ImageIn the early spring, Iowa State University denied tenure to Guillermo Gonzalez, one of its brilliant astronomers.  One of the department's requirements is that professors publish at least 15 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals.  Gonzalez published 68.  He is well-known internationally and he co-authored one of the department textbooks.

The problem with Gonzalez is that he has a hobby.  His hobby is to write on Intelligent Design (ID).  Two years ago he published a book entitled The Privileged Planet.  When that book was published, one of the religious professors, Dr. Hector Avalos, collected 120 signatures against Gonzalez. The surprising thing about the religious studies professor is that he is an avowed atheist.

About six months ago, my daughter who is in her second year of college, asked me if I thought that she should take a course that was offered in philosophy and religion.  The course was entitled "Foundation of the European Intellectual Tradition."  About half of the course studied the Old and the New Testament and the other half philosophy and political thought.  My daughter suggested to the professor that I could come and give a lecture in the New Testament section, an idea which the professor gladly accepted.  The class period was divided in three: a professor's introduction to the New Testament, a student's presentation on the historical Jesus and then my assigned presentation.  The professor's introduction can be described in the kindest way as skeptical of everything that is in the Scriptures.  The student's presentation on the historical Jesus stated that Jesus was a magician who learned his trade while in Egypt.  She concluded this after reading two books on the subject.  She was surprised however, that Jesus seemed to have had some authority over the multitudes, and this reality made her compare Jesus to Adolph Hitler. 

After the class, the professor and I went to share some coffee and cookies.  Our conversation continued about what had transpired in the class and he volunteered to let me know that he is a convinced atheist.

I have become shocked at how many people in university religious studies departments do not believe anything about the Bible.  Students who come from churches take these courses thinking that they will have an easy course and will strengthen their faith.  My daughter felt that her Christian faith was constantly put down in this class and ideas such as the ones that the other student presented were held as plausible and authentic.

In the early eighties we used to say that you could not find a convinced Marxist in Europe or in Russia.  Marxism has been tested and has brought disaster in the countries where it has been tested.  Marxism has not only destroyed countries economically, but it has destroyed universities and has sapped the morality of the people.  However, in answer to that question, you could find convinced Marxists drawing huge salaries at the University of California, at Berkeley.  They were teaching Marxism as though it was still the answer to all the problems of the world.

Thus my answer to students who come and ask me if they should take a course in Biblical Studies or in the religious department is to go and ask the professor how much of the Bible they believe.  For if they are convinced atheists, there will be very little that students will learn in this class about God.