If you were a science teacher, wouldn’t you jump at the chance to attend this biology workshop in San Diego, all expenses paid?
This course will examine the incredible diversity of animal and plant life on our planet. We will investigate both (a) organisms that meet common challenges in similar ways, yet are not closely related; and (b) organisms that meet different challenges yet are closely related. Genetic diversity—the amount of genetic variation that occurs within and between populations—will guide our analysis of the relatedness of various plant and animal species. Finally we will consider why plant and animal diversity should be conserved. We will study these themes in an inquiry-based learning format that will take advantage of the wealth of biodiversity available in San Diego.
Sounds good, no? And there are huge perks:
- Participants will receive complimentary room and board at on [sic] the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University.
- In addition, participants will receive a stipend of $1,000.
- If desired, two units of graduate university credit will be given upon successful completion of the program.
- Travel expenses will be reimbursed, with prior approval, for those coming from outside Southern California.
What a deal! Free room and board, free tuition, travel expenses reimbursed, and a $1K stipend on top of that! Too good to be true?
Yep, for the course is infused with Jesus; in fact, the whole point is to unite science and evangelical Christianity. For “Biology by the Sea” is sponsored not only by Point Loma Nazarene University (a Christian college), but by BioLogos. So those teachers are gonna get a dose of Jesus with their biology, including “theological discussions and scriptural reflections.” And although BioLogos‘s official position is that the earth is old, and some sort of evolution happened, the course won’t criticize old-earth or young-earth creationists—or others who believe in insane “scientific” woo. Note how many times this course description uses the word “respect” (my emphasis):
The course content has implications for how one views creation. The class will consider this in a manner that celebrates God as Creator and recognizes that Christians hold different views about how creation has actually taken place. Although BioLogos and Point Loma Nazarene University biology faculty hold the view that God created all of life through a gradual process over time, course faculty will respect the wide range of views held by Christians about Creation.
Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) is a fully accredited evangelical institution in the Wesleyan tradition. The faculty are deeply committed Christians. All hold Ph.D.’s and most have post-doctoral research experience. Importantly, all have considerable teaching experience with Christian young people holding diverse viewpoints about how God created, be it gradually over a long period of time, or suddenly in six 24 hour days. Although the Biology faculty hold to an old earth / gradual creation point of view and believe that there are not significant conflicts between mainstream science and biblical Christianity, they are respectful of all views.
The Biology by the Sea program exists for teachers to study animal and plant diversity in the context of a Christian university. It is heavily grounded in worship and Bible study which celebrates creation and God as Creator. Regular worship services are led by PLNU’s worship leader and its Bible studies are led by a pastor who is also a faculty member of PLNU. Although the program teaches from an evolutionary creation point of view, participants from other perspectives are welcome and are encouraged to attend. As with all PLNU biology courses, individuals of all creation viewpoints are respected.
“Respect” means, of course, “we won’t challenge your views, even though science shows that they’re dead, flat wrong.”
Young-earth creationism, or any sort of scientifically insupportable view of creation, is not worthy of “respect.” It is worthy of contempt—particularly in a science course. Of course, one needn’t shout forced laughter into the faces of those participants who think that the earth is 6,000 years old, or that all the fish they look at did not evolve but were created instantaneously at some time in the past, but these misguided folks should be politely informed that they’re wrong: that those fish have millions of years of common ancestry with other fishes, and that marine vertebrates began evolving over 500 million years ago.
And why are science teachers taking a course on biology anyway if they don’t accept evolution? It can’t be to learn about evolution, for the University and BioLogos apparently won’t challenge anti-evolution views. No, they will respect them. In fact, who can teach science properly if they don’t accept evolution in the first place?
This is a boondoggle, pure and simple—one designed to show the compatibility of science and faith: even a type of faith that is diametrically opposed to science. I can only wonder if some of the money behind this course ultimately comes from a major donor to BioLogos—the Templeton Foundation, who gave them over two million dollars for their work.
The course also erodes any credibility BioLogos has in its stated mission to unite evanglical Christianity and good science:
BioLogos represents the harmony of science and faith. It addresses the central themes of science and religion and emphasizes the compatibility of Christian faith with scientific discoveries about the origins of the universe and life.
If the course must mix science and superstition, the least it can do is not enable creationism. Yes, “Christians hold different views about how creation has actually taken place,” but most of them are wrong, can be proven wrong, and should, at least implicitly, be demonstrated to be wrong in a course like this. Nothing in biology makes sense in light of creationism.
“Respect” my tuchus!