About Gene Veith

I am a retired English professor and college administrator. I have written over 20 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

Student suspended for disagreeing with Muslim professor

male-213729_640Muslims believe that Jesus was not really crucified.  According to the Qur’an, 

That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah“;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power.  (Qur’an, sura 4 (An-Nisa) ayat 157-158)

This is taken to mean either that Allah substituted someone else for Jesus, making the other person look like the “prophet,” or that he created an illusion so that a spirit-shape only appeared to be Jesus, which was the teaching of some Gnostics.  In any event, Muslims believe that Jesus, while He existed and was a great prophet, did not really die on the Cross, but that He was rather taken up into Heaven.

At Rollins College, a Muslim professor, in light of his religious commitment, claimed outright that Jesus’s crucifixion was a hoax.  A Christian student took issue with that and argued otherwise.  Whereupon he failed the class and got suspended from school.

Let me offer some perspective based on my four decades as a professor:  In a secular school, professors may talk about religion, including their own, as long as it is relevant to the course and as long as they do so objectively, without imposing their religious views on their students.  In discussing Milton, even when I was teaching in a secular college, I could talk about the Christian concepts of creation, fall, and redemption.  “This is what Milton believed.  You need to know this to understand Paradise Lost.”

The professor here could say, “We Muslims don’t believe that Jesus died on the cross.”  That would be interesting and could prompt some illuminating discussion.  But in claiming outright that Jesus’s death was a “hoax” and then punishing a student for disagreeing, in accord with his own Christian religion, the professor was clearly “imposing” his religious beliefs on the class.  Professors aren’t supposed to do that.

But what about issues of diversity?  Wasn’t the student being insensitive to the professor’s religious beliefs?  Cultural diversity, sensitivity, tolerance, etc., are supposed to manifest themselves in the way faculty members treat students!  Not the way students treat faculty!

Faculty members have the power here.  It’s their job to treat their students appropriately, including showing respect for their religious sensibilities.

I don’t know the whole story.  Maybe the student was disruptive, disrespectful, and breaking other campus rules.  But treating Muslims equally means holding Muslim professors to the same standards as Christian professors in the way they handle their religious beliefs in their classes. [Read more…]

Does the scientific method apply to psychology?

imprisoned-2066638_640We’ve blogged about the problem in the field of psychology that so many of their research experiments can’t be replicated.  That means that, according to the scientific method, they are invalid.

The problem continues, and it’s compounded by the fact that the profession doesn’t seem to care!

The proliferation of peer-reviewed articles whose results can’t be repeated keeps building.  Despite these findings, nothing is changing in the way psychologists do their research, the way journals vet their articles, or in the articles that get published.

An article on the subject, quoted and linked after the jump, says that as many as two-thirds of psychology articles “can’t be trusted.”

But let me pose a different way to look at this problem.  Can it be that the same scientific method used for chemistry and biology is unusable in the study of the minds of human beings?  People are active agents, not inanimate objects that follow only natural laws.  So it’s no wonder human beings are unpredictable and inconsistent.  And different subjects and groups react in different ways.

After I quote the article, I quote a commenter, who points out that there may be other ways to design, evaluate, and learn from various kinds of research, in addition to strict application of “the scientific method.”

In fact, the view that the scientific method is the only way to know truth–not logical reasoning (as in philosophy) and certainly not revelation (as in theology)–is surely one of the more reductionist errors of the Enlightenment.

I have no problem jettisoning 2/3 of the published research in experimental psychology–though it would help to know which 2/3–and the lack of response of the professionals in the field is inexcusable.  But maybe what all of this proves, with an abundance of replication, is the protean quality of the human psyche. And that would be an important scientific finding.  It would even be empirical and replicable. [Read more…]

U.S. Census won’t ask about LGBT identities

US-Census-2020LogoThe 2020 Census will not ask people about their sexual orientation or gender identity.  An earlier draft of survey questions for the American Community Survey included those topics, but officials explained that this was a mistake.

LGBT activists say this makes them feel excluded.  Do you think such questions would be appropriate or would be a violation of privacy on the part of the government?

I think it would be good to know how many people we are talking about, as the country wrestles with these issues.  I predict that the census will include the questions after all, even though they have never been asked before. [Read more…]

Praying the Catechism

Many Christians have problems praying.  Our minds wander; we run through our wants and needs; we forget what to pray for; and we soon turn to something else.

Christians in the past, though, often prayed “with” a text that would direct, inspire, and be a catalyst for their prayers.  The Lord’s Prayer was not just repeated verbatim, though that was part of it.  Each petition of the prayer sparked personal prayer–how can I do God’s will?  What “daily bread” do I need?  What temptations do I need to be delivered from?

Scriptures such as the Ten Commandments would also be prayed.  Luther suggested finding in each commandment, an instruction (“I must honor my father and my mother”), a thanksgiving (“Thank you, God, for giving me my parents”), a confession (“I have been neglecting my mother”), and a petition (“Lord, help my parents with their health and money problems. . . .”).

Luther also advocated praying the Creed, and in doing so, addressing the Triune God and receiving His promises of grace.

The Catechism itself is not just an educational handbook for the instruction of children.  Rather, it is an inexhaustible source book for prayer, meditation, and the richest, deepest devotions.

John Pless unpacks all of this in his book Praying the Catechism. [Read more…]

Originalism and the rule of law

8459580668_6b116eeb71_zDuring his confirmation hearing for Supreme Court justice, liberal senators interrogated Neil Gorsuch about his judicial philosophy of “originalism.”

Because the founders used “he” to refer to the president, does this mean you don’t believe that a woman can serve in that office?

Because the authors of the 14th Amendment didn’t think about women or gays when they drew up the equal rights protection, does that mean you don’t think it applies to women or gays?

Judge Gorsuch replied that such questions show a misunderstanding of what “originalism” means.  That approach does not look for meaning in subjective interpretations of readers, whether of the time it was written or today.  Rather, it looks for meaning in what the law says.

To discern that, you have to research what the words meant to the lawmakers who passed the law; that is, their original intent.  But to interpret (or throw out) a law based on speculation about the personal beliefs of the authors–as opposed to what they said–is more like what liberal interpreters do when they interpret the laws according to their own personal beliefs.  Thus, “originalism” refers to the original language, not historical origins.

That is, originalists believe that the meaning of language and thus the law is objective, not subjective.  The 14th Amendment  guarantees the equal protection of the laws to all Americans, so that would include categories of Americans that the authors didn’t think of at the time.

The rule of law, notes an editorial on the subject (quoted and excerpted after the jump), depends on the law having an objective meaning.

This debate reminds me of different approaches to the Bible.  Do we interpret it according to what we want it to mean?  That’s basically the approach of liberal theology.  Or do we believe in what it says? [Read more…]

America’s first genderless person

3480129261_366d9afb00_zA Portland judge approved a petition from a 27-year-old man to legally change his gender to “genderless.”

In doing so, the petitioner’s name was legally changed to “Patch.”  No last name.

Patch also repudiates all pronouns.   “Even gender-neutral pronouns don’t feel as if they fit me,” Patch said. “I feel no identity or closeness with any pronouns I’ve come across. What describes me is my name.”  (Patch here does use “I,” “me,” and “my.”)

Patch is the first American to have the legal status of being “agender.”  And the judge who made the ruling is the first to make being genderless an actual legal category. [Read more…]