February 3, 2020 | Jerry Bergman

Anti-Christian Bias in Academia Is Real

 

A Peer-Reviewed Study Proved What We Have Always Known: Creationists are Subject to Major Discrimination in Academia.

by Jerry Bergman, PhD

I have now been researching the problem of academic intolerance against Christians for over a half a century. A paper by Barnes et al. published on January 29th in PLoS One is the first research study that appears to attempt to find out why scientists and academics are biased against Christians, specifically Creationists. Many studies have been completed, mostly to find out how many students hold to a creation worldview and, once the number was determined, the study focused on how to better indoctrinate students into the Darwinian worldview to lower what the study’s authors argue is the unacceptably high number of Darwin Doubters.  It is well documented  that scientists are generally opposed to theism, especially a creation worldview.[1]

In short, according to a recent Gallup poll, 40 percent of Americans agree that humans were created less than 10,000 years ago, a position the Brenan calls a “strictly creationist view of human origins.”[2] This is in contrast to the orthodox Darwinist view that  humans evolved from some ape they call the modern ape-human common ancestor, some 6-to-7-million Darwin years ago, and that God had nothing to do with either creation.

cartoon by Brett Miller

The fact that almost half of Americans reject the alleged ‘most basic foundation of science,’ evolution, is highlighted as evidence of the abysmal state of science education in America. They view it as a crisis of denying ‘the fact of evolution,’ a premise believed to be so firmly supported by evidence that many assume it is true and, therefore, act and teach as if it were true.[3] Accepting this definition, Darwinists argue that evolution has been overwhelmingly validated by the evidence in the same way that the Earth’s revolution around the Sun is a fact.[4] The quotation below from a leading evolutionist of the last century, Hermann J. Muller, in his article titled, “One Hundred Years Without Darwinism Are Enough,” explains the point very well.

When we say a thing is a fact, then, we only mean that its probability is an extremely high one: so high that we are not bothered by doubt about it and are ready to act accordingly. Now in this use of the term fact, the only proper one, evolution is a fact.[5]

Lastly, consider the claim that “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution,” the title of the 1973 essay by evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky, criticizing both anti-evolutionism and creationism, then espousing theistic evolution.[6] Given this background, it is understandable why such consternation results when it is revealed that a significant number of Americans reject evolution.[7]

Christians One of the Most Underrepresented Groups in Science

This new study evaluated here begins by acknowledging that “Christians are one of the most underrepresented groups in science, and one potential explanation is that scientists have a bias against Christian students, which could discourage, and actively prevent Christian students from becoming scientists.” [8] The Pew data found 28% of the public were evangelical Protestants compared to only 4%  of scientists. In addition, a mere 2% of the public were atheists compared to 17% of the scientists.[9] If science professors were compared with the public, the difference would be much greater as shown by the 2020 study by Barnes et al., which concluded, although

Christians make up approximately 75% of the American public, only about 30% of academic scientists identify as Christian making Christians one of the most underrepresented groups in science.[10]

The Barnes et al., study added “academic scientists generally have graduate degrees, academic appointments, and conduct scientific research.” They pointed out that no researchers have up until now attempted to “experimentally document the existence of bias against Christians in science.” This was the task they set about to achieve in their study. The conclusion was they “found that college science students report a perceived bias against Christians in science and that evangelical Christians perceive greater bias than Catholic and non-Christian students.” They also found that biology professors rated a

Christian student who went on a mission trip with Campus Crusade for Christ as less hireable, less competent, and less likeable than a student who did not reveal a Christian identity. Taken together, these studies indicate that perceived bias against Christians in science may contribute to underrepresentation of Christians but actual bias against Christians in science may be restricted to a specific type of Christianity that scientists call fundamentalist and/or evangelical [namely anti-evolutionists].” They also found that … Christian students appear to disproportionally leave academic science compared to their non-Christian peers.”[11]

The question is why they saw persons involved in Campus Crusade for Christ as inferior humans. One explanation is the bias against Christian students discourages, and even “actively prevents Christian students from obtaining academic careers in science.”[12] Other studies supported this finding.[13] Invariably, some dubious reasons for the disparity are given, such as Christians are less intelligent or less likely to think analytically. The support of this claim was one study that found only a modest negative correlational relationship among self-identified atheists (N = 133) who scored 18.7% higher than religiously affiliated individuals.[14]  It is true that 48% of non-college educated respondents, compared to only 23% with a college degree, accept the belief that “God created man in his present form.”[15] This, though, has a lot to do with college indoctrination and censorship.[16] Christians are also negatively stereotyped about their science ability, which could well adversely affect their science career.[17]

Three volumes by Jerry Bergman documenting discrimination against Darwin skeptics by evolutionists. Each book is different; each is shocking!

