Gonzalez appointed assistant professor at Ball State University

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Intelligent-design creationist Guillermo Gonzalez has been appointed assistant professor of physics at Ball State University, according to an article in jconline.com. Gonzalez is the author of The Privileged Planet and was famously denied tenure at Iowa State University. Gonzalez will teach two introductory astronomy courses, The Sun and Stars, and The Solar System.

Ball State has also come under fire recently following reports that another professor, Eric Hedin, teaches a Boundaries of Science class whose curriculum allegedly includes intelligent-design creationism. The Star Press article, incidentally, notes that the university, not the professor, has the legal right to define the curriculum. Let us hope that they will watch Professors Gonzalez and Hedin closely.

100 Comments

Well, this is bad news for all BSU students and alumni.

Highly unlikely to be a coincidence. Someone with clout at Ball State is trying to sneak in creationism. This will end in an embarrassment for the university.

NOTE: There is no straightforward first amendment issue here. It’s a question of judgment. I use the language “sneak in” creationism, not because it is necessarily illegal for BSU to teach sectarian science denial and call it “science”, but because that is clearly what is happening. I will leave the question of legality for the legally trained.

This pattern of promoting politically motivated, religiously-tinged science denial will have a strong negative impact on morale, recruitment, and civility. Since ID/creationism is easily shown to be scientifically indefensible, this amounts to extreme favoritism - a potential faculty member with a record of teaching equivalently nonsensical science denial, but without supporting right wing religious propaganda, would not be considered for hire or given major courses to teach. Since these two faculty members are being shown implicit favoritism, faculty members who accept scientific consensus are, by logical extension, disfavored, by someone with hiring power.

I personally recommend that all current and potential strong students and faculty at BSU protest this as strongly as possible, including by moving elsewhere if indicated.

Remember, these aren’t “maverick” professors trying to teach a bold new idea. These are shills who have dedicated themselves to pushing a well-known propaganda platform, using barely coded dog whistle language that is instantly recognized by political activists as signalling support for a major ideology. Either of them could walk into a highly paid job at a Bible college or right wing “think tank” right now, just based on their record to date. Their reason for being at BSU is to cooperate with an agenda of destabilizing mainstream research institutions. They are probably taking pay cuts, relative to what the wingnut welfare system would pay them. They are doing that because they know that BSU is a well-respected research center, with mainstream prestige that Bible colleges and propaganda mills can’t match. Their goal is to falsely imply that their own science denial deserves the prestige won by hard-working real researchers.

Dembski failed at Baylor, but Dembksi isn’t very slick, and these moves signal possible secret friends of anti-science at high administrative levels, something that does not seem to have been entrenched at Baylor. This looks like very bad news for BSU. It looks as there are a lot of creationist secret handshakes going on, at high levels. A highly controversial new faculty hire requires high level support.

My wife is an Associate Professor at BSU and I cannot tell you how angry she and her colleagues are at this appointment.

They are probably taking pay cuts, relative to what the wingnut welfare system would pay them. They are doing that because they know that BSU is a well-respected research center, with mainstream prestige that Bible colleges and propaganda mills can’t match.

BSU isn’t going to be well-respected for very long if this keeps up.

I wonder what the faculty in the physics department thinks about this?

harold: Highly unlikely to be a coincidence. Someone with clout at Ball State is trying to sneak in creationism.

The prime suspect would be the chair of physics and astronomy, Thomas Robertson

harold said:

There is no straightforward first amendment issue here.

Sure there is. There is a good deal of evidence that a specific form of religion, disguised as science, is being pushed by a teacher, who is paid with taxpayer dollars, at a publicly-funded school. That’s an issue.

tomh said:

harold said:

There is no straightforward first amendment issue here.

Sure there is. There is a good deal of evidence that a specific form of religion, disguised as science, is being pushed by a teacher, who is paid with taxpayer dollars, at a publicly-funded school. That’s an issue.

It isn’t at all clear to me that it is unconstitutional to teach creationism as science at the university level, regardless of public funding.

