Falwell U

By JERE REAL  |  August 3, 2006

Why this apparent tolerance for books and views Falwell is on record as detesting? The books are there only for the sake of the college’s much-sought accreditation. A notice pasted inside the covers of volumes in the LBC Library makes that clear:

TO THE READER

This volume represents the wealth of knowledge that is present in the world today, and Liberty Baptist College is not an endorsement of its content from the standpoint of morals, philosophy, theology, or scientific hypotheses. It is necessary to use books whose content the college cannot wholly endorse. The position of Liberty Baptist College on the fundamentals of the faith and the separated Christian life is well known.

Liberty Baptist, which used to advertise regularly in the John Birch Society magazine, American Opinion, now, says in its newspaper ads, “We’re more than just different.” Rare, indeed, is the college that states in its library volumes that the books are there for accreditation, but that one can, in advance, dismiss any facts that collide with one’s beliefs.

Similar attitudes are found in LBC’s Division of Natural Science. There, “creationism” is mandatory in biology classrooms. (Falwell’s Moral Majority recently has been active in getting states to adopt legislation to require the teaching of creationism in public-school science classes. This campaign has brought shock waves in the scientific community; both Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov have attacked the creationism drive in public statements.)

LBC — which Falwell hopes will someday have a medical school — states the aim of its natural-sciences division in the catalogue: “to give the student a greater appreciation of the omnipotence and omniscience of God through a study of His creation” and “to show the scientific basis for biblical Creationism.”

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredited the college even with such sentiments in its catalogue. When asked about the confusion that might result from the transfer of such biology credits from one college to another, a spokesman for the accreditation association said, “I don’t want to get into all that evolution-versus-creationism debate.” About a year ago, a Falwell aide named Nelson Keener told me that he didn’t think LBC could survive without accreditation. He added, “But we have never and will never compromise Biblical doctrines to gain accreditation.” Apparently, LBC did not have to.

Keener, himself an LBC graduate, said, “we teach evolution, but as an alternate theory of creation. Our approach is to present other theories to show how evolution can be refuted.” Today, LBC grants BS degrees in both biology and biology education.

Terry Weaver is gregarious, 35-year-old microbiologist at LBC; he is well spoken and holds a PhD in biology from Ohio State University. He talks freely about the science offerings at Liberty Baptist: “You have to bear in mind that all of the scientists in the department here are creationists. We have four PhDs in the department — one from Ohio State, another from LSU, and one from Kansas and another from Purdue — but all of them are creationists.”

Weaver thinks it’s possible for a fundamentalist school to teach science well regardless of the evolution-creationism controversy. “I guess I believe that bad science is bad for science, but that a good creationist can teach good science.” He explains that “about 98 percent of scientific teaching doesn’t have anything to do with the question of man’s origins.”

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