I Love You but You Didn’t Do the Reading

Pumpkins ripened this week and Bernie released a video praising teachers as working from “the bottom up.” Plus bellydancing creationists, protesting students at Liberty U, teaching for Trump, and a whole lot more in our weekly roundup:

Why don’t more kids learn about evolution? At the Atlantic.

The only high-school biology class I took was in ninth grade, and it was apparently so uninteresting to me that I don’t remember my teacher’s name. (My former school district did not return a request for comment.) My teachers were for the most part religious, though they appeared to stay firmly within the bounds of the state-mandated curriculum. In another class, my teacher showed us diagrams of the human eye, then snuck in a remark that the complexity of the eye is convincing evidence that there is a Creator.

Can schools save society? Larry Cuban reflects.

I used to think that public schools were vehicles for reforming society. And now I think that while good teachers and schools can promote positive intellectual, behavioral, and social change in individual children and youth, schools are (and have been) ineffectual in altering social inequalities.

larry cuban reform concHave evangelical colleges avoided the “comfort college” dilemma? At PS.

In my classes and others, in faculty and student research, I see nothing like what Gerrard calls “the devaluing of knowledge” or “social death” for those on the wrong side of “wokeness.” In the humanities at Bethel, I see people continuing to ask complicated questions of themselves, each other, and the authors and audiences of the texts they read, with humility, hospitality, empathy, and in no expectation that things will resolve neatly. We make each other uncomfortable, make mistakes together, apologize to each other, and continue to seek better answers together.

“Evangelical” has lost its meaning, says Alan Jacobs at The Atlantic.

of all the traits that attracted evangelicals to Reagan, perhaps the most important was his sunny and fervent patriotism. Already white American evangelicals had a tendency to associate Christianity closely with the American experiment, and to think of their country as a “Christian nation.” . . . This transformation of evangelical from a theological position to a “racial and political” one is not just bad for serious Christians; it’s also a prime driver of the increasing hostility of liberals to religion in almost any form.

No evangelicals among the Blue Devils: Duke students reject Young Life as anti-LGBTQ. At RNS.

the student government senate unanimously turned down official recognition for the Young Life chapter, because it appeared to violate a guideline that every Duke student group include a nondiscrimination statement in its constitution.

Liberty U students against Falwell Jr. At NPR.

We organized this protest in response to both articles that dropped this week. We really are protesting President Falwell’s habitual behavior of – various allegations of misconduct, especially ones of sexual harassment, and the habitual abuse of his subordinates as well as students and various Christian leaders that he’s attacked on Twitter as well.

Turkish creationist Harun Yahya goes on trial for running a blackmail cult. At NCSE.

How a science teacher should answer a radical creationist, at AU.

“This is science, and science deals with facts. It doesn’t deal with belief. It doesn’t have to be a dilemma or a concern for someone to choose between Christianity and evolution – that’s not what this is about. You can actually embrace both. It’s my duty as a teacher to teach science and not teach religion. That’s the separation of church and state.”

Conservatives win one in the wedding-cake LGBTQ wars. At AZC.

Duka and Koski create invitations and other handmade artwork for weddings and events. The women — who hold the religious belief that marriage should only be between one man and one woman — do not want to design invitations or other custom artwork for LGBTQ couples because they believe it would be the equivalent of endorsing the marriage.

The women are represented by Scottsdale-based Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group challenging similar laws across the country.

Check out the connection between $$ and quality in Ohio’s public schools. HT: PG.

Ohio schools realHow to get fired in Fort Worth. A teacher loses her job for tweeting to Trump to do “anything you can do to remove the illegals from Fort Worth.” At DN.

Florida Man (and Woman) had one heck of a night, at USAT.

A Florida couple is facing multiple charges after they started having sex in the back of a police car — after they were already under arrest on DUI charges.

How do religious scientists feel about non-religious ones? Insights from Tolstoy at JTA.

