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Kansas Anti-Creationism Professor Resigns 1469

Posted by Zonk
from the tangled-web dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A Professor of religion at University of Kansas has resigned from his position at the university because of his anti-creationism views." From the article: "Mirecki had planned to teach a course in the spring that examined creationism and intelligent design after the State Board of Education adopted science standards treating evolution as a flawed theory. Originally called 'Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies,' the course was canceled last week at Mirecki's request." The article goes on to explain that Mirecki evidently sent poorly worded email with anti-Christian sentiments around to people interested in the class, and was subsequently beaten for his troubles.
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Kansas Anti-Creationism Professor Resigns

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  • Re:Beaten? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kazzahdrane (882423) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:29PM (#14224460)
    Of course these people know their beliefs are right and if people don't believe them then they bloody well should do. Welcome to the world of religious extremism, if you need me I'll be in the bar with the bulletproof glass.
  • He handled it wrong (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sycomonkey (666153) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:31PM (#14224483) Homepage
    It's not a good idea to deride students or christians, and it's not as if every christian thinks evolution is wrong. I think it would have been a good thing to hold a class like that in a state like that, but if the prof is going to be confrontational about it, that's going to cheapen the whole point. Teaching ID in anything outside a philosophy class is such a crazy idea and so easily debunked that being negative is entirely unessicary, plain facts will do.
  • by NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) <john@oyler.comcast@net> on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:37PM (#14224532) Journal
    He thought he'd poke some fun at idiots. He might have expected some pranks, or even an assault.

    What he discovered was a bit more than that, though. Not some semi-random beating from idiots who recognized him. Rather, that it's a bit more organized than that. Maybe they told him his national press was really, really unappreciated, and that if he didn't start backing down, he was in for worse.

    Supposing something like that happened, might not you also resign?
  • Fron the article... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lendrick (314723) on Friday December 09, 2005 @07:38PM (#14224540) Homepage Journal
    A recent e-mail from Mirecki to members of a student organization referred to religious conservatives as "fundies" and said a course describing intelligent design as mythology would be a "nice slap in their big fat face." Mirecki apologized for those comments.

    It's too bad he had to be so unprofessional. I'm all in favor of his class, but I can't sympathize with someone who acts like that. He's basically ruined it for other universities that may want to do something similar because he made it into a personal issue instead of an academic one.
  • here in Mexico. There was a student riot and strike (or something similar), they (the "students") shut down school. Some of them participated in violent protests against the government, and were sent to jail.

    A law professor was going to give a talk about "Difference between political prisoners and criminals". The pseudo-students didn't let him start the talk, and he had to run away because they were all throwing him rotten food.

    Lesson: Unless you're willing to become a martyr, never tell an angry mob they're WRONG.
  • Religious Right (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kponto (821962) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:03PM (#14224798) Homepage
    Begin rant

    I'm so fucking sick of these people. The fact that this guy calls a spade a spade (ie. calling crazy religious freaks "crazy religious freaks") and has to then resign is unbelievable.

    End Rant

    My roomate is a Christian, and he's a standup guy, thinks creationists are crazy, hates war and the like. He said to me the other day "You know, I really like the term 'Religious Right'. It implies that there's a 'Religious Center' and a 'Religious Left'."

  • Re:His sign (Score:1, Interesting)

    by dismiss (922421) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:21PM (#14224979)
    Right. I was thinking the same thing, more or less.

    How can such a highly educated person be so lacking in tact?

    Each person may have his or her own opinion, and they are rightly entitled to it. However, it is never acceptable to advance an opinion in such a spiteful, vicious way. It is disheartening that someone in the position of a Professor would choose to submit to such foolishness.

    That said, I do feel as though something is being left out of this story. I can't pinpoint what, but something just seems a little fishy. Of course, it is said that truth is stranger than fiction.
  • by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <sherwin@amiran . u s> on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:22PM (#14224997) Homepage Journal
    American-style protestants are going further and further towards the nutso-crazy-idiotic anti-science anti-progress anti-secularism anti-other-religions stereotype.

