Discoveroids Issue Ultimatum to Ball State

You know all about the creationist problems at Indiana’s Ball State University. They had one guy, Eric Hedin, who was said to be 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.” We recently summarized the situation in Battle of Ball State: Setting the Stage.

Now things are heating up. In the Star Press of Muncie, Indiana they have a story with this headline: Group condemns BSU for teaching ‘Science Must Destroy Religion’. It says, with bold font added by us:

The intelligent-design think tank Discovery Institute sent a letter to Ball State University President Jo Ann Gora today demanding an investigation into one of its honors seminars “for promoting atheism and bashing intelligent design.”

In late July, Gora concluded after an investigation that assistant professor of physics Eric Hedin has no right to teach intelligent design in a science course.

The stand she took was a bit stronger than that. We previously posted about the Statement from Ball State University’s President on the impropriety of teaching intelligent design in science class. Today the Discoveroids are striking back. The story continues:

“If Ball State is going to ban faculty speech favoring intelligent design by claiming that it would violate the separation of church and state, then it must apply the same ban to faculty speech that promotes atheism or attacks intelligent design in the classroom,” John West, vice president of Discovery Institute, said in a news release on Tuesday.

Neat, huh? If Ball State won’t teach the Discoveroids’ pseudo-science about intelligent design, then they shouldn’t be allowed to mention it at all, especially not in a negative way.

The rest of the news article quotes from the Discoveroid ultimatum, but we have an even better source for that — the blog of the Discoveroids. They just posted this: Discovery Institute Demands that Ball State University Investigate Class for Teaching that “Science Must Destroy Religion”. There’s no author’s byline, but it reeks of John West. Anyway, here are some excerpts, and we’ve added some bold font for emphasis.

Discovery Institute, the nation’s leading intelligent design think tank, is demanding that Indiana’s Ball State University (BSU) investigate one of its honors seminars for promoting atheism and bashing intelligent design. The demand follows the decision by BSU President Jo Ann Gora to ban all faculty from endorsing intelligent design in their classes, and to ban science faculty from even raising the topic.

Wowie — they’re demanding! This is serious. Let’s read on:

“If Ball State is going to ban faculty speech favoring intelligent design by claiming that it would violate the separation of church and state, then it must apply the same ban to faculty speech that promotes atheism or attacks intelligent design in the classroom,” said Dr. John West, Vice President of Discovery Institute.

Makes sense, right? If the university can’t promote Oogity Boogity in science class, then they can’t teach why it isn’t science. The Discoveroid article gives a link to the actual ultimatum — it’s a ten-page pdf file: Dear President Gora. It ends with an “Attachment” containing nine questions they want answered, but just before those questions, the actual letter ends with this, and the bold font is in the original:

We ask for a response to each of the items listed above by no later than the end of business on Monday, September 30, 2013. If you do not respond by that time, we will assume that you do not intend to answer our questions, or otherwise cooperate with our reasonable requests, and that we must therefore seek remedy elsewhere

We’ll let you have the pleasure of reading the ultimatum in its entirety. The Discoveroids’ article repeats the threat:

The Institute’s letter gives BSU until September 30 to respond. After that, the Institute warns it will be forced to seek other remedies.

We don’t know what those “other remedies” might be, but we don’t understand how the Discoveroids have any standing to launch litigation — not in their own name. They’re not involved in what goes on in Ball State; they’re just a bunch of creationists in Seattle. But we’ve been surprised before. Here’s how the Discoveroids’ post ends:

A non-profit education and research think tank, Discovery Institute defends academic freedom for scientists, scholars and students who support intelligent design, the theory that there is scientific evidence that nature was produced by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process.

No Oogity Boogity there — just solid science. Well, dear reader, things are definitely getting interesting. The fat’s in the fire. The die is cast. The fuse is lit. The clock is ticking. The dreaded deadline of 30 September will soon be upon us. What then? Stay tuned to this blog.

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

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49 responses to “Discoveroids Issue Ultimatum to Ball State

  1. Discovery Institute defends academic freedom for scientists, scholars and students who support intelligent design

    . . . yet doesn’t defend academic freedom for scientists who know it’s a load of crap. But surely the whole meaning of the term “academic freedom” is that . . . oh, never mind.

