Pharyngula

Wheaton is a weird place

Wheaton has a good academic reputation, but man, it’s the little things that make it frightening. I would not want to live in the theocratic world it represents. Hank Fox has a couple of stories about Wheaton.

The first is the blog of a recent graduate of Wheaton who determined halfway through his undergraduate education that he was an atheist. It sounds like it was rough. He’s ended the blog, though, with a statement that “…now that I’m slightly closer to the real world, I just don’t think it’s that important whether you’re an atheist or a Christian” — which is true. The differences are accentuated when you’re wrapped up in a culture that makes religious belief central to everything; when Christians back off and don’t make their ridiculous superstitions a prerequisite to participation in politics and everyday life, they are entirely tolerable. I think the anonymous student is a little bit optimistic in his confidence that religion won’t intrude on him as much in wider American culture, but perhaps compared to Wheaton, that’s also true.

The second is more disturbing. A professor of English at Wheaton got a divorce from his wife — which the university considers grounds for firing him. The college actually has staff people who assess faculty divorces to determine whether they meet “Biblical standards,” and if they don’t, pffft, you’re gone. This isn’t a guy who was doing substandard work, nor, as his comments reveal, did he abandon Christianity. Other faculty have lost their job for converting to Catholicism. This is just plain freaky: “Wheaton requires faculty and staff to sign a faith statement and adhere to standards of conduct in areas including marriage.”

Has anyone noticed that our evil secular universities do not monitor the personal beliefs of their faculty, and do not consider going to the church of your choice grounds for dismissal? We even let our students believe whatever they want!

Comments

  1. #1 Gene
    April 30, 2008

    But it’s the poor, poor people of faith who find themselves run out of academia at every turn. It’s true! Ben Stein told me so!

  2. #2 Dave Wisker
    April 30, 2008

    Has anyone noticed that our evil secular universities do not monitor the personal beliefs of their faculty, and do not consider going to the church of your choice grounds for dismissal? We even let our students believe whatever they want!

    Therefore secular universities are seedbeds for evil.

  3. #3 Moggie
    April 30, 2008

    Jazz hands!

  4. #4 freelunch
    April 30, 2008

    I’ll give Wheaton a D- instead of an F for the divorce thing. Compared to all of the marriage hypocrites who loudly allege that they are Christian but tolerate divorce while attacking marriages by those they don’t like, the Wheaton folks are paragons of consistency, if not virtue or kindness.

    On the other hand, Wheaton is one of the most enlightened of the colleges which are still subjected to strong religious influence, so that doesn’t bode well for the religiously influenced colleges who are a step above Bible colleges.

  5. #5 chezjake
    April 30, 2008

    To avoid confusion and unwarranted deprecation of a good college, I think it’s important to always distinguish the fundie Wheaton of Illinois from the older, non-sectarian liberal arts Wheaton College in Norton, Mass.
    http://www.wheatoncollege.edu/about/

  6. #6 wazza
    April 30, 2008

    I bet when he tells that story at his next job interview they’ll think he’s trying to cover something up…

    it’s just too unbelievable.

  7. #7 Cheezits
    April 30, 2008

    Has anyone noticed that our evil secular universities do not monitor the personal beliefs of their faculty, and do not consider going to the church of your choice grounds for dismissal?

    That’s pretty much the definition of “secular”, isn’t it?

    Makes you wonder who’s really doing the *expelling*! I mean, it does if you’re not blinded by fundy religion.

  8. #8 NC Paul
    April 30, 2008

    “The college actually has staff people who assess faculty divorces to determine whether they meet “Biblical standards,” and if they don’t, pffft, you’re gone.

    I hope they’re rigorous and expelling people wearing mixed fibres. Wouldn’t want to be selective with our Biblical standards now, would we?

  9. #9 kid bitzer
    April 30, 2008

    i think a fair level of ridicule and censure of wheaton grads is justified here.

    wheaton has, as you and hank say, a reputation for being academically respectable. and this is part of what allows them to continue drawing good students and good faculty.

    but the fact is, no institution that practices this sort of mindless discrimination and thought-control is really an intellectually respectable place.

    wheaton is getting away with a con, a misrepresentation: pretending to be intellectually serious when they fail the central tests of intellectual honesty.

    so i think it’s time that the rest of us stop giving them a pass. stop saying “but it’s a pretty good school, academically,” and instead say “it’s really just another bob jones u. which has gotten away with it longer”.

    as their public image drifts down to reflect the reality of what they really are, they will find it harder and harder to attract good people, and accordingly harder and harder to screw over good people like the student and teacher mentioned in fox’s post.

    or, if wheaton grads want to keep saying that they went to a serious school, they should make changes in the administration to turn it into a serious school. most of the ivies began as clergy-training indoctrination institutes. they got over it, and turned into real universities. wheaton faces the same choice.

  10. #10 Mrs Tilton
    April 30, 2008

    Has anyone noticed that our evil secular universities do not monitor the personal beliefs of their faculty, and do not consider going to the church of your choice grounds for dismissal?

    But that’s just not true! After all, Secular Liberal Humanism — the most powerful religion in America — routinely expels from the academy brilliant scientists who belong to the tiny, powerless, despised Christian minority.

    (Don’t believe me? I know it’s true because there’s a documentary that says so. What — did you think that’s something I’d take on faith alone?!)

  11. #11 MAJeff, OM
    April 30, 2008

    I’m doing my PhD at a Catholic school. First time I’ve been in a non-public educational institution. It’s a weird place. They adhere to state law and provide benefits to married same-sex partners, but they refuse to allow discussion of condoms in any type of HIV-prevention education. They cancelled a dance for gay students because it wasn’t in keeping with the school’s catholic purpose, but one of the sponsors was Hillel–which would also seem to not really be in keeping with that Catholic identity…

    Religious schools are strange places.

  12. #12 Tim Fuller
    April 30, 2008

    I think that cheating on your wife is grounds for me to fire you if I’m your employer. If your wife can’t trust you, then I can’t trust you. Nothing to do with Jesus.

    Sadly, being in Mississippi, I’ve had the opportunity to witness GodColleges up close and personal. My wife spent some time at Belhaven College here in Jackson. She told them she was Jewish so they would quit hounding her to convert her all the time! She managed to ‘opt out’ of Bible classes (or prayer or whatever it was) by PAYING an extra FEE. A baptist version of Catholic indulgences. Math classes started with a thanks to God for inventing the numbers.

    Enjoy.

  13. #13 MAJeff, OM
    April 30, 2008

    I think that cheating on your wife is grounds for me to fire you if I’m your employer. If your wife can’t trust you, then I can’t trust you

    So, as an employer, you think that my personal life is your business? You get my time and my work, not my life.

  14. #14 reason
    April 30, 2008

    I didn’t know where to post this, put there is a great article title in Der Spiegel:

    Wie ansteckend sind Selbstmord, Trunksucht und Christentum?

    For non-German speakers

    How contageous are suicide, alcoholism and Christianity?

  15. #15 heddle
    April 30, 2008

    I’m not sure how anyone can make the Wheaton case out as a sort of reversed Expelled. About ten years ago I was encouraged to apply for a faculty job there. Part of the application contained a statement of behavior (I don’t remember what it was called) but it included a promise not to drink alcohol–not just in public but at all, even in your own home. (I also don’t know if they still require that.) Well I like my beer so I couldn’t sign that, so I didn’t apply. But if I had signed it, then I knew what I was promising, and would have no grounds to complain if I couldn’t live up to it and were dismissed.

    kid bitzer,

    I hope they’re rigorous and expelling people wearing mixed fibres. Wouldn’t want to be selective with our Biblical standards now, would we?

    Wouldn’t want to be sophisticated with our criticisms, now would we?

    Whether they are or are not selective, your argument about mixed fibers is irrelevant. That is the same dumb-ass comment that, IIRC, the Brownian OM guy likes to make. I won’t argue it here, but I just made a reply to a similar brain-dead comment on Brayton’s blog. So if you want you can find it there: http://tinyurl.com/6ztztc

  16. #16 Blake Stacey
    April 30, 2008

    I think that cheating on your wife is grounds for me to fire you if I’m your employer. If your wife can’t trust you, then I can’t trust you. Nothing to do with Jesus.

    Sure, cheating on one’s spouse might be sign of general untrustworthiness, but it might also stem from a source which is completely unrelated to one’s job and doesn’t affect job performance at all. Maybe the couple turned out to be sexually incompatible, and this has been causing frustration for years. I’d hardly be surprised if one or both partners “slipped” and had relations with somebody else; unless that somebody was a coworker, the affair would have nothing to do with either partner’s job. The circumstances might not excuse the violation of trust, but they can explain it.

  17. #17 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 30, 2008

    Expelled for not living up to some arbitrarily enforced moral code. I thought all divorce was a no-no biblically.

    The real expelled.

  18. #18 Blake Stacey
    April 30, 2008

    MAJeff, OM:

    So, as an employer, you think that my personal life is your business? You get my time and my work, not my life.

    Exactly.

  19. #19 JJR
    April 30, 2008

    I think that cheating on your wife is grounds for me to fire you if I’m your employer. If your wife can’t trust you, then I can’t trust you. Nothing to do with Jesus.

    Tell it to the (secular) judge, because if you openly terminate someone for that reason, you’re gettin’ your *ss sued so fast it’ll make your head spin. You do know you can’t even ask someone if they’re married in the first place when interviewing someone for a job, right?

    Unfortunately for the Professor, it was a condition spelled out in his employment contract, so he’s kind of S.O.L.
    Hopefully he will find work again at a respectable, SECULAR institution.

  20. #20 Mark
    April 30, 2008

    The previous posts are indicative of intolerance. If you don’t like the rules, don’t work or attend. Seek employment elsewhere, but quit thinking your perspective is always correct and others are “wierd”. Intolerance of intolerance is still intolerance. I don’t claim to be tolerant, therefore I can’t tolerate this.

  21. #21 Moses
    April 30, 2008

    I have a good friend who was kicked off the faculty at David Lipscomb University. He was married to a borderline-personality-disorder wife who decided he was evil, etc. and went whole-hog in trying to destroy his life. When she divorced him, he got fired from Lipscomb, plus he was also the preacher at one of the larger Church of Christ churches, so he lost that job too. Lucky for him he also had a small, side-line CPA firm with its bookkeeping and tax practice which he was able to pursue full-time and replace this income after a couple of tight years.

    In the 20 years since she lied her way through court, tried to sever his relationship with his children and destroy his career, business and reputation, he’s gotten re-married, he has great relationships with his four kids who hate their mother and won’t talk to her, and his business is netting him more money than he ever made as a preacher/teacher.

    And he’s got a much healthier religious outlook. He’s still Church of Christ, but he no longer is part of the hell-fire-and-brimstone crowd. Rather, he goes to the most liberal Church of Christ church in our city which is practically “moderate” by modern religious standards.

    And while we butt heads on religion and politics, because he still has some blind spots when it comes to Republicans and just what the hell “regulated capitalism” versus “free market capitalism” really means… He’s okay.

  22. #22 negentropyeater
    April 30, 2008

    Tim, #12
    “I think that cheating on your wife is grounds for me to fire you if I’m your employer. If your wife can’t trust you, then I can’t trust you.”

    Why ? Because the reasons which might lead one to cheat on one’s wife are the same as the ones that might lead one to cheat on one’s employer ?
    Or because, if someone cheats ounce, he is a cheater for life ?
    You got a very crooked and immature take on life my friend. Nothing personal, but honestly, just try to reconsider a little bit what you are writing.
    Sorry.

  23. #23 Mark
    April 30, 2008

    “So, as an employer, you think that my personal life is your business? You get my time and my work, not my life.”

    Yes, if your personal life indicates your character, by all means… it is my business. In your scenario, you are a different person at work then in a personal setting?

  24. #24 MAJeff, OM
    April 30, 2008

    In your scenario, you are a different person at work then in a personal setting?

    None of your business.

  25. #25 JJR
    April 30, 2008

    Besides, the Prof’s story didn’t say he cheated on his wife. He prefers not to discuss his divorce publicly, nor does his wife, and I respect their rights to their private lives.

    I never cheated on my ex-wife, she never cheated on me. It was simply a matter of irreconcilable differences. She was a control freak, and she returned to her fundamentalist upbringing’s world-view. I never represented myself as anything other than an atheist, right up front; My Ex was an “agnostic” experiencing what I guess was a temporary “crisis of faith” when we hooked up. As her friend, then boyfriend, then fiancee then husband I tried to live by example and show her that an atheist could be a good, moral person, but she always had nagging doubts, too much cognitive dissonance. When her “crisis of faith” ended, hastened to a close, I have no doubt, by the movie Passion of the Christ, which I reluctantly agreed to watch with her, our marriage became at bottom untenable, and we went our separate ways.

    I will only ever work for secular employers, even though I have considered and been considered for positions at Catholic institutions…Catholic schools are a little more tolerant and willing to consider employing Jews and even atheists if the specific job doesn’t require adherence to dogma, and if the employee agrees not to publicly undermine the institution’s mission. But now that I’m gainfully employed by a secular state-supported university, I’d like to keep it that way the rest of my career in academia.

  26. #26 Virginia
    April 30, 2008

    According to Matthew 19, the only lawful grounds for “putting your wife away” is “fornication,” presumably on her part.

    Couldn’t he have persuaded her to volunteer for adultery, like Woody Allen’s wife did in one of his comedy bits?

    I was a bit surprised to read this, since Protestants, even of the evangelical variety, are usually much more tolerant of divorce than Catholics, or at least I thought so.

  27. #27 Alverant
    April 30, 2008

    Can we separate the Wheaton college from the Wheaton city please? I live in the city of Wheaton which does contain the college. It’s a good town and shouldn’t be smeered by the petty actions of a college.

  28. #28 Moses
    April 30, 2008

    I think that cheating on your wife is grounds for me to fire you if I’m your employer. If your wife can’t trust you, then I can’t trust you. Nothing to do with Jesus.

    Posted by: Tim Fuller | April 30, 2008 9:07 AM

    You do that for cause and, depending on the State, you just may find yourself in deep doggie doo faster than the ex-employee’s lawyer can file a wrongful termination lawsuit. And even if they don’t win under a Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealings or an Implied Contract suit because At Will is so strong here in America it screws your moral and will cost you about $30,000 to defend.

    Making it a Pyrrhic victory, indeed.

  29. #29 Alverant
    April 30, 2008

    Can we separate the Wheaton college from the Wheaton city please? I live in the city of Wheaton which does contain the college. It’s a good town and shouldn’t be smeered by the petty actions of a college.

  30. #30 Alverant
    April 30, 2008

    Can we separate the Wheaton college from the Wheaton city please? I live in the city of Wheaton which does contain the college. It’s a good town and shouldn’t be smeered by the petty actions of a college.

  31. #31 Alverant
    April 30, 2008

    Can we separate the Wheaton college from the Wheaton city please? I live in the city of Wheaton which does contain the college. It’s a good town and shouldn’t be smeered by the petty actions of a college.

  32. #32 heddle
    April 30, 2008

    MAJeff, OM

    I am curious, how far you will take this point. In all these examples are there no grounds for dismissal?

    1) A secretary in a synagogue is found to attend, after hours, meetings at a (pick one) virulently anti-Semitic organizations.

    2) A receptionist at an abortion clinic who takes names and phone numbers of patients seeking information is found to attend, after hours, a militant anti-abortion organization.

    3) A white fund raiser at the NAACP is found to attend, after hours, Klan meetings.

    4) An editor of a biology journal is found to belong to several YEC organizations.

    5) A male elementary school teacher is found to belong to NAMBLA.

    And then imagine, as in the case of (private) Wheaton, the employees mentioned affirmed, as part of their job offer, that they would not engage in activities that are viewed as contrary to their employer’s mission, and that they affirmed and would continue to affirm the basic beliefs of the private organization employing them?

  33. #33 Alverant
    April 30, 2008

    Sorry about the triple post. My browser is acting weird.

  34. #34 negentropyeater
    April 30, 2008

    Mark #23,

    Mark, oh, Mark,
    please, what does “cheating on one’s wife” (which by the way the article doesn’t mention, but let’s assume for the sake of the argument that he did “cheat on his wife”) indicate about someone’s character, and someone’s ability to perform his job ???

    Please be my guest …

  35. #35 reason
    April 30, 2008

    Why do you think he was cheating on his wife? It doesn’t say so in the article – in fact it says this:

    “Many theological conservatives say the New Testament permits divorce only in cases of adultery or desertion.”

    So cheating is OK.

  36. #36 AJS
    April 30, 2008

    A professor of English at Wheaton got a divorce from his wife — which the university considers grounds for firing him.

    How the hell is that even remotely legal?

    Aren’t there laws to protect employees from their employers’ interference while they are off the clock? Separation of professional and personal lives, and all that ….. ?

  37. #37 William Cowan
    April 30, 2008

    I’m actually rather surprised that my hometown has taken this long to get noticed. I can remember back in high school at Wheaton North when they staged “Jesus Christ Superstar” and a whole ton of people got upset. So the next year the administration made sure to appease the upset fundies by staging the much more Gospel-friendly “Godspell.”

