Still hoppin' in Iowa

First, for anyone unfamiliar with the current goings-on here in the Hawkeye state, I refer you to these threads for some background information. At the heart of the current situation is a letter signed by ~120 Iowa State faculty, saying that intelligent design isn’t science. This hits home at ISU, because Discovery Institute fellow Guillermo Gonzalez, author of The Privileged Planet, happens to be a faculty member in the astronomy department there.

Now, Sigma Xi at the University of Northern Iowa has invited Gonzalez to speak there. This lead the UNI faculty to endorse the ISU statement as well. Over 100 signatures were collected in just 24 hours’ time there.

Additionally, the secretary of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) wrote to the Iowa State Daily, endorsing the faculty’s position there.

In a letter sent to the Daily by the American Association of University Professors, Roger Bowen, general secretary for the organization, applauded ISU faculty members who signed a letter in August rejecting Intelligent Design as a credible scientific theory and also expressed concern that the debate over Intelligent Design may pose a threat to academic freedom in the near future. In the AAUP’s letter, dated Sept. 15, Bowen congratulated ISU faculty for their “willingness to take a public stand on an issue of vital importance to the scientific community, to the academy and to society as a whole.”

The AAUP issued their own statement on the issue back in June:

The theory of evolution is all but universally accepted in the community of scholars and has contributed immeasurably to our understanding of the natural world. The Ninety-first Annual Meeting of the American Association of University Professors deplores efforts in local communities and by some state legislators to require teachers in public schools to treat evolution as merely a hypothesis or speculation, untested and unsubstantiated by the methods of science, and to require them to make students aware of an “intelligent-design hypothesis” to account for the origins of life. These initiatives not only violate the academic freedom of public school teachers, but can deny students an understanding of the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding evolution.

The implications of these efforts for higher education are particularly troubling to this Meeting. To the degree that college and university faculty in the field of biology would be required to offer instruction about evolution and the origins of life that complied with these restrictions and was at variance with their own understanding of scientific evidence, their freedom to determine what may be taught and how would be seriously abridged.

This Meeting calls on local communities and state officials to reject proposals that seek to suppress discussion of evolution in our public schools as inimical to principles of academic freedom.

Of course, Gonzalez is not happy:

An ISU professor and supporter of Intelligent Design has expressed his disappointment with a national organization after it said the theory is not scientific.

“I’m certainly very disappointed with the AAUP,” said Guillermo Gonzalez, assistant professor of physics and astronomy and co-author of the book “The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery.”

“Especially when this is supposed to be an organization that encourages scientific exploration and thought.”

The Iowa Academy of Science (IAS) has also drafted a statement that I hear will be published shortly. Here at U of Iowa, we’re planning a panel discussion to educate folks about Intelligent Design and the issues involved with the latest happenings. I’m also working on getting together some kind of Iowa citizens for science group, possibly under the umbrella of the IAS–so if there are any Iowans out there interested in this, drop me a line.