Study: Biology professors are biased against Evangelicals

First published in a CMI newsletter, June 2020


by , CMI-US

Published: 22 December 2020 (GMT+10)

As CMI has documented, science started in a Christian world view, and most of the founders of modern science were biblical creationists. But now, “Christians are one of the most underrepresented groups in science,” according to researchers at Biology Education Research Lab at Arizona State University.1 They conducted three studies to find out why.

Perceived and actual bias

This first study was about perceived bias, and they note that a majority of both Christian and non-Christian undergraduate biology students thought “discrimination against Christians is a problem in science.” A third thought that discrimination was “not rare”, and 19% thought that this discrimination was serious enough to deny them “equal opportunities for achievement.”

This widespread perception should not have been a surprise. There are a number of high-profile academics who misuse their positions to attack Christianity and promote their own religion of atheopathy. And they receive little pushback from their peers.2 But still, the researchers wanted to find out if the perceptions of bias matched actual bias.

The second study tested how academic biologists rated applications for Ph.D. programs that signaled an atheist, generic Christian, or “no religious identity”. They found that atheistic biologists didn’t rate a Christian lower in competence or likeability than “no religious identity”, but did rate the atheist applications higher.

However, some mentioned that they would not like an “Evangelical” or “Fundamentalist”, one who takes the Bible as authority. They note just what we have: that there is a conflict between the Bible and evolution, but also note what we have lamented: some professing Evangelicals accept evolution.

Proven actual bias against Bible-believers

So they conducted a third study that where an application for a Ph.D. program signaled overt Evangelicalism—but said nothing about evolution. And indeed, they concluded: “Scientists perceive evangelical students as less hireable, less competent, and less likeable.” Furthermore, these scientists denounced evangelical Christianity as “rigid and unchanging” and “discourages diversity of viewpoints”. They didn’t note how atheistic evolutionists are also very rigid and intolerant of dissenting views.

Study recommendations

The authors concluded that there is widespread perception of anti-Christian bigotry among scientists. So they thought it was in the best interest of science to counteract this perception. This includes encouraging Christian participation. Notably lacking was a course in the Christian foundations of science, and they advocated presenting examples of Christian evolutionists.

What should we do as parents and pastors?

Many polls have documented that at least two-thirds of youth who grew up in church homes lose their professed faith when they reach college. A major reason is that they are exposed to evolutionary indoctrination, and are woefully under-equipped.

As the trio of studies shows, there is the additional reason: they face actual intimidation and bias from academics. And they will be in an atmosphere where Christophobic hostility is perceived.

However, it doesn’t need to be that way! In our DVD Fallout!, we show that if kids are equipped with good answers in the church and home, they are far more likely to have a real biblical worldview of their own. And they will be all the better for it: e.g. they will be better scientists if they understand the reasons why science exists in the first place.

But CMI doesn’t simply want to provide information—we want people to use it wisely. That’s why we produced the Creation Survival Guide. This is mainly a list of things both to do and not to do, so students won’t needlessly put a big target on their backs. It also has testimonies of creation scientists, and others who experienced hostility and how they handled it.

Salt and light

This has wider application. Christians also work honorably in offices and in trades. Actual and perceived bias is likely not as strong as in the universities, but it still exists. Meanwhile, Jesus said that His followers should be “the salt … ” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13–15).

Salt in His day was mainly a preservative, retarding decay—we are supposed to act against moral decay. The light is our ongoing witness, in word and deed, to the reality of Christ in us. Ultimately our light is a reflection of Jesus who is the true “light of the world” (John 1:4–9, 8:12, 9:5). Furthermore, a light can help spot danger and direct us to safety, as with a lighthouse or car headlights.

We can be better salt and light by following these biblical commands that complement each other so well:

  • but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15)
  • We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:5).

These two commands are among the main driving forces for our ministry. We want others to be equipped to be salt and light. Often it can be as simple as leaving a Creation mag in the workplace or buying gift subs for college aged students. And there are plenty of other resources.

But when anyone asks me, “What should I buy for my family member or friend?” my answer is, “Whatever you will read or watch first”! It reminds me of the airplane instructions of what to do if oxygen masks appear: put your own on first, so you will be equipped to help others.

References and notes

  1. Barnes, E.M. and 3 others, Are scientists biased against Christians? Exploring real and perceived bias against Christians in academic biology, PLoS One, 29 Jan 2020. Return to text.
  2. Klinghoffer, D., Scientists perceive evangelical students as less hireable, less competent, and less likeable, evolutionnews.org, 31 Jan 2020. Return to text.

