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College Credits For Trolling the Web? 1164

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the sounds-like-xkcd dept.
Jafafa Hots writes "Some undergraduate and masters level courses at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary require trolling as part of their requirements. In William Dembski's classes on Intelligent Design and Christian Apologetics, 20% of the final grades come from having made 10 posts defending Intelligent Design Creationism on 'hostile' websites. There seems to be no requirement that the posts contain original writing; apparently cut-and-paste jobs are sufficient. Is this the first case of trolling the net being part of course requirements?"
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College Credits For Trolling the Web?

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  • One wonders (Score:5, Funny)

    by TitusC3v5 (608284) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:07AM (#29009613) Homepage
    Do you get extra credit if it's a first post?
    • If you take the act of posting on a message board, especially one as hostile to religion as Slashdot, and consider it less an act of trolling but one of encouraging discussion, then encouraging thoughtful posts creates an opportunity for the student to have his beliefs challenged and subsequently shaped. Only through adversity do people really learn who they are.

      Besides, we're talking about Science here, not "Biblical Creationism" as such. The idea that the Earth was created in 6 literal days replete with "

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:45AM (#29010009)

        I hope you get a good grade.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jedidiah (1196)

        > Besides, we're talking about Science here

        No we're not. We're talking about pure fundementalist Christianity trying to
        pose as something that it's not in order to gain "legitimacy" and to allow it
        better able to be disruptive and invasive.

      • It's a bad thing. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LKM (227954) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:51AM (#29010067) Homepage

        If you read the article, you'll see that they don't require "discussion" of any kind:

        "provide at least 10 posts defending ID that youâ(TM)ve made on âoehostileâ websites, the posts totalling 2,000 words, along with the URLs (i.e., web links) to each post (worth 20% of your grade)."

        The only thing this kind of sociopathic requirement causes is hit-and-run troll posts.

        Also:

        "What ID brings to the table is a new reexamination of facts."

        This is wrong. Scientists already reexamine facts constantly. ID does not add anything useful to the discussion, because it postulates a "theory" that can neither be proven nor disproven, and doesn't make any kinds of useful predictions. That's like saying "postulating sock gnomes requires you to reexamine the facts of where you left your socks yesterday." It doesn't.

        And finally:

        "The other problem with ID is also prevalent in fields such as homeopathy and supernatural research. The attempt to address the issues at hand with a completely open mind leads to bad conclusions."

        That, again, is wrong. Scientists are required to have a completely open mind when it comes to everything, even homeopathy. This is precisely why we have useful studies in which scientists tested the claims made by homeopathy and other "alternative" medicine. It's also why we know which of these things work, and which don't.

        The ones who don't have an open mind are the people who still believe homeopathy works. Their closed-mindedness makes them unable to accept the evidence.

        • by MightyYar (622222) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:55AM (#29010105)

          I have to assume by your denial of sock gnomes that you are trolling. ;p

        • by geckipede (1261408) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:24AM (#29010411)
          "The only thing this kind of sociopathic requirement causes is hit-and-run troll posts." Not so. This isn't about spreading the message. If you've ever seen the comment threads on some of the sites they call "hostile", you'll notice that commenters who try to push a creationist message don't just get ignored, they get hit back hard with a combination of mockery, direct insults, and point by point refutations in extreme detail. This is reliable.

          This is not about preaching, this is about setting up an Us vs. Them attitude in the students, to make it easier to accept the irrational. After all, the other side is evil, they wouldn't have been so mean to them if they weren't, they must be wrong...
          • by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv D ... neverbox DOT com> on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:43AM (#29010649) Homepage

            That does seem to be what it is deliberately designed to do.

            Going to a message board and having an actual discussion might, indeed, be an interesting thing to do.

            But, no, they have to go somewhere 'hostile' and 'make posts'. Not have a discussion on neutral ground, which does, in fact, exist on the internet. they have to show up in a forum where they aren't welcome, and make posts that are going to get nasty responses.

            There is no purpose to this except to get nasty responses, and there is no purpose to nasty responses except to make the students feel like they are persecuted, which is a ridiculously common theme in fundamentalist Christianity.

            • by joib (70841) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:39AM (#29011339)

              I think the persecution complex is pretty universal in Christianity, fundamentalist or not. I was brought up a Lutheran, and in the religion lessons in school it was apparently very important to know how cruelly the evil Romans persecuted the early Christians. And later on, the same thing repeats, except it's the evil Catholics persecuting us poor righteous Lutherans.

              And come to think of it, it's not only Christianity. Remember that Danish cartoon thing? Lots of people were insanely butthurt by that, resulting in epic lulz.

              Bottom line, a persecution complex just seems a very powerful tool to create a us vs. them mentality.

