Dealing with Angry Atheist Professors

The problem is that this individual may not be of the type of professor that you’re describing. Nothing wrong with engaging in conversation, but in my experience academics who have a personal hobby horse generally don’t want to be challenged on it.

I’m not saying the OP shouldn’t engage in debate and conversation, but professors do have power and the problem is that they may not turn out to be the fairest of people if they have a reason to dislike you.

I agree that anyone approaching such a professor needs to use a great deal of tact, speak less, and listen more.

When I was Evangelical Protestant, we often used a phrase to describe the way we should be when doing personal evangelism–“We need to EARN the right to be listened to.”

In other words, you don’t just barge in. You sit at the feet of the Professor and learn what he/she has to say, and after many weeks or months of doing this, you might bring up an objection–with great respect and kindness.

It might interest you to know that one of my daughters left a position at one of those 'liberal-leaning" universities (world-acclaimed!) where everyone is required to use the preferred “pronouns” of each person and professors have to guard every word they say and every activity they ask their students to complete. She left when she was offered a position at a smaller, more obscure university where she has much more freedom to be who she is, to say what she needs to say, teach what she feels her students need to know, and where she doesn’t have to stress out and worry every minute that she may had made some speaking error or worn some article of clothing or jewelry or participated in some off-hours activity (like church) that would result in her dismissal.

She loves her new position and enjoys being able to sleep again without fear!

College/ university to me is a time when somebody is preparing for a hopefully well-paying career and learning to pick their battles.

Jousting with angry professors is like trying to teach a pig to sing. If you enjoy it, fine, but a whole lot of students have enough on their plate without taking on more. Students are not obligated to “correct” their profs. There’s also a possibility that the prof is not that bad and the student may be hypersensitive to someone who takes a view other than his own.

I solved this problem by deciding before I went off to college that I would be an engineering major and then I wouldn’t have to listen to opinionated nonsense from professors. I don’t sit in class to hear someone’s opinion on God, I sit in class to learn useful knowledge, like STEM stuff. I can read somebody’s opinion on the Internet, in a book, or on news or social media if I really care, which I mostly don’t.

Speaking as someone who works in a STEM career (lab tech), I think there are many things to learn that are useful knowledge besides STEM. Most of the doctors that I know have an intense interest and involvement with at least one humanity (music, visual art, drama, dance, writing/literature, etc.).

And although I agree that college should prepare students for a career that pays a decent wage, I also think that college is one of the times in a person’s life when they have the opportunity to learn much about people and subjects outside of their career. Once you’re locked into a job/career, it’s hard to find the time to step outside of your comfort zone and meet people who are radically different than you and who challenge everything you believe.

A four-year degree, unless a lot has changed in the last few years, requires a variety of courses from different disciplines. STEM majors are still required to complete electives from the humanities, and Humanities majors are still required to suffer through at least one or two STEM classes.

Both my husband and I attended the same 4-year university, and both of us were science majors/double majors/minors. However, I spent my first year majoring in music–and I don’t regret that. Even when I switched majors, I continued my involvement with the music department, and both my husband and I tried out for and were accepted into the madrigals choir (madrigals were really the cool thing at that time–hard to believe in this day and age, although “acapella” groups are still kinda cool–but not as much as a few years ago). Our madrigal group presented nine evenings of Madrigal Dinners which attracted people from all over the Chicagoland–it was luscious and probably my best memory from college–certainly more memorable than my Biology 200 class, which was taught by an old professor who had a still in his office.

Now I do STEM for a living–and make extra money on the side with music. So it was worth the extra work back in college.

And I never said that students are “obligated to correct their profs.” But as a Christian, I think it’s important to speak up for our faith and recognize that God may have put us there to be a witness to a fellow human being who may not ever meet a Christian again (although he/she probably will). There are plenty of Catholics who have been major influences within academia, thank God.

You’re entitled to your opinion.

When I went to college I had a very ill father and I needed to learn useful stuff so I could support myself decently as soon as possible. I lived in the middle of the Rust Belt and decent jobs were very hard to find. I also was concerned I might end up having to support my parents if dad became unable to work. Mom was in her late 50s, hadn’t worked for over 20 years, and spent a lot of time taking care of Dad.

I didn’t have time for some big enrichment experience, or for opinionated professors. I still don’t. To me, they’re spinach, as the old proverb goes. Do Not Want. Their opinions also aren’t any better than yours or mine or the guy behind the deli counter.

I can get all the opinions or “enrichment” I want, reading on my own.

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But you don’t see the person who has written the opinion.

I like to read, too. But I also enjoy talk, conversation, discussion, argument! And I don’t mind engaging opinionated professors if they are willing to be engaged. They’re people, and infinitely interesting.

We are different. That’s OK.

And I’ve often said on this forum that I’m lonely and miss being with people, other than my work team, which is so stressed at this time because of COVID-19 that you have to be very careful about what you say or don’t say because it can make people angry or burst into tears–stress, fear, and exhaustion do that to people. I don’t see how the mothers with children are getting through this.

Because students pay for their classes to learn, not to be forced to listen to people who use the platform as a way to rant to a captive audience.

OP, I’d absolutely bring it up with college officials. You’re paying / perhaps putting yourself in debt to be there. Some professors need to understand that they’re not kings speaking to subjects.

This has been an interesting discussion and brought back many memories of my college days! I returned to college after one year at Uni after graduating high school. I was in my 30’s. I had many discussions about world news, politics, fashion and wine making but never about religion. To this day, I have no idea what religion if any, any of my professors have. Perhaps because I graduated in 88 and not 2020? Have many had experiences of religious rants by professors or is this a one off experience? Is it because of the class subject, ie. women’s studies?

No it’s not women’s studies, it’s a math class, biology, and a college course (it teaches you on how to save money, etc.)

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I think you summed it up nicely! I’m not taking their class to hear a lecture on atheism, especially if it has nothing to do with the subject.

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Then religious statements of any kind are inappropriate in that setting. Some people just have to get everyone on the same page as them. Atheists and Christians are equally guilty and either would be wrong in bringing this topic into a math class, biology, or general education class! They are wrong and they’d be wrong if they tried evangelizing Christianity as well. It’s just not the place to do so.

I’d make some higher up aware of it whether anything gets done about it or not!

I didn’t say it would be okay if a Christian went on long rants in class, but they are atheist making anti-Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, rants.

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I know…I was just pointing out that anyone giving their views on any religion in a math class is overstepping respectable boundaries and should be reported for doing so. Sorry, I wasn’t clear!

Ah, okay, I see what you meant now.

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Love’s the going authority in the world.

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