    Wheaton College also had a ban on dancing at any college sponsored event…unless it was square dancing, THAT was allowed. This ban was in effect until 3 or 4 years ago when the college rescinded the ban. One step at a time, I guess…

    I can also remember the constant proselytizing by some students at school. Mind you, this was never IN class, the teachers were really good about keeping the focus on the lesson. Say what you want about Wheaton College, but the public schools were pretty good at keeping things secular. I got a superb education in Wheaton, and never was there a controversy over evolution that I can remember. I took biology my sophomore and junior years, and then zoology my senior year, and never was evolution attacked or creationism covertly inserted.

    I can also remember going to to youth groups with classmates who were members of College Church,(Wheaton College’s official church) and thinking to myself: “This is WAY weirder than Sunday school—both Catholic and Protestant!” (My mom is Catholic, dad is protestant, so we split time between churches, usually. It’s probably why I had such a cosmopolitan view of religion from an early age.) The youth meetings were typical of most fundie meetings: submit to jayzuz, turn away from fornication (the nefarious “gay agenda” hadn’t yet been discovered, so not much on homosexuality), beware of satan, etc. etc. It wasn’t scary for me at the time, because I was still a Christian, but I was definitely weirded out.

    But now that I think more about it, Wheaton isn’t that bad a place. It’s clean, has a low crime rate, good schools, and if you don’t mind seeing a Church on every corner (Wheaton has more churches per sq. mile than anywhere else in the nation, or so it goes) than you probably won’t think it’s anything more than a typical suburban community.

    Just don’t get pulled over by the cops and don’t talk politics. They like their conformity…

  38. #38 raven
    April 30, 2008

    Wheaton will fire you for not believing a talking snake caused Western Civilization. Or for teaching anthropology from a nonbiblical perspective. You know, all that nonsense about Home erectus, Lucy the Australopithecine, stone age, H. habilis, and all the rest of those fake fossils planted by satan, Dawkins, and Myers.

    They did just that to Dr. Bolyanatz, details below. Wheaton is a fundie Death Cult doublethink tank. The constant interrogations and firings are normal. For a totalitarian regime of fanatics, purges are standard operating procedure. Bolyanatz was luck, he wasn’t tortured, exiled to the Gulag, or shot. They’re working on it though.

    chronicle.com 2000:

    Clinging to Religious Identity

    Mr. Bolyanatz and his supporters think he was tripped up by unwritten rules. A firm believer in evolution, he gave little credence to creationism during his lectures on human origins. But, he says, he never felt that he was violating Wheaton’s religious ethos. “I would say, ‘Faith does not discount the evolutionary model. The evolutionary model does not discount faith.’”

    [My Note. Got that one wrong. Take that you Darwinist!!!]

    At Wheaton, however, the faith statement holds that “God directly created Adam and Eve.” After sitting in on several of the professor’s lectures, Mr. Jones, the provost, wrote him a scathing memorandum stating that while he was not required to advocate creationism, Mr. Bolyanatz was expected to treat it with respect.

    Mr. Jones declines to comment on the specifics of the Bolyanatz case, but says his complaint about creationism was just part of a larger concern that the former professor had undermined the “thoughtful engagement of theology” in his classroom. He rejects the campus talk that Mr. Bolyanatz’s firing shows that teaching is being judged there by an ever-stricter orthodoxy. “There was never a moment in my discussion with him that I doubted his sincerity in subscribing to our statement of faith,” he says.

  39. #39 N'Mom
    April 30, 2008

    This morning Reddit had a pointer to a blog entry listing a hole bunch of similar stories that occurred at Christian schools around North America, including Wheaton.

    http://www.sunclipse.org/?p=626?

  40. #40 Carlie
    April 30, 2008

    And who says he was cheating on his wife? What if his wife was the one cheating on him? What if they were simply incompatible? Mark is perilously close to the viewpoint that all divorce is bad, ever. So, Mark, would you refuse to hire someone who had ever been divorced? What about someone who had never been married, but had gone through a string of bad relationships? Are you, Mark, as an employer, going to call every person an interviewee has ever been in contact with to make sure they had never treated anyone badly?

  41. #41 PhysioProf
    April 30, 2008

    Apropos to your Pee Wee Herman post, I wonder if they fire faculty for whacking off?

  42. #42 gir
    April 30, 2008

    My brother went to Wheaton. He still lives there and is homeschooling his kids. I give my nieces and nephews dinosaur books for their birthdays.

  43. #43 Armchair Dissident
    April 30, 2008

    Intolerance of intolerance is still intolerance

    No, it isn’t.

  44. #44 raven
    April 30, 2008

    The college actually has staff people who assess faculty divorces to determine whether they meet “Biblical standards,” and if they don’t, pffft, you’re gone.

    Ah yes, the Thought Police. I assume they also have an equivalent to the KGB or Stasi as well. Too bad the laws in the USA prevent waterboarding and private Gulags or Wheaton would be well on its way to Orwell’s 1984.

    Oh that is right, waterboarding is legal. Well, one down and one to go. The fundie Death Cults want to turn the USA into a toxic swamp of ignorance and persecution just like Wheaton.

  45. #45 JimC
    April 30, 2008

    I’ll give Wheaton a D- instead of an F for the divorce thing. Compared to all of the marriage hypocrites who loudly allege that they are Christian but tolerate divorce while attacking marriages by those they don’t like, the Wheaton folks are paragons of consistency, if not virtue or kindness

    Somewhat ok, They get an F for not understanding fully the passage they pretend to understand. Lanquage scholars Al Maxey, Olan Hicks, and a host of other have laid the above take bare. This has got to be one of the most missused biblical passages.

    I think that cheating on your wife is grounds for me to fire you if I’m your employer. If your wife can’t trust you, then I can’t trust you. Nothing to do with Jesus

    Thats just stupid. What does a personal relationship have to do with work performance? Why would it be your business in any event?

    Yes, if your personal life indicates your character, by all means… it is my business. In your scenario, you are a different person at work then in a personal setting?

    No it isn’t. And yes you can be an excellent employee and piss poor as a mate. They are not mutually exclusive. And as one commenter said cheating once does not mean it will happen again.

  46. #46 negentropyeater
    April 30, 2008

    This is fucking amazing, amazing. You americans never stop surprising me.

    For god’s sake, we French had a PRESIDENT (Mitterand) who was CHEATING ON HIS WIFE, he even had a child with that woman (ooooh how baaaad), and you know what, nobody cared. Everybody knew. Noone cared.

    Did we think ? OOOH he can’t be trusted, he’s a cheater, he’s a baaaad president. Nope.

    Because the reasons why love relationships get broken have absolutely no bearing on the professional compentency of the individuals involved.

  47. #47 freelunch
    April 30, 2008

    Intolerance of intolerance is still intolerance.

    Your comment comes across as a completely silly piece of nonsense. Tolerance does not require you to tolerate everything. It does not force you to treat lies with the same respect that you treat truth. It does not force you to equate the moral worth of a mass murderer with that of Albert Schweitzer.

  48. #48 Steve LaBonne
    April 30, 2008

    I guess our friends Tim, Mark and of course good old Muddleheddle will be voting for the happily married, Obama and not for the serial adulterer McCain, who ditched his first wife for a rich heiress with whom he took up while still married, and married within months of his divorce. Right?

  49. #49 BaldySlaphead
    April 30, 2008

    At 13: Tim – if you stopped fucking your employees, I think this issue of the lack of trust might disappear for you and you can then judge them solely on how well they do their jobs.

    Hope this helps.

  50. #50 Steve LaBonne
    April 30, 2008

    You americans never stop surprising me.

    We’re the gift that keeps on giving!

  51. #51 heddle
    April 30, 2008

    raven,

    Wheaton will fire you for not believing a talking snake caused Western Civilization.

    You do not know what you are talking about. They do ask you to affirm what they consider core beliefs, and that probably includes affirming the historicity of Adam and Eve, but they do not ask you to affirm YEC-ism or a literal interpretations of Genesis (talking snakes.) I know faculty at Wheaton who are public about their non-literal view of Genesis.

    Are you just pulling this stuff out of your ass?

    Here is a good friend of mine, a fellow nuclear physicist and the chairman of the physics department, arguing for anon-literal interpretations of genesis: http://tinyurl.com/5ldy9v

    You can and will disagree with what he writes, but it disputes your claim.

  52. #52 JimC
    April 30, 2008

    Because the reasons why love relationships get broken have absolutely no bearing on the professional compentency of the individuals involved

    Exactly 100% correct. What form of deluded individual thinks I have the same level of relationship with my employer as I have with my wife?

  53. #53 freelunch
    April 30, 2008

    negentropyeater-

    We Americans, on the other hand, have a total idiot as president who never tells the truth when he can lie, who never does anything competently when he can screw it up completely but he has never been accused of cheating on his wife.

  54. #54 Steve LaBonne
    April 30, 2008

    What form of deluded individual thinks I have the same level of relationship with my employer as I have with my wife?

    The kind I wouldn’t work for in a million years. Kids, this is why you need to have up to date, marketable skills so that you’re not at the mercy of your current employer.

  55. #55 heddle
    April 30, 2008

    Steve LaBonne,

    Yes I am voting for Obama. A rare sound deduction on your part.

  56. #56 Steve LaBonne
    April 30, 2008

    Well, good for you. And I mean that completely sincerely.

  57. #57 Che-Taylor
    April 30, 2008

    These alleged Christians at this college don’t know the first thing about Jesus. They are a legalistic as the people Jesus railed against. They set up little tribunals to judge this man reasons for getting a divorce rather than offering forgiveness and allowing him to heal.

    They have made his yoke heavy and not light as Jesus intended. They have quite literally bastardized the very intent of what he tried to do.

    I guess they prefer marriages without love- a virtual prison, a hell on Earth – to redemption and a fresh start.

    Could the devil do worse than people like this?

  58. #58 TomJoe
    April 30, 2008

    Has anyone noticed that our evil secular universities do not monitor the personal beliefs of their faculty …

    Really? I think Dr. Willian Gray might beg to differ on that one.

  59. #59 Emmet Caulfield
    April 30, 2008

    I think that cheating on your wife is grounds for me to fire you if I’m your employer.

    You can think whatever you want, but if you acted on that anytime in the last 32 years in the EU, you’d be forced to re-hire the employee, pay damages, legal expenses, and be fined so heavily, he’d end up owning your business, your house, and your dog… and you’d deserve it.

  60. #60 David Marjanovi?, OM
    April 30, 2008

    I think that cheating on your wife is grounds for me to fire you if I’m your employer. If your wife can’t trust you, then I can’t trust you.

    Does not follow. Does not follow at all.

    For example, you have not even contemplated the possibility that your wife, not you, might have run away. Nor have you considered the fact that your relationship to your employer is (hopefully) not the same kind of relationship as that to your wife.

    I smell stupid oxide. Learn to think things through.

  61. #61 Che-Taylor
    April 30, 2008

    Yes I am voting for Obama. A rare sound deduction on your part

    For reasons other than the above I hope.

  62. #62 Steve LaBonne
    April 30, 2008

    TomJoe- how hilarious that you evidently didn’t read the article you linked to, whose subject flatly denies exactly what you’re insinuating.

  63. #63 JimC
    April 30, 2008

    do ask you to affirm what they consider core beliefs, and that probably includes affirming the historicity of Adam and Eve, but they do not ask you to affirm YEC-ism or a literal interpretations of Genesis (talking snakes

    Good grief man they make you say you think Adam and Eve where real people and you cling to the talking snake comment? Hell a literal interpretation makes more sense than trying to morph it all together later.

    Good to hear you find the bible inaccurate on this point after all your apologetics everywhere. So the talking serpent didn’t exist and was just ‘metaphor’ huh?

  64. #64 heddle
    April 30, 2008

    JimC,

    What I believe is not relevant. The point was that raven #38 was incorrect in claiming that Wheaton would fire you if you did not take a literal view of Genesis.

  65. #65 TomJoe
    April 30, 2008

    Steve, I read it. I can link you to several articles right now which discuss the situation and how Dr. Gray obviously felt (still feels?) that CSU is reigning him in based on his views on global warming. CSU has placed several stipulations on continuing to report his forecasts, and one can imagine that part of that would be that Dr. Gray retract some of his more “volatile” rhetoric on the whole situation. Or does that never happen in real life?

  66. #66 JimC
    April 30, 2008

    I think raven #38 is more right than wrong. Adam and Eve as real people is certainly literal. One literal aspect for certain but literal. You can’t have one part literal and another metaphor.

    Well I guess you can do anything but it wouldn’t be sensible or reasonable to pretend the writer wanted magic making people appear but no magic for talking snakes.

    It’s a matter of consistency.

  67. #67 raven
    April 30, 2008

    heddle:

    You do not know what you are talking about. They do ask you to affirm what they consider core beliefs, and that probably includes affirming the historicity of Adam and Eve, but they do not ask you to affirm YEC-ism or a literal interpretations of Genesis (talking snakes.) I know faculty at Wheaton who are public about their non-literal view of Genesis.

    I can read. I’m not into denial, twisting the truth, or defending ignorant fanatics. Dr. Boyanatz was Expelled, fired by the Wheaton Thought Police for being an evolution acceptor. It is public knowledge and has been written up many times. Just the facts reposted below.

    Hard to teach physical anthropology if one has to ignore 6 million years of the fossil record. Bolyanatz was fired for not being willing or able to do that. Another victim of fundie persecution, one of over a dozen.

    Mr. Bolyanatz and his supporters think he was tripped up by unwritten rules. A firm believer in evolution, he gave little credence to creationism during his lectures on human origins. But, he says, he never felt that he was violating Wheaton’s religious ethos. “I would say, ‘Faith does not discount the evolutionary model. The evolutionary model does not discount faith.’”

    [My Note. Got that one wrong. Take that you Darwinist!!!]

    At Wheaton, however, the faith statement holds that “God directly created Adam and Eve.”

  68. #68 Steven Sullivan
    April 30, 2008

    [QUOTE]I think that cheating on your wife is grounds for me to fire you if I’m your employer. If your wife can’t trust you, then I can’t trust you. Nothing to do with Jesus.[/QUOTE]

    You would have ‘fired’ Einstein then. Good call!

  69. #69 newseamus moore
    April 30, 2008

    You think Wheaton is bad. I spent 4 long years at BIOLA UNIV. in California. No Dancing, No Alcohol, No Masturbation, No Homosexuals, No questioning the inerrancy of the Bible (I tried; believe me!).

    I even got an F in a class because I refused to go out “witnessing” to strangers!

    I went in at age 18 “questioning my faith”….I left that institution a 22-yr-old staunch atheist! Well, I was actually told to leave after my adviser found out I was drinking alcohol (I was over 21!) and smoking marijuana (yet still going to class and turning in my coursework)

  70. #70 ennui
    April 30, 2008

    My father did his undergrad (B.S. Chemistry, B.S. Geology) at Wheaton in the early 60′s. He is a fundie Nazarene, YEC kook, and passionate AGW denier, having been married and divorced three times. So that turned out well.

    It might be humorous, at least in this case, if Wheaton policed their former students’ lives, too, and rescinded degrees for marital dissolutions.

  71. #71 Neil Schipper
    April 30, 2008

    Has anyone noticed that our evil secular universities do not monitor the personal beliefs…

    This touches on a weak spot in the attitudes of many public atheists, what the theist conservatives call faith in liberalism. Where do you find the higher levels of binge drinking? Where have the “Girls Gone Wild!”? Where is there a greater prevalence of thinking of higher ed as primarily a means to an economic end (“Will this be on the exam?”-ism, purchased essays and other forms of cheating, and overall sullenness)? I don’t have data at hand, but my gut tells me holding to a secular-good, religious-bad line doesn’t face up to the realities of what is amiss in secular institutions of higher ed.

    Look, the thought patterns of real people in the real world, especially for us truth-accepting materialists, emerge from biochemistry (rendering so much of the soc and psych of the last century unimpressive). Zygote initialized with genes; embryo influenced by the developmental environment — mom’s eating, drinking, anxiety, etc; early childhood driven by a zillion influences — the maternal gaze, exposure to talk, parental anxiety, etc.

    Likewise, for a young adult, college is a kind of cocoon (as the workforce is for an adult). The watchfulness, explicit expectations, stern glances, reprimands, etc. of the people around her comprise a neurochemical environment. It’s only in theory, i.e., the land of wishful thinking, where students are predominantly on a self-motivated journey for knowledge and understanding. In the reality of entertainment/consumer culture, there is intense distraction and temptation. Enlightenment-individualism-secularism’s bold abandonment of magic stories has not been without consequence; it’s capacity to construct an effective, sustainable hive has yet to be fully demonstrated. The mental wall that the religious build up, the one that keeps out conceiving reality as undesigned, without a plan, and without ultimate reward and punishment, is also a protective wall that favours practicing commitment to the hive, self-control, delayed gratification, internalizing abstractions of fairness and justice. One does not have to want this to be the case in order to reflect on whether it is largely in accord with reality.

  72. #72 Nick Gotts
    April 30, 2008

    Here is a good friend of mine, a fellow nuclear physicist and the chairman of the physics department, arguing for anon-literal interpretations of genesis: http://tinyurl.com/5ldy9v

    You can and will disagree with what he writes, but it disputes your claim.

    – heddle

    I do urge everyone to follow heddle’s link – the best laugh I’ve had in a week! I had thought perhaps heddle was a little nearer rationality than most of this blog’s Christian visitors, but the fact that he admits being a friend of the fruitcake at the other end of the link, and apparently takes the vapourings therein seriously, have disabused me of that notion.

