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Clergy Letter Project “Scientists on call to help Clergy” — Steve Matheson and Amy Bishop


HT: Jammer, UD commenter

The Clergy Letter Project was organized to help promote Darwinism in the churches. They maintained a directory of Scientists on call to help Clergy. However the clergy letter project has a checkered past of recruiting scientists with dubious ethical standards to help spread the Gospel according to Darwin. Were it not for the diligent reporting of news at Uncommon Descent it is possible that they might not have so swiftly removed the name of Darwin Day Slayer Amy Bishop from their list of Scientists on call to help Clergy.

Amy Bishop was removed from their rolls, but they need to update their directory again as it currently reads:

Name: Stephen Matheson, Ph.D.
Title: Associate Professor of Biology
Address: Department of Biology
Calvin College
Grand Rapids, MI 49546-4403
Areas of Expertise: developmental biology, cell biology, neurobiology, genetics, evolution
Email: matheson@calvin.edu

That’s no longer true. Here is a video and text from Fox News TV: Professor Resigns After Alleged Student Sex Scandal.

FOX 17 received a letter from the college Monday that was sent out to the student body late last week.

According to the letter, allegations of a relationship came to light this past may, when a student revealed to the Provost’s office that Professor Steve Matheson had a sexual relationship with her.

Calvin College initiated an internal review and investigation, and put a special task force together to handle such situations.

The task force will aim to educate students on how to prevent and properly address allegations of sexual harassment.

In the letter, the college says “We are deeply grieved by this news. We want to believe that such behavior doesn’t occur in a Christian community such as ours, but it can. On behalf of the college, we are very sorry that this took place here.”

Fox reported that Matheson resigned under threat of termination. Steve’s own google-plus page previously reported that Steve Matheson lives with his wife and their 4 kids. The letter from Calvin College is here: Calvin College Letter to Students

The college has an obligation to protect our students against sexual harassment that has or may occur and we want to assure you that we take that obligation seriously. Therefore, the task force believes it is necessary to share with you that the professor was Steve Matheson.

Matheson hasn’t issued any public comment. He has debated members of the ID community like Dr. Stephen Meyer. Matheson has presented himself as a Christian who also accepts Darwinism. We learn here

Matheson feels it necessary not just to critique SITC [Signature in The Cell] but to attack Meyer personally. Matheson smears the book as “not a serious work of scholarship,” not “serious science,” “awfully bloated,” potentially “a joke,” “disingenuous,” “sad,” “pathetic,” and “fluffy and vacuous, simplistic at best and not infrequently wrong or misleading.” In case you didn’t get the point, Matheson accuses Meyer of “some combination of ignorance, sloth, and duplicity,” using tactics that require “layers of dishonesty” that are “sufficient to justify a charge of deliberate dishonesty.”

further as reported in The Discovery Institute Needs to be Destroyed, Matheson said:

Your Discovery Institute is a horrific mistake, an epic intellectual tragedy that is degrading the minds of those who consume its products and bringing dishonor to you and to the church. It is for good reason that Casey Luskin is held in such extreme contempt by your movement’s critics, and there’s something truly sick about the pattern of attacks that your operatives launched in the weeks after the Biola event. It’s clear that you have a cadre of attack dogs that do this work for you…I can’t state this strongly enough: the Discovery Institute is a dangerous cancer on the Christian intellect, both because of its unyielding commitment to dishonesty and because of its creepy mission…It needs to be destroyed, and I will do what I can to bring that about.

Steve Matheson,
Open Letter to Stephen Meyer

The point of me posting this is that many Darwinists present themselves as Christians and try to use their affiliation with the church as leverage to promote Darwinism. I respect their willingness to follow their conscience, but sometimes their own words and possibly their behavior (as in the case of Amy Bishop and possibly Steve Matheson), take them out of the debate. I support academic freedom for all scholars including Christian Darwinists, but for the debate to proceed they have to not take themselves out of the discussion in the manner that Amy Bishop and possibly Steve Matheson have taken themselves out of the debate.

I hope for Steve’s sake, the allegations are false and that he’ll return to debating the ID and UD community. He has a fine intellect, and he was the source of many lively scientific exchanges.

