back to article US teacher fired for non-literal bible reading

A teacher at a US community college in Red Oak, Iowa says he was fired after telling his students not to interpret the story of Adam and Eve as a literal account of events circa BC 4000. Steve Bitterman, 60, who was teaching a western civilisation course at Southwestern Community College, said he often used extracts from the …

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  1. Rich Silver badge

    But it's all bollox

    "..in which he referred to the story of Adam and Eve as a fairy tale".

    Isn't this stating the bleedin' obvious!?

    Like all religions, it's all complete nonsense (why am I even bothering to point this out???), and I never fail to be impressed by how otherwise sensible and (apparently) intelligent people believe otherwise.

    Of course, the fairies that live at the bottom of my garden next to the compost bin are perfectly real, of course! And I'll consider it a breach of my right to be childish and stupid if you deny it.

  2. Stuart Gray

    Science content? No Paris Hilton or Vibrator either...

    Hmm, I could just stretch credibility if said professor was in a science class and being sacked over a creation/evolution argument, but he is a History prof. This should be in Bootnotes, not Science!

  3. Paul A. Walker

    IGMC

    "Bitterman said he had put the Hebrew religion on the same plane as any other"

    There's where he went wrong - nobody wants snakes on a plane.

  4. Colin Jackson

    ffs

    Bangs head against table...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    academic freedom?

    Again, freedom of stupidity and the rigid and aggressive win.

  6. david mccormick

    Intelligence and common sense....

    ..aren't the same thing. The bible has many good points about how to live your life for the good of humanity but even Jesus taught using allegories. If you take take his words literally then the only good you'll get is that you shouldn't plant corn on rocky ground. Good if your a farmer, not so good in the IT profession. Perhaps the bloke who's suing God can add Jesus as well. Although the legal wrangling over how they are one and the same person should be fun.

  7. Lloyd

    Does this mean

    I could work my way up the ladder at work by getting my colleagues fired for denigrating my worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (praise be to his noodly appendages)?

  8. Paul Darcy

    HA Religion

    Once more religion shows how useful it is. Does any person who is religious actually read and understand any of the readings in there given books. Wars, killings people getting assaulted physically or mentally just because of their different views, by those preaching from there book of gods. The only thing I can think of that is any where near what gods are really like would be the Diskworld books. If there is/are gods (I’m not a disbeliever in anything, I still get presents at Christmas so there must be a Santa) then why don’t people try to understand those who have different views or understandings. Religion has killed or harmed more people than it has saved.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shouldn't the college have asked for an appropriate biblical punishment

    Perhaps stoning?

  10. leslie

    Lock em all up

    I've had it with the religious fools, I went to a Christian school and had to sing hymns and pray every morning before lessons, I soon questioned what I was taught, I soon denouced it as BS.

    The bible is nothing more that a 'live your life this way or else' book to bring about law, order, and ultimately control of the week minded masses.

    It is funny if you look at a map of the world that countries that are /more/ religious, have more problems because they are constantly at war with each other over 'my dads bigger than your dad', oh sorry, I meant God.....

    If I believed that a <insert generic pink elephant> was watching over me and everything I said and did, and was going to judge me when I died, I'd be locked up under some mental health act etc..........

    Why cant we do it with these people, we know where they are every Sunday morning.....

  11. Andrew Bolton

    6000 years old?

    If you want a good laugh, read the link in the story above that explains why the earth cannot be millions or even billions of years old (precis - Noah's flood caused everything). It's absolutely hilarious and might distract from the fact that this story is frankly terrifying.

    The end of the world IS nigh. Especially seeing as the USA is supposed to be a secular country...

  12. Danny

    @Lloyd

    Be careful!

    The almighty flying spaghetti monster is surrounded by heretics

    http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/article.html?in_article_id=43272&in_page_id=2

  13. Ian Bremner

    Re: Shouldn't the college have asked for an appropriate biblical punishment

    Only if he actually said "Jehovah"

    <THUD>

    Outch!!

  14. Steve Wehrle

    Could have been worse

    At least he didn't say Jehovah.

    Oops!

  15. Jon Pain

    Punishment: Stoning.

    for most people, getting stoned isn't a punishment!

  16. JPQ

    RE: Shouldn't the college have asked for an appropriate biblical punishment

    "Perhaps stoning?"

    It is a college, there should be plenty of stoners.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    more proof

    if you needed it that americans are stupid and shallow. Nothing in the bible can be taken literally, have every added up the ages of some of these people? Perhaps that would give us an age for the planet, and prove that man lived along side dinosuars dispite thier lack of mention as being on the ark.

    The book was written/edited after the fact by a Roman who didnt want to lose his empire.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Talking snakes

    It's wrong to lie to children. Tell them the truth and then let them decide if they want to believe in mumbo jumbo.

    Talking snakes, fools, more like talking arse.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More ignorance in my country...

    These were college students???

    Imagine how devastated they must have been to learn that the tooth fairy wasn't real.

    Does this college now require that their professors teach that the population of the world originated from some white dust-boy and some white rib-woman???

  20. Dan P

    Not infringed?!

    "[...]but stressed that the teacher's right to free speech had not been infringed."

    Oh really? Sacking someone for suggesting that something that goes against all current scientific knowledge(i.e. a talking snake) should not be taken literally isn't infringing his right to free speech at all. Of course not!

    Good ol' America, so-called land of the free!

  21. Ted Treen

    Inherit the wind?

    After the 1925 Scopes trial in Tennessee (See "Inherit the Wind, Spencer Tracy, 1960) one really would have expected a little progress in 82 years.

    Apparently not...

  22. myxiplx

    @ Andrew Bolton

    Thanks for the tip andrew, pmsl here reading through that nonsense :)

  23. fixit_f

    Wow.

    f.x. << slaps back of head repeatedly while saying "duhhhhh, duhhhhhhhhhh, I'm an American" >>

  24. j prince

    <more proof>

    totally spot on!

