Creationism teaching varies at Christian universities

Creationism teaching varies at Christian universities
By DAVID OLSON - The Press-Enterprise - 11/6/09 - original
Christian universities take different approaches to how biblical creationism is presented in courses. Some religiously affiliated universities keep creationism discussions in theology, religion and philosophy classes. Others integrate them into biology courses.

Nearly 70 U.S. colleges and universities endorse or teach biblical creation philosophy, according to a list compiled by Northwest Creation Network, a Mountlake Terrace, Wash.-based group that supports creation teaching.

The only Inland-based institution on the list is Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrieta, a two-year, unaccredited college that offers degrees in only biblical studies and theology.

Liberty University, an evangelical Baptist institution in Lynchburg, Va., offers a minor in creation studies and teaches the biblical six-day, 24-hour explanation for creation alongside evolution in biology classes, said David DeWitt, a professor of biology at Liberty. Students discuss what DeWitt views as the flaws in evolutionary theory and in the way most scientists measure the age of fossils.

Steven Newton, a project director for the National Center for Science Education, which defends evolution instruction, said only a tiny minority of scientists doubt that evolution occurred.
Andrea Huvard, a biology professor at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, said she never brings up religion in her biology classes.

"I teach scientific hypotheses that are testable under the scientific method, not hypotheses that are not testable through experimentation, like matters of faith or religion," Huvard said. "That's in a different building. Those are religion courses."

At California Baptist University in Riverside, students often bring up questions about creationism during lessons on evolution in biology classes, said professor Jim Buchholz, who teaches a course on religion and science.

Instructors are free to answer as they wish, as long as the answers abide by Southern Baptist teaching, which says God created the Earth but does not specify during what time period, Buchholz said.

The Vatican believes scientific evolutionary theory is compatible with Catholic teaching, said the Rev. James Wiseman, a professor of theology and religious studies at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

"The theory of evolution by natural selection is basically a scientific issue that should be debated among scientists," Wiseman said. "That doesn't mean human beings are purely matter.

"There is a spiritual aspect to human beings. As long as one holds on to that, that human beings are created with the goal of eternal life with God, and that we're not exclusively material, one may certainly accept the Darwinian or neo-Darwinian theory, that our bodies evolved over millions of years," Wiseman said.