If you’re the local paper in Muncie, Indiana, home of Ball State University (BSU) and “Hedingate”, what do you do when you finally have to give your opinion on how the matter was resolved? (That resolution occurred, of course, with President Jo Ann M. Gora’s statement that teaching of intelligent design was not kosher in science classes, and proselytizing for ID or any religion in a public university like BSU was a potential First Amendment problem.) Hedin can no longer teach C. S. Lewis in his science class.
What would a cowardly paper do? Waffle, of course, giving something to everyone, and avoid expressing any strong opinions.
That’s precisely what the Muncie Star Press does in what I presume is its final and official take on the Hedingate outcome, the lamely titled, “Ball State adds clarity to science-religion debate.” An excerpt:
Gora’s statements should settle the issue. “Intelligent design is overwhelmingly deemed by the scientific community as a religious belief and not a scientific theory,” she wrote. “Therefore, intelligent design is not appropriate content for science courses.”
Consider it case closed to the murky mingling of science and religion.
Yet the debate over where we come from and how we got here will continue. If one seeks the scientific view, that will be found in science classes. Intelligent design or pure creationism and other religion-based theories are limited to humanities or social science courses. We see no conflict here so long as courses are clearly defined in the course catalogs, and students are fully aware of what they are signing up to study.
Of course there is conflict there—for the many BSU students, faculty, and Indiana citizens who think that intelligent design is science! The paper is simply regurgitating what Gora did and avoiding taking a strong stand against creationism.
And, to top it of, the paper winds up with a ringing endorsement of—accommodationism:
Gora clearly drew the line between science and religion at Ball State. Does that mean science and religion are incompatible? Hardly. We think many churchgoers (certainly not all) have discarded a literal interpretation of the creation account found in the Bible’s book of Genesis.
Here’s a good way of thinking about science and religion according to the National Academy of Sciences. Both “should be viewed as different ways of understanding the world rather than as frameworks that are in conflict with each other.”
Well, 40% of Americans have not discarded a literal interpretation of creationism, and only 15% adhere to the scientific view of a purely naturalistic process of evolution. For those 80% or so who either reject evolution or think God guided it, science and religion remain incompatible. As for the “different ways of understanding the world,” the paper of course neglects to say what religion helps us understand about the world.
I didn’t expect more from this paper, which has pirouetted on the fence during this whole debate. They’ll surely not win a Pulitzer Prize for their pusillanimity.