As my comments make clear, I massively oppose doing so.

I am not an attorney. If you are an attorney who knows the correct legal answer, I value your feedback.

If you aren’t, well then, we could both speculate, but that would just be the Dunning Kruger effect in action.

One major difference between universities and schools is that some form of school attendance is mandatory up to a certain age. University attendance is not only not mandatory, but requires admission.

While it is the height of stupidity and mendacity for a publicly or privately funded research university to damage itself by encouraging the teaching of a stereotyped brand of politically motivated science denial propaganda as “science”, and while it may be locally illegal for BSU for some variety of reasons related to its charter from the state or some such thing, I am not sure it is plainly forbidden by the constitution in the same way it would be if the venue were a public high school.

A number of attorneys post comments here from time to time; I’ll be interested to hear what they say.

A number of attorneys post comments here from time to time; I’ll be interested to hear what they say.

While we are waiting, I followed up on the link from the Star-Press article and looked up Bishop vs. Aronov. The University of North Carolina has this to say regarding “Religious Freedom of Faculty Members”:

Bishop v. Aronov, 926 F.2d 1066 (11th Cir. 1991)

An exercise physiology professor referred to his religious beliefs during instructional time. The university requested that he discontinue this practice, and he challenged the action as violating his freedoms of speech and religion. The court held that the university’s actions of exercising editorial control over style and content of speech in school-sponsored expressive activities were permissible, so long as the university’s “actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns.” The court further ruled that academic freedom is not an independent First Amendment right, and refused to substitute its discretion for that of the university. The court rejected the free exercise of religion claim, holding that the professor “made no true suggestion, much less demonstration, that any proscribed conduct of his impedes the practice of religion.”

Edwards v. California University of Pennsylvania 156 F.3d 488 (3rd Cir. 1998)

A professor who was suspended with pay for advancing his religious beliefs through his lectures sued the university for violating several of his constitutional rights. The court rejected his claim, relying on its conclusion that a public university professors’ [sic] First Amendment rights do not extend to choosing their own curriculum or classroom management techniques in contravention of school policy or dictates. The court also reasoned that a university, as well as a professor, has certain academic freedoms, and therefore, a university can make content-based decisions when shaping its curriculum.

It seems that the employer has certain rights too.

Matt Young said:

A number of attorneys post comments here from time to time; I’ll be interested to hear what they say.

While we are waiting, I followed up on the link from the Star-Press article and looked up Bishop vs. Aronov. The University of North Carolina has this to say regarding “Religious Freedom of Faculty Members”:

Bishop v. Aronov, 926 F.2d 1066 (11th Cir. 1991)

An exercise physiology professor referred to his religious beliefs during instructional time. The university requested that he discontinue this practice, and he challenged the action as violating his freedoms of speech and religion. The court held that the university’s actions of exercising editorial control over style and content of speech in school-sponsored expressive activities were permissible, so long as the university’s “actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns.” The court further ruled that academic freedom is not an independent First Amendment right, and refused to substitute its discretion for that of the university. The court rejected the free exercise of religion claim, holding that the professor “made no true suggestion, much less demonstration, that any proscribed conduct of his impedes the practice of religion.”

Edwards v. California University of Pennsylvania 156 F.3d 488 (3rd Cir. 1998)

A professor who was suspended with pay for advancing his religious beliefs through his lectures sued the university for violating several of his constitutional rights. The court rejected his claim, relying on its conclusion that a public university professors’ [sic] First Amendment rights do not extend to choosing their own curriculum or classroom management techniques in contravention of school policy or dictates. The court also reasoned that a university, as well as a professor, has certain academic freedoms, and therefore, a university can make content-based decisions when shaping its curriculum.

It seems that the employer has certain rights too.

In these examples, the professor was not found to have violated the constitution. Rather, the university exerted its authority to control teaching (which is exactly what BSU should do). The professor then sued claiming that the professor’s rights were violated.