Steve Matheson is also on the NCSE’s list of Steve’s. Although, I expect the NCSE to maintain Matheson’s name on their list since the NCSE has no religious affiliation and to my knowledge, being under suspicion of sexual harassment doesn’t disqualify Matheson from being listed by the NCSE:

Stephen Matheson******
Associate Professor of Biology, Calvin College
Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of Arizona


Matheson was a contributing author to Pandas Thumb, the longtime rival blog of Uncommon Descent.

Scordova, Got it, thanks for answering. Jerad
Jerad, One other thing.... I really don't like the Clergy letter project. Any opportunity I can get to report things that don't reflect well on the organization, I'm obviously eager to take... scordova
Matheson left the college in August and the College published their letter in December. It’s not really news anymore.
It really was news to our side. What prompted the mention of Matheson was the June 3, 2012 publication in Nature that resovled a long running dispute I had with him. See: Arthur Hunt and Steve Matheson vs. UD Then Jammer was curious to see Matheson's response, and then he found out about Matheson and reported it on that thread. I felt some obligation then, to make a separte post since this was big news of a Darwinist professor abusing his office. My side of the aisle was somewhat aware of Matheson's August 2011 departure, but not the December 2011 revelation when we learned that Matheson wasn't wholly forthcoming when he said that his departure was for "personal reason" when in fact it was for misconduct of a personal nature. That is a subtle but important distinction. I would have left it at that if it were merely a personal reason, but not if he vicitized a student at his school. I don't think we would be very wrong for not letting him off the hook in light of the student he victimized. My reporting of the incident doesn't at all compare to the scale of the campaign Calvin College waged to highlight Matheson's misconduct to the students at Calvin and the rest of the world. Most google hits for Steve Matheson will not reveal the Fox News article, so it was provident that Jammer found the news on him. FWIW, I thought Matheson was fairly snotty toward other Christians, almost sanctimonious. He had the chutzpah to call UD a cesspool. My irony meter blew a circuit. I almost definitely would not have said anything if he were someone meek and who discussed the science like one would talk about chemistry and math. He was over the top, and I think he deserved to be called on his behavior, especially since he seemed to look down his nose on Christians that had a different view of origins than he did. Others here at UD didn't feel that way, and it speaks well of them (even though not of me, but I have no reputation to defend). Thanks for your comment and question. scordova
I'm not saying I agree but I can see why you posted this. But what I can't understand is why now? Matheson left the college in August and the College published their letter in December. It's not really news anymore. Jerad
By the way, Matheson was a member of PandasThumb which has been the longtime rival of Uncommon Descent. scordova
Steve Matheson wrote on his blog a while back: Why One Should Wash Thoroughly After Reading Uncommon Descent
Uncommon Descent is a cesspool. I'm eager to discuss design and evolution with Christians of diverse persuasions, and I know it can be done without the kind of desperate intellectual vandalism that characterizes Bill Dembski's writing at UD. But this much is clear: it can't be done at Uncommon Descent, as I repeatedly noted when I was there. It's hard to imagine a less apt forum for the serious consideration of Christian views of biological origins.
I have to agree. It's just terrible that at UD, I've reported on a professor who presented himself as an example of virtue at a Christian school and then abused his power so badly as to make the evening news over a multi year affair with a student at his school. By the way, did you thoroughly wash after you.... But you know Steve, I wouldn't have opportunity to report on such sordid stories if they didn't exist in the first place. Hey Steve, before you try take the speck out of my eye, try taking out the log stuck in yours. Considering how you've insulted the members of the UD community, you ought to take note how many here, despite your insults to them, showed a lot of compassion for your plight. Obviously, I don't have as big a heart as they do, but I'd suggest you take note of the grace that some of the people of UD have extended to you, the very same people you label as part of a cesspool. I came close to retracting this thread, but you know, I want to keep it. It shows that despite me, there are some really good guys here at UD. Their comments on this thread are evidence. scordova
