Creationism and intelligent design are causing quite a stir at Ball State University, a public college in Muncie, Indiana. In addition to sparking an internal investigation into Professor Eric Hedin, a Christian who is accused by the atheistic Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), among others, of potentially indoctrinating students, there’s yet another new target. The FFRF is now joining evolutionary scientists in speaking out against the same university’s hire of Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, an astronomy professor who embraces intelligent design.
What’s most fascinating about the debate is that academic environments really should be the host of vibrant discussion, debate and diverse viewpoints. While most scientists do believe in evolutionary theory, the notion that people who do not should be silenced seems counter-intuitive. But that is exactly what is unfolding as the contention over Ball State’s hiring of these professors progresses.
“Ball State already has a serious issue with creationism being taught as science by an astronomy professor, Hedin. Now they’ve hired another astronomy professor and creationist to teach science at their university, Gonzalez,” said FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel.
“This disturbing pattern could be serious blow to the science curriculum at Ball State. Their reputation and ability to attract outstanding professors may suffer,” he added.
And he’s not alone. Crossmap also quotes Jerry Coyne, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, who agrees with this sentiment.
“If the university wants to retain any scientific credibility, they should start hiring scientists who will teach real science and not religious apologetics,” Coyne said.
The scientist uses his blog to regularly comment on issues pertaining to creationism and evolution, While he believes that Gonzalez has the right to give speeches and write papers about intelligent design, Coyne contends that the professor should not be bringing these ideas into the classroom.
“He doesn’t have the right to get tenure working in discredited science,” the critic wrote.
While TheBlaze attempted to reach Hedin, the professor currently under investigation, to discuss his issue, we were told by a representative at Ball State that he is not taking interview requests. But it seems Gonzalez has been much less quiet about the debate surrounding his hiring. In a statement, he expressed how excited he is to be joining the university’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.
“As I communicated to members of the department during my interviews, I plan to continue my research on astrobiology and stellar astrophysics,” he said in the release. “I will not be discussing intelligent design (ID) in my classes (I didn’t discuss ID at ISU either).”
Gonzalez called controversy surrounding his hire “artificial” and generation by “one activist blogger” — an individual he claims is not an astronomer. It’s unclear who this person is, as he did not offer up a name.
The astronomer also brought up an older issue in the release: His failure to obtain tenure at Iowa State University. Gonzalez believes that he wasn’t given this academic privilege as a result of political disagreement (a Discovery Institute blog discusses this issue in detail).
It’s likely that advocates on both sides of the debate will continue examining how Gonzalez is treated as he embarks on this new journey. The subject of creationism and evolution is in the news this week, as Ray Comfort’s “Evolution vs. God” documentary is making waves among believers and non-believers alike.
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