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Evolution-only president has heart attack

Tim White

When University of Idaho President Tim White last week banned anything except evolution from being taught in science classes, he made national news.

He made local news in Idaho yesterday by having a heart attack – his third.

White’s edict came as a University of Idaho biologist, Scott Minnich, a supporter of the “intelligent design” theory, was set to testify in a Pennsylvania lawsuit brought by eight families trying to have this theory, branded as a new form of creationism, dropped from a school district’s biology curriculum. Minnich was asked to testify on behalf of the district.

Hours after White’s letter reached students, staff and faculty on Tuesday, the Discovery Institute, a Seattle public-policy group that funds research into intelligent design, blasted the order as an unconstitutional assault on academic freedom and free speech.

“This (evolution) is the only curriculum that is appropriate to be taught in our biophysical sciences,” White wrote. “Teaching of views that differ from evolution may occur in faculty-approved curricula in religion, sociology, philosophy, political science or similar courses. However, teaching of such views is inappropriate in our life, earth, and physical science courses.”

Harold Gibson, a school spokesman, said the views of Minnich, a tenured professor in the school’s College of Agriculture, didn’t prompt the letter.

John West, the associate director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, said White’s move restricting science curricula to discussions of evolution broadly restricts teaching anything that contradicts Darwin’s ideas on the role of mutation and natural selection in the development of life – even by scientists not advocating intelligent design.

In addition, limiting classes where evolution alternatives can be discussed violates free speech protections, he said.

“He (White) is saying, ‘If you’re a teacher in philosophy, we may allow you to do this. But in science, it just doesn’t cut it,'” West said. “In any other area, this would be preposterous.”

Meanwhile, the university announced yesterday that Karen White, the president’s wife, reports he heart catheterization performed at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.

A stint was inserted into his coronary artery and he is in serious but stable condition in the intensive-care unit.

White had been awakened by chest pains early Friday morning and was taken to Gritman Medical Center in Moscow. There, it was determined he suffered a heart attack and anti-clotting medication was administered. He was then transferred to Sacred Heart Medical Center.