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Gonzalez Tenure Case Highlights Intolerance of Darwinist Academics

ID Proponents Need Not ApplyIn my previous post on bloggers who were intolerant of ID-proponents in the academy, I highlighted University of Minnesota biologist P.Z. Myers’ admission that, “if someone comes up [for tenure] who claims that ID ‘theory’ is science, I will vote against them.” But Myers isn’t the only example; other influential Darwinist scientists and other academics have made similar comments. Jason Rosenhouse, assistant professor of mathematics at James Madison University, asks, if we “assume that Gonzalez’s ID advocacy played a significant role in the school’s decision,” then “[i]s that a bad thing?” His answer is clear: “No, it isn’t.” Rosenhouse explains how he believes it is reasonable to be intolerant of ID-proponents in the academy:

In my view it is perfectly appropriate to deny tenure to someone you reasonably believe is going to devote much of his career to the professional advocacy of pseudoscience.

Of course, “pseudoscience” is what a Darwinist calls anything that challenges that which they hold to be infallible: Darwinian biology. In this case, it’s just a conversation-stopping term of rhetoric. It appears the right to challenge the consensus view on Darwin is out of the question.
Indeed, Dr. Rosenhouse displays no real commitment to academic freedom. He refers to academic freedom as “a vague notion” that probably doesn’t apply to non-tenured faculty because “[t]he whole point of tenure is to give you academic freedom … You have to earn academic freedom … by not spending your pre-tenure years aligning yourself with groups hostile to the sort of work your department does.” In his view, academic freedom is gained by agreeing with the establishment. (Note: Evidently the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) disagrees with Rosenhouse: “During the probationary period a teacher should have the academic freedom that all other members of the faculty have.” (AAUP Policy Tenth Ed.2 10/26/06).)

But Rosenhouse suggests that if you happen to come to a conclusion in your work that is unpopular among your department, you do not have the freedom to remain as an academic. If that view isn’t a little disturbing, consider how Rosenhouse explicitly states that there should be no academic freedom when “your opinions are so at odds with the facts or your arguments are so easily refuted that no abstract principle can or should protect you.” What Rosenhouse is saying is that academic freedom grants merely the freedom to generally agree with everyone else in your department. Is that really “freedom”?

Admitting Intolerance, But Not Justifying It

Another influential Darwinist, blogger Ed Brayton, has himself acknowledged that anti-ID viewpoints very likely negatively impact ID-proponents during tenure evaluations, admitting, “My point is not that ID didn’t have anything to do with being denied tenure; it may well have had quite a bit to do with him being denied tenure. … Publicly espousing an idea rejected by 99% of those in your field is almost certainly going to have an effect on how your colleagues view you…” (emphasis added)

In the same discussion, North Carolina State University biologist Reed Cartwright justified viewpoint discrimination against ID proponents by stating, “I think it is reasonable to hypothesize that Gonzalez’s connection to the Discovery Institute did him no favors. If there were any faculty members, who were knowledgeable about Behe and Lehigh, they might have formed the opinion that granting tenure to Gonzalez was risky.” Brayton and Cartwright have accurately described the fact that intolerant behavior weighs heavily during tenure evaluations, but have they actually justified this behavior?

Fortunately, the constricted view of academic freedom favored by these Darwinists has not been adopted in the official standards at Iowa State University. In fact, ISU is supposed to uphold a strong commitment to academic freedom, as its faculty handbook claims that academic freedom is “the freedom … to explore all avenues of scholarship, research, and creative expression” and ISU claims that “[a]cademic freedom is the foundation of the university because it encourages and guarantees the right to inquiry, discourse, and learning that characterize a community of scholars.” (emphasis added)

Apparently this “foundation of the university” does not truly matter to some leading and influential Darwinist academics.


Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.



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