Turn right and you're out!

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Feb 10, 2003.

  1. Administrator2

    Administrator2
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    0
    HELEN

    There is no doubt about the media having a liberal bias. What is not so widely known outside of academia is that this bias exists even more strongly in our education system here in the United States. I have personal knowledge of a paleontology post-grad student working for his Ph.D. who knows that he will get kicked out of the program if it is known he is a creationist. In the meantime, he is earning top marks. Stories like this are not uncommon.

    Recently, however, there has been a case making prominent headlines which may be going to court over this issue. Below in the article quoted it is discussed in a far more interesting manner than I could present here. The author is an ex-Communist... [​IMG]

    from http://worldmag.com/world/issue/02-15-03/closing_2.asp

    This might be a good place to mention the number of times organizations like Institute of Creation Research or Answers in Genesis are ridiculed for simply putting their statement of belief on their front pages of their publications and the idea that those who write for them and work for them must subscribe to this belief statement. At least these organizations are honest and ethical about what they are doing. The same cannot really be said for mainstream academia in most cases, nor for mainstream publications.
     
  2. Administrator2

    Administrator2
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    0
    MDKLUGE

    Helen, I don’t understand your presentation here. The matter of Dimi and his would-be student is a matter of current public interest and discussion. I think there is reason for some sympathy for that student, although for reasons which I shall explain below I think Dimi will ultimately prevail in court. My question is “why confuse that sympathetic case with those of your anonymous paleontologist friend and that of Marvin Olasky?

    You know of a paleontology grad student who “knows” that he will be kicked out of his program if he is known to be a creationist. That is merely argument by assertion. Your readers have no way to evaluate your assertion/argument. It weakens your presentation as a whole.

    It’s hard to see what Martin Olasky is complaining about. As a graduate student Olasky chose the chairman to sit on his examining committee. In such circumstances one doesn’t choose faculty one expects to be hostile to him. Olasky didn’t mind receiving and using a letter of recommendation from the department chair whose praise Olasky knew was based upon their then shared Marxism. After his conversion Olasky would have had to be pretty naive not to expect at least some cooling of the chairman’s ardor for him. And knowing the problem he should have forthrightly confronted it. Olasky needed to make an appointment with the chairman and frankly discuss his change of views and how that would affect the content of his dissertation. I do not condone the chairman’s subsequent resignation from Olasky’s committee shortly before graduation, but having to replace a committee member is commonplace for graduate students. (I had to do it myself shortly before graduation. It was inconvenient, but hardly the end of the world.) Olasky’s penned gratitude to the one conservative who saved the day by joining his committee is laughable. Did he really go through the whole (or a large part of) his department before finding someone willing to serve? Wouldn’t it occur to him early in his search to seek out the one “conservative” faculty member most likely to be sympathetic to him? If so, then he has no basis for panning the rest of his departmental faculty for not coming to his aid. If not, then the graduate student not able to pick committee members who can help him really isn’t bright enough to deserve an advanced degree.

    Now let us consider the Dimi case. I agree with the student that the granting of letters of recommendation, although an area of great latitude for faculty, is subject like most faculty activities to prohibitions against religious or other discrimination. If Dimi’s policy or practice in granting letters of recommendation actually discriminates against some religious group then that policy or practice is illegal. The question, then, is whether, in fact, Dimi does discriminate.

    I do think that an affirmative case can be made based upon Dimi’s remarks on his web site. Dimi asks prospective recommendees about what they believe to be the origin of the human species, and the language he uses to justify his question is more typical of a religious discussion than a scientific one. Starting with his asking what his student “believes”, one can read Dimi’s statement as one of mixed scientific and religious concern.

    I do not, however, think that such a reading follows necessarily. The question of religious discrimination hinges, I think, on how Dimi actually conducts interviews. Suppose Dimi asks a student what she believes to be the origin of the human species and the student responds “it is thought that…” and then proceeds to say something about the divergence between humans and chimpanzees. If Dimi actually presses the student “but what do you personally believe?”, then I would find religious discrimination; but as I read Dimi’s web page, however,

    I think he would accept the student’s response. In insisting that his students affirm a scientific view of the origins of humans, I understand Dimi to be trying to weed out those students who confuse what is a scientific explanation with what is not. If the student had responded that science indicated that the earth was created some few thousand years ago and that the first man was created from earth, and the first woman from his rib, then Dimi would not recommend that student because of her scientific incompetence, not because of her religious beliefs. Of course this requires young earth creationists to dissimulate somewhat, but no more than they will need to dissimulate in their course work and research whenever evolution is touched upon.

    Unfortunately the student suing Dimi never tried to find out what Dimi would do. The student, as I understand it, neither completed Dimi’s biology course (and thus did not receive a grad of A), nor got to know Dimi, nor had an “origin of human species” interview with Dimi. The student has met none of Dimi’s conditions for a letter of recommendation. I suspect that a judge will dismiss the complaint as too speculative to be a genuine controversy. Legally the case may come close to being frivolous.

    But even if the student’s lawsuit is legally frivolous I do agree that the issues raised by Dimi’s policy are important and should be discussed outside of the court room. Dimi probably has not crossed the line of religious discrimination, but I cannot say that someone reaching the contrary conclusion does so irrationally. A note of caution, though; this case hinges on narrow factual issues concerning what Dimi meant. I do not kid myself by thinking that if Dimi meant literally what he wrote, that he would prevail. I think he is not guilty of religious discrimination in part because I think he probably meant something a little less forceful than the denotative meaning of what he wrote.