  73. #73 raven
    April 30, 2008

    Bitterman was fired for not teaching about the talking snake theory of the origins of Western Civilization. This is a common fundie belief. In one believes that the earth is 6,000 years old, the smart ass snake is responsible in part for apple eating from the Tree of Knowledge and thus of “good and evil”. And here we are, the 21st century.

    Of course about this time, the Sumerians were inventing glue and beer and agriculture was 4,000 years old. Trying to squeeze a 13.7 billion year old universe into a tiny 6,000 year old hole can be difficult.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/09/24/literal_truth/

    US teacher fired for non-literal bible reading
    Of course there was a talking snake, stupid

    By Lucy Sherriff ? More by this authorPublished Monday 24th September 2007 09:44 GMT
    ——————————————————————————–
    A teacher at a US community college in Red Oak, Iowa says he was fired after telling his students not to interpret the story of Adam and Eve as a literal account of events circa BC 4000.

    Steve Bitterman, 60, who was teaching a western civilisation course at Southwestern Community College, said he often used extracts from the Old Testament as part of the class. The class was being broadcast to students in a second college in Osceola, and a group of students from that class complained that the teacher was “denigrating their religion”.

    According to the Des Moines Register, Bitterman said: “I’m just a little bit shocked myself that a college in good standing would back up students who insist that people who have been through college and have a master’s degree, a couple actually, have to teach that there were such things as talking snakes or lose their job.”

  74. #74 Steve LaBonne
    April 30, 2008

    Neil, what you don’t get is that I have no desire to live in a “hive”. Go hang out with ants if that’s what you’re into.

    And if you think college students were more serious and better-behaved in the “good old days” and had less “distraction and temptation”, you understand nothing at all of college life in the pre-meritocracy days of the “gentleman’s C”.

  75. #75 Hap
    April 30, 2008

    I think that Scotts (the fertilizer/lawn people) fire you if you smoke (not just at work, but anywhere). Cleveland Clinic, I believe, will not hire smokers (I do not know if they went so far as to fire them if they already worked there and refused to stop smoking). Both have presumably claimed that the savings in health care costs justifies their decisions. I don’t think they have been prevented from doing this or sued for doing so. I really don’t like it at all – they want added control over their employees’ activities but aren’t willing to compensate for it (kind of like what employers would like to do in general with health care – make the employees pay for it but not raise their pay enough to do so, if at all). My employer does have certain control over my activities – I can’t speak out for my employer, or develop competing products, for example, but I think there are certain rights I can’t give away (an employer can make me, but if they try to enforce them, the will likely not be able to – general noncompete clauses, for example). (IANAL, though). I don’t think what isn’t explicit covered by my work agreements (and, where it conflicts with law, some things that are) is within my employers purview – they shouldn’t punish me for what I might do, only for what I do do. I don’t think this would wash for employers if I committed violent acts, though – the possibility of such (since I’ve already done it) might make them at risk enough to fire me preemptively, and I’m not certain how wrong (if at all) I think that would be.

    #12: your statement would (perhaps) be fair if you treat your employees as if you were married to them. Since almost no employers do so (many treating their employees like condoms – use once, then discard), the expectation that an employer should have such substantive input into the lives of his employees seems hypocritical – you want the power over their behavior, but are unwilling to accept the responsibility that comes with it.

  76. #76 Quiet_Desperation
    April 30, 2008

    News flash! Religious institution does things in a religious manner! (Carefully doctored) Film at 11!

    Seriously, slow neas day, PZ? ;-)

  77. #77 JimC
    April 30, 2008

    I had thought perhaps heddle was a little nearer rationality

    You must be a newbie. He spins the most amusing apologetics all over science blogs. He became detached from rational thinking some time ago.

    Although the fact that he likes the Steelers keeps him on my good side. That and I actually agree with him about once a year. He and I chew the same theological dirt so to speak but I find his understanding of his religion to be in it’s infancy. He hasn’t matured yet. I think he was a late convert. I think/hope he’ll emerge somewhat embarrassed by the arguments he currently persues.

  78. #78 heddle
    April 30, 2008

    raven,

    What does the Bitterman case (#73) have to do with Wheaton College? I don’t see any connection.

    Nick Gotts,

    I do urge everyone to follow heddle’s link – the best laugh I’ve had in a week! I had thought perhaps heddle was a little nearer rationality than most of this blog’s Christian visitors, but the fact that he admits being a friend of the fruitcake at the other end of the link, and apparently takes the vapourings therein seriously, have disabused me of that notion.

    Actually I do not agree with him on this, but that is not relevant. Do you dump your friends if you disagree with them? I have YEC friends, dispensationalist friends, Arminian friends, ID-friends, atheist friends–by your logic I should dump them too?

    No, I prefer to agree to disagree with my friends. If that makes me, as you indicated, less rational than you believed– well I can live with that.

  79. #79 SteveF
    April 30, 2008

    The Wheaton geology faculty has an excellent (really excellent) Pleistocene geologist, Jim Clark. I’d be surprised if he didn’t accept evolution. It’s possible I suppose, but he certainly isn’t a YEC.

    http://www.wheaton.edu/geology/clark.html

    I was also interested in David’s beer related comment. I imagine the geology department had a get out clause for the no drinking allowed stipulation. I can’t imagine any geologists accepting employment at a no booze institution!

  80. #80 JimC
    April 30, 2008

    Do you dump your friends if you disagree with them? I have YEC friends, dispensationalist friends, Arminian friends, ID-friends, atheist friends–by your logic I should dump them too?

    Twice a year, I agree with heddle here.

    Religion is primarily an opinion. You can have differing ones and be fine.

  81. #81 Schmeer
    April 30, 2008

    TomJoe,
    Read the article that you referenced. Dr. Gray does retract the memo he wrote claiming censorship. He attributes it to a misunderstanding that was later resolved.

    Your reading comprehension is a-fucking-mazing.

    Just because you can point to a few message boards where loonies are wildly speculating that someone is being persecuted for his beliefs does not necessitate any similarity to reality.

    Your ability to think logically is equally a-fucking-mazing.

    p.s. Mark, I am not, nor have I ever been tolerant. And you are incapable of being reasonable, douche bag.

  82. #82 TomJoe
    April 30, 2008

    Yes, I am aware of the fact that he has “retracted” his claims. I would to if 25 years of painstaking work were to be threatened by the administration I worked under. I bet you would to. My point remains the same … that big state institutions are just as capable of being political, money-making machines which can cave to the right pressures and censor their employees for their professional and personal beliefs. Do they come right out and say such? No, that would be stupid … but I think if someone were to be just a tad bit critical (like people are more than capable of being when it comes to Wheaton), they’d be able to see it.

    They just don’t want to.

  83. #83 jck
    April 30, 2008

    I grew up in West Chicago, next door to Wheaton. We had a lot of teachers from Wheaton College. While they aren’t as fire-and-brimstone as most graduates of evangelical madrassas, they are more subtle about their proselytizing. Still, they try. I think half the kids I went to high school with are born-again now.

  84. #84 Liz Ditz
    April 30, 2008

    I wouldn’t want to be the public relations person for the Norton, MA Wheaton College right now. You know, the secular Wheaton with a robust science department — especially for a college with an enrollment of 1550.

    Even otherwise-knowledgeable people mix up the two Wheatons, as I discovered last spring when my daughter was applying to college (including Wheaton — MA). One of her high school teachers wondered why the non-religious girl was applying to “that Christian college”.

  85. #85 Schmeer
    April 30, 2008

    TomJoe,
    There is no evidence to support your claims of censorship of Dr. Gray. You seem to think that you know what he really thinks, but doesn’t say. Where are you getting your information from?

    If there were any threat to Dr. Gray’s future employment it might have something to do with the terrible job he’s done in the last few years at predicting hurricanes. For the 2006, 2007 and 2008 hurricane seasons he has predicted higher than average landfalls of N. American hurricanes. His estimates were very far off in 2006 and 2007. He overestimated by more than 100%.
    Yet, despite his inability to do his job well, CSU has said his future employment is not in jeopardy. There is no indication that his unpopular belief will get him fired, his employer apparently thinks he can hold any beliefs he sees fit as long as he makes his best guess at the number of hurricanes we will see.

  86. #86 TomJoe
    April 30, 2008

    Schmeer, I certainly didn’t say that he was going to get fired. There are, in academia, fates worse than death (or being fired). Being relegated to a back office in the basement would, in my opinion, be one such fate. Secular universities can, and do, employ censorship. It may not happen as often, but it does occur. So, in that regard, I continue to disagree with the last paragraph of PZ’s entry here, it’s a cheap parting shot which should have been left out … if for no other reason than because it can most certainly be proven wrong.

  87. #87 charley
    April 30, 2008

    Calvin, another school with a decent academic reputation, is also very restrictive.

    http://www.calvin.edu/admin/provost/facdocs/fac-requirements.htm

    Requirements:

    1) Accept and live in harmony with Heidelberg Chatechism, Belgic Confession and Canons of Dordt, all written over 400 years ago.

    2) Membership in the Chistian Reformed Church or a sister denomination, which together account for a tiny percentage of the Christian community.

    3) Send your kids to CSI Christian schools (not just any old Christian schools).

    Deviating from these requirements is grounds for firing, and it does happen.

    I guess this is their right, but I think a college education which does not expose you to diverse professors and students is missing something very important. It also seems like a strong incentive for hypocrisy, since honesty could get you fired.

  88. #88 Nick Gotts
    April 30, 2008

    Re #80 Heddle – do as you like. I find it quite possible to get on with people who have completely irrational outlooks as work colleagues, badminton partners and in political campaigns, for example, but I wouldn’t choose them as friends. Since you certainly get irrational atheists (Joe Blow springs to mind, if indeed he is not an AI program), it may well be that your atheist friends suit you but would not suit me. I guess if this guy really does chair the nuclear physics department at Wheaton (the blog author conceals their identity), it does confirm that you don’t need to believe in talking snakes to teach there, but he certainly believes in a literal Adam and Eve, he doesn’t accept evolution, and the contortions he goes through to retain his belief that there was no carnivory before the “fall” make straightforward Biblical literalism look sensible by comparison. (For those who don’t want to bother with the link, Philip Gosse on acid is the closest I can come to describing it.) If this is the sort of dingbat chairing departments at Wheaton, it would certainly be most ill-advised for any student wanting a proper education to go near the place.

  89. #89 Emmet Caulfield
    April 30, 2008

    I do urge everyone to follow heddle’s link – the best laugh I’ve had in a week! I had thought perhaps heddle was a little nearer rationality than most of this blog’s Christian visitors, but the fact that he admits being a friend of the fruitcake at the other end of the link, and apparently takes the vapourings therein seriously, have disabused me of that notion.

    The fruitcake at the other end has a B.S. from Stanford and a PhD from U.Wash. Granted, it was 35 years ago and the guy hasn’t published in 10 years, but how can you earn those degrees from reknowned universities and still be “persuaded by reading the works of the Intelligent Design community that the mathematical probability of complex, ordered systems, like DNA’s genetic coding, occurring by accident are so far fetched that Evolutionary theory by itself is almost irrational”.

    The mind boggles. “Creation probability” has always seemed very obviously fallacious and easily debunked to me. You can’t do that much physics and remain ignorant of probability, surely?

  90. #90 Nick Gotts
    April 30, 2008

    I continue to disagree with the last paragraph of PZ’s entry here, it’s a cheap parting shot which should have been left out … if for no other reason than because it can most certainly be proven wrong. – Tom Joe

    So why haven’t you done so?

  91. #91 noname
    April 30, 2008

    I teach part time at a small private college (looking for permanent teaching position). We have a kickass science program, and thanks to the administration and our department’s attitudes, we have kept religion entirely out of our science classes.

    If I were to admit that I was an atheist, I would expect to not have a contract next year, and that a tenure track position would be completely out of bounds.

    I love the school, and other than some outdated and unpopular policies like this one, I could stay here forever. I have a feeling that the rule will change in the next decade, but boy does it grate on me.

  92. #92 Schmeer
    April 30, 2008

    TomJoe,
    You may be able to imagine a fate worse than being fired, but you still have not shown that Dr. Gray has suffered a transfer to the broom closet or even a threat to be moved. If you prefer, I’ll accept a case from any public university where that has happened. Until you can show that a public university has done what you suggest, PZ’s generalization stands as accurate. A cheap parting shot it may be, but it is still true to the best of our knowledge.

  93. #93 JimC
    April 30, 2008

    I guess this is their right, but I think a college education which does not expose you to diverse professors and students is missing something very important. It also seems like a strong incentive for hypocrisy, since honesty could get you fired.

    That is a very valid point. I think we can be reasonably sure there are many faculty members on that staff who do not agree with the creed but enjoy eating and paying their bills.

    it does confirm that you don’t need to believe in talking snakes to teach there, but he certainly believes in a literal Adam and Eve, he doesn’t accept evolution, and the contortions he goes through to retain his belief that there was no carnivory before the “fall” make straightforward Biblical literalism look sensible by comparison

    That is totally correct and really bizarre. Seriously neuroscience is where it is at and studying guys like him would be really enlightening.

  94. #94 NC Paul
    April 30, 2008

    Heddle at #15 – That was me about the mixed fibres, actually.

    So, let me get this straight – per your linked-to comment, all the inconveniently primitive laws in the OT are overruled by “love god” and “love your neighbour as yourself” in the NT?

    But weren’t the OT laws the word of god (why put them in the holy book otherwise?)? So by breaking them, aren’t you breaking the commandment to love god?

    Or did the omnipotent creator of all just change his mind?

    Or did perhaps men sneak stuff into the bible that wasn’t gods word at all?

    And if that’s the case, which stuff is “snuck in” and which is god’s legitimate word?

    Oh and which of the two overruling commandments does divorcing your wife violate?

  95. #95 Neil Schipper
    April 30, 2008

    Steve LaBonne, I don’t consider your comments anything like a serious rebuttal.

    Allow me to put some words in your mouth: You care about why someone openly dismissive of the literal truth of the Abrahamic stories, someone like a Jefferson or a Lincoln, would stand no chance in U.S. politics today.

    From there, I recommend putting aside atheist bravado, and digging into the question of why xtian anti-secular rhetoric has resonated so powerfully among great swaths of middle America. It may feel good to say “because they’re dumb”, but consider that a very significant part of that resonance has to do with social trends that stand outside of any yearning they may have for everyone to adopt their religious beliefs.

  96. #96 Brownian, OM
    April 30, 2008

    That is the same dumb-ass comment that, IIRC, the Brownian OM guy likes to make.

    You just never tire of being wrong, do you Twaddle? I’m the one that always urges you to convert to Buddhism or Hinduism everytime you gush that Christianity must be true because it’s lasted so long and acquired so many brilliant thinkers to plumb its theological depths.

  97. #97 Uber
    April 30, 2008

    Christianity must be true because it’s lasted so long and acquired so many brilliant thinkers to plumb its theological depths

    He doesn’t really think this does he? My gosh.

  98. #98 Steve LaBonne
    April 30, 2008

    I don’t consider your comments anything like a serious rebuttal.

    Fair enough. I don’t consider your comments to be anything like a serious analysis. Gt over yourself.

  99. #99 stogoe
    April 30, 2008

    They do ask you to affirm what they consider core beliefs, and that probably includes affirming the historicity of Adam and Eve, but they do not ask you to affirm YEC-ism or a literal interpretations of Genesis (talking snakes.)

    Heddle, I don’t know how you can actually say that pile of self-contradictory twaddle and not have your head explode. Such moronic fuckwittery I have rarely seen – here, let me translate it for you:

    “You don’t have to say that Adam and Eve were real people, as long as you say that Adam and Eve were real people.”

    What is wrong with you?

  100. #100 DS
    April 30, 2008

    Actually, Michael Shermer would probably agree with Wheaton’s policy concerning ideologically-based firings. See his ‘dust up’ in the LA Times http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-op-shermer-lukianoff18apr18,1,684408.story
    He also has some equally asinine (IMHO) things to say about academic freedom.

  101. #101 Dennis
    April 30, 2008

    Wheaton Class of 99 alum here: I’ll vouch for SteveF’s comment and expand that to the strength of the Geology department as a whole. (I was a Geo minor – rocks for jocks.)

    While the school obviously embraces a “creator”, the demands of serious science lead prof’s to teach a version of Old Earth Creationism that for the most part is: “this is what science tells us, if you feel it’s in conflict with the Bible, that’s for you and God to sort out.”

    For example, we were taught a 4.6B year old earth, etc, and also given a great Hugh Ross book to read about how this data might synch with Biblical accounts and references to the creation of the earth. Creation and Time, IIRC. It references many scriptural passages but spends considerable time lamenting the YEC group and how they’re undermining the credibility of Christians everywhere. (If stars are millions of light years away, why can we see their light?)

    Personally, I found I was doing way too much tap dancing to make fact and fiction match, and parsimony dictated I jettison the faith of my youth as I had Santa and the Tooth Fairy (though in fairness to the Tooth Fairy I’m not losing many teeth any more so it was rather expedient on my part). But the science prof’s at Wheaton that I interacted with are great guys who believe in Jesus-as-savior and as intellectually as most of us are in our daily lives.

