A professor gives his students an object lesson in religious bigotry

August 31, 2014 • 3:17 pm

UPDATE: I didn’t check the date carefully on this story, which I read as August 2014. My error: it’s August, 2012, so the story is two years old. My apologies. I’ll leave it up, however, as I think it’s still of value to discuss this, but be aware that the fracas is dead by now. And a note to readers as well: when sending me pieces, do check the date yourself.  Of course, I bear the ultimate responsibility!


Charles Negy is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Central Florida.  His faculty page says he specializes in cross-cultural psychology:

His research interests vary, but have focused primarily on how Hispanic Americans adapt to the United States’ culture and how that adaptation manifests itself on psychological and personality tests. . . Specifically, he examines how variables such as race, ethnicity, culture, acculturation, gender, social class, and sexual orientation influence people’s attitudes and behaviors, including performance on personality tests. Although his studies usually are contextualized in clinical psychology, the essence of the research falls more within the domain of personality/social psychology.

Well, there’s already some potential flashpoints there, but things really blew up when, according to Inside Higher Ed (IHE), Negy apparently was teaching his cross-cultural anthropology class when a fracas occurred (the following is, according to IHE, based on Negy’s account):

In Negy’s telling, about 8 to 10 students, among 496 students in the class, started arguing that Christianity was superior to other religions. Negy asked the protesting students to demonstrate how this was so. At this, one of the students in the group asked the rest of the class not to take part in the discussion.

Negy said the class continued after he steered the discussion in another direction, but he was fuming. Soon after, he sent out a stinging e-mail message to all the students in his class.

Here’s his email, which was also posted, presumably by one of his students, on reddit

Hello, Cross-Cultural students, I am writing to express my views on how some of you have conducted yourself in this university course you are taking with me. It is not uncommon for some-to-many American students, who typically, are first-generation college students, to not fully understand, and maybe not even appreciate the purpose of a university. Some students erroneously believe a university is just an extension of high school, where students are spoon-fed “soft” topics and dilemmas to confront, regurgitate the “right” answers on exams (right answers as deemed by the instructor or a textbook), and then move on to the next course.

Not only is this not the purpose of a university (although it may feel like it is in some of your other courses), it clearly is not the purpose of my upper-division course on Cross-Cultural Psychology. The purpose of a university, and my course in particular, is to struggle intellectually with some of life’s most difficult topics that may not have one right answer, and try to come to some conclusion about what may be “the better answer” (It typically is not the case that all views are equally valid; some views are more defensible than others). Another purpose of a university, and my course in particular, is to engage in open discussion in order to critically examine beliefs, behaviors, and customs. Finally, another purpose of a university education is to help students who typically are not accustomed to thinking independently or applying a critical analysis to views or beliefs, to start learning how to do so. We are not in class to learn “facts” and simply regurgitate the facts in a mindless way to items on a test. Critical thinking is a skill that develops over time. Independent thinking does not occur overnight. Critical thinkers are open to having their cherished beliefs challenged, and must learn how to “defend” their views based on evidence or logic, rather than simply “pounding their chest” and merely proclaiming that their views are “valid.” One characteristic of the critical, independent thinker is being able to recognize fantasy versus reality; to recognize the difference between personal beliefs which are nothing more than personal beliefs, versus views that are grounded in evidence, or which have no evidence.

Last class meeting and for 15 minutes today, we addressed “religious bigotry.” Several points are worth contemplating:
Religion and culture go “hand in hand.” For some cultures, they are so intertwined that it is difficult to know with certainty if a specific belief or custom is “cultural” or “religious” in origin. The student in class tonight who proclaimed that my class was supposed to be about different cultures (and not religion) lacks an understanding about what constitutes “culture.” (of course, I think her real agenda was to stop my comments about religion).

Students in my class who openly proclaimed that Christianity is the most valid religion, as some of you did last class, portrayed precisely what religious bigotry is. Bigots—racial bigot or religious bigots—never question their prejudices and bigotry. They are convinced their beliefs are correct. For the Christians in my class who argued the validity of Christianity last week, I suppose I should thank you for demonstrating to the rest of the class what religious arrogance and bigotry looks like. It seems to have not even occurred to you (I’m directing this comment to those students who manifested such bigotry), as I tried to point out in class tonight, how such bigotry is perceived and experienced by the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, the non-believers, and so on, in class, to have to sit and endure the tyranny of the masses (the dominant group, that is, which in this case, are Christians).

