Universities benefit from confrontational ideas

by Michael Franklin Crawford — Daily reader

Since Wednesday, Brother Jed has been the talk of the town. While I disagree with everything the man says, I’d like to counter something that was said by Bryan Carver of the student group Campus Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists in Thursday’s Minnesota Daily article, “Student groups join forces to protest evangelist’s visit.” His comment, “Religious message or not, anybody who shows up on a college campus preaching bigotry and hate, that’s not a message you want in a thriving community of theist and non-theist individuals,” I have a slight issue with. I honestly think that a university is the perfect place for this type of event.

A university setting is one which is designed to confront your assumptions about your world. Brother Jed’s message does just that. It confronts your assumptions. It makes you think.

When Brother Jed talks about the role of women, I disagree with his perspective. I have to ask myself why I disagree and reflect on it. When Brother Jed talks about the evils of sodomy, I have to analyze why I do not think sodomy is evil. This confronts my assumptions. Brother Jed’s message of a strict and literal interpretation of the Bible is a perspective I need to understand to further my understanding of the world. Nothing he said changed my opinions, but I am glad I was able to hear it.

What is even more relevant is that I found that it sparked some healthy debates after the circle around Brother Jed broke up. One man, a Christian, started inquiring — quite civilly — into atheistic perspectives.

So what is it that I am saying? I guess what I am saying is that Brother Jed’s message — not Brother Jed himself — is a catalyst for thought and reflection.