How Far Should the Creationist Purge Go?

Is a creationist historian worse than a socialist one? That’s the question science pundit Jerry Coyne is not asking. But he should be.

The 1941 report from the Guardians of American Education. Does Prof. Coyne really want to join this team?

The 1941 report from the Guardians of American Education. Does Prof. Coyne really want to join this team?

Like a lot of people, I’m a fan of Jerry Coyne. His tenacious attacks on all things religious are witty and smart. But in this case, his historical short-sightedness has caused him to blunder into dangerous terrain.

Here’s the story: In his continuing campaign against creationism, Coyne and his allies have singled out the creationist activism of Professor Emerson T. McMullen. McMullen teaches history classes at Georgia Southern University. Based on Coyne’s evidence, it does seem as if McMullen injects a good deal of proselytization into his classes.

McMullen teaches classes about the history of science and evolution. And, as one student noted in her evaluation, he gives extra credit if students attend religious films. As she warned, “most of it is trying to convert you, but hey, free points!”

Coyne and his allies in the Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote to the administration of Georgia Southern. They urged GSU to “investigate” McMullen’s teaching. They did not object to teaching about religious views, especially in a history class, but they did object to McMullen’s practice of pushing those views on students.

This presents us with a difficult question: How far do we want to go in purging creationists from college faculties? We agree that McMullen’s teaching seems to cross over into preaching. But there are a couple of ominous historical parallels that Professor Coyne seems to dismiss too breezily.

So, first, as Coyne and Co. acknowledge, there is no constitutional ban on teaching religion in publicly funded schools. As Justice Tom Clark made clear in his landmark 1963 opinion in the Schempp case,

Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.

As Justice Clark specified, and as Professor Coyne acknowledged, the issue is not the teaching of religion, but the preaching of religion. As subsequent SCOTUS rulings have specified, public schools must not lend their imprimatur to religious preaching by either students or teachers. McMullen seems to be doing more than teaching about creationism. He appears to be using his authority as a teacher—dispensing grades and extra credit—to encourage students to repeat creationist-friendly ideas.

Does this mean we should actively “investigate” all such teaching? That universities have a constitutional duty to get rid of any professors or classes that move from teaching about religious ideas to preaching the ideas themselves? I think not, for two reasons.

First, university teaching is fundamentally different from K-12 teaching. The SCOTUS decisions about teaching and preaching have mostly dealt with younger students at public schools. Though Georgia Southern is a school that receives tax funding, its status as a university makes it a substantially different case from a high school, middle school, or elementary. The main issue in the Schempp verdict was that school prayer was something students could not evade. Such students were coerced, in effect, into listening to preaching. If, like the young Schempp himself, they have a pass to leave the classroom during prayers, they are still singled out by that action.  In contrast, students in college have enormous freedom to select classes. The faculties, in most cases, are much broader and more diverse. In most public high schools, students are assigned to a teacher without much input. In college, on the other hand, students put together their own schedules.

More important, Coyne doesn’t seem to grasp the tradition he would be joining if his McMullen campaign were successful, though Coyne nods to the importance of academic freedom. As I detail in my upcoming book, conservatives have conducted similar campaigns against leftist professors for decades. I doubt Professor Coyne wants to open up universities to allegations and investigations of ideologically suspicious professors.

In 1941, for example, a group of conservative leaders from the American Legion and the Advertising Federation of America teamed up to encourage Coyne-like investigations of college professors. Their main target was Professor Harold Rugg of Teachers College, Columbia University.

Should we guard the gate?

Should we guard the gate?

As the Guardians of American Education, they investigated Rugg’s teaching. They polled students and obtained copies of syllabi and course descriptions. One of Rugg’s courses, they alleged, featured what they called the “denial of certain natural and inalienable rights of man.” They gave specific examples of the way Rugg used his position as a professor to proselytize. On page 59 of Rugg’s syllabus for a course in Educational Foundations, for instance, Rugg pushed students to “admit the far too rottenness in our social, political, and financial life.”

Is this the sort of club Professor Coyne wants to join? In his earlier campaign against Eric Hedin at Ball State, Coyne alienated allies such as PZ Myers and Larry Moran. Both Moran and Myers thought that Coyne had gone too far in ignoring the sometimes-uncomfortable need to respect academic freedom. And that case was stronger than this one, since Hedin was teaching intelligent design as if it were mainstream science.