The male student who stood up in class and directed the rest of the class to “not participate” by not responding to my challenge, represented the worst of education. For starters, the idea that a person—student or instructor—would instruct other students on how to behave, is pretty arrogant and grossly disrespects the rights of other students who can and want to think for themselves and decide for themselves whether they want to engage in the exchange of ideas or not. Moreover, this “let’s just put our fingers in our ears so we will not hear what we disagree with” is appallingly childish and exemplifies “anti-intellectualism.” The purpose of a university is to engage in dialogue, debate, and exchange ideas in order to try and come to some meaningful conclusion about an issue at hand. Not to shut ourselves off from ideas we find threatening.

Universities hold a special place in society where scholarly-minded folks can come together and discuss controversial, polemic, and often uncomfortable topics. Universities, including UCF, have special policies in place to protect our (both professors’ and students’) freedom to express ourselves. Neither students nor professors have a right to censor speech that makes us uncomfortable. We’re adults. We’re at a university. There is no topic that is “off-limits” for us to address in class, if even only remotely related to the course topic. I hope you will digest this message, and just as important, will take it to heart as it may apply to you.

Charles Negy

I see nothing objectionable in this email. Its language is strong, and perhaps the students singled out (not by name) could feel that the professor will be biased against them, but they’re adults, and this is a lesson on how to be an adult at a university.

As of yesterday afternoon, there were more than 1,600 comments on the Reddit discussion thread. I’ve just skimmed them, but most of them think that Negy’s letter and attitude are fine, which is heartening.

Even more heartening is that his university is standing by him. According to Inside Higher Ed:

Jeffrey Cassisi, the chair of the department of psychology at UCF, said in an e-mail that he supported Negy’s perspective. “I view Dr. Negy’s discussion as protected by the fundamental principles of academic freedom,” he said. “I am encouraged by the worldwide positive response to his letter, because if critical thinking and debate were not permitted in our public universities, I believe the future of all human rights would be at risk.”

Tony G. Waldrop, provost and executive vice president, said in an e-mail that the university encouraged faculty members to have classroom discussions that help students think critically. “We also hope our students will arrive at their own opinions based on those thought-provoking discussions,” he said.

There is one fly in the ointment, however, as the IHE article starts with this statement (my emphasis).

Charles Negy, a professor of psychology at the University of Central Florida, has taught his cross-cultural psychology class for 15 years. Uproars are not uncommon, especially when he talks about religion or tells his students that there is no evidence of a “heaven.”

And it makes me wonder what Negy said that made the students proclaim that Christianity was “the most valid religion.” I hope it wasn’t that he’s promulgating atheism at a public university (UCF is a public university—with 60,000 students, it’s the second largest in the U.S.).

Even at a private university, like the one where I teach, I wouldn’t tell the students there is no evidence for a heaven. For one thing, it’s not in my brief as a biology teacher. But even were I teaching a course on comparative religion or culture, I would ask the students for the evidence, and let them argue it out under my guidance. Students should be adults and be willing to have their beliefs challenged, but for a professor to question religious beliefs in a public university, even as a lesson in learning to tolerate dissent, seems to me a violation of the First Amendment. In a private university, it’s no legal violation, but remember that a professor is an authority figure.

In the end, I love Negy’s letter but wonder if there’s anything a bit less honorable behind it. What got those students riled up?


h/t: pyers

68 thoughts on “A professor gives his students an object lesson in religious bigotry

  1. I think he probably could have done without saying, “It is not uncommon for some-to-many American students, who typically, are first-generation college students, to not fully understand, and maybe not even appreciate the purpose of a university.”

    I don’t think it is fair to single out people who do not come from a line of university students; it comes off a bit classist. Other than that, I think the letter was okay and I’m sure it doesn’t take much for students to get riled up when it comes to culture and religion.

    1. Hi Diana:

      Your last half-sentence is certainly true, but that’s the whole point that Dr. Negy was making. Just because they hold to some belief does not mean that others have to knuckle under to it, or not question its validity, or even (quelle horreur!) refrain from asking for evidence that it is true.

      In other words, to meet opposition is good for them. In my developmental math classes, of course, I can’t address the issues like I could if I taught cross-cultural psychology, but the other day, when I “casually” mentioned that empiricism was the only legitimate form of knowledge acquisition (I was having the class guess what the answer was to the Birthday Problem, and then saying that we’d find out by everyone stating his or her birthday as I called roll), I think I might have heard a bit of a reaction from one or two of the students.