          • Re:It's a bad thing. (Score:5, Informative)

            by bunratty (545641) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:02AM (#29010901)

            This is not about preaching, this is about setting up an Us vs. Them attitude in the students, to make it easier to accept the irrational.

            More importantly, it creates a "controversy," and then they can teach the controversy [wikipedia.org].

          • Martyrdom Light (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Jawn98685 (687784) on Monday August 10, 2009 @01:13PM (#29012881)

            ...This is not about preaching, this is about setting up an Us vs. Them attitude in the students, to make it easier to accept the irrational. After all, the other side is evil, they wouldn't have been so mean to them if they weren't, they must be wrong...

            Exactly!
            And we see that illustrated beautifully in the grandparent's post - "If you take the act of posting on a message board, especially one as hostile to religion as Slashdot..."
            Slashdot is not intolerant of religion, per se. However, it can be brutally intolerant of badly reasoned arguments, articles of faith presented as proof, and other forms of stupidity. Only the most disingenuous tool would suggest that such a metaphorical "bringing a knife to a gun fight" as cut-and-pasting some lame intelligent design screed into a forum populated by those well-equipped to refute it's every point, is anything other than some form of "Martyrdom Light". Having seen the same pathetic arguments put forth time and again, often verbatim (cut-and-paste counts, remember), the forum regulars can be expected to pounce hard and fast. That's pretty much the definition of trolling, and it has nothing to do with intelligent discourse.

      • by AlmondMan (1163229) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:57AM (#29010121)
        I hope your post is a joke, even though it's a pretty bad joke. There is no secluded problems with ID, there is only one problem, and it's ID. You cannot defend it. Re-examination of what? Why are clams on top of a mountain? Why, could it be because a bird dropped it there a million years ago, maybe it was because that mountain was at the bottom of the ocean a billion years ago. What the hell does Intelligent Design have to do with real scientists thinking about such things? Science is about questioning everything! Intelligent Design is NOT about questioning, it's about looking at something, then saying "this is god's work" and then that's that. Intelligent Design is anathema to science. And defending it in any way is ridiculous and retarded.
      • What ID brings to the table is a new reexamination of facts.

        What ID brings is a rebranding of creationism to make it APPEAR similar to science. It's creationism, with less honesty.

      • by odourpreventer (898853) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:14AM (#29010301)

        > especially one as hostile to religion as Slashdot

        We're not hostile to religion, we're hostile to bullshit.

        > ID scientists

        There's no such thing, since ID isn't science. Even your buddy Michael Behe admits that in order for ID to be science, Astrology, Alchemy, New Age, Wicca, etc must also be science.

        It's funny how you ID'ers can't stop contradicting yourselves:

        > ID brushes away the dogma of science and brings the scientific method back to it.
        > The attempt to address the issues at hand with a completely open mind leads to bad conclusions.

        People like you need to understand that there is no point refuting Evolution. Evolution is the glue that holds Biology together, and without it we wouldn't have: Paleontology, Micro-biology, Medicine, Genetics, among other fields.

        Here's a simple thought experiment: If Evolution is false, what created swine flu? The only other possible explanation is that God is a dick, and I don't believe that.

      • by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday August 10, 2009 @12:09PM (#29011837)

        If you take the act of posting on a message board, especially one as hostile to religion as Slashdot, and consider it less an act of trolling but one of encouraging discussion, then encouraging thoughtful posts creates an opportunity for the student to have his beliefs challenged and subsequently shaped.

        A requirement to post with a quota of a certain number of posts, alone, does nothing to promote that. A requirement to post, gather responses, and present a report summarizing and critiquing the response (if the critique were held to rigorous standards) might.

        Besides, we're talking about Science here, not "Biblical Creationism" as such.

        No, we aren't talking about science (much less "Science"), we're talking about Intelligent Design, a pile of pseudoscience wrapped around creationism to give it a skin-deep appearance of science that was invented after the Supreme Court struck down requirements that creationists had won for the teaching of "creation science" (itself, an earlier effort to wrap a veneer of 'science' around creationism) alongside evolution in science classes as a violation of the Establishment clause. And since the same kind of rulings have begun being handed down against ID, one can expect creationists to come up with a new label for the pseudoscience they use to try to use public dollars to advance unscientific miseducation, unless maybe the realize that the whole relabelling approach isn't working and they shift courses entirely.

        The idea that the Earth was created in 6 literal days replete with "faith-challenging" dino fossils and other fairy tales is the story that Evolutionists spread as Intelligent Design dogma.

        Uh, no, young earth creationism isn't a myth created by those who accept the theory of evolution as the best scientific model of the phenomena it explains.

        It shows a very big gap in their knowledge of the ID field which is quite a bit less dogmatic about the 6 day theory and much more in tune with mainstream scientific method.

