|Author: Dr. Jerry Bergman
Subject: Credibility of Creationists
The following is a radio interview by radio show host Hal Blue with Dr. Jerry Bergman about his termination from Bowling Green State University on religious grounds. It was broadcast on WEXL, Royal Oak, Michigan on February 17, 1984. The interview was in conjunction with a talk Dr. Bergman gave at The University of Michigan the same day. Edited for clarity and grammar only.
Hal Blue: Our very special guest, Dr. Jerry Bergman, has an incredible story, a real human life story that fully unfolded in June of 1980. Dr. Bergman was at that time employed at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, and had accrued seven years of service on the staff as a professor there. His expertise was assessment and evaluation dealing with psychology, statistics and research. As I understand it, Dr. Bergman, you have a very fine record, but in June of 1980, the roof fell in.
JB: Actually the roof fell in before then. I was, in essence, quite openly terminated in 1980 because of my beliefs and publication in the area of creationism. I openly supported the two model approach, and my colleagues strongly objected to this. They said my activities were an embarrassment to the University. They felt that my presence there lent credibility to creationism, and they strongly believe that evolution is true, creation is false, and the question is settled. One colleague told me, “Whether God exists or not is beside the point, but it is clear that He has not done anything relative to the creation of the world, or the life in it.” His view was my peers’ basic attitude and, of course, they are able to fire faculty fairly easily (they used a secret ballot voting process in my case).
Hal: We will get into this in more detail in a few moments, but let me ask you a few questions to clarify some things. Christianity Today in 1983 did a brief article on your dismissal. But you were not a biology professor and weren’t teaching creationism in the classroom.
JB: No, and they did not claim that I was teaching creationism, although they said they were “suspicious” that if, indeed, this was occurring, they would have been upset, but admitted that they had no evidence that it was. They were simply suspicious that I might have talked about it to students.
Hal: So the issue is not that you violated any code of university ethics. An organization of Professors investigated your case. What kind of organization is it?
JB: It is a national faculty organization made up of professors from various universities.
Hal: and they investigated your dismissal?
JB: Yes, they did a thorough investigation. They reviewed the documents, interviewed 22 faculty and administrators at Bowling Green, and concluded that I was let go because of my personal religious beliefs.
Hal: Even though your personal religious beliefs did not infringe on your job as a professor in assessment and evaluation?
JB: Yes. Of course my peers stressed that they were only suspicious that my beliefs might have crept into the classroom.
Hal: You might have slipped?
JB: Yes, may have slipped.
Hal: while daydreaming you might have uttered the word “Genesis” or something like that?
Hal: But, in fact, you did not.
JB: No, it would have been inappropriate for me to start talking about creationism in a class in assessment and evaluation. I didn’t teach biology, but how to evaluate and assess learning behavior and performance in academic settings.
Hal: Reading the findings of the University Professor Organization, I find your case is incredible. Just before you were fired, you were given excellent reviews and even a raise?
JB: Yes, for merit pay. I was in the highest group in my department. I did very well in our merit pay system, and, as a result, I was in the top group. And I was promoted only months before I was terminated.
Hal: What were the reasons given? Surely the faculty had some reason.
JB: No, they didn’t formally. Ironically, they do not have to give reasons to fire non-tenured university professors. They made the reasons very clear to me, so it was no secret to me, and it was well known among many faculty as to why. But, no, they do not have to give reasons. All they have to do is vote, and the vote is secret. No one has to reveal how they voted. That way “the why” for the vote cannot be explored. After they voted, it was tabulated, and if you have a 2/3 majority, you’re in. If you don’t, you’re out.
Hal: In other words, it takes 2/3 vote to get tenure, and only 1/3 plus 1 to get you out? The odds are stacked, to say the least. Is this method used in all state universities or is it peculiar to Ohio?
