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William Crenshaw and Erskine College

I think I like this guy.

Science is the litmus test on the validity of the educational enterprise. If a school teaches real science, it’s a pretty safe bet that all other departments are sound. If it teaches bogus science, everything else is suspect…. I want a real college, not one that rejects facts, knowledge, and understanding because they conflict with a narrow religious belief. Any college that lets theology trump fact is not a college; it is an institution of indoctrination. It teaches lies. Colleges do not teach lies. Period.

That’s from William Crenshaw, who was an English professor at Erskine College. “Was”…no more. He’s been fired.

It turns out Erskine College is the Institution of Indoctrination for some fringe sect called the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, which I find hilarious. It’s some dinky, smug, pretentious religious group that thinks their peculiar dogma dictates the laws of the universe. One of their big issues is that Crenshaw doesn’t think science ought to bow down before biblical literalism.

The conservative element has apparently been lobbying to give him the boot for years, and they’re celebrating now.

The ARP Talk blog called Crenshaw’s comments on science evidence that he is “functionally an atheist who, in his rabid, secular fundamentalism, preaches his views with as much vigor and determination as an old-time Methodist revivalist of 100 years ago.” The blog added that Crenshaw was “an evangelist of infidelity” and said that he encourages students to question faith with “his secular brain-dribble.”

I like him even more.

The school and the troglodyte alumni wanted him out because they claim he was “disloyal” and “discouraged potential students from enrolling at Erskine.” The ironic thing is that the actions of the college to muzzle faculty are a better reason to discourage students from attending Erskine.

Not that it’ll matter much, because I suspect most of their enrollment comes from Mommy and Daddy DumbThugChristian telling their kids that they have to go to Erskine, but I’ll chime in: you’re nuts if you go to Erskine. Pick a better school. If you’re already at Erskine College, TRANSFER. It’s not too late to get a degree with a name on it that won’t be quite so embarrassing.

(Also on Sb)

Comments

  1. coralline says

    Ugh. I’m applying to faculty positions in some smaller colleges and universities. If I really dig into their mission statements and so on, and find mention of faith or the like, that’s an immediate do-not-reply. Often that stuff is hidden; sometimes it’s so deep in the college’s past to be pretty much irrelevant today.

    With Erskine, one of their main links on the front page is “Erskine Seminary”. Well, that settles THAT.

  2. says

    An English professor? So why were they afraid his views on science were going to corrupt their students? Maybe they thought when he taught Hamlet, he’d point out that there is no such thing as ghosts?

  3. Gregory says

    There is an indoctrination center in Seattle, Seattle Pacific University, operated by the Free Methodist Church.

    I’ve known people who went there: most of the freshmen curriculum is remedial history, English and science because the vast majority of students had been home-schooled by religious fanatics to “avoid the rampant secular unGodliness that is public education.” When you learned to read from the Bible, concepts like “metaphor” and “analogy” are not things you learn, and you’ve highlighted some of the ridiculous nonsense that passes for religious “science” textbooks.

    Very sad, and good for Profesor Crenshaw.

  4. Anteprepro says

    Well, apparently the school isn’t even going to pretend that their theology is consistent with science and NOT trumping it: they’re going to toss out the infidel and claim that he is an atheist science worshipper. I hope a lot of people pay attention to the school’s response to this: It is an admission that the entire school believes that science and religion are at odds, and that they DO in fact favor religious fantasy over fact.

  5. Blueaussi says

    It’s been more years than I care to admit to since I was in collage; but back then, if you couldn’t cut it at one of the large public universities like Clemson or the University of South Carolina, you went to Erskene or Lander.

    Yeah, so, sadly, I’m not too surprised by this.

  6. Fukuda says

    From their educational goals page:

    B. Developing critical and analytical thinking skills

    C. Promoting intellectual curiosity and a motivation to learn

    D. Experiencing the diverse ways in which knowledge is acquired and used, as well as the connections that exist among various types of knowledge

    A. Cognitive Skills

    * Objective observation & appraisal of events and situations
    * Logical reasoning, rational inference, and analysis

    Yeah, sure. What kind of “critical thinking skills” are they promoting?….