    Cannot believe that so called Christians still don't seem to have caught Jeezo's drift Bunch of loons.

  25. AndyB

    Of course snakes can talk.

    Harry Potter and Voldemort talk to them all the time.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    B*ll*x? Indeed, those of God...

    The fanatics would remove themselves from the earthly existence, if they were any more logical. After all, how could they possibly kill themselves, in entirety, even if they destroy their own physical body, if they're guaranteed an afterlife? Why not just go to Heaven, go directly to Heaven & do not collect any sins. How literal do people want it? How much faith do believers not have, in this Heavenly existence?

    n.b. Believers should recognise that have no need to complain about this, as He has the final say & anyone else's opinion is of no consequence!

    ---

    Adam & Eve a fairytale? Innocent until proven guilty, m'Lud. You require oath on The Book? Unfair Trial Alert! Counsel for the prosecution should enlighten their gullible client.

  27. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    The snake could not really talk (ask any rabbi)

    because it hasn't got hands!

    cheers, and long live the flying spaghetti monster

  28. Rob

    Well, IOWA does stand for...

    Idiots Out Wandering Around.

    As any fule kno.

    IGMC

  29. Simon Ball

    Unfortunately...

    Christianity, already has that angle covered. Sucide is a mortal sin. Plus, humans are born sinful (apparently).

  30. Matthew Middleweek

    @Paul A. Walker

    Quote:

    "Bitterman said he had put the Hebrew religion on the same plane as any other"

    There's where he went wrong - nobody wants snakes on a plane.

    End quote

    I don't think there should be room here for comments/posters like this

  31. John Savard Silver badge

    More Details, Please

    This certainly is a strange-sounding story.

    But what I would like to know is whether or not Southwestern Community College is an accredited degree-granting institution.

    If it were, then it would have tenured professors, and it most *definitely* would not be involved in the kind of incident this story recounts, because the consequence would be that its degrees would soon end up not being worth the sheepskin they're written on.

    But if it isn't that kind of college or University, then perhaps they have to worry more about the threat of a lawsuit for being "insensitive" and "discriminatory" than about looking ridiculous

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Title

    Thats the problem with the educated they feel their masters degree makes them an authority, (i.e. my oppinion is an authority) He he clearly has no idea what so ever about the workings of FAITH,

    So in conclusion he should not be teaching on a subject he has no knowledge about. His masters does not make him a rocket scientist and neither a religious authority.

  33. Stephen Gray

    @Paul A. Walker

    LOL!!! No doubt some twat will accuse you of anti-Semitism for that.

  34. Andy Costello

    Good greif

    Yet another terrifying story of fear and ignorance winning over in what is supposed to be a relativley enlightened society.

    *hides in corner and puts pillow on head*

    P.S. Seriously though, "snakes on a plane" ? Frikkin genius.

  35. john mann

    re: more proof - if you needed it that americans are stupid and shallow.

    Even as a Brit, I cannot accept that this is true. What is more the problem is that the majority of Americans are probably rarely given the chance to exercise their minds. And I must also admit that the same forces are at work over here.

  36. Graham Dresch

    Talking Snake

    Must have been Fluffy the Anaconda

    ( from Cow and Chicken )

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    God must be kicking himself

    He's going to be lumbered with these numpties for eternity while Satan's chilling with Hendrix and Oscar Wilde.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Matthew Middleweek

    Oh, I do think there should be. Plenty.

    @ Paul A. Walker: LMAO!

  39. Sarah Davis

    time gentlemen please

    i think it's time we called time on the whole religion thing. It should be resolved by the high courts. Lets subpoena every 'so called' god, and those that don't show should have their religion disbanded and officially labelled 'complete and utter boolocks'.

    :-)

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Genesis

    As far as I remember - Genesis in the Bible contains 2 different versions of the Creation story - er - how can they BOTH be literally true ? Doh!!

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Exodus

    Reminds me of this one:

    A trainee parachutist asked the instructor "What if the 'chute fails"?

    Instructor: "The chances of that are 1 in a million, but if it does fail, use the reserve".

    Trainee: "What if that fails"?

    Instructor: "Well, that's a one in a trillion chance. In which case, pray to Allah".

    Come the day of his first jump, the trainee's 'chute does indeed fail. Twenty seconds later, with a 2 pound load of moist manure moisturising his nether regions, he remembers the reserve 'chute.

    It fails.

    Hurtling towards the ground at 120 mph and certain death he remembers the instructor's advice.

    "Oh Allah! Oh Allah! Save me! Save me"!

    Instantly, from out of a cloud, a huge upheld palm catches the trainee, slows his decent, and places him gently upon the ground.

    The trainee is overwhelmed.

    "Jesus Christ"!! he exclaims.

    And a great big foot appears from out of the same cloud and pulverises him into the ground.

    Note: feel free to substitute any other deities if you re-tell this and are afraid of the PC brigade / mind police / religious fanatics. Pink elephants have VERY big feet.

    For reasons of self-preservation, this is posted anonymously.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Title

    "Thats the problem with the educated they feel their masters degree makes them an authority, (i.e. my oppinion is an authority) He he clearly has no idea what so ever about the workings of FAITH"

    So you believe in the talking snake? Get out of my industry, NOW

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most definatly the work of the mind police (PC Brigade)

    What's wrong with the talking snake? I talk to it all the time.

    Also, why is it when you talk to your deity of choice it is called praying, yet when said deity talks to you it is called schizophrenia?

    Wibble.

  44. Matthew Middleweek

    peace

    genuinely sounded rancid to me - I thought the mods would just deal tbh, such was my conviction. Certainly didn't mean to get into anything unseemly.

    I am praying for you

  45. EvilFairy

    haha

    I love reading the comments here

    always funny

    having not read the bible, when exactly was Jesus declared God? from what little I was taught he was his son, a bit like Hercules only Jesus didn't go around with his sidekick beating up 'bad' guys

    Jehova, isn't that spelt with an I?