Clearly, I am not at all suggesting that Gonzalez has a constitutional right to teach any nonsense instead of mainstream astronomy. That would be absurd, even thought it’s what the professors argued in your examples above. The university has to have some control over what is taught or it would be impossible to maintain a science curriculum.

Rather, my point about the first amendment, which I guess is rather hyper-specific, is that, unlike the public high school situation, the substitution of propaganda for science by a professor may not be an instant violation of the first amendment rights of students and taxpayer, even at a state university.

I still think that the university should make sure that science teachers teach only science, and terminate those who teach political science denial propaganda in science class. I still think that the university has the authority to do this. In fact I’m optimistic that they will. In the end the creationists will not take over any department at BSU.

I do predict trouble ahead. The university disciplined one creationist astronomy professor, and the chair of astronomy and who knows who else were able to respond to that by quickly hiring a second, even more controversial and in-your-face creationist. Guillermo Gonzalez was employed at a Bible college and is a fellow of the DI http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guille[…]_(astronomer). This is about as strong a raised middle finger statement as there can be. I can only imagine how many newly minted brilliant PhD’s would love a job as an assistant professor at BSU. Instead, a research-deficient creationist/DI fellow was brazenly recruited from a Bible college. How many other assistant professor jobs in other physics/astronomy departments are going to go to Bible college faculty?

If you want to know what I would do if I had any say on what goes on at BSU, I would make sure that the chairman was immediately fired and replaced with an interim chair, I would either cancel Gonzalez’ contract, if possible (I think it’s fairly easy to show he’s an unsuitable candidate), and if not possible I would make it clear to him that he will be disciplined if he ever inserts political science denial propaganda into lectures, will be fired and sued if he ever implies that BSU endorses his personal creationist views. That’s what I would do and that’s what I think someone should do.

My point about the first amendment was just that it’s not as straightforward when it’s a university. By no means whatsoever do I endorse throwing up of arms.

As always, these fundamentalists demand extreme privilege for themselves.

The court rejected the free exercise of religion claim, holding that the professor “made no true suggestion, much less demonstration, that any proscribed conduct of his impedes the practice of religion.

Imagine if you pay me to mow your lawn, and instead of doing it, I stand in your back yard and yell at your neighbors that they’re damned for all eternity. You hired another guy to work in the garden; my display makes it impossible for him to get his work done. You ask me to leave, and I run get a lawyer, claiming that you violated my first amendment rights to express my opinion.

That’s the fundamentalist attitude; simply substitute “teach high school science”, “be a sys admin”, “teach astronomy”, etc. It’s like a time bomb if you put them in a position of responsibility. They’ll stop doing their job and start disrupting everyone else’s work and education with maximally divisive, hostile preaching.

Matt Young said:

While we are waiting, I followed up on the link from the Star-Press article and looked up Bishop vs. Aronov.

You might want to look at Gheta v. Nassau County Community College, where a Federal District Court examined an Establishment Clause claim against the content of a course at a public community college. Although the claim was ultimately dismissed, the Court left no doubt that it considered the college restricted by the Establishment Clause the same as any other public agency would be. After considering the facts in context, and after sifting them through the Lemon Test, the Court decided, (correctly, I think), that there was no First Amendment violation.

The Hedin case should have the same treatment. Let a judge or jury consider the facts and decide if the situation warrants a Constitutional violation. The way it stands now, with an internal investigation, it is an open invitation for the administration to sweep it under the rug with a few cosmetic changes, perhaps changing the reading list, or moving it out of the science department, and allowing Hedin to continue proselytizing on the taxpayer dime.

Does anyone know if state universities can have religion departments? Not just comparative religion, but the straight stuff. If they can have such, that pretty well takes care of the First Amendment issue at the university level. All that remains is whether someone hired to teach science is violating the terms of his contract by teaching nonsense instead of science.

SensuousCurmudgeon said:

Does anyone know if state universities can have religion departments? Not just comparative religion, but the straight stuff. If they can have such, that pretty well takes care of the First Amendment issue at the university level. All that remains is whether someone hired to teach science is violating the terms of his contract by teaching nonsense instead of science.

