Friday, December 02, 2005

The B.F.F. of I.D. - The Saga Continues

More on University of Kansas Religious Studies Department Head Paul Mirecki's Intelligent Design course: as of yesterday, it has been withdrawn.

Well, now we know why K.U.'s mascot is a chicken!
(Just kidding! It's a joke, relax!)

Professor Mirecki himself requested that the course be pulled. In the K.C. Star, he is quoted as saying, "Students with a serious interest in this important subject matter would not be well served by the learning environment my e-mails and the public distribution of them have created. ... It was not my intent when I wrote the e-mails, but I understand now that these words have offended many on this campus and beyond, and for that I take full responsibility." So he is pulling the class, which already had 25 students enrolled, by the way.

Is he chickening out? (shrug) Maybe. But the chairman of the faculty senate was quick to say that while controversial issues are not avoided at K.U., they should be addressed in an "appropriate, respectful manner ... Making fun of individuals is not part of the way we as a faculty want to conduct ourselves." So it is not WHAT Mirecki was saying, but HOW he was saying it that led to the current bru-ha-ha. And that's what Tim Sisk was saying in his comment on my last post. (Nice call, Tim!)

So many issues to dwell upon ... so many questions I could focus on here ... let's see ... Oh! I've got one!

In the mix of all this crud, Wichita Representative Brenda Landwehr said this: "It's hard to teach religion if you don't believe it." Go ahead and read that statement again, because it is an important topic. Can you teach religion at a public university without "believing in" the religion you are teaching? Could I as a Christian teach a class about Islam, Buddhism, Judiasm, etc.? Could a Muslim teach about Christianity? Could an agnostic teach religion? Could an athiest?

Ironically, Rep. Landwehr was trying to ensure that professors at K.U. are not guilty of religious intolerance when she offered this quote. She wants professorial bias eliminated on the one hand, but on the other seems to want only believers teaching about the religions they believe. See the disconnect? If she really wants unbiased, seems to me that an agnostic would be the perfect person to teach about religions at a public university, so long as they were equally skeptical of every faith!

We also need to carefully distinguish between teaching about religion and teaching religion. I teach Christianity in confirmation class. A college prof teaches about Christianity in a university class. The distinction is that teaching Christianity attempts to instill belief whereas teaching about Christianity attempts to impart knowledge. One is for churches, one is for schools. Let's keep it that way, okay?

And in another story in today's paper, it seems that "'Intelligent design' advocates plan to introduce proposals in Missouri next legislative session." CRAP! Now we won't be able to make this thing all about "as big as you think" Kansas! Get ready Missouri, the anti-intellectual kettle of ultra-conservate Kansas is leaking, and it is heading our way!

Bok-bok Jayhawk!

(Joke, relax!)


David said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David said...

Oops. Significant typo corrected:


"teaching Christianity attempts to instill belief whereas teaching about Christianity attempts to impart knowledge"

Can we "instill belief"? Or do we rather share beliefs (our own), in hopes that other souls will connect with our truths?

I guess, for me, the difference between the congregational and the academic approaches to "teaching religion" is the breadth of the scope: the Sunday School teacher presents the primary text (the Bible) and a single interpretation--that of the faith community to which the class is accountable; the college (or, ideally, seminary) professor presents the primary text along with a variety of secondary texts and community interpretations, and allows the student the opportunity to evaluate the "Truth-fulness" of each.

Hm. Maybe that's why I'm feeling much more at home in academia than in religion right now....

(thoughtful chin scratch...)

Good brain food, Andy. : )

Dave Wood said...

I say absolutely one can teach about religion without instilling that religion in anyone. C.S. Lewis did a great job of teaching about Christianity back in the '40's. (read his book "Mere Christianity") Would you get as much insight and perspective if the teacher doesn't believe? I don't think so. One of the most disturbing thing in all of this political correctness garbage that's going on is the governement's apparent fear that thinking people, when exposed to different strems of thought, might actually learn something! Like say, we need religion a hell of a lot more than we do government. How scary for all of the Senators, Representatives, judges, govenors, mayors, council persons, terroists, Europeans, and oh yes, let's not forget, the media. God forbid we should all decide for ourselves to have a relationship with God. Oh wait, it's not God that's forbidding it, it's the government! (Sorry, I got to ranting a little.)

Brad said...

I just wanted you to know that I take offense to the term big fat face. Large-fleshly-advanced cranium is the prefered term. Hey, I got an 5 (A) on my ministry paper! And got everybody's presents. See you on the 22nd.