    Wouldn't it be nice if the Gods could just come down on their lightning bolts and declare to the world that they exist, stop all the petty squabbling over who worships the real god and how it should be done. No one would have to believe in the gods because we'd all know they're real. Well that's not going to happen now is it because all the true god's are dead because no one actually worships them they worship books, statues or one of the gods prophets.

    If you worship the flying spaghetti monster, does that mean you cant eat spaghetti? or is it like that bread wafer thing catholic's eat at mass?

    As for taking the bible literally, surely everyone knows all religions were created by wise men looking to control their 'tribe', and the wise men made up stories to explain what they didn't really understand. 'Lies to children' I think these are called

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Creation, why can it not be scientiffic

    Hi there,

    just for those who keep on bashing Christians:

    I personally grew up side by side with Natural Sciences and yet I still do believe the Creationism Theory.

    I don't have a problem with people believing in evolution, I just simply think its wrong.

    I also completely disagree with the lecturer being fired for his statements, but I suppose that is another one of those great American rights issues, that go far beyond anything that is sensible.

    And for those who want to flame me now:

    As a born again Christian I believe in everyone having the right to make your own choice! I may not agree with it, but if you choose not to believe that Jesus died for your sins, that I find that very regretful and sad, but that is your choice.

    And just for those who are wondering why God allows all these horrible things to happen:

    exactly for this reason: we all have the choice of our actions, but at the same time have to live with the consequences.

    People who choose to be evil ans nasty cause things to happen, and the effects can be quite varied.

    God bless you all!

    And P.S.

    Allah and God are different (no offense to the Muslims, I have a great deal of respect for Muslims, even though I do not agree with their religion!)

  47. Ben

    Missing the point

    I believe the point here is not whether you feel that the teacher's views are correct or incorrect, it is whether or not it is appropriate to provide instruction on how the bible should be interpreted. Some Christians view genesis as allegory others take it literally. Unless this was a course on theology, statements on the legitimacy of either (or neither) of these positions was unwarranted.

    I find it interesting that Mr. Bitterman (ironic name???) was quoted as saying "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." Take note of how Mr. Bitterman has twisted the situation and also revealed a condecending attitude towards people of faith (pretty much the same as everybody who has posted comments on this article so far).

    First, he was never required to teach that snakes can talk. He was never required to teach that genesis is true and literal. I doubt he was even required to discuss genesis at all. What he apparently is required not to do is to directly teach that the religion of some of his students is false. I use the word directly in order to draw a distinction between teaching topics that may conflict with positions of faith such as evolution or cosmology vs. outright instructing students that genesis is false. It is for the students to make the judgement on their faith, not the instructor.

    Now onto his condescending attitude wherein he can't believe college educated people would have to teach that there are such things as talking snakes. No Christian believes that "post fall" snakes can talk. They do however believe that the world/universe was very different "pre fall" and that yes serpents could talk. If you believe in God as the author of all reality then the above is niether impossible nor inconsistant. Hence I can only surmise that Mr. Bitterman feels that nobody with a higher education could believe in God. He of course has a right to be ignorant or bigoted as a person but is and should be held to higher standards when acting as an instructor.

    Were he teaching that the big bang was the creative act of God or believed that blacks were not mentally competent enough to be involved in higher education (not a Christian view so don't read into this analogy) he would have been thrown out of class with howls of protest by angry humanist/athiest mobs. Of course when he teaches that biblical creation is false and believes Christians aren't fit for higher education that apparently is a different story. In both cases we are dealing with theory or opinion, unfortunately for Christians, theirs is increasingly on the proscribed list.

  48. Michael Sheils

    "Bitterman said he had put the Hebrew religion on the same plane as any other"

    I bet you he didn't even mention the Flying Spaghetti Monster....

  49. Danny

    not right...

    Here is a shocker - I believe Genesis literally but I also don't believe that the prof should have been fired. We supposedly have free speech here. He has a right to express his views, especially outside of the classroom, which is when he called Genesis a fairy tale. Even in the classroom he should have the right as long as he qualifies that it is his opinion. I have no problem when people share their opinions on origins, or science, or anything else, as long as they are willing to treat me with the same respect when I voice mine.

    Oh, and you guess you get tripped up on the talking snake bit like I get tripped up on the universe suddenly appearing out of no where from nothing. hmmmmm. Sounds a little unbelieveable huh? Well, you may say that you have never seen a talking snake. So, I have never seen a universe spontaniously appear from nothing.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sauce - goose - gander

    Seeing Christians are sacked for not following the creation myth of the Atheist I'm not sure what the complaints are about.

    Martin

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    love the "free thinkers" here

    just because you're Contrarian, doesn't necessarily make you more intelligent than a person of faith.

    Just because some teacher claims he was fired for his words, the trendy anti-Christian hate begins. It'll show a lot on your characters when it comes out he'd been guilty of academic fraud, questionable behavior with students, or other some other nasty behavior that's being held quiet for some probably nefarious reason.

    But don't let that stop you! the Accused has spoken, believe the accused! because they never lie to save their skins or shift blame, and the Media always speaks the unbiased truth! And it fits your built-in prejudices and hatreds too-bonus! Even a little bit of European Jingoism...oh wait, it's "patriotism" when the rest fo the fokking world does it, derogatory term only applies to America!

    Soon, you all can start accusing Pres. Bush of personally organizing this, to stop this "poor" former teacher of speaking "The Troof!" before heading back in time to start the Crusades, the Black Plague, and everything else that's ever been wrong in history.

  52. david mccormick

    re: EvilFairy

    Jesus was declared to be one with God in 325AD (ish) by the first general council at Nicea. It was these theologians and there succesors who interpreted the meanings in the testaments and came up with the holy trinity. They also came up with Mary being the 'Mother of God'.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Simon Ball & EvilFairy

    "Christianity, already has that angle covered. Sucide is a mortal sin."

