Intelligent Design Group Sends Letter to Ind. Academic Institute Protesting Alleged Atheistic Course

A Seattle, Wash.-based group that advocates for intelligent design has sent a letter of protest to an Indiana public academic institute over a course that is allegedly biased toward atheism.

The Discovery Institute sent the letter to Ball State University President Jo Ann Gora on Tuesday regarding a course known as "Dangerous Ideas," an honors 390 seminar.

The institute frames their complaint under the recent Ball State decision to bar professor Eric Hedin's course "The Boundaries of Science," which was accused of being biased in favor of intelligent design.

"Given BSU's new policy forbidding its faculty from favoring or endorsing one side of a religious debate over another, we hereby demand an investigation of BSU English Prof. Paul Ranieri and his Honors 390 seminar, 'Dangerous Ideas,' which appears
to violate the new policy," reads the letter in part.

The letter is signed by John G. West, vice president of the institute; Joshua Youngkin, program officer at the Public Policy and Law division at the institute; and Donald McLaughlin, Ball State University alumnus and regional representative for the institute.

In an interview with The Christian Post, West said that Dangerous Ideas was taught in the spring semester by an English professor.

"We filed a public documents request with the university for course syllabi of courses taught in the university's honors college," said West.

"That's the same department in which professor Eric Hedin's course on The Boundaries of Science was taught."

The major issue the Discovery Institute has with the course, said West to CP, was that the content was "one-sided," being biased toward atheism.

"We are asking the university to investigate the course based on the syllabus and its reading list. We've gone through the readings assigned from the sole textbook for the course, and we think that they are completely one-sided," said West.

"If a public university selectively applies its policies and procedures to target certain professors based on their perceived religious beliefs, then that certainly raises important legal as well as policy issues."

Among the objections listed in the letter, West and his peers pointed to numerous passages where contributors to the textbook espoused atheistic viewpoints with no apparent counterview represented.

Joan Todd, executive director of public relations for Ball State University, told The Christian Post that the Dangerous Ideas course "is not for science credit."

"Ball State did receive a letter from the Discovery Institute yesterday. We are in the process of reviewing it," added Todd.

Last month, Ball State announced that they would keep a professor accused of teaching intelligent design unchallenged in a science course.

The controversy concluded as Gora released a statement denouncing intelligent design as unscientific while agreeing to let physics professor Hedin remain at the university.

"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.

"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."

The letter also listed other courses that the Institute believes should be investigated as well, although these courses were seen as not being as blatantly biased as Dangerous Ideas.

The Discovery Institute wrote in their letter that if they do not receive a response from Ball State University by Sept 30, they will look toward other venues to address their grievances.