Friday, July 16, 2010

Evolution is Taboo in Mississippi

I had an interesting conversation with a woman who moved to Mississippi within the last few years and is still struggling to adjust. She's teaching an undergraduate course at a state university and was surprised to observe such negative reactions from the students to the subject of evolution. I thought I'd mention this here because I'm not convinced that most people realize what a problem this is in our state, even at the university level.

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We all know that red states where evangelical fundamentalist Christianity reigns supreme often struggle with evolution in junior high and high school. It should not surprise us one bit that these problems continue at the university level. And yet, I continue to be shocked and disappointed that higher education does not necessarily have an easier time dealing with such topics.

The idea that a college professor might not feel safe discussing evolution in a university classroom is appalling. But doing so can bring direct confrontation from students, complaints by students and their parents to university administrators, poor course evaluations, and other negative outcomes. We'd all like to assume that university administrators and department chairs would protect faculty in these situations, but this does not always happen.

What this means is that the religious delusions of a loud minority has the power to harm the education other students receive. This is unacceptable.

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