Guillermo Gonzalez

A scientist who believes the theory of intelligent design helps explain life’s origins is appealing to state officials to save his job at Iowa State University, where his tenure was rejected because of his “personal religious and ideological beliefs.”

Guillermo Gonzalez is appealing his case to the Iowa State Board of Regents after university officials turned away his request for reconsideration.

A story in World Magazine quoted professor Eli Rosenberg, chairman of the physics and astronomy department at the school, insisting intelligent design “was not an overriding factor” in the decision but that it “played into” the process.

Proponents of intelligent design say it draws on recent discoveries in physics, biochemistry and related disciplines that indicate some features of the natural world are best explained as the product of an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. Advocates include scientists at numerous universities and science organizations worldwide.

World magazine also reported astronomy professor Curtis Struck said he was not surprised by the denial, because Gonzales “includes some things in his astronomy resume that other people regard as taking a coincidence too far.” His reference apparently was to the issue of intelligent design.

Gonzales also was targeted earlier by ISU faculty members, who in 2005 drafted a statement and petition against intelligent design in the science curriculum. It collected 120 signatures.

John West, associate director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, where Gonzalez is a senior fellow, said the tenure denial is “clearly a result of the vicious attacks he’s had to endure from Darwinists and various atheists for presenting a scientific argument for the intelligent design of the universe based on the empirical evidence from physics and astronomy.”

Gonzalez, who will be out of his job at ISU after the 2007-2008 year if the decision is not changed, was rejected by officials despite his publication of 68 peer-reviewed scientific articles, nearly four times what his own department suggests as a standard for “excellence.”

His articles also have the highest normalized citation count among all of the astronomers in his department, a standard used to evaluate the work of professors. And he’s the author of a new college text on astronomy, “The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery.”

“It should be noted Gonzalez’s book does not discuss the evidence for design in biology, and thus it does not deal with Darwin’s theory of evolution, but that hasn’t spared Gonzalez from persecution,” West said.

Gonzalez earlier issued a statement on the dispute.

“It is now clear to me that this decision, in effect, had been predetermined by August 2005, when Hector Avalos and other ISU professors began circulating a petition statement condemning Intelligent Design. At the same time, several of the same ISU faculty spread misinformation about me and the nature of my Intelligent Design research in the local press. These events poisoned the atmosphere among the faculty and administration on campus towards Intelligent Design, and, ultimately, impacted negatively on my tenure evaluation. It is unfortunate that the personal religious and ideological beliefs of some faculty have been so influential on this issue,” he said.

Gonzalez’ first appeal was rejected by ISU President Gregory Geoffrey, and now he is pursuing the appeal with the state board, a process which likely will take several months.

His work has been featured in the magazines Science, Nature and Scientific American, which did a cover story.

“Incredibly, ISU’s President Geoffroy denied tenure to Gonzalez while approving 91 percent of those applying for tenure this year,” said West. “Geoffroy even promoted to full professor one of Gonzalez’s chief persecutors at ISU, atheist religion professor Hector Avaloz, who believes that the Bible is worse than Hitler’s Mein Kampf.”

The day after ISU’s president announced his rejection of Gonzalez’s first appeal, a member of ISU’s department of physics and astronomy published an article in the Des Moines Register openly admitting that Gonzalez’s support for intelligent design was the only reason he voted against tenure for Gonzalez.

The Discovery Institute, a Seattle group that supports the discussion of intelligent design evidence, earlier launched an action alert in support of Gonzalez.

“I think if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it likely is a duck,” said West. “There are two issues here: academic freedom and the First Amendment.”

Gonzalez has said he does not teach intelligent design at the school.

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