        ID has nothing in common with the modern scientific method. Repeatedly raising the same questions that there are well-supported answers to, with no evidence to challenge the existing explanations or even acknowledgement of them, isn't the scientific method.

        What ID brings to the table is a new reexamination of facts.

        No, it doesn't. What it brings is a lot of deliberately obtuse repeated questioning of things that have already been explored and answered; its adherents are required to (figuratively, at least) stick their fingers in the ears and close their eyes to avoid seeing and hearing the answers that have been around since before "creationism" renamed itself "creation science" to try to mislead and force its non-scientific dogma into science classrooms, and then, when that failed, renamed itself "intelligent design".

        Why are clam fossils at the top of very young mountains?

        Why wouldn't they be expected to be if the dominant scientific models in the relevant fields (including, but not limited to, evolution) were correct?

        What is the evolutionary progression of DNA?

        What is this question even supposed to mean? If you mean, what are the mechanisms of the genetic mutations which produce the phenotypic variations on which natural selection operates, many of those mechanisms are well understood (some so well that they have been adapated for, controlled modifications, creating the whole field of genetic engineering.)

        Why are there still discrepancies in the geologic and biologic record where we would expect certain types of data but find none?

        The processes which create the fossil record (which appears to be what you are likely referring to as the "geological and biologic record") are fair

      • by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Monday August 10, 2009 @12:57PM (#29012605) Homepage

        >> What ID brings to the table is a new reexamination of facts.

        Okay, I'll bite.

        >> Why are clam fossils at the top of very young mountains?

        Because the "age" of a mountain refers to when the plate material was pushed up, not when the plate material was created. A 10M year old mountain can be made out of 1B year old granite.

        >> What is the evolutionary progression of DNA?

        I think I speak for the entire board when I say, "huh?"

        >> Why are there still discrepancies in the geologic and biologic record where we would expect certain types of data but find none?

        Ask a non-specific question, get a non-specific answer. When the IDers complain about "missing data", they usually mean missing links in the fossil record. They often go through great contortions to assert that there is no "intermediate" for a given stage. For example, they'll say "there is no transitional fossil between bird and reptile." When confronted with Archaeopteryx, they'll point to certain features and claim that it's clearly a bird. Or they'll point to other features and claim that it's essentially a reptile.

        If an ID'er decides that the form really is an intermediate, he'll simply move the goalposts again and say, "okay, where are the transitional fossils between X and Y, and between Y and Z.

        This has zero to do with the scientific method.

        >> ID brushes away the dogma of science and brings the scientific method back to it.

        ID rejects the scientific method, by posting no testable hypotheses. They simply try to cast aspersions on evolution, in the hopes that if they poke enough holes, evolution will crumble, and "God did it" (an untestable and therefore a-scientific hypothesis) will be the only thing left standing.

        To the extent that it forces evolutionary theorists to push forward, ID could be argued to serve a useful purpose. But most of the ID movement involves pushing scientific falsehoods in non-scientific forums, causing people to doubt the basics of science and the honesty of its practitioners without good cause.

  • by andrewd18 (989408) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:08AM (#29009625)
    Wait, wait, wait... You're telling me that a Christian, theological seminary actually has a class that involves defending the tenets of the school's beliefs? This is an outrage!
    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:17AM (#29009709)

      Congratulations, you've earned credit.

    • by Cyberax (705495) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:18AM (#29009721)

      By the way, notice that defending their position does not include a knowledge of evolution theory. So it's really a pure trolling.

      • by mea37 (1201159) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:42AM (#29009957)

        Both you and the submitter assume that because the course summary doesn't specify the standards by which the posts will be graded, that means there are no standards. Unless you've taken the course, neither of us is in a position to know if that's true - which suggests to me that you are assuming what you want to believe about those who disagree with you.

        Considering that this assignment is 20% of the grade, and (in at least one of the courses) is one of only three assignments for the semester (including the final exam), the instructor could impose very rigerous standards when he grades the posts. Whatever standards may or may not exist, detailed assignment instructions would likely be given in the lecture rather than the course summary; so again I can only think of one reason people rush to assume there are none.

    • by db32 (862117) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:18AM (#29009723) Journal

      Last I checked there were no secular biology classes that require students to go find ID websites and defend evolution on them... Unless of course you mean making an ass of yourself spreading pseudoscientific bullshit as one of the tenets of the school's beliefs.

      Here is another fun requirement for the class.

      Trace the connections between Darwinian evolution, eugenics, abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia. Why are materialists so ready to embrace these as a package deal? What view of humanity and reality is required to resist them?

