Colling: Not Crazy Enough

I have a good deal more synmpathy for the plight of religious scientists than most of my fellow ScienceBlogs bloggers. For example, I’m willing to believe that people can both have sincere religious faith and be practicing scientists, without assuming that they’re either brainwashed or evil.

I really find myself feeling sorry for Richard Colling, then, who Inside Higher Ed reports has been barred from teaching introductory biology because of his religious beliefs. “Boy,” you might be thinking, “I bet the Discovery Institute and the Christian Law Association must be all over that…”

Not so much. You see, Colling’s a professor at Olivet Nazarene University, and the conflict comes about because he’s not crazy enough:

[T]he groups arguing for freedom of expression of evolution deniers have not been heard agitating for the rights of Richard Colling. He’s a professor at Olivet Nazarene University, in Illinois, who has been barred from teaching general biology or having his book taught at the university that is his alma mater and the place where he has taught for 27 years. A biologist who is very much a person of faith, these punishments followed anger by some religious supporters of the college over the publication of his book in which he argues that it is possible to believe in God and still accept evolution.

“I thought I was doing the church a service,” Colling said in an interview. He believes that religious colleges that frame science and faith as incompatible will lose some of their best minds, and that his work has been devoted to helping faithful students maintain their religious devotion while learning science as science should be taught.

This is just sad. The quotes from Colling make it clear that he goes about as far as you can go in the direction of religious belief while maintaining contact with modern science (“Evolution, if it is to be held by a Christian, must be considered as a methodology of divine creation within that broader Biblical context.”). And that’s not far enough to keep him out of trouble.