Monday, November 22, 2010


"In 'The Practice of American History: A Special Issue' The Journal of American History 81.3 (1994), 'A Statistical Summary of Survey Results' provided data, some of which are germane to our present discussion. Of particular interest is the response of historians to the question of 'allegiances or identities as important to them as historians.' The leading answer was 'Ideological commitments' (41 percent), followed by 'Education' (38.7 percent), then 'Nationality' (31.3 percent). 'Religion' (14.8 percent) placed seventh (1193). Biases and agendas come in many forms....[quoting Dale Allison] 'It is, furthermore, evident that some we might think of as having no theological agenda are partly motivated by an animus against traditional Christian doctrine, which is in reality just another sort of theological agenda. The trite truth is that none of us is without philosophical bias or theological interest when we sit down to study Christian origins, so the alleged lack thereof seems a dubious criterion for classifying scholars who quest for Jesus'...He [Wolfhart Pannenberg] later adds that an a priori attitude against miracles 'continues to dominate the [scholarly] scene....Desire for emancipation from a conservative or fundamentalist background is often more influential in biblical exegesis than is commitment to sound historical judgment'...In a study conducted by the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, Tobin and Weinberg (2007) were alarmed to discover that faculty in American universities had largely negative feelings toward evangelical Christians - 53 percent (81). So prevalent and deep was this animosity that they ask, 'One begins to wonder if faculty indeed harbor prejudices that affect the classroom environment and/or their research' (80)" (Michael Licona, The Resurrection Of Jesus [Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2010], n. 38 on p. 39, n. 55 on pp. 42-43)


  1. Thanks Jason,

    For more info on your statement regarding faculty bias against evangelical Christians see here-

    I suspect this would be a factor in the top 3 "leading answers" as well.

    Now, with respect to the leading 'Ideological commitment' category- would that primarily be a 'naturalistic' commitment bias?

  2. Biases against Christians and Christianity amongst purportedly tolerant secular liberals in academia?


  3. Ron,

    I don't know the breakdown of the "Ideological commitments" category. And numbers on naturalism could be misleading. People often adopt something close to naturalism without classifying themselves as naturalists. They'll allow for the possibility of miracles, but require that a purported event meet an unreasonable standard before being accepted as a historical miracle. It's common, for example, to argue that the upfront likelihood of a miracle is the frequency with which the event in question has occurred historically among humans in general or within some other overly vague category. Therefore, any evidence for a miracle supposedly would have to outweigh that initial improbability. That sort of confusion of categories is widespread. The fact that somebody who adopts that line of reasoning doesn't profess to be a naturalist doesn't change the fact that he's irrationally critical of miracle claims.