    So it's not stated as being an immortal one, therefore God won't do anyone for it in the afterlife. ;-)

    "Plus, humans are born sinful (apparently)."

    Impossible, if we're created in his likeness.

    ---

    "when exactly was Jesus declared God?"

    Go to Biblegateway & search for "Son of God". He never absolutely, officially admitted to being the Son of God. The one time he was asked by a chief Rabbi, in the Bible, he dodged the question; with an acknowledgement of the question & a correction of tense.

    Rabbi: "Are you, then, the Son of God"

    Jesus: "Yes, it is as you say."

    All the other times the phrase is mentioned in the NT, it's heresay. Search on Wiki for "Constantine the Great" & the "First Council of Nicaea" & read the bit about Nicene Creed. This is where Jesus became politically formalised as God & Son of God. Plus, Rome's happy to canonise someone who murders members of their own family, as Constantine did. So, obviously, 'thou shalt not kill' isn't much of a big deal to them.

    How's that for a history lesson in Western Civilisation?

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll have to quote somthing that IS factual...

    "Just re-member that you're standing on a planet that's evolving, revolving at 900 miles an hour.

    It's orbiting at 19 miles a second, so it's reckoned, a Sun, that is the source of all our power.

    The Sun, and you and me, and all the stars that you can see, are moving at a million miles a day

    In the outer-spiral arm, at 40,000 miles an hour, of the Galaxy we call "The Milky Way".

    Our Galaxy itself contains a hundred-billion stars, it's a hundred thousand light years side to side.

    It bulges in the middle, 16,000 light years thick, but out by us, it's just 3,000 light years wide.

    We're 30,000 light years from Galactic Central Point, we go round every 200 million years,

    And our Galaxy is only one of millions of billions in the amazing and expanding universe!

    So remember when you're feeling very small and insecure, how amazingly unlikely is your birth

    And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space, 'cause there's bugger all down here on Earth!"

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fuel to the fire

    I'll just add a couple more logs onto the fire here...

    The Pro-Christianity comments came last. Does this mean that:

    A: The unbelievers are awake earlier

    B: The Christians aren't goofing off at work doing this

    C: A are in Europe and B are in America

    D: All of the above.

    E: D, and where's my asbestos coat?

  56. Demian Phillips

    bad news

    "Imagine how devastated they must have been to learn that the tooth fairy wasn't real."

    Wait until they find out about the veruca gnome.

  57. Daniel

    @John Savard (tenure and community colleges)

    "But what I would like to know is whether or not Southwestern Community College is an accredited degree-granting institution."

    Yes, they are (I checked). In the US, a community college is by definition a publicly funded 2 year degree granting institution serving the local the community. They grant associates degrees, which can then be used to easily transfer to a university without the usual transcript mess that occurs during a school transfer. They're economical, easier to get started in than most 4 year Universities, and generally a good all around choice for many students.

    "If it were, then it would have tenured professors, and it most *definitely* would not be involved in the kind of incident this story recounts, because the consequence would be that its degrees would soon end up not being worth the sheepskin they're written on."

    Don't bet on it. Community colleges aren't really held to the same standards of respectability as a university. Community colleges are there primarily to teach "the fundamentals" and to bring everyone up to at least a certain minimum standard. Academic freedom of speech doesn't necessarily come in to play here, even when it should. As you might expect from that situation, tenure is not an automatic feature of a community college campus. Some do implement full tenure; others implement "ongoing employment" contracts. Others offer no guarantee of ongoing employment at all. In either of the latter two cases the administration may terminate your contract if they have included a provision allowing them to do so over the content of your teaching.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What? You dont believe God created the world in 6 days?

    Imposters , heretics . There is no such thing as science, only Religion . Of the fundamentalist kind, ty very much . An eye for an eye, motherfuckers .

  59. LaeMi Qian

    I believe the snake wasn't...

    ...a real snake, but Satan doing a credible snake impersonation, so the talking is explained :-P

    I just wish Jesus would get off his butt and come back (or have they decided he is going to give humanity ANOTHER second chance like was declared he did after he didn't show up around the end of the first millenia?) and take all the faithful off to heaven where they can sit around playing harps for the rest of eternity (how boring eternity would get after a few billion years of it) and leave the rest of us down here in peace.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What? You dont believe God created the world in 6 days?

    Imposters , heretics . There is no such thing as science, only Religion . Of the fundamentalist kind, ty very much . An eye for an eye, motherfuckers .

  61. david mccormick

    Re: Danny

    Current thinking by scientists is that our universe is part of a multi-verse, (Terry Pratchett fans rejoice) our universe being created in the 'big bang' from two universes colliding. Greater minds than mine are required to know where those universes came from though :) . The gist of the article is that the teacher thought the literal translation is wrong, not that God didn't create the universe(s). My memory at the ripe old age of 29 gets a little patchy but the bible says that Adam and Eve are exiled from the garden of Eden for eating the forbidden fruit. If creationism is right, can somebody tell me where it is then cos it'll be a hell of (or should that be heavenly) holiday destination.

  62. Ross Nixon

    God-denier

    One should feel sorry for ignorant God-deniers, not sack them!

    Sure, creationist teachers get unfairly sacked if they express doubts about molecules-to-man evolution. But just because Christophobes are intolerant, is no reason for Christians to react similarly. They should be more tolerant.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sigh

    It would be great if those who thought they knew it all would occasionally check their facts.

    "Jesus was declared to be one with God ..."

    John 10:30 "I and My Father are one."

    "Sucide is a mortal sin. ..."

    All sin is mortal in that any disobedience of God's requirement to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind or to love your neighbour as yourself is punishable by death.

    "As far as I remember ..."

    Two descriptions of the same event but from a different viewpoint do not equate to a contradiction.