So, back to our main question: How far do we want to go to punish professors for their views? What should we do?

The purge is not the right approach. Instead, we should follow the model of Portland parents. When secular parents found out about preaching in an after-school club, they did not shut the club down. They couldn’t. The “Good News Club” had every constitutional right to do what it was doing. But the Portland parents realized that free speech and academic freedom cut both ways. They conducted a campaign to warn their fellow parents about the activities of the Good News Clubs.

That should be our model here. We do not want to slide into witch hunts and creationist-baiting. We do not want to encourage universities to investigate and purge faculty for their beliefs. Instead, we can let students at Georgia Southern know what goes on in McMullen’s classes. The publicity campaign should not be targeted at the administration of Georgia Southern, but rather at its students.

How far do we want to go in purging professors? In this case, Coyne goes too far.


A Trip to a Catholic-School Science Fair

Science Fairs are great.  At their best, they allow students some freedom to experiment and learn on their own.  At their worst, they still provide hilarious examples of wacky adolescent science.  Recently, we saw a field report from the National Center for Science Education blog.  Peter Hess asked the question: What passes for “science” at a Catholic science fair?

In these pages, we’ve eagerly read reports from the field as science mavens visit various sorts of science fairs.  P.Z. Myers has argued that creationist students actively use science fairs to subvert the mind-numbing mental boundaries imposed by creationism.  Greg Laden visited a creationist homeschool science fair and found that some of the science was not bad.  At least not much worse, Laden thought, than the crappy science on display at non-creationist science fairs.

Cutting-edge science from a non-religious science fair...

Cutting-edge science from a non-religious science fair…

Hess found to his great relief that his kids’ Catholic school promoted mainstream science, without adulteration from theology.  Students came up with ambitious projects, such as measuring the distraction levels posed by cell phones and texting.

How distracted are drivers? This kid was not looking to the Bible for answers...

How distracted are drivers? This kid was not looking to the Bible for answers…

Hess also talked with some of the teachers.  Those teachers, too, did not see any conflict between Catholicism and teaching mainstream science in their classes.  One teacher offered an opinion that echoed the view of the late Stephen Jay Gould.  As middle-school teacher Joseph Nagel told Hess,

I sometimes consider science to be the constant investigation of the external world, a quest to analyze and understand the physical world, exclusive of human experience.  Religion I see as the eternal internal investigation, a search to explore and understand what lies within and between us, an examination of the human experience.  If science is our understanding of the world, religion is our understanding of us.  Maybe science is the ‘how’ and religion is the ‘why.’

Of course, different Catholic schools might have different approaches.  But my experience matches up closely with that of Hess.  I taught for a decade in Catholic schools in Milwaukee.  Though we sometimes had arguments about the novels we’d teach or the theology we’d teach, there was never any glimmer of controversy over the science we’d teach.

In fact, at least one of our science teachers also taught biology (or was it chemistry?) at a local public, secular community college.  When I asked him if he taught science differently at our Catholic school, he responded just as did the teachers Hess talked to: “Why would I?”


Creationist Kids Subvert the Bible

The kids are alright.  That’s the conclusion, anyway, of the Happy Atheist PZ Myers.

Myers took a tour of a recent creationist science fair.  What did he find?  Creationist kids seem to be using the tools of creationist parents against them.

Myers went to the smallish Twin Cities creationist science fair.  Most of the student presentations, he found, seemed like regular science with just a required Bible verse appended.  And that combination, Myers argued, undercut the intended creationist brain-washing of these young Minnesotans.

One student seemed to be comparing the absorbency of diapers to the spiritual absorbency of Jesus.  Another seemed to disprove her Bible verse by feeding a wild bird out of her hand.

Myers’ conclusion:

Whether they like it or not, these kids are being given the tools to kick their tired Christian ideology to the curb.


To Debate or Not to Debate

Bill Nye and Ken Ham will be going a few rhetorical rounds next month.

The mega-popular science educator will broach the creationist lion’s den of the Creation Museum on February 4th.  The topic: “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?”

Image Source: Answers In Genesis

Image Source: Answers In Genesis

Are these debates worthwhile?  In the past they had decisive impact on the formation of American creationism and fundamentalism.  But these days such debates are a different animal.