  2. we sure will keep it here. I will be waiting to see what remedies they shall take

  3. WayBeyondRedemption....

    It is very important to start telling these ‘Discoveroids to go F_ _ k themselves! Not only to put them intheir place…. but also, because cursing melts their minds……….. ;-O

  4. Hahahahahahahahahahahahaahah!

    The “new guy” signed the letter! McLOL identifies himself as a Ball State Alumnus.

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahaahah! That is SOOOOOOOOO funny! Their “standing” is a retired speech major creationist! OMG, just when I didn’t think the Toot could sink any lower.

  5. Discoveroid blog post opens

    Discovery Institute, the nation’s leading intelligent design think tank–

    Leading? Just how many ‘intelligent design think tanks’ have you got over there? And anyway, the DI is pretty consistently misleading.

    But number 2 (on page 4 of their letter) in their list of Requests for Investigations is an astounding romp down memory lane to the days of ‘Tail-Gunner’ Joe McCarthy and the antics of Roy Cohn:

    Since you chose to investigate Eric Hedin’s qualifications to teach his course, we ask that you launch equivalent investigations to review the qualifications of all other BSU faculty who teach sections of Honors 296, 297, and 298, including the following

    and there follows a list of 3 BSU professors that the DI asks the university to “investigate.”

    All we really need is for Westie to proclaim “I hold in my hand a list of 205 card-carrying atheists,” and we can all relive the thrills of the 1950’s witchhunt.

    Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

  6. docbill1351 says: “OMG, just when I didn’t think the Toot could sink any lower.”

    Remember, they’re really fighting this fight for Guillermo Gonzalez who just landed a spot on the Ball State faculty.

  7. I think they are fighting for Guillermo to be let go again so they can shout foul.

    There is a limit to how much BSU can stand. He has barely started to teach classes and already he has the “think tank” that he works for attacking the university and providing bad press.

    add in a few classes teaching ID and, some student complaints about the teachers attitude and yet another martyr is born.

    Or maybe…. Just maybe, Guillermo just wants a job and has pissed off DI enough by leaving that they are going to scuttle and lose him weather he wants to be or not.

  8. and didn’t DI yet again accept that ID is a religious idea since they are claiming religious rights?

    How many times do they think they can flip flop.

  9. I’m surprised that the DiscoTute would even think about threatening litigation. They didn’t do so well in Dover, PA. Let’s have another federal court in Indiana slap them in the face again. In fact, lets push this all the way to the Supreme Court and put an end to it once and for all. Not!! My bad! They will never give up until the money runs out.

  10. Don’t mean to pick nits, SC, but you seem to be repeating the same two statements. Did you mean to pick two other paragraphs?

  11. Gary says: “Don’t mean to pick nits, SC, but you seem to be repeating the same two statements.”

    Egad, you’re right. I took it first from the newspaper and then again from the Discoveroid article. It must have impressed me. Or it was a brain fade. I’ll just leave it.

  12. “The ‘new guy’ signed the letter! McLOL identifies himself as a Ball State Alumnus.”

    I have a hypothesis that the Tooters may have hired McLOL to give them some tenuous semblance of legal standing without affecting Guillermo’s new job. They may want Guillermo in place for some future chicanery.

  13. I’d love to see BSU give the same answer to the Tooters that Gen. McAuliffe gave the Germans who demanded his surrender at Bastogne:

    “NUTS!”

  14. Like docbill, my favorite part of “Dear Doctor Gora” is McLoL’s signature. Jeepers! He’s also a resident of Indiana, BSU better take him seriously!

    Also, someone should tell him that putting “M.A.” after his name is a surefire indicator of rampant douchebaggery, as well.

  15. Westie warns: “If you do not respond by that time, we will assume that you do not intend to answer our questions, or otherwise cooperate with our reasonable requests, and that we must therefore seek remedy elsewhere.”

    I think I’ve seen this type of threat before.

  16. I read the whole 10-page double-spaced letter and now I wish I were a drinker. They seem to have a little reading comprehension problem. They don’t understand the president’s letter at all. If you look at the Honors 390 course description that’s the umbrella for the Dangerous Ideas course, it’s clearly a humanities-oriented course. It doesn’t satisfy science, humanities, or any other requirement, unlike Hedin’s course, which satisfied a science requirement. And the “new guy” has no credentials in actual science, mainly in “ministry” including that horrible Teen Mania “ministries” that doesn’t seem to do any charity work, just fund-raising and lightening the wallets of parents who think anything called a “ministry” is a good thing. They were busted by local TV in Texas and on national TV for their abusive boot camps: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkHLxNiSP1U

  17. The intelligent-design think tank Discovery Institute…

    Isn’t that an oxymoron? I thought intelligent design was more or less the opposite of thinking.