      In fact...my outrage is that the school is actively encouraging these shit for brains to go forth and share their idiocy. Writing a paper about this crap is one thing, but actively going out and finding 'hostile' websites to post on is just being a douchebag. You might also carefully consider the fact they use the word 'hostile' to describe those who disagree with them. Now, if you are ok living under fundamentalist religion rule like the Taliban, by all means, just let them continue their push and growth. Palin 2012!

      • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:26AM (#29009797) Journal

        What the fuck is that shit? Saying that if you believe in evolution you are for eugenics, abortion and infanticide? Talk about demonizing people to defend your position. What scum write something like that?
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:38AM (#29009913)

          What scum write something like that?

          Religious people.

          What do you expect? They can not come up with facts to defend their position, so they have to do what all major religions are about: make shit up.

      • by Canazza (1428553) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:35AM (#29009893)

        Marketing Students should go on forums and attempt to defend ID. Bonus credit for converting people.

      • by readin (838620) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:38AM (#29010587)
        To help you with your assignment, you can begin with the references found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics#Overview [wikipedia.org] in this paragraph

        The modern field and term were first formulated by Sir Francis Galton in 1883,[10] drawing on the recent work of his half-cousin Charles Darwin. From its inception eugenics was supported by prominent people, including Margaret Sanger,[11] Marie Stopes, H. G. Wells, Woodrow Wilson, Prescott Bush, Theodore Roosevelt, Emile Zola, George Bernard Shaw, John Maynard Keynes, John Harvey Kellogg, Winston Churchill, Linus Pauling[12] and Sidney Webb.[13][14][15] Its most infamous proponent and practitioner was however Adolf Hitler who praised and incorporated eugenic ideas in Mein Kampf, and emulated Eugenic legislation for the sterilization of "defectives" that had been pioneered in the United States.[16]

        The first person mentioned, Margaret Sanger, founded the American Birth Control League (which eventually became Planned Parenthood).

    • by Creepy (93888) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:33AM (#29009875) Journal

      Force feeding ID and Creationism seems a bit extremist to me. Christians like my brother and parents are deeply religious weekly churchgoers and believe in evolution, not ID. My brother is even a Rush Limbaugh/Ann Coultier/Sean Hannity loving hard right Republican (and married to a left leaning liberal wife, which is pretty amusing). I'd have to assume there are many other Christians that share that belief.

      The issue at hand is the guy is forcing the students to troll, and to troll with philosophy that isn't shared by all Christians, possibly not even by the students themselves. Even if they do believe it, it is kinda like sending a guy in a blue uniform and police badge and a pistol into a gang house full of people with automatic weapons alone and asking them to surrender without a fight (except without the possibility of literally getting killed... I think).

      • by dcollins (135727) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:38AM (#29010585) Homepage

        "Even if they do believe it, it is kinda like sending a guy in a blue uniform and police badge and a pistol into a gang house full of people with automatic weapons alone and asking them to surrender without a fight (except without the possibility of literally getting killed... I think)."

        Not so much... It's not that they expect anyone to be won over/surrender. The point of an exercise like this is for the "apologist" to experience repeated abuse and become disassociated to the point where they completely tune out any criticisms of their crazy belief system. That's how a lot of cult-like organizations work. It's quite effective.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HangingChad (677530)

      This is an outrage!

      Actually, it sort of is an outrage. If that school is taking federal money or students are getting government backed student loans to go out and preach religious dogma as some kind of pop science, I do find that a bit outrageous and a little offensive.

      If it's all private money and students are paying their own way, that's a little less offensive. Still, it borders on a fusion of religion and politics. They're not spreading their faith, they're spreading some militant concoction of

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:11AM (#29009639)

    In my independent study class, I search out intelligent design posts and make fun of them.

    Sheesh, some people have to be told everything.

  • Full disclosure (Score:4, Interesting)

    by davidwr (791652) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:13AM (#29009667) Homepage Journal

    As long as the students fully disclose that they are doing this for a class requirement, this could be a good thing, for the students, for the school, and for anyone participating in the resulting discussion.

    It can be a good thing for students, to expose them to real-world reactions - both civil and less than civil - to their posts. It can train them to make their posts in non-trollish manner. It may also expose them to ideas they would not have otherwise considered.

    It can be good for the school and professor when the school gets feedback from others involved in the discussions and from websites.

    It can be good for those participating and reading the discussions because THEY may be exposed to ideas they would not otherwise consider.

    It's one thing to have an idea, study opposing ideas, then confirm your belief in your original idea. It's another to blindly accept an idea and refuse to think about or even expose yourself to other ideas. Such willful blindness is bad for individuals and, on a larger scale, bad for society.

    • Re:Full disclosure (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:26AM (#29009799) Journal

      As long as the students fully disclose that they are doing this for a class requirement, this could be a good thing, for the students, for the school, and for anyone participating in the resulting discussion.

