Re: [asa] dialoguing with YEC brethren in a secular

From: Robert Schneider <>
Date: Sat Sep 09 2006 - 15:45:04 EDT

classroom setting
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 2006 13:06:42 -0400
Precedence: bulk


An interesting report on the interdisciplinary course you teach at
taught in a similar course at Berea College for nearly twenty years.
that time the religious trend of the students was more and more
fundamental/conservative, and I had the challenge of modifying my
to certain material..

An idea: have you when discussing the geologic column brought in any
of the
history of its scientific study? One can point out that the
significant men
who constructed the column in the first half of the nineteenth
century were
either clergy or active laity (C of E, or in the case of Cuvier French
Protestant) and that none of these persons were evolutionists? Michael
Roberts is one good source (his essay in _Debating Design_, ed. by
Ruse and
Dembski), and Martin Rudwick's _Bursting the Limits of Time_, which
recommended and I just acquired.

When I taught a course similar to Ted's at Berea (a senior seminar),
I also
began with theology and biblical material and spent the first four
weeks out
of thirteen on this material. I'm glad I did because I soon learned how
utterly illiterate theologically most of my students were. Many of
them were
Docetists, and apparently never heard of the doctrine of the
And the knowledge most of them had of the Bible was middle-sunday-

Bob Schneider

----- Original Message -----
From: "Roger G. Olson" <>
To: <>
Sent: Saturday, September 09, 2006 11:35 AM
Subject: [asa] dialoguing with YEC brethren in a secular classroom

> 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"
> and
> Weekly Format: one or two common lectures and two individual
> discussion
> sessions.
> Ted,
> 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
> 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
> 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!).]
> Roger
> --
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Received on Sat Sep 9 15:45:29 2006

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