Ball State University Clarifies That Intelligent Design is Not Real Science

Ball State University in Indiana has produced the likes of David Letterman, Jim Davis, Joyce DeWitt, and yours truly (to save you the time it takes to scroll down and check on the author, this is Jessica. I assume Hemant probably went to U of I or something) [Hemant's note: I went to U of I in Chicago!]. I had a great experience at BSU — I had amazing professors, met some of my closest friends, studied abroad, read Moby Dick (That’s right. Cover to cover), and, more relevantly, tried on my Outspoken Atheist Hat for the first time. I’ll be honest, that hat took a little breaking in.

By the way, that’s not an angel. Her name is Beneficence and she’s a symbol of someone’s generosity or something. I don’t remember that part of the tour.

And I bring up my alma mater with pride today, because University President Jo Ann Gora recently released a letter saying the following:

Intelligent design is overwhelmingly deemed by the scientific community as a religious belief and not a scientific theory. Therefore, intelligent design is not appropriate content for science courses.

Boom.

But let’s see what led up to all of this in the first place.

In March, The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint with BSU because Assistant Professor of Physics Eric Hedin was teaching a class called “The Boundaries of Science” in which they said he was teaching Christianity to his honors students (PDF). According to the syllabus, he was simply teaching “hidden wisdom within this reality”… you know, Science!

Professor Eric Hedin

In response, Ball State began monitoring his class to “ensure that course content is aligned with the curriculum and best standards of the discipline.” According to The Star Press, this was done by a four-member faculty review board.

BSU drew further criticism when they hired Guillermo Gonzalez, Intelligent Design proponent and author of a book called The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery, in July. Gonzalez was previously denied tenure at Iowa State University for not showing a “trajectory of excellence.”

As a result of all of this hubbub, Gora’s letter to faculty and staff clarified the university’s stance on what science is and what it most decidedly is not:

Our commitment to academic freedom is unflinching. However, it cannot be used as a shield to teach theories that have been rejected by the discipline under which a science course is taught. Our commitment to the best standards of each discipline being taught on this campus is equally unwavering. As I have said, this is an issue of academic integrity, not academic freedom.

Once again, Gora knocks it out of the ball park. Man, I am just brimming with Cardinal pride, guys!

Hold up, though. The Discovery Institute is on the case!

Senior fellow John West said Gora’s letter was outrageous (outrageous!) and that it was anti-academic freedom:

If all [academic freedom] means — which seems to be the argument that she is making — is that you have the freedom to teach what the majority of people think in a discipline then that is a sham. It really is Orwellian. It’s no news that there is evidence of intelligent design is a minority viewpoint in the sciences.

Cue my inner Liz Lemon:

Listen, bub. I was a literature major with a couple fluffy minors, and even I didn’t toss around the word “Orwellian” like that when I was an undergrad.

(Also… what did he just say? No, seriously. I had to read it a few times to make sense of it.)

The majority of scientists think that good science is science because of science. Yeah! (What I said makes at least as much sense as whatever he just said.)

So, I guess I am disappointed that all of this had to be an issue, that this kind of crap would have flown under the radar were it not for the FFRF and Jerry Coyne‘s tenacious coverage of the story, and that it was necessary for the school to reaffirm that we teach science in science classes.

However, I think Gora handled it well and hit all of the right notes. We don’t always get happy endings for stories featured on this site, but I was quite pleased with the outcome of this one.

About Jessica Bluemke

Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a BA in Literature. She currently works as a writer and resides on the North side of Chicago.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Who is that in the Ball State logo, the angel Moroni bringing the golden tablets to Joseph Smith?

    • Jessica

      You know, I was going to address that, but I forgot.
      Her name is Benny – I swear its not a Christian symbol.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beneficence_(statue)

      • Tezcatlipoca

        My OCB required me to look at the picture in the wiki entry a second time because of this sentence, “The five Corinthian columns behind the statue represent the Ball Brothers, …”
        One, two, three, four, five, check, Corinthian, check.
        lol

        • Jessica

          Hey– Ball State may not be one of them highfalutin Ivy League school, but we can count to five just fine.

    • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

      No, it’s the archangel Ned, delivering pizza to sustain the miracle of the 72 hours world of warcraft. “And behold, the chosen hasth not seen the sun in three days time…”

  • Sven2547

    However, it cannot be used as a shield to teach theories that have been rejected by the discipline under which a science course is taught.

    They give ID too much credit. It’s not a theory, it’s a failed hypothesis.

    • martinrc

      It isn’t even a hypothesis, as it fails to even ask a testable question, its just a myth. nothing more, nothing less.

