UPDATE: The new stuff about Guillermo Gonzalez being hired at Ball State will, according to Discovery Institute flak David Klinghoffer, be discussed on today’s Michael Medved show. The DI naturally feels persecuted by my revelation that creationist Gonzalez will be teaching there, even though I added that I have no idea whether he’ll teach intelligent design. If you want to listen to a bunch of anti-evolutionists scream about persecution, the Medved Show details are at Evolution News and Views, in a post that includes these lovely tidbits:
From the start, Hedin’s most vocal persecutor, the guy with the biggest megaphone, has been University of Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne, backed up by the rabid atheist Freedom from Religion Foundation. Now Coyne has got word that besides the offense of physicist Dr. Hedin’s teaching from a reading list including texts favorable to intelligent design, Ball State University has hired an actual ID advocate, astrophysicist Guillermo Gonzalez, who was previously the victim of discrimination for his views on ID by his former employer, Iowa State University.
Coyne is on the warpath. On today’s Science & Culture Update on the Medved Show, Mr. Medved will talk with Dr. Gonzalez’s co-author Dr. Jay Richards about the related cases, about Darwinist attempts to preemptively shut down Stephen Meyer’s book Darwin’s Doubt, and about the long history of Darwinists seeking to silence dissenters.
I love the “rabid atheist” bit: the tropes just get angrier and angrier as the DI feels more beleaguered. Do we ever hear about “rabid IDers” or “rabid Catholics”? Klinghoffer, for example, could be deemed a “rabid Orthodox Jew,” but I wouldn’t call him that.
The DI can’t seem to distinguish between criticism of Darwin’s Doubt (Stephen Meyer’s screed about how
God an intelligent designer created the Cambrian explosion, and attempt to shut down the book.
This is the best part of Klinghoffer’s rant (my bold):
Darwinism is not just a science, not just a philosophical worldview supporting atheism and materialism, but a culture of rage and persecution. Remember what happened to Smithsonian Institution evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg just for editing Meyer’s article in a biology journal. And of course Thomas Nagel escaped harm after he wrote favorably about Stephen Meyer’s work and other pro-ID theorists only because Dr. Nagel’s position in the academic world is so totally unassailable.
One could characterize the DI, on the other hand, as a culture not only of rage (at their ideas not being accepted) but woo, lying, and self-described martyrdom.
And Nagel did not of course escape intellectual harm; many people criticized his insupportable take on Darwinism, and I documented that “persecution” on this website (see here, for instance).
In an article at The Daily, the Ball State University student newspaper, provost Terry King discussed the issues involved in the case of Eric Hedin, the BSU professor accused of proselytizing for religion, Christianity in particular, in a science class, and teaching discredited intelligent design creationism without presenting the alternative (i.e., true view of evolution. (In the U.S., the provost is usually the chief academic officer of a university).
An anonymous informant told me about Hedin’s activities, made obvious by his publicly posted syllabus, and I wrote to Hedin’s chariman in the department of Physics and Astronomy, asking that he review the course. I was brushed aside, and brought the case to the attention of the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF). They then wrote to BSU informing them about the course and its potential as a violation of the U.S.’s First Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting the mixing of government and religion.
Ball State then convened a committee to investigate Hedin’s course, which is the right thing to do. This is not a tempest in a teapot, for it bears not only on a professor’s right to teach discredited science (without presenting the alternativve view) in a university science course, but also on the professor’s right to push a religious point of view on his students. Neither of these issue has ever been properly adjudicated by American courts.
At any rate, King notes that the investigation should be complete within a month, that the committee consists of four members (three Ball State faculty :Gary Dodson, professor of biology, Richard Fluegeman Jr., professor of geological sciences; and Juli Thorsen Eflin, professor of philosophy, as well as Catherine Pilachowski, a professor of astronomy at Indiana University).
Provost King says some sensible things here, which gives me hope that Ball State will do the right thing:
King said the committee will review if the content is appropriate, if the professor is qualified and if the teaching is appropriate. He said he seeks advice often, but has chosen the committee because of the complexity of the case.