      1. See my reply to Simon below. I think he still could have made his point without the extra value judgement even if he is right – it is discouraging to be told you still don’t fit in at university because you don’t have the pedigree.

        1. Perhaps he only meant that first generation university attendees will have a higher chance of not knowing what to expect and might expect something they wouldn’t if they had family members from whom they learned what the experience is like. Nothing to do with pedigree.

          But I agree, it didn’t need to be phrased the way it was.

          1. Perhaps he only meant that first generation university attendees will have a higher chance of not knowing what to expect

            That’s how I read it too. And I was the first person known in the history of the family to have gone to university (possible exception – Rev Ussher, of 4004 BC fame, probably went to university ; but the family genealogy fan only about 75% sure that he was an ancestor). Didn’t stop me from knowing what to expect, it just meant that the opportunity had never been there before.
            And to the eternal shame of politicians of my generation, who followed the same new paths, they’re doing their damnedest to pull the ladder up behind themselves.

    2. Yeah, while that’s a fair comment, his wording likely accurately reflects the UCF student body (at least based upon the amount of space dealing with this on their website, cf the overall American student population). And, classiest or not, that may be mirrored in their responses to having cherished ideas pushed around. I remember (as one in that same “first in family” group, albeit in England not the US) being surprised and at times mildly offended by having some of my core concepts challenged as an undergrad. It was a healthy experience and changed my perspective on many things.

      FWIW I thought it was a good and pretty restrained response to class disruption.

      1. Sure, but it’s still a value judgement. His point would be well taken if he had simply said that he observed that the majority of students seem to act in a way that suggests they have misunderstood what a university is. University, for me at least, was the great leveller. It didn’t matter who your parents were or how much money you had – at the end of it all you succeeded or failed on your merits. Pointing out your lack of pedigree is discouraging.

        1. I would be more accepting of your supposition that the instructor was making a value judgement if you could demonstrate in what way his statement made a less than general argument.

          Facts are not value judgements. It is not uncommon for some-to-many first generation Americans to not fully understand, or maybe even to appreciate the purpose of the National Park Service. This doesn’t hold those who understand or appreciate in higher esteem any more than does the statement in question, it merely serves as an establishing premise.

          1. I’m with Diana. It would have annoyed me when I was a student that this assumption was made about me because I came from a family where tertiary education was extremely rare. (I’d never met a family member who’d been to university – they were all long dead.) Otherwise, I think it’s a great e-mail.

          2. I’m not disagreeing that his statement is true. What I am arguing is that his choice of words was poor because he most likely, and probably inadvertently, made students of more humble backgrounds feel disenfranchised. If your goal is to reach these students, you want to avoid throwing salt in the wounds of those who already feel that they don’t fit in and maybe don’t belong because they don’t have the same background as their peers.

            Again, my point is that his point could have been made without singling out a group of people.

    3. He was trying to put those dumb yokels in their place and they knew it. They are all worked up by that Hollywood movie “God is Not Dead.” And no doubt their families have them on high alert to defend Jesus and his Pappy. The class will be simmering for the rest of the semester.

    4. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with him saying that. What is wrong with truth? It’s not “classist” at all, it is a statement of fact. I live in northern Canada so I’m probably not familiar with the dress code at Augusta a fancy restaurant in the middle of New York city. This crap about things being “fair” and “respecting people’s opinions” is ridiculous. If I have the opinion that 2+2=5 it is wrong. Please don’t respect the opinion. If people are first generation university students, then they are first generation university students. The indicator that they are losing their minds in class indicates that perhaps they haven’t had a discussion with their parents or counselor about the function of university. Therefore instead of booting them out of the class forever or failing them, he is trying to educate….what a thought. Not fair…..ugh….if a student comes in who can’t see the board from the back being “singled out” if they are moved to the front? Ya, they are….for their benefit….a freaking generation of pansies….

      1. I’m not arguing that what the professor said was untrue. I’m arguing that in its lack of tact, it most likely isolated students that are already isolated and may have shut them down from hearing anything else he has to say.

        You don’t have to shove something in someone’s face constantly – they know who they are. They know they come from families who are not in that class of people. If he had simply said that from the observed behaviour, it appears that not everyone knows how a university works. He didn’t have to add the rest (which is most like a guess on his part anyway). It isn’t about fairness or about not being a “pansy” as you say, it’s about persuasion and understanding where someone comes from.

