s a Christian professor who has tangled with evangelical institutions over evolution, I am often invited to don the mantle of “heretic.” The invitation typically comes in the form of an interview in which I am asked to respond to questions that will identify me as a liberal-throw-the-bible-under-the-bus lost soul who has no business calling himself a Christian.
I recently received two such requests in a week. One email came from a sophomore at Liberty University, as part of an assignment for the course “Creation Studies 290: History of Life.” Founded by Jerry Fallwell in 1971, Liberty is the largest evangelical university in the world if you include its large population of online students, and America’s largest nonprofit university. “Creation Studies 209” is required of all of Liberty’s 100,000-plus students and claims to provide a “thorough understanding of the creation-evolution controversy,” and “draws upon knowledge from religion, science, philosophy and history.”
Creation Studies is taught in Liberty’s Center for Creation Studies, described on their website as “a dynamic, teaching-based academic center.” The center’s purpose is to “research, promote, and communicate a robust young-Earth creationist view of Earth history,” with the goal of equipping “students to defend their faith in the creation account in Genesis using science, reason and the Scriptures.” Students in the Creation Studies class are assigned a “scientist contrast interview, where we are required to interview several scientists on both sides of the origins debate.”
The course is taught by the well-qualified creationist biologist Dr. David A. Dewitt. DeWitt has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Case Western Reserve University and has co-authored many research articles in thoroughly legitimate scientific journals like Cellular Molecular Bioengineering and the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. He has also worked with the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis. Like the scientists Ken Ham introduced in his debate with Bill Nye, DeWitt demonstrates that being a young earth creationist is not incompatible with being a productive member of the scientific community. (DeWitt did not respond to my request for comment on this article.)