  7. James says

    “some dinky, smug, pretentious religious group that thinks their peculiar dogma dictates the laws of the universe”… Specificity: Ur doin it wrong.

    Well, I suppose not every religious group is “dinky”.

  8. frankniddy says

    There are so many examples of this kind of firing, especially by glorified Christian madrassas, that Ben Stein must have been projecting to the nth degree when he made that “documentary.”

    As a side note, why doesn’t Firefox recognise “madrassas”?

  9. Kevin says

    Sadly, there are “colleges” and “universities” aplenty that specialize in this type of non-education.

    Reminds me of the Randy Newman line about rednecks. “Went to LSU…went in dumb, came out dumb, too.”

    When did this happen? When did we become a nation of proudly arrogant numbskulls?

    I think I’m going to start learning Mandarin Chinese. Might need it pretty soon.

  10. Alverant says

    @frankniddy #8
    I looked up “madrassas” on dictionary.com and according to them you spelled it wrong. It has 2 Ss, not 3.

    For everyone else, a madrasas is a school attached to a mosque that teaches theology.

  11. says

    Who needs “string theory” when you can have “jesus theory” – namely that jesus engages in action at a distance through strands of his awesome willpower that spans the universe? And who needs “probability” when you can have “divine fiat”? etc. Actually, there’s no need to know anything, if you’re a good sheep: just STFU and grow wool until it’s time to be mutton stew.

  12. raven says

    Oh gee, William Crenshaw was EXPELLED for accepting science.

    Fundies think Orwell’s 1984 is an instruction manual and think Stalin was an executive genius. It’s only because we live in a democracy that Crenshaw wasn’t sent to the Gulag or worse.

    They EXPELL scholars a lot, part of their ongoing program of demonstrating their complete intellectual and moral bankruptcy. Added to the list.

    Below is an old list of their other victims. It is long and getting longer all the time.

    The real story is the persecution of scientists by Fundie Xian Death cultists, who have fired, harassed, beaten up, and killed evolutionary biologists and their supporters whenever they can.
    http://www.sunclipse.org/?p=626 [link goes to Blake Stacey's blog which has a must read essay with documentation of the cases below.]

    Posting the list of who is really being beaten up, threatened, fired, attempted to be fired, and killed. Not surprisingly, it is scientists and science supporters by Death Cultists.

    If anyone has more info add it. Also feel free to borrow or steal the list.

    I thought I’d post all the firings of professors and state officials for teaching or accepting evolution.

    2 professors fired, Bitterman (SW CC Iowa) and Bolyanatz (Wheaton)

    1 persecuted unmercifully Richard Colling (Olivet) Now resigned under pressure.

    1 persecuted unmercifully for 4 years Van Till (Calvin)

    1 attempted firing Murphy (Fuller Theological by Phillip Johnson IDist)

    1 successful death threats, assaults harrasment Gwen Pearson (UT Permian)

    1 state official fired Chris Comer (Texas)

    1 assault, fired from dept. Chair Paul Mirecki (U. of Kansas)

    1 killed, Rudi Boa, Biomedical Student (Scotland)

    1 fired Brucke Waltke noted biblical scholar

    Biology Department fired, La Sierra SDA University

    William Crenshaw fired, Erskine College

    1 attempted persecution Richard Dawkins by the Oklahoma state legislature

    Vandalism Florida Museum of Natural History

    Death Threats Eric Pianka UT Austin and the Texas
    Academy of Science engineered by a hostile, bizarre IDist named Bill Dembski

    Death Threats Michael Korn, fugitive from justice, towards the UC Boulder biology department and miscellaneous evolutionary biologists.

    Death Threats Judge Jones Dover trial. He was under federal marshall protection for a while

    Up to 17 with little effort. Probably there are more. I turned up a new one with a simple internet search. Haven’t even gotten to the secondary science school teachers.

    And the Liars of Expelled, the movie have the nerve to scream persecution. On body counts the creos are way ahead.

    These days, fundie xian is synonymous with liar, ignorant, stupid, and sometimes killer.

  13. Svetogorsk says

    I looked up “madrassas” on dictionary.com and according to them you spelled it wrong. It has 2 Ss, not 3.

