It’s clear that Dr. Gonzalez was denied tenure for only one reason: he stated publicly that he believes there is evidence for design in the universe. As I observed in a previous post about Georges Lemitare, the Catholic priest who is the father of the Big Bang theory, many of the most prominent astronomers in history have shared Dr. Gonzalez’s opinion about the evidence for design in the universe. Nowadays, it is very dangerous to state such beliefs in science departments of many universities, including Iowa State University.
In spite of the evidence to the contrary, the Discovery Institute insists that Gonzalez was denied tenure for believing that there is design in the universe. Even Hauptman was clear that it was not an issue of belief but an issue of science and that Intelligent Design is scientifically vacuous.
Intelligent design is not even a theory. It has not made its first prediction, nor suffered its first test by measurement. Its proponents can call it anything they like, but it is not science.
I believe the comment that somehow this decision had something to do with the feelings of the community was also reprehensible, as are statements that this tenure decision is a denial of free speech.
It is purely a question of what is science and what is not, and a physics department is not obligated to support notions that do not even begin to meet scientific standards.
In other words, its all about the science not the belief.
Similarly, Iowa State University President Geoffroy observed that
But I can outline the areas of focus of my review where I gave special attention to his overall record of scientific accomplishment while an assistant professor at Iowa State, since that gives the best indication of future achievement. I specifically considered refereed publications, his level of success in attracting research funding and grants, the amount of telescope observing time he had been granted, the number of graduate students he had supervised, and most importantly, the overall evidence of future career promise in the field of astronomy.
And in fact, the Des Moines Register reports that Gonzalez’s support of intelligent design was not a factor in the decision.
“I based my review strictly on what he submitted himself as part of his dossier when he requested tenure,” Geoffroy said. “I did not consider any of the issues that have been circulating around about intelligent design.”
While people like Hauptman have considered Gonzalez’s support for a scientifically vacuous concept to be a valid reason to reject tenure, the lack of (any meaningful) external funding, the publication record and other relevant factors seems to have been the reasons provided to Gonzalez as to why tenure was denied.
Geoffroy said because the issue of tenure is a personnel matter, he could not share a detailed rationale for the Gonzalez decision.
However, Geoffroy said he focused his review on Gonzalez’s overall record of scientific accomplishment as an assistant professor at ISU.
Geoffroy said he considered refereed publications, Gonzalez’s level of success in attracting research funding and grants, the amount of telescope observing time he had been granted, the number of graduate students he had supervised, and the overall evidence of his future career promise in the field of astronomy.
While the university does not have the right to release this information, Gonzalez is free to present these stated reasons to the public.
Egnor’s comparison of Gonzalez with Arno Penzias fails for the simple reason that in the latter case, there is a scientific theory which Penzias interprets as having religious implications.
In other words, when Egnor claims that
Who else, besides Dr. Gonzalez and Dr. Lemitare, would qualify for Iowa State’s blacklist? Nobel laureate Dr. Arno Penzias (photo) meets Iowa State’s implicit criteria for denial of tenure. He has discussed his opinions regarding the philosophical ramifications of his discovery quite openly, and, in many ways, has done so in a way that was more explicitly religious than Dr. Gonzalez.
He is comparing apples and oranges in addition to inaccurately reporting on the (implicit) criteria for (denial of) tenure.