Ball State University Denounces Intelligent Design, Keeps Professor Accused of ID Bias

An Indiana-based academic institute has announced that while a physics professor who taught intelligent design will stay with the university, his proposed controversial course will not.

Professor Jo Ann Gora, president of Ball State University, announced Wednesday that while Physics Prof. Eric Hedin would remain, intelligent design would not be taught as part of a science course.

"Intelligent design is overwhelmingly deemed by the scientific community as a religious belief and not a scientific theory," said Gora in a statement sent to faculty and staff.

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"Said simply, to allow intelligent design to be presented to science students as a valid scientific theory would violate the academic integrity of the course as it would fail to accurately represent the consensus of science scholars."

Colleen Flaherty of Inside Higher Ed reported that Ball State and Hedin are working together to make sure future controversies over intelligent design in the curriculum do not happen.

Hedin gained headlines earlier this year when a course of his, known as "The Boundaries of Science," was criticized for allegedly being biased toward intelligent design.

In May, at the urging of an evolutionary biology professor and blogger, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Ball State demanding an investigation, which would be performed during the summer.

Academic Freedom

Hedin was not without his supporters, as the Seattle-based intelligent design group, The Discovery Institute, argued in favor of Hedin's course in the name of academic freedom.

Dr. John G. West, vice president of the Discovery Institute, provided The Christian Post with a statement he wrote regarding Ball State's decision and Gora's remarks on intelligent design.

"Memo to President Gora: Academic freedom was designed to protect dissenting and unpopular views among faculty. That's the whole point," wrote West on the site

"Redefining it as the 'freedom' to teach only the majority view isn't academic freedom; it's a power play right out of the pages of George Orwell's 1984."

In an interview with CP, West said that the decision regarding Hedin was problematic due to the lack of consultation from experts in Hedin's field.

"It is outrageous that President Gora is trying to censor a physicist from talking about the evidence for cosmic design that is discussed by top physicists throughout the discipline," said West.

"The people leading the charge against Hedin largely have no academic qualifications whatever in the area of physics. ... And the committee charged to investigate Hedin didn't even contain a single physicist, even though that was the focus of his course."

Academic Integrity

Hedin's "The Boundaries of Science" course's controversial content was publicized on the blog "Why Evolution is True," which is overseen by University of Chicago ecology professor Jerry A. Coyne.

Coyne told The Christian Post that he first became aware of the course and its questionable content via an anonymous source living in Muncie who talked with a Ball State student about the matter.

"When I saw the syllabus, which was heavily loaded with Intelligent Design, Christian apologetics and no counteracting views…I thought this is very bizarre for a straight science course," said Coyne.

Coyne told CP that he proceeded to contact Ball State officials about the matter, who proceeded to tell him that they did not consider his concerns valid. From there he contacted FFRF.

"I brought it to the attention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation as a potential violation of the First Amendment. Basically, they took it from there," said Coyne.

Regarding the decision by Gora, Coyne told CP that he was pleased with the decision since it involved both Hedin remaining at the university and his course being removed.

"I couldn't have asked for a better result," said Coyne, who stressed that contrary to some claims, he had never wanted to see Hedin fired.

"There were a number of things in [Gora's] statement that was completely unambiguous. It stands up for good science."

"College is for students to explore a variety of viewpoints. On that, Gora is absolutely right. It's just that was not what Hedin was doing."

Neither Ball State University nor Professor Eric Hedin returned comment to The Christian Post by press time.

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