Friday, May 18, 2007

Counter-culture in universities

I am thankful to the Witts for pointing out this article in World Magazine, by Marvin Olasky.

The back story is that Guillermo Gonzalez, co-author of "Privileged Planet", has been denied tenure at Iowa State University. This was not because it is a common occurrence there, nor because of the quality of his academic record, but because unlike Ward and Brownlee, who wrote "Rare Earth", Gonzalez and Richards interpret their data within a non-naturalistic framework as revealing something about the nature and intent of a designer. It is worth pointing out, in this context, that there has been no substantive refutation of "Privileged Planet" - most of the response to the book from the naturalistic community has incorrectly identified it as nothing more than anthropicism ("Of course the universe is adapted to life, or we wouldn't be here."), or presented absurd caricatures of their arguments ("If the fact that life is uncommon suggests that there is a God, then if it never occurred, that would be absolute proof!" Douglas Adams did similar things with his arguments - except they were meant to be parodies).

I digress.

The effect of this seems to be pretty much to expect Gonzalez to leave ISU, and without the endorsement of the university. Opponents of ID ask why more scientists in mainstream universities don't talk about their beliefs in ID, and why more papers in support of ID aren't found in mainstream scientific journals. And yet good scientists are being effectively removed from mainstream institutions through political means - unsurprisingly, they find themselves work in institutions that are more open-minded to alternatives to naturalism. How exactly is ID supposed to become part of the mainstream scientific agenda when debate is closed down by political means, rather than by substantive and thoughtful interchange?

I digress.

Aaaaanyway, the reason for picking up the "WORLD Magazine" article was actually to disagree with it - or at least, the conclusion.
The possibility of building beachheads remains, but our larger goal should be to build up strong Christian colleges that can attract the best students.
How does this relate to the sub-culture/anti-culture/para-culture/counter-culture thing that I picked up from Tim Keller below - and which, incidentally, is a pattern we see not only in Acts but in Romans and Corinthians that I can think of off-hand? Olasky is pushing for something between an anti-culture and a para-culture. Christians are called to be counter-cultural.

The questions is: what would that look like?

PS Blogger now has Autosave - and I am sincerely thankful!