JB: It is used in many state universities, but the tradition of having faculty vote by secret ballot is very old and quite common. Some schools, because of civil rights legislation, now insist that reasons be given. Bowling Green does not, and they, of course, refused to give formal reasons, at least to me. There were reasons floating around, but no reasons have ever been given to me in writing. And the reasons that I have heard “floating around” are clearly inappropriate, and have nothing to do with my performance. I was never aware of any clear feedback against my performance. In fact, several of my colleagues stated that that my performance was not the issue. My student ratings were among the highest in the university; I was in the 80th and 90th percentile. So they recognize that that was not the issue. The issue was clearly religion, especially my involvement in creationism.
Hal: Let me ask you. What happened in your personal life Dr., in 1980 once you were dismissed? It’s now been 3 1/2 years.
JB: Well, it obviously caused quite a bit of trauma and has wrecked havoc in my family life. I also have been unable to find regular employment since then.
Hal: Do you believe this is a direct result of your firing?
JB: Certainly. Once you’re let go from a university, it’s like being excommunicated from the Church. No one else wants you, and it’s devastating to your career.
Hal: How have you survived?
JB: Well, it’s not easy. I have learned to trust in the Lord, and the Lord, I found, does take care of you. You rely on handouts from friends, welfare, unemployment insurance, part-time teaching; and I’ve written several books, so I have some income from them. This helps, but you can only do the best you can with what you have. Mostly, you learn to do without.
Hal: Your career ruined, your family lost; I’m shocked by all of this. After reading the many affidavits, the article in Christianity Today, I must shake my head in utter disbelief! I find it hard to believe that someone would be fired from their job after seven years, earning merit pay, good reports in all areas and suddenly someone gets suspicious about your religion and the roof falls in. Do you think someone had a vendetta against you, or is this indicative of what’s going on across our country?
JB: I think it’s clearly indicative of what’s going on today. I am aware of dozens of firings of creationists, although most conservative Christians tend to have problems as well. I think, too, at Bowling Green there was one person in particular, who left his wife and children, became gay and is now active in convincing students that there is merit to the gay lifestyle, who seemed to be my leading opposition.
Hal: You mean the one who spearheaded your firing?
Hal: Something more general, which bears directly on what happened to you and what has happened to many others across America is the whole problem of censorship. For quite a while I have been reading various editorials and many liberals claim that, if conservative Christians had their way in America, they would heavily censor all literature, arts and moves, etc. and no one would be able to have anything published that didn’t agree with what they believe, and you’re telling me the situation is really the other way around?
JB: Yes, clearly. Censorship is a major issue among creationists; we are heavily censored. We are fired, denied degrees, denied promotions, and these are not rare occurrences. I know of cases where a person earned all of the requirements for a doctorate degree and during his oral exams was asked if he believed in evolution. One man said, “No” and was openly told, “You are not going to get a doctorate from this institution.” There are some exceptions: I have a friend who has completed all of the requirements for a Ph.D. in paleontology at Harvard. They criticized him, but he expects to get his degree. There are some exceptions; every university will not give you problems but, with creationists, discrimination is clearly the rule. And evolutionists realize that if both sides are presented, many people will opt for the creationist positions. Thus they feel they must censor us.
Hal: What are they afraid of? If they really want a pluralistic society and believe in what they are saying, that we ought to search for the truth in whatever corner we find it in, if they really have open minds, what are they so afraid of if, indeed, creation is valid?
JB: I think they’re afraid that it might be true, thus censor it.
Hal: What’s so frightening about that, Dr.?
JB: The reason they are so afraid that our position might be verified is, that means that their lifestyle and their values are wrong, and they may not attain salvation (and will spend eternity separated from God). To be in their position, they have to reject God, and if you reject Him as creator, it’s easier to reject Him totally. I asked a friend of mine, a philosophy professor, how he accounted for the existence of the universe. He said that we’re here because of a freak accident, and we will soon all disappear, forever, in the big crunch Intime, no living things in the entire universe will exist. He believed that we happened as a result of chance and natural law, whatever that is. Given eternity, he said, worlds like ours may appear, once, maybe twice, but no more.
Hal: It just happened…
JB: Yes, by chance and the outworking of natural law and, although he admits that it’s unlikely that our world could appear even once, it did appear but will someday disappear as the sun burns out, and for all eternity there will be nothing living again.
