Creationism and Academia: Mutually Exclusive?
[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was written by one of A.P.’s auxiliary staff scientists. Dr. Brooks holds a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Having served previously as a Research Assistant in Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology in the Medical School at the University of Alabama, Dr. Brooks presently serves as Assistant Professor of Biology at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee.]
We are truly a blessed people to live in a nation founded on Christian principles. Indeed, our religious freedom today is protected by a law that was established over 200 years ago. The first amendment to the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...” (U.S. Bill of Rights, 1791). In addition to this fundamental law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 clearly prevents employers from discriminating against individuals based on religion. Section 703 states:
It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin... (1964).
These documents protect millions of individuals across the United States from religious persecution, but they are ignored by academia with little or no reprise. In particular, the sciences blatantly and arrogantly discriminate against any person not holding an evolutionary view of the origins of life and the Universe. The problem is widespread in American universities. Many examples of scientist-educators, who have been fired, denied tenure, or simply not hired solely because they hold a creationist view rather than an evolutionary one, have surfaced in the past 20 years.
At one time during my own academic career, I was oblivious to this phenomenon, but then was made painfully aware of it at a recent job interview when I, too, faced this form of persecution. After a day of interviews and a teaching seminar, I met with the biology department chair of a state-funded university in Tennessee. He, with at least some tact, told me that I possessed all of the qualifications to teach for this department but would not be hired because of a statement that I made: “I am a creationist.” This university’s biology faculty as a collective agreed that no one with this particular belief should be allowed in an undergraduate classroom to teach the biological sciences.
This opinion is not held by these individuals alone. In a survey conducted by Dr. Jerry Bergman, 28 university professors (out of 28 surveyed) agreed with this stance. Bergman wrote:
All those interviewed stated that they doubted very much if their department would ever hire an out-of-the-closet creationist for a faculty position. Some claimed that they themselves were not opposed, but felt that because a creationist would likely encounter serious problems in their department, it would be best if they not support their hiring. One added that it would not be objectionable to defend creationism on philosophical grounds, but an attempt to do so using biology would preclude hiring (1995).
Are creationism and academia mutually exclusive? Not at Christian universities, where the majority of faculty hold a creationist’s view regarding the origins of life. But, this answer is different when applied to state-funded universities, where I dare say that the minority consider themselves creationists, even in the broadest sense. This number drops even more with a more conservative definition of creation. Is it possible for a creationist to teach basic biological concepts to undergraduate or even graduate students in the setting of a state university? The answer is yes!
From high school to graduate school, Darwinian evolution is taught as fact, when, in reality, it is little more than a hypothesis. A hypothesis is defined as a reasonable explanation for an observed phenomenon. Evolution is just that—although not so “reasonable.” Why must we limit education by teaching only evolution to the complete dismissal of creationism? What’s more, it is possible to teach such concepts as human anatomy and disease, among other subjects, without ever mentioning evolution or creation. Even in subject matter such as genetics and biochemistry, concepts can simply be given to students in an unbiased manner, leaving each student to determine what to believe by way of his or her own independent thought. After all, independent and critical thinking skills are key objectives for students to master.
As citizens of the United States, we each have the right to freedom from religious discrimination in every form. No institution, no matter how many terminal degrees its employees hold, has the right to deny any individual this right. Academia allegedly promotes “diversity” of culture and thought. Unfortunately, however, this claim does not hold true for the study of origins. In this area, evolution holds absolute dominance, and diversity is suppressed, to the detriment of all those seeking education.
Bergman, Jerry (1995), “Contemporary Suppression of the Theistic Worldview,” Journal of Creation, 9(2):267-275, August.
Civil Rights Act of 1964 (1964), The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, [On-line], URL: http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/civil-rights-act/#documents.
United States Bill of Rights (1791), The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, [On-line], URL: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights.html.