A Book about the Ball State Imbroglio

The Discovery Institute is bringing back a lot of memories today. Many of you remember what we called the “Ball State Imbroglio,” about which we posted at least 20 times starting back in 2013. As we said in 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.

For quite a while, the situation was wild and crazy. Then things quieted down — see Eric Hedin Leaves Ball State, Goes to Biola. Now, when no one was expecting the Ball State controversy to come alive, the Discovery Institute posted this at their creationist blog: Today, “Canceled” Scientist Eric Hedin Gets His Voice Back. It was written by Klinghoffer. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

I vividly remember the “canceling” of Ball State University physicist Eric Hedin in 2013, the victim of a campaign by atheist biologist Jerry Coyne and the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Their aim was to punish him for having the temerity to teach an honors course on “The Boundaries of Science,” which included optional readings about intelligent design.

We remember it too. Those were wild times. Jerry Coyne was an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago who was very active in complaining about the people Ball State was hiring. But why bring it all up now? Klinghoffer says:

As he recounts in a new book out today, Canceled Science: What Some Atheists Don’t Want You to See [Amazon link]:

[Klinghoffer quotes Hedin’s book:] At the heart of the controversy was the thesis that some things we find in the universe require more than a purely material cause, a view held by many philosophers and scientists down through the ages and into the present. In my course I exposed my students to some of these thinkers, along with some on the opposite side of the question. But for Coyne, that was too much.

According to Amazon, the book has 250 pages, costs only $16.95 in paperback, and — get this! — it was published by the Discovery Institute. Wowie! Amazon has a “look inside” feature, and there are no customer reviews yet. Okay, back to Klinghoffer. He tells us:

What I found most despicable about the successful attempt to silence Professor Hedin was the power disparity. Hedin was a young scientist — on tenure track but not holding tenure, and thus highly vulnerable — at Ball State University, an “institution…named after a manufacturer of glass canning jars — a benign backstory for an utterly benign university campus.” Or that was what Hedin imagined. His persecutor, on the other hand, was a prominent academic, enjoying maximum career safety at the University of Chicago. Let’s be honest: between the two, there was no contest. Coyne could move against Hedin without fear, and he did. On the other hand, Hedin’s career was on the line, and both knew it.

He continues describing the situation from the Discoveroids’ point of view:

Hedin was stunned to find himself accused of violating the First Amendment. He was also anxious that the older, more powerful scientist was about to put an end to Dr. Hedin’s life in science. Amid a media controversy, Discovery Institute sought to intervene, but again, the power was all on the side of the atheists.

A tragic situation indeed. Let’s read on:

It’s wonderful that Discovery Institute Press is now able to restore Hedin’s voice to him, the voice that Coyne sought to silence. The book is released today and you can get it either in paperback or via Kindle. Hedin both recounts his story and advances his own case for intelligent design from the evidence in his field.

The case for intelligent design? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Here’s more from Klinghoffer’s post:

Cancel culture had no name in 2013. It has since become one of the major worries in contemporary life, with popular and social media joining forces with scientific journals and others, calling upon the assistance of the government, to shut down non-approved opinions. Is this the United States? Or is it China? Sometimes I wonder.

So called “cancel culture” is indeed running wild, but the scientific opposition to creationism is a whole separate issue. Anyway, we’ve arrived at the end of Klinghoffer’s post. Here it is:

Eric Hedin was an early alert as to the looming threat to free speech. His personal story is as important as his argument for design in nature. We’ll have more to say about the book in coming days.

Oh, goodie — they’ll be posting an ark-load about Hedin’s book. We’ll have to look elsewhere for interesting stuff to blog about.

Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

8 responses to “A Book about the Ball State Imbroglio

  1. Dave Luckett

    Hedin was smuggling religion – his, of course – into borderline science courses in a secular University. To do him full credit, he might not have been aware of what he was doing. He is certainly still in denial of it.

    But although he was investigated – a process which entails destructive testing – he was not silenced or cancelled. He received tenure from Ball State in 2016.

    Hedin wrote in the Journal of College Science Teaching in 2007:

    “The challenge of teaching science to non–science majors is to engage students with a field of study that they may view as foreign, or even unfriendly territory” … “Interspersing the lecture with discussions related to more foundational questions on students’ minds can help to establish an open atmosphere where students are more receptive to the foreign concepts of science.”

    (cited in Indianapolis Monthly, article by Adam Wren, 16 September, 2014)

    The very concept of “more foundational questions” is deeply misleading. The foundational questions of science are “What does the evidence show, and what does that necessarily and possibly imply?” and “How may possible implications be tested?” There are no “more foundational questions” in science.

    It was of his own will that Hedin left for a more amenable environment at Biola.

    He told Star Press by email in 2018:

    “I look forward to the opportunity to serve in Biola’s School of Science, Technology and Health, within an academic setting where the integration of science and faith flourishes.”

    Think about that: he thinks that science should be integrated with faith. That is, religious faith. That is, his religious faith. That, right there, is enough. If he acted on that belief – and there’s every reason to think that he did – then he should have been corrected, and was.

    Questions like “Is there an intelligence behind the Universe?” or “What is the ultimate purpose of life?” (aka “Why are we here?”) or “What is the relationship between beauty and truth?” – all covered in his course – are not science because they cannot be considered in the light of evidence.

    Can such questions be considered at all? Of course they can be. Courses in theology or religious or aesthetic philosophy or comparative religion are freely available. But students in Hedin’s “Astronomy 100” and “Boundaries of Science” courses were gaining credits in science. They should have been taught science. That was what they came for.

    Of course the DI leapt aboard the bandwagon as soon as it started rolling. Most of the front page of Google I found is their “Evolution News and Views”. But there’s no evidence that they were ever more relevant to the issue than a small boy on the fringes of a crowd at a political rally, pulling faces and yelling, “You stink!” at the speaker.

    In fact, I think it’s somewhat remarkable – and to his further discredit – that Hedin consented to be published by them. I wonder if they paid him?

  2. Hedin got tenure in 2016.

    Dembski, one of the DI’s own, got threatened with the sack from SouthWestern Baptist unless he disowned his previously stated views on Noah’s Flood (have I got that right? Wikipedia is obscure and I suspect has been got at)

    Guess which one the DI trumpets as an example of “shut[ting] down non-approved opinions”?

  3. Dembski has done some flipping and flopping on the age of the Earth and the extent of the Flood — see Battling Baptists: Young or Old Earth?

  4. I wonder how many teachers in conservative institutions are suppressing their own opinions because of the realistic fear that they would be without a job if their opinions were known. Even if they did not express them in class or in public. And would not be able to get a teaching job anywhere. They may be too old, with their only job experience in conservative institutions of a particular church. They are careful not to say anything even with their friends and colleagues.
    I don’t know.

  5. docbill1351

    Like everything the Tooters do it’s all smoke and mirrors. Heden wasn’t canceled nor was he silenced. He was granted tenure and even Coyne wrote that Heden’s proselytizing in a seminar class shouldn’t affect his academic standing, rather what he was doing was a clear violation of the First Amendment at a public school. As for Coyne’s “influence” as a big fish on a little fish at another institution, that can be summed up thusly: zero. Of course, such Tooter paranoia fits with their persecution model, but it ends there.

    As for Dr. Dr. Billy-D, he did get sacked from Southwest. Even though he recanted, the elders still viewed him as a heretic. Delightful irony, that.

  6. Kclunckerdunkcer and co themselves are the embodiment of cancel culture. When was the last time an evolutionary biologist got the opportunity at their blog to explain evolution theory?

  7. From the look inside feature:

    “(I) asked (the chariman of the Department of Physics and Astronomy) ….. about the possibility of developing a course that explored the questions (concerning purpose and the meaning of life) alongside astronomy and cosmology”.
    Hedin has learned nothing.

  8. @FrankB
    Rather, ask this question:,
    When was the last time anyone got the opportunity at their blog to explain any theory (other than a straw man) for the variety of life? Whether it was evolutionary biology or any alternative.
    Consider self-cancel culture.