  102. #102 Dennis
    April 30, 2008

    er: “as intellectually HONEST as”

  103. #103 Schmeer
    April 30, 2008

    Dennis,
    Don’t worry you’ll eventually come to your senses and run back to your old faith. Just remember, there are no a-toothfairy-ists in dentist chairs. In your old age you will repent as your adult teeth fall out.

    Besides, who doesn’t like a dollar under their pillow?

  104. #104 Emmet Caulfield
    April 30, 2008

    And if that’s the case, which stuff is “snuck in” and which is god’s legitimate word?

    Easy peasy: the “snuck in” stuff is the abominable savagery that’s abhorrent and contemptible by current standards, and “god’s legitimate word” is the stuff that’s not. See? That way, God’s word is eternal and unchanging and provides a timeless moral foundation! Now, who shall we burn first? Damn… wrong century.

  105. #105 negentropyeater
    April 30, 2008

    Nick #72,

    “I do urge everyone to follow heddle’s link – the best laugh I’ve had in a week! I had thought perhaps heddle was a little nearer rationality than most of this blog’s Christian visitors, but the fact that he admits being a friend of the fruitcake at the other end of the link, and apparently takes the vapourings therein seriously, have disabused me of that notion.”

    Did follow the link.
    Did have a laugh.
    More than a fruitcake I’d say he’s a guy who’s trying to transpose the imaginary fables of a bunch of prehistoric middleeastern sheepkeepers into something modern.
    Still begs the question why they so desperately clinge to the fables, I’d be interested to hear Heddle’s take on this ?
    Like trying to solve a puzzle with the wrong pieces.
    Heddle’s link was to illustrate his point that not all staff at Wheaton were litteralists, he didn’t say that he agreed with it, nor that he took it seriously.
    And finally, I think it is rude to attack people for whatever friends they may have.

  106. #106 Brownian, OM
    April 30, 2008

    He doesn’t really think this does he? My gosh.

    Ever met an apologist who didn’t fall back on some appeal to popularity and longevity when questioned on the value of their particular religion’s theology? Twaddle likes nothing more than hand waving away Biblical criticisms with retorts about past great religious thinkers whose genius would dwarf us all who agree that the offending passage was some later inclusion by a greco-agnostic with oedipal issues and thus has no bearing on the true parts about Jesus and Yahweh which are indisputably true (how can they not be?) and why, how dare we atheists annoy him like this since we just don’t understand and blah, blah, blah—hence the nickname ‘Twaddle’. And like all Xians apologists, his list of past great thinkers never seem to include non-Xians from India and Asia, and thus his own argument never seems to compel him to seek out older, more robust faiths.

    *For the record, all Biblical quotes which make the book sound stupid are redactions. Whatever is left, (if any is left) is proof of Jesus’ love.

  107. #107 Nick Gotts
    April 30, 2008

    Re #100 I think Shermer has just shifted his object of worship from the Triune God to the Market; the psychology remains the same.
    “The Market giveth, and the Market taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Market.”

  108. #108 heddle
    April 30, 2008

    NC Paul,

    But weren’t the OT laws the word of god (why put them in the holy book otherwise?)? So by breaking them, aren’t you breaking the commandment to love god?

    No. For one obvious example, there were Old Testament laws commanding animal sacrifices which if a Christian obeyed would be considered blasphemous.

    Or did the omnipotent creator of all just change his mind?

    No, but not because of his omnipotence–the attribute you are thinking of is God’s immutability.

    Or did perhaps men sneak stuff into the bible that wasn’t gods word at all?

    That does happen, as (most likely) for example the ending of Mark’s gospel (Mark 16:9-19) that talks, among other things, about drinking deadly poison.

    And if that’s the case, which stuff is “snuck in” and which is god’s legitimate word?

    It is hard to say for sure. I am more familiar with the New Testament scholarship and four or five passages that are often disputed, such as the one just mentioned and the story of the woman caught in adultery.

    Oh and which of the two overruling commandments does divorcing your wife violate?

    I’m not sure which it would fall under, both probably, but nevertheless it is evident from other New Testament teachings.

    Stogoe:

    “You don’t have to say that Adam and Eve were real people, as long as you say that Adam and Eve were real people.”
    What is wrong with you?

    Is this really a concept that you do not have the ability to grasp? That is, not to affirm but to recognize that the historicity of Adam and Eve, who Christians would say were the first humans at least in the sense that they were the first primates imbued with an immortal soul, is a different question from whether a snake talked to them? Wheaton, I suspect, like many Christian organizations, considers the historicity of Adam and Eve more of a “line-in-the-sand” issue than a literal reading of Genesis, because the bible, in both Testaments, refers to Adam, in passages that don’t seem to be explicable by figure of speech arguments, as if he were a historic person.

  109. #109 raven
    April 30, 2008

    it does confirm that you don’t need to believe in talking snakes to teach there, but he certainly believes in a literal Adam and Eve, he doesn’t accept evolution, and the contortions he goes through to retain his belief that there was no carnivory before the “fall” make straightforward Biblical literalism look sensible by comparison.

    Not seeing how one can believe in real Adam and Eve and not believe in the walking, talking snake. Otherwise, what is the whole point of the story in Genesis?

    It is either an allegory, myth, or newspaper account. Mixing them up seems hopelessly muddled.

    FWIW, the talking snake is one of the most mysterious beings in the whole bible. Where did he come from? And why was there a smart ass, talking snake in the garden anyway. Really, it looks like the first two people were being set up to fail. My best guess is that there were whole previous books on the snake people and they got censored by those upstart mammals.

  110. #110 Mac from Oregon
    April 30, 2008

    What happens if you convert to Frisbeetarianism?

    Frisbeetarianism, n. the belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

  111. #111 Emmet Caulfield
    April 30, 2008

    Brownian:

    For the record, all Biblical quotes which make the book sound stupid are redactions. Whatever is left, (if any is left) is proof of Jesus’ love.

    Pithy and to the point: a keeper. Best laugh I’ve had in a while!

    Any verse which requires Christians to put their ass on the line, like Mark 16:18, is also redacted (but maybe that comes under the definition of “sound stupid”).

  112. #112 Brownian, OM
    April 30, 2008

    Re: #108

    What did I tell ya, folks? Twaddle never fails to disappoint.

    Is this really a concept that you do not have the ability to grasp? That is, not to affirm but to recognize that the historicity of Adam and Eve, who Christians would say were the first humans at least in the sense that they were the first primates imbued with an immortal soul, is a different question from whether a snake talked to them?

    Yeah, stupids. See how sophisticated, how nuanced the modern Christian scholar’s understanding is? You atheists just can’t see it, can you? Why, next you’ll be questioning the story of the loaves and fishes. (For the record, the loaves and fishes are allegorical. You see (and modern neo-Calvinist-Synthesis scholarship is behind me on this one), the ‘loaves’ actually represent small cakes made of fish, whereas the ‘fish’ referred to were actually fish-shaped partially-leavened millet balls, so in actuality, the story of the loaves and fishes is a story about fishes and loaves, which completely reverses the message yet makes its central meaning all the more poignant while retaining its orthogonal relationship to the narrative (though some question the validity of such interpretations without taking into consideration later igneous intrusions by Thelonius monks in the 6th century AD.))

    Now do you understand?

  113. #113 negentropyeater
    April 30, 2008

    Heddle,
    “who Christians would say were the first humans at least in the sense that they were the first primates imbued with an immortal soul”
    Please explain… What did God do exactly ?

  114. #114 TomJoe
    April 30, 2008

    Schmeer and Nick,

    Google is your friend. So is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

    A quick glance at the front page reveals this example (which you both pined for). I will assume you’re now satisfied as to my claim.

  115. #115 Blake Stacey
    April 30, 2008

    Nick Gotts (#107):

    I think Shermer has just shifted his object of worship from the Triune God to the Market; the psychology remains the same.

    Upon occasion, he’s also shown himself ignorant of anthropology and the scientific study of religious history. This is no crime, of course, but it’s rather baffling when he puts his ignorance in a book about why people are good and evil!

  116. #116 Emmet Caulfield
    April 30, 2008

    the story of the loaves and fishes is a story about fishes and loaves

    I think you’ve missed the deeper theological issue that, either way, it is a unique feat of allegorical prestidigitation. Such symbolic sleight of seafood has not been seen since.

  117. #117 Richard Kilgore
    April 30, 2008

    P.Z. Myers wrote:

    “Has anyone noticed that our evil secular universities do not monitor the personal beliefs of their faculty,….?”

    Errrrr…..Guillermo Gonzalez, anyone? :-) (Yes, I have read “Expelled Exposed”, and I disagree). Seriously, though, the whole point of the movie “Expelled” was that such a monitoring does in fact go on. It is not official policy the way it might be in certain Christian colleges, but it is all the more insidious for that.

    At certain Christian colleges, one knows exactly where one stands, and so one is free to go elsewhere if certain restrictions are not appealing.

    In secular schools, one expects that one has the right to hold certain personal views, but in practice revealing those views is very dangerous. It is very dangerous for the career of any non-tenured professor at a secular school to criticize homosexuality, Zionism (think of Norman Finkelstein), or neo-Darwinian views of evolution.

  118. #118 heddle
    April 30, 2008

    Emmet Caulfield,

    Brownian:

    For the record, all Biblical quotes which make the book sound stupid are redactions. Whatever is left, (if any is left) is proof of Jesus’ love.

    Pithy and to the point: a keeper. Best laugh I’ve had in a while!

    Any verse which requires Christians to put their ass on the line, like Mark 16:18, is also redacted (but maybe that comes under the definition of “sound stupid”).

    Unfortunately you have chosen to follow Brownian OM who is not very bright, a compulsive liar, or both. He knows from the previous discussion on suspected biblical redactions that almost all of them could be used for our advantage. The story of the woman caught in adultery is one of the most beloved passages in the bible. 1 John 5:7-8 in the KJV is a proof text for the Trinity, enough to convert any JW, but alas it is almost certainly not authentic. And another disputed passage is Acts 8:37, when Philip is witnessing to the Ethiopian eunuch. It is simply skipped in many modern translations–that is Acts will go from 8:36 to 8:38, because (just like for the reasons the poison passage is disputed) it is not found in the earliest manuscripts.) The suspected verse reads:

    And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:37, NASB)

    Which obviously we Christians have dropped because it is sooooo inconvenient or it “sounds stupid” or it “puts our asses on the line.”

    It is only because Brownian is an anti-intellectual jackass (and you are following suit) that you would argue that a passage (the Marcan Appendix) is dropped because it is inconvenient. I take it we drop all those other passages just to give us credibility when it comes to dropping the Marcan Appendix, and the justification (that the passage is not found in the earliest extant manuscripts) is just a fabrication?

    Negentropyeater,

    Heddle,
    “who Christians would say were the first humans at least in the sense that they were the first primates imbued with an immortal soul”
    Please explain… What did God do exactly ?

    I have no clue.

  119. #119 Coriolis
    April 30, 2008

    I love how being a more “sophisticated” christian is exemplified by being able to understand that more and more of the bible is not literally true, but an “allegory” or “metaphor”, also known as “shit that’s actually not really physically real, but makes a nice story”. Hopefully one day that will lead to the point where believing anything in the bible as literal truth is a sign of being an “unsophisticated” christian (which I think is the point where most of Europe is at, at this time). And then maybe we’ll even get to the point where people realize that infact the bible has as much (probably less) of a point to it as it relates to human experience as the Lord of the rings.

    So I guess in heddle’s eyes to believe that there was a talking snake in the garden of eden means you are a non-sophisticated bible literalist. And yet believing that Adam and Eve were literally (historicitically? since we’re making words up here) the first “real humans” is the position of a sophisticated christian.

    Wow. I have to say, I can clearly see how the line gets drawn there, makes alot of sense :).

  120. #120 gex
    April 30, 2008

    Mark, the big mistake with Tim #12 is not that he can’t understand that your work life and private life are separate, and that you operate very differently in those spheres with flaws from one sphere not necessarily affecting the other.

    No, the problem is you are missing the concept of:

    one mistake = always a bad person

    Now you can see why eternal hell is an acceptable punishment for any sin, no matter how minor. The tiny sin is an indicator of how awful a person you are. You are not redeemable. In fact, you have no right to earn a living, because you are not trustworthy.

    I’m actually confused by Tim’s argument, because I thought the really great thing about God and Jesus is this forgiveness thing.

    Frankly, it’s a damn good thing that we aren’t as sufficiently Xtian las some would like. This policy would really wreak havoc in the labor markets, don’t you think?

  121. #121 Brownian, OM
    April 30, 2008

    Didn’t we deal with this Kilgore fellow on some other thread?

    Fine. You disagree with Expelled Exposed. Great. What do you want from us? (Hint: try explaining why you disagree and giving evidence for it. Aren’t you supposed to be a college student?) But paragraphs of unsupported claims are gonna get you reamed.

    Besides, criticising modern evolutionary theory isn’t dangerous–it just marks you as an idiot who hasn’t looked at the material (or refuses to based on a priori religious biases).

    At least Twaddle makes arguments, however poor.

  122. #122 Jim Lippard
    April 30, 2008

    The news article Hank Fox links to about Gramm has this wonderfully hypocritical quote from the university about another case where a professor was terminated for converting to Roman Catholicism:

    “Wheaton officials said Catholicism contradicted the college’s beliefs by setting up a spiritual authority in addition to Scripture.”

    Isn’t that exactly what Wheaton is doing, setting itself up as a spiritual authority in addition to scripture, acting as judge and enforcer of biblical rules on its faculty’s lives?

  123. #123 gex
    April 30, 2008

    Oops. #120 should have been addressed to negentropyeater, not Mark.

  124. #124 Nick Gotts
    April 30, 2008

    Re #114. I’d agree that Lake Superior State University’s behaviour towards Prof. Crandall was oppressive and violated his academic freedom, but it doesn’t seem to be aimed at his beliefs, just at limiting what he sticks on his door. Some of the other examples on the site do appear to be restrictive of student beliefs, and both those and some that don’t are a disgrace, but none I saw appeared to be restrictive of faculty beliefs.

  125. #125 Emmet Caulfield
    April 30, 2008

    In secular schools, one expects that one has the right to hold certain personal views, but in practice revealing those views is very dangerous. It is very dangerous for the career of any non-tenured professor at a secular school to criticize homosexuality, Zionism (think of Norman Finkelstein), or neo-Darwinian views of evolution.

    I think you have the right to hold those views, but it may not be wise, in terms of one’s career prospects, to widely publicise views outside your area of expertise which are wildly at odds with evidence and the currently accepted theory.

    For example, I don’t expect that a non-tenured biologist would be wise to spend all of his time for 3 years, to the detriment of publishing in biology, working on books that advance the claim that the earth is flat and the moon made of cheese.

  126. #126 heddle
    April 30, 2008

    Coriolis

    So I guess in heddle’s eyes to believe that there was a talking snake in the garden of eden means you are a non-sophisticated bible literalist.

    How do you know I don’t believe in the talking snake? I never said one way or the other. I will point out that if one believes that God supernaturally created a universe, then it hardly makes any sense to reject, out of hand, other supernatural events described in the bible.

    At any rate we were discussing Wheaton, and the point stands that they (I confirmed) demand affirmation of the historicity of Adam and Eve but not a literal Genesis. That is, you can believe that the story of their creation is a figure of speech, but scripture’s continued references to Adam and the fact that all Christianity is based on their having sinned means you must affirm that they existed and they sinned. This is a fairly common position in all but fundamentalist institutions.

  127. #127 Emmet Caulfield
    April 30, 2008

    Unfortunately you have chosen to follow Brownian OM

    Popery? Heretic! I put no source of divine authority between me and Pharyngula (at least as far as holy poll-crashing is concerned).

    I’m afraid that I’m a voluntary member of the the “point and laugh” cabal, and just about wise enough that you can’t discombobulate me with such cheap and obvious psychological gambits.

    Better luck next time: D+ Must try harder.

  128. #128 Avekid
    April 30, 2008

    Kilgore:

    Okay, you disagree with what the folks at Expelled Exposed say about GG. Super. Why’d it take a few paragraphs for you to say that?

    *Why* do you disagree? What facts do you have about the case that haven’t been presented by EE? If you have none, please give what you think is a better analysis of the situation that suggests that that kind of monitoring really is going on (in that case and the others).

    EE backs up claims with evidence. Your disagreeing with them is a bunch hot air unless you can do the same. Pony up.

  129. #129 JimC
    April 30, 2008

    Isn’t that exactly what Wheaton is doing, setting itself up as a spiritual authority in addition to scripture, acting as judge and enforcer of biblical rules on its faculty’s lives?

    That is spot on and very accurate. Heavy forbid someone not agree with their particular version of scripture which as I mentioned above has been shown as untenable by lanquage scholars.

    who Christians would say were the first humans at least in the sense that they were the first primates imbued with an immortal soul

    I have always found this type of idea laughably stupid. It is so obvious that the person putting it forth hasn’t thought about the conclusions in a real world sense but just in a way that makes a preconceived belief more palatable.

    1. There where no 1st humans. It’s an arbritary distiction.

    2. The first souls would have been born to ‘soulless’ parents who cared for them, nursed them, and ensured their survival only to die while these souled primates went on to heaven which must kinda suck for them as their loved ones aren’t there being souless and all.

