MUNCIE – A large state-run university in eastern Indiana is once again the focus of pressure from evolutionists after the school hired a professor who has openly supported creation and intelligent design.
As previously reported, Ball State University (BSU) Professor Eric Hedin was slammed by atheists earlier this summer for mentioning non-evolutionary theories in an honors class. The Freedom from Religion Foundation called Hedin’s teachings religious “inculcation.”
Since the initial controversy with Hedin, BSU assembled an official review committee to look into the allegations of inappropriate teaching material. However, as previously reported, creation proponents have accused the university of unfairly stacking the review panel with overt supporters of evolution.
Now, BSU has once again stoked a similar controversy by hiring Guillermo Gonzalez—an astrophysicist who has voiced his belief in a Divine Creator. In fact, Gonzalez helped craft a highly-successful book and accompanying film called The Privileged Planet, both of which received significant attention following their 2004 release. Three years later, Gonzalez was denied tenure at Iowa State University, which many saw as unapologetic discrimination against his intelligent design beliefs. Currently, Gonzalez is teaching at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, but will be joining BSU next month.
Soon after Gonzalez’s move to BSU was announced, evolutionists once again chastised the school. Jerry Coyne, a staunch atheistic evolutionist, suggested on a Sunday blog posting that “BSU should keep an eye on Gonzalez to make sure he doesn’t teach [intelligent design] in his science classes.”
“I don’t believe in academic freedom for anyone who teaches religiously based woo as science,” Coyne wrote, “just as I wouldn’t for someone who taught astrology in a psychology class or homeopathy in medical school.”
Andrew Seidel, a lawyer for the Freedom from Religion Foundation, claims BSU’s reputation will ultimately be damaged as a result of hiring Gonzalez.
“Ball State already has a serious issue with creationism being taught as science by an astronomy professor, Hedin,” Seidel stated, according to the Christian Post. “Now they’ve hired another astronomy professor and creationist to teach science at their university. … This disturbing pattern could be serious blow to the science curriculum at Ball State. Their reputation and ability to attract outstanding professors may suffer.”
In the meantime, John West, vice president of the Discovery Institute, believes the hiring of Gonzalez was a wise move by BSU, since it shows that the school is not involved in inappropriate censorship.
“The fact that a department of physics and astronomy doesn’t immediately blacklist someone who has argued for cosmic design does not supply evidence that the department is a hotbed of intelligent design,” he told reporters. “It simply means the department doesn’t believe in the kind of knee-jerk censorship engaged in by some Darwinian biologists.”
Despite the controversy surrounding his upcoming career transition, Gonzalez seems upbeat about the move to Indiana. In a personal statement, he said he is “very happy” to join BSU’s physics and astronomy department.
“As I communicated to members of the department during my interviews, I plan to continue my research on astrobiology and stellar astrophysics,” he wrote. “I will not be discussing intelligent design (ID) in my classes (I didn’t discuss ID at ISU either). My view that there is evidence of design in physics and cosmology (the type of design I have written about) is not out of the mainstream; a number of cosmologists and physicists hold to this view.”
“In my opinion,” he continued, “the controversy surrounding my hire is artificial—largely generated by one activist blogger who is not an astronomer. Lastly, I need to reiterate that I was denied tenure at ISU not because of poor academics on my part, but for ideological and political reasons.”