    Every unfair stereotype of a an American WASP from 10 years ago has started to come true. Expect the unfair sterotypes of today to be true within 10 years (religious warriors, indeed).

    This contrasts oddly with the vatican, who has decided to embrace science as the language of God's tapistry.

    Even me, the dedicated Agnostic, finds that ringing a tone of truth.

    What these ID idiots don't understand is that there is NO WAY a creator would use such a blunt tool as Creationism to *poof* the world into existence. "God works in mysterious ways". "All miracles are subtle". Blah Blah Blah; if THATs the case, than why WOULDN'T he use evolution?

    In one swift motion, the creator, the mover unmoved, fathomed the universe. From that point on, utilizing all the 'random' constants that he blinked into existence, the universe expanded outwards in the big bang, following the scientific explanation of creation, evolution occurred, and we are currently at the present day.

    How is that explanation not FAR, FAR more amazing, and mind blowing, and worth of a creator than, "Well, kids, God dreamed up our world, and a week later, it was there."

    I guess the problem is that the American-style Protestant is really just not that smart.
  • by Valdrax (32670) on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:22PM (#14225004)
    Unfortunately, the fundamentalist christians usually quote the parts of the Old Testament that involve "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."

    Oddly they miss out on the fact that "An Eye for an Eye" is meant as an alternative to unlimited retaliation not as an alternative to forgiveness. It's a like a speed limit. It's supposed to be a maximum, but everyone treats it like a minimum.
  • analogy is backwards (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:41PM (#14225157)
    In Kansas, Christians are the overwhelming majority. "Whites" would be a more appropriate substitution, in which case the "small group of hateful idiots" would be the KKK circa mid-1900's. The professor would, of course, be a black man who publicly insulted them and was beaten for it. Your point about allowing their actions to reflect on the majority still stands.

    It's telling that you chose the opposite analogy, though. I have a theory that Christians like to see themselves as a persecuted minority, especially when they're in the majority and doing the persecuting.
  • Re:His sign (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Moofie (22272) <lee.ringofsaturn@com> on Friday December 09, 2005 @08:48PM (#14225221) Homepage
    Having an opinion that you can't express cogently and professionally is not useful for a college professor.
  • by BushCheney08 (917605) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:05PM (#14225353)
    Who's to say which is "correct"?

    I prefer to crack my eggs on the big end, and all the little endians should be killed!
  • Re:Beaten? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cfury (172260) on Friday December 09, 2005 @09:43PM (#14225620)
    Please don't take this out on the majority of the christian population. Yes, there are people out there who use fear and ignorance to take their deep-seeded agressions out on others... this is unfortunately human nature (the wages of sin is death, after all), and far too many people are far too easily manipulated by this kind of stuff.

    I just want to point out that BEATING PEOPLE UP is not a "fundamental" Christian philosophy. Jesus would certainly NOT approve.... Pick up a Bible and read through the entire new testament (you can skip Revelations if you'd like -- it's interesting, but confusing and not really the point.) Only then can a person actually understand what it REALLY means to live a christian life.

    Blessed are the meek.... for they shall inherit the earth.

    Chris

  • Re:Beaten? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Friday December 09, 2005 @10:13PM (#14225811) Homepage

    ...or have followed a rather different course from the one that led to fundamentalism (e.g. Coptic Christianity). For someone with this background, the belief of fundamentalists that their interpretation of the particular compilation of texts that they consider holy is God's Truth must seem particularly crazy.

    Copts, being orthodox (and Orthodox) Christians also believe that the Bible is God's word. Furthermore, there is a great suspicion about the theory of evolution among the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox. Notice that the Church Fathers, whose teachings ultimately constitute the Holy Tradition which is the basis of the faith and can't be questions, assumed that the story of creation in Genesis is true in its general details. While the Orthodox and American fundamentalist Christians greatly differ on many subjects, this is probably not one of them.