      • UWIR

        It not only doesn’t present a testable question, it doesn’t present a coherent question. Randal Rauser, for instance, describes ID as “the propriety of explaining any specific natural structure or process in accord with intelligence”. Huh? What does “natural” mean? If it means “not supernatural”, then that not only begs the question of what “supernatural” means, it also means that ID is “proven” by observing that watches are not supernatural, and they are designed by humans. If “natural” means “not artificial”, then, well, anything created by an intelligent being is artificial, and therefore not natural. So what the hell does “intelligent design” mean in Rauser’s world? Either his definition is so broad as to be trivially true, or so narrow as to be false by definition. The reason ID hadn’t generated any testable hypotheses is because before you can test a hypothesis, you have to agree on what your hypothesis means.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    BSU president Jo Ann Gora: As I have said, this is an issue of academic integrity, not academic freedom.
    John West: If all [academic freedom] means — which seems to be the argument that
    she is making — is that you have the freedom to teach what the majority
    of people think in a discipline then that is a sham.

    President Gora made an important and careful distinction: Academic freedom is the right of tenure-track faculty to research and write on any topic. This is intended to limit political interference in academia. Academic freedom does not include the “right” to teach whatever the professor chooses in class. The department and the university have the power to control the curricula.
    An example: Suppose there was a professor of engineering who was a Holocaust denier. Would he be allowed to teach Holocaust denial as part of an engineering course? Of course not. It is not engineering. Would he, a professor of engineering, have the right to teach Holocaust denial as a history course? Of course not. That material would not meet the standards of any reputable history department. Would he have the right to “research” Holocaust denial and to write books about it, without it being used as grounds to fire him? Yes he would. So long as he maintained his proficiency in engineering and engineering instruction, and kept his Holocaust denial activity separate, he could not be fired for this. By the way, this example is not contrived.
    So, Intelligent Design proponents do have the freedom to research Intelligent Design theory and to write books about it. Some of them do write books, but very very few do any actual “research.”

    • Tobias2772

      Exactly. Do your research, share your results with your peers and if it holds water, then you can teach it. Academic freedom to pursue and prove whatever you wish.

  • newavocation

    Just what does intelligent design need to teach? God made everything doesn’t that pretty much cover it? No books, math or experiments required. Leave that stuff to the schools.

    • C Peterson

      No, that isn’t what ID teaches. It pretends to be science in order to claim legitimate status for ideas that are not supported by real science. Its danger isn’t in its basis that a god made everything, but in turning people away from both the method of science and the knowledge obtained by that method. It isn’t just a philosophical viewpoint (like religion), but a deliberate attempt to spread factually inaccurate information as truth. In other words, a lie.

    • Sven2547

      The entirety of ID is a string of (fallacious) criticisms of evolution. They have nothing actually supporting their position, they just try (and fail) to attack the scientific position. They presume that if evolution is proven false, then ID is automatically right, no proof required, QED.

  • C Peterson

    Great that they did this. Depressing that they needed to. Can you imagine a college making a special announcement that turtle cosmology isn’t real science?

    • 3lemenope

      “But, but, but…now we can’t teach on the pressing and important topic of Discworld!” And don’t forget the four elephants!

      • gimpi1

        Love the Pratchett reference, 3lemenope.

      • Monika Jankun-Kelly

        As a practicing Prattchetian, I feel oppressed! OPPRESSED!

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    It’s no news that there is evidence of intelligent design is a minority viewpoint in the sciences.

    It’s no news that there is evidence that a tiny pixie lives inside my watch and makes the hands go around is a minority viewpoint in the sciences as well as in the watchmaking industry. Therefore, in the name of academic freedom, that minority viewpoint must be protected and given a forum for discussion right alongside the so-called and highly questionable Theory of Quartz Movement.

    It all boils down to what is acceptable evidence. The I.D. proponents have very broad, loose, and elastic standards:

    I find living things to be really amazing, therefore ———–> God did it.

    I find biological mechanisms too complicated to understand, therefore ———–> God did it.

    Evolution hasn’t answered every single one of my questions, therefore ———-> God did it.

    I think that acceptance of the theory of evolution must result in moral nihilism, therefore ———–> God did it.

    Providing direct empirical evidence of the God I keep referring to is not necessary, because, well, you see he’s shy, and so he hides himself really well, and also he’s so narcissistically vain that he wants us to believe in him without any direct empirical evidence, because he thinks that kind of belief is somehow more virtuous than belief based on direct empirical evidence, and somehow that kind of belief means we love him, and he really, really wants us to love him, and well, see the “evidence” above, therefore ————-> God did it.

    • Keyra

      No need to make generalizations. However, God will never be “scientifically” proven, as God is beyond the universe & time, so if you try and use maths/physics to determine God’s existence, you will not find an answer to that. But also implying that “God didn’t do it”, “We don’t know yet…but it wasn’t God”, “but surely, someone, somewhere, will find the answer….but it certainly wasn’t God”, is just as irrational as the “God of the gaps” assumption without any other thought.

      • Rip Van Winkle

        It has been empirically proven that the universe can manifest itself without the need for a supernatural intelligence to guide or initiate it. If a god exists, he’s unnecessary. The logical conclusion is that there is no god in the first place.

      • Anymouse

        Yes–without any other thought. But if you do actually think, and consider it in the context of everything else you know, you reach the conclusion that there are answers you don’t know, and there are placeholders you make up until you know those answers. The hard part for many people is knowing when the placeholder is no longer needed.

        • baal

          #tag, I’m fascinated with this supposed Disqus bug where it looks like people are sockpuppeting. At the time of this comment, i see a blue ‘Keyra’ replying to a gray ‘Keyra’.

