Home > Current Events > Liberty in the news: barefoot professor, humanist-pastor debate

Liberty in the news: barefoot professor, humanist-pastor debate

Two articles about Liberty, both written by Liz Barry for the Lynchburg paper, caught my eye recently:

  • LU instructor wages shoeless crusade with the soles of his feet [link]
  • Debate centers on faith, reason [link]

The first article is a puff piece about Daniel Howell, a Liberty biology professor who advocates barefoot running, and ties in nicely with recent coverage of the marquee running race in Lynchburg, the Virginia Ten-Miler. Barefoot runners are something of a curiosity in the running community, like fixed-gear cyclists in the cycling community, and I don’t know, maybe hardcore locavores within the foodie community, and it appears to be fashionable to write articles about them recently. They even merited a segment on Wisconsin Public Radio’s show To The Best of our Knowledge back in August [link]. They seem to be received by the people who cover them uncritically, and this article is no different: Daniel Howell’s claim that shoes are “just bad for you” and his suggestion that children who went barefoot in the 1920s and 1930s are a model we should mimic isn’t balanced by questions about running mechanics and hookworms.

The second article is a bit more serious, as it covers a debate held at the Liberty University Law School regarding whether Christianity or humanism better serves as a “a better worldview for shaping legal, political and social institutions.” I haven’t been able to find any other media resources regarding this debate online (mp3 or video), so all I have to go on is the summary Barry gives. It looks like the humanist, David Niose, said humanism gives mankind a shared identity and religion only causes disagreement, and Christianity is been too unclear and ancient to serve as a foundation for a modern society. The Christian, Doug Wilson, suggests that the Bible is a solid foundation for a society:

Unlike humanism, Wilson said, Christianity provides a fixed standard for making moral decisions and distinguishing between right and wrong. Christianity, therefore, provides a better framework for forming and interpreting the law, he said.

“The Biblical foundation for law, the Biblical foundation for culture, has to do with a fixed reference point that cannot be debated,” he said.

In other words, each accused the other of standing on a foundation too variable to serve society, while his own foundation was fixed and firm.

I can’t help but wonder if Niose made Wilson deal with questions regarding proper interpretation of Scripture, correct translation of ancient languages, translating cultural norms from one period of history to another, etc. I’d really love to see/hear this debate.

  1. Liz Barry
    October 7, 2010 at 8:34 am

    It was an interesting debate, and my short, on-deadline story couldn’t do it justice. I saw they were filming it.

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