    Martin

  64. David Wilkinson

    Community Colleges are not know for attracting America's best and brightest.

    In the USA community college is generally for those who couldn't get accepted by a real university, but want job that doesn't involve wearing a paper hat.

    Full apologies for the "continuing education" crowd who attend community college part time, while working full time and maybe raising a few kids.

    PS I am sure the many of the outraged student's had parents that made sure they were only exposed to science books that taught Creationism as a universally recognized scientific fact.

    I had two friends who where home schooled for exactly that reason. To them, "the silencing of the heretic" is the key principle of the scientific method and the foundation for all rational debate. Surprisingly enough they went to community college.

  65. David

    On the contrary...

    <quote>It is funny if you look at a map of the world that countries that are /more/ religious, have more problems because they are constantly at war with each other over 'my dads bigger than your dad', oh sorry, I meant God.....</quote>

    On the contrary. Statisticallty speaking, Protestant nations are the wealthiest, followed by Catholic, then Buddhist, Islam, Hindu, and lastly the primitive religions.

    As far as I know, there are no atheist countries, although it in itself is a big religion, it is not dominant anywhere.

    If God blesses those nations that follow him, then it appears that the Protestants are the closest thing.

    Or is it just a coincidence that Christian nations tend to also be the wealthiest?

    I would at least say that the ethics of working hard, being generous and honest, as the bible teaches, have had at least some affect.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excuse me

    I was looking for the Register but I seem to have mistakenly stumbled into Fark. Could someone kindly point me in the right direction?

    /Something about gardens and fairies

    //slashies

  67. Danny

    Title

    "Current thinking by scientists is that our universe is part of a multi-verse"

    hmmmmmm...

    I challenge you to find the least shred of evidence for this. This assumption would be completely based on faith because there is no way to prove it.

    "My memory at the ripe old age of 29 gets a little patchy but the bible says that Adam and Eve are exiled from the garden of Eden for eating the forbidden fruit. If creationism is right, can somebody tell me where it is then cos it'll be a hell of (or should that be heavenly) holiday destination."

    You are correct about Adam and Eve! However after they were exiled God forbade them to enter it again. God placed an angel in charge of keeping people out of Eden. The Bible does not say what happened to Eden after that but it does say that the Earth was deluged and destroyed so it would be a reasonable assumption that Eden was destroyed as well. You can find all of this in about the first 11 chapters of Genesis if you want to refresh your memory.

  68. lazarus_mub

    Creation, why can it not be scientiffic

    Hey there Mr Born again Christian. Have you any idea how patronising that little rant sounds?

    Ever thought about upgrading to the LDS?

    mub - love me, I need it more than god(s).

  69. the Jim bloke Silver badge

    @LaeMi Qian

    "I just wish Jesus would get off his butt and come back "

    We are living in the age of the sequel, so we can expect Christ 2, The SecondComing anytime now, unless its already out and straight to DVD.

    Just think how well Hollywood has done with other favourites from the past, and you get the feeling JC would be better off avoiding the USA completely.

    <gets bag of marshmallows, if the flames here wont cook them,they shall certainly roast in hell>

  70. Gilbert Wham

    Why shouldn't...

    ...these babbling, slack-jawed yokels be upset with scary ideas? They clearly deserve it. Also, surely a place of learning is where one is exposed to ideas one may find unpalatable, but true? There are many of them. For instance; the universe is a terrifyingly huge, vastly indifferent place. It is full of things we are still trying to understand. Your silly superstitions are not helping. You will die one day. Almost nobody will care. Then again, you will no longer be hindering rational enquiry. Many forms of cabbage are unpleasant. As are string beans. People will, however, attempt to serve them to you. Furthermore, and I cannot state this too clearly, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A TALKING FUCKING SNAKE. And there never was. Your particular Bronze-age fairytale deserves absolutely no more credence than any other, and should be treated as nothing more than another historical topic.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ancient crowd control ... it still works!

    Given that:

    a) Many people who *wake up* to the fact that they can do incredible things and have access to amazing resources if they pay complete attention to *now* instead of waiting, and waiting, and waiting until they are dead...

    b) Those who wake up as described do not need any middle man to tell them how to squander those precious strings of moments, or to convince them that they are *unimportant*.

    Then, the wonderful invention of religion as a method of crowd and mind control was a very necessary historical development, following these easy steps:

    1) Make up some semi-plausible, non-falsifiable story to *tell people why they are here*.

    2) Convince them that their lives are only important as to the way in which they comply to rules, handed out by the religious *authority*, and that their potential to self-develop should be ignored, as they should wait until they are dead, i.e. the true meaning of life is death.

    3) Tightly integrate *membership*, i.e. thinking only in *approved* paths, with social acceptance.

    4) When they drink the Kool-Aid and step off the plateau of reason, never to return, you have them. They now have to go on crusades, strap bombs to themselves, whatever you as a *religious authority figure* want. Then, if they try to step out of line or think/obtain their own inspirations, just threaten to magically take away the non-falsifiable reward after death, by excommunication, barring from the *order*, or casting them out of their society. Thinking of it this way, it gives me a new appreciation for insurance salespersons; at least they actually have to pay out something afterwards...

    Convincing educational institutions - institutions which are supposedly a bastion of rational and critical thought - that they have to bow to pressure from a non-rational thought process, is just ludicrous. This professor was only doing his job; convincing students that they should always think for themselves, and not to essentially *waste their lives*, their precious moments waiting for their deaths. The educational institution invalidated its educational mandate when it bowed to pressure from sources who could not prove the validity of their claims.

    The importance of life at this moment should not be discounted, and neither should the dangers of brainwashing.

  72. Andy

    Letter writing campaign?

    Looks like some religion-nut website has highlighted this story on El Reg. Seems like a reasonable explanation for the sudden bout of pro-fairytale comments.