      • enuma

        So what you’re saying is that God is a cognitively meaningless proposition, lacking in any descriptive properties other than that he exists. Apart from that one claim, he is in every way indistinguishable from no God at all.

        Please tell me why I should waste any time giving two shits about this meaningless proposition?

      • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

        You just built a straw man and bravely knocked it down. Huzzah for you, Brave Knight! There is no “implying that ‘God didn’t do it’” in what I’m saying. There is simply the requirement that every part of a proposition in science must be supported by empirical evidence, without resorting to a convenient catch-all device that by definition, cannot be observed or measured. The continuous references to a mysterious entity that magically answers the questions of biology require such evidence just as much as any other proposition.

        The medicine that keeps a wound from becoming infected was developed by carefully observing empirical evidence, and designing tests to measure its effectiveness. An entity that is “beyond the universe and time” is not a necessary part of the explanation for infection nor for the explanation for why the medicine works. So it has no place in the research.

        If your proposed entity is outside of time and space, then it is irrelevant to science, and has no place in a science class any more than Chaucer has a place in an auto mechanics class or cam shafts have a place in an early English literature class.

      • Sqrat

        The implicit assumption that “God didn’t do it” is a basic requirement for scientific investigation. The business of science is to attempt to find naturalistic explanations for things. To say that, for some realm of phenomena, “God did it!”, is effectively to accuse scientists investigating and seeking to explain those phenomena of blasphemy.

        The alternative to a _scientific_ explanation of something like the origins of the universe, or the origins and development of life — the counterclaim that “God did it!” — fails right out of the box because it’s not an explanation at all. All it really amounts to is the claim that “It was magic, and the particular magician who performed the trick was God!” You have no explanation unless you can provide a reasonable hypothesis as to how God performed the trick.

        That is why Intelligent Design is not a theory and not a hypothesis. It is not fit to be taught in schools or universities for the simple reason that it has nothing whatsoever to teach.

        • GubbaBumpkin

          The implicit assumption that “God didn’t do it” is a basic requirement for scientific investigation.

          I disagree with this. You can find, for examples, quite a few experiments on the efficacy of intercessory prayer. (The results for large well-designed experiments is always negative, except for the fraudulent ones.) “God didn’t do it” is not a pre-assumption, but a reasonable conclusion which can be drawn from over half a millenium of scientific investigation.

          • Sqrat

            I am aware of one such experiment, which investigated the efficacy of petitionary prayer on medical outcomes. Have there been others?

            Even had that experiment found that petitionary prayer had a significant positive outcome, could the experimenters have hypothesized that “God did it” and still have remained scientists? Wouldn’t they have been obliged instead to try to find some naturalistic explanation for such an outcome?

            As I recall, they found that the effect was slightly negative if a sick person being prayed for knew that he or she was being prayed for. They hypothesized that this may have caused the sick person to feel greater anxiety (“I must be really sick if they are praying for me!”), and this might have hindered recovery. They did not hypothesize that God (or Satan, or some other supernatural entity) had intervened to cause the negative outcome.

      • GubbaBumpkin

        However, God will never be “scientifically” proven, as God is beyond
        the universe & time, so if you try and use maths/physics to
        determine God’s existence, you will not find an answer to that.

        Funny how God, and all gods, only became “beyond the universe and time” when science achieved the capability of investigating the universe. God used to walk in the garden of Eden in the cool of the day, he used to appear in a flaming column over the Sinai Desert, he used to knock up his mother, get born in human form and have a really bad weekend before being magically resurrected. Nowadays all he can do is project his image onto burned tortillas.

      • Bender

        as God is beyond the universe & time

        Yep, we have a word for that: “imaginary”.

      • Spuddie

        “However, God will never be “scientifically” proven”

        Therefore ID is dishonest prattle. Since the entire purpose behind it is to scientifically prove God exists.

        You don’t even believe it yourself.

      • WingedBeast

        Two important details.
        1. If God exists, he can be scientifically proven. Not-God is not the nonfalsifiable claim, because that truly can be falsified. So, that said, we’re not on equal grounds, there.
        But, if God doesn’t exist, there’s simply no way to prove it, because the concept is too elastic, thanks to the inclusions of omnipotence and omnipotence.
        2. We’re not saying “we don’t know, but we know it wasn’t God” but “we don’t know, therefore stipulating that any specific deity was involved is unfounded.” We’re not the ones working with a predefined worldview.

      • cary_w

        “But also implying that “God didn’t do it”, “We don’t know yet…but it wasn’t God”, “but surely, someone, somewhere, will find the answer….but it certainly wasn’t God”, is just as irrational as the “God of the gaps” assumption without any other thought.”

        Well, except for the fact that many things that could not be explained in the past, have since been explained without any need for God, so it is perfectly rational to expect that other unexplained phenomenon will eventually be explained without God. Yes, I know, just because every other time something has been explained, it doesn’t require God, doesn’t necessarily mean the next time something is explained, it won’t require God, but it certainly seems highly likely!

