"Student dissent is heating up in a controversy over beliefs about Adam and Eve," writes the Associated Press.
Ironically, the evangelical college where the controversy is playing out was named after William Jennings Byran, the politician who opposed the teaching of evolution in the famous 1925 Scopes Trial.
Students and faculty are embroiled in the controversy, with students petitioning to remove the president and change the school's statement of faith, some professors leaving the school refusing to teach unless the statement is changed, the president and his board standing firm, while the press fans the flames of controversy.
At the tip of the spear? Were Adam and Eve real people?
Or more specifically, biblical Creationism.
Associated Press is reporting that this past February, the Bryan College board and the president amended the school's statement of faith.
The original statement read in part "that the origin of man was by fiat of God in the act of Creation as related in the Book of Genesis; that he was created in the image of God; that he sinned and thereby incurred physical and spiritual death."
In February, in an effort to clarify the school's belief, the board and the president amended the statement to read, "We believe that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve. They are the historical persons created by God in a formative act, and not from previously existing forms of life."
Professors are required to sign the school's statement of faith each year.
Since the statement was amended, a group of students have begun petitioning to remove the president, change the statement, etc.
A majority of the faculty---30-2, have voted "no confidence" in the president's leadership.
Some local news is reporting that 9 of the 44 faculty members will not be returning next year. The board says it isn't that many.
Kevin Clauson, vice chair of the faculty says he is one of the two who voted in favor of the president.
He said some who voted against him did so because of the timing and the way he handled the announcement of the amendment more than their disagreement with it.
He said it is a "sad" situation.
However, he said, "If Bryan is going to maintain itself as an evangelical Christian college, it has to make sure its doctrine is firm...that there's no slippage of doctrine."
Not only is the press fanning the flames of controversy at this Christian college, the atheists are piling on as well.
Jerry Coyne is professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago. He is a declared and devout atheist. He has written a number of books and articles advocating evolution and mocking Creationism. And is always condescending toward people of faith.
If you have seen the movie "God Is Not Dead," he personifies the professor in the movie. If you have not seen you should do so.
I have written about him a number of times in the past. I was not surprised to see he had inserted himself into this matter.
He says he's been following the Bryan case and saw it "as a larger trend among evangelical Christians to assert the historicity of Adam and Eve in a new kind of 'Darwin Moment'."
Coyne says, "Its sort of amazing to see this clash between religion and science all over again, except this is kind of sad."
"As soon as you say something about the historicity of Genesis, science education is compromised," he says.
Now there is growing discussion in the education community as to whether Bryan College should lose its federal accreditation, which is very important to the degrees it confers to its graduates.
Dr. Karl W. Gilbertson, also a well known advocate for Darwin, told Inside Higher Education, "Bryan's stance is quiet extreme..."
He said, "In my opinion schools like Bryan should lose their accreditation. There should be no government approval of any sort for an institution that forces people to affirm that the earth is 10,000 years old, when we know it is 4.5 billion. It is also unconscionable to expect a scientist who knows the earth is 4.5 billion years old to suddenly start believing it is 10,000. How is that supposed to work."
He seems to be suggesting no one should ever change their mind regardless of the facts.
The number of intermediate varieties which have formerly existed on earth must be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory." - Charles Darwin 1902 edition.
“…I am quite conscious that my speculations run beyond the bounds of true science….It is a mere rag of an hypothesis with as many flaw[s] & holes as sound parts.” Charles Darwin to Asa Gray, cited by Adrian Desmond and James Moore, Darwin, (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1991) pp. 456, 475.
Be Informed. Be Blessed.