    So how do you spell the surname of the man who ruled Libya from 1969-2011?

    You can’t quibble about the spelling of words that didn’t originate in the Roman alphabet to begin with – and, sure enough, the Wikipedia entry on ‘Madrasah’ [sic] explicitly says:

    It is variously transliterated as madrasah, madarasaa, medresa, madrassa, madraza, madarsa, medrese etc.

    The “etc.” would appear to translate as “spell it however you like: whatever Dictionary.com might think, there’s no official version”.

  14. kantalope says

    New motto: Verum haec discordia or maybe Verum repugnat veritati

    I think they should ditch those educational goals not very honest there at all.

    A- Fund Raising and Fee Collection
    *Collect Fees and Tuition on time and with interest
    *Do whatever necessary to keep old, almost dead, people sending in money
    B- Award Pieces of Paper only to people in good standing with Accounting Department

    That should be all they need

  15. raven says

    FYI, never heard of Erskine or this cult.

    Erskine is in South Carolina. No surprise. Small, 600 students.

    The Associated Reformed Crackpot Presbytarian Wingnut church is also small, claiming 35,000 members, apparently based in the South.

    Oh well, another groups of demented Death Cultists. The best anyone can say is this is a minor group.

  16. Alverant says

    Svetogorsk, the question was why Firefox didn’t recognize the word. That’s because according to Firefox, it was misspelled. Nothing more, nothing less.

  17. IMil says

    I’m sorry, this comment is a bit off topic here, but so are THE FUCKING SCIENTOLOGY ADS all around the article!

    Wasn’t the ability to choose advertisers more sensibly one of the reasons for migrating to freethoughtblogs.com?

  18. raven says

    A- Fund Raising and Fee Collection
    *Collect Fees and Tuition on time and with interest
    *Do whatever necessary to keep old, almost dead, people sending in money
    B- Award Pieces of Paper only to people in good standing with Accounting Department

    You left out a few.

    D. Brainwashing kids with ancient mind control techniques.

    E. Promote endogamy and inbreeding by tossing kids together with their coreligionists. A lot of these church schools are just dating markets. Really, would you want your kids to marry a Methodist or Presbyterian Church (USA).

  19. Michael says

    Bad school with a good teacher? Unlikely. What are the chances the professor is going to have a hard time finding work since he already got kicked out of the bottom of the barrel?

  20. Yakamoz says

    who, in his rabid, secular fundamentalism, preaches his views with as much vigor and determination as an old-time Methodist revivalist of 100 years ago.

    This disingenuous gambit is so excrutiatingly common, yet so inane. There’s nothing wrong with “preaching” with vigor and determination if you’re actually right.

    My 2nd grade math teacher preached the multiplication tables with as much vigor and determination as an old-time Methodist revivalist. The problem comes when you’re preaching lies that you’re unwilling to examine, much less change your mind about.

  21. Anteprepro says

    Christian colleges, schools, whatever aren’t the bottom of the barrel, Michael. They are a whole different barrel, luring in otherwise perfectly decent teachers who happen to buy into religious bullshit. I recently had the pleasure of seeing the assignments given to a few elementary schoolers who go to a Christian elementary school. Decent, rigorous workload, as expected from a private school, well representing several subjects, with the notable exception of certain parts in their Science book. I am not shitting you: Their science book pulled the “Just a theory, not a fact” card on Pangaea, complete with “It’s only a theory, because were you there?”. This is right after presenting the theory of plate tectonics itself without such faux skepticism (as if we can fucking directly see the plates on the mantle), and right before stating the alternative “theory” of “Well, dur Bible sez…” (which, of course, is suggested to be the more accurate of the two). They teach perfectly well at these schools: it’s just that the curriculum happens to include distortions and lies. This doesn’t mean the teachers, probably indoctrinated with the same tactically-placed falsehoods, are bad at their job. It just means that these Christian schools present an alternate reality and barely deserve to be considered legitimate schools (in regards to science education at least.)

  22. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    Yeah, sure. What kind of “critical thinking skills” are they promoting?….

    Criticizing people who think?

