Posted by: cjobrien | 20 April 2008

Richard Colling: A Real Case of Being Expelled

While Ben Stein and the producers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed have been busy spending millions of dollars to manufacture stories of individuals suffering personal trauma simply for accepting intelligent design, they (and their audiences) remain blissfully ignorant to the large numbers of people who have truly been harmed for accepting the scientific realities of evolution. Many of these people profess their own profound Christian faith, but have been penalized in their personal, professional and spiritual lives, sometimes for just suggesting that evolutionary theory might be compatible with a strong faith. The list here is long: Steve Bitterman (lost his teaching job for not teaching the story of Adam and Eve as literal truth); Alex Bolynatz (fired from a teaching position for claiming evolution and faith are compatible); Howard Van Till (subjected to four years of investigative inquiry for suggesting that biblical accounts were influenced by the cultures in which they had been written); Nancy Murphy (threatened with dismissal for writing a negative review of Philip Johnson’s book, Darwin on Trial); Gwen Pearson (forced to resign from teaching biology after being assaulted and receiving threats like “May Christians have the strength to slaughter you and end your pitiful, blasphemous life”); Chris Comer (forced to resign for simply forwarding an email announcing a Barbara Forrest public talk); Paul Mirecki (beaten and then forced to step down as department chair for proposing a class “Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies”); Erik Pianka (received death threats for suggesting human overpopulation was a threat to the planet); Judge John E. Jones (received death threats for referring to intelligent design as “breathtaking inanity” in his judgment of the Dover case); University of Colorado biology professors (received threats); Terry Gray (forced to recant after a negative review of Johnson’s book – apparently Philip Johnson can dish out the criticism but it too much of a coward to take it).

And what about Professor Richard Colling, a man of strong faith who claimed that one could still have a strong faith and believe in evolution? Colling has been barred from teaching biology and his book, Random Designer, has been banned from use on campus.  I have been in communication with Richard Colling on and off over the last year. He has devoted his life and professional career to teaching sound science to the students of Olivete Nazarene University while fostering a strong faith that does not have to contradict our observations of the real world in order to be meaningful. His students adore him (several have contacted me with personal stories). He has fought a constant struggle with the administrators and “benefactors” of Olivete Nazarene over his name, his teaching career and his integrity both as a scientist and as a Christian.

He recently sent me several manuscripts recounting this episode, portions of which I may publish here in posts to come. However, I was struck more by his recent email to me. It reflects the exasperation and despair of a man who has been beaten down emotionally by a system of “Christian” morality more concerned with its own self-righteous welfare than with any philosophy Christ may have advocated. If there is a god, and if he is good and just and honest, then he must be taking Richard Colling’s side:

I am deeply saddened that the entire situation has come to this point of misrepresentation and organized attempts to discredit and malign my reputation. My heart has always been to offer a means to students and to the general public by which science and faith can be viewed as compatible. My faculty colleagues and students will attest that I have done this accurately, as well as faithfully and sensitively in the classroom and in my book, Random Designer. Yet sadly the university leadership, without willingness to accept responsibility for questionable actions and misleading communications, has apparently chosen to ignore these facts. I have discovered that some of the most fundamental voices in the Christian church and culture only want war, and seemingly will stop at nothing to discredit/destroy anyone who understands the biology/evolution and makes an intellectually honest attempt to communicate peace between Biology and the Bible. This grieves me deeply.

Expelled has fabricated suffering in order to fulfill an all out war on intellectual and spiritual freedom while the same cheerleaders of this movie ignore the true pain and suffering this theological elitism causes. My thoughts go to Richard.



  1. And people wonder why the phrase ‘only in America’ was coined . . . .

  2. Thank you for bringing attention to these other cases of people suffering consequences for expressing their beliefs. I hope someone will make a movie about them, too.

    (Thanks to TelecomTally’s Duane Smith for pointing me to your blog.)

  3. […] #40 at Remote Central is every bit as good. World history and European history teachers will want to pay attention to the posts on extinctions on the islands of the Mediterranean. Any one of the posts probably has more science in it in ten minutes’ reading than all of Ben Stein’s mockumentary movie, “Expelled!” That’s true especially when science is used to skewer the claims of the movie, or when discussion turns to the real problems the mockumentary ignores. […]

  4. Just found this–nice job! And, oddly enough, I found it via here:

    What made you decide to post there?
    And, sadly, the response was not at all….well, Christian!

  5. Good picture Chris. You haven’t changed in 25 years.

  6. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Richard Colling, though I have never met him face to face. He painstakingly reviewed my then very rough draft of “Christianity in Evolution–Discovering the Harmony of Faith and Science,” (due for release in April 2011 by Cathedral Center Press, Los Angeles) and offered very constructive criticism. I have read and reread his book “Random Designer,” and have modified my work to integrate his views.

    I am saddened but not surprised by his treatment. In fact, his treatment begs an explanation, for such conflict is endemic to life. Any comprehensive theory of evolution must include it. I am a psychiatrist; conflict has been my bread and butter for 45 years.

    I appreciate your blog. The answer to all this insanity is simple: know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

    Ralph Armstrong, M.D.

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