The problem is that those of us who have an abiding religious faith also believe in science. . . . We recognize that you present an objective truth, and that your approach is worthy of careful deliberation. But we get little in return. When you look at us, you can barely conceal your contempt. What you see is little more than confusion, superstition and folly.

Bernie releases a video celebrating teachers’ strikes in WV.

What Does Radical Creationism Look Like?

A reminder, if anyone needed one, that radical creationism does not always look like what you might think. This week Turkish arch-creationist Adnan Oktar is heading off to trial. For Americans who think creationists all look like Christian televangelists, the story is worth a look.

Unlike the American stereotype, Adnan Oktar’s brand of firebrand creationism is Islamic, not Christian. And unlike most of America’s radical-creationist leaders–except maybe Jerry Falwell Jr.–Oktar surrounded himself with roomsful of belly-dancing “kittens.”

Adnan Oktar–who wrote under the name Harun Yahya–was arrested last year on a list of charges ranging from sexual abuse of children to blackmail. If the name sounds familiar and you can’t quite remember why, it is probably because of Harun Yahya’s big creationist splash back in 2007.

harun yahya atlas of creation

Proof of creation! Also, bellydancing.

Back then, Harun Yahya sent unsolicited copies of his radical-creationist book Atlas of Creation to scientists and journalists worldwide. Religion and science agreed, according to Harun Yahya. Both had clearly “refuted the theory of evolution. . . . We never underwent evolution; we were created.”

What’s our takeaway? I have no idea if Adnan Oktar is guilty or innocent. I DO know that his expensive distribution of Islamic creationism didn’t seem to pay off. Most of all, this story serves as a reminder that radical creationism is not limited to northern Kentucky or the Texas state school board.

Inter-faith Creationism?

It is no longer surprising to see deeply conservative religious thinkers reach across religious lines to work together.  Could we soon see effective Muslim-Christian coalitions to support the teaching of creationism?

Perhaps as a model, interfaith creationists could consider Robert George and Hamza Yusuf’s collaboration.  The two leading intellectuals, one Catholic, one Muslim, co-wrote an open letter to hotels, requesting the removal of pornography from television options.

Even more apt, we could consider the fact that American creationism has always used the work of fellow creationist writers from different religious traditions.  In the 1920s, as my grad-school mentor Ronald Numbers argued, Catholic writers such as Alfred McCann were favorites among ferociously Protestant creationists.  More recently, this tradition has continued with the creationist embrace of Jonathan Wells’ work.

Could this tradition of creationist ecumenism work to bridge the Christian-Muslim divide?

There is no doubt that both religions harbor fervent creationists.  A recent article in The Economist detailed recent creationist developments among Islamic populations.  The article cited a study by Salman Hameed of Muslim attitudes to evolution.  That study found that 20% of Muslims in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Pakistan embraced evolution.  In Egypt, only 8% did.

As The Economist article describes, “controversial” Turkish evangelist Adnan Oktar, known as Harun Yahya, has long conducted an energetic creationist campaign in Muslim circles, including a series of conferences in the USA.

Of course, the conservative theology behind both Islamic and Christian creationism creates some barriers.  Orthodox religious thinkers on both sides will be wary of working with people from opposing traditions.

But there has also been a long tradition of cooperation.  As Ronald Numbers pointed out in The Creationists, in the mid-1980s, the Institute for Creation Research received a telephone call from the minister of education of Turkey, requesting teaching materials (Creationists, 2006, pg. 421).  In 1992, a Turkish creationism conference invited ICR stalwarts Duane Gish and John Morris as keynote speakers.  Professor Numbers also describes the founding in 1990 of the Turkish Science Research Foundation (Bilim Arastirma Vakfi, or BAV).  In Numbers’ words, “For years BAV maintained a cozy relationship with Christian young-earth creationists, feting them at conferences, translating their books, and carrying their message to the Islamic world”  (Creationists, 2006, pg. 425).

For a long generation, then, Muslim and Christian creationists have worked together.  The question is not whether such cooperation can happen.  Rather, the question is whether and when these efforts will gather enough support to become a major influence on the politics and policies of creationism and evolution education.