  2. This is a fascinating post. Initially my reaction was surprise in that asserting that there’s no evidence for heaven seems mundane and obvious — presumably even to the faithful. That being said, I agree with Dr. Coyne that it would be even better to confront students with the question and let them argue the merits themselves (with guidance).

    1. Kirkwoll,

      There is evidence for heaven. It’s just that it’s extremely poor evidence. Such as a 4 year old being thought by his religious parents to have been to heaven and returned in order to make the parents a large amount of money from a book. Or a neurosurgeon who has a very sick experience (not a near death experience) from Gram negative meningitis, and in delirium, perhaps in the slow recovery phase, thinks he’s been to heaven.

      1. Actually, that’s not even bad evidence for heaven. It’s just evidence that those people had (or claim to have had) those subjective experiences while still alive. It tells us zero about what happens after death.

        1. Wayne, the point you bring up is very important because it is usually the first-line of defense for people who want to defend that “heaven is real”. It *must* be taken into consideration.

          That being said, I have to agree with Gregory that in truth, such experiences are nothing more than a (vaguely) curious subjective experience that has been put forth as evidence for heaven when in fact it is evidence for nothing more than a fairly commonplace and ordinary near-death experience.

          It would be like positing that because I glanced in a certain direction at a ball game, and some other person glanced in my direction at the same time, it is evidence for a psychic connection. Clearly, such an episode is representative of nothing more than a shared and inevitable coincidence.

          Similarly, such subjective evidence for heaven is nothing of the sort. It is evidence for a, at best, unique near-death experience that has been pigeonholed into a word — heaven — that might be elevated to something above boring if it could even be ligitimately defined.

          1. Wayne is making the same point you are. Theists claim there is evidence for their assertions, but when they present it to us it turns out to be things that rigorous thinkers would not call evidence.

          2. NDEs could be evidence for heaven if we could read human brains in the same way in which we can read computers. If we could determine what the first memory of the purported NDE was, and how it was subsequently modified (mainly to reflect the cultural consensus as to the nature of heaven).

            If the memory of the NDE was fully formed, and remained completely unchanged in subsequent recollections, it still wouldn’t be good evidence, but it would be better evidence than nothing (flashbulb memories of dramatic events are no more accurate or reliable than those of ordinary events).

            I doubt we’ll ever be able to read human brains. Reminds me of when the mice wanted to discover the question to the ultimate answer of life, the universe and everything embedded in Arthur Dent’s brain by preparing it – removing his brain from his head and dicing it.

            1. I don’t see how reading human brains helps.

              Suppose some NASA mission planner were to announce that we needn’t bother actually sending astronauts to Mars, because we can get perfectly good information about Mars by drugging the astronauts and hooking them up to fMRI machines while they dream about Mars. Everyone would rightly regard the guy as nuts.

              But this is exactly the sort of claim that NDE enthusiasts expect us to swallow: that we can get valid information about the afterlife by analyzing the drug-induced dreams of NDE patients. It’s a complete non sequitur; the one has nothing to do with the other.

              1. I think that a better analogy is that religious apologists regard individuals experiencing a NDE ‘afterlife’ as being like alert disinterested witnesses in a court trial who know exactly what they witnessed and are reliable and accurate, whereas they’re like witnesses who were very intoxicated at the time they were witnessing the event about which they’re giving testimony – and also have a personal interest in the result of their testimony.

                A drunken self interested witness could be right – you’d want some evidence corroborating it though. A NDE afterlife could also be correct, but again you’d need some corroboration.

                One such corroboration would be if the individual experiencing a NDE afterlife returned with some information not possible to ascertain in this world now, but capable of verification. Such as next week’s winning Lotto numbers.

              2. Wayne, I think you’re giving NDErs way too much credit by comparing them to drunken witnesses of a crime. They’re more like psychics who claim to have witnessed a crime while asleep in bed on the other side of town, and the cops aren’t even sure whether a crime was committed at all.

                Again, NDErs are the ones who didn’t die. So there’s no reason whatever to presume that their experience tells us anything at all about being dead — even if they were to wake up with winning Lotto numbers (which, by the way, never happens).

  3. This is a fascinating post. Initially my reaction was surprise in that asserting that there’s no evidence for heaven seems mundane and obvious — presumably even to the faithful. That being said, I agree with Dr. Coyne that it would be even better to confront students with the question and let them argue the merits themselves (with guidance).

