Faculty member at Iowa State University denied tenure for supporting intelligent design.
When Guillermo Gonzalez,
assistant professor of physics and astronomy, was denied tenure at Iowa
State University (ISU) in November 2006, department head Eli Rosenberg
said the decision had nothing to do with Gonzalez's support of
intelligent design. Recently released documents, however, told a
In Gonzalez's tenure dossier,
Rosenberg stated, "The problem here is that Intelligent Design is not a
scientific theory. … The fact that Dr. Gonzalez does not understand
what constitutes both science and a scientific theory disqualifies him
from serving as a science educator."
he never taught intelligent design (ID) in his classes. "The recent
controversy surrounding me is strictly about the research I have done
on ID," he said. "My ID research [published in The Privileged Planet] was funded in part by a grant from the Templeton Foundation, which ISU administered."
members who question Darwinian evolution say they often run into
trouble at secular universities. Caroline Crocker, who taught
scientific evidence for and against evolution at George Mason
University, was released by the school in December 2004. "I wanted
students to think for themselves," she said. "My supervisor accused me
of teaching creationism and removed me from teaching lectures
immediately; at the end of the semester, the job was over."
according to George Mason spokesperson Daniel Walsch, "[Crocker's]
contract was simply not renewed. It had nothing to do with the
At the University of Idaho,
where tenured professor Scott Minnich supports intelligent design,
president Timothy White issued a statement banning anything other than
Darwinian evolution from being taught in science courses.
institutions would have serious doubts about the professional
credibility of teaching intelligent design alongside evolution in a
science class," said Jonathan Knight of the American Association of
University Professors. "It could be taught in terms of contemporary
social issues, or in a philosophy course."
Boorse, associate professor of biology at Gordon College, a Christian
liberal arts school, agreed that ID, as it is frequently described,
doesn't meet the basic standards of scientific research.
scientists translate ID into a disbelief in mechanisms of science that
are pretty well supported," she said. "I'm to teach the best available
biology, and the best evidence is that God has used extensive
evolution. I think most scientists in biology would agree with that,
John West of the Discovery
Institute, an ID think tank, seeks to counter such marginalization of
ID. "[Pushing evidence for design into a philosophy class] would be
like saying you can't teach any other view than capitalism in economics
class, but you can talk about Marxism in a propaganda class," he said.
In August 2007, Baylor
University took offline the Evolutionary Informatics Lab website of
Robert Marks, who is tenured. He said it was because the lab's research
implied there might be a Creator. "What's at issue here is the ability
to bring the idea of the possibility of design into science," said
At some Christian colleges, the pressure goes
in the other direction. In 2005, Olivet Nazarene University
microbiologist Richard Colling published Random Designer, a
book promoting understanding between evolution and faith. In response,
church leaders and university trustees questioned Colling's Christian
"They pressured our president because
they don't like theistic evolution," said Colling. "There's no doubt in
my mind that if not tenured, I would have been released last year."
president John Bowling removed Colling from teaching general biology,
banned his book from university classes, and directed that biological
origins be team-taught with religion or theology faculty.
difference between Colling's situation and his, Gonzalez said, is that
private Christian colleges are expected to require adherence to
religious doctrines. "[But] public universities claim to protect their
faculty's academic freedom, no matter how unpopular their ideas might
be among their colleagues," he said.
Gonzalez is appealing his case to the Iowa Board of Regents. His appointment as assistant professor at ISU ends in May.
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