 

The Main Issue is Nominal Christians and Creationists

An important distinction is many Christians are nominal church members, even those who self-label as evangelicals. This distinction is of concern here because those Christians who accept the label “creationists,” or accept Genesis as an accurate account of creation, are 40% of the American population, according to the Gallup poll cited above. These two populations need to be evaluated separately. This was illustrated in the following summary of the Barnes, et al., study results:

in the case of selecting Ph.D. students, academic biologists show evidence of bias against what they may consider a fundamentalist evangelical student [who they assume is anti-evolutionist]. Further, in terms of likeability, atheist faculty showed a stronger bias against the evangelical student [who they assumed is anti-evolutionist]… . This could be because historically, fundamentalism and evangelism have been associated with anti-science attitudes and conservative sociopolitical beliefs that are relatively uncommon in academic culture. For instance, there have been repeated legislative attempts by evangelical affiliated groups to include teaching creationism in U.S. science classes in an attempt to discredit evolution to students.[18]

Actually, these legislative attempts usually have attempted to teach the controversy or show the problem is the claim that the First Amendment prohibits questioning a scientific theory in schools. The courts have consistently ruled in ways that result in censorship, falsifying atheist Richard Dawkins’ claim that he can show how undirected natural selection works in a simulation on the computer program he wrote. The problem is the self-contradicting claim that “intelligent design isn’t science, and it’s scientifically wrong.” Thus, the study was biased because the authors did not factor in the main concern on both sides, namely evolution, noting in their

study, nothing was indicated about the student’s political attitudes or their attitudes towards evolution and there are evangelicals who accept evolution, so biologists may have been operating on stereotypes about the evangelical student that are not necessarily accurate when applied to an individual person.[19]

If this fact was included in the survey, the results would likely have been very different. Furthermore, many creationists know that to survive in academia they must keep their views in this area to themselves. To do otherwise would alert their professors that many of their Christian students were creationists. This was clear in the following taken from the Barnes paper:

Most frequently, scientists say they only have negative attitudes towards religions that are “fundamentalist evangelical” in nature, partly because of the perception that this type of religion tries to encroach on the authority of science. … Scientists tend to describe fundamentalism/evangelicalism as religion that is rigid and unchanging in the light of new information, based on moral command rather than moral principle, has a uniform belief structure that discourages diversity of viewpoints, and often tries to intrude on the domain of science. Therefore, bias against Christians in science may be restricted to evangelical Christians, or may be stronger against evangelical Christians than Christians who do not identify as evangelical.[20]

The italicized sections added incorrectly refer to Darwinism as science. The authors appear to accept the approach taken by BioLogos and reject that taken by most evangelical Christians, not only young-Earth creationists but also intelligent design supporters, as is clear in their conclusion, namely the

perceptions of conflict between religion and science are likely to be elevated within the biological sciences because evolutionary theory is a central tenet of biology. Evolutionary theory provides knowledge about the origins of humans, which increases the probability that a perceived conflict with religious beliefs will be encountered by those learning biology. The perceived conflict between evolution and religion is historically embedded and persistent; perceived conflict surrounding evolution and religion has been highly visible in politics and journalism since the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859, and there has been no substantial decline in antievolution views in the U.S. in the ~35 years since the inception of public polls on evolution. For these reasons, it may be particularly informative to explore perceptions of bias against Christians within the biology academic community.[21]

The study suggested this has been done, but needs to be replicated by researchers who understand the chasm between the evolutionary view of human origins and the Biblical, and the historic view of, not only Christianity, but also Judaism and Islam as well. In short, the evolutionary view is, as a result of natural selection selecting mutations, that mankind has evolved a little higher than apes. Thus, humans were not created by God, but by the result of billions of genetic mistakes caused by mutations. Given this problem, although it was ignored, the Barnes et al, study found fully 50% of the biology students disagreed with the statement “Discrimination against Christians is not a problem in science” and only 19.9% agreed! This supports the fact that many Christian students are aware of the creation-evolution conflict, but learn how to survive, namely to stay in the closet and give the answers the professor wants instead of those they themselves believe are correct.