    Regardless, it seems like Richard Dawkins is right, we're all gonna be eating mud in 50 years time. Better get used to the taste now.

    Let me just say: I really hate you religious numbnuts. I mean *really* hate you. You prattle on about forgiveness and allowing other people to have their own views, but the minute you get a sniff of actual power over others lives you set about stomping on people who don't believe your fairy-stories like sadistic jackbooted thugs. That goes for ALL religions, you're all the same.

    ...Ooh! Look, there's some lovely filth down 'ere!

  73. Martin Maloney

    I'm SO ashamed (yeah, right)

    "Steve Bitterman, 60, who was teaching a western civilisation course at Southwestern Community College..."

    I don't care how heartfelt are the beliefs of the Genesis literalists.

    Was the hiss-story teacher supposed to put the heart before the course?

    Martin

  74. Andy Enderby

    Religion =

    = a nice way for politicians, aristocrats and the rich to justify their position over the rest of us, and with which to attempt to control our thoughts and behaviour, whilst they themselves essentially do exactly as they please.

    Sod the lot of 'em and their sky pixie.

    Wait, hang on, anyone here want to set up a cult, I'm sure we could set up some sort of franchise, very profitable too.

  75. Martin Maloney

    Anyone here want to set up a cult?

    How about the Cult of the Dial-Up Warezer?

    Hail, Modem,

    Full of Greed,

    The tone is with thee.

    Blessed art thou among COM ports,

    and blessed is the fruit

    of thy chipset, Warez.

    Holy Modem,

    Mother of Baud,

    prey for us pirates now,

    and at the hour of our downloads.

    Amen

    Martin

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Talking Snakes

    All you people say that you havent seen a talking snake, well, I bet none of you have met every single snake, so how can you possibly know?

    And just because *you* couldnt find one now, doesnt mean that someone else hasnt seen one before. Does it?

    What is so wrong with someone being fired for saying that stuff that he did? He is in a responsible position and there are a lot of young impressionable minds. He should be more responsible. You just cant forgive that sort of backward behaviour. I mean, who is he to preach anyway?

  77. Tim Coughlin

    To those discusing community colleges

    I couldn't help but notice a distinct lack of factual information regarding the community college system as it exists in the US. Danial noted "Community colleges aren't really held to the same standards of respectability as a university." The only difference between a state or private school is the amount of subsidy that the school receives on a per credit basis. About two-thirds of the tuition is covered by additional funding by county and state. Community colleges are accredited in the same manner as that of a college or a university. Like any institute of learning, you'll find good schools and bad schools from one dollar to fifty thousand dollars.

    Now on to the matter at hand. Having sat through a class with a professor which held religion with great disdain, I can see how some students might have found it annoying. On the flip side, the students could have dropped the class, stuck with it or quietly debated it during or after class (heaven forbid some intellectual exercise like challenging your beliefs).

    I don't really care whether the students have daily chats with snakes and burning bushes or if the teacher is lecturing on the evils of religion and burning bibles. It all smacks of making a mountain out of a mole hill. The worst that ought to have happened is both sides agreeing to disagree.

  78. John Bailey

    Title

    The scientologists have beaten us to it and no doubt have their lawyers ready to enforce the patent. Although they are not a cult....

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sigh

    Then again, thought would be nice

    "holiday destination ..."

    The Garden of Eden predates the Flood. The Flood covered and destroyed the whole Earth. Therefore Eden was destroyed. Sorry about that, you'll have to put up with the Costalotta.

    If you don't want to be patronised you need to have a belief that actually hangs together and some reasonable knowledge of your opponents beliefs. Dawkins, imo, is a good example of one who has neither.

    Martin

  80. David

    You are already in a cult

    It is called the nothing created everything club.

    Nothing exploded and then it unraveled to become the complex universe with billions of galaxies with each containing billions of stars and each star probably containing around 10 planets.

    On one of those planets there appeared bananas and so the conclusion is that nothing created the banana.

    Oh yeah, and it is a popular belief system too. It is called Atheism.

    ;)

  81. Nicholas

    New motion

    I would like to propose a new motion:

    The school of current day saints. Our main premice is as follow: The world was created yesterday, this is regardless of the current day. This is true by the fact that there was effectively no yesterday before today. Out one and only God created the world This Morning over a cup of Green Tea and gave us memory of a past that never was. As he created everything from nothing, you cannot prove/disprove anything. Following this path, indulge freely in sec/drug/rocknroll as, if there was no yesterday, there will also be no tomorrow. Every day is today. Seize the day!

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: wake up...

    Yes...wake up, the Matrix has you...

    (seems easy in the movies, but real life is much more insidious in moulding the mind, as the fired Prof. found out...).

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Religion has killed or harmed more people than it has saved."

    No, that would be people. The very same people that have killed or harmed other of different colour, race, tribe, politics and class (witness Mugabe's regime). Even the secular comments on this story here on El Reg show great intolerance for others. It seems that even the secularists here have such zealous non-beliefs that they are prepared to openly denigrate the beliefs of others.

    Surely, then, this is nothing more than religious intoterance - the same intolerance that religion is being accused of. But isn't that just more of the same? Precisely the same intolerance of man against man for different to you. Pot, kettle, black springs to mind. Secularism is as much a belief as religion as it can neither prove nor disprove the existence of the God deity.

    So come on then all of you Secularists - put your so-far-hypocrytical mouth where the money is - prove that your non-religion is any better and show your tolerance for others. The same tolerance that if practised by man (not by religion) would transform this world into the Nirvana that we all seek.

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are we back to the dark ages?

    Aren't the USA (United Stupidity of America) the ones criticising the islamic world for being "unenlightened" and "in the dark ages" and "medieval in their thinking".

    Yet as soon as someone points out that there's no proof of ANY of the "miracles" in the bible, nor proof of the deity, but at the same time there is PLENTY of proof that it's plain mistundertandings that has created these beliefs in the first place.