      1. Ha ha! you have a low threshold for “idiot” but if it makes you feel better, I was scrolling through the email notifications and couldn’t say for certain that it was a dupe when the same message popped up (I thought maybe it was something I did).

  4. Just guessing here, but if he told students something along the lines of “NDEs are not evidence for heaven, and here’s why,” I’d consider that perfectly OK in a course on critical thinking.

  5. Seems to me that if he is going to facilitate classes and discussions that teach students to “recognize the difference between personal beliefs which are nothing more than personal beliefs, versus views that are grounded in evidence, or which have no evidence”, then pointing out that a position offered by a student has no supporting evidence is part of the job description.

    1. You’re wild and crazy, wildhog. Next, you’ll be saying that in a paleontology class, the professor should point out that fossils in a given location occur in a meaningful stratigraphic order!

    2. recognize the difference between personal beliefs which are nothing more than personal beliefs

      To some “people” (I use the term loosely), that in itself is a heretical assertion.

  6. I doubt there will be any more comments on the reddit thread, or any more information about Negy’s remarks on heaven forthcoming, since this story is two years old. Er, not that I’m trying to be accusatory, but the post is written as if it’s current and I was misled at first.

      1. Hmmm…perhaps this is time for a follow up. What actually happened in the aftermath? Was Negy vindicated? Curious reader wants to know.

        1. Well he is still employed by the university at the Associate Professor level.

          Rate my professor has some interesting comments though they have to be interpreted (a lot of students seem to feel that skipping classes should still mean they could get an A).

          1. Skipping classes itself isn’t necessarily a failure issue – I missed classes because of bike crashes, minibuses getting snowed into the mountains, and occasionally because of a monstrous hangover. But I obtained other people’s notes (and usually had to pay by helping them with their revision) and passed my exams with high grades. Which is what the purpose of exams is. (“Exams” including mid-term essays, lab tests and lab notebooks, etc ; what they probably call “continuing assessment” these days).

  7. If he did make the no evidence for heaven statement, is it really that bad? What if he said there’s no evidence that lighting a candle to Saint Miraculum cures cancer? Or no evidence that sacrificing a chicken at an intersection will make someone propose marriage to you?
    Are facts not fair game?

  8. Huh, I am a current (though not native) Floridian, and I don’t remember a flap about this at the time.

    It does bring this to mind, though, which I read almost thirty years ago, in a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal of all things:

    You go to school at the age of twelve or thirteen; and for the next four or five years you are not engaged so much in acquiring knowledge as in making mental efforts under criticism. A certain amount of knowledge you can indeed with average faculties acquire so as to retain; nor need you regret the hours that you spent on much that is forgotten, for the shadow of lost knowledge at least protects you from many illusions. But you go to a great school , not for knowledge so much as for arts and habits; the habit of attention, for the art of expression, for the art of assuming at a moment’s notice a new intellectual posture, for the art of entering quickly into another person’s thoughts, for the habit of submitting to censure and refutation, for the art of indicating assent or dissent in graduated terms, for the habit of regarding minute points of accuracy, for the habit of working out what is possible in a given time, for taste, for discrimination, for mental courage and mental soberness. Above all, you go to a great school for self-knowledge.

    William Cory, 19th Century Eton Schoolmaster

    Although this refers to an English public school, I think it applies, ideally, to an college or university education. I have always felt that the most important thing I learned at school was, “the art of indicating assent or dissent in graduated terms.”

    1. Thank you for this quote. I especially like the phrase “for the shadow of lost knowledge at least protects you from many illusions.” I have a lot of that shadowy stuff floating around in my head, and am grateful that in my school years the teachers, administrators and textbooks were free of religious bias; the knowledge I lost was real knowledge.
      Thanks also to Professor CC. Very worthwhile to read Dr. Negy’s email.

    2. “the art of indicating assent or dissent in graduated terms.”

      I disagree with that in the strongest possible terms!
      Sorry, couldn’t resist it.