I would add it probably doesn’t have to be explicit in the contract. A reasonable person would understand that the purpose of a “science” department is to train students in science, and that such training particularly requires a strong grounding in the basic material. Deliberately teaching science incorrectly for any reason is a major bad behavior.

I would also add that there is a difference between mere expression of religion, versus use of science denial propaganda in the service of a religio-political agenda. To use an example, there was an Orthodox Jewish neuroanatomy professor who taught where I went to university (a secular, government funded school). He kept his religion to himself but wore religious implements and costumes, making his status as a religious person obvious. A non-religious friend of mine who had gone to religious Jewish schools took the class (I didn’t take that class) engaged him, and if I recall correctly, he had some kind of “I teach the science in science class and I worry about the Torah in synagogue” type answer. I’m also aware of highly competent science professors who were members of some kind of monastic order and taught in their habit, but taught straight science. (Yes, yes, they must compartmentalize and not apply the same skeptical reasoning to their preferred religious claims, but that isn’t the topic here.) On the other hand, actually teaching the science incorrectly in the service of a religio-political ideology is a whole different ball game. Teaching it correctly in a monk’s habit and sandals - fine by me. Showing up in a white coat and then teaching dishonest science denial while you’re supposed to be teaching science - not okay. (I would actually suggest that creationists would be less likely to show up “looking religious”, and more likely to try to disguise themselves as “super-scientific”, “a dynamic maverick”, and so on. Because parroting unoriginal billionaire-funded propaganda makes you such a “maverick”…)

I think when I said “no obvious first amendment issue” some may have read that as “no obvious first amendment issue and therefore no problem”. Hopefully the context and the remainder of my comments make it clear that this is not my opinion.

Not everything that is wrong happens to directly violate the first amendment. For example, teaching ID/creationism as high school science is also wrong in countries where there is no first amendment. It’s wrong in countries where an official religion is favored and observed in public schools. It’s wrong because ID/creationism is a load of BS, and if you’re going to have a class to train students in science, you should teach them the truth. It just happens that, in the US, the first amendment is extremely convenient for shutting down Dover type schemes, because in the US, favoring any religion in public schools - that’s “schools”, not “universities” - is illegal.

I’ve answered my own question about teaching religion at state universities. At the University of Florida you can major in Religion. That pretty much answers the First Amendment question.

SensuousCurmudgeon said:

I’ve answered my own question about teaching religion at state universities. At the University of Florida you can major in Religion. That pretty much answers the First Amendment question.

That would appear to have nothing to do with the First Amendment.

harold said:

… in the US, favoring any religion in public schools - that’s “schools”, not “universities” - is illegal.

There is nothing special about schools. It would be illegal at any government agency.

More information and comment on Thomas Robertson’s involvement here.

tomh said:

harold said:

… in the US, favoring any religion in public schools - that’s “schools”, not “universities” - is illegal.

There is nothing special about schools. It would be illegal at any government agency.

Please state legal precedents to support your position, as well as describing your legal credentials (law degrees you possess, bar exams you have passed, etc).

You honestly believe that government agencies are allowed to favor one religion over another? No law degree needed to figure that one out.

Agreed. Any American can read the Constitution.

tomh said:

You honestly believe that government agencies are allowed to favor one religion over another? No law degree needed to figure that one out.

No, that is not what I said. This is actually a rather extreme example of setting up a straw man.

This is one of the few sites on the internet where a mildly complicated idea can sometimes be expressed and comprehended. I will try one more time.

Government agencies are not allowed to favor one religion over another, which is an excellent thing. Doing so would violate the first amendment. However, as I have noted here, and as Sensuous Curmudgeon has also noted, perhaps in a less patient and more terse way, advocacy of religion (or atheism) by professors at state universities seems to have been found to be within the bounds of the first amendment. This reflects the different status of universities, which are subsidized by governments but not “government agencies”.