Hal: One area of your expertise is statistics?
Hal: What are the statistical probabilities of the creation coming into existence by accident? I understand they are infinitesimal? They are beyond human imagination.
JB: That’s very true. This is clear from my own study of biology. The major area of work for my undergraduate degree was sociology, biology, and psychology, and it’s clear from my study that there is order and design in the universe, and that we cannot account for the design around us by the accumulation of copying errors, which is basically how evolution is claimed to operate: we are the result of an accumulation of favorable copying errors.
Hal: Yes, the so called strong, whoever, that survive. As to censorship, I understand that before you came to the studio today, you went to a local library. What did you find?
JB: I looked in the card catalog for books on creationism. I found four books that were clearly written against creationism. And I found only one book that took the pro-creation side, an older work. This is very typical.
Hal: Four to one in that library?
JB: Right, which is not as bad as many libraries. In many libraries the ratio is eight to zero.
Hal: Eight anti-creation to no pro-creation books?
Hal: Censorship is more than just getting creationists books out of libraries. Censorship of your religious convictions cost you your job and has certainly devastated your career, and it is now extremely difficult, once you’ve been fired from a university, to find a job at another university.
JB: Yes, no one wants to take a chance on you, especially if they find out the reason for termination was religion. I almost had several good positions, but when they called Bowling Green and asked them why I was denied tenure, I understand Bowling Green came out and said, “He’s a religious fanatic,” (that word was used at least once), and “He’s a creationist.” That did it.
Hal: Civil rights laws, and I’ve seen them at every place that hire people, says that equal opportunity employers are not to discriminate on race, color, national origin, or religion and you’re saying that BGSU overtly discriminated against you because of your religious beliefs and convictions?
JB: Clearly, because the law relative to religious discrimination is often not enforced. The government’s concern is primarily with racial and sexual discrimination. They should show equal concern for religious discrimination, but they don’t. In fact, an Ohio Civil Rights employee told me, in essence, that, “We don’t believe that today one could be fired because of their religion.” Of course, this is ludicrous.
Hal: And they said this to you, one who has been fired?
JB: Right, and according to my research there are approximately 700 claims of religious discrimination every year.
Hal: And how many of them are resolved in favor of the believer?
JB: I’m not aware of a single case (and I’ve looked in the law books), that has been resolved in favor of a religious believer against a secular institution by any court. They invariably rule against the religious minority. In many cases, courts rule that firing is justified if the employer says the fired employee was proselytizing on the job.
Hal: Trying to win people to Christ.
Hal: That brings me back to a question I want to ask you. In your mind, are these firings a conspiratorial possibility, or is this some happenstance that has come on our society?
JB: I don’t think it’s a conspiracy. There’s some validity to some conspiracy theories, but much of the problem is actually apathy; people are not aware of what’s going on. I have a lot of supporters at the University, over a dozen colleagues signed affidavits stating, under oath, that I was terminated because of my religion, and most of these were not Christians. Several were Jews, and atheists. One atheist said, “I think you’re dead wrong, but you have a right to publish articles supporting your viewpoint.” He read several of my articles on creationism and said they were very well done, noting they were “not what I expected. I expected a religious tract.” He said he found my book very well argued, having more respect for me and my position than when we first talked.
Hal: You feel apathy and neglect are major problems?
JB: The Christian community often lets these things happen and does nothing. The tendency is to feel, “we’re going to be persecuted (which is true), and we should rejoice in persecution (which is true), therefore we should condone it (which is false). I believe that we should condemn it wherever it exists. It’s illegal, against the law here. We didn’t make the laws up relative to religious discrimination. It’s wrong, and it’s our obligation to report it, just as it is our obligation to report any crime.
Hal: Have you gone to the courts?
JB: I have a case in the courts now. The National Education Association investigated my case and concluded it had clear merits. They hired an attorney who has been fighting the case for me since 1980. It has cost the NEA thousands of dollars. The Creation Science Legal Defense Fund has also given me a great deal of support.
