Teacher: I was fired, said Bible isn't literal

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Teacher: I was fired, said Bible isn't literal

From a local news paper

http://tinyurl.com/ypesm4 wrote:

Teacher: I was fired, said Bible isn't literal

The community college instructor says the school sided with students offended by his explanation of Adam and Eve.


varUsername = "mehawkin@dmreg.com";document.write("By MEGAN HAWKINS");By MEGAN HAWKINS
REGISTER STAFF WRITER

September 22, 2007
  41 Comments

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.

Sarah Smith, director of the school's Red Oak campus, declined to comment Friday on Bitterman's employment status. The school's president, Barbara Crittenden, said Bitterman taught one course at Southwest. She would not comment, however, on his claim that he was fired over the Bible reference, saying it was a personnel issue.

"I can assure you that the college understands our employees' free-speech rights," she said. "There was no action taken that violated the First Amendment."

Bitterman, who taught part time at Southwestern and Omaha's Metropolitan Community College, said he uses the Old Testament in his western civilization course and always teaches it from an academic standpoint.

Bitterman's Tuesday course was telecast to students in Osceola over the Iowa Communications Network. A few students in the Osceola classroom, he said, thought the lesson was "denigrating their religion."

"I put the Hebrew religion on the same plane as any other religion. Their god wasn't given any more credibility than any other god," Bitterman said. "I told them it was an extremely meaningful story, but you had to see it in a poetic, metaphoric or symbolic sense, that if you took it literally, that you were going to miss a whole lot of meaning there."

Bitterman said he called the story of Adam and Eve a "fairy tale" in a conversation with a student after the class and was told the students had threatened to see an attorney. He declined to identify any of the students in the class.

"I just thought there was such a thing as academic freedom here," he said. "From my point of view, what they're doing is essentially teaching their students very well to function in the eighth century."

Hector Avalos, an atheist religion professor at Iowa State University, said Bitterman's free-speech rights were violated if he was fired simply because he took an academic approach to a Bible story.

"I don't know the circumstances, but if he's teaching something about the Bible and says it is a myth, he shouldn't be fired for that because most academic scholars do believe this is a myth, the story of Adam and Eve," Avalos said.

"So it'd be no different than saying the world was not created in six days in science class.

"You don't fire professors for giving you a scientific answer."

Bitterman said Linda Wild, vice president of academic affairs at Southwest, fired him over the telephone.

Wild did not return telephone or e-mail messages Friday. Bitterman said that he can think of no other reason college officials would fire him and that Smith, the director of the campus, has previously sat in on his classes and complimented his work.

"As a taxpayer, I'd like to know if a tax-supported public institution of higher learning has given veto power over what can and cannot be said in its classrooms to a fundamentalist religious group," he said. "If it has ... then the taxpaying public of Iowa has a right to know. What's next? Whales talk French at the bottom of the sea?"

 

 

 

Some of the things the prof says is hilarious. I do not think he should have been fired, assuming he was actually fired because of this.


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How fucked up. the south and

How fucked up. the south and midwest are so backwards.


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MattShizzle wrote: How

MattShizzle wrote:
How fucked up. the south and midwest are so backwards.

Ok Mattshizzle, I agree that this is very fucked up. But don't polarize the Midwest like that. I'm from the midwest. Most people aren't fundies!

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'Scuse me!  There are

'Scuse me! 

There are several of us on the forums from Missouri and Kansas.

Some people in these states are backwards, but not all of us. 

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Susan wrote: 'Scuse me! 

Susan wrote:

'Scuse me! 

There are several of us on the forums from Missouri and Kansas.

Some people in these states are backwards, but not all of us. 

I meant in general. Yeah, all states have some rational people (I'm sure Iran and Saudi Arabia do, too.) but the "red states" in general have more irrational people.

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I'll begin by stating that

I'll begin by stating that I am a Midwesterner and am not fucked up.  (Well, I'm not fucked up in terms of religion.) 

I read this article and am inclined to think that the instructor should not have been terminated.  However, disciplinary action should have been taken, however, not for the reasons in the article.  I care little for the distress of the theists.

Action should have been taken because he was teaching a history of western civilization at a public school, and he introduced theological debate to the class.  Had he been a theology instructor or been teaching at a private university, he would be in the right to discuss matters of interpretation of the Bible.  He, however, is working on the state's dime and in a class that does not require religious conjecture.  The separation of church and state should be recognized there. 

