Ball State Imbroglio Update — 03 Oct 2013

We know how dependent you are on this blog for the very latest information about the creationist crisis at Indiana’s Ball State University. To serve your needs, we’ve reorganized our page on The Controversy to add a section on this subect. All our posts on this topic can be found here: Ball State Imbroglio.

We have a bit of news today, but it’s not much, so we’ll take a few minutes to provide some background as to how this situation developed. If you feel that you already know what’s been going on, you can skip the next few indented paragraphs:

We originally ignored the controversy that began when Jerry Coyne, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, started a fuss about Ball State University’s physics professor, Eric Hedin, who was allegedly teaching intelligent design in his course on the “Boundaries of Science.” We paid no attention because Hedin’s course is an elective, and wasn’t being imposed on anyone. We didn’t see it as a serious issue.

We changed our attitude when we learned that Ball State University Hires Guillermo Gonzalez. Who’s he? Guillermo Gonzalez is the Discoveroid “senior fellow” who failed to get tenure at Iowa State University and who (until now) had been teaching at some bible college. He’s a co-author of the classic creationist book, The Privileged Planet, a “fine tuning” argument applied to Earth. Not only that, he’s one of the creationist martyrs featured in Expelled, the Ben Stein creationist “documentary.” Therefore, we started to wonder if Ball State was going full-bore for creationism.

Then there was a strong, pro-science Statement from Ball State University’s President, Jo Ann Gora. She wrote: “Teaching intelligent design as a scientific theory is not a matter of academic freedom – it is an issue of academic integrity. … Said simply, to allow intelligent design to be presented to science students as a valid scientific theory would violate the academic integrity of the course as it would fail to accurately represent the consensus of science scholars.”

That’s when the Discovery Institute stopped lurking in the background and got openly and aggressively involved. We posted Discoveroids Issue Ultimatum to Ball State. When the ultimatum’s deadline passed, we posted about the university’s response: Ball State to Discoveroids: “Bugger Off!”

Okay, everyone’s up to date. You’re ready for today’s news. At the website of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), founded by televangelist Pat Robertson, we read Ball State Students Say Course Promotes Atheism.

Whoa! It sounds like Ball State students are in agreement with the Discoveroids. This could be serious! Let’s see what CBN says. Hmmmm … the article is very short, and most of it describes the existing controversy. All the news of interest to us is in the first paragraph. We’ll break that into two parts. The bold font was added by us:

Ball State University in Indiana says it will review a class curriculum some students say promotes atheism.

“Some students”? The class they’re referring to, of course, is the one the Discoveroids are complaining about. It’s an honors elective on “Dangerous Ideas.” Who are these students who claim it promotes atheism? That’s coming next. Get ready:

The students are in a club that calls for teaching intelligent design.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That sounds like one of those “IDEA Clubs” that were once a hot Discoveroid project. Wikipedia describes them here: Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center. We thought the whole thing had faded away, but the Discoveroids still have this website: Welcome to the IDEA Center. They have a page showing the location of their chapters, but we don’t see anything at Ball State.

Anyway, that’s the news — there’s unrest among what is probably a handful of creationist students. Well, it’s also news that Robertson’s network is following the story. The rest of what CBN says is just a rehash of what we already know. Now you’re completely up to date.

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

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13 responses to “Ball State Imbroglio Update — 03 Oct 2013

  1. retiredsciguy

    The DI calling their groups “IDEA clubs”? How perfectly Orwellian!

  2. Yeah, Luskin was in charge of starting IDEA clubs in high schools and colleges and once boasted a couple of dozen, but they are all moribund. Makes sense. Once the zealot who forms the club graduates the club vanishes.

    The club bylaws called for the officers to be Christians which got the clubs in trouble with several college administrations.

    Some years ago management of the IDEA clubs was given to Carolyn Crocker but she vanished from the DI rolls after a few months. Don’t know what happened there. Can you get fired from the DI for incompetence?

    There is no record of an IDEA club at Ball State, unless it was formed very recently. I wouldn’t be surprised; a last minute stunt. Like when they threw Gonzalez a “grant” as he was losing tenure to make up for GG’s poor grant record.

    I don’t know why they’re making a stink about Ball State unless it’s to smooth the way for GG to start injecting ID, like a virus. We all know that’s what he’s going to do. It’s inevitable.

  3. SC: “We paid no attention because Hedin’s course is an elective, and wasn’t being imposed on anyone. We didn’t see it as a serious issue.”

    That you didn’t consider it a serious issue must mean that Hedin didn’t just “teach” ID, as ID peddlers do, but had students critically analyze it. In which case the great majority of students would easily see that it’s a scam, using every pseudoscientific and rhetorical trick in the book to promote unreasonable doubt (& paranoia) about evolution. In that case it would not be a serious issue at all. That was the case, right?