    3. In 100 million years as humans eventually evolve in different directions will we lose our ‘souls’ as we become whatever we become?

    Honestly your better of being a YEC or an OEC and buying the talking snake, magic appearing people idea for internal logic and consistency.

    so-

    That is, not to affirm but to recognize that the historicity of Adam and Eve, who Christians would say were the first humans at least in the sense that they were the first primates imbued with an immortal soul, is a different question from whether a snake talked to them?

    There is no real difference in terms of rationality. Recognizing magically formed people is no different than recognizing magically talking snakes. Both are illogical.

    Likewise recognizing ‘first’ primates with a soul is illogical. So splitting hairs over which illogical idea is ok and not foolhardy is simply silly when they all can be called as such.

  130. #130 gex
    April 30, 2008

    Ooh. This looks like a fun game, I’m gonna have a go, even though it wasn’t directed to me.

    1) A secretary in a synagogue is found to attend, after hours, meetings at a (pick one) virulently anti-Semitic organizations.

    Well, if the receptionist is not doing on-site espionage for the anti-Semitic organization, gathering names of targets, giving away itineraries, etc. there’s no grounds for dismissal. In other words if she is performing her job, not hurting her employer, or breaking any laws, she’s safe.

    2) A receptionist at an abortion clinic who takes names and phone numbers of patients seeking information is found to attend, after hours, a militant anti-abortion organization.

    Again, if the receptionist doesn’t harrass the patients, provide lists of patient names to the anti-abortion org, break laws, hurt the employer, etc. there is no grounds for dismissal. Disagreeing with your employer politically is NOT grounds for dismissal.

    3) A white fund raiser at the NAACP is found to attend, after hours, Klan meetings.

    Tastless, but hey, if the fundraiser wants to raise money professionally for his enemy, so much the better for them, no? Unless that person’s sandbagging in order to reduce their fundraising while bleeding them dry on salary there’s no problem. Again, do your job, don’t hurt your employer, don’t break the law, etc.

    4) An editor of a biology journal is found to belong to several YEC organizations.

    Again, if the person can evaluate the submissions based on their merit and not whether he simply disagrees with them because of his believes, there’s no grounds for dismissal. (Aside, it would be very difficult, I believe to find a YEC who could do this. The result would be that, because of his YEC stance, his evaluations of submissions likely wouldn’t be up to the journal’s standards.)

    5) A male elementary school teacher is found to belong to NAMBLA.

    Here I would agree that we should err on the side of caution, but in this case it is due to the fact that we require people to educate their children by law, children are don’t have the same capabilities to protect themselves and remove themselves from dangerous situations, and have an extra responsibility to protect them from this risk. This is one of those places where I agree that some freedoms should be curtailed for safety: when men think that boys are fair game, they should be removed from the boys. Too bad JP II didn’t and Ratz doesn’t think the same.

    I’ll admit, you got me on that last one, but only if you think there should be one constant rule and that context isn’t important.

  131. #131 JimC
    April 30, 2008

    #126 He buys the talking snake. Seriously is any discussion possible past that point.

    That is, you can believe that the story of their creation is a figure of speech, but scripture’s continued references to Adam and the fact that all Christianity is based on their having sinned means you must affirm that they existed and they sinned. This is a fairly common position in all but fundamentalist institutions.

    Yeah but all hand waving aside the only place they existed was in the Garden of Eden, and the only way they sinned was eating at a tree. Everything else is people trying to bend the religion around that idea.

    There was no Adam and Eve, no first humans, just as there was no first frog, fish, etc. To prop ones entire religion on such an obvious fallacy seems trite.

  132. #132 Coriolis
    April 30, 2008

    Honestly I don’t particularly care what your personal private position on this stuff is, heddle. You seem to be defending the position of this college however, and that is what I was talking about, since you had put out that position I referened to you.

    And from what I can tell.. you just recounted that their position is exactly what I had characterized it as. I.e. talking snake (maybe also garden of eden being some magical happy place?) = allegory, Adam&eve being first humans and sinning = literal truth.

    And my point is that it’s a completely arbitrary line to draw, in fact if you believe in a god with supernatural powers, what’s so surprising about a talking snake, or any other miraculous occurrence? It’s not like claiming that there were 2 original humans that were the first “real humans” in some (mostly undefined unless someone wants to define soul for us) sense is any less mythological.

    The only reason for drawing the line there you provide is that “it’s a fairly common position”… what does that matter? Is the “historicity” or “allegoricity” or certain events in the bible decided by what the majority of people feel like at the time?

    I know that’s what I believe but I find it rather odd that a christian would be fine with that.

  133. #133 Emmet Caulfield
    April 30, 2008

    heddle,

    OK, now here’s a serious question. If 100 Biblically-ignorant volunteers of normal intelligence and Western morals read the Bible and underlined every verse they thought was batshit crazy, and we counted votes for each verse, do you think there would be a statistically significant positive correlation between the votes and redactions?

    If what Brownian said (and I thought was funny) is completely false, there should be no correlation whatsoever, but I suspect there would be some.

    I’m interested in why you think there wouldn’t be (or would be, but that would seem like a rather strange position for you to take).

  134. #134 Che-Taylor
    April 30, 2008

    I just want to say some of this exchange is interesting. I don’t know this heddle fellow but I would guess he is a relatively new ‘believer’ and perhaps also involved with science in some way. Also given a few of his replies he has abit of ‘know it all’ in him.

    Hence the absurd apologetics with a rare toss of internal logic now and again. I think he likes science and likely knows alot about it but seems to unconsciously try to mesh these ideas and it simply doesn’t work well and produces really bizarre thoughts.

    He’ll probably outgrow it or go the other way and become a zealot like the folks from the DI.

  135. #135 Brownian, OM
    April 30, 2008

    At #118:

    I have no clue.

    For those keeping score, that makes three things that Twaddle has written that non-idiots can agree with.

  136. #136 negentropyeater
    April 30, 2008

    Heddle,
    “I have no clue”

    but then, if one cannot describe what God did, how can one be so sure that at a certain moment he imbued these first primates with an imortal soul ? Why don’t other primates also have an immortal soul ?

    And then yes, there was a mitochondrial Eve and a Y-chromosomal Adam, but they didn’t even live at the same time, so are you saying that God recognized these two individuals and at different moments in time granted one and the other with an immortal soul ? Now if Christians want to call that historical Adam and Eve that’s fine, but they also need to realise that it has nothing to do with Genesis. Ok ?

    I don’t pertain to know if there is such a thing as an immortal soul. To tell you quite frankly as I am getting somewhat older, sometimes I do hope so, but one thing I know for sure, it’s not in the Bible that I am going to find out. And a honest doubt is better than a dishonest conviction.

  137. #137 heddle
    April 30, 2008

    JimC,

    But suppose I do believe the talking snake. I don’t get #131:

    Seriously is any discussion possible past that point.

    Because one thing that I have certainly admitted is that I believe God created the universe. That is much, much bigger than a talking snake.

    That is, “God created the universe ex nihilo” is much more magical than “subsequent supernatural creatures created by God, i.e., demons, have the ability to possess living creatures.”

    Why isn’t the possibility of discussion over at the point of believing in a creator God? Why wait for a lesser miracle to determine a threshold was crossed? That doesn’t make sense to me–can you explain it? (seriously–I’m not being snippy.)

    Coriolis,

    The reason you would do that is that if you believe in the bible and believe in science then you would like to reconcile the two–because theologically speaking there is no way (I can see) that the two should be in conflict. Science and the bible in conflict makes God a god of confusion. May it never be. That said, you naturally look at potential conflicts like the Genesis account and ask–is there another way I can read it that reconciles it with science without doing irrecoverable violence to the text? I, and a lot of others, think the answer is yes. Others like Kurt Wise think the answer is no. On here just about everyone would say no because it is convenient for you to argue that the only sensible interpretation is the literal one, so that you can group Christians into YECs or hypocrites. But that is why the line is drawn there–it is viewed by some (such as Wheaton apparently) that denying the existence of an Adam who sinned does too much violence to all the bible and Christian theology, while denying the literal details of Genesis does not.

  138. #138 Brownian, OM
    April 30, 2008

    The reason you would do that is that if you believe in the bible and believe in science then you would like to reconcile the two–because theologically speaking there is no way (I can see) that the two should be in conflict. Science and the bible in conflict makes God a god of confusion. May it never be. That said, you naturally look at potential conflicts like the Genesis account and ask–is there another way I can read it that reconciles it with science without doing irrecoverable violence to the text? I, and a lot of others, think the answer is yes.

    What Twaddle will never answer honestly is why he feels the need to do this with the Bible and not the Upanishads.

    here just about everyone would say no because it is convenient for you to argue that the only sensible interpretation is the literal one, so that you can group Christians into YECs or hypocrites.

    Ah, but we’re the ones he accuses of a priori reasoning.

    Those who’ve tried to engage Twaddle honestly and sincerely in the past will soon find that he’s only interested in theological obscurantism (see virtually all of his posts above–better yet, read his blog). Have fun, but though you’ll soon be convinced you’re treating with an actual talking snake, don’t hold on to hope than any fruit will come of it.

  139. #139 CJO
    April 30, 2008

    Re #134
    He is a convert to Calvinism. I don’t know how recent. And, yes, he’s a PhD physicist.

    To his credit, he despises the DI.

  140. #140 Etha Williams
    April 30, 2008

    @#23 Mark –

    In your scenario, you are a different person at work then in a personal setting?

    Yes. We all are, to a degree. Everyone exhibits different behavior in different social settings. You can call it hypocrisy, but really, it’s just being socially functional. If I acted the same way at work as I do at parties as I do in class as I do at science fiction conventions as I do…etc, my behavior in most if not all of those situations would be wildly inappropriate!

    The moment I throw one of my coworkers over a lab bench and ravish him/her, my PI can fire me. Not before.

  141. #141 Latina Amor
    April 30, 2008

    “I think that cheating on your wife is grounds for me to fire you if I’m your employer. ”

    Marriage is a meme. What other memes can one get fired for? Not making the sign of the cross? Incorrect gesticulations? All are memes and must be inspected individually. Most are senseless behaviors.

  142. #142 JimC
    April 30, 2008

    Because one thing that I have certainly admitted is that I believe God created the universe. That is much, much bigger than a talking snake.

    That is, “God created the universe ex nihilo” is much more magical than “subsequent supernatural creatures created by God, i.e., demons, have the ability to possess living creatures.”

    Oh I agree with you actually. Of course creating a universe out of nothing would/could entail the use of natural processes still consistent today. A talking snake clearly violates that type of idea.

    Why isn’t the possibility of discussion over at the point of believing in a creator God? Why wait for a lesser miracle to determine a threshold was crossed? That doesn’t make sense to me–can you explain it? (seriously–I’m not being snippy.)

    I didn’t take it as snip. Believing God created the universe using say the Big Bang is an additional idea but doesn’t violate what we know. It really needn’t be a miracle at all. A talking snake does violate what we know and is patently ridiculous. Once someone accepts such an irrational idea on top of an unsupported premise you have really no real way to realistically have a productive discussion.

    And to cherry pic from another conversation-

    On here just about everyone would say no because it is convenient for you to argue that the only sensible interpretation is the literal one, so that you can group Christians into YECs or hypocrites.

    heddle this is unfair. It appears to me as an appeal to consequence. It is likely that the literal one simply makes the most sense in terms of storyline and presents the least problems. It has many adherents. I think any bible literalist has to on some level be a hypocrite but we all are at some point and I don’t hold it against them.

    But that is why the line is drawn there–it is viewed by some (such as Wheaton apparently) that denying the existence of an Adam who sinned does too much violence to all the bible and Christian theology, while denying the literal details of Genesis does not.

    Fair enough but honestly just thinking there was a literal Adam isn’t enough. Your constructing an entire other narrative and ignoring the non origin parts of Genesis. In short it makes the book nonsensical which it isn’t as a narrative when read literally.

    It becomes obvious from that aspect that people do violence to the bible to rectify that which they have be taught is true(bible) from what has been proven true(age of the Earth). It is wishful thinking that creates the need for even more apologetics. In some way they have less regard for the bible than many others. They have alot of regard for belief in the bible. Big difference. Arrogance being some of it.

  143. #143 heddle
    April 30, 2008

    Brownian, OM

    What Twaddle will never answer honestly is why he feels the need to do this with the Bible and not the Upanishads.

    On the contrary I have answered that honestly many times. What you really mean is that I never “answer honestly and in a way you accept.”

  144. #144 Etha Williams
    April 30, 2008

    In the blogpost linked to by #51 heddle, the blogger writes:

    It is very interesting that in spite of their lack of scientific knowledge, the writers and recorders of the first chapter of Genesis describe a Big Bang Creation, a timeline of species, and finally the Creation of human beings in somewhat the same order as does modern science.

    But how about this K’iche’ creation myth:

    n the beginning was only Tepeu and Gucumatz (Feathered Serpent). These two sat together and thought, and whatever they thought came into being. They thought Earth, and there it was. They thought mountains, and so there were. They thought trees, and sky, and animals etc, and each came into being. But none of these things could praise them, so they formed more advanced beings of clay. But these beings fell apart when they got wet, so they made beings out of wood, but they proved unsatisfactory and caused trouble on the earth. The gods sent a great flood to wipe out these beings, so that they could start over. With the help of Mountain Lion, Coyote, Parrot, and Crow they fashioned four new beings. These four beings performed well and are the ancestors of the K’iche’

    Big bang creation? Check!
    Animal and plant creation? Check!
    And for the real kicker, the advantage that the K’ich’e myth has over Genesis:
    Ancestry of humans (the K’iche’) from lower aimals? Check!

    The flood’s a bit odd, but could be interpreted as the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. (I, too, can play fast and loose with “scientific” interpretations of mythology.)

  145. #145 Brownian, OM
    April 30, 2008

    On the contrary I have answered that honestly many times. What you really mean is that I never “answer honestly and in a way you accept.

    No, what I meant was you never answer why we’re to respect your Calvinist theological tradition, but you feel no compunction to investigate the others as deeply.

    And you probably have answered this many times, at least in your own mind, but it was probably buried in the midst of some verbal orgasm over some Calvinist quasi-scholarly hubris that quite frankly makes no sense to anyone who’s not already a convert that stretches the Bible to fit science in a way that makes Mr. Fantastic look like frozen silly putty.

  146. #146 windy
    April 30, 2008

    Why isn’t the possibility of discussion over at the point of believing in a creator God? Why wait for a lesser miracle to determine a threshold was crossed? That doesn’t make sense to me–can you explain it? (seriously–I’m not being snippy.)

    My take: the sophisticated position should allow that God could have created humans or the universe “through natural processes”, but it’s hard to see how the talking snake fits here. Did God allow an intelligent race of reptoids to independently evolve so that they might tempt humans to sin, and then erased them from the fossil record?

  147. #147 Che-Taylor
    April 30, 2008

    He is a convert to Calvinism. I don’t know how recent. And, yes, he’s a PhD physicist.

    To his credit, he despises the DI.

    Well I did pretty good then!

    These guys always produce the funniest apologetics.

    It’s like Shermer said in his book. Smart people just try and come up with better reasons to defend unsound ideas.

  148. #148 Etha Williams
    April 30, 2008

    @#146 windy –

    Did God allow an intelligent race of reptoids to independently evolve so that they might tempt humans to sin, and then erased them from the fossil record?

    Actually, I think the Devil/Satan/Lucifer/Beelzebub/Leviathin (since they’re all the same thing in Xianity) created the entire fossil record to tempt us into disbelief. Didn’t include the talking snake because why include yourself in the fossil record?

    ((I’m joking, of course.))

  149. #149 Brownian, OM
    April 30, 2008

    Don’t be silly Etha. The K’iche’ are Indians. Any resemblance between their creation myth and reality is purely coincidence.

    Now, let’s get back to being serious here. If we consider the body of thought which found increasingly widespread support among radicals during the Reformation….

  150. #150 Joshua Arnold
    April 30, 2008

    One can play all sorts of games to make beliefs work. If you really want to believe in both the God of the bible and modern science, you can do that. At least to the satisfaction of your own rigor. But in the wider context, don’t be surprised if rational minds aren’t willing to follow you into obscurantism.

    And will Xians please stop whining about people not reading the Bible? How long did any of you study the Koran before you dismissed it as false? Did you read Dianetics before deciding Scientology was shit? Or did you simply operate along rational lines and dismiss the irrational because it was obviously irrational?

    All we’re doing when we dismiss the Bible and Christian theology as a whole is executing the same principle. It’s not that we’re prejudiced against Xians. We just happen to be prejudiced against obscurantism, prejudiced toward simplicity.

    *Just to clarify: simple does not mean simple- or closed-minded. It just means an idea that entails a relatively small number of assumptions, as compared to the rationalizations of Xian doctrine which require absurd complications just to hold up to logical standards (just ask a Xian philosopher to defend foreknowledge versus free will).

  151. #151 heddle
    April 30, 2008

    JimC,

    heddle this is unfair. It appears to me as an appeal to consequence.

