Colling: Not Crazy Enough

I have a good deal more synmpathy for the plight of religious scientists than most of my fellow ScienceBlogs bloggers. For example, I’m willing to believe that people can both have sincere religious faith and be practicing scientists, without assuming that they’re either brainwashed or evil.

I really find myself feeling sorry for Richard Colling, then, who Inside Higher Ed reports has been barred from teaching introductory biology because of his religious beliefs. “Boy,” you might be thinking, “I bet the Discovery Institute and the Christian Law Association must be all over that…”

Not so much. You see, Colling’s a professor at Olivet Nazarene University, and the conflict comes about because he’s not crazy enough:

[T]he groups arguing for freedom of expression of evolution deniers have not been heard agitating for the rights of Richard Colling. He’s a professor at Olivet Nazarene University, in Illinois, who has been barred from teaching general biology or having his book taught at the university that is his alma mater and the place where he has taught for 27 years. A biologist who is very much a person of faith, these punishments followed anger by some religious supporters of the college over the publication of his book in which he argues that it is possible to believe in God and still accept evolution.

“I thought I was doing the church a service,” Colling said in an interview. He believes that religious colleges that frame science and faith as incompatible will lose some of their best minds, and that his work has been devoted to helping faithful students maintain their religious devotion while learning science as science should be taught.

This is just sad. The quotes from Colling make it clear that he goes about as far as you can go in the direction of religious belief while maintaining contact with modern science (“Evolution, if it is to be held by a Christian, must be considered as a methodology of divine creation within that broader Biblical context.”). And that’s not far enough to keep him out of trouble.

Comments

  1. #1 Sven DiMilo
    December 11, 2007

    Expelled!!! Call Ben Stein!

  2. #2 Dave Briggs
    December 11, 2007

    This is just sad. The quotes from Colling make it clear that he goes about as far as you can go in the direction of religious belief while maintaining contact with modern science (“Evolution, if it is to be held by a Christian, must be considered as a methodology of divine creation within that broader Biblical context.”). And that’s not far enough to keep him out of trouble.

    I agree it’s sad! I find myself in a similar position. I love science with a passion! Especially physics, do I hear an amen! LOL!
    I have read the bible through 7 or 8 times and once cover to cover in 6 weeks. I don’t have the big problem some Christians have told me I am supposed to with the Big Bang, and most of the scientific theories in vogue today.
    I don’t blame the science crowd for feeling defensive. I have even been on blogs apologizing to the science crowd for the behavior of the God crowd!
    I have other friends who are Christians and also science lovers, but not as many as I wished I had.
    Scientists can marvel at the awe and wonder of all creation. I can do that from a science perspective and also a God perspective. I certainly don’t want to show less than love and respect for my fellow awe appreciators if they aren’t shouting out a Praise the Lord once in a while! LOL!
    I have also found that if I am kind and respectful they will forgive me if a Praise the Lord slips out!
    This is turning into a long comment so I better go, but I hope to keep up with your blog and maybe even contribute something good!
    Thanks!
    Dave Briggs :~)

  3. #3 Caledonian
    December 11, 2007

    For example, I’m willing to believe that people can both have sincere religious faith and be practicing scientists, without assuming that they’re either brainwashed or evil.

    ‘Delusional’ doesn’t fall into either of those categories.

  4. #4 Richard Colling
    December 14, 2007

    Thanks for the kind comments.

    The truth will come out in time. Biology and the Bible need never be at war. Those who continue to foster such an idea do a disservice to science AND faith.

    The situation here is embarrassing for me, both as a veteran faculty member, and alumnus. Many of the faculty who know about this agree. No documented deficiencies in my teaching or writing have been identified, but still action is taken against a professor and his book because a minority of vocal conservatives who do not like evolution, put pressure on the university leadership. These actions color Christianity in ways that are undeserved, and also colors our university in ways that are undeserved. It is absolutely unacceptable for scientifically uninformed ministers to inappropriately influence who teaches our biology courses and what resources are used for these courses. In my opinion, if these behaviours are allowed to stand, the legitimacy as an institution of higher education is compromised. Why would leaders want this? Students in our biology courses want and deserve the real stuff – including the most current understanding of evolution.
    What you allow you teach.

    Thanks again.

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!