  18. It never ends, does it. The Sternberg/Meyers affair, the Gonzalez/Iowa affair, the Freshwater/Ohio affair, the Dover School Board affair, the Eric Hedin/BSU and soon again the Gonzalez/BSU affair in the making, the dishonesty institute bitches and moans, but never, never do they produce any evidence whatsoever regarding their assertions regarding ID, they only wish to obfuscate the whole matter with their mumble jumbo. How sad indeed. These discoveroids are truely a pathetic bunch of fundamentalists.

  19. McLaughlin: Today, Ball Shtate– Tomorrow, ze Vurld!

    The DI wouldn’t hire McLaughlin to get standing. He hasn’t sat in a classroom in 36 years.

    With this old geezer out front, where is the younger generation that will take over when Dembski, Behe etc. retire? McLatchie? I hope so, for our side, as McLatchie is a chew toy– witness how he was recently butchered by commenters at Sandwalk.

  20. Curmy, I really don’t know how you do it. Every time (which is not often) that I go to the DI website, I feel that I need a shower afterward.
    They are thorough-going scum deserving of nothing but derision and belly-laughing finger pointing. I rate them even below the ICR and Ken Ham’s carnival of talking snakes.
    Now, where did I leave my soap . . . . .

  21. non-profit education and research think tank
    Education and research think tank is obviuously wrong and non-profit is only technically right. Imagine there wasn’t a DI. At least West, Luskin and Meyer gain profit from the DI directly.

  22. The issue is actually over a textbook used in where it claims…..”Science Must Destroy Religion,” that “There is no God; no Intelligent Designer; no higher purpose to our lives,” and even that scientists should function as our society’s “high priests.” The book contains an afterword by atheist evangelist Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion.

    You can’t have it both ways and claim that God has nothing to do with science, and then make a claim that science can quantify the notion that there is no God or higher purpose in our lives. I see nothing wrong with demanding that Ball University adheres to its own standards which it imposed on itself.

    And I see no reason why Intelligent design theory cannot be discussed on a college level where the free exchange of ideas (even if unpopular) have historically been open for discussion. And especially when there are now many peer reviewed science journals that have published papers by ID theorist. You can call it a load of crap if it makes you feel better, but many of the on going debates that go on on less restrictive university campuses are attended by debating scholars on both sides, and are usually filled to the rafters with students on both sides of the fence as well, as there seems to be great interest in this subject.

    College students are old enough to make rational decisions as to what makes, or doesn’t make sense. Keep in mind, the DI is not calling for anyone to be censored or fired like the neo Darwinist did. They are merely calling for an investigation into its own seminar, which in itself is entitled “Dangerous Ideas.” Stalin and Mao also believed in the “dangerous idea” paradigm. This paradigm, and especially concerning academics, does not belong in a free society.

  23. @ ladyatheist: Many thanks for link to ‘Teen Mania’ clip–really horrifying stuff, words fail me. McLaughlin needs to be grilled about his ‘work’ with Teen Mania; that stuff is severely disturbing.

  24. themayan claims

    The issue is actually over a textbook used in where it claims…..”Science Must Destroy Religion,” that “There is no God; no Intelligent Designer; no higher purpose to our lives,” and even that scientists should function as our society’s “high priests.” The book contains an afterword by atheist evangelist Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion.

    I think you may be misrepresenting the book in question (What is Your Dangerous Idea?, ed. John Brockman), at least judging by the available review pages on Amazon, and the publisher’s blurb:

    The history of science is replete with ideas that were considered socially, morally or emotionally dangerous in their time. The Copernican and Darwinian revolutions are obvious examples — radical, brilliant insights that did not so much push the envelope as rip it into shreds. These ideas were dangerous because they challenged our comfort zone. But what are the dangerous ideas of the twenty-first century? Which theories do the world’s leading thinkers and scientists regard as too hot to handle — not because the idea might be false, but because it might turn out to be true? Collecting together the very best contributions to the renowned Edge.org question from the most eminent respondents, WHAT IS YOUR DANGEROUS IDEA? is another endlessly fascinating and provocative insight into the bleeding-edge of intellectual endeavour.

