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Two Astronomers at Iowa State Tied to Statement Denouncing Intelligent Design as “Creationist Pseudoscience”

John G. West

Two of the five active tenured astronomy professors in the department that denied tenure to Guillermo Gonzalez at Iowa State University are connected to a widely-publicized statement that denounces intelligent design as “creationist pseudoscience.”

Professor Steven Kawaler, the Program Coordinator for astronomy in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at ISU, actually signed the statement, and he provides a link to both the statement and an article about it on his website.

University Professor Lee Anne Willson, meanwhile, is married to ISU mathematics professor Stephen J. Willson, who also signed the anti-ID statement.
Known as “Project Steve,” the anti-ID statement was the brainchild of the pro-Darwin National Center for Science Education. The statement declares that “it is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible for creationist pseudoscience, including… ‘intelligent design,’ to be introduced into the science curricula of our nation’s public schools.”

Iowa State University has made much of the fact that Dr. Gonzalez’s tenure application was rejected starting at the level of his department. Now we know that at least 40% of the tenured faculty in astronomy in his department are connected to a statement that regards intelligent design as “creationist pseudoscience” and insists that “it is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible” for it “to be introduced into… science curricula.”

Typically it is the tenured faculty in one’s own area who have the most weight in a department when it comes to tenure recommendations. And, of course, only the tenured faculty of a department are allowed to vote on a tenure recommendation.

Can any fair-minded person still believe that the denial of tenure to Gonzalez had nothing to do with his views on intelligent design?

John G. West

Senior Fellow, Managing Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute
Dr. John G. West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Managing Director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker who has written or edited 12 books, including Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action: The Disney Studio’s Live-Action Features of the 1950s and 60s. His documentary films include Fire-Maker, Revolutionary, The War on Humans, and (most recently) Human Zoos. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and he has been interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, Reuters, Time magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.