Summary

The real Christian conflict is the basic worldview clash of evolution as creator vs. God as Creator; the Christian worldview against the Darwinian worldview. This was revealed in this study even though the authors were attempting to define a Christian worldview void of its historical and Biblical foundations.[22]

References

[1] Bergman, Jerry. 1996. “Religious Beliefs of Scientists: A Survey of the Research.” Free Inquiry, 16(3): 41-46, Summer.

[2] Brenan, Megan. 2019. “40% of Americans Believe in Creationism.” https://news.gallup.com/poll/261680/americans-believe-creationism.aspx

[3] Futuyma, Douglas J. 1998. Evolutionary Biology. Third Edition. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates.

[4] Dawkins, Richard and Jerry Coyne. 2005. “One side can be wrong.” The Guardian. London, UK: Guardian Media Group, September 1.

[5] Muller, Hermann. 1959. “One Hundred Years Without Darwinism Are Enough.” School Science and Mathematics, 59(4): 304–305, April.

[6] Dobzhansky, Theodosius. 1973. “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution.” American Biology Teacher, 35(3): 125–129, March.

[7] “Scientists and Belief.” 2009. Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, November 5.

Scientists and Belief

[8] Barnes, M. Elizabeth, Jasmine M. Truong, Daniel Z. Grunspan, and Sara E. Brownell. 2020.  Are scientists biased against Christians? Exploring real and perceived bias against Christians in academic biology. PLoS ONE, January 29. (Biology Education Research Lab, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.) https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0226826

[9] Ecklund E.H., and C.P. Scheitle.2007. Religion among academic scientists: Distinctions, disciplines, and demographics. Social Problems, 54(2): 289–307, May 1.

[10] Barnes, et al., 2020, pp. 1-2.

[11] Barnes, et al., 2020, p. 3. Emphasis added.

[12] Hernandez, E.F.; P.F. Foley, and B.K. Beitin. 2011. “Hearing the Call: A Phenomenological Study of Religion in Career Choice.” Journal of Career Development.; 38(1): 62–88, February.

[13] Scheitle, C.P., and E.H. Ecklund. 2018. “Perceptions of Religious Discrimination Among U.S. Scientists.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 57(1): 139–155.

[14] Pennycook, G., R.M. Ross, D.J. Koehler, and J.A. Fugelsang. 2016. Atheists and Agnostics Are More Reflective than Religious Believers: Four Empirical Studies and a Meta-Analysis. PloS ONE11(4), April 7. e0153039. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0153039 PMID: 27054566 [This article has been corrected. See PLoS One. April 21, 2017; 12(4): e0176586.]

[15]  Brenan, 2019. [p. ?.]

[16] Bergman, Jerry. 1018. Censoring the Darwin Skeptics. How Belief in Evolution is Enforced by Eliminating Dissidents. Southworth, WA: Leafcutter Press.

[17] Rios, K., Z.H. Cheng, R.R. Totton, and A.F. Shariff. 2015.  Negative Stereotypes Cause Christians to Underperform in and Disidentify With Science. Social Psychological and Personality Science, July 31. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550615598378.

[18] Barnes, et al., 2020, p. 12.

[19] Barnes, et al., 2020, p. 12.

[20] Barnes, et al., 2020, p. 3.

[21] Barnes, et al., 2020,p. 3.

[22] Bergman, Jerry. 2019. Slaughter of the Dissidents: The Shocking Truth About Killing the Careers of Darwin Doubters. Second Edition. Southworth, WA: Leafcutter Press; and Bergman, Jerry. 2016. Silencing the Darwin Skeptics: The War Against Theists. Southworth, WA: Leafcutter Press.


Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology for over 40 years at several colleges and universities including Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.

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