    A glance at the Table of Contents (in the review pages) shows a collection of over 200 separate essays by different authors on a wide range of topics and from a wide range of differing–and often contradictory–viewpoints. To represent this, as you appear to do in your post (and as the DI do in their shameful letter) as a “textbook” which “claims” the arguments of any one of its many essays over another is misleading. It’s an anthology, surveying views of a body of prominent contemporary intellectuals from a variety of fields, not a thesis promoting one particular view. It sounds (I have not read it, only the Amazon material linked above) both interesting and entirely suitable for the described Honors course at undergraduate level. It is not comparable to a science course for which the syllabus appears to have contained only non-scientific texts.

  25. Megalonyx, the essay by Sam Harris in that anthology states verbatim that “science must destroy religion” — and Sam Harris being Sam Harris, he got right up the Discorrhoids’ easily-out-of-joint noses. That said, I agree entirely with your assessment that the Discorrhoids are torturing and panelbeating the facts and circumstances to suit their own misbegotten agenda.

  26. themayan states:

    And I see no reason why Intelligent design theory cannot be discussed on a college level

    Nor I. But don’t bring it into a science class and tell me it’s science. It isn’t. And it’s not a theory in the scientific sense (a well-tested framework backed up by evidence). Frankly, it’s not even a hypothesis. The best it is is a WAG (wild-assed guess). It doesn’t even qualify as a SWAG (scientific wild-assed guess). You’d think that with all of the money that the DI has at their disposal, they could come up with something that hasn’t already been debunked a thousand times. But it’s clear to us watching what they’re doing that the DI doesn’t give one rat’s patootie about research or science. They’re agenda is strictly political.
    Now if you want to bring it into a theology class, then by all means.
    BTW, what is a “neo Darwinist”?

  27. The DI scribbles:

    You have decided that “intelligent design is not appropriate content for science courses.” To be lawful, your ban on the discussion of intelligent design in science classes must apply equally to science faculty who oppose intelligent design as well as to science faculty who support intelligent design. Thus, under your new policy, BSU science faculty hostile to intelligent design can no longer be allowed to voice their criticisms of intelligent design in their science classes. In addition, because a number of science textbooks now discuss intelligent design in order to criticize it, BSU’s new policy requires BSU to ensure that science faculty do not use these textbooks in their classes.

    Presumably the DI would also support banning criticism of “flood geology” in a science class, because it supports the religious idea of a specially created young earth and god-created world-wide flood. In the DI’s twisted logic, this would somehow constitute criticism of the underlying religion – rather than merely criticism of the plainly false assertion that geology is explained by a world-wide flood.

    Flood geology is not taught at BSU (to my knowledge) because it is bad science, not because BSU is opposed to the religion it is based on. My understanding of Dr. Gora’s memo to her faculty is that ID will not be taught in science classes for the same reason – it is simply bad science. Science professors should be as free to debunk ID as they are no doubt free to debunk flood geology.

    It seems like the DI is on thin ice in their attempt to censor any criticism of ID on religious grounds, while at the same time claiming it is simply a scientific theory. That will be an awkward position to take in a court proceeding.

  28. Ah, ‘themayan.’ He has claimed that his Genetics textbook unequivocally declared that “junkDNA” was totally useless. When I asked – repeatedly – for the name of the text, he ignored my requests or merely re-asserted that it was so. He is a YEC/ID apologist and spammer that refuses to admit error on anything, so be forewarned.

  29. The Institute’s letter gives BSU until September 30 to respond. After that, the Institute warns it will be forced to seek other remedies.

    Ooh, BSU better knuckle-under, or the DI might right [Curmudgeonly editing] write another blog post!

  30. Tomato Addict says: “Ooh, BSU better knuckle-under, or the DI might write another blog post!”

    And if that doesn’t do the job, they’ll call for a letter-writing campaign, as they did during the Coppedge litigation. And if BSU still doesn’t cave, the Discoveroids will dispatch Casey to bite Jo Ann Gora’s ankles.

  31. Ed correctly asserts:

    “Science professors should be as free to debunk ID as they are no doubt free to debunk flood geology.”

    … or astrology or alchemy or perpetual motion or the steady-state universe or the geocentric universe or the luminiferous aether or phlogiston or… or… or…

  32. Con-Tester mentions a list of “Superseded scientific theories”.

    I suggest that “Intelligent Design” does not rise to that status, as it has never exhibited any interest in explanations or accounts – why or how something happens, rather than something else, when or where or what happens.