Science pundits don’t like it.  Jerry Coyne warned that Bill Nye will only be putting money and legitimacy in Ham’s deep pocketsPZ Myers wisely concludes that each side will likely only speak past the other.

I agree.  The audience at this debate will likely not be moved by either man’s arguments.  No matter how scientifically accurate or biblically flawless, logical arguments tend not to be the deciding factor in determining one’s beliefs about human origins.

As David Long’s ethnography demonstrated so powerfully, creationists can thrive in mainstream scientific environments without abandoning their religious ideas.  Many creationists have simply been taught to regard mainstream scientists as deeply flawed and bumbling fools.  It is easy to dismiss plausible-sounding talk from someone we have already deemed unreliable.

It’s hard to imagine Ham’s Cincinnati audience won’t be prepared to dismiss Nye’s mainstream science talk out of hand.  I assume Nye is hoping that he may still plant a few seeds of science doubt in the minds of those who hear him.  Not much reason to offer Ham such a plum chance to look like a reputable scientific authority.

At the start of America’s public evolution/creation battles, this legacy of public debating functioned much more powerfully, since creationists had not yet set up alternative institutions.  As I describe in my 1920s book, some of the most influential creationists of the 1920s received humiliating public trouncings in popular debates.

At a talk on the campus of the University of Minnesota, for example, fundamentalist leader William Bell Riley found himself surprised by a student prank.  Someone lowered a monkey onto the stage as Riley tried to convince his audience that creationism was reputable science.  “Every time I hear the argument that this is a controversy between experts on the one hand, and, as someone has said, ‘organized ignorance,’ on the other, I smile,” Riley told the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1927.  “This is not a debate between the educated and the uneducated.”

Similarly, in London, creationist godfather George McCready Price found himself hooted off the stage in the days following the 1925 Scopes Trial.  He had tried to tell the merciless audience that the theory of evolution was doomed as mainstream science.  Such flawed science, Price insisted, may have worked fine

for the times of comparative ignorance of the real facts of heredity and variation and of the facts of geology which prevailed during the latter part of the nineteenth century; but that this theory is now entirely out of date, and hopelessly inadequate for us. . . .  We are making scientific history very fast these days; and the specialist in some corner of science who keeps on humming a little tune to himself, quietly ignoring all this modern evidence against Evolution, is simply living in a fools’ paradise.  He will soon be so far behind that he will wake up some fine morning and find that he needs an introduction to the modern scientific world.

The audience didn’t buy it.  Price found himself heckled so mercilessly that he could not complete his presentation.  That London debacle was Price’s last public debate.  After that experience he focused his considerable energy on founding alternative scientific institutions to prevent future creationists from needing to convert mainstream scientists.

Back in those days, creationists and fundamentalist scientists still attempted to tell audiences that they represented the true mainstream of scientific discovery.  Such early creationists eagerly debated in a variety of settings in hope of convincing middle-of-the-road audiences that evolutionary science was not real science.

In that context, public debates held promise for both sides.  Creationists hoped to prove that they had better science.  Evolutionary scientists hoped to demonstrate the scientific vapidity of creationism.

These days, both sides have hardened.  Creationists these days are not unaware of the fact that their science does not represent the scientific mainstream.  Evolutionary scientists are not hoping to relieve creationists of their naïve ignorance.

Rather, both sides in these debates enter and exit with the same set ideas.  Each side knows who to trust on that stage and who to ignore.  No matter how persuasive Ken Ham can be, he doesn’t really hope to change Bill Nye’s mind.  Rather, this exercise merely serves to give each charismatic speaker the chance to gain a sliver of legitimacy and respectability in the opposite camp.


Do Rich Creationists Deserve the Awesome Fossil?

Everyone agrees on one thing: It’s an awesome fossil.

Image source: Answers In Genesis

Image source: Answers In Genesis

So awesome, mainstream scientists complain, it shouldn’t be used to preach the anti-science on tap in Answers In Genesis’ Creation Museum.

Not so fast, creationists retort.  They insist the rare fossil helps make the scientific case for a young earth and a real global flood.

According to a news release from the young-earth creationist ministry Answers In Genesis, a wealthy benefactor donated the half-million-dollar Allosaurus skull fossil to the Creation Museum.  That benefactor wanted the fossil to be used to help make the case for Biblical young-earth creationism.

