Battle of Ball State: Baboonery Abounds

You know about the creationism problems at Indiana’s Ball State University. They’ve got one guy, Eric Hedin, slipping the stuff into his course on the “Boundaries of Science,” and while a controversy was brewing over that they went out and hired Guillermo Gonzalez — a Discoveroid “senior fellow.” Our last summary of the situation was Battle of Ball State: Setting the Stage.

But that’s not the extent of Ball State’s problems. Little by little, as their faculty express themselves on the issue, we’re learning that the whole institution may be riddled with … well, we don’t want to judge them too harshly — not yet. But bear in mind that we previously gave you the opinion of an urban planning professor — see Ball State: Wishy-Washy Squishy. That was pretty bad, and now we have another faculty opinion today.

In the Star Press of Muncie, Indiana they have an opinion column titled College courses should raise more questions. The author is someone named C. Van Nelson, described at the end as: “emeritus professor, computer science, Ball State University.” Let’s see what this computer science professor thinks of the situation. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Are we now at the point where we now allow only Darwin’s theory to be taught in university science classes? Is Professor Eric Hedin only allowed to present the Darwin model in the “Boundaries of Science” course because a University of Chicago professor has declared that the Darwin model is the only model that may be taught?

That’s the “one-sided, Darwin only” complaint, which we often hear from the Discovery Institute. The computer scientist seems to favor a balanced approach, mixing science and creationism in the same course. But that’s not only absurd, it’s also unconstitutional As we all know from Edwards v. Aguillard, a state institution can’t teach Oogity Boogity to balance out its teaching of science.

Then the computer scientist lapses into a creationist classic — the mantra that mistreated creationists are far-seeing, deep-thinking heroes, analogous to genuine science martyrs like Galileo. He doesn’t go so far as to actually mention Galileo, but he says:

What happens when we don’t think about things that we don’t want to think about and blindly accept what we are told? What happens if we don’t push the boundaries of science to extend what we know and either modify or replace the models we have built?

We would still have the ancient Greek model of chemistry with the four elements of earth, air, fire and water. Nuclear physicists would not have extended the Rutherford-Bohr model of the atom for a better model of atomic matter.

Right! Only the creationists can lead us out of the darkness! Later on he gives us a bible analogy, which is always helpful in these situations:

In the book of Second Chronicles of the Bible, Solomon asks the Lord for wisdom and knowledge and this pleases the Lord. To me, this means that we are to extend and build upon the knowledge that we have and illuminate unexplored areas with this light.

Ah yes, let us build upon our knowledge by exploring the mysteries of creationism! And now we arrive at his final paragraph:

Professor Eric Hedin appears to be challenging students to think about things that they may not have thought about. This is the real job of a professor. Students need to wrestle with concepts and ideas and come out of a course with more questions than answers.

In fairness to Ball State, this guy may not be typical of their faculty. Instead, he may merely be an example of the Salem Hypothesis, according to which engineering types — and that often includes computer scientists — have a tendency toward the creationist viewpoint.

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

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16 responses to “Battle of Ball State: Baboonery Abounds

  1. Well, if he wants to quote the mine the bible then two can play that game:

    For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
    (1 Corinthians 1:19)

  2. john zande says: “Well, if he wants to quote the mine the bible then two can play that game”

    If two can play, so can three:

    How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? — Proverbs 1:22

  3. Since he is an “emeritus” professor, I presume he is no longer teaching. However, in his day, I wonder how many of his students came out of his computer science classes “with more questions than answers.”

    It’s probably a good thing that he is no longer teaching.

  4. Oh, nice. Here’s another:

    Isaiah 29:14

    therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”

  5. Yes, and let’s inject some evolutionary teachings into those one-sided Sunday school mantras that teach only creationism, let’s hear both sides of the issue.

  6. There they go cherry-picking the Bible again. They left out 1 Corinthians 3:18-20 “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”

    The Discoveroids have taken this advice and have “become a fool” because who else would believe such drivel?

  7. – the “one-sided, Darwin only” complaint
    It’s so typical that we never hear the “one-sided, creationism only” complaint from such people. Guess what? Hedin actually is a one-sided creationism only teacher. JAC convincingly has shown that he never presented the point of view of say Sean Carroll. I know a few European countries where that would be sufficient reason to fire Hedin. JAC doesn’t even go that far.

  8. The sad thing is, Ball State pumps out a bunch of elementary teachers. I sure hope there are some rational profs in the education dept. to counteract the influence of the Discovery Institute.

    The hiring of Guillermo Gonzalez was inexcusable, especially since it followed the long-running controversy surrounding Hedin. It’s as though the Ball State administration is thumbing its collective nose at their students.

  9. Ceteris Paribus

    I feel sad for retired academics who go around in public, advertising the fact that they are “emeritus professors.” The poor souls wander the earth in a recurrent day-dream fictional fog where they they fondly remember the day they got tenure as being the pinnacle of their life.

    Kind of like Al Bundy who, while trying to fit size 5 shoes on a size 10 fat lady customer, kept having flashbacks to that bright Fall day he scored three touchdowns for his high-school football team, in a single game.

  10. As a computer scientist, did he spend half his time talking about the Ghost in the Machine? Got to represent all possible angles, you know!

  11. I don’t know why you all are wasting your time arguing “The Controversy. Everyone with true wisdom knows that the entire Universe is just a dream, and when the Brahma wakes up, the whole thing will pop like a soap bubble. Why aren’t they teaching that in college science?

  12. Stephen Kennedy

    As an MD myself, it pains me to say this, but looking at the “Salem Hypotheses” I have to add that in addition to engineers, medical doctors also tend to be disproportionantly represented among the people who claim scientific expertise but are easily taken in by pseudosciences like creationism.

  13. The whole truth asks: “SC, have you seen this?”

    Yeah, but it’s nothing new. I’ve posted about Hambo’s zip lines before. It’s not a big deal.

  14. SC: “I’ve posted about Hambo’s zip lines before.”

    Hambo’s zip lines — his version of The Fall?

  15. I’m kind of shocked that no one has mentioned the bible verse that exhaustively elucidates and verifies the theory of intelligent design:
    “At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar.” (1 Chronicles 26:18)