  • by ocelotbob (173602) <ocelotNO@SPAMocelotbob.org> on Friday December 09, 2005 @10:44PM (#14225969) Homepage
    The email he wrote was tactless and ill-timed, plain and simple. He knows he's in a controversial position right now, he should have had an ounce of common sense and written his feelings in a much more...political...tone. There were definitely better ways to express his opinion than the email he sent out, which smacked of the same tones and language that he criticizes fundamentalists of using.
  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) <Satanicpuppy@g m a i l .com> on Friday December 09, 2005 @11:04PM (#14226062) Journal
    A lot of the problem comes from certain "evangelical" sects of Christianity who teach a literal read of the bible, and don't require any special course of study for their priests...That is to say, they believe everything in the Bible is literally true, and that you don't need to be taught how to preach, or how to read/interpret the bible, in order to be a priest. It's extremely anti-intellectual.

    The Southern Baptists, in particular are almost post-rational when it comes to any sort of reasoned argument. It's amusing in a sad/scary sort of way.
  • Re:*roll eyes* (Score:3, Interesting)

    by belmolis (702863) <billposer@alum. m i t .edu> on Friday December 09, 2005 @11:53PM (#14226323) Homepage

    Christians are not persecuted in the US, but I think that they often think that they are for two reasons. First, evangelical Protestantism is an exclusive and evangelical religion. Since they think that they have the only truth, tolerance for other views is not a virtue and they think that they are not really able to be Christians unless the State enforces their views. Christians think that it is their right and duty to make everyone into a Christian. What for the rest of us is protection against harassment and imposition of Christianity is therefore for them an infringment of their right to spread Christianity.

    The second reason that fundamentalists, feel persecuted is because they know that their views are considered to be ridiculous by many other people, especially intellectuals and scientists.

  • by harp2812 (891875) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @12:36AM (#14226507)
    I've always enjoyed the "controversial" profs... however I've found that most of my profs simply beat their beliefs into the students, and berate anyone who questions what the prof holds to be true. My professors frequently push their own beliefs and then use grades to enforce it,.. any complaints to the University are returned "inconclusive", assuming you get a response at all. Those profs who push the students to question *everything*, are few and far between in my experience, but often the most fun to take classes from. (YMMV)
  • Embarrassing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by IAstudent (919232) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @12:49AM (#14226563)
    Some people like these that use their religion to promote intolerence are making Christianity look a little less appetizing. I grew up Catholic, gave my first communion, and other such rites of passage. Fundies are just one example that's making me embarrased about my beliefs.

    On the issue of ID though, that fact that it's psuedoscience has already been establish, and I'm not sure you can even include "science" in that term. Last year in AP Biology, my teacher brought in a National Geographic article that reaffirmed Darwin's theories of natural selection. I think ID was mentioned once during that class but it was a subject that was quickly dropped. Of course, that was about 9 months ago, before ID became topic fodder for the New York Times, Newsweek, etc. That's when I knew we had a problem.

    If the religious fanatics won't go away, then at least keep ID somewhere closer to the study of religion, not biology.
  • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) * on Saturday December 10, 2005 @12:52AM (#14226572) Homepage
    Interesting how there is very little mention that this guy was physically beaten because of his beliefs. I imagine that if the guy was a priest who decried atheists, people would go nuts.

    I love CNN's unbiased reporting.

  • Re:And vice versa... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jaypaulw (889877) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @12:59AM (#14226604)
    I attended BYU and I will tell you that we go to great lengths to respect other people's beliefs. We Mormons are a group of people who have historically had many of our civil rights violated and we do not seek to repeat those sins on others.

    And although the overwhelming majority of BYU professors believe in a personal God, and many students believe that beliveing in God is the "obvious" philosophical, metaphysical and spirtitual answer, and also that the majority of mainstream science is completely consistent with that belief and mainstream science is taught there -- mean spirited attacks of people's beliefs are met with swift critisism, even "outrage."

