[asa] dialoguing with YEC brethren in a secular classroom setting

From: Roger G. Olson <rogero@saintjoe.edu>
Date: Sat Sep 09 2006 - 11:35:39 EDT

This post is a day late due to inappropriate quoting (again)...

> Ted replies:
> My experience has been just the opposite. I can't find enough spaces in
> my
> science/religion courses (which deal substantially or even entirely with
> origins) for the students who want to be in them, and many of those
> students
> want to talk about the course material. Perhaps that's b/c nearly all of
> my
> students are from --- Protestant backgrounds (although we do have
> some mainline students and a few RC students) and they have heard about
> this
> in their churches & schools, or even at home. I also structure my
> courses,
> however, to begin directly with the biblical and theological issues, not
> with the science. I've found that this particular pedagogical move makes
> everything else go much better. I also give those issues significant
> space
> in the course, at least one-third of the course in fact. Much less than
> that and it doesn't go very well and students don't want to talk as much.
> ted

------ Reply from Roger ------

Here are the links to courses I mentioned in an earlier post...

“Humanity in the Universe I and II”

http://www.saintjoe.edu/academics/core/core5.html and

Weekly Format: one or two common lectures and two individual discussion


Sounds like you have a great course. I envy you! Do I take it that this
an elective course? One big problem with the two I’m involved with is that
they are required courses in Saint Joe’s “core” program. Most kids don’t
really want to take them. Also there’s little emphasis on
Biblical/theological issues in the lectures. The lectures teach
mainstream science with the occasional mention that this can be compatible
with religious views. There’s a heavy emphasis on NOMA. I give only four
out of forty lectures, and these are on science topics. The only time I
have to engage faith issues is in my discussion sections, and there’s
little time for this after the necessities are done – lab activities,
lecture review, quizzes, and “damage control”. Also, since my further
discussion is not part of the syllabus of the course, most don’t care to
learn extra material that’s extraneous to their common grading. This is
in general a real weakness of team-taught courses.

Another issue is that this is team-taught with a collegially stipulated
syllabus and not all of the faculty are Christians. We have an atheist
teaching a section of core 6. There’s one priest, one “good” catholic
layperson, one evangelical Christian (who, BTW, got a gift membership to
the ASA after completing her Ph.D. in astrophysics this summer), and yours
truly. Ergo, I don’t have the editorial control of the course. It ends
being basically a survey of scientific method followed by a history of the
cosmos and Earth and pre-humanity from a mainstream science with only a
perfunctory treatment of theology.

Again, I do envy your course, Ted. And, I think it’s a wonderful idea to
start with the theology and various flavors of exegesis BEFORE one gets
into the scientific evidences.

[David: Roughly half our students are RC. Most of the RCs are not YEC
AFAICT. I have met some who are. Did they get this from a priest or from
a YEC “ministry” or is it just a default position from ignorance? I don’t
know. I can never get an answer. Perhaps I should invite each student to
come to my office and discuss their views one-on-one? BTW, the absolute
nuttiest YECs I’ve ever seen are the Novus Ordo catholics. They make Dr.
Dino look like Stephen J. Gould. (Check out somes posts by a "JohnMartin"
on Theologyweb sometime.) But the RC theologians and scientists at
Saint Joe’s are JEPD allegorists. I do know of one older gentleman
(English and Philosophy prof) who's a pre-Vatican II RC (you know, the
Douay-Rheims only kind! heehee...) and doesn't accept evilution.

Most of our clientele are resident students – over half are athletes who
come to SJC to have an opportunity to play collegiate sports at an NCAA
Division II school. We are in a rural setting. Rensselaer is often
jokingly referred to by the humorous pejorative “Rensseltucky”. A good
portion of our commuter students come from pretty Fundamentalist
backgrounds. Some of them are really bright. I still can’t get them to
engage in an origins discussion.

As a sad and amusing anecdote, I had two students last spring who were
both very bright. They answered the test questions the “right” way. They
were polite and nodded their heads and laughed at my jokes. But in their
final essays on their views of evolution, from one I got the “Leviathan
was obviously a T-Rex so evolution is false”, and from the other “Creation
was finished on day 6 so evolution is false, and besides the geologic
column is a myth” (not exact quotes, but the gist is there). …makes me
want to blow my brains out (not literally of course!).]


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Received on Sat Sep 9 11:55:30 2006

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