    Maybe. But while I hate to speak in absolutes I personally cannot recall ever hearing, at least in an on-line debate, an atheist agree that a non-literal interpretation of Genesis might make sense. Of course, not that they would believe it either way–but you would think that given the poetic style of the language, given the much, much smaller vocabulary of biblical Hebrew compared to modern English (i.e., 1-to-N word correspondence) given that we know yom can mean an indeterminate time, given that the early translators converted it to “day” might not be surprising given that they had no reason to suspect an old earth, and given that quite a few church fathers (Justin, Origen, Clement, Augustine) in spite of the fact that they had no scientific reason to believe in anything other than yom = 24 hour day nevertheless proposed or at least wrote acceptingly of non-literal interpretations–well given all this you would think some atheists would acknowledge, from a purely scholarly standpoint, that a non-literal interpretation is not outrageous. The world is a big place and I am sure some do–but I haven’t met one. For example, Jason Rosenhouse on a couple of occasions posted that only the literal interpretation is viable. Given the litany of things I wrote above, I stand by the statement that the only reason I can see is that it makes biblical criticism so easy. It’s the “YECs are idiots but in this one case they are exegetical savants” argument. A similar effect occurs when discussing old testament law where often no scholarly argument is accepted, it is simply declared that not obeying OT law demonstrates Christians are pick-and-choose hypocrites.

    Windy,

    My take: the sophisticated position should allow that God could have created humans or the universe “through natural processes”, but it’s hard to see how the talking snake fits here. Did God allow an intelligent race of reptoids to independently evolve so that they might tempt humans to sin, and then erased them from the fossil record?

    I would go out on a limb and say that most theists (and deists even) would say that God supernaturally created the universe and then let it operate by the laws of physics. So the initial ex nihilo kick start was a supernatural blockbuster–much more impressive than a demon possessing a snake. Again, why one is still quasi-acceptable if he accepts the bigger but not the lesser of the two parlor tricks doesn’t make sense to me.

  152. #152 Schmeer
    April 30, 2008

    TomJoe,
    Yes, that satisfies my request. You found a small-minded-bigot working in a public university who wants to censor the expression of someone else’s private opinions.

    That makes PZ’s statement a generalization that is too broad. Next time you would do better to get right to examples such as this.

    I wonder what will happen in that case. I can’t find any comments from the administration to explain if they agree or disagree with the story as presented in your linked article.

  153. #153 Moses
    April 30, 2008

    Really? I think Dr. Willian Gray might beg to differ on that one.

    Posted by: TomJoe | April 30, 2008 10:26 AM

    I think reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit. He was espousing a PROFESSIONAL OPINION. If a physicist started espousing the PHILOSTOGEN THEORY OF MATTER, he should get his funding cut. And mental help.

    Or, like David Puddle and his anthropic view of the universe. Sheesh, so 14th century…

  154. #154 Brownian, OM
    April 30, 2008

    A similar effect occurs when discussing old testament law where often no scholarly argument is accepted, it is simply declared that not obeying OT law demonstrates Christians are pick-and-choose hypocrites.

    I’ve got an easy answer to this: stop making claims that Christians or Christianity have any reason to claim moral authority, and we’ll stop pointing out your moral failings.

    Ball’s in your court, kid (unless of course, you’re a Catholic priest, in which case the balls are in your mouth, Padre.)

  155. #155 Nullifidian
    April 30, 2008

    In secular schools, one expects that one has the right to hold certain personal views, but in practice revealing those views is very dangerous. It is very dangerous for the career of any non-tenured professor at a secular school to criticize homosexuality, Zionism (think of Norman Finkelstein), or neo-Darwinian views of evolution.

    I have a newsflash for you, Richard Kilgore.

    Norman Finkelstein was an assistant professor at DePaul University, which is a Catholic university, not a secular institution.

    Furthermore, there are many people who are skeptical of the modern synthetic view of evolution, or at least skeptical that such views are comprehensive. You’re responding on the blog of one of those people. I haven’t heard of a concerted effort to fire Dr. Myers from UMM because he thinks that evo-devo is going to extend, at the very least, the traditional synthetic view of evolution. Nor have I heard that Richard Lewontin is going to be fired from Harvard for the views he proposes in The Triple Helix. I’m also one of these people, and it has never been suggested to me that I’m not going to get hired after completion of my doctorate because I think that significant parts of the modern synthesis will be overturned.

    The difference, of course, is that I am willing to make this case on the evidence and in the scientific community, making me a productive scientist (or apprentice scientist as I consider myself now). I’m not going to whine on a documentary that my views are not being seriously considered, partially because this would be degrading and irrelevant, and partially because it would be untrue: criticisms made of the modern synthesis by proponents of evo-devo are being seriously considered. Wow. Scientists are open to criticism when you actually present your criticisms to them, rather than trying to subvert the social practices of science. Who knew?

  156. #156 heddle
    April 30, 2008

    Brownian OM,

    I’ve got an easy answer to this: stop making claims that Christians or Christianity have any reason to claim moral authority, and we’ll stop pointing out your moral failings.

    OK, fair enough, point out where I made such an argument and I’ll retract it immediately.

    Ball’s in your court, kid (unless of course, you’re a Catholic priest, in which case the balls are in your mouth, Padre.)

    Well now I see that Pharyngula hasn’t been dubbed (by one of its commenters) the blog with “the most intelligent comments of any blog” for nothing.

  157. #157 Etha Williams
    April 30, 2008

    A similar effect occurs when discussing old testament law where often no scholarly argument is accepted, it is simply declared that not obeying OT law demonstrates Christians are pick-and-choose hypocrites.

    Even if you leave out all the old testament laws, I don’t think you can see the Bible as being remotely moral. The myths, which you may interpret figuratively if you wish, still represent utterly morally reprehensible concepts: the story of Abraham and Isaac, which rewards Abraham’s willingness to kill his own child by giving him more children; the story of the Tower of Babel, which tells of God creating linguistic and geographical (and thus cultural) divides between people to prevent mutual cooperation and understanding; etc.

    If Xians accept the morality of the OT, they are morally reprehensible. If they discard the law and the figurative morals, they are hypocrites (“Do not think I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I came, not to destroy, but to fulfill; for truly I say to YOU that sooner would heaven and earth pass away than for one smallest letter or one particle of a letter to pass away by any means and not all things take place” [Matthew 5: 17-18]).

    And that’s not even getting into some of the dubious morality of the NT….

  158. #158 Nullifidian
    April 30, 2008

    Really? I think Dr. Willian Gray might beg to differ on that one.

    From the article:

    “We’re still putting the forecast out,” [Gray] said. “CSU continues to support me. I’m in the same office I’ve been for 41 years now and I hope to stay here some more years and keep working as I always have.”

    So he’s been at a university for 41 years which continues to support him and his work. Those blackguards!

    Actually, a far better illustration of how PZ’s statement was wrong would be the case of Ward Churchill, who really was fired for his public statements, after a show trial which didn’t even hold to its own stated parameters and which was not overseen by any expert in the relevant field.

  159. #159 Coriolis
    April 30, 2008

    You explain your motivations heddle but you completely fail in addressing the actual point I and other people are making:

    Both talking snakes and “first” human(s) are completely mythological (i.e. not physically sensible) ideas. You pick one, and discard the other I guess for “theological” reasons, because there certainly are no physical reasons for choosing one and not the other. Both are about equally ridiculous from a scientific point of view. Or rather they are both so ridiculous that the difference between them and a reasonable scientific proposition is far larger than any distance in insanity between the two of them.

    Basically you’re saying one is a necessary part of christianity and the other one isn’t (in your eyes and the apparent majority of christians in this century, although of course some time back you probably would’ve been declared a heretic for your views on the snake, and burned properly). That’s cute, but what does it have to do with whether or not either of these things that are reasonable to agree with from a scientific perspective? Science has a way of evaluating statements apart from other theological or any other considerations, and both talking snakes, and the existence of adam&eve as “first humans” are about as silly.

    Or hell, let’s take a even better example like jesus being resurrected. I would assume that most “non-fundamentalist” christians accept that happened, in a physical sense. And yet from our current knowledge of the world it’s completely ridiculous.

  160. #160 Etha Williams
    April 30, 2008

    heddle, can you please explain to me* why you support the Genesis creation myth but not the K’iche’ myth that I interpreted in #144?

    *without using an argumentum ad populum

  161. #161 frog
    April 30, 2008

    Mark #20: “Intolerance of intolerance is still intolerance. I don’t claim to be tolerant, therefore I can’t tolerate this.”

    Now, that’s a stupid a thing as I’ve ever heard (even if it is fairly sophisticated for this kind of thing).

    Tolerance doesn’t mean I have to stand for intolerance – I don’t have to tolerate Nazi’s, fundies or Maoists. It’s this kind of purity police that screw everything up. Because I’m tolerant, I can’t defend my tolerance? Is that your dumb-ass, lame-brained excuse for an idea?

    Life is tough. Suck it up.

  162. #162 Brownian, OM
    April 30, 2008

    OK, fair enough, point out where I made such an argument and I’ll retract it immediately.

    Ah, now that’s the willfully obtuse Twaddle we all know and love.

    I accept your claim that the God you believe in is not a moral authority.

  163. #163 Moses
    April 30, 2008

    Heddle, I don’t know how you can actually say that pile of self-contradictory twaddle and not have your head explode. Such moronic fuckwittery I have rarely seen – here, let me translate it for you:

    “You don’t have to say that Adam and Eve were real people, as long as you say that Adam and Eve were real people.”

    What is wrong with you?

    Posted by: stogoe | April 30, 2008 12:28 PM

    Are you new to David Heddle? Because, yes, he’s like this. And his stone-cold certain ignorance makes him a bit of an Internet Legend when it comes to Evolution and his anthropic-universe trolling.

    A real treat was during Dover with Heddle pontificating and Larry Farfarman adding some of the most idiotic legal analysis I’ve ever seen on the Internets…

  164. #164 TomJoe
    April 30, 2008

    Nullifidian – You’re a day late to the discussion. Either way, I’ve already proven my point, with or without the case involving Dr. Gray. I’m sure there is another windmill around here to tilt at though, enjoy.

  165. #165 Nullifidian
    April 30, 2008

    Nullifidian – You’re a day late to the discussion. Either way, I’ve already proven my point, with or without the case involving Dr. Gray. I’m sure there is another windmill around here to tilt at though, enjoy.

    Considering that Dr. Gray’s case was the only one you adduced as evidence, you’re saying that you’ve proven your point without evidence.

    Nice. I’ve never seen that tactic before.

  166. #166 JimC
    April 30, 2008

    at least in an on-line debate, an atheist agree that a non-literal interpretation of Genesis might make sense. Of course, not that they would believe it either way–but you would think that given the poetic style of the language, given the much, much smaller vocabulary of biblical Hebrew compared to modern English (i.e., 1-to-N word correspondence) given that we know yom can mean an indeterminate time, given that the early translators converted it to “day” might not be surprising given that they had no reason to suspect an old earth, and given that quite a few church fathers (Justin, Origen, Clement, Augustine) in spite of the fact that they had no scientific reason to believe in anything other than yom = 24 hour day nevertheless proposed or at least wrote acceptingly of non-literal interpretations–well given all this you would think some atheists would acknowledge, from a purely scholarly standpoint, that a non-literal interpretation is not outrageous.

    Thats alful long:-) But have you honestly considered that to an outsider the bible inferring an old age is simply outlandish without the emotional need to believe the bible is anything inspired? Or is it the believers need to ensure the book retains some status why they go to such lengths to attribute to it things and ideas obviously not in evidence?

    And the book is supposedly revelation correct? So if the jewish leaders to yom as day well why doubt it?

    It’s the “YECs are idiots but in this one case they are exegetical savants” argument. A similar effect occurs when discussing old testament law where often no scholarly argument is accepted, it is simply declared that not obeying OT law demonstrates Christians are pick-and-choose hypocrites.

    Number one ‘exegetical savants’ is meaningless as there interpretation is as valid as anyone elses. The science just shows them to be wrong. It is possible that YEC are correct on biblical interpretation and wrong on the science. No conflict there at all. Only when one presupposes that the bible must be correct do you get a conflict and that is internal. I happen to think YEC are more consistent simply because the narrative works. OEC really messes up the narrative. Because of this I tip the scales there way a little in regards to interpretation. But my faith doesn’t require that I hold the bible as an idol either. If it’s wrong it’s simply wrong.

    Justin, Origen, Clement, Augustine

    Who cares. Really. They also espoused all manner of goofy ideas. I do give you that OEC need not be outrageous in and of itself. But it does damage the narrative to the point of absurdity. I think I classify you as one who believes in belief in the bible rather than a true bible believer and thats ok.

    Christians are pick-and-choose hypocrites.

    Of course we are heddle. This is just honesty. No 2 can agree on anything. Of course that may not be the Christians fault as the supposedly infallible book is apparently indecipherable as well which makes it as valuable as a fallible book. I can’t imagine how many good minds have been wasted arguing over the thing. For centuries. Wehn you think about it it’s tragic.

    Well now I see that Pharyngula hasn’t been dubbed (by one of its commenters) the blog with “the most intelligent comments of any blog” for nothing

    I think I made a comment like this before. I stand by it. It’s hugely popular and you get some silly post but here and scienceblogs as a whole you get a very high level of discourse compared to other blogs. And this community is giant. And the comment above was humor. Not reason for snark.

  167. #167 Brownian, OM
    April 30, 2008

    And his stone-cold certain ignorance makes him a bit of an Internet Legend when it comes to Evolution and his anthropic-universe trolling.

    Easy there, Moses. It’s not his fault; after all, is it not written, for the LORD thy God hardened his brain? (That may be a redaction, though.)

  168. #168 TomJoe
    April 30, 2008

    Nullifidian – Actually, you need to read a bit farther down, because I did provide an additional example.

  169. #169 windy
    April 30, 2008

    I would go out on a limb and say that most theists (and deists even) would say that God supernaturally created the universe and then let it operate by the laws of physics. So the initial ex nihilo kick start was a supernatural blockbuster–much more impressive than a demon possessing a snake.

    Nobody’s saying that a talking snake is “more impressive” than creating a universe. More impressively tacky, rather.

    But you seem to have answered your own question: if God lets things operate according to the laws of physics after the creation of the universe, an intervention can presumably be judged after other standards than the original creation part. Presumably one who believes in supernatural creation does not believe in all claimed miracles, so I’m not sure that the “argument from size of miracle” is really valid in the first place.

  170. #170 gex
    April 30, 2008

    #144

    Oh no you didn’t! Comparative theology? THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!

    It is very interesting that in spite of their lack of scientific knowledge, the writers and recorders of the first chapter of Genesis describe a Big Bang Creation, a timeline of species, and finally the Creation of human beings in somewhat the same order as does modern science.

    Funny that. These people didn’t DEDUCE that for animals to live in the universe, the universe must exist first. And for meat-eating humans to live on the earth, the animals must have been there when the people got there. It must have been God’s retelling of the literal creation of the universe. Any other religion, especially ones predating Christianity, just got lucky if they stumbled upon this sequence of events.

  171. #171 Etha Williams
    April 30, 2008

    @#166 JimC –

    I can’t imagine how many good minds have been wasted arguing over the thing. For centuries.

    I can’t imagine how many good *lives* have been wasted arguing over the thing. For centuries.

    Actually, on second thought, I can imagine, but it’s just so depressing….

  172. #172 Leart
    April 30, 2008

    You’re not telling me people are being EXPELLED because their views contradict the mainstream views of Wheaton are you? Damn, and all this time I thought Mr. Stein was a mumbling idiot! Seems like he was right after all!

  173. #173 Nullifidian
    April 30, 2008

    Nullifidian – Actually, you need to read a bit farther down, because I did provide an additional example.

    Ah, yes, the case of Richard Crandall, who was told to take racist and xenophobic cartoons and images off his wall.

    I especially liked the “Celebrate Diversity” image, which implied, by its use of the phrase, that we should replace a diversity of ethnic backgrounds with a diversity of handguns. It’s slightly more subtle than a tree with three nooses hanging from it, but not by much.

    Every university has a stated commitment to provide a safe learning environment for a wide swath of people. This is not facilitated by having images publicly posted which suggest that the best way of dealing with a diverse student population is to grab a handgun, particularly if part of that student population is Muslim.

    However, if the right-wing wants to complain that open xenophobia, racism, and a fetishization of violence is “equivalent” to liberal political cartoons skewering individual politicians, I’m more than willing to let them continue. After the right-wing is taken over by John Birchers, then we might disgust the more moderate conservatives so much that we’d be on our way to a saner country.

  174. #174 Etha Williams
    April 30, 2008

    @#170 gex –

    Funny that. These people didn’t DEDUCE that for animals to live in the universe, the universe must exist first. And for meat-eating humans to live on the earth, the animals must have been there when the people got there. It must have been God’s retelling of the literal creation of the universe. Any other religion, especially ones predating Christianity, just got lucky if they stumbled upon this sequence of events.

    Of course not! It’s only through God that we have those powers of deduction anyway (or maybe it’s the serpent? I’m a little confused…).

    One nitpick though — since the creation myth is OT, it should be “any other religion, especially ones predating Judaism…” Doesn’t by any means invalidate your larger point though.

  175. #175 negentropyeater
    April 30, 2008

    Heddle,

    reread my post #136, no problem with saying that a non literal interpretation of Genesis makes sense. That’s how I got taught when I went to Jesuit school, never had a problem with it. Except that the WHOLE thing was explained to me a purely symbolic and for cultural and historical references only.
    And I don’t understand why you need to identify items which are historical beyond the symbolism. Then you transform the whole thing into a farce.