If he were to mention the Bible, it should only have been mentioned insofar as one might discuss the Euthyphro or Titus Andronicus.  They have their historical places, but the discussion of the nuances of their content is not necessary in an introductory Western Civ. class.  Even had the students posed a question, an instructor has every right to refuse an answer if it is of little importance to the substance of the class, which would be the case here.

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You'd think people in a

You'd think people in a Western Civilization course could try to act a bit more civilized.  I wonder what they'll do to the Eastern Civilization professor who says that a natural land bridge wasn't actually built by an army of monkeys.


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I'm not sure D-Cubed, but I

I'm not sure D-Cubed, but I do think that it's a bunch of monkeys that run that community college and they have monkeys for students.  Well, why insult monkeys in that matter anyway, monkeys after all show more moral behavior and intelligence than these morons.

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Dear Megan

Dear Megan Hawkins,   Thank you for reporting this story. It should be scary to anyone, theist or atheist, that merely stating the obvious is cause for dissmissal.   No one would blink an eye if a proffessor said, " You are not litterally going to get 72 virgins in an afterlife. This is absurd polliticall correctness on the part of Fundementalist Christians.   While it is true that Americans should have freedom of religion, the dissmissal of this teacher is flat out wrong.   What if this teacher quoted Thomas Jefferson, " The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823,




Letter to John Adams April 11th 1823, available online at UVA Jefferson Library.

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Very nice Brian.

Very nice Brian.


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I thought we lived in a

I thought we lived in a society where a Western Civilization teacher would be fired for the opposite... teaching religion in a public community college. 

 

What century is this?  I musy have amnesia. 


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Shelley, that's what I

Shelley, that's what I thought too...obviously lobbying and lawsuits are changing that.  Theocracy, baby, theocracy.  Were unwilling submission to a sadistical godvernment (yes I spelled it right) gets these people off.

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I must say, when I read an

I must say, when I read an article in which a community college student uses the word "denigrate," I become highly suspicious.


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I saw this. I just shook my

I saw this. I just shook my head in dumbfounded amazement. The college should be careful.  The ACLU may sue them into the ground. I think they have a good case. This is essentially the same as Muslims frealing out over cartoons about Mohammed. The reaction is different (no calls for death to America) but it's just as close minded and intolerant.

 Seems to me that when you have to enforce your beliefs at the point of a sword or through legal action, then the veracity of those beliefs is in question. "Believe or die" is not a position of strength, but one of fear and paranoia. If the belief is truly compelling, then there is no need to force it upon the un-believing. If it lacks any real strength, then the forcing the belief on others is the first step towards its death.


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The FFRF will probably pick

The FFRF will probably pick this up if they haven't already.  I know people are contacting them as we type.  Anyway, again this only shows the amount of power the christain right's lobby and media propaganda is having on society.  I do feel the professor will be getting his job back with an apology once this is settled.  If not, we do have a serious problem with the direction of this country. 

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LeftofLarry wrote: I do

LeftofLarry wrote:
I do feel the professor will be getting his job back with an apology once this is settled. If not, we do have a serious problem with the direction of this country.

He probably will but I hate it when things like this happen because at the end of the day, will he really want to go back to this sort of 'learning' enviroment?  If the students and their irrational beliefs could get so far out of hand that he could actually get fired in the first place.... well, let's just say I hope some other college in need of a western civ. teacher happens to see this in the news and sends him an offer letter. 


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LeftofLarry wrote: Shelley,

LeftofLarry wrote:
Shelley, that's what I thought too...obviously lobbying and lawsuits are changing that. Theocracy, baby, theocracy. Were unwilling submission to a sadistical godvernment (yes I spelled it right) gets these people off.

 

If a theocracy emerges I'm renouncing my citizenship. Not sure who would have me, but there must be someplace I could hide.  


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wavefreak wrote: If a

wavefreak wrote:

If a theocracy emerges I'm renouncing my citizenship. Not sure who would have me, but there must be someplace I could hide.

Either that, or fight to take the country back to a sane and rational path where the Constitution actually matters. 

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Brian37 wrote: Snakes dont

Brian37 wrote:

Snakes dont talk, no matter how much one would protest.

 

Tell that to Harry Potter. 


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LeftofLarry

LeftofLarry wrote:
wavefreak wrote:

If a theocracy emerges I'm renouncing my citizenship. Not sure who would have me, but there must be someplace I could hide.

Either that, or fight to take the country back to a sane and rational path where the Constitution actually matters.

 

That goes without saying. But if a theocracy comes to pass, then I fear it would be too late.  I really doubt a genuine theocracy would ever happen in the U.S.  As soon as any single religion or sect tried to assert itself at that level then all the other religions would object. It would take a constitutional amendment or military action the dismisses the constitution. I can't see either happening. This doesn't mean we could end up with a period of increased power by the religious right. But even that seems to be waning. THe right doesn't seem to have the influence this election cycle that it did in the last decade. 