  9. Concerning the discussion of religious beliefs, I think that it is relevant to evaluate their ‘trueness’ within the context of a cross-cultural psychology course, not so much with say a comparative evolution course. To discuss the existence of God is appropriate to philosophy, theology and also psychology.
    Psychology relates to what people think and believe whether those thoughts or beliefs may be true or not. The beliefs and even the belief process itself is the phenomenon under study.
    A researcher or teacher must have his own line for distinguishing what he considers true and what is merely believed, by himself or others. I think that this is unavoidable to this particular discipline under study.
    I think that the imposition of an opinion might be against the First Amendment, whereas the expression of an opinion or personal view may not be. An atheist psychologist could express his opinions on cultural psychology as being based on such a position. A Christian cultural psychologist also. However a person who starts from the position of believing in a particular religion, say Christianity, as being superior, is unlikely to have a balanced view. His preferred religion would be taken as culturally true and his interpretation of psychology, which should be the most scientific element, would have to bend to fit his religious beliefs, which would likely produce some absurd opinions. However I think that the religious world view does relate to the subject in hand, and perhaps that it should be admitted as a question of academic honesty.
    Actually truth is irrelevant to the beliefs in the culture under study, belief in the person doing the study may alter the conclusion of the study itself, for which responsibility should be taken and admitted.
    I suppose the neutral or agnostic view would probably be best, though I am sure people such as Dawkins grow weary of trying to explain their agnosticism when they are in any case labelled as atheist. It would not be appropriate either to exclude a religious person from studying cultural psychology

  10. Ignoring the fact that it’s old, there’s no 1st Amendment violation here at all. Making a true statement, even if it contradicts someone’s religious beliefs, is never a violation. True statements have an implicit overriding secular purpose, so it doesn’t matter how much they contradict anyone’s beliefs.

  11. His view from the ivory tower is a bit idealized, but I like the part about religious bigotry, since the b-word isn’t often used in relation to religion.

    The slam against “first generation” students demonstrated a different form of bigotry. Such students often face substantial academic, social, and family difficulties; this enormously privileged man is shutting a door that he should be holding open.

    He is fortunate to have the academic freedom that he describes in the last paragraph. In my experience, public universities DO have limits on faculty and student speech, class discussion topics, and so on. One of their missions (not necessarily spelled out) is to reinforce the status quo in that state. That inevitably means academic departments (or academics and other university policies) will sometimes be working at cross-purposes.

  12. There is no god and no heaven. The more people saying it in more and more venues the better. Especially if it as put as ‘there is no evidence for’.
    Why shouldn’t a professor assert that there is no evidence for heaven. There isn’t any. My experience of going to uni was mix of receiving knowledge from those who were knowledgeable in the field and doing ones own research. And always with the caveat that new, or reapplied evidence may change accepted knowledge.
    I have said it before and I’ll say it again, this pussy footing around criticising religious belief helps keep a strong base for a pyramid of erroneous beliefs by which the extremes at the pointy end gain succour.

  13. Further, an example. If a student in a physics or electronics class asserted that it must be god providing the motive force to the electrons moving along the wire, in a study of current, would it not be reasonable for a professor to say ‘ there is no evidence for that’?

  14. Wow, what a letter – I agree with every word! I just wish I could express myself so well. Wise words from a wise man. It makes me want to go back to university (fifty years too late) and attend his classes.

  15. Rather than go on and on in ad nauseam about my support of freedom of speech, which I am told I am told I can often do, I will direct you to an historic speech on freedom of speech by the great Christopher Hitchens.


    Though I may not be an authority, I consider this speech the greatest of Hitchens’ great speeches. All I can say in closing is it would be a mistake to not give this a listen.

  16. I don’t see a problem telling ones students that there is no evidence for heaven. That’s the truth and there should be no problem stating the truth. That’s not the same as saying there is no heaven; it’s simply saying that it lacks evidence. What, you can’t say there’s no evidence for fairies?

  17. Jerry: “but for a professor to question religious beliefs in a public university, even as a lesson in learning to tolerate dissent, seems to me a violation of the First Amendment.”

    Well, this can’t be right about a philosophy course.

  18. I see nothing wrong with Negy saying that he’s seen no evidence for the existence of heaven. It’s a truthful statement regardless of the beliefs of those in his class. It needn’t be a conversation killer either, but rather an opening for further discussion.

  19. UCF is my alma mater. I finished just as it was transitioned from a University with some academic pride to one seemingly more interested in competing with FSU and UF for enrollment and sports prestige. This letter, at least, makes me proud.

  20. Hermeneutics or exegesis is text interpretation of scriptures and similar. Religion & Culture have brought mankind to the present. There is always a risk in saying there is no evidence of heaven may not be “understood” by all. One of the approaches for those who wish to reflect on “Heaven” would be the hermaneutic or exegetic approach. Why the religion is seeking to persuade people to to be good and what are the consequences of putting this up for discussion at freshman level. Every one knows people were put to death for less -all in the name of religion.

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