  23. Bio_Ninja says

    Wow! I am a long-time reader, 1st time commenter. I attended Erskine College and took English103 with Dr. Crenshaw! During my senior year, the school unfortunately got a new president. In my opinion, that’s when things started to go downhill. During my time they actually weren’t gung-ho with all the faith stuff (Erskine’s where I became an atheist, after all). They also used to teach critical thinking and the biology department was a wonderful place. It saddens me to see the place has become so intolerant.

  24. madknitter says

    Good for Mr Crenshaw.

    I attended one of the largest high schools on the east coast, and wanted to attend our large state university. My family insisted I attend a small Catholic college (and they were paying for it). So I did. And I majored in Religious Studies, and that is what made me an atheist, because even though it was a Catholic college, it did not teach dogma, and I learned to exegete with the best of ‘em. After majoring in religion, I couldn’t take any of it seriously. Thanks, Mom!

    I am curious, though, if a person attends a dogmatic college that lets theology trump facts, what kind of job can the graduate get? Or do they all end up working in Christian bookstores and for Hate Groups?

  25. RFW says

    Well, speak of the devil! On my mother’s side of the family, I have a bunch of ancestral members of the ARP church. Never thought I’d see it mentioned anywhere like Pharyngula.

    From the little I know, it was at one time a moderately widespread denomination in the Deep South, South Carolina in particular, but its heyday has passed. They appear, from the little evidence I have, to have been a very rigid outfit, greatly concerned with dis-fellowshipping fornicators and such.

    I’m actually surprised to read that they still exist in numbers sufficient to have a college, albeit a small, crappy one, under their wing.

  26. ing says

    Sadly now that he’s out of work he’s had to move down south to Arkansas live in a swamp and wear one strap overalls

  27. Robert G. Ingersoll says

    With the single exception of Cornell, there is not a college in the United States where truth has ever been a welcome guest.

  28. raven says

    They also used to teach critical thinking and the biology department was a wonderful place.

    So, have they fired their biology department yet? Or just threatened and cowed them into submission?

    La Sierra U. fired their biology department a few months ago.

    If they haven’t, probably the biology department is next. Purges are so much fun as long as you are the chooser and not the chosen.

  29. Lambert says

    Comment from the linked to article site

    administrator at somewhere else nearby on September 8, 2011 at 7:30am EDT
    Watching Erskine die is painful. They’ve got little money and not enough students, but they keep doing things like this that can only make their situation worse. It’s like watching an addict crashing toward rock bottom in slow motion.

    Oh so there’s actually some good news here. Dumb old Erskine may be on the way out.

  30. flyv65 says

    I went to Erskine and got my Biology degree back in the 80′s: boy, have times changed. They used to be a really good school for science, and were a way less expensive than Clemson was (at least after I got the employee’s family discount). Granted, there was the seminary and prayer was present at school functions, but otherwise it wasn’t very different from any other colleges I’d seen. Also, the science department didn’t seem to be kow-towing to any sort of religious instruction that I could see (including at least one of the psychology professors I took classes from…).

  31. Dr. Strabismus (WGP) of Utrecht says

    IMil@20 I’m sorry, this comment is a bit off topic here, but so are THE FUCKING SCIENTOLOGY ADS all around the article!

    Wasn’t the ability to choose advertisers more sensibly one of the reasons for migrating to freethoughtblogs.com?

    I admit it’s a bit annoying, but isn’t it kind of nice to know that the Scientologists are totally wasting their money here? It seems they would have more reason to complain than we do.

    I’m curious about the Quantum Jump thing, though – I’m not only seeing it here, but on mainstream sites like the NYT and the Weather Channel. Is QJ the new Scientology?

  32. says

    Anti-educational institutions are breeding grounds for the Michele Bachmann’s of the world.

    She got a J.D. degree from Oral Roberts University, a “university” that puts God’s law first. She went on to get an advanced degree from William and Mary Law School (where Eric Cantor also got a degree).

    Perhaps realizing that she was awarded advanced degrees, but never learned much, she has recently suggested eliminating the Department of Education.

    Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said on Monday that if elected president she would drastically pare back the federal government, possibly by doing away with the U.S. Department of Education.
    Bachmann has made the suggestion before, and she reiterated her stance in response to a question from Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., at his Palmetto Freedom Forum.
    “The Constitution does not specifically enumerate nor does it give to the federal government the role and duty to superintend over education,” Bachmann said. “That historically has been held by the parents and by local communities and by state government. To put that into the federal government as we saw a Department of Education in the late 1970s has eviscerated the constitutional understanding that the control of education truly lies with the parents.”

    More likely, she wishes that negative-knowledge purveyors like Oral Roberts University would be hassled less about meeting certain educational standards.

    Willliam & Mary Law School is an improvement over Oral Roberts University (now Regeant University), but one might well question why they would feature Pat Robertson in the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, where Robertson wrote “Religion in the Classroom.”
    Excerpt:

    Rape is a horrible crime, but my message tonight is not about the brutal rape of a young woman. I want to tell you about a much more insidious rape, a rape that has been repeated over and over, a rape that was not directed against the virtue and self worth of a few individuals. I am talking about a rape of our entire society. A rape of our nation’s religious heritage, a rape of our national morality, a rape of time-honored customs and institutions-yes, and, especially, a rape of our governing document, the United States Constitution. Who is responsible for this violation? Consider these suspects: learned Justices of the Supreme Court, joined by so-called legal scholars with multiple degrees from prestigious schools of law, and paid representatives of such benign sounding organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union.>/blockquote>

  33. truthspeaker says

    If your Presbyterian parents are easily fooled and don’t like to do research, transfer to Macalester College. It still has some links to Presbyterian Church USA, but as a student you will barely notice them. And I guarantee they teach evolution in the biology department.

  34. truthspeaker says

    Kevin says:
    8 September 2011 at 9:31 am

    Sadly, there are “colleges” and “universities” aplenty that specialize in this type of non-education.

    Reminds me of the Randy Newman line about rednecks. “Went to LSU…went in dumb, came out dumb, too.”

    When did this happen? When did we become a nation of proudly arrogant numbskulls?

    1776

  35. claimthehighground says

    Is it true that the Erskine cheerleaders chant is:

    One skin, two skin, three skin, five skin;
    We can’t have fore skin at Erskine.

    Gooooooooooo, Saints!

  36. Abelard says

    I’ve had refugee students from Liberty U in the past and have in the present. All of the stories I’ve heard from these students are of an intellectually stultifying and dogmatic atmosphere enforced by a professoriate intent on teaching unquestionable doctrine rather than critical thinking. Orthodox belief is enforced by a continual peer and authoritarian pressure which these refugee students immediately recognize as dampening rather than encouraging debate. All of these students without exception are exceptionally bright and often rank among my best students.

    There has been a movement among the religious over the last decade to found these institutions of dogmatic learning and masquerade them as secular schools. Erskine is only one example of a larger movement among small student population religious schools. The typical focus of these schools is on the ‘Liberal Arts’ broadly defined to include the study of western civilization, western religion, philosophy (ethics only, and the evils of ‘materialism’), bible study, the Greek and Latin languages, and pre-law if its large enough. These schools include only the most basic of the sciences and math, and there is very little desire to expand them and never at the expense of the sacred trivium. They are no better than seminaries for preparing students with the critical thinking skills and scientific knowledge they will need to compete in the 21st century workplace. Students beware. The young men and women who attend these schools are being duped, plain and simple, into believing the classes they are taking are preparation for anything other than understanding the narrow belief system which the faculty espouses. Dissent and philosophical inquiry that runs counter to their orthodoxy will be met with untold pressure to conform, by both faculty and students. These schools are not havens of intellectual curiosity, but dens of blind faith.

  37. Sinclair Lewis says

    Elmer Gantry, best known to classmates as Hell-cat, had, this autumn of 1902, been football captain and led the best team Terwillinger College had known in ten years. They had won the championship of the East-middle Kansas Conference, which consisted of ten denominational colleges, all of them with buildings and presidents and chapel services and yells and colors and a standard of scholarship equal to the best high-schools.

