Over at townhall.com, Mike Adams has his skivvies in a wad because UNC apparently does not let criminology professors set the curriculum for the sociology department.
This semester, I learned that one of my colleagues is teaching our Sociology of Religion course with two supplemental texts, neither of which could be characterized as sociological in nature. One is The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins. The other is God is Not Great, by Christopher Hitchens.
Hmm, the course is called Sociology of Religion, and the professor has chosen to include two supplemental texts, “neither of which could be characterized as sociological.” Say, you don’t suppose they might have something to do with religion, do you? What on earth could the sociology prof be thinking, including books that talk about the impact of religion on society, in a class called Sociology of Religion?
Adams goes on to whine about how he tried different ways to defend students against this blatant exposure to atheistic perspectives, with dissatisfying results.
Specifically, I wanted to deal with the following question: “Which worldview requires more faith; a) Christianity or b) Atheism?”
So I invited my colleague to join me in a panel addressing the issue…
Unfortunately, our invitation to join a four-person panel was declined. Since my colleague has had some health concerns in recent months I understood and respected his decision.
Or at least, he claims he understood and respected the decision. That does not stop him, however, from implying that the professor violated at least two “rights” that Adams says UNC students ought to be entitled to.
Christians at UNCW are entitled to expect:
1. In courses raising the controversial topic of religion the professor has every right to assign readings arguing that Christians and religious folks in general are stupid. But the professor should also make some effort to assign readings that reflect a contrary view.
2. When professors are either unwilling or unable to abide by #1, they should be willing to defend their views in a debate or on a panel – especially one that equally represents both sides.
3. When professors are unwilling or unable to abide by #1 or #2, the university should not compound the problem by engaging in violations of the requirement that they exercise viewpoint neutrality in the management of public forums.
Point #3 refers to Adams’ other complaint: that the university was censoring the Christian perspective on the New Atheists. But what did this “censorship” consist of?
I decided to proceed with an event that would begin with my introduction of Frank Turek. He would then give a lecture outlining the reasons why he has concluded that atheism requires more faith than Christianity. We would then open up the microphone for an extended Q and A session.
As we approach the date of that lecture (March 24th, 2008 in the UNC-Wilmington Warwick Center Ballroom) we began to advertise. Unfortunately, our six requests for help from the university were ignored altogether. Two of those requests were directed towards the folks who run the “Faculty and Staff News” link on http://www.UNCW.edu. The folks who run that source of information claim to have a right to decline postings because they are “political” or, for that matter, to decline to post for any reason they choose.
At first, I thought the decision to ignore our requests was due to the fact that the College Republicans are sponsoring Frank Turek’s talk. Then, I scrolled down the page and saw that the university had advertised a recent voter registration drive sponsored by the College Democrats.
Big scandal, eh? Adams brought in a big-name Christian apologist for the express purpose of promoting Christianity on campus, and the university stood up and in a very loud voice permitted him to hold the event in a suitable campus facility. Wow, you don’t get much harsher than that, right? Ok, they declined to officially endorse and promote this frankly evangelical outreach, but seriously, so what? You’d think the jackbooted thugs had stormed in tear-gassed the place, the way Adams pouts and sulks about it.
Last week, I decided to write a letter directly to Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo to assert that the UNC-Wilmington website is a public forum and that, therefore, they really do not enjoy a right to engage in unbridled discrimination. Unsurprisingly, DePaolo did not give me the courtesy of a response.
And so today I write publicly – in a forum far more widely read than http://www.UNCW.edu – with a simple list of things I think Christians at UNCW are entitled to expect.
And he has every right to do so, of course, even if his verbal tantrum only serves to make himself look bad. But wait, there’s more! Check out the sour grapes he indulges in because he didn’t get his way:
I think I understand why these three simple requests are met with such resistance at our institutions of higher learning. Because I am a former atheist I know that atheists are often very angry at the God they claim does not exist…
I also understand why atheist professors would be unwilling to debate their reasons for rejecting religions like Christianity. Back in my days as an atheist, speaking truthfully on a panel would have required a public admission that I rejected Christianity largely because it would not have allowed me to continue getting drunk and high every night while splitting time between four girlfriends.
And I think I understand why the university will not help us in our efforts to advertise a talk by Frank Turek. In an age of political correctness there is no greater fear than that somewhere, somehow, someone may be offended. And they are probably correct (not just politically, but factually) to assume that most atheists will be offended by the very title of Frank Turek’s speech.
This need to protect atheists from hurt feelings may lead some to believe that they don’t make atheists like they used to. But I know from experience that the correlation between faith and fear has always been significant, strong, and inverse.
Yeah, um, take that you big mean atheists. You’re just a bunch of alcoholics and drug addicts, and…and…you know what? and you probably have sex a lot too. Yeah. And I’m just right and you’re wrong, so there. Teach you not to let me have my own way. So there.
Gosh, am I feeling spanked right now. Ok, not really. What’s really funny is the way he projects “hurt feelings” and “fears” onto atheists, as though he’s not the one who is deeply upset about students reading The God Delusion and deeply worried about what they might start thinking about if they’re exposed to the atheist side of the debate.
For all his brave talk, Adams is acutely aware of one thing, on at least a subconscious level: God does not show up in real life, and therefore faith in God is always the product of human efforts. He wouldn’t be nearly as upset if Dawkins and Hitchens were trying to argue for the non-existence of, say, the moon, because the moon does exist in real life, and can easily be confirmed by anyone interested enough to do a little astronomy (if one can call such a trivial effort “astronomy”).
But Adams knows that men, and men alone, are responsible for what people do and do not believe about God, and therefore he’s very upset and worried about which men have which advantages. If God actually showed up in the real world, it would be easy to study The God Delusion and point out all the ways in which it would be out of touch with the real world. Adams would have nothing whatsoever to worry about; any doubts could be answered by simply saying, “Look, God,” the same way you would say, “Look, the moon.” But because God is the product of human superstition, hearsay, and wishful thinking, he knows he can’t really do that. That makes him unhappy. And scared enough to throw a public tantrum over it.