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The Forerunner

Classroom Bias

By Editorial Staff
Published April 6, 2008

By Brent Knox

I once heard a professor say nonchalantly,“The Bible actually does teach reincarnation. Remember the story of John the Baptist? Wasn’t he Elijah reincarnated? And there used to be many other Scriptural passages which taught reincarnation, but in the third and forth centuries, biased church fathers took their scissors and cut those enlightening passages from the Bible.”

All the heads in the classroom bobbed up and down in mesmerized agreement. I gaped in astonishment. I thought I had heard every possible criticism against the Bible, but this one was really incredible. It was so far-fetched that even several of the religion professors at the same university I talked to hadn’t heard it. But even more astonishing was that the students in the classroom absorbed the tale as if it was gospel truth. Why? Because professors are the experts. They are scholars and have a lot of abbreviations after their names to prove it.

As a Christian student at a public university, I learned very quickly not to be overawed by professors. They are just men. And men make mistakes. In fact, the Bible reveals that man can actually suppress the truth, not because it is intellectually dissatisfying, but because of their desire for sin (Romans 1:18). Men can appear wise and learned, but actually be fools with futile thinking because of a secret rebellion in not honoring God (Romans 1:19-23).

Although not all college professors have this problem, unfortunately, many do promote unreasonable and irrational criticisms against God, His Word and His Son because their moral bias makes them unable to think correctly. Remember, your professor may be an expert in biology, but he may be foolish when he speaks fondly of our “ancestor” Australopithecus.

It’s important to be able to distinguish between truth and the presuppositions of many of our country’s college professors. If we can’t detect when these presuppositions are leading a professor into academic error, then our faith may be weakened or destroyed by half-truths masquerading as truths. I would like to look at three of these presuppositions, or “faiths,” that have invaded many of our nation’s classrooms:

1. The hard-core scientists rally under the banner that says, “Prove it to me!” They say God is irrelevant because His existence cannot be proven and faith is irrational because you must abandon your intellect. But they, too, have a faith: The universe is a closed system of causes and effects; only that which is empirically verifiable is of reality; all else is meaningless. From this faith comes the belief that a scientific view of the world can give a complete picture of all that is true. But realize this: this faith is truly a faith, not a scientific conclusion.

The scientific method is not the only way to arrive at knowledge. Countless times, as I have told someone about the resurrection, I’ve received the retort, “Prove it to me!” It used to befuddle me. I couldn’t even prove it and would leave the conversation barbecued. But now, I ask gently,“Well, can you prove to me that Julius Caesar lived and fought in the Gallic Wars?” The point is made. You cannot prove anything in history scientifically. But that doesn’t make historical events any less real than e = mc2.

Back in my college days, I was discussing Christianity with a chemistry teaching assistant.

“I can’t believe in this Jesus stuff because it rests on so many miracles. And miracles are so unscientific,” he said.

I paused and said, “That’s the point. If you could explain miracles scientifically, then they wouldn’t be miracles anymore.”

He had never thought of that before. If there is a God, then His existence, His proofs (miracles) and His revelations would all defy the scientific method because the events must be repeated and observed a statistical amount of times. Just because science cannot observe history, revelation, God, miracles, etc., doesn’t make these things irrational, questionable or untrue.

2. One pleasant afternoon at the University of Iowa, I was discussing with a group of students the morality of the Bible and that God’s laws are absolutely true no matter what culture or time in history you live in. One scholarly looking student defiantly interrupted, “But there are no such things as absolutes!”

“Are you sure?” I replied.
“Yes, I am sure!” he shouted back.
“Are you absolutely sure?”
“Yes!!!” he shrieked.
“Then you are an absolutist just like me!” I said.

I thought he was going to fall off the steps. No one likes to be an absolutist.

The bias in the classroom is that no absolutes exist. But that’s an impossible position. In order to be a true non-absolutist, a person must admit the possibility of absolutes and thereby the possibility of God and His revelation in the Bible. A true non-absolutist should inspect Christianity’s perspective as a viable alternative view. But often, the Christian perspective on morality, ethics, the nature of man as it relates to psychology and sociology, etc., is dismissed as narrow-minded, empty-headed fundamentalists’ dogma that couldn’t possibly be true.