      I, personally, don't see why the students should have to disclose anything. Their opinions are valid (even if their evidence is... er... patchy), and I don't see how knowing who inspired their comments would do anything but open them up for cheap ad hominem shots.

      If they're really so wrong, we should be able to demonstrate it without such disclosures.

      • Re:Full disclosure (Score:4, Insightful)

        by KillerBob (217953) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:48AM (#29010035)

        Somebody moderate the parent insightful... he's absolutely correct. It doesn't really matter if they're posting on the 'net because they have to for class requirements, and all it really does is open them up to attacks on the fact that they're still students, or attacks on their school.

        It's up to the person themselves whether they're going to listen to opposing viewpoints. To a large extent that's dependant on their upbringing and their education. If the school isn't teaching them to listen to what their opponents are saying so that they can understand where they're coming from, then no amount of disclosure is going to improve things for anybody. The problem really comes when people decide that listening to what the opposition says is lending credence to their argument, when the reality is simple: I don't have to agree with what you're saying, but you have a right to say it, and I will show you the same courtesy that I'd expect when I'm expressing my opinions.

        It doesn't really matter if you don't convince the ID people that they're wrong. Strictly speaking, we can't actually know whether they're wrong or not, that's why it's a non-theory. But it could still be correct. I don't have to believe it to recognize that as a possibility. But there's far too many people, on both sides of the argument, who refuse to accept even the remotest possiblity that the other side might be right, and that their beliefs might be wrong. When that happens, it stops being about expanding our knowledge, and starts being about dogma and fanatical devotion. And quite frankly, the atheists are just as guilty as the ID people.

        Going off on a rant, but I think the problem lies in the education system. No, I don't think you should be teaching religion in schools. Actually, I don't think you should be teaching "knowledge" at all in schools, for the first bit. Teach basic maths and literacy, because you need them to function in contemporary society, but leave history, geography, and such out of it at first. Teach the kids how to think critically, and how to examine every viewpoint they're presented with so that they're capable of producing the truth on their own. Then, and only then, should you present them with the facts and historical details, as such materials are *always* written with a bias.

      • Re:Full disclosure (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Scrameustache (459504) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:03AM (#29010185) Homepage Journal

        Their opinions are valid (even if their evidence is... er... patchy)

        An argument is valid if and only if the truth of its premises entails the truth of its conclusion.

        They may have a right to their opinion, as idiotic as those may be, but that doesn't make them valid.

    • Re:Full disclosure (Score:4, Insightful)

      by AndersOSU (873247) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:40AM (#29009939)

      Wishful thinking.

      Those of us who have experienced a liberal education know that while professors may have their own preconceived notions, in general, they'll give favorable marks to a well argued contrary position. In fact, these professors are better often positioned to recognize (and reward) a well reasoned critique than even those who hold the contrary positions.

      Contrast that to some of the final exam questions for this "teacher's" course:

      No amputees are recorded as having been healed in the New Testament (i.e., no one with a missing
      limb is said to have grown back the limb in response to a prayer by Jesus or one of the Apostles).
      Indeed, throughout Church history it appears that no such miracle has occurred (if you know of a wellconfirmed
      case, please cite it). Atheists therefore argue that if miracles really happened and gave
      evidence of God, God would have performed a healing like growing back the limb of an amputee. Do
      atheists have a point here? How do you maintain that miracles are real in the face of such criticism?

      Shorter: "Please pander to me by knocking down the straw man I've just set up."

      This is not education. This is indoctrination. Critical thought, self examination, and probing questions are not welcome. The goal of the trolling requirement is akin to hammering an online poll so that it seems like your view point is more prevalent than it really is.

      For the record, I am not of the opinion that a scientific mindset is incompatible with a belief in god.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >>It can be a good thing for students, to expose them to real-world reactions - both civil and less than civil - to their posts. It can train them to make their posts in non-trollish manner. It may also expose them to ideas they would not have otherwise considered.

      If they get civil responses, I'd be shocked.

      Even when I posted a way of reformulating ID so that it is a scientificly formulated and testable hypothesis, people still flamed the shit out of me, even though at some point in the near future we

      • Re:Full disclosure (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jafiwam (310805) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:29AM (#29010465) Homepage Journal
        Exactly, getting a civil response is not the goal.

        This seems to be less about ID and more about not getting civil responses. The professors don't give two shits about convincing anybody in the forums of anything.

        Getting the students to do this, takes a retarded worldview and forces them to plop it down where it really wasn't invited with the inevitable hostile responses.

        Which in turn, indoctrinates or say... brainwashes the students into viewing the outside, thinking world as a hostile place to their kind.

        And, thus insures the students stick to their kind and stop looking at the outside world (especially the Internet) as a place to get good information.