The skull will be prominently displayed in the Creation Museum.  AIG scientist Andrew Snelling claims that the skull helps prove the historicity of Noah’s global flood.  Since the skull was so well preserved, Snelling argues, it proves an extremely rapid burial, which fits with a catastrophic flood.

Mainstream scientists complain that the skull should reside elsewhere.  Happy Atheist PZ Myers, for example, laments the fact that such a priceless scientific find should be “locked up in a non-research institution and used to gull the rubes.”

In an Associated Press report, Kentucky paleontologist Dan Phelps worried that the Creation Museum would not let mainstream scientists use the skull for research.

This mainstream complaint raises an interesting question: Would mainstream paleontologists conduct research on the skull, even if they were invited?  After all, the presence of scientists from non-creationist research institutions would be a huge boost for AIG’s claims to be a legitimate scientific institution.

Would any mainstream scientists agree to work at the Creation Museum?



Evolution: Beyond Science and Religion

Outsiders are telling public school families that we must follow the rich man’s elitist religion of evolution, that we no longer have what the Kentucky Constitution says is the right to worship Almighty God.  Instead, this fascist method teaches that our children are the property of the state.

–Matt Singleton, Frankfort, Kentucky, July 2013

Why do so many Americans oppose the teaching of evolution in schools?

The knee-jerk answer is that people fight against mainstream science for religious reasons.

A news story out of Kentucky reminds us that we need to say, “Yes, but…”

Opposition to evolution education in the United States incorporates ideas about religion and science, but we can’t stop there.  If we hope to understand creationism, we need to unpick the tangled skein of ideas that can make up anti-evolution ideology.

This is something that science pundits such as PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne seem unwilling to acknowledge.  America does not face a clear-cut battle between “Science” and “Religion,” between “Knowledge” and “Ignorance,” but a much more stubborn conflict between convoluted collections of ideas, ideas that have grown together over time.  Some science advocates limit themselves to berating creationists for ignorance of evolution, to ridiculing creationists for reactionary adherence to religion.  Such attacks may satisfy our sympathizers, but by willfully mischaracterizing anti-evolutionism, these pro-“science” bloggers only compound the difficulties of healing culture-war divisions.

And those divisions are indeed more complex than activists on either side tend to admit.

Case in point: a notice recently in the Huffington Post drew our attention to this story from Kentucky’s Courier-Journal.  Reporter Mike Wynn described a public meeting over Kentucky’s adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards.  As Wynn reports, opponents of evolution offered comments to the state board of education.  Those comments offer a window into the complicated thinking of anti-evolution activists.

Matt Singleton, for instance, read a statement to the board describing his opposition to the new evolution-friendly science standards.

“Outsiders,” Singleton read,

Are telling public school families that we must follow the rich man’s elitist religion of evolution, that we no longer have what the Kentucky Constitution says is the right to worship Almighty God.  Instead, this fascist method teaches that our children are the property of the state.

As I argued in my 1920s book, anti-evolution activists have always made this sort of intellectual scattershot attack on evolution.  This kind of anti-evolutionism can’t be reduced to merely a theological or scientific argument.  If we hope to understand it, we need to understand the broad intellectual and cultural implications of the argument.  If we want to make sense of it, we must see it for what it is: an “anti-evolution” argument that moves far beyond the boundaries of religion or science.

Some evolution proponents might dismiss The Reverend Singleton’s rant as merely ignorant.  I admit, my first response when someone howls about “outsiders” and “fascist[s]” is to assume we have reached the territory of sea-monsters and sandwich-sign prophets.

But that sort of glib dismissal misses the point.  It does not help us understand why this bundle of anti-evolution ideas remains so politically potent.  Whatever we may think of the connections Singleton makes between region, religion, and rights, those connections make sense to significant numbers of Americans.  It is worth our time to try to understand them.

As a start, let’s try to list all the different reasons for opposing mainstream science education that Singleton packs into this paragraph.

1.) Evolution comes from somewhere else.  (“Outsiders”)

1a.) As an import, evolution is illegitimate.

2.) Evolution is for the rich. (“rich man’s . . . elitist”)

2a.) This elitism calls for popular opposition.

3.) Evolution is a religion. (“religion of evolution”)

3a.) As a religion, it can’t be taught in public schools.

4.) Evolution destroys traditional Baptist religion. (“we no longer have . . . the right to worship Almighty God.”)

