to bring the Bible back to school again.

The teacher reportedly said the Bible is inappropriate reading material…

Read the full story here.

Fox News reports something that will probably make you sick if you care about the future of our military, or about–I dunno–little Constitutional rights like free speech:

The Air Force Academy removed a Bible verse posted on a cadet’s whiteboard after it determined the posting had offended other cadets, a spokesman for the academy said.

The cadet wrote the passage on the whiteboard posted outside his room. “I have been crucified with Christ therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me,” the verse from Galatians read.

Mikey Weinstein, director of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told me 29 cadets and four faculty and staff members contacted his organization to complain about the Christian passage.

“Had it been in his room – not a problem,” Weinstein told me. “It’s not about the belief. It’s about the time, the place and the manner.”

He said the Bible verse on the cadet’s personal whiteboard created a hostile environment at the academy…

So when a student hangs a Bible verse on the outside of his door, that’s now considered a “hostile environment”?

The Air Force cadets and faculty who complained about a simple Bible verse are either the biggest wimps in history, or else Christianity is simply no longer welcome at the Air Force academy.

I wonder if today’s Air Force academy leaders are familiar with the First Amendment?

Probably not.

Mind you, the supreme sensitivity to religion these folks suffer from didn’t stop the Air Force Academy from building a special worship area for pagans, wiccans, and druids, on campus a few years ago.

Sounds like a bunch of hypocrites to me.

Why do I get the feeling that our military academies are going down hill in quality faster than a gold medalist on greased skis–eagerly transforming into cesspools full of politically correct B.S.?

Read the full story here.

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Last week we reported that a Southern California teacher seized a first grader’s bible verses at school and threw them in the trash, telling the little boy, “Jesus is not allowed at school.” Today, a similar story has emerged out of California, involving another first grader, a girl who was silenced and shamed when she began talking about her faith during a class presentation.

Truth Revolt reports details:

On December 19, a school teacher in Temecula, California told her first grade student, Brynn Williams, that she could not present her family’s Christmas tradition of a star of Bethlehem at her school, according to local reports.

Brynn’s class was assigned to do a 1-minute presentation about an object that best represents their family’s Christmas tradition. When Brynn stood up to give her presentation, she began reciting a Bible verse just before the teacher interrupted and told her to ”go take your seat”. She was the only student not allowed to finish her presentation.

“When this took place she was hurt,” said Brynn’s father Shane, “she felt that she had done something wrong and she was going to be punished.”

Brynn’s family has since sought legal counsel with Advocates for Faith & Freedom.

“The disapproval and hostility that Christian students have come to experience in our nation’s public schools has become epidemic,” said Robert Tyler, general counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom…

Read the full story here.

We’re not even talking about evangelizing kids, or teaching religion in schools here. We’re simply talking about a child’s desire to express his or her personal beliefs in during a class presentation.

If a Muslim student got up to talk about her families traditions during Ramadan, would this teacher have silenced her and told her to “go take her seat.” Or if the little girl had been talking about how her family celebrates “Kwanzaa” or the Hindu festival of lights? Would the teacher have suddenly cut her off and shut her down?

No way.

On the contrary, you can count on the fact any of these “exotic,” ethnically-flavored religions would inspire the utmost interest and encouragement from the average liberal California educator. Such children would be applauded, and held up as paragons of diversity.

Why is it any different for a kid who happens to be a Christian?

Here’s why: Christianity is the faith secularist liberals associate with plain-old non-progressive, non-diverse, largely conservative white folks. These secularists will tolerate and sometimes even encourage some religious expression, so long as it fulfills the requirements of adding an element of racial diversity or multiculturalism to he classroom.

But in the mind of the leftist educator, Christianity is the one faith that must not be mentioned, talked about, or expressed–not even during a presentation that is supposed to be about a child’s “family Christmas tradition.” Because, you know, Sarah Palin and George W. Bush believe that stuff too…

There’s something very pitiful about an adult shouting down a little kid who innocently tries to share her family’s Christmas traditions, as she was assigned to do.

What is it about these California teachers? Why do they find a child’s faith so threatening?

(Via Drudge)

Breitbart reports that outspoken Obama supporter and rock musician Bruce Springsteen will be the subject of a theology class at Rutgers University. Yes, “theology.”

Known for teaching courses in early rabbinic literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jewish mysticism and Plato, a professor at Rutgers University is now looking to the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen to enlighten first year students.

Azzan Yadin-Israel, an associate professor of Jewish studies and classics, will offer a Byrne Seminar, exploring the theological underpinnings of Springsteen’s lyrics, and the song writer’s reinterpretation of biblical stories…

How much does Rutgers cost per year to attend? For out-of-state students, the price tag is $39,101 for 2013-14.

$39,101 is a lot to pay for a Bruce Springsteen Bible class, wouldn’t you say?

Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix and author of the book SEX & GOD AT YALE: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.

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