      • jferris

        This is a troll. Pop’s up occasionally, tosses dud grenade, and thinks they have “set us on the right course of thought”. Please stop entertaining. The name is always the same, it’s always the same argument, please stop taking the same bait. This troll is, ironically, proving Pavlov’s REAL science experiments.

        • wombat

          *drool*

      • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

        Outside of Time = Never. Outside of Space = Nowhere. So when people like you say “God exists outside time and space”, you’re inadvertently saying God exists nowhere and never.

      • indorri

        Your post is contradictory.

        If ID were true and you could present evidence that confirmed it, that would be equivalent to confirming the existence of God. So by saying “God can’t be found by science” you are also stating “ID can’t be confirmed by science”.

    • Anymouse

      I keep telling my friends and acquaintances that Richard Wade’s watch is run by a tiny pixie, but they won’t believe me! Maybe it’s because they say they’ve never seen Joe Klein running someones’ watches. :-D

      • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

        Our minority view is being systematically repressed! Free-dom! Free-dom! Free-dom! Free-dom!

        I was toying with the idea of prying the back cover of my watch open just a bit to peek at the pixie, but now the possibility that I might find Joe Klein in there is just too scary. Forget it. Pixie Design! Pixie Design! Pixie Design! Pixie Design!

  • Rain

    I can’t figure out what John West is saying either. What the hell is he talking about? Nobody knows what the hell he is talking about.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      It translates as “Waaaaah! We lost.”

      • Rain

        He must be talking in “attack gerbil” speak.

        • GubbaBumpkin

          Interesting. They usually assign the “attack gerbil” pieces to Casey Luskin.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    there is evidence of intelligent design

    No. No, there is not. There are only failed arguments against evolution. There is no evidence for ID because ID has never been defined.

    Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full fledged theory of biological design. We don’t have such a theory right now, and that’s a real problem. Without a theory it’s very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions, such as irreducible complexity, but as yet, no general theory of biological design
    – Paul Nelson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HZzGXnYL5I&t=1h29m

  • Keyra

    I don’t see why not teach both evolution and intelligent design (which could also co-exist with evolution in ways), and let the students decide themselves

    • Regina Carol Moore

      Because science is about theory and evidence, not about wishy-thinking or people’s opinions.

      • Keyra

        You have any evidence that “wishy-thinking and people’s opinions” is entirely the case? God made science (even though some may not believe this, why not be rational about it?)

        • Telegram Sam

          Your imaginary friends didn’t make anything.

          • Keyra

            No they didn’t (because I don’t have any “imaginary” friends)

            • blasphemous_kansan

              “I don’t have any “imaginary” friends”

              Agreed. What you have is a delusion.

        • GubbaBumpkin

          You have any evidence that “wishy-thinking and people’s opinions” is entirely the case

          Yes I do. I have been following the evolution/creationism issue for quite a few years. I have seen for example, the Discovery Institute’s list of “peer-reviewed, peer-edited, and other scientific publications supporting the theory of Intelligent Design.” I am aware that most of the publications listed do not actually meet the title of the list. It includes philosophy publications, not just science. It includes non-peer-reviewed publications. it double-lists some publications. It lists an anthology book, and then lists individual chapters. Some of the “peer-reviewed” publications would fall under the heading of “hey gang, let’s get together and call ourselves peers!” Some have been retracted by the journals which published them. Some were rebutted by actual experts in the relevant fields.
          And, I have seen the evidence that “Intelligent Design” is not a new science, but rather a rebranding of 20th century “Scientific Creationism” to circumvent existing court precedents declaring that creationism is religion, and therefore bound by First Amendment separation of church and state. Search on “cdesign proponentsists” for more of that.
          What rock did you crawl out from under that you seem to think this is not well-trodden ground?

        • GubbaBumpkin

          God made science (even though some may not believe this, why not be rational about it?)

          I do not believe that, and you have made no convincing arguments that it is so; so why would it be rational to accept it?

          • blasphemous_kansan

            No No, you misunderstand. We can only be rational AFTER we accept the unfounded premise. You see, we won’t know that Keyra is telling the truth until we accept that she’s telling the truth about telling the truth. Then we’ll have the truth!

            Makes sense to me…..
            edit: (sarcasm)

            • JET

              And if after trying to see the truth, you still don’t see the truth, then you just weren’t trying hard enough to see the truth.

        • Rip Van Winkle

          You can’t prove your god exists, and IF your god exists, he sure doesn’t have any incentive to prove he exists himself. So, either way, there’s no need to use religious BS as a backing for anything. It’s like teaching someone about all the things NOT in the alphabet instead of just teaching the alphabet as it is.

        • Matt D

          Of course we have no evidence, Keyra, that’s why you don’t see us winning debates, gaining new members, or people leaving churches.

        • Spuddie

          Your posts are a clear example. If you actually held ID to be true, you would be able to say your religious ideas are proven based on study and observation. But instead you claimed it to be true based on revelation. Quite the opposite of study and observation.

        • Regina Carol Moore

          Well, I know that there is certainly no evidence FOR “intelligent design”. And I actually know where the scientific burden for evidence lies, which apparently you don’t. I actually know what rationality is.

