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Response to New York Times Article: ‘Bryan College Is Torn: Can Darwin and Eden Coexist?’

Posted by:
May 23, 2014

Original New York Times article here.

My Response to Bryan College Is Torn: Can Darwin and Eden Coexist? by Alan Binder

At Pacific Lutheran University, we think of “Lutheran” as an ethic that informs how we think, how we teach and how we help students find their unique places in the world.

Martin Luther’s oft-repeated question—“What does this mean?”— and the basic capacity to question remain part of the genetic encoding of Lutheran higher education. Thus, Lutheran reformers recognized centers of education as crucial places in which important questions could be entertained without censure.

This tenet informs PLU’s foundational mission: to educate students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care—for others, for their communities and for the Earth.

One essential dimension of PLU’s mission is to provide for the intellectual, social, physical, emotional and spiritual development of students—allowing religious beliefs and secular education to not only co-exist here, but to individually (and seemingly paradoxically) contribute to our students’ growth. And because PLU unquestionably accepts—and promotes—freedom of expression, all students, of all beliefs, are encouraged to explore their own spiritual development, with the support of the entire PLU community.

In a world where most social and political conflicts contain a religious dimension, ignorance is not bliss. Think about it: all these issues are charged with religious language – abortion, creationism vs. evolution, fundamentalism, LGBTQ rights, environmental defense and degradation, health care, Holocaust studies, human rights, international terrorism, the Iraq conflict, land use in the Northwest, presidential politics, the quest for peace, poverty, and stem-cell research. The value of your college education actually increases when you have a better understanding of religion’s influence in American and global life. In a nation marked by great religious diversity and where most people claim a religious tradition, it becomes increasingly necessary to understand something of America’s religious landscape if you want to understand co-workers, friends, neighbors – even spouses or partners. PLU invites its students into the study of religion so that they might better understand a global phenomenon that gives meaning and purpose to billions of people.

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