Ball State University Hires Guillermo Gonzalez

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.

Now however, we may have to reconsider. In the the Star Press of Muncie, Indiana we just ran across this: BSU hires leader in intelligent design. They say, with bold font added by us:

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.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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20 responses to “Ball State University Hires Guillermo Gonzalez

  1. We will probably see claims that Gonzalez is a martyr for his cause.

    Hmm, this will be his second martyrdom. Does that prove resurrection?

    I shall enjoy the entertainment while it lasts.

  2. Ball State is big in teacher education, especially Elementary Education. They turn out large numbers of elementary teachers each year.

    Indiana has a rapidly expanding voucher system that funnels state education dollars to private schools, including those with strong religious connections — Christian academies, Catholic parochial schools, Lutheran academies, Baptist schools, and (I think) at least one Islamic academy.

    It looks like Ball State is gearing up to meet the demand for teachers who will be willing to teach creationism in their science classes.

    This is serious. They need to be called out.

  3. Looking at the response from Ball State, it appears they want to be ID friendly. Apparently, they’ve decided to go from serious small university to full-blown Bible college.

  4. See my related comment on SC’s post below, “School Board Madness in Maryland”.

  5. There might be some behind the scenes politics going on here as the Republicans push vouchers and creationism and religion in the public schools, so why not at the university level as well.

    Frankly I think Ball State just got a huge wedgie and they’ll come to regret it.

  6. waldteufel

    Looks like Ball State is a pretty weak institution. Maybe that’s why they have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to get faculty.

  7. @waldteufel — Ball State has long had the reputation of being a party school. The expression was, “The name says it all.”

  8. docbill1351

    GG is a lazy little twerp, the perfect Disco Tute “senior” fellow. The bottom line is that after he left his graduate program where he was cocooned in a nice safe research environment where he didn’t have to think for himself, he blew it all on ID creationism and his scientific output went to zero.

    So, sorry, GG, no sympathy for your lazy butt. You want money for nothing, good luck with that, the rest of us have to do something for a living.

  9. The whole truth

    Is there anyone labeled as a junior, sophomore, or freshman fellow at the discotute?

  10. Gonzalez is best known for proving that earth-like planets must be extremely rare (proving that our solar system is intelligently designed). Actually, they’re quite common (proving, no doubt, that our Universe is intelligently designed).

  11. gnome de net

    (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.

  12. I haven’t read it yet, but two authors from the University of Washington have written a book, “Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe,” by Peter D. Ward, Donald Brownlee. I believe they argue that life is rare, and investigate what determines whether complex life will arise on a planet, or even any life at all? Questions such as these are investigated in this groundbreaking book. However, I don’t think their efforts involve invoking a spiritual designer to kick things off, contrary to GG’s interpretation.

  13. Gonzalez’s thesis was that Earth is intelligently designed to make it possible for us to make observations of the things we’ve observed (e.g. other starts, galaxies.) It’s a tautology: we’re capable of observing what we’ve observed. Therefore, intelligent design. But obviously, there could be trillions of other things that we can’t observe, which ought to affect his probability calculations.

    He ignores the fact that there are clearly many things that we CANNOT observe (our galactic core, black holes, dark matter) and there could be a trillion other things that exist but that we can’t observe.

    The creationists mock scientists because there are some things we can’t see (dark matter). Because we can’t see some things, that proves scientists are dummies and the universe is designed by God. Then when there are things that we CAN see, that proves the universe is designed by God.

  14. waldteufel

    Gary, do you have a link to Ball State’s response?

  15. Diogenes says: “Because we can’t see some things, that proves scientists are dummies and the universe is designed by God. Then when there are things that we CAN see, that proves the universe is designed by God.”

    So why don’t you cease your rebellion and admit that the creationists have the winning argument?

  16. @waldteufel: First, those in Indiana like to say, “Don’t make fun of Ball State. It’s the best high school we have.”
    Second, the response I was speaking of was in the original article SC linked to. Go to the fourth page, second to last paragraph, where Gora says,

    “We are confident your contributions will help us move the university forward,”

    Between that and the fact that she hired Hedin tells me she’s all about creationism. He was let go from another university due to his lack of publishing, his lackluster class enrollment (something tells me he got a rep and people learned to steer clear), and probably because his co-workers didn’t think much of him. Yet, Ball State hires him with relish. (Full disclosure: Both my older brother and one uncle are graduates of Ball State.) I’m not liking what’s happening in my native state.

  17. Ceteris Paribus

    Gary says “I’m not liking what’s happening in my native state. [Indiana]”

    During the 1920’s, Wikipedia says over half of Indiana’s General Assembly, and the Governor;s office were held by the Klan. So in general, things in 2013 should be a good bit better than they were almost a century ago.

    But there must be some kind of cosmic irony at work in Muncie, Indiana. Not only is Muncie home to Ball State University, Muncie is also the very city from which a newspaper editor raged against the Indiana Ku Klux Klan in the 1920’s and helped bring the downfall of the Klan’s Grand Dragon.

    Maybe the source of the irony is that the Creationists now setting up shop in Muncie are worshipers of the biblical dragons that Ken Ham politely refers to as “dinosaurs”. Is Muncie in search of another good newspaper editor?

  18. Do I need to remind us of the Indiana Pi Bill?

    Given that the Bible implies pi = 3.0, perhaps the math department at Ball State will hire Berlinski or Dembski to “teach the controversy.”

  19. Ball State is providing plenty of fodder for their most famous alumnus — David Letterman.

  20. “I haven’t read it yet, but two authors from the University of Washington have written a book, “Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe,” by Peter D. Ward, Donald Brownlee.”

    Coincidentally, Hedin and Gonzalez both “earned” their Ph.D.s there