Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Our Censors in Academia

May 29, 2007

Once upon a time universities were about learning, knowledge, the pursuit of truth and openness to other points of view. It seems those days are long gone, at least in many Western universities.

On many campuses today if one does not toe the party line, it’s curtains. And what is the party line? Increasingly, it is a leftist and secular outlook on life. Religious conservatives do not fare well on campus, either as students or lecturers. And examples of intolerance and bigotry toward those who are not politically correct are easy to come by.

Consider one of the greatest shibboleths on campus today: secular Darwinism. Anyone daring to challenge this reigning orthodoxy does so at great risk. Take but one recent example. Professor Guillermo Gonzalez lectures in astronomy and physics at Iowa State University.

Dr Gonzalez, who fled to America from Cuba as a child, has a PhD in astronomy and is a rising young scholar, with around 70 peer-reviewed scientific papers in such journals as Nature and Science. Cambridge University published a college textbook he wrote on astronomy.

Yet despite his many academic achievements and sterling university record, he has recently been denied tenure at ISU. The reason? He believes that planet earth is special, and he has co-authored a 440-page book providing a wealth of information and evidence for this finding. Earth is exquisitely fit for human life, and seems to hold a unique place in our universe.

The 2004 volume, The Privileged Planet, co-written by Jay Richards, provides a mountain of data challenging the Copernican Principle, which says that there is nothing special about planet earth, or its place in the universe. Indeed, earth may not be simply an accident of evolution, but seems to be the product of intelligent purpose and design.

It is this challenge to secularism and Darwinism that has the wrath of his university bearing down on him. Ken Connor, writing in, (May 27, 2007), picks up the story: “According to the written requirements for tenure at the Iowa State University, a prospective candidate is required to have published at least fifteen peer-reviewed scientific papers. With sixty-eight papers to his name, Dr. Gonzalez has already exceeded that requirement by 350%. Ninety-one percent of professors who applied for tenure at Iowa State University this year were successful, implying that there has to be something seriously wrong with a candidate before they are rejected.”

“What’s wrong with Dr. Gonzalez? So far as anyone can tell, this rejection had little to do with his scientific research, and everything to do with the fact that Dr. Gonzalez believes the scientific evidence points to the idea of an intelligent designer. In fact, as World Magazine has reported, at least two scientists in the Physics and Astronomy Department at the Iowa State University have admitted that intelligent design played a role in their decision. This despite the fact that Dr. Gonzalez does not teach intelligent design in any of his classes, and that none of his peer-reviewed papers deal with the subject. Nevertheless, simply because Gonzalez holds the view that there is intelligence behind the universe, and has written a book presenting scientific evidence for this fact, he is considered unsuitable at Iowa State.”

It seems that if a professor dare even hint at being a theist, that is enough to get one drummed out of university: “What is the state of academic freedom when well qualified candidates are rejected simply because they see God’s fingerprints on the cosmos? Isn’t the Academy supposed to be a venue for diverse views? Aren’t universities supposed to foster an atmosphere that allows for robust discussion and freedom of thought? Dr. Gonzalez’s fate suggests that anyone who deigns to challenge conventional orthodoxy is not welcome in the club.”

All this seems to be little more than an atheistic witch hunt, designed to track down and persecute believers. And it is a witch hunt based on naturalistic scientism, not true science: “The amazing fact is that, even as many science departments are working overtime to forbid professors from positing that there is evidence for intelligent design in the universe, more and more scientists are coming to this conclusion. The Discovery Institute has compiled a list of over seven-hundred scientists who signed the following statement: ‘We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.’ The list of scientists who find good reason to doubt the strictly materialistic Darwinism that is currently scientific orthodoxy is growing every day.”

Connor concludes, “It seems that many scientists and academicians who hold views contrary to Dr. Gonzalez have concluded that the best way to avoid debate about the evidence for intelligent design is to simply deny jobs to those who will not affirm their atheistic worldview. The fact that these scientists, who are supposedly open to following the evidence wherever it leads, have resorted to blatant discrimination to avoid having this conversation speaks volumes about the weakness of their position. They realize their arguments are not sufficient to defeat the intelligent design movement and they must, therefore, shut their opponents out of the conversation. All the evidence suggests that it is unjust that Dr. Gonzalez was denied tenure and that this ruling should be overturned on appeal. Nevertheless, what happened to Dr. Gonzalez is a reflection of the growing strength of the intelligent design movement, not its weakness.”