    How come otherwise intelligent people when it comes to god-things suddenly loose their ability to get their neurons to work properly?

    I have a suggestion to our American people: Until your own country has gotten out of the dark ages, and you have installed a democratic rule with proper laws, instead of your CORPORISTIC totalitarian theocratic republic, please withdraw all your troops inside your own borders, instead of waging an invasion war under the label of "freedom fighting". It's obivous that your version of freedom is not wanted in a free world.

    (Posted anonymously, I don't intend to spend 24 hours in immigrations if I ever visit your country again. Religious sods are known to hold grudges)

  85. Jim Blinkhorn

    Atheism a religion?

    "As far as I know, there are no atheist countries, although it in itself is a big religion, it is not dominant anywhere."

    -That is the funniest thing I have heard in a very long time indeed... I nearly chuckled myself off my seat!

    Incidentally, the article makes no mention as to what Mr Bitterman was teaching, or to what he was using the extracts from the Old Testament to signify/explain. If he was fired because of this incident it is clearly impeding on his rights for free speech... However, judging by the quoted matter he is a few beans short of a sack :-P

    Have fun arguing the religious side of things people, I think I'll stick with the civil liberties side...

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this the real reason he was fired?

    We've only heard the teacher's version of the grounds on which he was fired. But one of the students in the class has said that the complaint was not about the teacher’s opinions nor the content of his teaching but rather about bullying and humiliating behaviour, of which he seems to have a history. The student also says that the complainants did not seek the teacher's dismissal.

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Title

    As humans we are a little too intelligent for our own good. We think too much, we try to explain everything - its why we have science .. and in fact religion.

    We used science to explain what we could see, hear, feel and understand - we used religion to explain what we couldnt explain by science.

    Gradually, as time went on science began to explain more of the unexplained and took over from religion - ie we dont worship the sun or the moon anymore now that scientific discovery has shown their true nature.

    The difference now is that too many people have too much to lose if science continues to erode our religious beliefs. Pastors, Preachers, Ministers, Bishops, Clergy, churches, religious schools - all would seem foolish - so they all fight it the only way they can - they bury their head in the sand and pursaude others to do the same.

    Dinosaurs? No! I dont have to explain those bones - I have Faith that what i thought before science provided this new evidence was right.

    Evolution? Certainly not! Doesnt fit into what my religion said before this was discovered so i have faith that... well it could never have happened.

    It all fits.

    Personally I would rather live in a world where people placed universal truth as the ideal to strive for and were open to change their opinions based on new evidence when it arises and not have unshakable faith in a story they are told as a child. Its quite sad really - but I suppose at least they are happy in their ignorance the poor buggers.

  88. Steve

    @Christian scum

    "Take note of how Mr. Bitterman has twisted the situation and also revealed a condecending attitude towards people of faith (pretty much the same as everybody who has posted comments on this article so far)."

    You noticed that huh ? It's funny, isn't it, how educated people talk down to those who believe that the pages in a book of stories that have been rewritten, changed, translated and reinterpreted for the best part of a thousand years and more could be the literal word of the creator of the entire universe.

    If you find that, as a 'person of faith', people are patronising you, then consider that it's because you appear to be a retard to any rational person.

    "just because you're Contrarian, doesn't necessarily make you more intelligent than a person of faith."

    Erm, yes it does, shitwit, because I am able to think for myself. It's like an automatic upgrade. You can't be 'of faith' and still claim to be intelligent in any way because to remain a 'person of faith' after about the age of six, you need to have had many of your critical faculties damaged or suppressed by your parents or teachers. Of course you could be the worst kind of 'born again' scum, in which case you intentionally damaged your brain and/or deluded yourself in order to fit in to a community, and should really be ashamed. It would have been less drastic to get a tattoo. Jesus loves tattoos

    I've heard some screaming about religious intolerance, so let me make my own position very clear. As far as I am concerned, all 'people of faith' are mentally ill. I would round all of you up, deprogram as many as possible to remove the poisonous nonsense your cult has planted in your brain, and humanely dispose of anyone who did not respond to treatment.

    That goes for all religions, by the way, I'm fully equal opportunities when it comes to ridding humanity of the scum who constantly drag it down in the mud when it should be reaching for the stars.

  89. Sam D

    whatever

    At what point did your belief become sacrosanct and suddenly put on a pedastal and cannot be quesitoned?

    If you believe a giant bunny rabbit comes every year and drops chocolate eggs in the field - in my opinion you;re an idiot. If you believe that fairies exist, or unicorns, or santa clause or that you should live your life based on what some sweaty son of a donkey salesman said 2000 years ago - you're still in idiot.

    If you like to believe in some big floating head in the sky and that he thinks you're very special and that when you die everything is in fact going to be ok and you're going to sit on a big floaty cloud with kittens - then all power to you - i hope it helps you sleep at night, but you're still an idiot - with a metaphorical blanky.

    Please go back to wasting what precious time you have left before you depart this life - and spend your time feeling warm and fuzzy inside instead of actually trying to advance the human race and live up to the ideals that the rambling fisherman from 2000 years ago actually might appreciate if he hadnt been mentally deranged with a god complex.

  90. david mccormick

    Told you my memory was patchy

    I forgot about the flood. The bible has all angles covered when seeking evidence doesn't it. Then there is God leaving false clues like dinosaurs and geology. The CIA take note, this is how it should be done :)

  91. Monty Lovering

    Intolerant rubbish

    A kind person on this thread has provided an illustration of exactly what represents a major danger for the world today;

    "No Christian believes that "post fall" snakes can talk. They do however believe that the world/universe was very different "pre fall" and that yes serpents could talk."

    Despite no hard evidence to differentiate it's level of 'truth' from any other religion they assume that Christianity is 'The Truth', AND they assume the interpretation THEY make is the only correct one and that any Christian must share it.