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sad thing about this story


sad thing about this story for me, i almost went to that school. Sooo glad i didn't.


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You guys need to read the

You guys need to read the comments, what bigotry and idocy there is. like this gem "..god created science"


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zntneo wrote: You guys need

zntneo wrote:
You guys need to read the comments, what bigotry and idocy there is. like this gem "..god created science"

For those of you that don't want to register with the site: 

My favorite was "How can you have religion professor who is an atheist?" After you get past the "wtf?" of this comment you have to wonder how 'western civ' which is typically taught in the history department became religion class.

Then there's the "First thing is anyone looking for proof of God's existence need only look at the bible, you don't need to even read it"  You don't need to even read it??  Maybe that's because reading it would not help argue the case that god exists.  


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How is it possible to

How is it possible to really understand "Western Civilization" without discussing the most influential book in our civilization? History is just a bunch of meaningless dates and places without understanding the motivating source of actions.

 Any college student not willing to have their beliefs challenged (regardless of what those beliefs are) should not be in college anyways.

I say teach the Bible, point out its flaws and contradictions. Some of it is great literature, some of it is even pornographic. Some of it is so sick and twisted in its philosophy no wonder so many adherents are screwed up. 


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There's another thread about

There's another thread about this article here


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ArianeB wrote: How is it

ArianeB wrote:

How is it possible to really understand "Western Civilization" without discussing the most influential book in our civilization? History is just a bunch of meaningless dates and places without understanding the motivating source of actions.

 Any college student not willing to have their beliefs challenged (regardless of what those beliefs are) should not be in college anyways.

I say teach the Bible, point out its flaws and contradictions. Some of it is great literature, some of it is even pornographic. Some of it is so sick and twisted in its philosophy no wonder so many adherents are screwed up. 

It is simple to learn Western Civ without a discussion of the contents of the Bible.  It is not so simple to do so without understanding the Catholic Church.  There is an enormous difference there.  The contents of the book really mean nothing as each group allied with it did not bother to really use its content either.

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..... this depresses,

.....

this depresses, sickens, and enrages me. 


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BenfromCanada

BenfromCanada wrote:

.....

this depresses, sickens, and enrages me.

 

Well, then, now you have the emotions you need to fight theism. Smiling 

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LeftofLarry

LeftofLarry wrote:
BenfromCanada wrote:

.....

this depresses, sickens, and enrages me.

 

Well, then, now you have the emotions you need to fight theism. Smiling

Oh, I had the emotion long ago. This type of shit just motivates me to do something, rather than sitting and stewing.


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LeftofLarry

LeftofLarry wrote:
BenfromCanada wrote:

.....

this depresses, sickens, and enrages me.

 

Well, then, now you have the emotions you need to fight theism. Smiling

 

Careful. Emotions, when allowed free reign, result in irrational behavior. It's a litlle ironic. Atheists can't fight theism without invoking the very emotions on which theism thrives.  


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dmregister.com

dmregister.com wrote:
Students: Teacher's style, not faith, led to firing By MEGAN HAWKINS
REGISTER STAFF WRITER

September 25, 2007

  34 Comments

source: http://tinyurl.com/2yrrod

So according to this article it seems at least like he was fired for and offensive way of teaching.


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dmregister.com

dmregister.com wrote:
Students: Teacher's style, not faith, led to firing By MEGAN HAWKINS
REGISTER STAFF WRITER

September 25, 2007

  34 Comments

 


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wavefreak

wavefreak wrote:

 

Careful. Emotions, when allowed free reign, result in irrational behavior. It's a litlle ironic. Atheists can't fight theism without invoking the very emotions on which theism thrives.

 

Well let's take this into context.  First of all, everyone has emotions.  Of course we get angry, this is what leads us to do irrational things, like murder.  However, to deny that our motivations are purly unemotional in nature would be a lie.  I got into activism because I was angry at what was happening around me regarding religion.  However, the way I go about it is not emotional.  With the exception of a few slip ups (I'm only human), I'm calculated, calm and diplomatic if need be.   

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wavefreak

wavefreak wrote:
LeftofLarry wrote:
BenfromCanada wrote:

.....

this depresses, sickens, and enrages me.

 

Well, then, now you have the emotions you need to fight theism. Smiling

 

Careful. Emotions, when allowed free reign, result in irrational behavior. It's a litlle ironic. Atheists can't fight theism without invoking the very emotions on which theism thrives.