Hal: It’s still an active case?
JB: Right, it’s still in the courts.
Hal: Where’s it at now?
JB: It’s in the Federal district court in Toledo, Ohio.
Hal: Have you had any wins or losses relevant to your case?
JB: I had both wins and losses. Lawyers can file briefs forever. Dr. Ferrari, who was the Provost at the University when I was there, claimed he didn’t know of my religious beliefs, and therefore could not have dismissed me because of my religion. But we’ve produced several documents that clearly prove he was fully aware of my religion, proving his claim false.
Hal: What was his avowed reason for firing you?
JB: He didn’t give any reasons.
Hal: They don’t have to give you a reason to fire a man who’s been on the job for seven years?
JB: No, they can fire you without reasons.
Hal: They merely feel you’re done, should pack your bag, and hit the rod?
JB: Right, and universities want it that way because they want staff that fit in politically, ideologically, etc.
Hal: Did you know it when you signed on at the university, that they could call your tune any day for any, or no, reason?
JB: No, I was told that I would be evaluated purely on my job performance. I was concerned about it because, of course, these concerns existed when I was hired. So I asked about evaluation, and they said “no, no we will clearly evaluate you on your performance.” And I never got a single formal written evaluation, as is required, in the seven years that I was there.
Hal: For what reason?
JB: I talked to my department chair about this one day. My chair, by the way, has from day one fully supported me (and still does). He told me, “We could give you glowing evaluations, but if the faculty vote to fire you, they don’t mean a thing. Why should we evaluate you? Your tenure here is not based on your performance, but primarily on whether you fit in; whether or not they like you. And that means whether or not you’re the same as they are politically, religiously, and so on.”
Hal: I certainly believe what you’re telling me, but I must tell you, living in America, you’re breaking some of my bubbles. I am not naïve, politically or socially. I am very involved, but I’m finding this a remarkable tale, almost is tantamount to a horror story that anyone, any human being could be treated so shabbily, and with such cavalier attitudes, to dismiss him and put his family in jeopardy just because they believe in an active God, in a nation on which its coins states “In God We Trust.” I’m dumbfounded by this and I’m not putting you on. It gets me upset just thinking about that kind of a system. And it’s the very system that we as Christians defend, one that advocates pluralistic attitudes, even the rights of atheists. And now it seems that our right to say that we believe in an active God is being abridged and, indeed, undermined not tolerated.
JB: I can fully understand your concerns. I find it hard to believe, and I experienced it. It was a nightmare. I could not believe it was happening. When they let me know that they were concerned about my religious beliefs and publications in the area of creationism. I went to the Dean, to the Provost, to the President, and to the Affirmative Action office. I talked to at least 14-15 people and said to them “this is horrible, please do something.” They said, “Why should we do something now? We’ll wait until you are fired. Then we’ll look into it and see if there is any basis for your concerns.”
Hal: We’ll shoot you, and then we’ll bandage you?
JB: Right, then after I was fired, they said it was too late, you’ve already been fired. They adamantly refused to do anything until after I was formally dismissed, then they said they would look into it. They said it’s premature; you are worried that they’ll dismiss you, but they may not so why should you worry about it now? Don’t worry about it until you are dismissed. When I was dismissed, then I again complained and they said, “Well, gee, there’s nothing we can do now, it’s too late now.” I must admit though, that Beverly Mullins, who was the director of affirmative action at the University, did write a letter in my behalf before I was denied tenure, which specifically stated that I was concerned about religious discrimination. This letter came in quite handy because, after I was let go, they actually claimed that I had never raised the issue of religious discrimination until after I was let go! Of course, that letter and several other documents proved that I, indeed, had been yelling about religious discrimination for some time prior to being let go.
Hal: What is your view on creation as a Christian and as a scientist?
