Here's what Peter Boghossian says in Should We Challenge Student Beliefs?.
Until two weeks ago, I had been laboring under the naïve assumption that one of the primary goals of every academic was to change students’ beliefs when they were based on inaccurate information. I was awakened from this dogmatic slumber at an interdisciplinary faculty meeting by colleagues who reacted with dismay to my confession that I had tried and failed to disabuse one of my students of Creationist beliefs.I share his frustration. There are far too many university professors who think that the "beliefs" of a student are off limits as long as they have something to do with religion. Those same professors would not hesitate to challenge belief in the superiority of whites over blacks or the efficacy of homeopathy or the validity of supply-side economics.
The conversation became more heated when I read to the group what the student had written on her final exam: "I wrote what I had to ‘agree’ with what was said in class, but in truth I believe ABSOLUTELY that there is an amazing, savior GOD, who created the universe, lives among us, and loves us more than anything. That is my ABSOLUTE, and no amount of ‘philosophy’ will change that."
Two of my colleagues, one in the language arts and one in psychology, argued that it was an inappropriate use of my authority to attempt to change this student’s belief; rather, my role should have been to provide her with data so that she could make better decisions.
I countered that both the process that allows one to arrive at Creationist conclusions, and the conclusions themselves, are completely divorced from reality, and that my role was not simply to provide evidence and counterexamples and hope for the best, but to help her overcome a false belief and supplant it with a true one.
Their unanimous reaction to this declaration temporarily made me question one of my basic assumptions about the responsibilities of college educators: Should professors attempt to change students’ beliefs by consistently challenging false beliefs with facts?
But it's a different story if a student says that God created the universe 6000 years ago. That belief mustn't be directly challenged because the foolishness of religious beliefs is off limits.
Isn't that strange?
[Hat Tip: RichardDawkins.net]