    You don't think it would make the news if we introduced a class called "Atheism: bad logic and hard hearts?"
  • Re:To clarify... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by artemis67 (93453) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @01:42AM (#14226758)
    Can you point to a single case in, say, the last 20 years, where a school board not only voted in creationism, but also forbade the teaching of evolution?

    Seriously.

    As far as I am aware, it just doesn't happen.
  • Slaves, etc. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Descalzo (898339) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @02:18AM (#14226892) Journal
    It seems that many of Jesus' disciples or would-be disciples expected him to overthrow Roman rule and all sorts of things like that. But he made it clear that his kingdom was "not of this world." I have wondered about that, and I think that must be it. I think if He had spent time making political waves, the Romans would have made it very hard to get work done.

    This is something I'm still working on.

  • by fyngyrz (762201) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @02:54AM (#14227022) Homepage Journal
    Nah. When you go back to the fundamentals of atheism, all you have is no belief in a god or gods.

    a = "without"
    theism = "belief in a god or gods"
    a-theism = "without belief in a god or gods"

    As a fundamentalist atheist myself, I'm perfectly prepared to say there might be one. In fact, might be two or three. Or 42. Or thousands of them.

    But since none have shown their heads, or their works, around my neck of the woods there is no point in getting all tangled up in some belief without a reasonable basis in objective fact to reason from. So I keep the idea in the same drawer with other ideas that require extraordinary evidence, such as pink unicorns, UFOs and telepathy. Sure would be interesting to see. When and if that happens, I'll re-evaluate the situation.

  • by Belseth (835595) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @05:10AM (#14227348)
    The issue I have is with intolerance. The recent Christian movement doesn't even tolerate other Christian sects. Personally I'm a Buddist and the core beliefs are that life and religion is an individual journey and you shouldn't force your beliefs on anyone else. If all religions followed this simple doctrine an incredible amount of violence and death could have been avoided over the centuries. Most of the war going on today has roots in religious intolerance. I take exception to religious doctrine being taught in school including Buddism inspite of it being a more Philosophy than a religion. I believe in studying all religions and I make sure that my children are well versed in as many religions as possible including Hindu and Mosleum faiths. There's good in all religions and most share core beliefs. There's even a strong belief that Christ studied Buddism since much of what he taught was Buddist in nature. It's always a trick question what religion Christ was. It's obvious but most people have trouble getting past prejudice to realize he was a practising Jew right up until the day he died. Christianity came out of Judaism and the Mosleum faith came out of Christianity. It's why so many of the holly places are the same. The Old Testment is basically Judaic. It's amazing to me that none of them really get along. The mosleums and Jews even consider Christ a holy man, it's the divinity issue where they part company.

    Public school should be about proven fact and science meets that standard. Religion doesn't require proof but that's what makes it subjective. Science should be the one thing they all can agree on. Saying that science is wrong and three to four thousand year old religous text is right does make us look ignorant and that's how much of the world has begun to view us. Jewish scholars have found much of the old testment is incorrect. The irony is they have accepted the science and have begun to view much of it as stories with a message where as Christians in this country are still holding that it is fact and children should be taught as much in public schools. Can you see the irony? Christians borrow part of their religion from Jews who later find it is a collection of stories and not fact, they accept it but the later religion chooses to hang on inspite of what the parent religion now believes to be true. Even the Catholic faith has accepted evolution. What people need to consider is it the Bible that makes you disbelieve in evolution or what the preacher on Sunday told you? The New Testment makes no mention of how creation occured. What's really ironic is most Bibles these days don't even include the Old Testment yet that seems to be the part where all the contention is, that's the PreChristian part to be more specific. If the world being 6 billion years old instead of six thousand years old shakes a person's faith I think they need to exaimine the strength of their faith and not simply try to silence those who don't share their beliefs, in this case most of humanity. Just an FYI, if you think the preacher on Sunday morning is telling you the whole truth double check what is said against the Bible. There's alot of grossly inaccurate information being thrown around if the point is literally interpretation. My favorites always revolve around Angels and Heaven. Most are taught Heaven is full of good people and they turn into Angels when they die. Not sure where they got that? It wasn't from the Bible. The only "person" that comes to mind currently in Heaven is Jacob, direct assention. Everyone else is waiting judgement. Also Angels predated men/humans. They were never people but another race and were called "The Sons Of God". In fact there's no mention of female angels anywhere in the Bible. Sadly a lot of the intent has been lost. Praying to get things and passing judgement on others aways drives me nuts, they are blanantly unChristian. According to the Bible you are supposed to accept God's will and whatever happened to "Judge not lest yee be judged"? God is supposed to judge not man. I have no problem with re