        This is simply brainwashing. A clever way to do it granted, but that doesn't change the affect on the student. They still come out suspicious and feeling attacked by the internet and non-whack people, the effect desired by the school administrators.
  • I wonder... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by loafula (1080631) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:13AM (#29009669)
    ...if they ever get the feeling that they are wasting their time?
  • by NevarMore (248971) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:13AM (#29009671) Homepage Journal

    I'm not trolling, I'm _evangilizing_ . Time to wreck my karma with a mess of '-1 Evangilist' mods.

  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:15AM (#29009693)
    No accredited university should be requiring students to make public statements defending specific ideas under ANY situation, trolling or not. If this seminary is not receiving public funding, them I'm perfectly fine with them requiring any crazy shit they want to, but I don't think the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools [wikipedia.org] (SACS) should be accrediting them as an academic institution (this isn't the first time SACS's rather lax standards have been called into question--over a variety of issues). Students should retain their rights to their own opinions in any respectable academic setting, be they a liberal in a accredited seminary or a conservative at Berkley. If a professors wants to get up in class and rant about their beliefs, that's fine--but they WAY cross the line when they require (or even attempt to coerce) students to affirm those ideas themselves.
    • by davidwr (791652)

      Many if not most seminaries won't grant you don't actually believe what they are teaching. After all, most seminary graduate go off to become preachers and other religious teachers.

      Undergraduate school is ideally designed to teach you to think.

      Many/most/maybe all seminaries are designed to filter in those who think like the school wants them to and give them the education necessary to propagate their beliefs to others.

    • Re:No (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Guse (1283076) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:22AM (#29009757)
      I don't know, man... this is a *seminary* that we're talking about. The people graduating from this program need to be able to defend their beliefs and preach to the "unpreachable". Maybe it's an odd way to go about it, but I can honestly see some benefits in doing this. You have to make a stand and really be able to defend your beliefs, and defend them well because there are some really well versed atheists out there, both in terms of science and theology. This will force you to be equally well-versed in both. As for students "retaining their rights to their own opinions"... these are seminary students. Shouldn't they all desire to convert the fallen, so to speak? My father-in-law is a preacher, and I don't think he's particularly like doing this, but I think he would and not feel as if he were being forced or coerced into it (believe me, this is minor compared to most of the crap that you have to go through to be a full-time preacher... their hiring practices would be illegal anywhere but in a church).
  • by Davemania (580154) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:16AM (#29009705) Journal
    Only if you consider clown college and hamburger school to be real educational institutions
  • by terjeber (856226) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:17AM (#29009713)

    I mean, if you go to a nut job school, trying to learn how to be a real nut job, the fact that they have to turn you into a troll first should come as no surprise.

    Superstitious idiots are going to be around as long as there are cockroaches. Those of us with brains will just have to learn how to live with it.

    RAID doesn't even work all that well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      RAID doesn't even work all that well.

      Works for me ;) Every time a disk fails I replace it and all is good. Haven't needed to load my backup tapes yet.

      Superstitious idiots are going to be around as long as there are cockroaches.

      Um, no. Cockroaches will become extinct at some point (possibly evolving into a new more intelligent species) and superstitious idiots will still be around. Hopefully our new cockroach-based friends are more interesting to talk to.

  • The Easter Bunny should be discussed in school science lessons rather than dismissed, says the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

    "If pupils have strongly-held family beliefs about the Easter Bunny, such ideas should be explored," said Prof William Dembski (D.D, Ph. D. [P.T. Barnum University mail-order]). "Easterbunnyism, Santaclausism or the contemporary militant Tooth Fairy jihadist movement are best seen by science teachers not as a misconception but as a world view. This is more valuable than simply banging on about 'reality.' Reality-based thinking is vastly overrated and certainly won't prepare children for a career in Wall Street or in government."

    Simon Underdown of Oxford Brookes University disagreed. "With so much to be crammed into science lessons, it is not a worthwhile use of time to include lessons on Easterbunnyism. We have monthly standardised testing to coach pupils on."

    Professor Richard Dawkins [today.com] is working on a childrenâ(TM)s text on useful ways to quickly construct street-corner gallows and burning stakes for rehabilitation of the religious.

  • by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:26AM (#29009795) Homepage
    That underlines the basic problem with fundamentalism in religion- it is anti-creativity and anti-intellectual and very proud of it. Of course copying and pasting the 'argument' is just fine because unlike most institutions of learning, theirs teaches students not to think for themselves.
  • by Fished (574624) <amphigory@@@gmail...com> on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:28AM (#29009817)

    Disclaimer: I'm an ordained minister with a Masters of Divinity (Seminary) and a Ph.D. in New Testament (Public University).