JB: I have concluded after years of study that the evidence for design, order and purpose in the universe is clear and unequivocal. I think the case for evolution is, at best, poor. There are certain things that creationists can’t explain. We can’t explain everything relative to the fossil record, etc., but much that is there we can deal with, and I think we can deal with it far better than the evolutionists. And many evolutions know this. This is why they are so irrationally against creationists and try to get creationists fired. One article by an evolutionist said that if a professor finds out a student is a creationist, that professor should fail the student regardless of the student’s grades. Another article in a science magazine stressed that it is the responsibility of an institution to fire all “out of the closet” creationists.
Hal: In what subjects?
JB: Any class.
Hal: What possible bearing can that have, for instance, in sociology, or other non-science classes; their religion doesn’t have any bearing in these classes.
JB: Well, that’s true, it doesn’t. But he tried to justify his position because he knew that some might see his view as a form of totalitarianism, so he argued that if a person argues in defense of creationism, that alone proves incompetence, even if the person scores high on exams or performance evaluations.
Hal: I was in a biology class and the professor, I will never forget it, was talking about evolution, and he made a closing comment toward the end of the class that anybody who believed in creation did not have all of his marbles, and that there was something wrong with them. At the end of the class (I waited for everyone else to leave, to avoid a public confrontation with the professor out of respect), I walked up to him and told him that I believe. He was really angered (from his “enlightened belief” viewpoint) that one of his students could accept the Bible record.
JB: This is a common situation. Several creationist professors are at Bowling Green, although they all managed to stay in the closet.
Hal: Closet believers, closet saints. It used to be closet sinners.
JB: Right, that’s the term creationists’ use – to survive you have to stay in the closet or there will be trouble.
Hal: Stay in the closet!
JB: That’s how you survive. There are many closet creation scientist, actually most are.
Hal: That’s a sad commentary.
I’m Hal Blue, your host, and with me in our studio is Dr. Jerry Bergman, and if you’ve been listening you know that here’s a man who for seven years was at Bowling Green University in Bowling Green, Ohio and was fired for his deep seated belief in creationism. As our conversation went on, we begin to discuss that this happening all over America, and, indeed, it seems the worm may have turned in the area of censorship. While many people have thought that the fundamentalist, if they could take over, would come down hard on the ideas that they don’t favor, I have heard quite the opposite today, I have talked to many religious leaders, and they are, by and large, for plurality. They have defended this position over the years, and believe the Christian scriptures teach us that we ought to defend the right of people to investigate because God is not afraid of investigation. But it now appears that the very people who defend pluralism, and the right to believe as you choose, are the ones who are now being censored.
Our phone line is open if you’d like to call and join the conversation. I see a weakness in the fabric in America, a breakdown in America that allows this kind of discrimination to occur.
JB: There is a great deal of anti-religious sentiment today. I’ve now completed most of the work for my second doctorate in sociology. It’s been delayed because of my financial problems, but many of the courses were incredibly anti-religious, including gross distortions of history, The feeling of many of the professors was, if we could only eradicate religion, the world would be a far better place. And, of course, that opinion is very foolish. A lot of the problem is that you can present the anti-religious side in the classroom – that’s ok, it’s secular and objective, but if you present the pro religious side, then you’re indoctrinating, teaching religion, and that’s illegal.
Hal: Is there a way to be balanced without indoctrination? Is there a way to objectively teach in areas touching on religion? To teach the history, for instance, of Christianity, without indoctrination?
JB: It is fully legal to teach religion, you just are not to indoctrinate, to teach one side in a biased way. In other words, I can say Creationists believe such and such. That’s perfectly legal. I cannot recite creation ideas as the only correct ones, as fact.
Hal: But evolution is a theory and some scientists object to it being taught in the schools as fact. They feel the problems with it should be pointed out.
JB: Right. Teachers often state that evolution is fact and their presentation is heavily biased. Religion is a belief structure that guides one’s life conduct and values, and gives direction, goals and purpose to one’s life. And certainly evolution, by that definition, is, at the least, a belief structure, and therefore you cannot indoctrinate students into evolution either. Although most people are not inclined to see evolution as a religion, many creation and non-creation scientists, ironically, clearly do. I’ve read statements in books written by evolutionists that specifically state evolution has all the facets of religion. It does the same thing as religion does.