  176. #176 TomJoe
    April 30, 2008

    Nullifidian – Your distaste for conservative viewpoints aside, the fact of the matter is, we have what is called “Freedom of Speech”. Whether you find it deplorable or not, the fact remains, he was censored at a secular university which according to PZ would never do such a thing. While your willing to overlook professors a few doors down being allowed to post left wing pieces, while right wing professors cannot, I simply cal that hypocrisy. The website I linked to has a number of instances where secular universities have censored employees and students. I’m not sure why you’re so upset that there are instances of universities behaving badly. Does it shake you to the core to know that PZ overstated his case? I fully admit to nitpicking his last paragraph … I just think his point was sound without that last bit of drivel.

  177. #177 Etha Williams
    April 30, 2008

    And while we’re wantonly committing the sin of comparative theology –

    Genesis & Babylonian Creation Myths Compared

  178. #178 Schmeer
    April 30, 2008

    Nullifidian,
    While I agree with your opinion that the handgun diversity poster is disgusting, I think we must allow that professor to hold and express disgusting opinions. Advocating illegal behavior, however, is different. So, advocating killing muslim students or endorsing NAMBLA I think should be punishable.

  179. #179 Etha Williams
    April 30, 2008

    @#176 TomJoe –

    Your distaste for conservative viewpoints aside

    So…conservative viewpoints are comprised of willful ignorance of science and bigoted generalizations about the views of all members of a religion (Islam)?

    I have a good friend who considers himself a conservative, in the original, traditional sense of the word. He would be horrified to hear the way you (and, unfortunately, the neocons of this country) have misappropriated the word.

  180. #180 heddle
    April 30, 2008

    Coriolis,

    Or hell, let’s take a even better example like jesus being resurrected. I would assume that most “non-fundamentalist” christians accept that happened, in a physical sense. And yet from our current knowledge of the world it’s completely ridiculous.

    It is similar with the talking snake. Once you say you are a theist you have already accepted the supernatural. It then makes no sense to argue–Jesus Seminar begging the question style–that the resurrection did not happen because miracles do not happen. There is a reason they are called miracles and not (even though I used the term factiously before) parlor tricks. And of course the resurrection, unlike a literal Genesis interpretation, is central to Christianity. You cannot deny the resurrection and be a True? Christian. At most you can say you follow Christ’s teachings–just like the Koran does.

    Brownian OM,

    You are living up to your reputation as being untruthful. You wrote in #154

    I’ve got an easy answer to this: stop making claims that Christians or Christianity have any reason to claim moral authority, and we’ll stop pointing out your moral failings.

    Which you have now transmogorified in #162 to:

    I accept your claim that the God you believe in is not a moral authority.

    Which is quite different. I certainly believe that God (as opposed to Christians or Christianity) is a (the) moral authority. Unlike other Christians, I don’t even argue that atheists have no basis for their morality–I think you have the same basis that I do–that is I think God has given all people, you included, a moral compass.

    Etha Williams,

    heddle, can you please explain to me* why you support the Genesis creation myth but not the K’iche’ myth that I interpreted in #144?

    (I assume you mean why I believe Genesis in some manner–I don’t believe in a literal interpretation–so I am taking the “Genesis Creation Myth” broadly.)

    Answer: Obviously that’s because my parents were Christians and I was brought up in a Christian home and was taught, from an early age, that the bible was true and I attended Christian schools and…

    Wait, no that didn’t happen I was not brought up as a believer; I became one after I was already a practicing scientist.

    That’s actually kind of answered in #139–I’m a Calvinist so I can only answer from within that viewpoint. As a Calvinist I believe in the nice circular argument from scripture that the bible is foolishness to unbelievers. (We all know that circular arguments are not proofs, but they can be right.) To believe the bible requires one to be born again–not because one asks for it or seeks it, but just because it happens. So once I was regenerated, then I believed the bible (and in God, and in Christ), not the other way around. In short, I believe the Holy Spirit empowered me to believe the bible, not the K’iche’ myth.

    negentropyeater,

    Heddle,

    reread my post #136, no problem with saying that a non literal interpretation of Genesis makes sense. That’s how I got taught when I went to Jesuit school, never had a problem with it. Except that the WHOLE thing was explained to me a purely symbolic and for cultural and historical references only.
    And I don’t understand why you need to identify items which are historical beyond the symbolism. Then you transform the whole thing into a farce.

    Fantastic, I stand corrected. I can only say what I already said, that subsequent references to Adam refer to him as an actual person. In fact, he is in Jesus’ genealogy. If he were not real, many verses would be called into question–so I think he was real.

  181. #181 gex
    April 30, 2008

    #174

    I’m just gonna go with that crazy lady from the View’s opinion that Christianty predates Judaism. A very reliable and devout Christian told me she learned that from the Bible, probably learned that from a pastor of some sort who is a expert on the topic. Who am I to argue?

  182. #182 Etha Williams
    April 30, 2008

    @#180 heddle –

    Answer: Obviously that’s because my parents were Christians and I was brought up in a Christian home and was taught, from an early age, that the bible was true and I attended Christian schools and…

    Wait, no that didn’t happen I was not brought up as a believer; I became one after I was already a practicing scientist.

    A practicing scientist in a larger culture that primarily endorses Judeo-Christian beliefs. Just because it wasn’t your parents specifically doesn’t mean it wasn’t the parental influences of your specific cultural context.

    However, I am glad that you don’t ascribe your acceptance of the creation myth to an objective source, as that would be an excercise in futility.

  183. #183 TomJoe
    April 30, 2008

    Etha – I have no idea where you get that I said that conservatives believe in being willfully ignorant of science, or where they make bigoted generalizations. Professor Crandall claims to be conservative, hence I’ll give it to him. If you disagree with that, take it up with him, not me.

  184. #184 gex
    April 30, 2008

    #180

    “In short, I believe the Holy Spirit empowered me to believe the bible, not the K’iche’ myth.”

    Perfectly complete explanation! Now we just need to tackle that assumption of the existence of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you really do mean, “I believe the Bible because the Bible tells me to.”

  185. #185 Nullifidian
    April 30, 2008

    Your distaste for conservative viewpoints aside,

    I used to consider myself a moderate conservative, so please stop telling me what I think and have thought.

    Secondly, there are many cartoons in that collection I think would be perfectly admissible political content, e.g. the anti-abortion Alito cartoon. That’s not what’s at issue for me. What’s at issue is the hostile learning environment the posters and cartoons taken as a whole represent.

    the fact of the matter is, we have what is called “Freedom of Speech”. Whether you find it deplorable or not, the fact remains, he was censored at a secular university which according to PZ would never do such a thing.

    However, we get into shakier areas when the hostile learning environment abuts with the right to self-expression, and you will find that the courts have found that the universities have a right to intervene when there is speech that creates a hostile learning environment (c.f. Bonnell v. Lorenzo where the federal court ruled against the plaintiff and SCotUS refused to issue a writ of cert). If I were a Muslim student or a student of colour, I would certainly feel obliged to drop his class for the simple reason that the man seems like a crazed white supremacist nutbar.

    And I’ve already agreed that PZ’s statement was slightly hyperbolic, noting that Ward Churchill was fired for his political views.

    While your willing to overlook professors a few doors down being allowed to post left wing pieces, while right wing professors cannot, I simply cal that hypocrisy.

    Well, that shows that you’ve just got your head up your arse. The conservatism isn’t the problem, it’s the racism and xenophobia that’s the problem. Unless you’re going to argue that the two are one and the same, which I have already noted is going to drive moderate conservatives into the arms of whichever party doesn’t resemble a bunch of Birchers to them.

    The website I linked to has a number of instances where secular universities have censored employees and students.

    Yes, I’m sure that they’ve gotten plenty of sob stories from students, and I’m equally sure that they’re probably even less impressive than Richard Crandall’s story.

    I’m not sure why you’re so upset that there are instances of universities behaving badly.

    Upset? You’re as poor a psychoanalyst as you are a clairvoyant. I’m not upset at all. I’m merely pointing out that this university has a justification for asking Crandall to take down his cartoons which has nothing to do with “OMG! HE’S A CONSERVATIVE! WE CAN’T HAVE THIS!”.

    Again, I must draw your attention to the fact that I regard the Churchill case as a far clearer example of a university behaving badly.

  186. #186 TomJoe
    April 30, 2008

    And I’ve already agreed that PZ’s statement was slightly hyperbolic, noting that Ward Churchill was fired for his political views.
    … and …
    Again, I must draw your attention to the fact that I regard the Churchill case as a far clearer example of a university behaving badly.

    Ok. Then have a nice day.

  187. #187 Nullifidian
    April 30, 2008

    While I agree with your opinion that the handgun diversity poster is disgusting, I think we must allow that professor to hold and express disgusting opinions.

    Nobody’s interfering with his right to hold and express disgusting opinions. I’m just attempting to make clear that the university has a legally recognized right to intervene when it’s their own premises that are being used to create a “hostile learning environment”. I think it would be highly nave to think that Crandall is just seeking out a forum where he can express himself. Instead, he’s deliberately projecting hostility towards a part of the student population that he viscerally loathes. It’s ideological mugging, and the fact that certain conservatives think this should be winked at is evidence of how far the mentality of the petty bully has suffused throughout their politics.

  188. #188 stogoe
    April 30, 2008

    @163:

    Are you new to David Heddle?

    No, I’ve been here quite a while and I’m familiar with The Heddle. I just…he kinda slipped from my awareness for a while, and it was nice. Really nice. And then he reappeared and my brain started to hurt.

    @Etha Williams:

    heddle, can you please explain to me* why you support the Genesis creation myth but not the K’iche’ myth that I interpreted in #144?

    Because Genesis is the creation myth that the whole fucking country’s drenched with and drowning in? Even if you weren’t indoctrinated by your parents, they’re gonna get you somehow – you can’t hardly swing a squid in this country without hitting a god-besotted loon or a tax-exempt warehouse of fear.

    Also, I’m tempted to speculate that heddle actually did grow up with some measure of christian instruction, seing as how he said he wasn’t a “believer”, and not explicitly “I had never heard of Jebus and the 12 Stooges until this one day when I saw a Waterfall in Three Parts”. “Believer” is qualitatively different from “went to Sunday School” to these people.

  189. #189 Etha Williams
    April 30, 2008

    Etha – I have no idea where you get that I said that conservatives believe in being willfully ignorant of science, or where they make bigoted generalizations.

    Willfully ignorant of science: claiming that climate change is just a bunch of brainwashing. Certainly, there is debate in the scientific community about the contribution of various causes to climate change, the time-scale, etc, but if you think it’s brainwashing…well, go tell that to the quickly melting glaciers, and to the holes in the ozone layer.

    Bigoted generalizations: the cartoons of Islamic people talking about killing people until there’s no one around to say they’re violent. Certainly, some Islamic people are violent. (The same could be said of almost any religion.) And about the immorality of religions, including Islam, you’ll get no argument from me. But to generalize this violence to all proclaimed believers in a religion is bigoted.

    FTR, if someone posted a great deal of left-wing propaganda in one of my classes, I’d be against that to. (By left-wing propaganda, I don’t mean articles about evidence for climate change or the like, though.)

    Professor Crandall claims to be conservative, hence I’ll give it to him. If you disagree with that, take it up with him, not me.

    If I claimed to be a Christian, and then announced that Jesus was a fraud and that we all should go worship Satan, would you give it to me? Calling yourself something does not automatically make you that. Words have meanings apart from a single individual’s claim.

  190. #190 Nick Gotts
    April 30, 2008

    Re #173 If Nullifidian is right about the content of the stuff Crandall was required to take down is correct, I take back my criticism of his employers. Implied threats to a section of the student body are “well out of order”, as the youf expression has it. As I noted in an earlier post, they were not in any case demanding that he hold particular beliefs, only that he take down items stuck on his door. TomJoe, suppose those items had been, say, legal but highly explicit pornographic photographs? Freedom of speech allows their publication and possession, but I think any university, secular or religious, would object to faculty sticking them on their doors.

  191. #191 Nullifidian
    April 30, 2008

    If Nullifidian is right about the content of the stuff Crandall was required to take down is correct, I take back my criticism of his employers.

    FIRE has posted a PDF with scans of the material that decorated his door (my link will take you to the HTML page with a link to the PDF).

    I don’t know if they’re posting it all in the spirit of openness, for which they deserve to be commended, or if they just don’t see anything the slightest bit wrong with some of the material, which bothers me in ways which make me glad that I’m currently working on an empty stomach.

  192. #192 TomJoe
    April 30, 2008

    Willfully ignorant of science: claiming that climate change is just a bunch of brainwashing.

    You think I said that climate change was brainwashing? If so … WTH are you going on about? I said no such thing, and I certainly don’t believe such a thing either. I also don’t know how Dr. Gray suddenly got drawn into the discussion of conservative vs liberal. I have no idea what his political leanings are … did you look it up, or are you guessing?

    If I claimed to be a Christian, and then announced that Jesus was a fraud and that we all should go worship Satan, would you give it to me?

    For all I care, you could call yourself an eggplant.

  193. #193 Etha Williams, Eggplant
    April 30, 2008

    @#192 TomJoe –

    You think I said that climate change was brainwashing? If so … WTH are you going on about? I said no such thing, and I certainly don’t believe such a thing either. I also don’t know how Dr. Gray suddenly got drawn into the discussion of conservative vs liberal. I have no idea what his political leanings are … did you look it up, or are you guessing?

    I meant “you” in the more general sense of the word, talking to the “you” of Gray and the like. Sorry about the confusion. It was a vague use of the pronoun.

    Also, I had interpreted your statement about “your distaste of conservative viewpoints aside…” as describing the viewpoints of both of the people you posted about (Gray & Crandall). If I misinterpreted your statement, I’m sorry, and I retract the bit on climate change & conservatism. (Though I do know a lot of people, some of them self-proclaimed conservatives, who see anti-climate change as a conservative viewpoint, and I think this is unfortunate.)

  194. #194 Etha Williams, Eggplant
    April 30, 2008

    re: my #193…in the last sentence, I meant “anti-climate change theory” rather than “anti-climate change”. Need to read my posts for linguistic clarity before I post :\.

  195. #195 TomJoe
    April 30, 2008

    I’m not sure where Nullifidian gets the idea that some of the political cartoons that Crandall posted on his door are “implied threats” to a section of the student body (mainly the Islamic students). That’s an extreme reach if you ask me. In at least one of the cartoons that deals with Islam, the figure in the cartoon is labeled “Extremist”. One could easily surmise that Professor Crandall’s opinions are relegated to the issue of Islamic extremism, no?

  196. #196 TomJoe
    April 30, 2008

    Etha – In my replies to Nullifidian, I was referring only to the case of Crandall. I wasn’t thinking about Gray at the time, so my apologies if I was not clear in that regard.

  197. #197 negentropyeater
    April 30, 2008

    Heddle,

    “I can only say what I already said, that subsequent references to Adam refer to him as an actual person. In fact, he is in Jesus’ genealogy.”

    Yet again, if Jesus existed, he was a descendant of the Y-chromosomal Adam, by definition. So yes, symbolically, you can say that the Bible’s genealogy is correct. But historically, we all know that there are about 10 times more generations that seperate him from Jesus than what is described in the various passages of the scriptures.

  198. #198 Coriolis
    April 30, 2008

    Ok heddle… then if a theist accepts the supernatural, and as you can see as well, believing that jesus was ressurected is not any more/less crazy than a talking snake; then why were you making a fuss over how these profesors in this college have a non-literal viewpoint of Genesis? What difference does it make?

    There are an infinite amount of possible myths and supernatural ideas that people have thought up. The fact that this “university” happens to force it’s profesors to accept a certain set of them, and not that set plus the extra one of literal genesis seems to me to be a completely irrelevant as to whether they are on solid scientific grounds or not. And obviously, they aren’t.

    Raven’s original point was that wheaton will fire you if you do not believe in obviously supernatural stupidity, and he put out the example of a talking snake. Ok, so you’ve shown that infact they don’t have to believe in a talking snake. But, they must believe in something equally crazy, i.e. jesus being ressurected.

    So then, apart from correcting a trivial point of which particular crazy supernatural myths they require, do you actually repudiate anything that raven said about this “university” demanding it’s profesors to adhere to christian dogma?

  199. #199 Nullifidian
    April 30, 2008

    I’m not sure where Nullifidian gets the idea that some of the political cartoons that Crandall posted on his door are “implied threats” to a section of the student body (mainly the Islamic students).

    And I’m not sure where you’ve got the idea that the phrase “implied threats” was used anywhere in this thread prior to now which would justify the use of quotation marks.

    I am also not sure where you got the impression that the phrase “implied threat” was ever written in this thread prior to your use of it which would justify the quotation marks.

    A “hostile learning environment” doesn’t require direct threats of violence to be made. If a white instructor posted caricatures of “Sambo” and Confederate battle flags all over his office, it wouldn’t need a threat of “I’ll get you, n–ger” to justify a claim of a hostile learning environment.

    That’s an extreme reach if you ask me. In at least one of the cartoons that deals with Islam, the figure in the cartoon is labeled “Extremist”. One could easily surmise that Professor Crandall’s opinions are relegated to the issue of Islamic extremism, no?

    One could, if one were willing to be intellectually dishonest enough to disregard all the others.

