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Iowa State Promotes Atheist Professor Who Equates Bible with Mein Kampf While Denying Tenure to ID Astronomer

John G. West

hectoravalos2a.jpg While Iowa State University denied tenure this spring to gifted pro-ID astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, it turns out that it decided at the same time to promote to full professor outspoken atheist Hector Avalos, religious studies professor and faculty adviser to the ISU Atheist and Agnostic Society. Avalos has led the charge against Gonzalez and intelligent design on ISU’s campus, helping to draft a 2005 petition denouncing intelligent design that ultimately was signed by more than 120 ISU faculty.

Apparently ISU professors who are horrified by the supposed mixing of metaphysics and scholarship on the part of ID proponents have no qualms about supporting Avalos’s explicit anti-religious propaganda, including his effort to equate the Bible with Hitler’s Mein Kampf (for more on Avalos’s view of the Bible, see below). It is worth pointing out that ISU issued a press release a few years ago boasting about Avalos’s appointment as the executive director of a group affiliated with the Council for Secular Humanism that seeks to debunk religion.

Avalos’s promotion to full professor comes just in time for the publication of his new book on the Bible later this month. According to the publisher’s description, Avalos argues in the book

that our world is best served by leaving the Bible as a relic of an ancient civilization instead of the “living” document most religionist scholars believe it should be. He urges his colleagues to concentrate on educating the broader society to recognize the irrelevance and even violent effects of the Bible in modern life.

Just how extreme Avalos’s view of the Bible is can be seen in his previous book, Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence (2005), in which he repeatedly equates the Bible with Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Indeed, in a section of the book titled “Scripture: A Zero-Tolerance Argument,” Avalos actually suggests that the Bible is worse than Mein Kampf:

In fact, Mein Kampf does not contain a single explicit command for genocide equivalent to those found in the Hebrew Bible… Thus, if all of Mein Kampf is to be rejected simply for its implied genocidal policies, we should certainly reject all of the Bible for some of its explicit and blatant genocidal policies. [p. 363]

At other points, Avalos appears to blame Jewish people for Hitler’s attempt to exterminate them, locating the origins of the Holocaust in what he calls “Hebrew racism.” Consider the following passages:

“The purpose here is to show that the Nazi policy of genocide was based on premises quite similar to those in the Hebrew Bible.” [p. 316]
“the Nazi Holocaust represents the synthesis of attitudes found in both the New Testament and the Hebrew scriptures.” [p. 318]
“[Scholars Katz and Wolpoff] fail to see the parallels between certain practices promulgated in the Hebrew Bible itself. Indeed, the supreme irony of the Holocaust is that the genocidal policies first systematically enunciated in the Hebrew scriptures were reversed by the Nazis. Nazi ideology simply had better technology to do what biblical authors had said they would do to their enemies.” [pp. 318-319]
“Hitler saw himself as trying to counteract Hebrew racism, which he saw as the main counterpart and enemy of the German race.” [p. 319]

As if these statements were not enough, Prof. Avalos has equated creationism with Nazism, denounced religion-inspired acts of love, and even suggested that we “eliminate religion from human life altogether”:

“Nazi ideology is similar to creationist ideology, which believes that scientific findings support the biblical stories of Creation and the Flood.” [p. 318]

“any act of love based on religion is immoral.” [p. 369]

“Mother Teresa… advocated policies that helped to generate the very pool of poor people she was attempting to help. Religious beliefs are largely responsible for arguments against contraception, which helps to perpetuate poverty and conflicts over scarce resources. So in the end, did Mother Teresa help more people than were harmed by her religious belief?” [p. 370]

“until the Abrahamic religions overthrow the master-slave model in which they were born, we see little progress to be made. Since all religious beliefs are ultimately unverifiable, the greatest scarce resource of all is verifiability. And one way to remedy or minimize unverifiability in any decision-making process, especially that leading to violence, is to eliminate religion from human life altogether.” [p. 371, emphasis added]

Iowa taxpayers can be relieved to know that ISU is making sure their tax dollars will be spent on worthy scholars like Prof. Avalos rather than disreputable astronomers like Dr. Gonzalez.

John G. West

Senior Fellow, Managing Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute
Dr. John G. West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Managing Director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker who has written or edited 12 books, including Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action: The Disney Studio’s Live-Action Features of the 1950s and 60s. His documentary films include Fire-Maker, Revolutionary, The War on Humans, and (most recently) Human Zoos. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and he has been interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, Reuters, Time magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.