Indiana News

Ball State Reviewing Complaint Letter Over Intelligent Design

9/13/2013


A spokeswoman for Ball State University says the school is still reviewing a complaint letter from a think tank that promotes the concept of intelligent design.  The think tank says Ball State is being hypocritical.

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The Discovery Institute, based in Seattle, is demanding an investigation into a course taught at its Honors College.  John West, the vice president of the Discovery Institute, says the Honors 390 course, entitled "Dangerous Ideas", uses as its only textbook "What Is Your Dangerous Idea", an anthology by John Brockman.  West says the essays in the book include one entitled "Science Must Destroy Religion," by Sam Harris and includes a forward by biologist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins.

If this is the only viewpoint offered in the class, then West says it violates a policy started by Ball State President Jo Ann Gora over the summer that bars faculty "from favoring or endorsing one side of a religious debate over another.”  Gora created the policy after an atheist group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, accused assistant professor of physics Eric Hedin (huh-DEEN) of teaching intelligent design in his classes.  In June, Ball State also hired assistant professor Guillermo Gonzalez, who had previously been denied tenure at Iowa State University.  Gonzalez says the denial was because of his belief that a higher power was involved in the formation of the universe.

In a letter to faculty on July 31, Gora said intelligent design and creationism “can have their place at Ball State in humanities or social science courses. However, even in such contexts, faculty must avoid endorsing one point of view over others.”  But West says there is no other way to look at the "Dangerous Ideas" course other than as an endorsement of atheism over a belief in God.

The Discovery Institute's letter says it will give Ball State until September 30 to respond - otherwise, it will seek "other remedies."  Ball State spokeswoman Joan Todd said late Thursday that the university just received the letter and was reviewing it, though a press release containing the letter was issued by the Institute and posted on its website on Tuesday.

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