4a.) As an attack on religion, it can’t be taught in public schools.

5.) Traditional religion is a Constitutional right. (“the Kentucky Constitution says is the right to worship”)

6.) Evolution is dictatorial. (“fascist method”)

7.) Evolution imposes illegitimate government control over children. (“teaches that our children are property of the state.”)

The Reverend Singleton does not want Kentucky schoolchildren to learn evolution.  But we woefully misunderstand his anti-evolutionism if we simply label him an opponent of “science” and move on.  We also miss the boat if we say too simply that Singleton’s opposition is due to “religious” reasons.  Singleton’s fight against evolution combines a complex bundle of ideas.  That bundle implies certain attitudes toward science and religion.  But it is misleading to say that Singleton is motivated only by “anti-science” attitudes.  Nowhere in his statement—at least in the part published by the Courier-Journal—does Singleton attack science.  And nowhere does Singleton argue that true Biblical faith demands belief in six literal days of creation.

In the American context, we might assume that Singleton believes such things.  But his political argument here includes a much broader bundle of ideas and slogans.

Anyone who hopes to improve evolution education in the United States must start by understanding the complexity of that bundle.  It is not enough to dismiss such arguments as “ignorant” or “irrelevant.”  They make sense to people such as The Reverend Singleton.  They also make sense to the politically powerful voting populace who continue to support the teaching of creationism in America’s science classrooms.




Postmodern Creationism: A Better Story

Add a new category to the creationist bloc in America: postmodernists who don’t “believe” anything.

Journalist Virginia Heffernan has caused a mini-uproar this week by explaining why she’s a creationist.

In a recent essay on Yahoo! News, Heffernan argued that the stories of creationism are simply more “compelling” than those of mainstream science.  In her telling, she wanted to embrace science, since she loves technology.  But science just doesn’t have the right stories.  In her words,

I was amused and moved, but considerably less amused and moved by the character-free Big Bang story (“something exploded”) than by the twisted and picturesque misadventures of Eve and Adam and Cain and Abel and Abraham.

Predictably, science pundits reacted with dismay.  University of Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne lambasted Heffernan’s “remarkable celebration of ignorance.”   University of Minnesota biologist PZ Myers noted Heffernan’s anti-science history: “every time she meets a scientist she opens her mouth and says something stupid . . . .”

Also predictably, evangelical Christians defended Heffernan.  In the Christian Post, journalist Leonardo Blair noted that Heffernan had become a “lightning rod for ridicule,” but that she has also won support from religious people for “standing by her beliefs.”

It seems to me, however, that both the fervent anti-creationist commentators and the evangelical pro-creationists ignore the central thrust of Heffernan’s essay.  Heffernan is not making a case for the truth of creationism.  Indeed, as she explains, “I guess I don’t ‘believe’ that the world was created in a few days, but what do I know? Seems as plausible (to me) as theoretical astrophysics, and it’s certainly a livelier tale.”  This is not a full-throated defense of Biblical creationism.  Instead, Heffernan is making a case for the plausibility of creationism.

And, as far as that goes, she’s right.  Creationism is more than just a religious belief.  It is a convincing and intuitive way of understanding humanity’s predicament.  This is why leading science educators have recognized that simply pouring more science on Americans will never convince them of the truths of evolution.

Heffernan’s attitude does not result from childhood brainwashing in the Bible.  Heffernan does not howl at mainstream institutions from the wilds of San Diego or Northern Kentucky.  She complains, instead, that it is hard to admit to creationism in New York restaurants, to acquaintances from her jobs, perhaps, at the New Yorker or New York Times.  With her handy PhD from Harvard, Heffernan’s attitude does not come from a lack of mainstream education.

Heffernan’s avowed creationism, instead, comes from an over-abundance of mainstream education.  Her attack on mainstream science comes not from Genesis, as she suggests elsewhere, but from Derrida.

Other creation/evolution commentators have made similar points, without going as far as embracing creationism.  Jason Rosenhouse, for instance, in his book Among the Creationists, admits that creationist explanations of life and humanity are much more appealing than the messy truths of mainstream science.

Unlike Rosenhouse, Heffernan takes the postmodern leap.  IF we have no Archimedean perspective from which we can judge competing truth claims, THEN we are forced to choose between competing narratives.  BECAUSE creationism has the better narrative, Heffernan concludes, she must call herself a creationist.