ForJah, "I don’t find it wise for a scientific blog to repay evil with evil." A false accusation of evil against Sal is exaggeration, foolishness to do so, lacking any wisdom. “…the man of broad discernment is one that keeps silent.” Proverbs 11:12 So, why r u speaking? News is news and this blog reports on all aspects related to ID, whether scientific, academic, ID opponent essays or smears and false accusations, hypocrisy and double-standards in trying to silence ID proponents. Whatever is noteworthy. Besides, quoting half a proverb, left unmatched, out of context has nothing to do with this news item. Just a convenient way to silence someone you disagree with. Proverbs are lessons and wisdom in daily living, not law. And if abused, leave a wrong impression that Sal did something wrong, when in fact he did not. Proverbs 11:9,12 9 With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors, but through knowledge the righteous escape. 12 He(godless) who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor, But a man of understanding holds his peace. () emphasis mine Sal is not godless, not destroying his neighbor, nor devoid of wisdom and has held his peace well in correctly reporting this news. As to despising this individual, I suggest he is not that type of person. This is a news site. And this post is news. Proverbs 11 on unfaithful, wicked and righteous is interesting as well, esp. Pv 11:6, But I'll leave that to each readers discretion. Thanks Sal DATCG
why push evolution? Just teach and insist the bible or the parts they don't think are true ARE NOT TRUE. Prove it! Preach it! Just teach the bible writers were liars! and just regular humans. Thats all they got to do and evolutionism or something will logically move into the peoples hearts and minds. Robert Byers
Then, after ForJah, Starbuck, and Timaeus call you out for your lack of Christian charity (to put it mildly),
They were right, and I reconsidered and almost removed the post based on their urging, because they were right in as much as I was being uncharitable to Matheson. But then I concluded, we have to stand up for the victims like Calvin did. I wouldn't have reported it if were merely a personal failing and secretly known, but when it crossed into abuse of power, the university intervened and they made the story public.
That is so transparently self-serving and such an obvious post-hoc rationalization, it boggles the mind.
It's true, I did review reasons in light of the protests and came up with reasons to keep the post. Yes, the original issue was Matheson's double standard, and in light of what our more gracious and charitable colleagues posted, I nearly retracted. But then I thought about Calvin's determination to send a message to the world, and I'm glad to assist them. One thing I've learned in all this, the ID community has a strong conscience about not going after people personally. They were right to criticize me for being uncharitable to Matheson, but well, Matheson isn't the real victim here is he. The university stood up to defend a victim of Matheson's abuse of power. I respect the compassion expressed toward Matheson, but his accusations of dishonesty, creepiness, duplicity, etc. by the ID community are wrong. I pointed out, maybe he's not in the best position to be throwing around such accusations. Don't you agree? scordova
Sal, you started out this thread by attacking Steve for a supposed double-standard:
If Matheson left for personal reasons, he is entitled to privacy. But if he left for misconduct, and has been publicly called on it by a Christian College (Calvin College), and further if he has been accusing fellow Christians of being a “cancer on the Christian intellect”, we have some obligation to call him out on his double standard.
Then, after ForJah, Starbuck, and Timaeus call you out for your lack of Christian charity (to put it mildly), you, without even blinking, change tack and claim it was all about academic freedom and protecting students:
Yes, Matheson is suffering immensely, and if it were only his personal suffering I wouldn’t have reported it. But at issue is the victimization of students, and Calvin vigorously reported and has taken action, and that is right thing to do, even if unpleasant.
That is so transparently self-serving and such an obvious post-hoc rationalization, it boggles the mind. NormO
Timaeus, Thank you for your concern and kind words about my past contributions. Steve's private life is his private life. His private failings are his own, and I respect that. What changed my mind to report this was Calvin College's (a Christian College) vigorous broadcasting of the incident to students and various media outlets like Fox News. What was at issue was not Steve's personal interactions but abuse of power and the infringement of students rights and academic freedom. We've pointed out before that Darwinists are willing to abuse their office and infringe on students rights. This infringement has to be resisted in all its forms not just with respect to the ID debate. What he does with his private life is his business, but abuse of power in the university is the concern of all students. I thought his accusation of our ID colleagues was highly unfair, and what he has suffered is far out proportion to the harm his accusations have caused. But, imho, if instead of simply offering honest disagreement, and instead starts churning up accusations of dishonesty, he can be called out for possible double standards. But even then, that