January 5, 2005

Shall the Twain Ever Meet? More On Academics and Evangelicals

Power Line's Deacon prints Prof. Stuntz's response to a critique of his article suggesting a rapprochement and a certain commonality between secular liberal academics and evangelical Christians. And Deacon in turn responds.

Here's a bit of what Prof. Stuntz has to say:

I think you're mistaken about intellectuals and religion -- at least, my own experience is very much to the contrary. I've been in law teaching for nineteen years, all at secular universities. The attitude toward people with serious religious commitments has grown steadily more tolerant during that time, not less so. Twenty years ago, Christians in secular universities had to keep their heads down (the real heroes are the ones who didn't, and paid a price for it).
Today, it isn't so. At lot of my church friends would be amazed at how friendly and respectful my colleagues are on this front.

* * *

The real problem is cultural issues, and the big one is abortion. If I'm wrong, as I may be, that's the place where I'm making a mistake. Plainly, there isn't going to be some broad agreement about the moral status of the unborn. But why change the rules when you're winning the game? And the pro-life movement is winning --- hundreds of thousands of children are born each year who otherwise wouldn't be, because of the cultural progress that movement has made. Keeping the culture wars about the culture, not about the law, is the key to maintaining that progress. At least so it seems to me.

And a bit of Deacon's response:

I am delighted to hear that Christians in secular universities no longer must "keep their heads down." But I wonder whether this new spirit of tolerance is limited to Christians at secular universities, as opposed to evangelicals in "Jesusland." The post-election contempt directed by certain liberal intellectuals at these red-state evangelicals was unmistakable. If intellectuals at universities have not succumbed, that's great. But, as I said, I wonder. I also wonder whether liberal intellectuals on law faculties, where Stuntz resides, are considerably more prone to tolerate diverse opinions than the liberal professoriate as a whole.

There's a lot more, about Clinton-hating and Bush-bashing, intervention and anti-militarism.

It seems to me that Stuntz and Deacon are talking past each other. Stuntz is talking about similarities and a dialogue that could happen, while Deacon is skeptical, as am I, that it is likely to happen. It seems to me that the humanities and the soft social sciences, at least, are pretty monolithic and pretty far gone, lawyers, who are trained to listen to and analyze arguments, less so. There's more, and it's definitely worth reading.

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