    • nakedanthropologist

      ID is not a theory nor a hypothesis – it is an idea, based on religious dogma, that has no physical evidence for it to base on. Science requires evidence. When ID proponents can produce evidence, turning the notion of ID into a testable hypothesis, and further evidence and peer review for the formation as a theory, then it can be presented in college level class. People are entitled to their own opinions; they are not entitled to their own facts.

      • Spuddie

        But ID proponents can’t produce evidence. Their ideas are based on revelation of the truth. So they can’t even assume the design exists in the first place since it is unobservable as true.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      I don’t see why not teach both evolution and intelligent design (which
      could also co-exist with evolution in ways), and let the students decide
      themselves

      1) Classroom time is limited. You want to teach the best material.
      2) What is this about “both”? Why does Christian mythology get privileged? If you were to open up the science class to teach _all_ sides, that would include classical Greek and Roman mythology, Norse mythology, American Indian mythology, Hindu mythology, etc. There would be so much mythology, there wouldn’t be any time at all left for actual science, which is the purported topic of the class.

      • Keyra

        1. And? Have one day of the week for intelligent design. But why does naturalism & materialism get privileged, when it only surrounds physical laws? Science is not restricted to naturalism & materialism (at least it shouldn’t be)
        2.”Why does Christian mythology get privileged?”, because it’s not mythology. Also, because Greco-Roman, Norse, & them are no longer believed by anyone, nor have withstood the test of time or proven most of themselves though archaeological & historical facts

        • blasphemous_kansan

          “Also, because Greco-Roman, Norse, & them are no longer believed by anyone, nor have withstood the test of time”

          *cough cough*
          http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/2007-01-19-zeus_x.htm

          • Keyra

            You do know neo-Paganism isn’t about believing in their own gods’ existence but worshiping them as mere idols

            • Glasofruix

              What’s the difference with jeebus and skyfairy?

            • blasphemous_kansan

              Hilarious non-response.
              So you admit that you’re incorrect, yes? People still worship Zeus, and this religion has survived the test of time. Who cares if they worship the gods or idols? I see no difference between them and your cult of choice.

              Thanks for admitting that you were wrong.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              Uh, I’m pretty sure worshiping an idol is, by definition, arguing that that particular deity is real. It doesn’t make sense to worship something you think isn’t real, after all!

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              Many millions of people believe Ganesh has the body of a man and the head of an elephant. Literally.

              Who are you to tell them they’re wrong, and that your woman-from-man’s-rib isn’t?

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          Genesis hasn’t stood the test of time either- and that’s the only thing you have to teach. ID would be appropriate as a college level topics course “The history of arguments against evolution”, but it wouldn’t be a science class, it would be a history class.

        • GubbaBumpkin

          2.”Why does Christian mythology get privileged?”, because it’s not
          mythology. Also, because Greco-Roman, Norse, & them are no longer
          believed by anyone, nor have withstood the test of time or proven most
          of themselves though archaeological & historical facts

          1) Appeal to popularity. Does belief in mythology make it true? Does it substitute for evidence?
          2) Show me how “God did it” creationism or the resurrection have been proven through archaeological and historical artifacts.

          • Keyra

            1. Because it’s not mythology. It’s not really popularity so much as it is revelation.
            2. There are far many reasons how things are way too complex to have “just happened”, and that we’re mere specks of dust in an accidental universe with no purpose. But relying on naturalism, one could easily assume it

            • GubbaBumpkin

              There are far many reasons how things are way too complex to have “just happened”

              Oddly, you can’t come up with a single valid example.

              But relying on naturalism, one could easily assume it

              What a load of caca. There is no “assumption” going on. Naturalism is a reasonable conclusion from half a millenium of scientific investigation. Name one supernatural belief which was widely held 500 years ago, and has been verified as supernatural by science.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              So we should also teach The Revelation of L. Ron. Hubbard?

              The revelation that we are inhabited by thetans left over from xenu being blown up with atom bombs in volcanoes?

              • JET

                And the revelations of my personal favorite guy, Joseph Smith.

                • GubbaBumpkin

                  And the revelations of my personal favorite guy, Joseph Smith.

                  That’s only because you’ve never heard of Jemima Wilkinson, the Publick Universal Friend.

                • JET

                  Thank the FSM! I wouldn’t want women to be under-represented in the annals of religious lunatics!

              • enuma

                We at least have some modicum of certainty that the revelations of L. Ron Hubbard are the actual words of L. Ron Hubbard. Can’t say the same for the (presumed) teachings of Jesus.

            • gimpi1

              1. Revelation for YOU not anyone else. No one else can be expected to understand your revelation, nor should a college be expected to plan its education-program around it.

              Just because you don’t understand the process of stellar or biological evolution, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be understood. Naturalism, as you call it, has led to a greater understanding of the universe, better medicine, better farming-practices, and better lives. What have you got to trump that?

              • Spuddie

                If its revelation, its not something which can be studied. That alleged intelligent design therefore is not so apparent from observation. So one can’t even infer the intelligent design.