    This attitude is arrogant and ignorant in equal measure; when taken to extremes it is what drives wars between religions and violence even within religions.

    It isn't religious belief that is a danger.

    It is a lack of comprehension on the part of some believers as to what the difference between secular fact and religious belief is, and the lack of tolerance for conflicting beliefs that some religious people have,

  92. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FUNDAMENTALIST Religious People: you better have a good response to this or SHUT UP

    When will "fundamentalists" of all religions LEARN

    the essential message of your religion has NOTHING to do with a fundamentalist reading of creation stories etc...

    1) Christians: dont even get me started- you are reading TRANSLATIONS of TRANSLATIONS of COMPILED TEXTS!!! - if you are talking about the "OLD TESTAMENT" you are reading TRANSLATIONS of TRANSLATIONS of texts STOLEN more or less VERBATIM from a prior religion- JUDAISM.

    HELLO?! !?

    unless you read ancient Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic fluently, and peruse every single BIBLE BOOK in its original form- (the SCROLL it was taken from etc...)

    you are getting mistakes and errors. DONT TELL ME God Made the world in 7 Days- you are so full of shit. LOOK IT UP.

    Dont forget the council at Nicea that actually decided what books would go into the BIBLE and what wouldnt. THAT WAS PEOPLE not GOD making THAT decision.

    2) Jews- Are there any fundamentalist Jews here? probably not but in case there are- ORAL TORAH was a spoken thing- obviously- ANyone who thinks that the Penteteuch is literal truth needs to bear in mind the amount of time these stories circulated before ANYONE wrote them down!

    3) Fundamentalist Muslims- Ahem- the Koran was compiled AFTER the "departure" of Muhammed- from writings scribbled on all manner of media from skins to leaves to clay tablets to pure memory, from all manner of people. WHat makes you so sure these are the Actual words and doings of your Prophet?

    At least you are reading it in the original Arabic however.

    I can rip on you for other things like your literal interpretation of Sharia etc...

    but i digress.

    4) Fundamentalist Hindus- ok that whole Bridge of Ram thing between India and Sri Lanka- that this land bridge was "created by Ram" - and firing a high level official for making an honest geological assessment of the land...this is current events...

    get a grip...

    ANYWAY- the POINT of Christianity (its fun to rip on- because i get to see so much of it here in USA) is Jesus Love not how damn STUPID and STUBBORN you can be. you dont need a snake, a garden of eden, or any of that BULLSHIT to believe in the love of Jesus Christ.

    GROW UP and stop being such MORONS

  93. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Title

    After were done eith the Taliban, it will be time to do the same to the fundamentalist Christian taliban and the talking snakes. The snakes actually only talked to me after a somewhat extended session using psychedelics.

  94. Cyberspice

    So they literally believe...

    According to old religious texts, God isn't God he's Jehovah and one of the Elohim, a pantheon of gods, who had decided to go his own way because he wanted his own followers. There were other people in the world they just weren't his people. This explains how Cain could go in to the land of nod and get married.

    Also he's a lying toad since he told Adam and Eve that they would surely die if they ate from the tree of knowledge, the snake told them he was lying. They ate and Adam lived until his ninth century. Who was proved right. It was all a scam to get them thrown from the garden because the Elohim were worried that Adam and Eve would eat from the tree of life, become immortal, and be like gods.

    The bible is just a book that is a translation of a translation [ of a translation ] of a book that was formed by committee i.e. The Council of Nicea, lauded over by a pagan (Constantine was pagan through out his life and only converted on his death bed). Up to that point Christ wasn't even the Son of God. That was also decided by the committee.

    The bible is a collection of bad history, fantasy stories, and a few parables which say we should be nice to one another. How above throwing it all away and just worrying about the being nice part.

  95. Alex Barlow

    Sad

    It saddens me to see how much hatred towards Christians has come out in this comments section. I somehow feel that there would be a much bigger outcry if there were hundreds of posts all reading 'All Muslims are totally stupid backwards terrorists' rather than 'All Christians are stupid backwards loonies'.

    I always believed that we lived in a society where we respected that we each hold our beliefs even if we didn't share them. By the tone of most of these people who seem to like to think of themselves as the absolute voice of truth and denouncing all those who disagree, it seems that they are as bad as the people whom they accuse of intolerance and forcing their beliefs on others. Hypocritical no..?

  96. Danny

    back at david

    "Then there is God leaving false clues like dinosaurs and geology."

    Ummm. false clues? We have the same clues, just different interpretations, you use a view based on long ages and uniformitarianism. I have a view based on a catastrophic flood that caused all of the geological formations that we see today and wiped out nearly all life (including dinos). We all have same facts just different presuppositions.

  97. Gilbert Wham

    'We all have same facts just different suppositions'(sic)

    Yes, you may indeed have a different take on the matter. You're wrong though.

  98. Snert Lee

    Something I like to remember:

    Atheism is a set of religious beliefs, promoted as vigorously by its adherents as Torquemada promoted his.

  99. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re:Sad

    "Hypocritical no..?"

    No. Just doing to others, as would be done to oneself - as you'd recognise it. As an atheist can recognise it; the Ethic of Reciprocity. No god (or God) is needed, in order to live by this ethic.

  100. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re:Something I like to remember:

    "Atheism is a set of religious beliefs"

    Not quite true; it's not a set of god beliefs. Atheism is a set of non-god reasons. One shouldn't confuse BELIEF in a god who isn't physically present, real, tangible etc., to everyone, including those who will never believe, with the REASON of how everyone could best interact, with each other, in the real world. The two are not of the same standard. Though it is a religion, as it deals with human &/or worldly interaction.

  101. Monti

    Qoute

    Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.

    ~ Denis Diderot

  102. greg

    If you think this is funny...

    You lot should check out the flat earth society. Now there we have a real bunch of weird fu**ers.

    http://theflatearthsociety.org/

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