Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Worldview Bias on Campus

Here is the non-edited version (longer and most likely more mistake-ridden) of an Op-Ed piece which I have submitted to a couple of newspapers; we shall see what happens. In the meantime, I have my blog!

Worldview Bias on Campus
In my four years of experience at Colorado State University, there is one thing that has proven to be rather problematic. It is a dangerous, frustrating, and rather condescending approach to education, resulting in large numbers of students allying themselves with this mentality before they have had an opportunity to weigh each side and its implications. The assumption is that in order to be truly enlightened and intellectual, one must not only hold to a liberal political philosophy, but must also hold no absolute beliefs at all, especially about religion.

If a student is a conservative, a Christian, or heaven forbid, both, they are simply ascribing to an outdated way of thinking that has no place in the realms of higher education. I, of course, represent the horribly ignorant and primitive conservative/religious combo platter. In a philosophy class, we were asked on the first day if any of us read the Bible. A few of us raised our hands, only to have the professor say, “Well, we won’t be using that book in this class, because it has nothing to do with philosophy. It is purely mythological”. I have no problem with those who believe that. However, the professor’s statement served absolutely no logical or productive purpose. I was not expecting to be using the Bible in the class, and I doubt it had crossed the minds of any others. No, what this professor was doing was making it abundantly clear that there would be no room for viewpoints which would come from people ascribing to a Christian worldview. He was clearly holding to the false but common assumption that faith and reason cannot coexist inside a classroom, much less in the same brain.

I have found that many professors blend liberal philosophy and subtle comments into their teaching. Subtlety often takes the form of having students read articles which espouse a liberal worldview as the ultimate in academic excellence (and if it is in print, it must be true!). I am also aware of comments made such as “please don’t make this topic a religious issue.” How is a religious and thinking student to respond to such a (often polite) request?

An arguably more malignant process of indoctrination exists in professors who, much to the dismay of those in support of the Academic Bill of Rights, use their classrooms as a liberal bully pulpit. One professor of this type was spawned out of the sociology department of the University of Colorado, and brought his condescending, pontificating self to Fort Collins to teach a freshman sociology class. He had on any given day a captive audience of around 300, and while there were inevitably some sleepers, many were without a doubt knocked one rung closer to being hopelessly indoctrinated into the non-religious left because of his outlandish and brutish attacks, which were wholly unrelated to sociology or any other academic area. These attacks were mostly on conservatives, but the semester was seasoned with intermittent (and always unfair) insults hurled at those he identified as Christians. At first, he pretended to entertain disagreeing comments only to cut them off before they were fully expressed. After a few weeks he had learned who the consistent dissenters were and ignored their angrily waving hands.

As a general rule of thumb, any viewpoint is acceptable in the public university system with strict exception to conservatives and especially Christians. This unfair standard collapses under its own weight, as an adherent must be either entirely open to all viewpoints or open to none. I know of at least one conservative Christian professor who, rather nobly, feels obligated to give a letter to his seniors the last day of class detailing his beliefs, because he is not allowed to speak of them during class. Why are people like this professor silenced from their opinion but anything else on the opposite side of the spectrum is deemed ok?

Do not assume that those who are not atheistic or agnostic liberals are stupid. Faith and intellect are not mutually exclusive. Political conservatism and Christian worldviews can and do exist at the highest echelons of learning. A tax-supported state university should be no place for eradication of conservative or Christian thought and belief. If these worldviews are never allowed legitimate expression, I fear the marketplace of ideas will become merely a place for indoctrination rather than honest critical exchange.

2 comments:

Doug Groothuis said...

Sarah:

I hope this gets published. Let me know!

We need more Christians writing op ed pieces in campus and other non-relgious newspapers. David Horowitz has been fighting this battle, but he does not have a biblical worldview at all. His philosophy of truth and knowledge is suspect also, as JP Moreland points out in "The Kingdom Triangle." He has part of the picture, but not the center: the Bible.

Best,
Doug

Paul said...

Preach it, sista!

The sad thing is that most of these educators see their views as being neutral, unbiased, or default. If not that, then they see them as being just plain right, and simply don't care about equity. The fuss over tolerance, free speech, and reason among many liberals is not so much a matter of principle as it is a utilitarian use of these intrinsic goods (according to our worldview but not theirs) to advance their own interests.