                So Keyra by dishonestly changing tactics in discussion has deep-sixed her own argument.

            • Spuddie

              So you actually deny Intelligent design’s premise! That your religious beliefs can be proven through objective study. It is true because of “revelation”.

              You have proven to everyone how dishonest Intelligent design and its proponents are.

              As for #2 you are just making assumptions and an appeal to credulity based on your own ignorance of the subject.

        • gimpi1

          Because there is no evidence for intelligent design, and it answers no questions, or offers any way of being disproved, it does not qualify as science.

          Christianity is indeed a mythology. So are Islam, Hinduism, and many other faiths. Mythology is in no way a degrading term. There is plenty of historical evidence for many religions, much evidence that no holy writ is inerrant, and no religion can be proven to be a scientifically accurate way of viewing the world.

          Your religious beliefs have no place in a science class, period. You can choose your own beliefs, but you can’t choose your own facts. Science is about facts.

        • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

          1.) Because materialism and naturalism work.
          2.) So what about Hindu, Buddhist, and Zoroaster? They have survived the test of time. And each has the same level of support that the Christian mythology has in terms of evidence.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          And a couple of days ago you claimed to not have a religion. Jesus is rolling in his grave.

          Metaphorically of course. He’s actually a zombie… spinning… in the sky?

          • Reasongal

            Yes, in the sky. I figured out that he literally would have “ascended” by shooting out of the middle east into orbit, since “up” was heaven and all. He’s dodging satellites.

        • Spuddie

          1. Science is all about naturalism and materialism. Its not philosophy. It is not open to fictional stories. Intelligent design is not science. It is just dishonest rhetoric for a sectarian religious end. It has no place in serious discussion of anything relating to science.

          2. There are many religions which predate Christianity that still exist, I guess they are proven to be more valid than your belief.

        • UWIR

          What exactly do you mean by “naturalism & materialism”, and what, exactly, do you mean by them being “privileged”?

        • Japooh

          Wow, you’re not helping your arguments at all…

      • JET

        I suppose every evolutionary biology professor could just end the semester with “Or it could be just magic. You decide.” It’s not like there’s any evidence to present.

        • Keyra

          It’s not mere magic, but the supernatural

          • JET

            Call it what you like. There’s still no evidence to present.

          • enuma

            The only difference between magic and the supernatural is the words are spelled.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            That’s funny. I’ve heard from several dishonest preachers (redundant I know) that miracles aren’t supernatural because God defines nature.

            Turns out that you all are just playing word games to cover up that, for instance, a decent chunk of the Bible consists of incantations and sympathetic rituals for magic spells, OOPS, I mean prayers.

          • wombat

            Define the difference between ‘magic’ and ‘supernatural’. Because they look the same from where I’m sitting.

    • 3lemenope

      That’s like teaching the history of the American Civil War two ways–one in which the Union won, the other in which the Confederacy won–and then just let the students decide which they like better.

      • enuma

        It’s worse than that. It’s like teaching the American Civil War with two different endings, letting the students pick which one they like better, and doing it during a class that’s supposed to be earning a Math credit.

        • wombat

          And claiming that they’re not mutually exclusive. Somehow.

    • blasphemous_kansan

      Should we also teach alchemy along with physics? We could teach the students the ancient incantations to turn lead into gold, then teach them some math and chemistry and let them decide for themselves?

      Do you seriously not see how stupid this would be?

      • Keyra

        The way you said it, yeah

        • blasphemous_kansan

          It’s exactly the way you said it.

          It’s amazing how the logic all of a sudden becomes stupid to you when your delusion is unattached from it.

      • Miss_Beara

        I think they should also teach flat earth geography along with real geography and let the students decide for themselves.

      • Spuddie

        Only if alchemy was as cool as this:
        ► 3:54► 3:54
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kt7uzPko8BY

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      I don’t see why not teach that the answer to every math problem is 1 (which could also co-exist with the idea that math problems can result in all sorts of other numbers), and let the students decide themselves. And they get a grade of A for either kind of answer, since the professor taught both ideas.

      Letting the students decide for themselves is fine, and they will. Expecting and requiring them to provide acceptable evidence for every part of their propositions, including claims about invisible entities, is an essential part of good education. If a student thinks every math problem results in 1, let him show his work or he does not pass the course.

    • Rip Van Winkle

      Because if you tried to teach me Intelligent Design in my biology class, I’d protest until you were fired for presenting unsubstantiated crackpot BS in a legitimate educational setting and for wasting my time and money. If someone wants to learn about ID, they go take a religious studies class, NOT biology.

      • Keyra

        That’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          You’re entitled to think that Noah made a special stop to drop off the Marsupials in Australia, except for the Opossum which he dropped off in North America. And that God planted a bunch of fossils in South America, Antarctica and Australia in strata layers that would make it look like they were common marsupial ancestors dating to the age at which those continents split apart, if the continents were drifting at the rate currently measured by GPS.

          But you’re not going to waste science class time with it.

        • gimpi1

          To me, that’s the problem, You don’t seem to understand the difference between an opinion, to which you are entitled, and a fact, which can be proven or falsified. If there’s no way to objectively test something, it’s not a fact, as science (and remember, we’re discussing a science class) uses the term.

