A Texas lawmaker has proposed a legal protection for those in academia who question Charles Darwin’s beliefs that man evolved from sludge and today’s world is a result of the survival of the fittest.
State Rep. Bill Zedler told WND today that his House Bill 2454 is a pre-emptive effort to make sure problems don’t arise in Texas with established scientific communities discriminating against someone who challenges their beliefs.
His bill is short and to the point:
An institution of higher education may not discriminate against or penalize in any manner, especially with regard to employment or academic support, a faculty member or student based on the faculty member’s or student’s conduct of research relating to the theory of intelligent design or other alternate theories of the origination and development of organisms.
“Isn’t it amazing in the halls of academia you can almost believe anything and espouse everything and they go right along with you. But lo and behold if someone talks about intelligent design, all of a sudden, we need to get rid of you,” Zedler told WND.
Such actions already have been documented and have prompted court cases.
In Texas, it was several years ago that Baylor University Professor Bob Marks, whose research challenged Darwin’s theory of evolution, was ordered taken off the Internet by his employer.
Walt Ruloff, the executive producer of Premise Media, who worked with actor Ben Stein on the documentary film “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” about the monopoly Darwinian beliefs hold in academia, wrote in the Baylor student newspaper about his concerns at the time.
“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.
Zedler said the flow of research and information in academia sometimes is stifled because of the entrenched censorship of intelligent design research by established scientists.
WND has reported on several other cases in which the intense criticism of intelligent design has created controversy. In one case, a NASA lab was accused of cracking down on one person’s opinion.
The Cassini project by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab captures the image of lightning on Saturn (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)
David Coppedge, an information-technology specialist and systems administrator on the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab’s Cassini mission to Saturn, contended he was discriminated against by managers and demoted because he shared intelligent design videos with co-workers.
“For the offense of offering videos to colleagues, Coppedge faced harassment, an investigation cloaked in secrecy and a virtual gag order on his discussion of intelligent design,” said attorney Casey Luskin of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.
Luskin was consultant to the Coppedge lawsuit, which was being handled by Los Angeles First Amendment attorney William J. Becker Jr. of the Becker Law Firm and included allegations of free-speech violations and wrongful demotion.
“Coppedge was punished even though supervisors admitted never receiving a single complaint regarding his conversations about intelligent design prior to their investigation, and even though other employees were allowed to express diverse ideological opinions, including attacking intelligent design,” Luskin said.
Zedler’s proposal has been referred to committee and he couldn’t provide to WND an estimate for when, or if, it could reach the House floor for debate and vote. He said sometimes the politics are more important than the issue.
But he said the issue needs to be raised as the dominance of the opinion supporting evolution in colleges and universities leaves those who disagree, or even just have questions, as targets.
“There are people that want to say something but [are] afraid to because there are people around the country that have been discriminated against,” Zedler said.
It was just weeks ago when the University of Texas paid a settlement of $125,000 to astronomy professor Martin Gaskell, who alleged he was denied a position at least partly because he expressed questions about evolution.
He told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “I think that it is important that the state of Texas stands firmly behind academic freedom.”
Also, WND reported when Iowa State University regents, who had ruled against accepting evidence or hearing testimony from a professor in a dispute over the school’s denial of his tenure, turned down his appeal.
The case involved Guillermo Gonzalez, an honored assistant professor of astronomy who had been actively working on theories of intelligent design, an effort that ultimately cost him his job, supporters say. Tenure is roughly the equivalent of a lifetime appointment.
The school has continued to deny the handling of Gonzalez’ case was related to his support of ID, even though the Des Moines Register documented emails that confirmed Gonzalez’ colleagues wanted him flushed out of the system for that reason.
“I think Gonzalez should know that some of the faculty in his department are not going to count his ID work as a plus for tenure,” said one note, from astronomy teacher Bruce Harmon, before the department voted against tenure for Gonzalez. “Quite the opposite.”
The newspaper reported what was revealed in emails was “contrary” to what ISU officials said when they rejected Gonzalez’ request for tenure.
WND also reported recently on biochemist Christian de Duve, who suggested the forces of natural selection in evolution instilled mankind with an innate “original sin” that if not overcome could lead to humanity’s extinction.
Christian de Duv
De Duve, a professor emeritus at New York City’s Rockefeller University and 1974 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, said in an interview with New Scientist that the essential problem is selfishness.
“Natural selection has resulted in traits such as group selfishness being coded in our genes,” de Duve explains. “These were useful to our ancestors under the conditions in which they lived, but have become noxious to us today.”
Unfortunately, de Duve says, while evolution favored the survival of early tribes with a me-first nature, there are dire consequences to the success of a selfish race.
Put more simply, he says, natural selection “doesn’t care about your grandchildren.”
“The cost of our success is the exhaustion of natural resources, leading to energy crises, climate change, pollution and the destruction of our habitat,” he continues. “If we continue in the same direction, humankind is headed for some frightful ordeals, if not extinction.”
De Duve has written a book, “Genetics of Original Sin,” in which he explains how he sees the intersection of his theories with the Bible.