Readers’ comments

John P.
One wonders if so called professing evangelicals are evangelical at all if they believe evolution. More like liberals and wolves in sheeps clothing. John Lennox believes in the mythological billions of years. He’s been to Australia a couple times sponsored by organizations I subscribe to but unfortunately I have not been able to attend then. I would like to challenge him that his beliefs distort his apologetics and the gospel. But this is not surprising as Peter tells us in the last days the church will turn our ears to fables and avoid sound doctrines and even the elect can be lead astray if such a thing were possible.
Jonathan Sarfati
It’s quite sad, because we used to stock his successful debate with leading atheist Richard Dawkins. But Lennox is unfortunately stubborn about billions of years. A while back, CMI reviewed his book Seven Days that Divide the World. I await his sequel Three Days that Divide the Worldwhere he proposes that Jesus was in the tomb for billions of years.
Tammy S.
When trying to navigate secular studies, it would seem to me that one can learn about the evolutionist viewpoints and regurgitate them back to the secularist professors without ever violating one’s own conscience. The materials and the tests are, after all, just meant to endoctrinate you with the secular viewpoints. Is every person who has attended church studies and/or seminaries throughout the ages a true believer? No. But I bet they could all tell you that the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins. Similarly, one is not being graded by a university on what one truly believes. This isn't to simplify the challenges or difficulties created by biases against Christians—but if you want their degree, you'll have to play the game according to their rules. Who says you can't use the experience as a platform to discuss the false teachings with other students? God has blessed us with ministries like CMI and others that are committed to the truth about creation. None of these well-educated and degree-wielding experts is any worse for the wear of having survived biases faced during university. It is God who opens eyes and saves souls, so we can trust that He can and will use every opportunity that we come across, even in the face of hostility in secular study environments!
Virgil Ken B.
What is a “gift sub”?
Jonathan Sarfati
Glad you asked! See our page Subscribe to Creation Magazine, and note the possibility of checking the box Is this a gift?
Abe M.
Scriptures first revealed all this hate towards Christians. But, this can also be a recruitment process by the secular camp/community. Satan still wants to deceive Christians and bring them over to darkness/take them from Jesus (the spiritual battle). =).

Anyway, the secular camp is loaded with cowards! Every scientist in the secular camp goes home at the end of the day, and in recalling their day, boldly, loudly proclaim:
How can blind, stupid chemistry write its own coherent, instructions? It can’t! But, for fear of losing my salary, achievements, accreditations, and being cast like a leper by my (loving) peers, I will keep this to myself and maintain the dogmatic indoctrination! =).

Christians continue to pray for the secular world! =).
David J.
More of a Question than a point. Daniel (book of Daniel) and his 3 fire-proof friends did not, apparently, look for ways to avoid being taught by the Chaldeans. I am sure Chaldean teachings included occultic practices. Likely Daniel et al. had no option (other than death) but to be taught. They clearly kept their allegiance to the “ONE TRUE GOD” together with great testimony. I wonder if their plan/path was similar to young, Jewish modern day intellectual Ben Shapiro. Shapiro publicly said that to pass some classes (biology?) he would simply write what Profs wanted to hear (& had taught)—Would Daniel/Shapiro plan/path be a way for young, bright STEM students to address biology/cosmos teachings and also threads weaving through other courses while maintaining Christian Standards? I think of German Pastor Bonhoeffer who had to navigate a demonic time and culture. Merry Christmas to all CMI staff and supporters
Eddie C.
The bias that is emphasized here as belonging to Biology professors is actually a growing bias in Western society in general. It can be summed up by John 15:18, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (ESV) The rigidity that we have is because we have a standard, God’s Word, that we hold as true no matter what those “professing themselves to be wise” say. Recently though, it seems that a tide has shifted, in the US and also across the Western World where Christianity is no longer just those annoying, but tolerable; Flanders next door. Now we are despised because we stand opposed to the modern morality, especially that of the LGBTQ movement and abortion ‘rights’. No longer is Christianity acceptable in the eyes of the our society because we are now ‘bigots’, ‘racists’, and many other untrue labels that are very convincing to those without spiritual sight. But, at least in these times we can show ourselves, hopefully, to be truly different than the world. Lights shine brightest in the dark after all.
Robert R.
“Scientists say Christians are … less likeable.”
Considering Christians give charity and help people all around the world, where atheist societies like communism never give aid to anyone, and have higher levels of crime. You would think more people would like Christians since they behave the best way.
But people aren’t logical. Leftism in general and in polls show that they often say they give charity, but actually don’t. They also lie more. It is hard to imagine liking an atheist scientist more than a Christian scientist based on behaviour.

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