Baylor Prof. Robert Marks
Baylor University Professor Bob Marks, whose research could be the foundation for a major challenge to Darwin’s theory of evolution, is at odds with his historically Christian employer, which ordered that his work be taken off the Internet.
Maybe it’s because for so many years the logical alternative to evolution, which is grounded on principles such as random selection and survival of the fittest, has been disregarded and ridiculed by the scientific community. And intelligent design, as it is called, presumes the existence of an outside intelligence influencing life, according to a critic of the university.
Walt Ruloff, the executive producer of Premise Media, who worked with actor Ben Stein on a new project called “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” about the monopoly Darwinian beliefs hold in academia, wrote in the Baylor student newspaper about his concerns.
“As many of you have heard, Marks, a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering, has been conducting research that ultimately may challenge the foundation of Darwinian theory. In layman’s terms, Marks is using highly sophisticated mathematical and computational techniques to determine if there are limits to what natural selection can do,” he wrote. “At Baylor, a Christian institution, this should be pretty unremarkable stuff. I’m assuming most of the faculty, students and alumni believe in God, so wouldn’t it also be safe to assume you have no problem with a professor trying to scientifically quantify the limits of a blind, undirected cause of the origin and subsequent history of life?
“But the dirty little secret is university administrators are much more fearful of the Darwinian Machine than they are of you,” he said.
“Here’s what’s going on: Somebody within the scientific community let [Baylor dean Ben] Kelley know that Marks was running a website that was friendly to intelligent design. Such a thing is completely unacceptable in today’s university system – even at a Christian institution. Kelley was probably told to have the site shut down immediately or suffer the consequences,” Ruloff said.
“What are those consequences? The ultimate penalty is to have Baylor marginalized by being designated as not a ‘legitimate institution of higher learning.’ So designated merely for the ‘crime’ of allowing Neo-Darwinism to be questioned, since conventional elitist wisdom holds it’s no longer a theory but an inviolable truth.”
Prof. Marks told WND he could not comment since his lawyer and the university are in negotiations over the situation. And Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman said there are “ongoing legal discussions that we hope will be resolved to both party’s mutual satisfaction.”
“What I can tell you is we’re optimistic that it will be resolved satisfactorily to all parties,” she told WND. “This has to do with the policies and procedures here at the university, as far as posting research on a website, and the use of the university’s name. We’re not talking about a content issue, we’re talking policy and procedure.”
However, she told WND she was unaware of a single other instance in which any research posting by any Baylor professor had been treated in a similar fashion.
Ruloff, however, has. “Google the names of Richard Sternberg, Caroline Crocker, Guillermo Gonzalez, Dean Kenyon and Bill Dembski and see what you find,” he said. “These distinguished scientists have suffered severe consequences for questioning Darwinian theory…”
The scientist at Iowa State University is appealing to state officials after his tenure was rejected by department managers because of his “personal religious and ideological beliefs.”
Gonzalez was not given tenure, even though his performance reviews had been exemplary, according to a story in World Magazine, after physics department chairman Eli Rosenberg admitted Gonzalez’ research into intelligent design “played into” the decision-making 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 – a key foundation of belief in Darwinian theory. Advocates include scientists at numerous universities and science organizations worldwide.
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.”
Casey Luskin, a spokesman for the Discovery Institute, told WND that his organization hasn’t been involved directly in the Marks case, as it is with Gonzalez. But he said it’s a situation that appears to be developing more and more as science investigates realms of information that even a decade ago were unsearchable.
He said Baylor summarily ordered Marks’ research taken down, then came up with some “ridiculous requirements” regarding disclaimers, then ultimately said even that wasn’t enough.
But the research has been unavailable for more than a month, and continuing, he said.
“This is very serious research. It’s very common among evolutionary biologists to do computer simulations. Results are published in some of the most prestigious journals,” he said, citing the Journal of Nature.
He said the scientists essentially are looking at the ability of random search engines to come up with the type of information that would be necessary for evolution to exist.
Luskin said Marks essentially showed “you can’t just produce enough information through random searches.”
Baylor, which has been a university since it was chartered by the Republic of Texas, is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. It has about 14,000 students on its Waco campus.
But in a recent guest column, Mark Ramsey, the founder of Texans for Better Science Education, called the dispute “a giant leap backward” for Baylor.
“This censorship is based not on poor scholarship or bad data but on a disagreement about the research’s conclusions. The conclusions were not deemed to be particularly favorable to the notion that Darwin was right and no intelligence was required in the creation of the world and everything in it,” he wrote.
“One would think that scholarship consistent with the beliefs of the vast majority of both Americans in general and Baptists in particular would be something Baylor would cultivate, not censor,” he continued. “The geology department’s Web page on evolution is instructive. It recommends several sources whose work are in direct conflict with clear teaching of most Baylor parents’ and students’ beliefs.”
He cited a “suggested reading” list including Richard Dawkins, “The most vocal living atheist on the planet who openly mocks all religion.”
Marks’ site was called Evolutionary Informatics, and said its goal was to investigate how information makes evolution possible. Attorney John Gilmore, who is representing Marks, told local reporters it began when the professor gave a podcast interview with the Discovery Institute.
“A week later, it was removed,” Gilmore said of the website.
Gilmore said the university earlier agreed that the site would add a disclaimer saying it was unaffiliated with Baylor. But then the school changed positions, seeking provisions that would allow it to control the site content, he said.
It’s not Baylor’s first brush with the same issues.
Several years ago, according to the university newspaper, the faculty senate requested that the university shut down the Michael Polanyi Center, labeling the studies on which director William Dembski and assistant director Bruce Gordon were working as “creationist.”
“Expelled,” being marketed by Motive Entertainment, which has spearheaded major previous Hollywood blockbusters, including “The Passion of the Christ,” “Polar Express” and “The Chronicles of Narnia,” addresses the issues Baylor is confronting directly.
“Expelled” documents how teachers and scientists alike are being ridiculed daily, denied tenure and even fired believing there is evidence of “design” in nature and challenging the current orthodoxy that life is entirely a result of random chance.
For example, Stein meets Richard Sternberg, a double Ph.D. biologist who allowed a peer-reviewed research paper describing the evidence for intelligence in the universe to be published in the scientific journal Proceedings. Shortly after publication, officials from the National Center for Science Education and the Smithsonian Institution, where Sternberg was a research fellow, began a coordinated smear-and-intimidation campaign to get the promising young scientist fired. The attack on scientific freedom was so egregious that it prompted a congressional investigation.
Also Caroline Crocker, a brilliant biology teacher at George Mason University who was forced out of the university for briefly discussing problems with Darwinian theory and for telling the students that some scientists believe there is evidence of design in the universe.
Editor’s note: The edition of Whistleblower magazine, “THE RISE OF ATHEIST AMERICA,” is a cutting-edge look at the growth of God-denial in the U.S., including the central role of government-mandated indoctrination in the theory of evolution. Find out more about “THE RISE OF ATHEIST AMERICA.”
Related special offers: