July 17, 2020 | Jerry Bergman

New Evidence for Discrimination Against Christians in Academia

New PhD Thesis Documents Discrimination against Creationists in Academia:
A Look at the History and Claims of Anti-Creationists

 by Jerry Bergman, PhD


Introduction

Almost 40 years ago, in 1984, I published an article in Contrast Magazine titled, “The New Minorities to Hate.” The article specifically was about the problems of those scholars who concluded that the scientific evidence refuted Darwinism, defined as the belief that all life had a single common ancestor. From this first life-form evolved all life-forms by mutations thereby creating genetic variety which was pruned by natural selection, i. e., ‘survival of the fittest’.

One recent study incorrectly claimed that “no researchers have attempted to experimentally document the existence of bias against Christians in science.”[1] In fact, I have spent most of my academic career documenting this problem, but my work, although well-known among conservative Christians, intelligent design proponents, and creationist supporters, is ghettoized; thus, outside this circle, it is close to unknown. The scores of articles and several books documenting the problem that I have published include the following:

  • Slaughter of the Dissidents: The Shocking Truth About Killing the Careers of Darwin Doubters. 2012. Southworth, WA: Leafcutter Press.
  • Transformed by the Evidence, edited with Doug Sharp. 2014. Southworth, WA: Leafcutter Press
  • C.S. Lewis: Anti-Darwinist: A Careful Examination of the Development of His Views on Darwinism. 2016. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers.
  • Silencing the Darwin Skeptics. 2016. Southworth, WA: Leafcutter Press.
  • How Darwinism Corrodes Morality: Darwinism, Immorality, Abortion and the Sexual Revolution. 2017. Kitchener, Ontario, Canada: Joshua Press.
  • Evolution’s Blunders, Frauds and Forgeries. 2017. Atlanta, GA: CMI Publishing.
  • Censoring the Darwin Skeptics. How Belief in Evolution is Enforced by Eliminating Dissidents. 2018. Southworth, WA: Leafcutter Press.

Dr Bergman has published 3 books of true stories of careers ruined by Darwinist censors.

I also have six file cabinets of documentation supporting my original conclusions, and was able to publish several articles supporting my conclusions in leading secular magazines.[2] A full decade later the problem hit the media and the prejudice of scientists came out in the open. One example, as summarized by the Pew Research Forum, was as follows:

When President Barack Obama announced on July 8, 2009, that he would nominate renowned geneticist Francis Collins to be the new director of the National Institutes of Health, a number of scientists and pundits publicly questioned whether the nominee’s devout religious faith should disqualify him from the position. In particular, some worried that an outspoken evangelical Christian who believes in miracles might not be the right person to fill what many consider to be the nation’s most visible job in science. Collins was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Aug. 7, 2009, but the controversy over his nomination reflects a broader debate within the scientific community between those who believe religion and science each examine legitimate but different realms of knowledge and those who see science as the only true way of understanding the universe.[3]

The religious contrast between scientists and the public is enormous. Specifically, only 33 percent of scientists claim that they believe in God, while, in contrast, fully 95 percent of Americans believe in God or some similar higher power.[4]  Polls of scientists reveals 41 percent of scientists are thoroughgoing atheists: they do not believe in God or any higher power. In contrast, polls of the public reveal only four percent of Americans accept the atheistic worldview.[5] These numbers vary, depending on how the question is worded and the mood of the nation, but the contrast between scientists and the general public has held for over a century.[6] The problem has now been documented by academics teaching at a major university, concluding 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.”[7]

An objective PhD thesis on anti-creationism

Tom Kaden’s PhD thesis in sociology titled, Creationism and Anti-Creationism in the United States: A Sociology of Conflict, was originally written in German and translated into English. It was fairly objective and revealing. For his dissertation research, Kaden had an interview with a leading American anti-creationist, Dr Eugenie Scott. In the interview transcript, she describes what introduced her to the controversy. When a student in her lab class questioned the evidence for evolution, her response was that the animals spread out on the dissecting table showed comparative anatomy, which proved evolution: “[W]hat  could possibly be the explanation for all the similarity between fish and amphibia and mammals other than evolution… I was sort of surprised that anybody would reject evolution.”[8]

Creationists use the same evidence to argue for common design: i.e., that an organ that serves a function in one animal often is used in similar ways in other animals as well. I have carefully refuted the homology argument elsewhere.[9] Mammal legs all have a similar design for the same reason that all wheels are similar, electric motors are similar and combustion engines are similar in basic design – their form facilitates their function.