    Anyway, it might be more interesting to say that the athletic teams be free to adopt Calvin Ball instead of football or basketball. After all, the Bible tells us that the race is not to the swift.

  33. TomS, your objection that ID is not and never was a scientific theory, let alone one superseded, is, of course, perfectly valid, and well taken. My intention was to contrast explanatory notions that had fallen into disfavour against those we owe to advances in our best current knowledge — that is, to point out blind alleys whose entrances looked bright and promising but which led to dead ends. Creationism was a respectable explanatory notion for the best part of humanity’s recorded history (one which ID, as a direct-line descendant, presumes surreptitiously to supplant), and creationism has been rendered largely irrelevant by deeper understanding, a reality some people are hell-bent on evading. Creationism is thus perhaps the grandest and most ambitious of all those blind scientific alleys (unfruitful, unfalsifiable, untestable), and ID is just creationism behind a tacky facade, as a wise judge pointed out less than as decade ago, so it gets dragged down into oblivion by the weight of its country-bumpkin ancestry.

  34. themayan wrote:

    there are now many peer reviewed science journals that have published papers by ID theorist.

    Oh, really? A few citations might be in order.

  35. The Mayan I would like to thank you for making a cogent and intelligent response. Many people are not capable of that. HOWEVER, there are a few facts you got wrong that might change your opinion.

    – No one asked for Hedin to be fired. That was discovery institute spin. Jerry Coyne who brought the complaint forth was very clear in multiple blog posts and articles that hedin should not be fired. Only the coarse was the problem but not the teacher.

    – I.D. Is not a complete Scientific theory. It’s creators have said as much. Even in this letter they are arguing on religious grounds. NOT based on scientific merit.

    As to the Classes.

    – The problem with the class was that it was a RELIGIOUS apologetics class being taught as a SCIENCE coarse. Violating good science education, common sense and teaching one person’s personal religion as scientific fact. The coarse description was nowhere near what was actually being taught effectively tricking students into joining.

    – The dangerous ideas coarse is a RELIGIOUS/SOCOLOGICAL class being taught as a RELIGIOUS/SOCOLIGCAL class. The course description and title matched the material being taught. It is an opinion coarse not fact. No-one was tricked into joining.

    I hope you see the difference? Had Hedins course been a religious/sociological class there would have been NO problems.

    Afterall were complaints made about seminary courses. Woman’s studies? Black history? Or just this one class that was teaching religion as science.

    The discovery institute is comparing apples to oranges.

    Also please do not be annoyed at us for pointing this out to you. DI armed you with a poor and dishonest argument. They violated your trust and tried to mislead you. I and others have just tried to correct your misunderstandings.

  36. Do you know what discipline “the promotion of atheism” occurred in?

  37. R. L. Culpeper asks:

    Do you know what discipline “the promotion of atheism” occurred in?

    Not sure. The course on “Dangerous Ideas” is listed here: Honors Colloquia.

  38. Thanks for the edit, Curmy, I was in too much of a hurry this morning.

  39. Interesting. Great article and thanks for the follow up!

  40. @Con-Tester
    Just to let you know that I agree.

  41. Doing a bit of our own ‘flood geology’ here in Boulder – expecting the Ark to come down Sunshine Creek at any moment!!

  42. Hang in there Doc, the rain will turn to snow soon enough.

  43. Thanks TA! If this was snow, we would have over 10 feet at our house right now, with more on the way 🙂

  44. I am terribly jealous. Wisconsin skiing just doesn’t compare.

  45. I suppose the good news is that we have a raft in the garage 🙂

  46. Doug: “Doing a bit of our own ‘flood geology’ here in Boulder ”

    So you’re watching fossils get sorted in an order that gives the appearance of evolution?

  47. Yup! When the flood waters subside, hopefully by tomorrow, I expect to see some clear evidence supporting the science presented in Genesis. There already appears to be a stratification of the debris flow that is clearly not random and thus obviously designed 🙂

  48. @Douglas E:

    It’s even better than that. The creationists often hold that the reserves of coal and oil were created during the flood (none of that 380 million years ago Carboniferous-era heathenism for them!). And, you have to admit, they have some evidence on their side. After all, just a few years after Katrina, in the very same part of the world, was the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. QED!

  49. Wow! I hope we own the mineral rights on our property! Wait – this is Planet Boulder so there’s no way to recover the stuff since there is surely some prohibitive ordinance.