Ball State University Science Professor Under Fire for Questioning Evolution

450px-Ball-state-university-bell-towerMuncie, Indiana A state-run university in Indiana is receiving heated criticism after one of its professors was accused of promoting Christianity in a physical science class.

Ball State University (BSU) is a large research institution located in eastern Indiana, and is home to approximately 22,000 students and 3,000 faculty members. One of the instructors at BSU is Eric Hedin, an assistant science professor who has been with the university since 2003.

Hedin’s teaching first came under heavy scrutiny when the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), whose goals are to promote “nontheism” and “the separation of church and state,” mailed a letter of complaint to BSU. In the letter, the FFRF claimed Hedin is not teaching good science to his students, but rather religious “inculcation cloaked in the guise of university education.”

While Hedin does not appear to exclusively tout Christianity as truth in his class, he has purportedly presented non-evolutionary theories about the origins of life to his students. As reported by WORLD Magazine, the official course description for Hedin’s class even mentions that he openly examines some of “the boundaries of science.”

“Any hidden wisdom within this reality,” Hedin wrote in the syllabus, “may illuminate the central questions of the purpose of our existence and the meaning of life.”

Hedin has also asked students to read books written by notable scientists who disagree with the evolutionary theory, such as Stephen Meyer and Michael Behe, both of whom are supporters of the intelligent design movement. In addition, Lee Strobel’s writings have been discussed in the class. Strobel is a former atheistic journalist who converted to Christianity after carefully examining the historical evidence for Christ.

By looking at student-written reviews of Hedin, it is clear that he has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from students who have taken his science classes in years past. Nevertheless, even as early as 2006, students were raising concerns about his “religious” class materials.

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One student wrote, “The class had an extremely Christian bias and he does not believe in evolution. Many of his views do not quite jive with those of mainstream science.”

Another mentioned, “The one thing I didn’t like was his constant bringing religion into class.”

Are Hedin’s teaching practices unconstitutional? Jerry Coyne, a University of Chicago professor, thinks so, and has pushed for Hedin’s class to be canceled. In an April 25 blog post, Coyne claimed that Hedin’s class material is an unlawful infringement on the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“It’s religion taught as science in a public university, and it’s not only wrong but illegal,” Coyne wrote.

Other people, including several atheists, are not siding with Coyne or the FFRF, pointing out that Hedin’s class is an elective, so students are never forced to attend the class. If students disagree with Hedin’s viewpoints, they can simply register for different professors. In addition, attending a university in the first place is not mandated; it is entirely optional.

Casey Luskin, an attorney working for the Discovery Institute, explains that these types of controversies are often sparked by only a few angry atheists, and he suggests that the majority of college students are more than willing to engage in honest, open discussions on the different scientific theories.

“If a professor is simply teaching about these ideas … I can’t imagine why it’d be considered unconstitutional,” Luskin stated.

BSU officials have issued an official statement in response to the controversy, referencing the letter from the FFRF. Although school officials didn’t promise any immediate disciplinary action, they did mention they are taking the matter seriously.

“We will explore in depth the issues and concerns raised,” the statement read, “and take the appropriate actions through our established processes and procedures.”

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  • Seraphine Udahemuka

    Why is Christianity always under fire? I bet if he was talking about other issues such as Muslim’s faith, homosexuality, abortion these controversies were not going to be raised. This is only confirmation that Christianity holds the truth, and the world is not ready to accept it. One day they will want it, but it will be too late. Let us keep him in prayer and we need to stand on what we believe because it is true.

  • zuma

    The list of Darwin’s theory of evolution could be located in the website address,

    As mentioned in the above website, Darwin presumed that life had its commencement from non-life. Life as mentioned by him should refer to a living creature. As it is a lively creature, it has the natural tendency to make or to hunt or to search for food for survival. A non-life as mentioned by him should undoubtedly refer to an object that does not have the tendency or capability to make or to search or to hunt for food for itself for the survival. Could there be any possible reason why a non-life object could turn up to be a lively creature with the capability to make or to hunt or to search for food? By logic, a non-substance would turn up to be another non-life substance. It is impossible for a non-life object to turn up to be a lively creature that could have the capability to make or to hunt or to search for food. There should be a justifiable reason why a non-life object would turn up to be a lively creature that would hunt or to search for food. What factor has contributed to a non-life substance to cause it to turn up to be a lively creature? How could a non-life substance turn up to be a lively creature that could have the capability to know what to react so as to respond to its surrounding environment for its survival? As, by logic, a non-life object could only be able to turn up to be another non-life object instead of a life creature that immediately could have the capability to adapt its environment and to acquire survival technique, this has placed the reliability of evolution into question.

    Some scientists might use a certain experiment to support that a non-life object could be transformed into a life creature. However, the life of the new creation could not be prolonged for a day or even longer. It perished immediately after its formation. It seemed to be that the new creation could not have the capability to adapt its environment since it did not have any survival technique or else its life should by all means prolong.

    The above has placed the reliability of evolutionary theory into question.