Second Step: Get the liberal clergy on your side

Soon after Eugenie Scott encountered a Darwin doubter, she was confronted with others living in her state of Kentucky who also did not accept evolution. Her reaction was “this is terrible.”[10]  A short time later she was invited by a rabbi and some Presbyterian ministers and Catholic Priests to make a presentation to the Lexington Alliance of Religious Leaders (LARL) on what creation science actually was; to her, it was ignorant biblical literalism. They concluded, if “biblical literalism was taught Monday through Friday they [the clergy] had to straighten out the kids on Sunday [teach evolution as fact].”[11]

The main source of information Scott possessed about creation was a long run of Acts and Facts published by The Institute for Creation Research (ICR). ICR was originally introduced to her by a professor while she was a graduate student. From reading the magazines, she became very concerned about creationism and concluded that these ideas were worse than zany (her word); they were openly dangerous. Her reason was that nothing in biology makes sense without evolution.

Third Step: Organize

Eugenie Scott founded the organization today known as The National Center for Science Education (NCSE). The organization was first located in her basement, then, as the money poured in from others who also agreed with her that creationism was dangerous and must be stopped, it moved to a large office in Berkeley, California.[12] Its goal was to, by any means necessary, including judicial decree (i.e., by court action), prevent the propagation of these ideas to the public—especially in government schools.

Scott also began to testify in court in support of terminating creationist teachers, or at the very least prohibiting them from critiquing evolution. She received enormous press coverage—most all of it very favorable—including supportive stories in The New York Times. This publicity brought in huge sums of money from foundations and even corporations.[13] Her focus was to argue that creationism “was not science, and why it was very bad educationally to teach this sort of thing.”[14]

There’s an inconsistency in Scott’s attack. Claiming creation is “not science” is name-calling; it’s also a category error. How so? Scott would bring in professors to refute everything creationists had to say by citing scientific arguments in opposition.[15] But if creationism is not science (as she defines it), creationism cannot be refuted by science. Only claims made based on science can be refuted by science. If it can easily be refuted by science, why is it almost impossible to set up a debate with evolutionists? The real reason most evolutionists will not debate creationists is because many Darwinists have not done well in past creation debates. Scott herself encouraged evolutionists not to debate creationists.

The Importance of The National Center for Science Education

This background of the founding of the misnamed “National Center for Science Education” (NCSE) helps one understand the worldwide spread of pro-evolution and anti-creation propaganda that soon dominated the colleges, including Christian colleges. As Scott explains, the NCSE had to move every few years to larger facilities to deal with their growth, expanded activities, and growing influence.[16] Their one-quarter million active members and supporters indicates the level of their influence in the West. Through the influence of the NCSE, textbooks have been modified to include much more evolution dogma, and evolutionary claims have been put in every chapter instead of the last chapter. Before that, a lot of professors never got to the subject, either on purpose or due to lack of planning.[17]  With this new strategy, evolution was hard to avoid.

The Result of NCSE’s Activities

One result of NCSE’s initiatives can be seen in student testimonies. College science students reporting what they perceived a “bias against Christians in science and that evangelical Christians [who accept creationism] perceive greater bias than Catholic and non-Christian students.”[18] The bias against Christians in science was often “restricted to Christians who scientists call fundamentalist and/or evangelical,” which means students who take their faith seriously and reject Darwinism. As a result, increasing numbers of  Christian students applying for science positions encountered hostility from professors who felt that “devout religious faith should disqualify him from the position.” Barnes wrote, “In particular, some worried that an outspoken evangelical Christian who believes in miracles might not be the right person to fill [a] job in science.”[19]

Discrimination against Christians in science grew. In 2018, 43 percent of religiously conservative Protestant academic biologists reported that they had been discriminated against in the workplace because of their religion.[20] This fits with the finding that most biologists hold negative stereotypes of conservative Christians, related to their frustration in attempting to convert them to accept biological evolution as a scientific fact.[21] Professors Barnes and Brownell write that “Evolution is a core concept of biology, and yet many college biology students do not accept evolution because of their religious beliefs.” This characterization is inaccurate. Many students reject evolution because of the overwhelming evidence against it, not because of religious bias.[22] A problem that many professors have is their recognition that the Christian religion and evolutionism are incompatible and, therefore, most instructors do not directly address the conflict between religion and evolution.[23]

Kaden’s interview with Eugenie Scott supports the contention that her anti-creation movement contributed to the current antagonism to creationism in academia. It helps to explain why Christians, who make up close to 75 percent of the American public, comprise less than about 30 percent of academic scientists openly identifying as Christian. Many of those, furthermore, teach at nominal Christian colleges,[24] supporting the testimonies documented in my books of evangelicals finding secular academic careers closed to them unless they keep their faith secret. Consequently, Christians are now one of the most underrepresented groups in science, especially in the biological and social sciences. Religious identity itself is less stigmatized in the hard sciences, such as physics and chemistry.[25]

cartoon by Brett Miller

Conclusions

Gallup polls consistently have found that about 40 percent of American adults are young-earth creationists, and 40 percent are old-earth creationists or theistic evolutionists. The rest are atheists or those with no religious affiliation (i.e., “the Nones,” now the fastest growing “religious” group in America).[26] In particular, past religiosity in the home as a child was the most important predictor of religiosity among the group of scientists studied.

One significant factor in the decline of religion in America has been the work of Eugenie Scott and the NCSE, which remains the leading anti-creation and anti-Intelligent Design organization in the world.

 

References

[1] Barnes, M. Elizabeth; Jasmine M. Truong, Daniel Z. Grunspan, and Sara E. Brownell, Are scientists biased against Christians? Exploring real and perceived bias against Christians in academic biology, PLoS ONE, 15(1): e0226826, 29 January 2020, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0226826.

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

[3] Scientists and Belief, 5 November, 2009, https://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05/scientists-and-belief/.

[4] Scientists and Belief, 2009.

[5] Tobin, Gary A. and Aryeh K. Weinberg, Profiles of the American university: Religious beliefs & behavior of college faculty. San Francisco, CA: Institute for Jewish & Community Research.

[6] Bergman, 1996.

[7] Barnes, et al. 2020.

[8] Kaden, Tom, Creationism and Anti-Creationism in the United States: A Sociology of Conflict. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, 2020.

Bergman’s historical examination undermines the NCSE’s claim that evolution is good science.

[9] Bergman, Jerry, “Does Homology Provide Evidence of Evolutionary Naturalism?”,  T.J. (Technical Journal), 15(1):26-33, 2001.

[10] Kaden, 2020, p. 172.

[11] Kaden, 2020, p. 173.

[12] Kaden, 2020, p. 173.

[13] Kaden, 2020, p. 179.

[14] Kaden, 2020, pp. 176-177.

[15] Kaden, 2020, p. 177.

[16] Kaden, 2020, pp. 177-178.

[17] Kaden, 2020, p. 188.

[18] Barnes, et al., 2020.

[19] Barnes, et al., 2020.

[20] Scheitle, C.P. and E.H. Ecklund, Perceptions of Religious Discrimination Among U.S. Scientists, Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion, 57(1):139–55, 2018.

[21] Barnes, M.E. and S.E. Brownell, Practices and Perspectives of College Instructors on Addressing Religious Beliefs When Teaching Evolution, CBE-Life Sciences Education, 15(2):1–19, Summer 2016..

[22] Bergman, Jerry, Science is the Doorway to Creation: Nobel Laureates and Other Eminent Scientists Who Reject Orthodox Darwinism, Southworth, WA: Leafcutter Press, 2019; Darwinism is the Doorway to Atheism: Why Creationists Become Evolutionists, Southworth, WA: Leafcutter Press, 2019.

[23] Barnes and Brownell, 2016.

[24] Ecklund, E.H. and C.P. Scheitle, Religion among Academic Scientists: Distinctions, Disciplines, and Demographics, Social  Problems, 54(2):289–307, 1 May 2007.

[25] Scheitle and Ecklund, 2018.

[26] Brenan, Megan,“40% of Americans Believe in Creationism”, Gallup News, 26 July 2019, https://news.gallup.com/poll/261680/americans-believe-creationism.aspx.


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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