in and of itself doesn't justify posting his personal failings for all to see. However, to the extent students were victimized, something has to be said. Calvin College has chosen to do by going very public over the matter. I decided abuse of power shouldn't be something swept under the rug. We have some obligation to stand up for victim students... Yes, Matheson is suffering immensely, and if it were only his personal suffering I wouldn't have reported it. But at issue is the victimization of students, and Calvin vigorously reported and has taken action, and that is right thing to do, even if unpleasant. If the incident were a tightly held secret, I would have left it as such. But a Christian colllege decided to make a very public campaign of highlighting the abuse of power, and I respect them for that. scordova
Scordova: I've often enjoyed your contributions to UD on biological matters, so I write out of respect for your past entries, but I must say, this is one column that I wish you hadn't written. I take into account your explanation of your motives, and your sincere expressions of sympathy for Matheson's personal situation. And I understand the frustration you feel with Matheson's constant accusations of dishonesty against fine Christian ID people like Behe and Meyer. Nonetheless, I think that Matheson's (real or alleged) moral failings are not something that UD should be devoting columns to. Even if he is guilty of a form of personal dishonesty himself, and even if it is somewhat inconsistent of him to lecture others on personal dishonesty given that fact, I still think we should let the subject go. Certain wrong acts carry their own "natural punishment," and I imagine that Matheson has suffered enough of this without us "piling on." I don't take your motivation here as malicious or spiteful, but I think perhaps a certain overzealousness has overtaken your judgment. It's not for me to tell you what to do, but I would recommend that you seriously consider removing this column from the site. As author, I believe you have the right and the power to do that. Steve is not one of my favorite TEs -- his abrasive manner of arguing puts me off. But I think it would be the high road for us not to seek the slightest rhetorical advantage over him due to his personal actions in the non-scientific sphere. Timaeus
By the way, this blog was posted also under "academic freedom". Calvin College sent out this letter to the students and media outlets to uphold students rights from abuse of office by professors. What I've failed to mentions is that the letter was to help uphold students rights, and there has been a violation of students rights and hence academic freedom. I feel very sorry for Steve, but there is a victim in this affair whose name is not known and whose academic freedom has been infringed on. Calvin published the story and made it widely available in the hope of furthering academic freedom. Calvin felt that reporting of this story would help protect students rights, and I stand with them in that regard. scordova
ForJah, Anyway we disagree, but thank you for offering you criticisms. They are valued here. And since we've never met before, despite the contentious topic at hand, let me extend my welcome. "Welcome to UD".
If you are going to apply christian ethics to this professor, make sure you are applying the same ethics to yourself. “Return evil for evil to no one…” Romans 12:17
I have no axe to grind with Matheson. We disagree. The posting was not a matter of retribution. I'm very very sorry for him. He has lost his career, possibly his marriage, his reputation, a source of income, etc. The matter is not really private since it involves a matter of misconduct which the Calvin College has vigorously reported to every student and faculty member and the media outlets. It had relevance also in as much as some speculated his departure was related to Christian Darwinism. This posting hopefully refutes that speculation. When I was alerted of Matheson's departure, I didn't report it because he listed his departure based on "personal matters" and I respected that. However in light of the fact that Calvin College has publicly identified it as a matter of misconduct versus a personal matter, if they found it appropriate to mention, then it is newsworthy. Even then, I probably would not have even mentioned it if Matheson's assault on ID were purely scientific. He could have simply stated the ID community was mistaken, but when he starts making accusations of dishonesty, creepiiness, duplicity -- I felt it appropriate to point out the irony of such words coming from him. As a personal policy, I don't accuse people of lying. I simply disagree, Matheson chose to invoke issues of integrity and honesty. I'm very very sorry for him -- an excellent career down the drain. He acted unwisely. If he wanted to carry on with someone, that's his private business, but it was unwise to do that in the context of students at a University he taught at. This didn't have to happen. We were, as you can see, successfully refuting his scientific claims. We could have won the debate on evidential grounds, but now he's removed himself from the debate. Sal scordova