          Again, you are entitled to you own opinions. You are not entitled to your own facts.

        • Spuddie

          More than an opinion, established fact. ID is not science, it is not even religion. It is a rhetorical method of browbeating.

        • Japooh

          Indeed. Everyone Is entitled to their own opinion. But everyone is NOT entitled to their own facts. You would do well to realize that “fact” and “opinion” are not interchangeable.

          That’s also the answer to your original question.

        • Regina Carol Moore

          Opinions are not facts. Why not teach that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is actually holding us onto the Earth using his noodly appendages instead of teaching about gravity?

    • Timmah

      Would you want to see a Doctor who attended classes that taught the “opposing view” of germ theroy? That illnesses are not caused by mico organisms, but EVIL SPRITS!
      How trusting would you be of someone who worked at NASA that took some classes on the “opposing view” that the Earth is the center of the universe and everything rotates around it?
      It never stops amazing me that people say “Oh well THATS silly!” to examples like this yet think ID needs to get a free pass as real science.

    • Anymouse

      I agree, but you might get better traction trying to have the mythology classes teach that evolution is an alternate theory to the various creation myths.

    • enuma

      Because only science belongs in science class. Science deals with the falsifiable. For intelligent design/creationism to qualify as science, you would have to be able to design an experiment in which a certain outcome would conclusively prove that there is no God/Intelligent Designer. That’s never going to happen because creationism/ID have, by design (see what I did there?), motorized goal posts. That way if you make the mistake of making a testable claim, you can move the goal posts when observation proves your hypothesis wrong. (“Our bodies are perfectly designed. Oh, the collapsible male urethra is routed through the swelling-prone prostrate gland for no discernible reason? I change my claim to our bodies *were* perfect until The First Sin.)

      If your school has the budget for a comparative religious studies or philosophy class, you can discuss Intelligent Design there, but don’t get mad when 12 year old kids start poking massive holes in it with the science they learned in Biology.

    • Matt D

      Of course you don’t see a problem with spreading your religion, your motivations are hardly a mystery, considering your posting habits on this blog alone.

    • Spuddie

      Because intelligent design is not science. Its barely religion. Its just dishonest philosophy. Students should not have to chose between the subject at hand and utter fictional nonsense.

      Intelligent design is just dishonest warming over of Biblical Creationism. There is not even a pretense of the scientific behind it beyond what can fool the average ignorant layman. The Kitzmiller case demonstrated that at best ID was word substitution from Biblical Creationist nonsense.

      Creationism is dishonesty incarnate. Creationists claim their religious beliefs can be proven through objective study and therefore must be taken seriously. However if one accepts that to be true then one would have to accept that such beliefs can be proven false by the same methods. They never accept that. No amount of objective study will dissuade their religious belief, they will just say its really just unshakeable faith. So Creationists don’t even hold their own statements to be true. Its just lying for effect.

    • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

      In the over 150 years since Darwin’s Origins, evolution has had 150 years of science to back it up.

      However, in those same 150 years (and the centuries and millenia prior), intelligent design/creationism has provided no science to back it up. ID/creationism has failed to show that goddit. ID/creationism is a complete failure.

      Why should both be taught in a science class when one (evolution) is a science with 150 years of success and the other (ID/creationism) is not science with 150 years of nothing but complete failure?

    • Goape

      Intelligent design, like any faith-based belief, exists largely because it appeals to us by making us feel important and explaining things in simple ways that anyone can understand with no effort. You can’t teach kids science (which is harder to understand and only provides warm fuzzy feelings if you really dedicate yourself to learning a lot from it) and also indoctrinate them with a cozy myth that frames them as the product of a supreme power who will banish them to hell for eternity at the drop of a hat and think that they really have a choice. In short: this isn’t Pepsi vs. Coke; it’s more like choosing between doing chores or just living in a magical house that cleans itself. Except the stakes are higher (the future of society) and there really is no such thing as a self cleaning house.

      Also, do you think we should “teach” kids about other religions during church services? Am I invited to teach one of my geology lessons to you and your fellow parishioners some Sunday?

    • Monika Jankun-Kelly

      I don’t see why not teach both the germ theory of disease and tiny invisible demons cause disease (which could also co-exist with germ theory in ways), and let the students decide themselves

    • Monika Jankun-Kelly

      I don’t see why we can’t teach both geology and “volcanoes erupt when the goddess Pele is really mad”. Oh wait, I do see why. Pele is a native Hawaiian goddess, not the Christian god. If the majority worshipped Pele, we’d have to deal with Intelligent Volcanology.

    • Crystal Bandy Thomas

      Pascal’s biology?

  • Regina Carol Moore

    Excellent news! Excellently written, Jessica.

  • Sarabird

    I studied literature at BSU as well. Incidentally, I also took Eric Hedin’s honors science course a few years ago. Perhaps I was naive when I was 19 (and also freshly opening my eyes to atheism), but it seemed more as though he wanted us to explore and be able to defend our position regarding a creator and the cosmos, rather than force his own view. It was clear that he believed in a creator but I don’t recall feeling his views were forced upon me, just that they were a bit silly. If anything, I suspect that class helped me to feel comfortable identifying as an atheist – there were many a vocal anti-theist in the class and discussion was highly encouraged.