    In any case I do not approve of Dimi’s question. It is laudible for him to try to ensure that his recommendees can and will look at the widest variety of evidence when doing research, but I do not see how the answer to the one question he asks can be a reliable indicator of this. A wider spectrum of questions would be needed for him to achieve this goal.
     
  3. Administrator2

    Administrator2
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    0
    HELEN

    Hi again Mark,

    Just a few points in response to your response:

    1. You asked what Dimi’s student (and he was a student until he found out about Dimi’s stand and dropped out) and Olasky have in common – I don’t think that is too hard; the minute you turn right you incur disfavor in most educational situations. It takes courage for any of these people to stand up for what they believe in the face of that.

    2. The paleontology student I mentioned does not simply assert he will be kicked out, he saw it happen to others and has been warned by his advisor that if anyone professes to disbelieve evolution that that student will not be passed, even if accidently accepted into the program in the first place. This is not assertion; this is not hearsay. This is what happens and what a number of students in a number of levels of education (usually post-high school) are bluntly warned about now. In other words, indoctrination has, for many professors, become an integral part of education.

    3. I don’t think Olasky was complaining. I think he was simply recalling what had happened to him and comparing it with the present situation.

    4. Does Dimi discriminate? The point of the whole thing is that he says he does and he states why. Wasn’t that clear? The rather hidden point, however, is that in asking for what the student believes, Dimi – and others like him – are quietly admitting that evolution is a belief that must be held. That does approach a religious sort of thing…

    5. I have heard Dimi is backing down on the legal suit, but I have not checked the facts myself and at this point that is only hearsay… :D
     
  4. Administrator2

    Administrator2
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    0
    MDKLUGE

    I thank Helen for her response. Unfortunately it confirms my earlier fears that the three cases she mentions don’t belong together. It is clear that whatever injustice was done to Olasky (if injustice there was) concerned his political turn to the right. Demi’s student and the anonymous paleontology student, by contrast, run into difficulties related to their espousal of creationism. I suppose one could say that they are part of the religious rignt, but that’s a rather vulgar usage; As anyone who has studied Christian history knows, Baptists (or their predecessors the Anabaptists) were the vanguard of the LEFT of the Protestant Reformation because of their democratic polity. While Olasky did turn to the right there is nothing on the record to suggest that either Dimi’s student or the paleontology student did so.

    Meanwhile the story of the paleontology student has subtly changed. Originally Helen claimed that he would be in trouble “if it is known he is a creationist”, but now that has changed to “if anyone professes to disbelieve evolution”. Originally we were told that the student feared being found out, but then we are told that he’ll be in trouble if he outs himself. Neither is perhaps desirable, but if the story is to be illustrative it must have some consistency.Neither version is quite on point to be compared with Dimi’s student’s problem (the case of current interest), although I suppose one could contrast the case of the paleontology student with that of Dimi’s: The latter didn’t want to be asked about his creationism, while the former was afraid he might tell!

    The issue of religious (not political) discrimination in Dimi’s student’s case is a serious issue, although I lean toards not crediting it. Dimi asks his question and expects the same answer regardless of the student’s religion. But perhaps it is discriminatory because creationists must lie, or at least dissimulate to give the required answer, while others need not do so.

    The claim is colorable, but unconvincing. It clearly would fail if the question were asked on a biology test. In that context “what do you think about the origin of the human species?” calls for a scientific answer which, by twenty-first century standards involves discussion of evolution. Despite the words “what do you think” a creationist’s honest answer that he thinks humans originated in the Garden of Eden would be unacceptable on a biology test. That student must dissimulate. I see no significant difference between this and Dimi’s question. Dimi burdens creationist students no more than the biology curriculum already does.

    Of course if a creationist student were to dissimulate with the expected answer and Dimi pursued by asking whether the student really believed that answer then the matter might have to be decided differently. We have no evidence, however, that Dimi actually went, or would go to such lengths. Nevertheless I would be pleased if Dimi really did back down and stopped asking that one question as condition for recommending students. Although Dimi is probably correct that evolution is a central area of modern biology (if not the central idea) his exclusive focusing on that in his questioning of students seems unbalanced and ill-suited to screening students for recommendation.

    Finally I cannot resist responding to Helen’s remark:

    I fail to see how. Dimi asks what his student “believes” about the origin of the human species, but the word “believe” has many subtle shades of meaning, and many of them have nothing to do with belief systems. If, for example, I asked you whether you believed that I had eggs and bacon for breakfast yesterday morning you would not therefore regard my breakfast menu as a system of belief! More on point, if I asked you what you believed were the fundamental laws of Mechanics I would in no way be admitting that Newton’s Laws of Motion were part of a belief system even though I would expect you to respond with something about them rather than Aristotle’s impetus theory. I would expect you to reply with Newton rather than Aristotle not because Newton is a belief system, but because an answer in terms of Newton’s Laws is necessary for a competent answer. Similarly Dimi expects an answer in terms of evolution because such an answer is so fundamental to modern biology that one who cannot (or will not) give it is at least suspected of being incompetent at his discipline.
     
  5. The Galatian

    The Galatian
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2001
    Messages:
    9,687
    Likes Received:
    0
    Does anyone know where YE creationist Kurt Wise got his education?

    Would the graduate school at the Institute for Creation Research accept a student who refused to sign a statement avowng creationism?

    Do the answers to these questions tell us anything about the academic freedom available in those respective institutions?
     

Share This Page

Loading...