    For example:

    I especially liked the “Celebrate Diversity” image, which implied, by its use of the phrase, that we should replace a diversity of ethnic backgrounds with a diversity of handguns. It’s slightly more subtle than a tree with three nooses hanging from it, but not by much.

    Every university has a stated commitment to provide a safe learning environment for a wide swath of people. This is not facilitated by having images publicly posted which suggest that the best way of dealing with a diverse student population is to grab a handgun, particularly if part of that student population is Muslim.

    This is a reasonable reading of the “Celebrate Diversity” image when it is presented in tandem with a series of racist caricatures the likes of which haven’t been seen since the days of Der Sturmer.

  200. #200 TomJoe
    April 30, 2008

    And I’m not sure where you’ve got the idea that the phrase “implied threats” was used anywhere in this thread prior to now which would justify the use of quotation marks.

    I was quoting Nick Gotts: If Nullifidian is right about the content of the stuff Crandall was required to take down is correct, I take back my criticism of his employers. Implied threats to a section of the student body are “well out of order”, as the youf expression has it.

    Bold emphasis mine, but you can see the use of the words right there.

    One could, if one were willing to be intellectually dishonest enough to disregard all the others.

    I disagree. I think it would be reasonable for Crandall to claim context, especially if they were all placed on his door at the same time.

  201. #201 Nullifidian
    April 30, 2008

    I disagree. I think it would be reasonable for Crandall to claim context, especially if they were all placed on his door at the same time.

    It is the context which lends support to my contention. You’re the one arguing that we should consider a single cartoon in isolation as representing the intent of the whole, even to the extent of disregarding that this cartoon itself contains a typically racist, anti-Arab presentation that reflects anti-Jewish cartoons two generations before.

  202. #202 windy
    April 30, 2008

    Yet again, if Jesus existed, he was a descendant of the Y-chromosomal Adam, by definition. So yes, symbolically, you can say that the Bible’s genealogy is correct.

    Y-chromosomal Adam was in no way a “first man”. If a Christian wants to interpret Genesis in light of human evolution and still retain A&E, they’d better pick an arbitrary couple, pre-mito-Eve, for the role.

  203. #203 heddle
    April 30, 2008

    negentropyeater ,

    But historically, we all know that there are about 10 times more generations that seperate him from Jesus than what is described in the various passages of the scriptures.

    That is a fair point, and I agree (and have blogged on the fact) that the biblical genealogies are not chronologies (there is often more than a single generational gap between X and Y in X begat Y or X was the father of Y. So the Luke’s genealogy of Christ is a somewhat weak point–but it still suggests that at some point was Adam, the son of nobody (but God.) At any rate there are at least seven or eight additional references to Adam in the NT, most importantly, I’d reckon, theologically speaking, Romans 5.

    Coriolis,

    Ok heddle… then if a theist accepts the supernatural, and as you can see as well, believing that jesus was ressurected is not any more/less crazy than a talking snake; then why were you making a fuss over how these profesors in this college have a non-literal viewpoint of Genesis? What difference does it make?

    I’m not making a fuss. I only pointed out that raven was wrong in arguing that you had to affirm a talking snake or you’d get fired from Wheaton. At some level I don’t care if Wheaton does demand it, or demands believe in a Left-Behind rapture, or demands that you repudiate Calvinism–I don’t teach there. But if it is not true, you should not (as raven did) make the claim.

    do you actually repudiate anything that raven said about this “university” demanding it’s profesors to adhere to christian dogma?

    I only argued against what I set out to argue against. But of course since they are a private Christian school I strongly support their right to impose doctrinal and behavior requirements on their faculty. If you don’t like it, don’t work there. That was the choice I made.

  204. #204 kmarissa
    April 30, 2008

    Y-chromosomal Adam was in no way a “first man”. If a Christian wants to interpret Genesis in light of human evolution and still retain A&E, they’d better pick an arbitrary couple, pre-mito-Eve, for the role.

    Although, if I’m not mistaken, buying in to this theory would mean that women got souls WAY earlier than men, right?

  205. #205 Nick Gotts
    April 30, 2008

    Re Nullifidian@191 and #199 Thanks, Nullifidian, very illuminating. TomJoe, it was me not Nullifidian who used the phrase “implied threats”, and having seen the combination of many unpleasant images of Muslims (yes, each separately could perhaps be regarded simply as anti-extremist, but the cumulative effect is unpleasantly reminiscent of overtly racist material), and the “celebrate diversity” poster, I would stand by it.

  206. #206 windy
    April 30, 2008

    Although, if I’m not mistaken, buying in to this theory would mean that women got souls WAY earlier than men, right?

    Right :) … but there’s no reason to pick mt-Eve and y-Adam as the first humans, except the names, so that’s very circular…

  207. #207 kmarissa
    April 30, 2008

    Right :) … but there’s no reason to pick mt-Eve and y-Adam as the first humans, except the names, so that’s very circular…

    Oh yes, precisely. But it’s a fun observation for when people start speculating in that direction.

  208. #208 --PatF in Madison
    April 30, 2008

    And now to return you to our regularly scheduled discussion..

    Wheaton

    I used to live in Illinois and have some limited experience with Wheaton. It was, indeed, regarded as a rather good school. Its Computer Science students would do well in programming contests in which they would take part.

    I also used to work for a company that would hire some Wheaton students for summer jobs. I remember them as always getting ready to go on some sort of religious retreat when they were not working. It seemed incredibly boring to me. They would work. They would pray. That’s it. Isn’t there more to
    life than that?

    Their moral upbringing was a leeetle bit suspect too, at least to me. The company I worked for did contract work for a REALLY-BIG-COMPANY. Part of the job was low-level industrial espionage on REALLY-BIG-COMPANY’s competitors. To do this, the employees would call up a competitor and pretend to be a prospective customer – a complete untruth – and ask about pricing policies. The Wheaties never had any problem with this. I, being a completely ungodly being, would have been bothered by it because I am a terrible liar. Maybe their morals courses never mentioned lying.

  209. #209 craig
    April 30, 2008

    So this newly-minted atheist joined a U.U. church.

    I’ve never really understood the point of the U.U. church… but I think I’m starting to see it as kind of like a nicotine patch. Helps you get over your religion addiction by taking out the harmful parts while helping deal with the cravings.

  210. #210 frog
    April 30, 2008

    gex: ‘”In short, I believe the Holy Spirit empowered me to believe the bible, not the K’iche’ myth.”
    Perfectly complete explanation! Now we just need to tackle that assumption of the existence of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you really do mean, “I believe the Bible because the Bible tells me to.”‘

    Got it wrong. Heddle doesn’t believe in the Bible because the Bible tells him so – you’re trying to find reason at the bottom. Heddle believes (whether he’ll ‘fess up or not, I don’t give a damn) because he believes. That’s it.

    Belief in religious terms isn’t the common-sense term found in phrases like ‘I believe X because of Y’. It means “I have absolute faith” – just like saying “I believe I exist” doesn’t require a reason, but it explains the basis for reason itself. Faith is before reason – and is necessary, but religious folks have over-specified it, they’ve taken grammatical and experiential necessity (thinks that “must” be for everything to make sense), and applied it to an unnecessary statement.

  211. #211 JimC
    April 30, 2008

    Once you say you are a theist you have already accepted the supernatural. It then makes no sense to argue–Jesus Seminar begging the question style–that the resurrection did not happen because miracles do not happen.

    Of course it does as it is a seperate question altogether. And the Jesus seminar isn’t a begging the question group. That is an excellent group of scholars.

    And of course the resurrection, unlike a literal Genesis interpretation, is central to Christianity. You cannot deny the resurrection and be a True? Christian. At most you can say you follow Christ’s teachings–just like the Koran does.

    You can view the resurrection as symbolic and be a true Christian. Heck you can be a true Christian by calling yourself one and going to church. Noone would be any wiser.

    heddle believes in belief not the bible. He also enjoys discussion. All of which is fine. He just makes such obviously misguided arguments they tend to be tiresome.

    Right :) … but there’s no reason to pick mt-Eve and y-Adam as the first humans, except the names, so that’s very circular…

    Which is why the OEC position is equally vapid. There simply wasn’t such a being.

    I will say if Wheaton receives even 1 federal dollar they stepped over the line. Otherwise I agree with heddle to a degree. If the joint is run by nuts and want you to agree to something that is nutty you could work elsewhere. However in this case this man was happily married when he began work there, performed admirably, andthen had his marriage end. This is completely unrelated to his work and wasn’t present at the time of hire. As such termination is not only wrong but something I am sure Jesus himself wouldn’t condone. They are compounding his pain rather than helping.

    In short, as mentioned above somewhere, the devil couldn’t do any worse.

  212. #212 frog
    April 30, 2008

    JimC: “I will say if Wheaton receives even 1 federal dollar they stepped over the line. Otherwise I agree with heddle to a degree.”

    But JimC, is any one arguing that Wheaton should be shutdown? I haven’t seen (but may have missed) even a comment saying that they should be forced to take the professor back. But we are free to say that Wheaton is an asinine place, and that we should be suspicious of any intellectual product of Wheaton.

  213. #213 raven
    April 30, 2008

    As I noted in an earlier post, they were not in any case demanding that he hold particular beliefs, only that he take down items stuck on his door.

    LOL, my department made me do that once. The students took an ad out of a magazine with some people at a beach and drew word balloons making fun of fundies. It wasn’t really offensive, and rather humorous. Apparently, someone saw it and their eyes bugged out.

    They politely explained that someone could get their feelings hurt and it wasn’t worth bothering about.

  214. #214 Louise Van Court
    April 30, 2008

    There is no reason for anyone to denigrate Wheaton College or its students over this incident. For more discussion go to either Cathleen Falsani’s (she is a Wheaton alum) article “Be loving, not legalistic, with divorcing prof” in the Chicago Sun Times on April 29th or Christianity Today’s liveblog article by Sarah Pulliam “Double Divorce” on April 29th. It is a topic that needs to be discussed among Christian colleges.
    One tidbit from the Christianity Today article that influenced my thinking a bit.
    “Officials told the Chicago Tribune that they were willing to allow Gramm to remain at the college for another year as he sought work, but he declined. He is still looking for work.”
    Whatever one thinks about how the professor (Gramm) came to lose his job at Wheaton, it sounds as though the college was willing to soften the blow somewhat but he turned their offer down for reasons of his own. I think the situation is sad for all concerned. Professor Gramm had some choices apparently.
    My son graduated from Wheaton in 2002 and our family made a number of trips to campus during his four years there. It is a wonderful school and the students and faculty are outstanding. As an example from the Wheaton website on the “About Us” page:

    “Freshman (Class of 2011) Profile:
    583 enrolled, including 30 National Merit Finalists
    Average high school GPA, 3.7 (unweighted scale)
    56% graduated in top 10% of their class 88% graduated in the top 25%
    77% are expected to graduate in four years, 88% will graduate in five
    108 are children of alumni
    96% will return for their sophomore year
    They will maintain a 3.4 GPA over the next four years
    Middle 50% scored between 1240 and 1410 on the Critical Reasoning and Math portions of the SAT, between 27 and 31 on the ACT”

    There is nothing “weird” about the college or its graduates. They are topnotch and just as human as anyone else.

  215. #215 Jim Lippard
    April 30, 2008

    Nullifidian: “Actually, a far better illustration of how PZ’s statement was wrong would be the case of Ward Churchill, who really was fired for his public statements, after a show trial which didn’t even hold to its own stated parameters and which was not overseen by any expert in the relevant field.”

    Churchill’s public statements brought attention to his academic misconduct, and he was fired for the latter (plagiarism and falsifying research). They had already earlier decided to take no action on the basis of his public statements.

  216. #216 OctoberMermaid
    April 30, 2008

    Seems like a pretty good idea to just ignore Heddle now. Waste of time.

  217. #217 Nullifidian
    May 1, 2008

    Churchill’s public statements brought attention to his academic misconduct, and he was fired for the latter (plagiarism and falsifying research). They had already earlier decided to take no action on the basis of his public statements.

    I am not unaware of the [i]post hoc[/i] justifications that CU Boulder claimed to be firing Churchill for, but I unconvinced by them.

    I’ve read their highly inexpert ‘expert’ report and concluded that it is highly biased, full of gross distortions, and would be grounds for firing everyone responsible for preparing it if we were to judge it by the same one-sided standards that the Standing Committee used against Churchill.

    I could go on at length about this, and I have, because I really do regard it, with the firing of Norman Finkelstein, as one of the most dangerous and egregious assaults on the freedom of thought in academia, but I don’t want to bore you if you’re not interested.

    If you are interested, I’ll hit some of the highlights in a later post.

  218. #218 Coriolis
    May 1, 2008

    So Louis, they were going to kick him out because he got divorced, a completely immoral and cruel thing to do, and you think he has some fault because he didn’t accept their false “understanding” to let him stay one more year?

    Any human being with a speck of dignity would spit in their face at such an offer. That they would have the haughty stupidity to make such a pathetic offer to cover their butts because even their little minds understand how unjustified their actions are shows even more clearly what scum these people are.

    If this is christian “morality”, you can shove it where the sun don’t shine.

  219. #219 David
    May 1, 2008

    I feel compelled to note that Wheaton Public Library is one of the nicest and best-maintained libraries I’ve ever been so…and it has an absolutely *enormous* Black Sabbath CD collection.

  220. #220 Teets
    May 2, 2008

    “I can also remember going to to youth groups with classmates who were members of College Church,(Wheaton College’s official church)”

    College Church is in no way affiliated with Wheaton College. It happens to be located near the campus and is called “College Church” because it’s on “College Ave.”

    This whole series of posts is a perfect example of the hypocrisy of all the enlightened secularists. Why is judgment of an institution that upholds certain moral standards acceptable, while judging individuals who fail to meet certain standards unacceptable? We all have our values. Pure ethical subjectivism is the theology of the intellectually asphyxiated. If you want to avoid shooting yourselves in the foot, uphold your own standards and approach what Wheaton College does with a sublime, “Whatever.”

  221. #221 Nick Gotts
    May 2, 2008

    Teets,

    No-one posting here has done or has the power to do anything beyond say nasty things about Wheaton College. Wheaton College has deprived a man of his job. See the difference?

  222. #222 Nick Gotts
    May 2, 2008

    Teets,

    No-one posting here has done or has the power to do anything beyond say nasty things about Wheaton College. Wheaton College has deprived a man of his job. See the difference?

  223. #223 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 2, 2008

    No. For one obvious example, there were Old Testament laws commanding animal sacrifices which if a Christian obeyed would be considered blasphemous.

    Why actually?

    “Has anyone noticed that our evil secular universities do not monitor the personal beliefs of their faculty,….?”

    Errrrr…..Guillermo Gonzalez, anyone? :-) (Yes, I have read “Expelled Exposed”, and I disagree).

    Ah, you disagree. Why?

    <crickets chirping>

    I gather you just don’t want to accept the fact that his impact factor (his publication record) sucks, that he has mentored a grand total of zero successful graduate students, and that he sucks at attracting grants?

    And what does it even mean to “criticize homosexuality”? Colorless green ideas sleep furiously, or what? Do you criticize Down syndrome, too?

    At any rate we were discussing Wheaton, and the point stands that they (I confirmed) demand affirmation of the historicity of Adam and Eve but not a literal Genesis. That is, you can believe that the story of their creation is a figure of speech, but scripture’s continued references to Adam and the fact that all Christianity is based on their having sinned means you must affirm that they existed and they sinned. This is a fairly common position in all but fundamentalist institutions.

    Not where I come from. The Catholic position is that we are prone to sin because our bodies, brain included, have evolved. So you can too have original sin, and thus the need for a savior, without there ever having been two people called Adam and Eve.

    The argument of comment 129 against the special creation of the human soul still applies, however.

  224. #224 frog
    May 2, 2008

    Teets: “This whole series of posts is a perfect example of the hypocrisy of all the enlightened secularists. Why is judgment of an institution that upholds certain moral standards acceptable, while judging individuals who fail to meet certain standards unacceptable? We all have our values. Pure ethical subjectivism is the theology of the intellectually asphyxiated. If you want to avoid shooting yourselves in the foot, uphold your own standards and approach what Wheaton College does with a sublime, “Whatever.””

    And this post is a perfect example of the shallowness of religious “thought”. First, it claims that tolerance implies a tolerance of intolerance – that somehow we are required to lay down and surrender, which would be a completely asinine position, a “Gandhi for morons” type of position. Secondly, it doesn’t distinguish between the actions of individuals and groups – the rules at one scale are not the same as the rules at another scale.

    I think both problems tie together. They come from a desire for a single, simple set of laws that would govern human behavior at all times and places at all scales, regardless of conditions. The invariants of culture and biology don’t constrain human values sufficiently to do such a thing, any more than the conservation of energy is sufficient to define stellar evolution, but the impossible dream goes on! Life sure would be easy if we didn’t have to think about all the variables involved in every situation, and life was Newtonian.

    David: “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously”

    Where is that quote from? I can’t remember…

  225. #225 thwaite
    May 4, 2008

    Assuming a serious request for a citation:
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously – see also the wikipedia on Noam Chomsky

  226. #226 frog
    May 6, 2008

    thwaite: thanks, I thought I had read it somewhere – but Linguistics 101 is well in my rearview mirror at this point. (It was serious).

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