“It’s not exactly clear to me,” he said. “If this were an ordinary differential equations math course and someone wanted to talk about no mathematical subjects in the course, then I would be very concerned. This is an honors course and it may be that discussion is appropriate, but I don’t know yet.”
I hope King realizes that the “discussion” in Hedin’s class was one-sided, as there were not readings presenting a non-religious, materialist view of science.
King said the university still hasn’t received any complaints from inside the university and only one complaint from outside the university from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an organization whose purpose is to promote the constitutional principle of separation of state and church. But the university has received contact from individuals reacting positively and negatively about the situation.
There are at least three reent students who have complained about Hedin’s proselytizing, as well as three others who made similar complaints on the Rate My Professors site, but all have so far been afraid to come forward. That is understandable, of course, particularly in a religious state like Indiana, where ostracism follows criticism of religion. But if any of those students are reading this, I would ask them to consider going public, for that’s the best way to stop the spread of creeping religionism in public schools. Public naming is important here, both for credibility and potential lawsuits, though I hope this case doesn’t go to the courts.
[King] said some confuse First Amendment freedom of speech with academic freedom in a course, but the two are different.
“On the teaching side it is very specific about in the appropriate teaching of a course, one can bring in controversial concepts if it’s appropriate to the nature of the course. Academic freedom is something that I know the president [Jo Ann Gora] and I feel very strongly about,” King said. “We are very much in support of faculty members appropriately teaching their courses or appropriately doing their research even if it takes them into unpopular areas.”
The key word here is “appropriate.” I hope King, who sounds reasonable, knows that “academic freedom” is not a license to teach whatever you want in a college course, particularly not lies about creationism or evidence for God in the universe.
In the end, I can’t see how Ball State can allow Hedin to continue to teach the course in its present incarnation. It will be an embarrassment to Ball State to harbor such a course, just as it’s an embarrassment to Lehigh University to harbor ID creationist Michael Behe. (Read the Lehigh biology department’s position on intelligent design. Will Ball State have to write one, too?)
In the meantime, op-eds and letters in Indiana newspapers continue to support Hedin. I was told that, in religious terms, Indiana is effectively a Southern state, but I didn’t believe it until now. I give a few excerpts:
Letter in the Muncie Star-Press from Mike McClure: “Why the controversy?“:
Teaching intelligent design in an elective course on the philosophical implications of cosmology is hardly controversial. With the formation of the universe, whether you are talking about unified force theory or what many people call God, the universe was formed from an infinite force. The difference between the two is largely semantics.
The article indicated no such accusations about Professor Hedin. It sounds like he simply did what the course title suggested and pointed out the “Boundaries of Science.”
I hope the university will stand for the principle of academic freedom and will not bow to the well-funded intellectual bullies who have tried to influence this decision.
Yeah, and the existence of the Christian God (not some Hindu monkey god) is one of those boundaries. And I love the characterization of me and the Freedom from Religion Foundation as “well-funded intellectual bullies.” If only I was as well funded as the FFRF!
University of Chicago evolutionary biologist and avowed atheist Jerry Coyne and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, whose complaints spurred the investigation, are ideological bullies with plenty of influence and financial clout. They have threatened legal action if their objections to Hedin’s teaching are not validated.. . . The claim against Hedin is that he is in violation of the First Amendment for teaching religion. They should be rebuffed because nowhere is Hedin charged with talking about the Bible or Jesus. That would be a discussion of religion. Through his class, he has simply raised the possibility of intelligent design of life and our cosmos. That is not teaching religion.
I just love the title “avowed atheist”! Do you ever hear “avowed Catholic” or “avowed Buddhist”?
And note again the “bully” trope, as if any outside monitoring of the first amendment, or of creationism is “bullying.” I suppose the organizations prosecuting the Dover School District for teaching ID were also “bullies”! Bullies, too, I guess, are the Ball State professors investigating Hedin’s behavior.
As forHedin not talking about the Bible or Jesus, it’s very clear he did, so Ether doesn’t know his facts. Nor does he seem to recognize what anyone with two neurons to rub together knows: Intelligent Design is a discredited theory motivated solely by religion. Judge Jones in the Dover case saw right though the “nonreligious” fiction.