  • by buddyglass (925859) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @06:57AM (#14227579)
    Points of note: 1. This guy isn't a scientist. He's a religious studies professor. 2. He wasn't "depicted as anti-Christian" because of his views. He made explicit derogatory comments towards a large portion of U.S. Christendom. 3. Given that there are Christian adherents even among the extremely well educated, and given that most mainstream Christian clergy obtained a standard, secular undergraduate degree prior to their religious studies, I can't see that "more education" would have much of an effect. 4. Something obscured by Slashdot's coverage of this story is that Mirecki didn't resign his teaching position, he only resigned as Chairman of the Religious Studies Dept. Considering he made direct, disparaging remarks towards millions of Americans' faith, I don't think his resignation as Chairman is unwarranted or unexpected.
  • Re:Rule #2 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Magic5Ball (188725) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @10:32AM (#14228062)
    But there are over 2,000 years of human history with god(s) without fixing the violence toward your fellow man issue. I'd almost claim that religion has made things worse at the national level since conflicts between countries aren't resolved once the battle for land/resources is over, but persist in the minds and actions of individuals as a religious conflict.

    The ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict is decidedly not about control over world-class farm land, but about control over artefacts of religious value. Similarly, the Sunni vs Shiia issue in Iraq is not about getting the most competent people in power, but about electing people based on their non-objective interpretation a non-authoritatively documented divergence of religious views that happened 1500 years ago.

    Perhaps we should do some stronger natural selection against the mal-adapted religious sects out there...
  • Humble pie (Score:3, Interesting)

    by beforewisdom (729725) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @11:57AM (#14228434)
    Americans who watch news reports about Afghanistan and who lament how backward the taliban is should keep stories like this in mind.
  • by williamhb (758070) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @07:11PM (#14230420) Journal

    These stories make extraordinary claims. Not only is there no extraordinary evidence, there appears to be no evidence at all for those stories


    Here's another perspective on the "extraordinary claims need extraordinary proof" issue. Sorry it's a little long.

    (from the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Luke 16)
    [The rich man] said, "but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent".
    He replied "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced, even if someone rises from the dead."


    And indeed it seems you haven't been convinced - even though someone rose from the dead. When it comes down to it, what you want isn't a one-time-proof, but for God to be in a state of constantly proving his existence with fresh miracles every day. I'll explain:

    In Jesus's time, the Pharisees asked for a miracle as proof because they didn't believe the "extraoardinary claims" either (Matthew 16). Jesus said he'd give them one - rising from the dead. And he did. After the resurrection and pentecost, the apostles performed miracles in the process convincing some more people of the extroadinary claims (most of Acts). But naturally, you say those 'miracles' are just more extraordinary claims. You'd perhaps also say the book of Luke is a set of extraordinary claims even though it was Luke's report of his investigation into the extraordinary claims. At every step forward, there's a grumble that yesterday's proof is today just another extraordinary claim unless some more proof is given for that last piece of proof. Each day, someone wants another miracle, and that continues right up to today and your post.

