We have avoided posting about the fuss over Ball State University regarding their physics professor, Eric Hedin, and his course on the “Boundaries of Science.” Because his course is an elective, and wasn’t being imposed on anyone, we didn’t see it as a serious issue.
Ball State University has hired a controversial astronomer who is a national leader in the intelligent design movement. President Jo Ann Gora approved the hiring of Guillermo Gonzalez as an assistant professor in the department of physics and astronomy on June 12 at a salary of $57,000. He will start teaching at BSU in August.
You know who Guillermo Gonzalez is. He’s the Discoveroid “senior fellow” who failed to get tenure at Iowa State University and who now teaches at some bible college. He’s a co-author of the classic creationist book, The Privileged Planet, a “fine tuning” argument applied to Earth. You know how that goes — everything on our little world is so perfectly arranged that it just couldn’t have happened naturally; there had to be some guiding intelligence who set the dials so it would all work out exactly as we see it. Gonzalez is also one of the creationist martyrs featured in Expelled, the Ben Stein creationist “documentary.”
Gonzalez doesn’t have to teach at bible colleges any more. He just found a home at Ball State. The news story continues:
The hiring occurred after Ball State had launched an investigation into a complaint that another assistant professor in the same department, Eric Hedin, was promoting intelligent design in a science class.
See what we mean about changing our mind about Ball State? It’s starting to look like they’re going full-bore for creationism. Then we’re told:
“Do you see any pattern here?” Jerry Coyne, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, asked The Star Press. “I’m wondering … why Ball State’s physics and astronomy department has a penchant for ID (intelligent design) people. This (hiring) is a very unwise move for Ball State, particularly when one of its other astronomy professors, Eric Hedin, is under investigation for teaching ID in an astronomy class. If the university wants to retain any scientific credibility, they should start hiring scientists who will teach real science and not religious apologetics.”
When the blogging brouhaha over Hedin started, we thought Coyne was a bit too aggressive, and the Discoveroids were too defensive. But now …. well, we’ve been wrong before. Let’s read on:
“Why would they hire a person who didn’t get tenure at Iowa State because of his poor academic performance … and then went to a small religious school where I’m not sure he was tenured?” Coyne asked.
That’s a fair question. We continue:
Gonzalez claimed he was denied tenure (essentially a guarantee of a lifetime job and academic freedom) because of his stance on intelligent design. But the university said the decision was based on his refereed publications, his level of success in attracting research funding, the amount of telescope observing time he had been granted, the number of graduate students he had supervised, and evidence of future career promise in astronomy.
Whatever. Anyway, Ball State seems to like Gonzalez. Who will be the next to get hired there — Jason Lisle? Here’s more:
In response to questions about the hiring of Gonzalez, BSU spokeswoman Joan Todd — to whom press inquiries about Hedin and Gonzalez are being funneled — said in a prepared statement: “This is our response. His qualifications are in his cv (curriculum vitae).
Among other questions, she declined to answer whether BSU is seeking to become a research hub for intelligent design. She also declined to respond to Coyne’s comments, including, “Is there some unholy connection between BSU and the Discovery Institute, or is the department of astronomy just sympathetic to intelligent design?”
Coyne may be on to something here. Then the newspaper quotes a bit from Discoveroid John West, who claims there’s no connection between Ball State and the Discovery Institute. Right, no connection. Except that Gonzales is a Discoveroid “senior fellow.”
There’s much more to the newspaper story. You’ll probably want to read it for yourself before you reach any conclusion about what’s going on at Ball State. This controversy isn’t going away any time soon.
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