A leading proponent of intelligent design, who was targeted by atheist professors in 2005, has been denied tenure at Iowa State University.
Assistant professor of astronomy and physics Guillermo Gonzalez, co-author of “The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery,” was one of three members of the ISU faculty denied promotion or tenure of the 66 considered during the past academic year, reported the Ames, Iowa, Tribune.
“I was surprised to hear that my tenure was denied at any level, but I was disappointed that the president at the end denied me,” Gonzalez said yesterday.
In 2005, three ISU faculty members drafted a statement and petition against intelligent design in the science curriculum that collected 120 signatures.
Claims for intelligent design, said the ISU faculty statement “are premised on (1) the arbitrary selection of features claimed to be engineered by a designer; (2) unverifiable conclusions about the wishes and desires of that designer; and (3) an abandonment by science of methodological naturalism.
“Whether one believes in a creator or not, views regarding a supernatural creator are, by their very nature, claims of religious faith, and so not within the scope or abilities of science. We, therefore, urge all faculty members to uphold the integrity of our university of ‘science and technology,’ convey to students and the general public the importance of methodological naturalism in science, and reject efforts to portray intelligent design as science.”
One of the ISU authors, Hector Avalos, an outspoken atheist, told the Ames Tribune the petition was motivated by the growing attention given to Gonzalez’s work and concerns the university would be seen as an “intelligent design school.”
“We certainly don’t want to give the impression to the public that intelligent design is what we do,” said Avalos, who is an associate professor of religious studies.
Another ISU author and professor, John Patterson, linked the Discovery Institute, a leading intelligent design think tank where Gonzalez is a senior fellow, to the Taliban.
Avalos insisted that the petition was meant only to address intelligent design and not directed at Gonzalez personally.
“The most important action we want is not to suppress Dr. Gonzalez but to express our own view,” Avalos told the Journal of Higher Education.
For his part, Gonzalez defended himself against the attack by noting that he had put forth a design argument that was scientifically rigorous, testable and falsifiable, but whatever its merits, he had not taught the argument in the classroom.
While Gonzalez has refused to comment on why he believes he has now been denied tenure, John G. West, associate director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute is not so hesitant.
Pointing to the 2005 faculty statement and petition, West called the denial a case of “ideological discrimination” by ISU against Gonzalez.
“What happens to the lone faculty member who doesn’t agree and happens to be untenured,” he asked. “That is practically, with a wink and a nod, a call to deny him tenure.”
Gonzalez has filed an appeal with ISU President Greg Geoffroy who must respond within 20 days.
In 2005, WND reported the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. reneged on an agreement to co-sponsor the premier of Privileged Planet after coming under pressure from The Washington Post and James Randi – “the Amazing Randi” – magician and long-time debunker of psychic and paranormal claims.
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