How do I deal with theistic professors/teachers?

I have been out of school for a few years now, but I recently started my first semester of college, and something came up that I wasn't expecting - theist teachers. In my developmental psychology class, we had to write an informal paper about a few topics in our textbook, so I chose epigenetics and the nature/nurture 'debate'. We only had to write one page, but since I'm kind of a Dawkins nerd, I wanted to share my thoughts with a bit more depth, so I put a lot of effort into discussing it, and even touched on Lamarckian inheritance, which wasn't mentioned at all in the text. I wanted to share my thoughts and enthusiasm with what we were reading about, so I really enjoyed it. I felt I could finally chat about this stuff with a professional, face to face, and looked forward to her comments.

Well, I came to class today and heard her criticizing the theory of evolution and said people who disagree with it are ostracized and persecuted. At this point, I was shocked. Here we are talking about the definition of a theory, the importance of the scientific method, how (and why) it works, and then the next week she says this. My brain just shut down, and I was so distracted by what she said in class that I couldn't focus. Every fiber of my being wanted to chime in and talk about it, because I was so frustrated with her statements, but as a new student, I wasn't comfortable becoming the center of attention on the second day of class, and she changed the subject as soon as she was done with her statement. She mentioned Ben Stein's movie 'Expelled', and talked about the 'importance of faith' here and there. She's a very nice person, but I just couldn't wrap my head around what I was hearing. For the remainder of the class, I was torn as to whether or not I wanted to discuss it after class with her, but unlike other theistic discussions with people I know, this is different. She has control over my grades, and this puts me in a very uncomfortable situation. I don't really know what to do. I know some people will just say "too bad, live and let live, deal with it, etc" but I really don't think I can just ignore this.

Have any of you been in a similar situation? What did you do?

Tags: Theist, evolution, instructor, school, teacher

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Just speak to her before or after class and explain that you would appreciate if religious arguments not get mixed into your education. If you wanted religion or debate, you'd join one of those classes instead. You're there to learn about developmental psychology, not that your teacher is a creationist.

My school is ran by mostly religious people, but while they admit they believe, they know it's an inappropriate subject for the classroom.
I always thought anybody educated enough to be a psychology professor would know the evolution theory is pretty solid.

What world have I been living in?
To play devil's advocate for a moment, that's how it feels for a lot of fundamentalist kids who walk into a biology or anthropology class. And that feeling of indignation is what burns behind all the anti-Evolution efforts from people who feel their POV and culture being pushed aside.

One of my biology teachers wouldn't write recommendations for fundamentalist students. And he used a few classes to tear fundamentalist views to shreds. I'm not sure how all that plays out with religious neutrality and school policy, but if fair play is the rule of the day, it sounds like it could have been worse for you. Surely she can't lower your grade for your Evolutionary POV... or for some innocent rebuttal.
One of my biology teachers wouldn't write recommendations for fundamentalist students.

As a high school biology teacher for 30 years the Creation/Evolution issue reared its head at least two or three times a year. The challenges came from students and parents alike (and two teachers who wore Jeebus on their sleeve). Arguing with them is a waste of time - I tried at first, but quickly learned it was an exercise in frustration. As such I gave a stock answer to their "equal time", demands. "Evolution is a part of the approved county curriculum and as a teacher under contract I am required to teach it - creationism/ ID is not part of that curriculum".
If a student challenged, I made a point of posing questions or giving examples that made them consider their point of view with information they probably had never heard. However, I didn't get into debates with students; nor did I penalize a student for their beliefs or their parent's stupidity.
I absolutely concur. If a student feels that you are his or her opponent, then the odds of you imparting anything of educational value diminishes rapidly. If my students ask my beliefs, I tell them, but I do not debate them, and I won't get sucked into those kinds of discussions.

This is somewhat problematic when we get to John Donne and John Milton in the lit book, though...
To play devil's advocate for a moment, that's how it feels for a lot of fundamentalist kids who walk into a biology or anthropology class.

I imagine it is, except you expect science (evolution) to be taught in a science class. I wouldn't go to a religious college and take Creationism 101 only to complain they aren't supporting Evolution.

At the end of the day, it is a matter of SCIENCE. The fundies want creationism? Great. Let's subject it to the same scientific method as Evolution. And to make it fair, we should include about a dozen creation myths from various religions.

That said, I wondered how my Physical Anthropology teacher this semester would handle that. On the one hand, he does a lot more qualifying of Evolution as "just a theory" than I'd like. But on the upside, I think he only did that to brace against any fundie students, which thankfully it doesn't look like we have.

Unlike last semester in cultural Anthropology - same professor. One fundie student who had a cow every time the word Christianity was brought up (as it was usually followed by something like, "... came in and this culture has been forever altered").
I remember in 8th Earth Science:

"Why do planets have a magnetic field Mrs. M?"

"Um....... Because God wanted it that way."

My brow had more wrinkles than Betty White.
"Every fiber of my being wanted to chime in and talk about it, because I was so frustrated with her statements, but as a new student, I wasn't comfortable becoming the center of attention on the second day of class, and she changed the subject as soon as she was done with her statement. "

Wow it's like you tapped into my head! I had that so much in High School. Ignored it. Nearly everyone was religious... so no one else cared apparently. I still think to myself... I should have done something. When one teacher derailed carbon dating... When another teacher, who bragged up and down how impartial she was in class, tried to scare us with homosexuality and atheism... I just sat there full of rage-- but I couldn't win against someone so prone to fighting. She would debate students, and always declare herself the winner. Because yeah, that's totally not intimidating, and totally productive. Ugh.

That's not acceptable in any public school setting, but in college? It's completely ridiculous. You should be able to speak to the dean about it. If that makes you feel bad, since she is nice, you could even contact/email her anonymously (thus not ruining your grade/relationship with professor), and explain why it's uncomfortable and unprofessional.
I'll second Jezzy. I'd talk to the dean, though depending on the situation I might chicken out and do it after final grades are in. At my college every student is encouraged to write a review/evaluation of the teacher.

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