    You need to remember that seminarys are strange animals academically. The degree of academic freedom runs the gamete from little (fundamentalist schools) to a great deal (liberal seminaries). However, in almost all there is at least a set of shared convictions that are held by all, or almost all, students and faculty. Even at the most liberal, it's sort of assumed that you at least believe in God, or why are you there? Seminaries are professional schools for training pastors, not academic institutions.

    SBTS is part of the "new" SBC, and so is basically fundamentalist in outlook, and virtually all students and faculty will be fundamentalist in outlook. If they weren't, they would have gone somewhere else. It's not unreasonable to assume that most students are going to hold to an ID or Creationist point of view.

    Moreover, this course is almost certainly an elective, so no student is required to take it. Even then, speaking as someone who is basically Anabaptist theologically who went to a school where none of the professors were Anabaptist, all my professors were quite flexible. They had no problem with me writing from what one called my "peculiar viewpoint" so long as I did so respectfully and rigorously. I imagine a student that really had a problem for this requirement would be able to get out of it.

    Last, Bill Dembski is a smart guy (I've met him), although I don't always agree with him. I rather doubt he would give full credit for "CREATI0N1SM R0X, SUX0RZ!"

    • Um... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:59AM (#29010145)
      Assuming your first line to be true (I am dubious because if you know NT Greek, as presumably you must with a PhD in the NT, writing "gamete" instead of "gamut" would have set an alarm bell ringing):

      This is nothing to do with theology. The examples quoted make it clear that this is a political issue. One of the most depressing things for people like me, who went to a small university in the English fens before deciding that engineering was more interesting and of more benefit to the human race, is that US fundamentalists completely confuse politics and religion. The madness is spreading to the Anglican Church in the UK, where Nigerian politics is now more important than good relations with the Episcopalians.

      US fundamentalism takes the form of assigning religious worth to capitalism - if God loves you, you will be materially rich - and also aligns itself with backward notions about Creationism and ID which are more about trying to prove liberals "wrong" than spreading light. The simple fact is that it requires really determined blinkers to believe either that Bible literalism has very deep roots (certainly St. Augustine would have wondered what these people were on about) or that the enormous body of information about geology and biology built up in the last 200 years admits of a fundamentalist interpretation.

      To be blunt, if these seminaries were doing their jobs they would be teaching pastoral care, teaching how the New Testament (rather than some cherry picked collection of political positions) can be made relevant today, and preparing their students to heal wounds in society and reduce polarisation between social groups. Instead, they appear to be giving course credits for less violent versions of the activities that give the Taliban a bad name.

      You say that seminaries are schools for training pastors, and I agree they should be. But we should then not defend "seminaries" that are training schools for bigoted ideologues who will seek to stir up division in society and spread ignorance. If this man Dembski cannot see why he is wrong on this, he needs to be hit on the head with the Sermon on the Mount till he gets a clue.

      • Re:Um... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Fished (574624) <amphigory@@@gmail...com> on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:16AM (#29010323)

        Diagnosing my ability (or lack thereof) in New Testament Greek from misspelling an English word is a bit silly, but whatever... for what it's worth, I got nailed by the spell checker. *sigh*

        Realistically, neither your nor I get to tell fundamentalists what an appropriate way of training pastors is. I left the Southern Baptist Convention in disgust many years ago for much the reasons you cite and now call myself a "Virginia Baptist" when I have to identify what flavor of Baptist I am. However, the ATS (Association of Theological Schools), which accredits seminaries of ALL kinds, including Jewish, Muslim, and I even think there's a Baha'i seminary now, is of necessity an inclusive body. They can't judge the theological merits of a particular denomination when accrediting a seminary--only the degree to which the training offered is effective towards training someone within those imperatives. That you think the defense of Intelligent Design is foolish is frankly utterly irrelevant, because they don't, and it's their opinion that counts.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:29AM (#29009833) Homepage

    I was ready to give it the benefit of the doubt - after all, religion without ministry is just jerking off your soul - until I read this gem:

    EXTRA CREDIT: For those who think they need mercy on missed or poorly answered quizzes, please get Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals and write a 750 to 1000 word reflection on lessons to be drawn from that book for Christian apologetics. You need to have spent at least 6 hours carefully reading the book and sign your name to that effect (i.e., your paper must include something like "I have spent at least six uninterrupted hours reading Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals. -Jane Doe"). [...] Just what I do to improve your grade as a consequence of this exercise is at my discretion.

    Jeepers, you might as well just write "I spent a full 24 hours giving myself paper cuts with the book while chanting the Lord's Prayer, so I felt I'd leveled up and skipped actually writing the 'reflection.'"

    And they keep saying the word "critical review". I do not think that means what they think it means. I think they'd find any actual "critical" writing to be... Suppressive [xenu-directory.net].