Hal: Let’s now answer our phones. Our first caller is Jan from Southfield. Hello Jan.
Caller: HI, I am quite interested in creationism and have been reading and studying quite a bit about it. As a former teacher, I was really surprised when he mentioned that the National Education Association had helped him.
Hal: I was a little surprised, too, but I didn’t say anything.
Caller: I would like him to elaborate on this.
JB: I think Christians have some misunderstandings about the NEA. The American Civil Liberties Union adamantly refused to help me. One person from the ACLU even said that I deserved to be fired. I believe that they are trying to get people like me out of state universities.
Hal: They said that to you?
JB: Yes, verbally, not in writing. I was hoping they would say it in writing, so I wrote them a letter and they said, well, gee, the NEA is helping you, and you don’t need us; we’ve got other things to do. They gave other reasons in writing, although I have written to them several times and each time I got a different reason, which I think is interesting.
Hal: But the NEA did help you?
JB: Yes, right away. The NEA has consistently supported creationists. I know four for five that were fired and the NEA went to bat for all of them. They don’t discriminate.
Hal: I am as surprised as our caller.
Caller: I did not think that NEA would support creationists who were fired, and after retiring I did not want to continue my membership in NEA because of their lack of support for Christian teachers, so I am glad to hear that they are supporting you.
JB: I think that they are to be commended. And your membership, of course, has helped to pay for my court case. So I appreciate that.
Hal: Thanks, Jan. And now let’s go to Grosse Pointe and talk to Tabitha.
Caller: Hello, Hal, and to your guest. You know I am not surprised, at all, at what happened to Jerry Bergman. You said that you don’t accept the conspiracy view of history, yet Psalm 2 talks of this. God gives evil time to mature so that the heather nations can flower and the people accept vain things. In fact, C.S. Lewis talks about the civil war between Satan and Christians.
Hal: Don’t take my remarks from their context.
Caller: I’m not Hal. I have documents from a man in California, Mr. Garshallow, who ran an organization called education information. I was very concerned about what our history books taught in high school, and I was shocked at the amount of material he had gathered. In Congressional hearings held to investigate education, congressman Shaffer from Battle Creek, Michigan, wrote a beautiful expose on how education had gone into the hands of those who are anti-Christian and against traditional values.
Hal: I accept that, but I don’t feel that a conspiracy involving the educational movement exists, although the educational system has become highly secularized, and God has been “thrown out of the schoolroom.”
Caller: Yes, but we definitely have people who are in control now and will not let Christianity be fairly presented in our public schools, or on our campuses. It started with training professors that will teach our future teachers. August and Rod in Bending the Twig, an excellent book, shows that evolution is inseparable from John Dewey’s progressive educational theories, and it’s rather amazing to me that so many anti-God men are grouped together.
Hal: Well, that doesn’t mean a conspiracy occurred.
Caller: But they control the school policies. In our nation, these men control different organizations that control the minds of our children, and they are taking over this country by a silent revolution, by censoring ideas that were once held strongly. Many traditional values and principles have been censored, especially God inspired ideas, turning man into worshiping the creature rather that the creator.
Hal: Thank you, Tabitha. I appreciate your thoughts. Our next caller from Detroit, Leo, hello.
Leo: Hello. I want to make one or two comments by saying that I think the problem involves using the term religion to refer only to God and other sacred activities. The term religion describes communism, atheism, and secular humanism as well. There is actually no such thing as “anti-religious”; everything is one religion or another. It’s either Godly or ungodly religion. I think what the professor said earlier is that the crux of the whole situation. If people would accept the fact that there is a God, then they would have to review their lifestyles.
JB: I think you’re right, and your comments are well taken. I am really referring to anti-Christian or anti-theos religion. The sociology textbook that I used when I taught a course called Introduction to Sociology, made it very clear that communism is a religion. It listed the six or seven main elements of religion, and noted that communism contained all of these. Many religions do not believe in God, or believe that God is superficial, Confucianism and Buddhism, for example.
Hal: But it is a religion, it just does not focus or talk about God. That’s a good point.