  4. retiredsciguy

    docbill: “The club bylaws called for the officers to be Christians which got the clubs in trouble with several college administrations.”

    Put’s the lie to their claim that Intelligent Design isn’t a religious movement, doesn’t it?

    And about Carolyn Crocker vanishing from the DI rolls? Maybe she wasn’t “Christian” enough.

  5. thank you URL-gremlin

  6. Yeah, the students use enough weasel words to hide their intent that they are probably creationists. They are learning to be intellectually dishonest at such a young age. Ah, youth!

  7. Let us deconstruct the ironclad logic of our ID-promoting young students, Dustin Meeks and Kaylie DiGiacomo:

    Deconstructing:

    We believe that neither science nor religion are sacred on the college campus.

    In the Middle Ages, if you asserted your religion was not sacred, your co-religionists would have burned you at the stake.

    They should be challenged not only by each other but also by faculty and students alike.

    So saying there are no transitional fossils, when there are many; or saying that there are no beneficial mutations, when there are; or saying that 2LOT forbids evolution, is now called a “challenge”. Nice word– when I was a kid, we said “lie.”

    By challenging

    I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

    the assumptions of both faith

    Which assumptions of faith are you challenging? You are shills for the Discovery Institute, and you will probably be suing Ball State soon on behalf of the DI, saying that some English professor challenged your faith by making you read Huckleberry Finn.

    Again: in the Middle Ages, if you had challenged the assumptions fo your faith, your co-religionists would have burned you at the stake. A few years ago PZ Myers crumbled a communion cracker and got 10,000 death threats.

    and logic

    You are challenging the assumptions of logic. Oh, you’ve done more than challenge it. You beat it death with a Champagne magnum.

    we gain a greater ability to believe and

    Stop right there. AHA. So you’re saying that it’s the mission of a taxpayer-funded school to teach Intelligent Design so that it will increase your religious faith? If you want to increase your “ability to believe”, take some LSD. You’ll believe all kinds of things, and in four years you won’t be $60,000 in debt.

    reason.

    Second to belief.

    It should be, in our opinion, the mission of all students and administrators to promote the freedom of professors to pursue controversial topics in the classroom without fear of censorship, professional criticism or other consequences.

    Again I repeat: you are shills for the Discovery Institute, which seeks to censor and suppress all criticism of Intelligent Design. You will probably soon be suing Ball State on behalf of the DI, saying that some professor in information theory told you random mutations can increase Kolmogorov information (duh!) and that’s showing hostility to your faith!

    Sincerely,

    I don’t think Intelligent Design proponents should be entitled to that word. Go run back to the Ministry of Magic.

  8. This book, which seems to debunk the Hitler-Darwin link, is soon to appear:

    Richard J. Richards, Was Hitler a Darwinian?: Disputed Questions in the History of Evolutionary Theory, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013 (October 22), isbn 978-0226058931

  9. Diogenes began by saying: “Let us deconstruct the ironclad logic of our ID-promoting young students”

    You did a good job, but in doing so you were cruel and insensitive. Please try to remember that they are (or soon will be) not merely among the plaintiffs in a suit against Ball State, but they are so much more. They are the future! That’s why we should teach the controversy and let the children decide.

  10. SC: “That’s why we should teach the controversy and let the children decide.”

    A casual reader might miss your sarcasm. But even regular readers seem to miss the most important fact. Which is that “the controversy” is already taught, and children already decide – during the 99+% of their waking hours that they’re not in science class. And during that time anti-evolution propaganda gets far more than even the “equal time” that it’s advocates pretend to demand. Worse, even at merely “equal time,” the misleading sound bites of the anti-science activists are much better remembered than the technical, often counterintuitive refutations.

    But that’s not good enough for the scam artists! They want to displace most or all of the material that has earned the right to be taught, with erroneous, misleading propaganda. All during that precious little time that teachers get that barely cover the basics.

    I do have good news, though, for those who’s main problem with teaching ID (or creationism or “the controversy”) is that it might increase religious faith. It will not, and might even decrease it, in 2 ways. First, it will certainly backfire on many students, possibly driving would-be theistic evolutionists to atheism. Second, many other would-be theistic evolutionist students, who would otherwise take God on faith, will come to rely on “god of the gaps” arguments to validate His existence.

  11. @Curm: “you were cruel and insensitive.”

    My job is done here.

  12. @Diogenes:

    My 2c is that you, and everyone else, including me at times, are not cruel and insensitive enough. No, I don’t advocate inflicting any physical or mental harm on the anti-evolution activists. Only the “tough love” that they seem to dread more than torture. As much as I’d like to see organized religion go away, I’m even more convinced that once can defeat anti-evolution activism in the “court of public opinion” without ever mentioning how it’s a religious idea. Our audience will infer that anyway, and besides, NCSE covers the legal aspect well enough that they don’t need us “cheerleaders” to repeat what they say much better (they do need our membership dues, though).