    I don’t say this to defend his other course, as it sounds like the tone is quite different, but to give a fair appraisal of my experience. Perhaps I misinterpreted the ‘secret wisdom’ and came out of it an atheist!

    At any rate, well done JoGo. Any declaration like this is fine by me. Chirp, chirp, chirp indeed!

    • GubbaBumpkin

      Check this out:

      “No Hindu monkey god”: One of Hedin’s students exposes his Christian proselytizing, and I’m called a bully

      I do think he occasionally went over the line. As soon as I realized how firm his beliefs were, I knew what I was getting into. The biggest thing I remember was when I asked him why it is HIS god (the Christian god) that must be the “answer” to what science cannot explain. He said “it’s not like it’s some sort of Hindu monkey god.”

      …I was the only atheist in a class of about 25 students, and found that my challenges (which were many) came from the class as a whole. He was not very confrontational and did allow for an open forum of ideas, but the other students agreed with him and often ganged up on me with some pretty harsh words. His biggest challenges came in the form of critiques on writings for the class, which were a more unopposed soap box than the class discussions.

      • Sarabird

        …wow, fair enough. His Christianity certainly wasn’t a secret, but I had the impression we were welcome (and even encouraged) to challenge it.

        That’s a real shame. Perhaps I was lucky in that there were students of different religious beliefs within the class.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Funny how you never see Joe Klein coming to Ball State University to defend the integrity of science, or helping to hand out food to hungry students, either.

  • gimpi1

    I would venture that in science there’s a difference in not teaching a minority-opinion because it’s a minority-opinion and not teaching a minority-opinion because it is both unproven and unprovable, and as such, not science.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      In the recent university level biology courses I’ve taken, they do present would could be considered minority opinions. But they’re always very clear about “This is very new and controversial”. And of course they’re things where we full expect that further research will settle the issue- it’s just that people are offering different explanations for some relatively new observation.

      (so yes, I’m basically agreeing with you- minority opinions are taught, if they’re actual science)

      • GubbaBumpkin

        That sounds alright. In an advanced class, they might even ask a student, “how would you design an experiment to differentiate between these two versions?”

    • Spuddie

      Except Creationism is not even a scientific idea so it should never even be considered in such a context from the outset.

  • Buckley

    Lived in Chicago my whole life and in the past year relocated to Indianapolis for a job. I love Indy and the people, it’s becoming a progressive city by the month, but the state of Indiana is a den of fundies. I knew that of course, but still, after never living around this religious nonsense before it’s eye opening. There is a really nice group of atheists here and while not as vocal as they ought to be, there is much to like here. Glad Ball State took a stand on this nonsense finally.

    • Miss_Beara

      I have lived in Chicago my entire life as well! Still there. I had my first experience with fundies through a friend I used to work with. I never had experienced anything like that before. The type who think Catholics aren’t True Christians, purity rings, thinking oneself worthless if it wasn’t for god, etc. To think that people see that stuff everyday depending on where they live… yeesh. I have been to Indiana a few times and I agree with your assessment. Same with Michigan, central Florida, …

      • Buckley

        My first experience with the fundies was at the University I went to downstate in Illinois. My girlfriend and I were looking for a religious group to belong to (irony was that because of the experience I’m gonna describe, I totally drifted from religion). We tried them all: The Newman Center, Campus Crusade for Christ, Baptist Student Union…While at the BSU one night while they were conducting prayers, this older couple said “we’d like to pray for our daughter”. The pastor said: “Sure, what would you like us to pray about?”. The Older Lady said: “Well we’re concerned because our daughter is marrying a Catholic and we are afraid she’s on the wrong path and concerned for her salvation.” That was it, I was done with them and religion.

  • UWIR

    BTW, Jessica, while it is in a smaller font, you do have a byline at the top of the article, so observant readers don’t have to go to the bottom to see the author.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    The Sacramento Bee reports on the story by running an apparently unedited press release from the Discovery Institute: Ball State University President Imposes Gag Order on Scientists Supportive of Intelligent Design

  • Cattleya1

    Is he some kind of a secret agent for the creationists? Physics is the most hard- core of all the sciences. He surely must know that to believe in ‘intelligent design’ it is necessary to disavow the scientific underpinnings of evolution – i.e.: much of physics (weak nuclear force and thermodynamics, anyone?), astronomy, and cosmology. Likewise, chemistry, biochemistry, geology, paleontology, anthropology, and archaeology have to go. No doubt, he believed first and managed to complete an advanced degree so he could position himself to teach the controversy. I was born in Muncie – these things never go away quickly there. He will milk his controversy until they pay him to go away – then, miraculously he’ll get a full professorship at Liberty University. At least there he will only be adding to the ignorance of the willfully ignorant.

  • SeekerLancer

    “Orwellian” really is becoming a new candidate for a Godwin style law.


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