    So, what you want is your own personal miracle in your individual sight. (And, to be brutally honest, I suspect you would probably find a reason to disqualify any evidence unless it was God appearing to perform a personal miracle for you.) Well, the sovereign God responds to that with a bit of a poser. He does do some things specially for people on an individual basis [answering prayer] but the catch is you already need to have faith to ask in faith.

    Perhaps having sent his son to die for you, God doesn't feel he needs to degrade himself any further just to prove himself to you individually? Personally, I can't really blame him - after all when it comes down to it, it's not his eternal life that's on the line.
  • by fyngyrz (762201) on Saturday December 10, 2005 @07:59PM (#14230629) Homepage Journal

    And indeed it seems you haven't been convinced - even though someone rose from the dead.

    Oh, for Pete's sake. Let's be perfectly clear here. If indeed anyone rose from the dead, it happened about 2000 years ago, didn't happen in front of me, wasn't recorded in any contemporaneous documents of the regime in power at the time, nor by any contemporary historian, and is only described as such by a book that was put together from codexes that date back to about 300 years after the fact [ideaspike.com]. To top it off, we know of no such event, and our knowledge of the universe says it can't happen. This reasonably leads me to the position of doubt. I'm not doubting because I'm just a crank, I'm doubting because there is an extraordinary event here, and no proof any kind, much less extraordinary. If someone rises from the dead in front of me after three days of rigor mortis, putrifaction, and zero life signs of any kind, I will be duly impressed.

    Perhaps having sent his son to die for you

    If the story is true (which I do not believe to be the case), God sent his son to hang about on earth for thirty years, then gave him the best seat in heaven, after having him suffer a few days of moderate-level torture. For just one of many instances: Many Americans have sent their sons to die, where they ended up in the hellholes of Vietnam's POW camps, where those fellows endured being stabbed with dung-encrusted pungi sticks, maimed, beaten, caged, starved, diseased, mentally abused and worse, for years at a stretch. After which these fellows came home (well, those who survived) and were pretty well ignored by both the government and most of their fellow citizens, if they weren't actively reproached for having done what they were told to do. On a scale of one to ten, where let's call prisoner of war service a 7, I'd say Jesus's reported troubles rate about a two. If god wants to impress me with a sacrifice, then he can get down here and clean up some of the messes he's let go on without interference, such as birth defects, tsunmamis, regular failure of the female reproductive tract (with the side effect of killing the mother), Hitler, Cancer, Pol Pot, plagues, Stalin, the Spanish and Papal Inquisitions, the Crusades and so forth.

    As a story, god's "sacrifice" of Jesus lands with a dull thud because (a) it was no sacrifice, it was a very short though admittedly annoying interval with a HUGE reward, and (b) human sacrifice dwarfs it on every level. By the numbers, and by intensity, and by the degree of what was hoped to be accomplished by many of the sacrifices made by humans. True story: I had a relative who was burned to death going into a burning home after a little girl's kitten. He tossed the kitten out of an upstairs window, but he didn't make it out himself. He was an atheist; I'd say his sacrifice dwarfs that of Christ's, even if, no especially if, the crucifiction story is true. My relative burned to death and according you and yours, he's going to suffer for all eternity. Christ, in the meantime, is where? At god's right hand.

    Well, the sovereign God responds to that with a bit of a poser. He does do some things specially for people on an individual basis [answering prayer] but the catch is you already need to have faith to ask in faith.

    I afraid you're ruffling my feathers here, because of all the Christian mythos, this is some of the most offensive tripe that hits the fan.

    Your god is too something-or-other to help out, for instance, the most honorable, giving, self-sacrificing atheist who wishes for a child to be saved from cancer (or saves a little girl's kitten, as I related above); but he'll help you out for any random thing because you "have faith." I would not want anything to do with your god. Your god doesn't meet my standards for a decent hu

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