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Christian professor embattled for supporting evolution


Richard Colling, a professor of biology at Olivet Nazarene University, wanted to express his views about the compatibility of his religious faith with his scientific knowledge, and accordingly wrote Random Designer: Created from Chaos to Connect with the Creator (Bourbonnais [IL]: Browning Press, 2004). But his views, especially about evolution, proved to be unwelcome to at least some of his coreligionists, as Newsweek's Sharon Begley (September 17, 2007) reports:

Anger over his work had been building for two years. When classes resumed in late August, things finally came to a head. Colling is prohibited from teaching the general biology class, a version of which he had taught since 1991, and college president John Bowling has banned professors from assigning his book [which was previously used in "at least one history class, an advanced biology course and the general biology course"]. At least one local Nazarene church called for Colling to be fired and threatened to withhold financial support from the college. In a letter to Bowling, ministers in Caro, Mo., expressed "deep concern regarding the teaching of evolutionary theory as a scientifically proven fact," calling it "a philosophy that is godless, contrary to scripture and scientifically unverifiable." Irate parents, pastors and others complained to Bowling, while a meeting between church leaders and Colling "led to some tension and misunderstanding," Bowling said in a letter to trustees.
The local Daily Journal (September 13, 2007) adds that although Colling and the university administration are trying to reconcile, Colling "is still stinging because, he says, the book was a true and honest expression of faith; and one he felt led by God to write. Moreover, he says there is room with the college's mission and policies for such an alternative view -- and that no real case has been made to date that his views are inconsistent with those or the teachings of the Church of the Nazarene."

In a previous article about Colling for the Wall Street Journal (December 3, 2004), Begley reported, "In his new book, 'Random Designer,' he writes: 'It pains me to suggest that my religious brothers are telling falsehoods' when they say evolutionary theory is 'in crisis' and claim that there is widespread skepticism about it among scientists. 'Such statements are blatantly untrue,' he argues; 'evolution has stood the test of time and considerable scrutiny.'"