A Career-Killing Theory

Intelligent Design at Iowa State

Proponents of intelligent design never know when they might be led away to the ideological chopping block. Take, for example, biologist Carolyn Crocker, who was banned from teaching evolution at George Mason University after mentioning intelligent design. Or evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg, who was demoted by the Smithsonian Institute after he approved an article that supported intelligent design. Now add Guillermo Gonzalez to that list.

Last month, Gonzalez, assistant professor of astronomy and physics at Iowa State University, was denied tenure. His supposed crime? Believing something other than Darwinism.

Why else would he be denied? It certainly can't be his lack of academic accomplishments. Iowa State requires its faculty to publish fifteen peer-reviewed articles in order to qualify for tenure. Gonzalez has submitted sixty-eight. On top of that, Gonzalez's ground-breaking research in astronomy has led to the discovery of two new planets.

And on his own time, Gonzalez produced The Privileged Planet, a groundbreaking book and documentary film on intelligent design, in which he explains that the earth is uniquely situated to sustain complex life. Mathematically speaking, the probability of a planet like ours with all of the necessary conditions to sustain complex life, Gonzalez says, is 10 to the negative fifteenth power, or one thousandth of a trillionth.

Random chance cannot explain the alignment of all of these conditions, such as the optimal distance from the right kind of star, plate tectonics, the size of a moon that can stabilize itself on its axis, the shielding presence of larger planets nearby, the right amount of oxygen and water . . . just to name a few.

The only thing that can explain this is intelligent design. It's a bold assertion, and a risky one.

After his film was released in 2005, three of Gonzalez's colleagues, including the faculty advisor for the campus Atheist and Agnostic Society, began campaigning against Gonzalez. Since then, more than 400 faculty members at Iowa State, the University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa have signed a petition condemning the presentation of intelligent design as science. Although Gonzalez's name is not mentioned in the petition, he is clearly the target of this rank prejudice.

Gonzalez is not being discriminated against for teaching intelligent design, but simply for believing it. He says he never even taught intelligent design in the classroom. His work on intelligent design has been extracurricular.

I'm appalled by the way the scientific and academic community blatantly discriminates against those who suggest that the universe may be something more than the product of chance. Iowa State's decision is a blatant assault on academic freedom. It is ideological discrimination of the worst kind—something we would not expect in a free society or tolerate in academic institutions that claim to pursue truth.

Gonzalez has appealed the denial of his tenure to Iowa State President Geoffroy. You may want to get in touch with the president and let him know your views.


From BreakPoint®, May 24, 2007, Copyright 2007, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship Ministries

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