RE: [asa] Expelled Explained

From: Donald F Calbreath <>
Date: Mon Apr 14 2008 - 18:33:56 EDT

Goof afternoon everyone:

One last set of comments and then I'm signing off this discussion for a vacation in Cancun.

Thanks for all the comments. The issue of academic freedom is an important one. A private institution (such as the Christian university that I recently retired from) has the legal right and the moral responsibility to its supporters to state publicly where it stands on issues. So do churches and seminaries - in both places, there are important doctrinal positions that need to be expressed and affirmed. A public university is expected to be non-sectarian; to do otherwise constitutes religious discrimination. I suppose a school could make a clear statement that intelligent design is not acceptable - Mike Behe's school has done so as has the University of Idaho where Scott Minnich teaches. I suspect that doing this might decrease the legal risks but might also serve to antagonize further a portion of the tax-paying public who is already getting very bothered about the overall anti-religious tone of higher education. I'll leave that to the lawyers.

In terms of Sternberg, the congressional committee ruled that he had experienced significant discrimination. He followed standard peer review procedures and caught a lot of flack for it. The folks who critcise ID for not having peer-reviewed publications in the science literature might want to ask whether or not anything that sounds like ID could even get a fair hearing.

The emails from UI that have become public after the Gonzales tenure denial make it very clear that he experienced clear religious discrimination by the university. I suspect that it will be in the courts once the internal university review is finished.

Anyhow, we all forget some of the details (and I'm as guilty as the next person). However, a quick dismissal of ID as "bad science" does strike me as a little strange. I see much more discussion of recent science papers on their listserv than I do here. Something to think about.

Hasta luego.

From: [] On Behalf Of []
Sent: Monday, April 14, 2008 7:48 AM
Subject: RE: [asa] Expelled Explained

Don C. laments the lack of response to his post last week about what he perceives to be shabby treatment of some Christians in academic settings.

I think we all have to remember that it is the nature of a discussion list like this that what I find to be a gripping and important issue may not move others at a particular moment. Certainly there have been several times on this list where I have raised some point I thought was profound, and it has been ignored. That's just the way discussion goes and shouldn't be taken as an insult or as a statement that the topic is unimportant.

In this particular case, it contributes to the lack of response that both the Sternberg and Gonzalez cases have been discussed extensively on this list in the past. So people are reluctant to rehash the same old things.

From past discussion, it seems that both the Sternberg and Gonzalez cases were a mixed bag -- not as simple as either propaganda side (the Discovery Institute on one side and people like Pandas Thumb on the other side) would have one believe.

In the case of Sternberg, it seems that he ignored the rules of the journal in terms of how papers were supposed to be reviewed. But it also seems that it was not uncommon for those rules to be ignored, and enforcement only came with this particular controversial paper. Others here have looked into that more deeply that I have.

For Gonzalez, I was more involved than most in the discussion here. In my mind, the following things are pretty clear:
1) There was an effort by some Iowa State faculty to drive Gonzalez out because of his association with the ID movement. It would be naive to think that this, which could be considered "viewpoint discrimination", had nothing to do with the tenure decision.
2) Gonzalez' research record at Iowa State was mediocre. He had been quite productive as a grad student and postdoc implementing the ideas of others. But, once he got into a tenure-track faculty position where he was supposed to be *leading* research, he fizzled out, not publishing much original research and bringing in *zero* external research funding. With this sort of record, a denial of tenure at a mid-level university like Iowa State would not be surprising, independent of any of the other controversy.
3) Because of #2, the propaganda of the Discovery Institute, in which Gonzalez is portrayed as a brilliant top-notch scientist who would have breezed through the tenure process if not for his beliefs, is shamefully misleading. Some of the statistics they have cited about publications, etc. have also been distorted and misleading (especially in the way they ignore the fact that the tenure decision is based almost entirely on what he has done since taking his ISU faculty position, so highly cited publications where he played a junior role don't really matter).

There has also been some discussion on this list of the case of Charles Colling, a respected biology Prof. at a Christian university who some would say has been "expelled" for taking a stand that God has worked through evolution.

Allan Harvey, ASA member
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Received on Mon, 14 Apr 2008 15:33:56 -0700

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