Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

An interesting article (“Why You Rarely See Your Professors In Church“) which appeared in the University of Michigan student paper was forwarded to me by its author, Kingson Man. Its tagline went something like this:

Studies show that professors are three times more likely to be atheists or agnostics than the rest of the population. Is a complete separation of church and state good for the University, or should you be worried about being indoctrinated by godless liberals?

Oh, University of Michigan! Oh, Bastion of Intellectuals and Aging Hippie Liberals! Is *nothing* sacred in your tolerant Halls, that even the beliefs of your Wizened Ones come under scrutiny??

Well……yeah. Actually its nothing new, and an interesting question to raise. There are also quite a few interesting and thoughtful comments at the end of the post. Check it out.

Comments

  1. #1 J-Dog
    March 27, 2007

    Thanks for the link Shelley. I liked the comments

  2. #2 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    March 27, 2007

    Why Don’t You See More Profs in Church?

    Could it be because I never go to church?

  3. #3 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    March 27, 2007

    Faced with a choice between eternal peril and everlasting pleasure, any thinking person would pick the latter and go to church.

    Pascal’s wager! That’s a writer’s way of saying, “You needn’t take me seriously.”

  4. #4 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    March 27, 2007

    Roman Catholics who receive the Eucharist claim to be ingesting the actual body and blood of Christ. The scholar may consider this a testable hypothesis and attempt to falsify it according to the principles of the scientific method. He lugs out his mass spectrophotometer and begins taking readings, completely missing the point.

    Considering the results that mass spec churns out, isn’t it the Catholics who are missing the point? Here the writer is assuming a tone of superiority without providing any substance to back it up.

  5. #5 Shelley Batts
    March 27, 2007

    Aw, don’t be so hard on the writer Mustafa. He’s a student journalist writing for a student (and mostly still religious) student body. So, while he himself is an atheist, I’m sure due to the readership concerns he has to be respectful to religion. I was mostly interested in the comments at the end, but I think its laudable that the author chose to tackle the subject at all in a paper which is mostly devoted to UM sports team news.

  6. #6 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    March 27, 2007

    Studies show that professors are three times more likely to be atheists or agnostics than the rest of the population. Is a complete separation of church and state good for the University, or should you be worried about being indoctrinated by godless liberals?

    Those who are worried about being indoctrinated by godless liberals have options. They could go to one of the many small religious colleges throughout the land where the faculty are required to sign on to a statement of religious beliefs. If this entails accepting a lower quality of indoctrination in subjects other than religion, perhaps there is a lesson contained in that.

  7. #7 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    March 27, 2007

    I have seen a couple of profs at the local atheist meetings. If any students feel a need to mix it up with faculty in out-of-the-classroom situations, all are welcome.

  8. #8 J. J. Ramsey
    March 27, 2007

    Mustafa Mond, FCD: “Pascal’s wager! That’s a writer’s way of saying, ‘You needn’t take me seriously.'”

    Let’s look at that wager with a little more context, shall we?

    “Faced with a choice between eternal peril and everlasting pleasure, any thinking person would pick the latter and go to church. But for many the choice isn’t that simple.

    There is plenty to criticize in that article. However, the line right after it suggests that the writer of it doesn’t believe it. There is also the first line of the next to last paragraph: “It is this atheist reporter’s first time in church.”

    Please leave the quoting out of context to the ideologues.

  9. #9 windy
    March 27, 2007

    Studying scripture misses the point of religion? I guess nobody told the Protestants.

  10. #10 dan dright
    March 27, 2007

    I think what would be best is that I have absolutely no idea what a professor’s ideas are regarding religion, politics, or the whole stinking lot. Frankly, as long as it neither breaks my leg or picks my pocket, I don’t care who is teaching me, outside of hitler, jeff dahmer, or bugs bunny. But someone foisting their ideas–liberal, conservative, hare krishna, zoroastrian, whatever, on me when I am paying (whether through tuition or my hard work at the bench) for neuroscience know-how is picking my pocket.

    On second thought, I shouldn’t rule out bugs.

  11. #11 Seth
    March 28, 2007

    Mustafa, you’ve shown you’re very good at your own side of propaganda, as well. However, the issues are much deeper than this. There are actually currently ongoing intellectual dialogs on just about all of the issues you’re discussing. If you’re going to make such certain sweeping statements, please familiarize yourself with the debate over the existence of God, including the following topics:

    The problem of Evil, including many of the responses
    The Ontological argument
    Actualization and Potential

    If you’re going to comment on the viability of the Eucharist, please familiarize yourself with:

    Consubstantiation
    Transubstantiation
    Symbolic Eucharist
    The various accounts of the last supper

    If you’re going to comment on the academic qualities of “small religious schools”, please familiarize yourself with the academic rigors, research endeavors, and hiring statistics for at least the following schools:

    Taylor University
    Wheaton College

  12. #12 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    March 28, 2007

    Mustafa, you’ve shown you’re very good at your own side of propaganda, as well. However, the issues are much deeper than this. There are actually currently ongoing intellectual dialogs on just about all of the issues you’re discussing. If you’re going to make such certain sweeping statements, please familiarize yourself with the debate over the existence of God, including the following topics:
    .
    The problem of Evil, including many of the responses
    The Ontological argument
    Actualization and Potential

    Yes? And what do those have to do with Pascal’s wager? Since you cannot win on the topic at hand, you are attempting to change the topic. Nice attempted snow job. Too bad for you that Spring is here.

