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Where WOULDN’T ID theorist Bill Dembski send a high school senior to university?

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Continuing with James Barham’s The Best Schools interview with design theorist Bill Dembski – who founded this blog – for some straight talk on some pretty skewed schools:

TBS: If you had to guide a college-bound high school senior on where to pursue undergraduate studies, what would you say? What are some of the top schools and programs that embody your educational philosophy? Where would you not send this high school senior?

WD: In answering this question, I’m thinking of where I would send my junior-high children in a few years. It’s a tough question. Back when I was leaving high school, as a non-Christian, my eyes were simply on academic excellence and prestige. I was first in my high school class and would have gone to Harvard or Princeton most likely, but I decided to leave high school a year early without graduating, and thus went to the University of Chicago, which had a program for kids like me. But I’m not sure I’d recommend these schools any longer, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend my motivation.

As a Christian now, I would like to recommend Christians institutions, but I’m dead-set against many of them and ambivalent about most of the rest. Many Christian institutions have an inferiority complex in which they’re trying to ape the secular academy and gain its approval. Those that resist this mentality often adopt a fundamentalist mentality in which they think they’ve got everything nailed down. That may work in the Christian ghetto, but it has no traction in the wider culture.

I’m painting with a broad brush here, and individual faculty at these institutions will vary and some of them will be very fine. But in my view, much of what passes as Christian education is nothing I want my kids exposed to.

That said, I’m aware of a few institutions that seem quite promising: Grove City College, Biola University (left), Union University, Dordt College, Northwestern College (MN), Taylor University, etc. These are just off the top of my head—I’ve spoken at several of these schools regarding ID. There are, I’m sure, many (but not too many) others. And you can rest assured I’ll do my due diligence by the time my kids get ready to ship off to college.

But these days, my first impulse in answering such a question is to recommend that high schoolers go to a solid state school at which there is a healthy campus community that will keep them on the straight and narrow as they face the temptations of college. At least one good local church and some outspoken Christian faculty are, in my view, vital for such a community. Texas A&M University and the University of Georgia at Athens come to mind.

Where would I not send such high schoolers? To campuses with a flaming liberal bias that delights in exposing students to the perversity and decadence of our culture. Schools that offer freshman seminars in body piercing or sex reassignment surgery or queer studies would, for me, be off the table.

Word of advice to parents: Don’t just look at the brochures and catalogs that schools send out and don’t just go where the tour guides take you on your campus visit. Look at the course schedule for a semester and see what’s being offered to incoming freshmen. Sit in on some classes. Sit in on highly publicized lectures. Look at bulletin boards and see what campus groups are prominent (is it the local Intervarsity chapter or the local LGBT caucus?). Go to the campus bookstore and see what texts students are reading. Go to the student center, eat in the cafeteria, and get a sense of the campus culture first-hand. If it leaves you feeling queasy, move on to another school.

See also: Asking Bill Dembski: Who are your favorite Christian or other theist authors?

Asking Bill Dembski: What would a school lesson plan for IDconsist of?

Is information a primitive concept, on a par with matter and energy?

Is there any such thing as information in the abstract or is it always information for an agent?

What does Bill Dembski think of David Abel’s “prescriptive information” theory?

Bill Dembski: Two different concepts of what ID is: Internal vs. external teleology
Pressing Bill Dembski on his conception of ID

Dembski on why ID’s struggle is going to be long and hard

Bill Dembski answers, How do we explain bad design?

Bill Dembski on the problem of good

Bill Dembski on young vs. old Earth creationists, and where he stands

Bill Dembski on the Evolutionary Informatics Lab – the one a Baylor dean tried to
shut down

Why Bill Dembski took aim against the Darwin frauds and their enablers #1

Why Bill Dembski took aim against the Darwin frauds and their enablers Part 2

Bill Dembski: The big religious conspiracy revealed #3

Bill Dembski: Evolution “played no role whatever” in his conversion to Christianity #4

So how DID Bill Dembski get interested in intelligent design? #5b – bad influences, it seems

So how DID Bill Dembski get interested in intelligent design? #5a

Bill Dembski: Trouble happens when they find out you mean business

What is Bill Dembski planning to do now?

What difference did Ben Stein’s Expelled film make? Dembski’s surprisingly mixed review

Bill Dembski on the future of intelligent design in science

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7 Responses to Where WOULDN’T ID theorist Bill Dembski send a high school senior to university?

  1. 1

    What’s the difference between a Secular and a Christian University?

  2. JWTIL,

    That’s a very good question.

    I attended a Baptist College in the NE in the late 1980s. My assessment would be that a “Christian” college allows and encourages a biblical perspective and a biblical worldview; whereas a “secular” college would be ambivalent towards any particular perspective, ideally.

    I think the category “Christian college” is somewhat of a misnomer, as Christ did not come to save colleges, but individual people. We should not be surprised then that institutions that were once “Christian” are no longer. The world has a different agenda than that of Christ, and institutions other than the believing church itself, are inherently secular and worldly.

    I had a tendency as a new Christian some 32 years ago, to believe that if someone touted themselves as Christian, they had a biblical perspective and motivation. That’s, sadly not the case.

    Some secular institutions have much higher academic standards than some “Christian” institutions. That’s not surprising.

    But academic standards should not be the overall goal of a “Christian” post-secondary education institution in my estimation; rather, encouraging individuals to be Christ-followers. That’s something I believe my Baptist college failed to do.

    If we look at American history, most colleges that are over 100 or so years old, started as “Christian” institutions; yet many or most of them have abandoned a “Christian” education for secular academic achievement and prestige.

    So I’m not as likely to assume that a college touted as Christian will remain so. As such, a college or university currently touted as Christian is not necessarily so.

  3. “Trinity College of Florida”?

    sergio

  4. Excellence and prestige being his motives is a insight to much of those who aspire to high education.
    Is it education ? Is it knowledge or higher instruction?
    Other motives have hurt high education in North America!
    The real cause for education has been corrupted by human pride and led to interference to those who better would progress knowledge.
    People squeezing out high marks are stopping true believers in education as a place to advance mankind.
    Especially ethnic and sex motivations that are ruling modern acedemia one way or another.
    This is why unworthy ideas like evolution are slow to vanish into the ash heap of other wrong ideas.
    I mean no complaint of Mr Dembski as he said his motives changed.

  5. Robert Byers,

    “The real cause for education has been corrupted by human pride and led to interference to those who better would progress knowledge.”

    is why no many I D instruction classes in american university?

    “Especially ethnic and sex motivations that are ruling modern acedemia one way or another.”

    most interested in learning these motivations and proper responses to defend against.

    sergio

  6. 6

    @CannuckianYankee: Thanks for the answer.

    What do you mean by “encourages a biblical perspective and a biblical worldview”. Are there extra Christianity-related courses a student has to take, regardless of what he studies for? Could you give an example?

  7. JWT,

    A Christian college would be much less inclined to allow a perspective, which concludes that human beings are nothing more than evolved organisms, and that there’s no differentiation between mind and brain; at least not without presenting alternative perspectives.

    These would be two distinct issues, but there’s also philosophical perspectives concerning truth and epistemology that would be different at a Christian college.

    But most Christian colleges in my understanding require secular studies as well – studies that aren’t so controversial that you need to have one perspective over another – mathematics, English, foreign language, etc….

    I was a sociology/anthropology major, so there were several “secular” courses I was required to take. There were not as many Biblically-based courses required as even just basic general ed. We had to take separate courses in the Old Testament and the New Testament, as well as several other Christian oriented courses regardless of what degree we earned. So long ago, that memory escapes me.

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