Indiana News

Think Tank Not Happy With Ball State Response To Atheism Complaint

Discovery Institute says it is considering "further action"


Ball State University says it will review all honors college courses after a complaint that one was advocating atheism, but the university's response doesn't satisfy the group who complained.


In a letter to the Discovery Institute, a think tank in Seattle that advocates the theory of intelligent design, Ball State President Jo Ann Gora said the honors courses are "reviewed and updated on a regular basis." In a statement to reporters, Ball State said each of the courses would be reviewed by faculty "within specific subcommittees of the honors college advisory council.

The review will include the qualifications of the faculty member to teach the course material, the course content, and the appropriateness of the course pedagogy."

The letter was Ball State's response to a letter from the Discovery Institute last month that was critical of an Honors 390 course entitled "Dangerous Ideas." The course used as its textbook "What Is Your Dangerous Idea", which Discovery Institute Vice President John West said advocates atheism. West claimed that would go against what Gora told faculty earlier this summer; that instructors should not take sides on religious questions. Gora's address to faculty after the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained that Eric Hedin, an assistant physics professor at Ball State, was advocating intelligent design in a separate honors college course.

"The university thus far has refused to answer any of the questions we raised in our letter. It basically sounds like, well just trust us," said West, who says the Discovery Institute has filed an Open Records request for thousands of pages of documents from Ball State. The Discovery Institute says it believes intelligent design is a scientific question rather than religious, but West says the larger question is over free speech. "Are they going to guarantee academic freedom equally for professors? Or are they simply going to try to put a ban on faculty speech on a particular topic or a particular viewpoint on a topic?"

West says the Discovery Institute is considering "further action" against Ball State, though he would not talk about what that might entail. Ball State spokeswoman Joan Todd said that no one from the university would make any further statements on the matter.



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