  38. uncle frogy says

    a comment on the of topic of adds. I do not see any weird adds I usually see adds for sights that are related to where I have been lately so it has been same day music of tiger direct or amazon though I got an online nursing school this time wonder why flagged that one as appropriate.
    I seldom navigate away to sights I know I will not like at all even if their may be some link to something or other related if I can tell before hand.
    I hope the professor finds a new position or takes the time to write a book about his experiences. good luck to him he sounds like he has the courage needed.

    uncle frogy

  39. says

    Just posted a comment at the ARP blog mocking them. I wonder how long it will last. Tip: You can get past moderation and have your comment posted immediately if you give them a real email address and can verify it.

    I’ll be in the shower.

  40. The Most Interesting Man in the World says

    I don’t read much mainstream fiction, but when I do, I prefer Sinclair Lewis.

  41. MadScientist says

    Just don’t go to Liberty U – that’s at least as bad as Erskine. Or Hovind U. or … oh damn, the list is just too long.

  42. Sean Boyd says

    I just popped over to Erskine’s web site, to notice that they are touting their 2009 #4 ranking (among southern regional colleges) by US News and World Report. An excerpt:

    Erskine College is a private institution that was founded in 1839. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 582, its setting is rural, and the campus size is 85 acres. It utilizes a 4-1-4-based academic calendar. Erskine College’s ranking in the 2011 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Colleges (South), 4. Its tuition and fees are $26,475 (2010-11).

    Situated on 90 acres in the town of Due West, S.C. sits the Christian-affiliated Erskine College. The college believes a Christian-based environment allows it to take into account the intellectual and spiritual formation of students. Students admitted to the school have the opportunity to join a variety of clubs and organizations as well as participate in many activities including a disc golf course and the Galloway Activities Center, which contains two gyms, racquetball courts, and a climbing wall. Greek life is popular on the campus of Erskine College, with more than 20 percent of the student body participating. Most students, more than 90 percent, live on campus during their academic career at the school. Known as the Flying Fleet, Erskine College fields 14 intercollegiate teams that compete in the NCAA Division II as a member of Conference Carolinas.

    Erskine College offers a 4-1-4 academic calendar, which includes a Winter Term during the month of January. This allows students to focus on a specific area of study, pursue internships for credit, or find study abroad opportunities. Though the town of Due West, S.C. takes up just a little more than 1.5 square miles, it is within driving distance of many larger cities, including less than three hours away from both Charlotte, N.C. and Atlanta. Notable alumni of the college include Benjamin Meek Miller, former governor of Alabama, and Susan Audé, a former television news anchor in Columbia, S.C.

    Hmmm…I noticed they have a climbing wall. After the dizzying climbing video from the Endless Thread (which I couldn’t make it through), I must count this as another mark against Erskine.

  43. I'mthegenie!Icandoanything! says

    He’s an ENGLISH teacher, getting canned for being sensible about science – and everything else.

    What does that tell us about those teaching SCIENCE there?

  44. says

    Sean Boyd (quoting the Erskine catalog):

    Greek life is popular on the campus of Erskine College, with more than 20 percent of the student body participating.

    What a surprise. Wouldn’t you want to get perpetually sh*tfaced at a frat house if you were stuck at a college like that?

  45. peterh says

    “An English professor? So why were they afraid his views on science were going to corrupt their students?”

    You just never know which will be the first camel with its nose under the tent.

  46. raven says

    Its tuition and fees are $26,475 (2010-11).

    Oh great Cthulhu, what an incredible fraud. These students are paying over $100,000 in 4 years for a combination dating service (for inbreeding), baby sitting service (for students who don’t grow up), and brainwashing mill.

    My first year at a good and heavily subsidized state U. was something like $600 tuition for the whole year. Of course it is now 10 or 15 times that. It’s still several orders of magnitude a better deal than the Association of Dumb Fundie Cracker Death Cultists Presbyterian Fake University.

  47. Anteprepro says

    Actually, raven, that’s pretty typical: http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities

    Based on the listings there,you’ll find that only a handful of universities/colleges have tuition and fees below 20K (well, less than half of them do, anyway!). 6000 to 9000 for a year is a rarity. That said, there are plenty of better colleges that you go to for that amount of cash. Hell, if you go to a state university, the price is pretty much always around half of what it costs to go to this particular Jeebus College. But I guess you can’t put a price on good indoctrination, right?