Leo: We now have the state entering into the religious field. Now most of the public schools, and many of the private schools for that matter, are also teaching values clarification, which is supposed to help us to review our values, but in reality instills the state’s religion and views. And probably more instilling the religion of John Dewey who was in the NEA, which is why I guess many people are surprised that they’re helping you.
Hal: Well, this is part of what Dr. Bergman and I were talking about. Obviously, this conspirical view has problems, or the NEA would not have pitched in to help him and others in similar situations, and several university professor organizations, which are secular groups, have pitched in too, so obviously a wide conspiracy does not exists, or these people are not aware of the conspiracy, and thus not joined.
Leo: That could be. Some claim that they don’t want our religious views, or any religion in the schools, but this is not true because they want their religion taught. More people have to stress this to those who are saying that we don’t want religion taught in public schools.
Hal: I agree with our previous caller from Grosse Pointe that secular humanism is a religion and that it has infiltrated our educational system, and I think that some people involved with that view are trying to control our children’s minds. I fully subscribe that view.
Leo: People who say they don’t want religion in school do not understand that all belief structures are at least partly religions.
Hal: Thank you, Leo. Genuinely a good point. I think you touched on it earlier, too, doctor, when you talked about some person’s believing that their views are non-religious, but they are. Evolution is a religion, a view of life that gives order and meaning to one’s life. It is a world view.
JB: I have found that many anti-creationists are “true believers.” Eric Hoffer wrote a book called The True Believer, and these persons manifest many of the traits of his true believer. The anti-creation movement is really very fanatical and one-sided.
Hal: And yet they call us, in your case certainly, the fanatics, the extremists. Let’s go to Dearborn Heights, doctor, and speak with Fred. Hello.
Fred: Hello, I’m a layman in a mainline church, and the ecumenical movement, as I understand it, supports pluralism, not only in society but also within the church, and pluralism allows a diversity of beliefs.
Hal: Yes, that’s how I would describe it.
Fred: I’ve had my Christian brothers tell me that they are Christian evolutionists. I wonder what role the mainline church has played in hurting our society in this direction.
JB: Well, the mainline churches tend to support evolution, partially because the mainline church tends to go along with what’s socially accepted in society, with the contemporary cultural norms and traditions of society, and evolution is certainly a part of that. It’s interesting that in some of the debates on this topic, the theologians’ side with evolution and the scientists with creationism. I am not a theologian, but people invariably ask me for some interpretation of a passage in Genesis, etc., and I have to respond that I really can’t interpret it because I’m not a theologian. I’m not an expert in Greek. I can deal with some of the scientific questions, but not all of the theological ones, although I have some knowledge of theology, but that does not make me a theologian any more than my knowledge of medicine makes me a medical doctor.
Hal: interesting; I think Fred is asking if pluralism is ok in the world, but not in the church. I believe that, although God gives a man or woman the choice, he doesn’t make us believe. He says “here is the truth” and if you don’t know it you can be duped into believing anything because your mind has not learned a standard. When you are born, you have to learn the standard from God, and so I don’t believe in pluralism in the church, or when training my children. I believe in the world, though, people have a right to believe whatever they want to.
Caller: In our denomination, a committee examined the conflicts in the church, showing that it exists there too.
Hal: Thanks for the call, Fred. God Bless you. I appreciate your thoughts. Let’s take our next caller.
Caller: I heard Dr. Bergman mention that his department had supported him and I was wondering if he was actually recommended for tenure on the departmental level?
JB: The department area first reviews the person. These are the people who taught the same courses I did, and this area almost unanimously supported me. Then the department evaluated me and I did not get enough votes (a two thirds majority) to recommend tenure. Then it went to the chair and the chair recommended me for tenure. It then went to the faculty evaluation council, and they recommended me for tenure. The Dean also recommended me for tenure. The Provost though, said he’s changing the system. He voided the process that I followed.
Hal: They changed the rules of the game after it was played?