Who really is narrow-minded and biased? If you want to test this bias, try standing up in a class on Religion in America during a discussion on pluralism and state, “Jesus is the only way to God.” You will see people’s hair stand straight up on their neck. But if God exists and God spoke, then the statement is not absurd at all.

Because God is considered irrelevant in the classroom, there is no longer any basis from which to form opinions on morality, ethics and religion. Our society’s motto has become, “Hey, it doesn’t make any difference what you believe, as long as you believe it.”

Well, it does make a difference what you believe! If you believe that question 2 on a multiple-choice test is option “d,” does your faith make “d” the correct answer? If your test is returned and “c” is the answer, will an appeal to the professor saying, “But I believed in ‘d’ with all my heart” raise your score? No! (Not unless you make better appeals than I did.)

Why? Because there are correct answers and wrong answers, and a person’s faith has little to do with the reality of right and wrong.

Our society has become a little schizophrenic, thinking that right answers exist for any area of life except religion and morality. Again, if God exists and spoke, then absolutes exist and we have a basis for deciding right from wrong. Yet, people reject Christianity, not because they researched the historical evidence and found it lacking, but because they simply don’t like what it says. That’s a classic bias.

3. Listening to a biology lecture on evolution, I heard the professor chirp, “There are other views explaining the origin of man that exist besides Darwinism. Many people believe that the world was created rather than evolved. But since those theories imply a god, we cannot discuss the merits of these theories in the classroom because the state cannot be a promoter of religion.”

In one quick swipe, this professor dismissed a whole realm of scientific knowledge with the over-worn phrase “separation of church and state.” Not only has God Himself been declared unscientific (remember, He is not at the end of man’s leash to be examined and tested) and therefore irrational, a person cannot even discuss Him without fear of being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Proficient constitutional lawyers realize that the intent of the Constitution is to protect religion from power-hungry government rather than protect the government from power-hungry religion. The people should not be insulated from open, intellectual discussion of God and the Bible, especially if it might be all true. Actually, people use the concept of “separation of church and state” as a tool to carry out their own anti-Christian bias. It’s a favorite war slogan to toss out to avoid facing the music.

To illustrate this, I knew a Christian religion professor at a state university who wrote a paper on the life of Jesus, stating that the gospel accounts were not only historically accurate, but that they were also true (heaven forbid!). The religion department shook for days.

He was asked to leave the university and join a Christian college because he was judged guilty of promoting a religion. His colleagues wanted to box him away and out of sight from students who were searching. And yet, at the same university, other professors regularly promote the theories that discredit the historicity of the gospel accounts.

Apparently, the academic ethic of “freedom to think, research and express opinions” is trashed if a man investigates the reality of Christianity.

The devil has a strategy for the classroom: to drive a deep wedge between education and Christianity, thereby keeping the Christian faith in the churches only. However, our faith is relevant to and deeply affects many disciplines – biology, philosophy, psychology, sociology, religion, business, history, anthropology, etc.

With this war of ideas going on in the classroom, as a student, you will find many opportunities to express the Christian perspective in class. But you will need to be informed to do so accurately and effectively. There are many resources available in Christian book stores that can help you be more knowledgeable. Or, you can sometimes learn about the different approaches to a subject by simply doing extra research at the library.

It’s also important to approach each class with a healthy dose of skepticism, not simply accepting as the gospel truth every single thing the professor or the book states. Armed with resources independent of those the professor assigned, you will be able to think a little more intelligently and critically about the subject and will be better able to sort out truth from theory and outright distortion.

In addition, work hard at your school work. Many people think that Christians are intellectual air-heads and there is no need for you to verify their opinion.

But armed with the Holy Spirit and a storehouse of knowledge, you can come out of the classroom more convinced of your Christian faith and better able to help others come to the same conclusions.

Used by permission of The Christian Cause, © 1988, by Great Commission Inc., Laurel , MD 20707.


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