    Taylor University
    Wheaton College

    Which Taylor would that be? Taylor Universtiy, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, USA? Or Taylor University College and Seminary, Edmonton, Alberta, CA? Assuming you meant the former, Here is their statement of faith. They list various articles of faith, but Biblical inerrancy is not among them. You lose.

    And which Wheaton College? The one in Norton, MA, USA, or the one in Wheaton, IL, USA? I’m guessing you mean the latter. Here’s their statement of faith. It does say “WE BELIEVE … that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are verbally inspired by God and inerrant in the original writing, so that they are fully trustworthy and of supreme and final authority in all they say.” “In the original writing” – Not a single book of the old or new testaments is available in its original writing, so that leaves some wiggle room, doesn’t it? So I’m guessing that their biology department teaches that bats are a kind of bird, that insects have 4 legs, and that you can breed animals with stripes by putting sticks in their watering trough. Otherwise, that a whole bunch of errors crept into the Bible since those unknown original writings.

    RE the ontological argument: I laugh in your general direction. RE the responses to the problem of evil and con- and trans- substantiation: When you make a silly claim, you have to say even sillier things to try to make sense of it. This is one reason why I think religion is bad. Pascal was a smart dude. It is not to his credit that he came out with something so utterly silly as Pascal’s wager.

  13. #13 J-Dog
    March 28, 2007

    Yo Seth – If you go quoting and/or referring to The Big Sky Monkey around here, you lose. Regarding your list:

    God spoke directly to me about it and said to let you know it’s all B.S. He indicated that you are to please pass this on to eveyone you meet, or burn in eternal hellfire.

    Then He smiled that little enigmatic smile He has, you know, and vanished!

    HTH

  14. #14 Lish
    March 28, 2007

    I caught this article too when it circulated. The article feels half-finished, like there should be a significant part two, as I was also bothered by a lot of loose ends in part four.

    One thing is for certain, for all the hippie, godless, bookstore-lovin’ cred Ann Arbor gets, we have a TON of churches, most of them apparently empty.

  15. #15 Kagehi
    March 28, 2007

    Gosh.. Posted a comment over there yesterday pointing out how people often don’t even read their Bible cover to cover and certainly “never” read more than one version, never mind orginal works, history about the religion, history of the translations, or anything else, while some *atheists* like Dawkins have some many bibles people have given to them that they (in one case) use the pages to make paper cranes, since they are running out of shelf space. Not to mention that those people “actually read” other holy texts from other religions.

    Also pointed out that even the Biblical Scholars couldn’t get it right, which one would assume they would if any one could, when describing what “real people” believe about the Bible in a modern context, instead of a purely theoretical one.

    My comment has yet to appear on the site.. lol

    Always damn funny that the seekers of religious truth ban, delete or ignore any truth that contradicts theirs, while us evil atheists let them rant almost endlessly about there BS, without censoring any of them or deleting their “truths”. Bloody pharisee..

  16. #16 Shelley Batts
    March 28, 2007

    Kagehi, your comment has been there since yesterday. The page is formatted where it only shows x number of comments on the front page, and you have to click through to read the rest. Its there!

  17. #17 saskia
    March 30, 2007

    I have two beefs with this issue, that seems to never rest for some reason. Number 1: are we sure we’re looking in the right churches? I have always been in churches where there are professors (although I suppose this is skewed since my dad is a professor, so de facto whatever church I grew up in had a least one professor). Not the entire faculty of the local university, no, but they are there. But there aren’t necessarily lots of students there. I think students and professors look for different things in a church, and that perhaps that is one of the reasons you don’t find them in the same place.

    Number 2: Is there any evidence of handfuls of christians being rejected from faculty positions? Because I think the real question is why don’t you see more grad students in the pews? My sense (as an observant christian and a PhD)is that there is a bit of self-selection going on. None of my christian friends from college (from back when I was an evangelical) stayed in academia. So how do we expect them to end up among the faculty? Even the christians I knew in grad school – well, one just got a faculty job, but not many evangelicals are going to consider him christian, and the other decided he wanted to be rich. (Oh wait, and there’s me, and I’m still in academia, but doing the postdoc thing).

    Clearly there aren’t tons of practicing christians among faculty – I’m not trying to deny this – but so often this is painted as a “academia is anti-religious” issue, when I’m not sure it’s that cut and dry.

  18. #18 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    March 31, 2007

    Number 2: Is there any evidence of handfuls of christians being rejected from faculty positions?

    Not that I’m aware. It is normally considered off-limits to ask about a candidate’s religious beliefs. There is, however, one field which is exceptional. Endowed chairs in religious studies and history of religions are frequently given only to persons who belong to, or at least abstain from writing negatively, on the religions in question.

  19. #19 newkon
    May 31, 2007

    very very nice information thanks..
    realy nice blog.i will come every time here.thankss..

  20. #20 diziler
    January 16, 2008

    thanks good post

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