Universities are supposed to be about open debate and freedom of discussion. Increasingly, they are about suppression of ideas and intellectual witch hunts, enforcing the reigning ideology while attacking those who seek to bring in alternative views. No wonder why our kids are being dumbed-down. Such educational tyranny may be appropriate in former Marxist countries, but not in a free and democratic West.

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11 Responses to Our Censors in Academia

  • Exactly. And have a look at this item by the NCSE, the National Centre for Secular Exploitation. These self-proclaimed scientists are trying to censor the biblical view, even though it was paid for by private donations. Wake up world. This is not a science issue, as the humanists would have us believe, but a worldview issue.
    Tas Walker

  • One might suggest that Intelligent Design is a concept more suited to a Philosophy classroom rather than a Scientific one. It is inherintely unmeasurable and unprovable and so is a useless scientific pursuit.
    James Beattie

  • Thanks James
    But that can be said about all origin science, evoluton included.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • So religious discrimination is now grounds for denying a teacher tenure? That’s supposed to be illegal here in the U.S.! Doesn’t Gonzales have grounds for a lawsuit?

    BTW, James, why should a teacher be denied tenure for publishing something that is neither illegal or immoral, but simply is written from a different point of view? Should Stephen Hawking have a conversion experience, will you them deny him his esteemed place in scientic acedemia because of his religious views? Are you willing to trash all DNA research because Dr. Francis Collins, the head geneticist on the Human Genome Project, is a Christian believer? Collins (who was raised an atheist) says science points him TOWARDS God. Collins is certainly no backwoods simpleton. He graduated with a PH.D in physical chemistry from Yale at age 24 and then went on to complete a degree in medicine from the University of North Carolina. Collins believes in Intelligent Design, actually a variant of Creationism where God evolved our flesh and when He was satisfied, gave humans a living soul. Collins asks “Why can’t scientic processes be a part of God’s plan?” Wouldn’t God qualify as Supreme Scientist, if He’s the origin of science Himself?'s_Top_Christian_Geneticist_Defends_God_and_Evolution.htm

    M.E. Huffmaster

  • It’s nice that Collins publically says he believes in God and is a Christian, but where does he get his ideas about origins from? Evolution over millions of years is not what the Bible says. That idea undermines the basis for almost every major Christian doctrine, including the goodness of God, the origin of death, and the need for a Saviour. Theistic evolution has no basis in Scripture and no support from evolutionary science.
    Tas Walker

  • Begging your pardon, Tazman, but the topic concerned believers being punished for publicly expressing their beliefs outside of the classroom, not whether someone can have a slightly different opinion interpetation of Genesis/Creation and still be a Christian. Collins confesses Christ as his Savior, making him our brother-in Christ. It is, after all, the spirit/soul that makes humans different from the other creatures that inhabit this planet, NOT our flesh.
    M.E. Huffmaster

  • Keep up the good work Bill.

    I was chatting with fellow conservative university students recently. When I mentioned my religious views on one matter, I heard the same old rebukes: ‘separation of church and state’ and don’t impose your religious beliefs on others. I believe these views are misguided and it is a real problem that they are so widespread.

    Matthew Mulvaney

  • I think what Tas was trying to point out is that all beliefs, regardless of who it is that espouses them, should be evaluated in the light of what Scripture teaches.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • One of the lecturers pushing to deny Gonzalez for denying the materialist party line is none other than our old friend Hector Avalos, who wants to ban the Bible itself!
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • See CMI’s account, Darwinian thought police strike again: ID-advocate astronomer denied tenure at Iowa State University, which cites this site.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Re

    “Earth is exquisitely fit for human life, and seems to hold a unique place in our universe.”

    I have always had scepticism about claims of extraterrestrial intelligence, and if Earth holds a unique place in the universe, then it is clear to me that the Quaternary holds an equally unique place in geological history. (This is an issue which nobody, regardless of their views on evolution et cetera, seems to ask but one I find far too important to overlook).

    The reason for my belief in a “privileged era” (I have not the slightest hesitation in applying the analogies of Dr. Gonzalez to pure geology) is the fact that the paleopedological record shows that with a few exceptions Quaternary soils are much more fertile (due to glaciation and mountain building) than any soils during periods when the Earth has had no polar ice. The key agricultural soils on which most food is grown are totally unique to the last 30 million years, and would most likely not exist without the polar ice caps due to intense leaching. Whilst the paleopedological record is incomplete, I have never been one to believe that these fertile soils really existed without being recorded.

    Julien Peter Benney

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