What if a professor argued against students’ religions from an atheist standpoint? Would you consider that to violate the first amendment? Yet that is known to happen and has not been found illegal. Public universities have the same level of academic freedom as private universities, and if they didn’t, only a fool would attend a public university.

Let me clarify why I brought this up. Because I think that teaching ID/creationism instead of science, at a research university, is a terrible idea and I would like to help stop it. As my comments clearly indicate. Therefore, in my enthusiasm to do something to stop it, I had the thought “too bad it isn’t as clear a first amendment violation as it would be in some other contexts”.

Let me add - Feel free to actually prove me wrong. I take great pride in admitting it when I am wrong. However, repetitive “contradiction” comments don’t prove me wrong. Creating straw man distortions of my actual point doesn’t prove me wrong, in fact, that makes you look wrong and dishonest. Hard evidence, in the form of legal decisions, will prove me wrong.

No law degree needed to figure that one out.

On the contrary, a law degree is often the best preparation for figuring out complex legal situations.

Finally, let me note that nothing would be stupider than insisting that an ineffective tactic be used, where effective tactics are available. There are many stupid things I don’t like which don’t “violate the first amendment”. Amateur claims that some amendment is being violated are utterly, totally irrelevant. Courts decide that. Probably the best way to address the BSU situation is to apply pressure for a solution now, rather than wait for Gonzalez to teach ID, then claim it violated the First Amendment, then lose in court on the narrow grounds that it didn’t violate the first amendment.

(Update on related topic) According to the Muncie Star Press, on the class syllabus of controversial professor Eric Hedin is a Stephen C. Meyer article disavowed by The Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington shortly after being published in 2004.

If the allegation is true that the article is referenced for its scientific merits rather than as a bad example of how-to-do good science, this seriously discredits Hedin’s qualifications as a science teacher, regardless of any First Amendment issues.

harold said: However, as I have noted here, and as Sensuous Curmudgeon has also noted, perhaps in a less patient and more terse way, advocacy of religion (or atheism) by professors at state universities seems to have been found to be within the bounds of the first amendment. This reflects the different status of universities, which are subsidized by governments but not “government agencies”.

Also, I believe (and IANAL), the courts consider that the students at universities are adults, and thus are more able to understand that what the professor says does not carry the official endorsement of the state. Children have to be more protected than adults.

TomS said:

harold said: However, as I have noted here, and as Sensuous Curmudgeon has also noted, perhaps in a less patient and more terse way, advocacy of religion (or atheism) by professors at state universities seems to have been found to be within the bounds of the first amendment. This reflects the different status of universities, which are subsidized by governments but not “government agencies”.

Also, I believe (and IANAL), the courts consider that the students at universities are adults, and thus are more able to understand that what the professor says does not carry the official endorsement of the state. Children have to be more protected than adults.

I also am not a lawyer, but I’m pretty certain that the age of the listener is not an issue in a First Amendment case. The Government cannot take sides on religious issues. Period. A Protestant county clerk cannot use his position of issuing marriage licenses to adults to spread his religious opinions about marriage. My understanding is that the special attention paid to grade schools is not the age of the listeners per se, but the fact that the students are required by the Government to attend those classes.

If there is an issue, it is whether the professor at a state university in his capacity as instructor is considered to be a state actor or not (and I don’t know enough to say). Certainly, if he proselytized his fellow employees in the faculty lunch room, that would be annoying but it would not be a First Amendment violation.

I’m on the faculty of a state university. I consider myself to be an agent of the state, so I consider my religious and political positions to be off-limits in the classroom and in course-related discussions with students. (If relevant, I will discuss government policies, but there is never a partisan element to that.) If a student asks me, outside the context of the classroom, about my positions regarding politics or religion, I’ll discuss them to the extent that the student is interested; in the last seven years, that’s only happened a couple of times.

If there is an issue, it is whether the professor at a state university in his capacity as instructor is considered to be a state actor or not (and I don’t know enough to say).

That’s a good way of putting it.

(To prevent confusion - I am 100% opposed to the teaching of ID/creationism propaganda in university science classes and in favor of effective measures of stopping it.)

