Firing college staff for not being quite fundamentalist enough seems to be becoming something of an epidemic in the US. I was sorry to hear that Michael Pahl, like me an alumnus of Birmingham, blessed with Mark Goodacre’s supervision, is the latest to feel the fundamentalist wrath and be dismissed from his post.
Looking at the doctrinal statement of his “University” (it really is a different world, eh?) I found myself pondering how any institution with such a statement can actually call itself a university.
For me the core of the problem (leaving aside my disagreements with the doctrinal stance) is epitomised by clause 4:
We believe in the literal 6-day account of creation, that the creation of man lies in the special, immediate, and formative acts of God and not from previously existing forms of life
This moves from a believing or philosophical commitment (however arguable) to a blanket refusal to admit the validity of another discipline, a rejection of the rigorous examination of empirical evidence, and a denial that a literary work can be subject to any form of literary criticism.
Is it possible, in the light of such an inability to recognise either the integrity of the arts or the sciences, for such a narrow-minded institution to call itself a university? I don’t think so.