  48. says

    truthspeaker wrote:

    If your Presbyterian parents are easily fooled and don’t like to do research, transfer to Macalester College. It still has some links to Presbyterian Church USA, but as a student you will barely notice them. And I guarantee they teach evolution in the biology department.

    … or how about the University of Edinburgh? Officially connected to the city of Edinburgh and historically to the Church of Scotland, the parent church of all Presbyterian churches, nowadays it does have an official chaplain and a Divinity School but hardly any other sign of connection to the Church of Scotland.

    And it has one of the finest evolutionary biology groups, not just in Scotland, not just in U.K., not just in Europe, but in the world. See here.

  49. NitricAcid says

    I used to teach at a small Lutheran college in a rural area- other than the time between classes that was set aside for chapel (attendance optional), religion was barely mentioned to me. In the interview, they did more to reassure me that religion doesn’t get in the way of education than they did to sound out my own religious views.

    I found out later that the previous college president had been known to chastise staff if they (or their spouses) hadn’t been attending church often enough for his tastes.

  50. Bubba Joe Indoctrinated says

    I went to a bottom-of-the-barrel unranked university in Utah (UVU). Although not prestigious by any stretch of the imagination, it has a decent reputation locally for producing people with employable (It started as a small trade school). Leaving the whole debate about whether higher education should be about producing employees or actually learning aside, I felt the school did pretty well for what it was.

    However, there is one caveat. A man named Matt Holland was appointed president recently, and he’s the son of one of the top men (Apostle Jeffery Holland) in the local cult (The Mormons), and he seems hell-bent on turning the school from a secular state school to a faith-based one (BYU is literally down the street from UVU).

    As one example of a change, I took a required ethics class several years back, and the professor was great. He challenged all the Mormons on their beliefs, covered Eastern and Western philosophies, brought in Sociology and subjective vs objective reality, held a lecture series outside of class on Religious History… Pretty much did every possible thing a professor could do to challenge the thought process of indoctrinated Mormons (a large percentage of the students). I loved it. Unfortunately, I failed the class due to getting crazy sick half-way through (ran a fever of 103 for several days), and not recovering very quickly. Basically missed half the class, so there wasn’t much I could do.

    Anyway, fast forward a few years and I finally retake the class since I was about to graduate. The new professor had literally been imported from BYU (and still taught at both schools). Within the first day, he had wrote off absolutism, relativism, and eastern philosophies, and we spent the rest of the class studying his preferred version of objectivism. It was astoundingly biased. Even pro-life anti-essays were edited to exclude things that didn’t jive with his world view. Concrete example: Lee and George Essay “The Wrong of Abortion” has a section on how the Dualist argument is wrong because we are biological machines. Dualism is a core tenet of Mormonism (they believe we have spirits separate from our bodies), so that section was excluded. Mind-Blowing. I’m glad I finished before it got any worse.

  51. llewelly says

    … Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church …

    Well at least it is tenure track. And a grade above “Assistant Reformed Presbyterian Church”. How long ’till it moves up to “Full Reformed Presbyterian Church”?

  52. Chris v says

    I want to clarify things a bit here. First, I am a graduate of Erskine, class of 98. It was the best thing I could of done at the time. Note the use of “at the time”. Back then, Erskine was an institution that valued science and the pursuit of pure knowledge just as highly as respect for the Prostetant morality. Indeed many of professors attended the local ARP church while at same time teaching cutting edge physics and biology. This tendency towards hard right conservatism did not start unti around 2000 or so. Also, interestingly enough, the ARP church is not generally seen as the most conservative branch of Presbyterianism. The current state of affairs at the college is a result of scared, narrow minded individuals, not the product of the ARP as a whole or the alumni of Erskine.

  53. Ippy says

    I think there should be an independent scientific accreditation system for colleges and maybe even high-schools, as apparently the state is not willing to do so. PZ can’t you with help of the RDS-foundation and others set up a committee that publishes a permanently updated list of good and no good colleges if they adhere to a (to be made) transparent formalised standard of scientific literacy criteria?
    I think for students and parents that would be a great help. Maybe they can also award an annual dunce cap to those like Erskine who experienced this kind of backslide.