I am not a lawyer either but it is my impression that professors at universities are NOT considered state actors. They are NOT constrained in their speech for that particular reason, even if they teach at institutions with some government funding or receive grants. They are constrained in their speech for a variety of other reasons, though, such as their contractual obligations to cover certain material properly, university speech codes that forbid misuse of epithets or vulgarity, and so on.

I beg, beseech, and plead that people will not misconstrue what I am saying here. I am not arguing that obvious state actors, such as county clerks or high school teachers, are allowed to favor a particular sect. I am not arguing that state university professors should be allowed to do or say anything. I am, however, noting that university professors are not necessarily constrained in the way more clear cut state agents are constrained. That is my impression. This is not remotely the same as saying that professors can spew whatever they want.

harold said: No, that is not what I said.

You said, “in the US, favoring any religion in public schools - that’s “schools”, not “universities” - is illegal.” You make this claim, that favoring religion is illegal in schools but not universities, without citing any evidence or legal precedents, without citing any “law degrees you possess, bar exams you have passed, etc”, that you are demanding of others.

The only evidence cited in this discussion was Gheta, the case I referenced above, where a federal court considered professors at a public community college to not only be state actors, but to be subject to Establishment Clause restrictions. Perhaps you can cite a case refuting this conclusion. Or perhaps, for some reason, you would treat a public university differently from a public community college.

You keep going on about right and wrong on this issue, as in, “It’s wrong because ID/creationism is a load of BS…” but right and wrong is in the eye of the beholder. Judging by the letters to the Muncie newspaper many readers feel you are the one who is wrong on this issue. Legal and illegal is in the eyes of the law, and that’s what this case should be decided on. That’s why it should be decided in a courtroom.

Comments on the case from someone who should know something about the legal aspects. According to her, the establishment clause is unlikely to be relevant (and yes, the age of the students can matter in First Amendment cases).

tomh said:

harold said: No, that is not what I said.

You said, “in the US, favoring any religion in public schools - that’s “schools”, not “universities” - is illegal.” You make this claim, that favoring religion is illegal in schools but not universities, without citing any evidence or legal precedents, without citing any “law degrees you possess, bar exams you have passed, etc”, that you are demanding of others.

But if you read what he wrote Tomh, he is not making the claim you attribute to him. His claim is that the situation for a school is clear, but for higher education it is not clear (which is not the same as “it is not illegal”). He, unlike you, was prepared to defer opinion on its legality to somebody who understood the finer points of the Law.

SensuousCurmudgeon said:

Does anyone know if state universities can have religion departments? Not just comparative religion, but the straight stuff. If they can have such, that pretty well takes care of the First Amendment issue at the university level. All that remains is whether someone hired to teach science is violating the terms of his contract by teaching nonsense instead of science.

and later added:

I’ve answered my own question about teaching religion at state universities. At the University of Florida you can major in Religion. That pretty much answers the First Amendment question.

The University of Colorado at Boulder has a Department of Religious Studies. The Colorado web page describes more of what SC would call “comparative religion” rather than “the straight stuff” at Florida. Note that the Florida web page mentions “pastoral work” as a possible career after graduation.

Yeah, if there were a large number of applicants, only the one who would have got the job otherwise would be hurt by what was done, and there’s no way to tell which applicant that would be.

Henry J said:

Yeah, if there were a large number of applicants, only the one who would have got the job otherwise would be hurt by what was done, and there’s no way to tell which applicant that would be.

No, I disagree. There are lots of suits based on discrimination. It’s DIFFICULT to prove, of course, but it’s not impossible. You only need one or more guys or gals with demonstrably better CV’s than GG, and that’s not hard. In this job environment, I would guess that they had 100+ applicants for that job. Probably dozens had arguably better CV’s than GG, certainly several would have indisputably better CV’s by any reasonable, conventional measure. The only problem would be finding that guy or gal and convincing them to sue– many people are not litigious– unlike the IDiots, who scream “I have suffered the torments of Christ” when their department is down-sized and the bosses let the least productive employees go [see the Coppedge case].

the IDiots, who scream “I have suffered the torments of Christ” when their department is down-sized and the bosses let the least productive employees go [see the Coppedge case].

