DAYTON, Tenn. – Several professors at a Christian college in Tennessee have announced they will be resigning after the school’s leadership affirmed that Adam and Eve were historical people, specially created by God.
As previously reported, Bryan College is a small evangelical Christian school in Dayton, Tennessee, with a total enrollment of approximately 1,400 students. In February, the school added a brief clarification to its statement of belief in order to clear up any ambiguity about the school’s stance on the origin of humans.
“We believe that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve,” the statement says. “They are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life forms.”
In an email interview with Christian News Network last March, Dr. Stephen Livesay, president of Bryan College, said the historicity of Adam and Eve is important for two reasons.
“First, if Adam and Eve were not historical people, then the credibility of all scripture is at stake,” Dr. Livesay said. “When the Genesis account of humanity’s first parents is reduced to myth or allegory, how can any portion of the Bible be understood as true in word and meaning?”
“Second,” he continued, “Adam and Eve are foundational to understanding original sin and the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. The need for a second Adam (Jesus Christ) is pointless if our first parents did not sin. Sin affected both the physical world as well as all humanity and required God’s Son’s death and resurrection for sin’s payment and our victory.”
Two-and-a-half months after Bryan College issued the statement of belief clarification, the school remains under heavy fire from evolutionists. Jerry Coyne, a well-known evolutionist professor at the University of Chicago, alleged that the school’s statement flies in the face of “science.”
“It’s sort of amazing to see this clash between religion and science all over again, except that this is kind of sad,” Coyne told Inside Higher Ed. “As soon as you say something about the historicity of Genesis, science education is compromised.”
Coyne later added that Christian schools’ statements of faith “are often in direct conflict with science.”
In addition to atheists like Coyne, several Christians argued that Bryan College’s anti-evolution stance is unnecessary and even harmful.
“I love this school, I’ve been happy with my education, and I love the people here,” wrote Bryan University student Michael Whitlock in a letter published on the school’s student website. “But I think the way things have been handled and the decisions that have been made are harming all three of those things, and harming us as a community.”
“I think living in dialogue with people who disagree with us is incredibly healthy and makes us believe what we believe on a much deeper level because they make us search out our own beliefs,” Whitlock added.
According to Chattanooga’s Times Free Press, at least nine full-time professors at Bryan College will not be returning to the school next fall. Though some of the professors are simply following their retirement plans, others are purportedly resigning as a result of the creation/evolution rift.
Despite the controversy, many Christians have voiced support for Bryan College’s biblical stand on the creation account. Seth Julin, a graduate of Bryan College and parent of a Bryan College student, argued in a letter to the school’s student website that a literal interpretation of the Genesis account has always been a vital component of the school’s Christian beliefs.
“The Bible just flat out really does say that the universe was created by God over a time period of six days and that mankind had no ancestors but was, instead, crafted by God’s own hand,” Julin wrote. “The Bible does make those claims, and no amount of scoffing, theorizing, pontificating or wishing it were not so will overcome that fact.”
Julin further argued that biblical truth should not be sacrificed in the name of “diversity.”
“Educational diversity ranks somewhere near bedrock bottom on my list of reasons to be a customer of Bryan College,” he wrote. “What does rank at the top of my reasons to send my money and my son all the way from Central Florida to the hills of Eastern Tennessee? The answer is: Truth. I want my son to learn about truth, and truth, as it turns out, has always been a topic greatly lacking in diversity.”