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Teacher Fired for Sane Comment About Biblical Literalism… But…

Link found somewhere:

A community college instructor in Red Oak claims he was fired after he told his students that the biblical story of Adam and Eve should not be literally interpreted.Steve Bitterman, 60, said officials at Southwestern Community College sided with a handful of students who threatened legal action over his remarks in a western civilization class Tuesday. He said he was fired Thursday.

“I’m just a little bit shocked myself that a college in good standing would back up students who insist that people who have been through college and have a master’s degree, a couple actually, have to teach that there were such things as talking snakes or lose their job,” Bitterman said.

Though my first reaction is to laugh and nod my head — talking snakes, friends! how can you not agree with the man? — the thing is that this is all quite complicated. It’s complicated by a few things:

I’m not saying any of these are  the case, but it’s worth considering. There are issues of free speech, but free speech is something that becomes more problematic when it’s also privileged speech.  We don’t condone free speech claims on some professor’s or president’s decision to spew hateful bile, and I’m not so sure we should condone it when a professor is indelicate with his students’ personal beliefs. (Though of course he should have the right — and students should respect it — to change the subject.)

Then again, if all he really said in the classroom was that most scholars agree the literal interpretation of the Genesis story misses a lot of important ideas, and in fact most scholars of religion and science alike agree it is not literally true — if he observed a simple fact, and it is a fact — then the firing is absolutely wrongful, and my words above are misdirected.

I just think it’s worth considering that the atheist in the story is human, too, and just as capable of lashing out or screwing up as anyone else.

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