Well, what reason other than persecution could there be that they never get any creation science done?

I guess there is one other possibility…

But if you don’t want the other possibility to be considered, you have to scream bloody persecution for your lack of productive science.

Glen Davidson

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

the IDiots, who scream “I have suffered the torments of Christ” when their department is down-sized and the bosses let the least productive employees go [see the Coppedge case].

Well, what reason other than persecution could there be that they never get any creation science done?

I guess there is one other possibility…

But if you don’t want the other possibility to be considered, you have to scream bloody persecution for your lack of productive science.

Glen Davidson

What better excuse is there to use than claiming persecution by the evil scientists to explain why you can’t be bothered to do any science in the first place?

There are already young Earth creationists teaching science at major universities in the US:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/hom[…]faulkner.asp

Dr. Danny R. Faulkner has a B.S. (Math), M.S. (Physics), M.A. and PhD (Astronomy, Indiana University). For over 25 years he was on the faculty of the University of South Carolina Lancaster, where he taught physics and astronomy. He was Chair of its Division of Math, Science, Nursing, and Public Health (2009–2012). Dr. Faulkner retired as a full professor and now holds the title of Distinguished Professor Emeritus. In January, 2013 he joined Answers in Genesis and its Creation Museum full time. He has published more than a hundred papers in various astronomy and astrophysics journals. So far, Dr. Faulkner has published one book, Universe by Design

and in the UK:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/out[…]uart-burgess

Professor Stuart Burgess BSc(Eng), PhD, CEng, FIMechE, FRAeS has taught engineering design at Cambridge University and Bristol University in the UK. He has won many national awards for engineering design including the Turners Gold Medal and a Mollins Design Prize. He has published over 130 scientific articles on design in engineering and design in nature. He has seven patents and carried out design projects for industry including designing parts of rockets and spacecraft for the European Space Agency. He is author of the books Hallmarks of Design, He Made the Stars Also, and The Origin of Man. He has lectured in many countries including the USA and Japan. He is married to Jocelyn and they have five children

So this isn’t really anything new, is it ?

Ian Derthal said:

There are already young Earth creationists teaching science at major universities in the US:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/hom[…]faulkner.asp

Dr. Danny R. Faulkner has a B.S. (Math), M.S. (Physics), M.A. and PhD (Astronomy, Indiana University). For over 25 years he was on the faculty of the University of South Carolina Lancaster, where he taught physics and astronomy. He was Chair of its Division of Math, Science, Nursing, and Public Health (2009–2012). Dr. Faulkner retired as a full professor and now holds the title of Distinguished Professor Emeritus. In January, 2013 he joined Answers in Genesis and its Creation Museum full time. He has published more than a hundred papers in various astronomy and astrophysics journals. So far, Dr. Faulkner has published one book, Universe by Design

and in the UK:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/out[…]uart-burgess

Professor Stuart Burgess BSc(Eng), PhD, CEng, FIMechE, FRAeS has taught engineering design at Cambridge University and Bristol University in the UK. He has won many national awards for engineering design including the Turners Gold Medal and a Mollins Design Prize. He has published over 130 scientific articles on design in engineering and design in nature. He has seven patents and carried out design projects for industry including designing parts of rockets and spacecraft for the European Space Agency. He is author of the books Hallmarks of Design, He Made the Stars Also, and The Origin of Man. He has lectured in many countries including the USA and Japan. He is married to Jocelyn and they have five children

So this isn’t really anything new, is it ?

