Continuing with James Barham’s The Best Schools interview with design theorist Bill Dembski – who founded this blog – for some straight talk on some pretty skewed schools:
TBS: If you had to guide a college-bound high school senior on where to pursue undergraduate studies, what would you say? What are some of the top schools and programs that embody your educational philosophy? Where would you not send this high school senior?
WD: In answering this question, I’m thinking of where I would send my junior-high children in a few years. It’s a tough question. Back when I was leaving high school, as a non-Christian, my eyes were simply on academic excellence and prestige. I was first in my high school class and would have gone to Harvard or Princeton most likely, but I decided to leave high school a year early without graduating, and thus went to the University of Chicago, which had a program for kids like me. But I’m not sure I’d recommend these schools any longer, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend my motivation.
As a Christian now, I would like to recommend Christians institutions, but I’m dead-set against many of them and ambivalent about most of the rest. Many Christian institutions have an inferiority complex in which they’re trying to ape the secular academy and gain its approval. Those that resist this mentality often adopt a fundamentalist mentality in which they think they’ve got everything nailed down. That may work in the Christian ghetto, but it has no traction in the wider culture.
I’m painting with a broad brush here, and individual faculty at these institutions will vary and some of them will be very fine. But in my view, much of what passes as Christian education is nothing I want my kids exposed to.
That said, I’m aware of a few institutions that seem quite promising: Grove City College, Biola University (left), Union University, Dordt College, Northwestern College (MN), Taylor University, etc. These are just off the top of my head—I’ve spoken at several of these schools regarding ID. There are, I’m sure, many (but not too many) others. And you can rest assured I’ll do my due diligence by the time my kids get ready to ship off to college.
But these days, my first impulse in answering such a question is to recommend that high schoolers go to a solid state school at which there is a healthy campus community that will keep them on the straight and narrow as they face the temptations of college. At least one good local church and some outspoken Christian faculty are, in my view, vital for such a community. Texas A&M University and the University of Georgia at Athens come to mind.
Where would I not send such high schoolers? To campuses with a flaming liberal bias that delights in exposing students to the perversity and decadence of our culture. Schools that offer freshman seminars in body piercing or sex reassignment surgery or queer studies would, for me, be off the table.
Word of advice to parents: Don’t just look at the brochures and catalogs that schools send out and don’t just go where the tour guides take you on your campus visit. Look at the course schedule for a semester and see what’s being offered to incoming freshmen. Sit in on some classes. Sit in on highly publicized lectures. Look at bulletin boards and see what campus groups are prominent (is it the local Intervarsity chapter or the local LGBT caucus?). Go to the campus bookstore and see what texts students are reading. Go to the student center, eat in the cafeteria, and get a sense of the campus culture first-hand. If it leaves you feeling queasy, move on to another school.
See also: Asking Bill Dembski: Who are your favorite Christian or other theist authors?
Asking Bill Dembski: What would a school lesson plan for IDconsist of?
Is information a primitive concept, on a par with matter and energy?
Is there any such thing as information in the abstract or is it always information for an agent?
What does Bill Dembski think of David Abel’s “prescriptive information” theory?
Bill Dembski: Two different concepts of what ID is: Internal vs. external teleology
Pressing Bill Dembski on his conception of ID
Dembski on why ID’s struggle is going to be long and hard
Bill Dembski answers, How do we explain bad design?
Bill Dembski on the problem of good
Bill Dembski on young vs. old Earth creationists, and where he stands
Bill Dembski on the Evolutionary Informatics Lab – the one a Baylor dean tried to
Why Bill Dembski took aim against the Darwin frauds and their enablers #1
Why Bill Dembski took aim against the Darwin frauds and their enablers Part 2
Bill Dembski: The big religious conspiracy revealed #3
Bill Dembski: Evolution “played no role whatever” in his conversion to Christianity #4
So how DID Bill Dembski get interested in intelligent design? #5b – bad influences, it seems
So how DID Bill Dembski get interested in intelligent design? #5a
Bill Dembski: Trouble happens when they find out you mean business
What is Bill Dembski planning to do now?
What difference did Ben Stein’s Expelled film make? Dembski’s surprisingly mixed review
Bill Dembski on the future of intelligent design in science