On Wednesday of last week, Ball State University Jo Ann Gora wrote to the faculty and staff of the school that they are no longer including the teaching of intelligent design as part of its science curriculum on the basis that it violates scientific integrity.
The decision was made after the Freedom From Religion Foundation alleged that physics professor Eric Hedin was “promoting religion” in his class called “The Boundaries of Science”, in which he argues for the possibility of “hidden wisdom” in the ideas of creationism and intelligent design.
Gora’s letter was in response to their concerns; she did, however, allow creationism to be covered in humanities classes like history, sociology, or political science as part of a broader picture of the effects of mass belief on scientific principles, emphasizing that science is not a matter of public opinion.
“Our commitment to academic freedom is unflinching. However, it cannot be used as a shield to teach theories that have been rejected by the discipline under which a science course is taught. Our commitment to the best standards of each discipline being taught on this campus is equally unwavering,” she wrote. “As I have said, this is an issue of academic integrity, not academic freedom.”
It goes without saying that creationist groups like the Discovery Institute disagreed with her conclusion, suggesting that this is issue constitutes some sort of Orwellian suppression of information and that there is, in fact, plenty of evidence for a young earth and creation by the Christian God.
It’s just that no one has seen this evidence, and it somehow never makes it either to or past the peer review process. Funny, that.
Here’s the part where I drone on a bit about how this sort of thing shouldn’t even be necessary anymore, that public schools – especially those in the sciences – should be familiar enough with what constitutes science that they should know better, but it’s been done to death. Articles like this both depress me and give me hope at the same time. It depresses me that there are organizations out there that seem intent on keeping the American public as ill informed and uneducated as possible … but it gives me hope that science and the law are on our side. School by school is losing the self-proclaimed “right” to keep religious monuments on their front lawns. Within the schools themselves, science teachers are rejecting mythology masquerading as science even though there’s a lot of money behind those pushing the claims. It’s a long fight, and it’s not over, but we’re slowly gaining ground.