No, it isn’t radically new. There are rare other examples. Michael Behe and Dean Kenyon, both of whom “converted” to creationism after getting ensconced in tenured positions, are biomedical faculty. Kenyon is described in Wikipedia as a Professor Emeritus at San Francisco State University. His active teaching of intro biology courses would have been restricted some time during the nineties, but presumably his pay or pension checks from the university continue. Whether they call him “Emeritus” to say nicely that he gets paid but doesn’t teach a course, whether he retired and they made him “Emeritus” for one reason or another, I don’t know and it doesn’t matter for the purposes of this comment. Kenyon began as and remains a pusher of YEC, but also pushes ID/creationism. He was an early DI fellow and also holds positions, probably paid positions, with YEC groups.

However, the fact that it isn’t new doesn’t mean that it isn’t a terrible idea to knowingly hire such people. Both Kenyon and Behe are useless, in fact harmful, to their institutions. Kenyon mistaught biology to SFSU students for a fair number of years. Neither Behe or Kenyon has done any useful research or teaching for years. In both cases, although the institutions that are stuck with them are solid, their notoriety is sufficient to have a major impact. I’m a pathologist whose interest is mainly in promoting strong respect for the first amendment, solid science education for all US students, and use of valid science for public policy decisions. For those reasons I oppose ID/creationism. I’m not an active evolutionary biologist. I’m sorry to say that my knowledge of the research going on at SFSU and Lehigh is overshadowed by my knowledge of the antics of Behe and Kenyon. And that’s probably true for a fair number of other people. Let’s also note that in a time of “tightening budgets” for everything except massively paid upper level administrators and bloated construction projects, Kenyon and Behe draw full salary or pension with benefits. Back in 1990 it may not have been a big deal for the taxpayers of California to pay for Kenyon, but times have changed.

However, Lehigh and SFSU are largely innocent here. Kenyon and Behe “converted” to creationism after ensconcing themselves. Their conversions took place in a different economic era, and given that it would have been legally nightmarish to get rid of them, simply paying them not to teach made sense at the time. Either institution would be delighted to travel back in time and not make those hires, I am sure. BSU is making such a hire on purpose.

Let’s make a comparison with, say, Egyptology. It’s fine for an Egyptologist to have individual or controversial opinions. But an Egyptologist who, say, claims that the pyramids were built in the nineteenth century as a tourism scheme, and that earlier representations are fakes, would be a poor hire. If you hire a promising Egyptologist, she does good research and teaching for ten years, she gets tenure, and then she starts doing that, well, that’s hard for you to foresee. But it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to hire someone who does that right out of the gate.

BSU is hiring a known science denier to teach science, and hiring him out of a Bible college, where he was because the institution he originally tricked was insightful enough to deny him tenure. It can’t be defended.

BSU is hiring a known science denier to teach science, and hiring him out of a Bible college, where he was because the institution he originally tricked was insightful enough to deny him tenure. It can’t be defended.

But somebody will try, anyway.

Some apparent good news, here’s a link.

The president of Ball State University has spoken out and she stands with the mainstream scientific consensus that “intelligent design” is pseudoscience. Although faculty members involved with ID will have no change in their job status, steps are being taken at Ball State to insure that science classes teach only science.

Pro-science organizations and individuals have applauded Ball State’s move. Not surprising that the Disco Tute disapproved.

But FWIW, anybody know how David Letterman feels about how his alma mater has handled this situation?

I confess I haven’t gone through every comment here, so I may be repeating, but:

I checked RateMyProfessor for Dr. Hedin, and found this quote:

“Extremely nice guy and an easy class. However, the class had an extremely Christian bias and he does not believe in evolution. Many of his views do not quite jive with those of mainstream science. Class consisted of weekly journals, short article review, and a 6 page paper

This review was from June 2010! And there are reviews of him from as far back as fall, 2005. Two things come to mind: First, when was he appointed Assist. Prof.? He could have been an adjunct up until that point, so it’s not too surprising if he’s just been appointed. And often adjuncts do get hiring preferences. Second, and on the other hand, if he’s been around that long, it’s not like Hedin’s behavior should come as a surprise to the administration, and that calls their motives in hiring him into question even more.

Perhaps Gonzalez will see the light and leave ID.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on July 7, 2013 9:39 AM.

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