Plus, it generates better headlines to say “I’m a creationist” than to say “Creationism tells better stories of humanity’s origins, but I don’t really believe those stories, but you gotta admit, they are better stories, plus scientists can sometimes be jerks.”


Eric Hedin and the Care and Feeding of Young Scientists

Scientists aren’t necessarily stupid.  Yet, as we’ve seen, some academic scientists demonstrate a curious ignorance or even proud self-delusion about important aspects of science and culture.

Perhaps the continuing kerfuffle over Professor Eric Hedin and Ball State University can shed some light on this puzzle.

The case began, it appears, with complaints by University of Chicago scientist and science activist Jerry Coyne.  Coyne complained that the teaching of Eric Hedin at Ball State University represented the indoctrination of students by a religious zealot. Professor Hedin taught a course cross-listed as “The Boundaries of Science” or “Inquiries in the Physical Sciences.”  True enough, Hedin’s reading list leaned heavily on old-earth creationism and intelligent design.  Worst of all, Professor Coyne argued, Hedin’s course proselytized for a specific sort of Christianity and called it science.  The university and department reluctantly agreed to investigate Hedin’s teaching.

Professor Coyne hoped the university would pressure Professor Hedin to stop his preaching.

Other leading science bloggers disagreed.  PZ Myers argued that Hedin’s teaching, though lamentable, must be allowed as an issue of academic freedom.  “If we’re going to start firing professors who teach things that are wrong,” Myers insisted, “we’re all going to be vulnerable.”

The debate between these science activists on the boundaries of acceptable university teaching might help us understand why so many scientists are so strangely unaware of the cultural context of their work.  Neither Professor Coyne nor Professor Myers seems to think that Professor’s Hedin course might actually be of value to the scientists-in-training at Ball State.  Myers defends the classes as a protection of Hedin’s rights, not the protection of student interests.

Is it not possible that such intellectual diversity could be a positive good?

In issues of race, the US Supreme Court has ruled that diversity is a legitimate goal of university admissions.  Racial diversity, in other words, is not only good for members of racial minority groups.  Diversity is good for everybody who wants to learn.

Does not the same principle apply here?

Of course, we would want to avoid the absurd extension of this principle.  We would not want to teach people things that were obviously not true only to give students some sort of intellectual workout.  But the ideas taught by Hedin are not the ravings of some isolated madman.  Rather, they represent an influential and important tradition in our culture.  Though these ideas do not qualify as representatives of mainstream science, they are nevertheless ideas about science.  Scientists should know about them.

Raising young scientists in an ideological or cultural hothouse produces fragile flowers.  It helps explain why so many smart people emerge from this training so remarkably dumb about important ideas.

If we looked into this question as one of encouraging intellectual diversity, we could shift the debate in useful ways.  Everyone can agree that students can benefit by being exposed to a diversity of ideas.  The question becomes, then, at what level and in what format should students learn about heterodox ideas?  What courses should count as requirements, and what courses should be elective?  Most important, where are the boundaries of acceptable diversity?  These are questions with which university faculties have long experience.

In my field, for instance, it would not make sense for introductory courses in American history to teach only a Marxist interpretation of the past.  Students from all sorts of fields take those introductory courses.  For many students, such a course may be their only collegiate exposure to American history.  It would not make sense for those students to learn that history is the unfolding of the class struggle.  But for history majors, students will benefit from having one or more advanced courses taught about specific interpretive traditions, whether or not the instructor is a Marxist.   Even though I do not think a Marxist interpretation is the best approach, I support the inclusion of such courses in university programs.  Not only to defend the teaching rights of professors, but more importantly, to ensure students experience a true diversity of intellectual approaches.

In the case from Ball State, it does not seem as if Professor Hedin’s religion-heavy course should be the ONLY exposure students have to science.  Nor should this course be taught as an introduction to science as a whole. But students who take a full course load of science classes could certainly benefit from considering such ideas.  Even if taught by an instructor who embraces the theological implications.  Other courses might study other aspects of science, and might usefully be taught by professors with strong intellectual commitments to a particular worldview.

Making the debate a question of when and how students encounter intellectual diversity is not as exciting as debating if religious ideas can be taught as science.  It is not as exciting as arguing whether professors have the academic freedom to teach heterodox ideas.  But it seems to me the most productive way to discuss Professor Hedin’s case.