But are emotions inherently irrational? For example, fear preserves your existence, love preserves the species, and happiness also preserves your existence. Each of those things are rational, though of course, when it's excessive, it it not rational.


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zntneo

zntneo wrote:

dmregister.com wrote:


 

source: http://tinyurl.com/2yrrod

 

So the plot thickens.   

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BenfromCanada wrote: But

BenfromCanada wrote:

But are emotions inherently irrational? For example, fear preserves your existence, love preserves the species, and happiness also preserves your existence. Each of those things are rational, though of course, when it's excessive, it it not rational.

 

Hmmm. Having a purpose doesn't seem the same as being rational. Fear of getting eaten by the raging bear is not rational. It's fricking terror. And running away is the expression of the fight or flight response. But running from a bear doesn't work. They are FAST. In such a situation, there isn't time to analyze things. You do instinctively do the right thing or die. Climb a tree if its a grizzly.    

 

 


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I'm glad to hear there is

I'm glad to hear there is more to this story than what was presented in the first article.  Hopefully in the next few days more will come out.

This could be a good learning experience for college administrators as to what should be allowed (factual teaching) and what can't be tolerated (offensive teaching style). 

The prozac comment disturbs me but at the same time I wonder how many students were offended by what he was saying (bible not literal) and used the excuse of how he was saying it (harsh/offensive) to silence him. 


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Teacher: I was fired, said Bible isn't literal

Teacher: I was fired, said Bible isn't literal

The community college instructor says the school sided with students offended by his explanation of Adam and Eve.By MEGAN HAWKINS REGISTER STAFF WRITER

September 22, 2007
64 Comments

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.

Sarah Smith, director of the school's Red Oak campus, declined to comment Friday on Bitterman's employment status. The school's president, Barbara Crittenden, said Bitterman taught one course at Southwest. She would not comment, however, on his claim that he was fired over the Bible reference, saying it was a personnel issue.

"I can assure you that the college understands our employees' free-speech rights," she said. "There was no action taken that violated the First Amendment."

Bitterman, who taught part time at Southwestern and Omaha's Metropolitan Community College, said he uses the Old Testament in his western civilization course and always teaches it from an academic standpoint.

Bitterman's Tuesday course was telecast to students in Osceola over the Iowa Communications Network. A few students in the Osceola classroom, he said, thought the lesson was "denigrating their religion."

"I put the Hebrew religion on the same plane as any other religion. Their god wasn't given any more credibility than any other god," Bitterman said. "I told them it was an extremely meaningful story, but you had to see it in a poetic, metaphoric or symbolic sense, that if you took it literally, that you were going to miss a whole lot of meaning there."

Bitterman said he called the story of Adam and Eve a "fairy tale" in a conversation with a student after the class and was told the students had threatened to see an attorney. He declined to identify any of the students in the class.

"I just thought there was such a thing as academic freedom here," he said. "From my point of view, what they're doing is essentially teaching their students very well to function in the eighth century."

Hector Avalos, an atheist religion professor at Iowa State University, said Bitterman's free-speech rights were violated if he was fired simply because he took an academic approach to a Bible story.

"I don't know the circumstances, but if he's teaching something about the Bible and says it is a myth, he shouldn't be fired for that because most academic scholars do believe this is a myth, the story of Adam and Eve," Avalos said.

"So it'd be no different than saying the world was not created in six days in science class.

"You don't fire professors for giving you a scientific answer."

Bitterman said Linda Wild, vice president of academic affairs at Southwest, fired him over the telephone.

Wild did not return telephone or e-mail messages Friday. Bitterman said that he can think of no other reason college officials would fire him and that Smith, the director of the campus, has previously sat in on his classes and complimented his work.

"As a taxpayer, I'd like to know if a tax-supported public institution of higher learning has given veto power over what can and cannot be said in its classrooms to a fundamentalist religious group," he said. "If it has ... then the taxpaying public of Iowa has a right to know. What's next? Whales talk French at the bottom of the sea?"

Reporter Megan Hawkins can be reached at (515) 284-8169 or mehawkins@dmreg.com

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wavefreak wrote:   Hmmm.

wavefreak wrote:

 

Hmmm. Having a purpose doesn't seem the same as being rational. Fear of getting eaten by the raging bear is not rational. It's fricking terror. And running away is the expression of the fight or flight response. But running from a bear doesn't work. They are FAST. In such a situation, there isn't time to analyze things. You do instinctively do the right thing or die. Climb a tree if its a grizzly.

 

I don't want to derail the thread, but Section 8 of this website deals with this.