can’t see the forest

You Learn Your Bible and You Learn It Good. This is America.

Posted in free speech, Fundamentalism, News, Politics, Religion, USA by Curtis on 9/25/07

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The New Humanist blog reports that Steve Bitterman, a history instructor at an Iowa community college, was fired after encouraging his students not to take the Biblical fable of Adam and Eve too literally and after referring to the story, in passing, as a ‘fairy tale’ during a conversation with a student:

Steve Bitterman, a teacher at Southwestern Community College, Red Oak, Iowa, was fired after he urged his pupils not to take the story of Adam and Eve literally. Bitterman was teaching a western civilisation course and often used extracts from the Old Testament as part of his lessons, but urged students to look beyond a literal interpretation of what he views as an “extremely meaningful story”, believing such a reading would miss much of the poetic, metaphoric and symbolic content. After class, he also made the mistake of referring to the story as a “fairy tale” during a conversation with a student. . .

. . .Bitterman said: “I’m just a little bit shocked myself that a college in good standing would back up students who insist that people who have been through college and have a master’s degree, a couple actually, have to teach that there were such things as talking snakes or lose their job. . .From my point of view, what they’re doing is essentially teaching their students very well to function in the eighth century.”

The teacher acknowledged that the story is rich in cultural, metaphorical, and symbolic value, and insists that he did not want his students to miss that value due to über-literal interpretation.

But a group from Bitterman’s class filed a complaint that the teacher was “denigrating their religion,” and the college administration was reluctant to comment on the matter.


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