I'm not denying that it is news worthy. I'm just saying that the article is inappropriate for this blog. If you are going to apply christian ethics to this professor, make sure you are applying the same ethics to yourself. "Return evil for evil to no one..." Romans 12:17 Matheson accused the DI of dishonesty...and you react with..."no you are!" That was the incorrect response. ForJah
ForJah, If creationist Dr. Dino Kent Hovind goes to jail for tax fraud, that is news worthy. If a prominent Darwinist leaves his post that is news worthy whether it is a nice story or not. For example we have reported on an NCSE board member being ousted for lying. The fact that this story is ugly, does not disqualify it as news. If Matheson left for personal reasons, he is entitled to privacy. But if he left for misconduct, and has been publicly called on it by a Christian College (Calvin College), and further if he has been accusing fellow Christians of being a "cancer on the Christian intellect", we have some obligation to call him out on his double standard. I'm sorry for him, but I've done no worse for reporting it any more than Calvin College's public statements to students, faculty, and the rest of the world. Are you faulting me for information which was passed on by a Christian College to the rest of the world? If it were a purely private matter, I would have left it at that, but it no longer is in as much as it is a matter of serious miscounduct for someone affiliated with a religious institution, and it has bearing on Matheson representing himself as some example of integrity to be contrasted with the supposed dishonesty of the ID community. scordova
By the way there was a lot of speculation that Steve Matheson's departure might have been related to the resignation of another Christian Darwinist from Calvin College around the same time. Calvin College: Religion professor's departure makes national news
John Schneider, a longtime Calvin College theology professor until recently, has said there was no historical Adam and Eve. (His September 2010 discussion of the matter is available here.) "Evolution makes it pretty clear that in nature, and in the moral experience of human beings, there never was any such paradise to be lost," Schneider said in an interview with NPR, broadcast today. John Schneider "So Christians, I think, have a challenge, have a job on their hands to reformulate some of their tradition about human beginnings." His departure is also being debated by Chronicle of Higher Education blogger Mike Ruse, who headlines his piece as "The Shame of Calvin College."
and then we have this from Matheson: http://www.christianpost.com/news/calvin-college-professor-claims-administration-not-truthful-over-colleagues-resignation-54046/
Steve Matheson, a research biologist at Calvin College, also recently left the college. Harlow thinks it could be related to the controversy surrounding him and Schneider. Harlow says he has no idea of what really happened, but “in print and on campus [Matheson] was the most vocal and strident critic of our president, provost and college administration for their botching of this whole affair.”
Well, thanks to Calvin College's letter sent to Fox News, we know Matheson's departure is unrelated to his Darwinism. The letter helped set the record straight that Matheson's departure was not because of his Darwinism. His academic freedom was thus maintained in that respect. scordova
I don't find it wise for a scientific blog to repay evil with evil. “...the man of broad discernment is one that keeps silent.” Proverbs 11:12 ForJah
Uncommon Descent has hit bottom with this post. Starbuck
I mean how irrelevant it is to any scientific argument
This article was filed under "Christian Darwinism" not science. Don't blame the news reporter for the bad news that happens in the world. This story is relevant in as much as Matheson has accused the ID community of being dishonest, a cancer to the Christian intellect, duplicitous, etc. Isn't there irony in Matheson's words in light of subsequent events. What he does with his personal life is up to him, but if he is going to parade himself as an example of a Christian professor who espouses Darwin, certain standards of conduct are expected if one is part of a religious institution. If he doesn't want to abide by those standards, he shouldn't affiliate himself with a religious institution. And further, he should not preach to Christian creationists and ID proponents about honesty. I merely released what Calvin College has sent out to Fox News and the whole world. If you feel my reporting is foul, then what about the University alerting Fox News? I agree the events that transpired are foul, but don't shoot the messenger. scordova
This article is really foul...and I don't mean what Matheson said, I mean how irrelevant it is to any scientific argument. I know you acknowledged this at the bottom but still leave the ad hominems for the Darwinists. The high level of intellectual discussions based on actual arguments are what drew me to this site. This is a crap article and should not have been posted. ForJah

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