JB: Right. Under the old rules, you collected votes, and when you got to the top level, they evaluated the votes. You might have four for you and one against you (I had five for and one against). Then they evaluate the total package. Under the new system, any “no” vote at any level stops the process; so anywhere along the way someone could say “no” and you’re out of the game. And that’s exactly what happened, but the system was changed again after I left. It’s now back to the old way.
Hal: That’s pretty unfair.
Caller: Were their objections based on teaching or research?
JB: My student evaluations were among the highest in the university, I had over 200 publications in print or press or in review at that time; which is more than my entire department of 30 or so people combined. They never hinted teaching or research was the concern.
Caller: What were their stated reasons?
JB: I’ve asked a couple of times for reasons in writing. They did not give any, and they do not have to give a reason. I wrote to the president and asked for a reason. He said he did not know, and he denied my tenure! He told me to ask the department. And, of course, I asked the department and they made it very clear to me, not in writing but verbally, that religion was the reason, and because of this reason I did not fit in.
Caller: So they don’t have to give you a written statement?
JB: No, I never received a written statement as to why.
Hal: Isn’t that amazing!
Caller: O.K., thanks very much.
Hal: Thank you, Alice. Very insightful questions, we appreciate them. Let’s take another caller from Royal Oak, Art.
Caller: The last question from Southfield about the process was very insightful. Do many universities allow termination at any time without giving a cause?
JB: Yes, a lot do; they don’t want to give reasons. The tenure process originally started in Europe. Evidently one of the reasons was to keep Jews out of universities. If they discovered a person was a Jew and didn’t have a good reason to fire him, they could hide behind this secret two-thirds ballot vote. It’s caused a lot of havoc since then. I know of blacks and women who have had their career totally messed up. If you don’t have to give reasons, it’s harder to prove a case of discrimination, and that’s exactly what’s happening. I hope that in the future, with more and more civil rights cases going before the courts, that the courts would begin to demand universities be accountable for what they do. And, as it is now, they are often not accountable. They can do almost anything they want to. I talked to the president of BGSU about this and he said that they can cover their tracks if they want to get rid of someone for illegal reasons.
Hal: I want to let our listeners know before we discontinue out conversation, that Dr. Bergman will be speaking at the Students for Origins Research meeting tonight at 7:30 at the University of Michigan. You can call The Creation Science Association if you care to go out and hear Dr. Bergman. Believe me there’s more to his story than we’ve shared on this broadcast. It’s been a heart wrenching experience for this man. He’s given up a great, great deal to stay true to his convictions. Now we are going to take one last caller from Royal Oak. Hello Art.
Art: Hello, I’d just like to mention in the closing minutes here that there is a case called the Church of Holy Trinity, versus the United States in 1892 that declared that this is a Christian nation. The 9th Amendment, which is called the forgotten amendment, has been largely unused by the Christian community. It says that certain rights shall not be construed to deny or discourage others retained by the people. You had rights before government even existed, and now we have to assert those rights.
Hal: How? He’s been in the courts for 3 and 1/2 years, and he still hasn’t found any answers. It costs thousands of dollars to adjudicate a problem of this magnitude, and most people cannot handle these expenses.
Art: This problem is a result of our Star Chamber courts, which are taking over the judiciary here, producing judicial tyranny. Star Chamber courts were outlawed in England in 1641 because they often followed only the dictates of the king. But here the people are supposed to be the sovereigns, and that means using a jury trial.
JB: You’ve said a lot I agree with. We have to fight for our rights even though we already have them on paper. The law exists but, as I found with the Ohio Civil Rights, they will not help us. They refused to give me any reasons, even refused to answer most of my letters. I called them on the phone and they often never responded to my concerns. The case never went anywhere, although they did a report on reasonable accommodation issues, which was not even my concern! They weren’t interested in religious discrimination; they made it clear that they were interested primarily in racial and sexual discrimination.
Caller: One reason for that is governments use the 14th Amendment, which has to do with corporations, not individual rights, to suppress our rights.
Hal: O.K., I’m sorry; we’ve got to wrap it up. We’ve run out of time, but I appreciate your call. Thank you, Dr. Bergman, for your time and for telling your tragic story.