  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:33AM (#29009871)
    ... as the NO U college.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:37AM (#29009911)

    Back in the day, you could get a knighthood for attempting to sack Jerusalem in the name of Christianity -- presumably including killing people. If we're down to online trolling, that's a good thing.

    • Back in the day, you could get a knighthood for attempting to sack Jerusalem in the name of Christianity -- presumably including killing people. If we're down to online trolling, that's a good thing.

      Alas, we're not just down to trolling (and that's been going on, in one form or another, since the Inquisition, probably earlier). Killing people over petty religious differences about what the fairy in the sky wants us to do, or how we're supposed to abase ourselves before him, or mistreat our wives and daught

  • What's the change? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stokessd (89903) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:43AM (#29009971) Homepage

    Happy shiny people come by my house to troll in person from time to time. I find that WAY more annoying than trolling on websites such as this where we all can have a good laugh at them. When they ring my doorbell (despite a no soliciting sign in the neighborhood), I now have to deal with my dogs and stopping what I'm doing. Trolling on one of these boards doesn't interrupt my morning breakfast or a good wank etc. So to me, if this replaces the door to door brainwashing service it's a good thing (TM).

    Sheldon

  • Apologetics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:43AM (#29009975)
    This is not Apologetics, even when using original material. The tipping point is the "hostile websites" requirement. If a town doesn't want to listen, kick the dust off your sandals and move on.
  • by cavtroop (859432) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:43AM (#29009977)

    ...and that'll blow the uni off the net for a while, i think :)

  • by R2.0 (532027) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:47AM (#29010029)

    I may be the first (and only) poster to defend the professor in the article, but here goes.

    It is a course at a Baptist Seminary in Intelligent Design and Christian Apologetics. From Wikipedia:

    "Apologetics is the whole of the consensus of the views of those who defend a position in an argument of long standing. The term comes from the Greek word apologia (), meaning a speaking in defense.

    Early Christian writers (c 120-220) who defended their faith against critics and recommended their faith to outsiders were called apologists[1]

    In modern times, apologists refers to authors, writers, editors of scientific logs or academic journals, and leaders known for defending the points in arguments, conflicts or positions that receive great popular scrutinies and/or are minority views.

    These people are studying to be ministers in a religion. One of their roles is to defend their faith and its tenets. Given the position of the Internet in the world today, how could anyone say they are qualified to do that without having done work on the internet? And, since the focus is on defense of those tenets, the best place to practice that is on hostile websites. So I believe the assignment is appropriate to the course aims.

    Note that I am not a Baptist (RC here), I think ID (except as a philosophical experiment) is creationism in disguise, and trolls irritate me too. But lets face it - who here hasn't trolled in order to tweak someone or start a flamewar? Hell, the folks on Slashdot practically invented some forms of trolling (Goatse, anyone?).

    So, instead of excoriating the professor, we should invite his students onto here and "help" them with their studies.

  • RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by astrodoom (1396409) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:04AM (#29010207)
    Disclaimer: Christian Electrical Engineering Student

    I would like to point out that "RichardDawkins.net" is definitely presenting one side of this story, and anyone who takes a brief look at the site can tell which side that is. This is a philosophy course they're referencing and if you look at the tests you'll notice that the questions are just like any philosophy course. They ask you to explain/argue both sides of an issue (one of the test questions even says argue against ID).

    Speaking as a student, this is actually a brilliant form of instruction. What better way to make you understand and can use the material you've been taught then to have you defend it against people who will purposely be attacking it vehemently. This course is titled Intelligent Design so I would expect students to learn enough about it to defend it on some level. Why take the course if you're not going to learn the reasoning behind the subject matter.

    Also, to everyone who has said that students shouldn't be given an assignment that makes them present/defend a viewpoint outside of their own. Try taking an english class sometime with a christian viewpoint. The stuff they require you to read and write about definitely does NOT fall within my viewpoint most of the time.
  • by abigsmurf (919188) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:51AM (#29010749)
    I'm not the biggest fan of Richard Dawkins. I'm an Atheist and yes, Evolution is the only explanation for biodiversity on Earth but that doesn't mean I think people should be ridiculed for their beliefs.

    His attacks on Intelligent design serve as a front for him to attack religion as a whole. He spreads the myth that religion and evolution can't be compatible (why exactly could it not be argued that god designed life with the capability to mutate?) to attack religion whilst using "I'm just debating the science" defence when called on it.

    His hard line approach makes Atheists as a whole look like intolerant arses and I don't want to be associated with it. Even science, even though it is evidence based, does rely on a certain amount of faith (that earlier theories are correct, that scientists in fields you're not familiar with are correct). Yes science changes over time but so does religion. There are plenty of laws based on questionable religious principles but there are equally plenty of laws based on questionable science.

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