He’s a young astronomer with dozens of articles in top journals; he has made an important discovery in the field of extrasolar planets; and he is a proponent of intelligent design, the idea that an intelligent force has shaped the Universe. It’s that last fact that Guillermo Gonzalez thinks has cost him his tenure at Iowa State University.
So begins Nature magazine’s story. Reporter Geoff Brumfiel goes on to lay out Gonzalez’s stellar professional credentials.
Gonzalez’s early career was far from controversial. He graduated with a PhD from the University of Washington, Seattle, in 1993 and did a postdoc at the University of Texas in Austin. “He proved himself very quickly,” says David Lambert, director of the university’s MacDonald Observatory. He and Gonzalez co-authored several papers on variable stars, and Lambert says that while there, the young Cuban immigrant was an impressive scientist. “He is one of the best postdocs I have had,” he says.
Unfortunately, some scientists are quite proud to support the dogmatic trampling of Gonzalez’s academic freedom at Iowa State University (ISU).
“I would have voted to deny him tenure,” says Robert Park, a physicist at the University of Maryland in College Park. “He has established that he does not understand the scientific process.”
Gonzalez’s 68 published peer-reviewed articles argue otherwise.
Help Guillermo Gonzalez in his fight for academic freedom. Contact ISU President Gregory L. Geoffroy at (515) 294-2042 or email him at email@example.com and let him know that you support academic freedom for Dr. Gonzalez to follow the evidence wherever it leads.
One of Gonzalez’s persecutors at ISU, atheist religion professor Hector Avalos, admitted to Nature that Gonzalez’s research on intelligent design was a factor behind his petition drive to denounce the theory, even though the petition didn’t name Gonzalez directly.
“We were starting to see Iowa State mentioned as a place where intelligent-design research was happening,” says Hector Avalos, a religious-studies professor who helped lead the signature drive. “We wanted to make sure that people knew the university does not support intelligent design.” Avalos adds that they did not name Gonzalez directly, and he takes no position on the astronomer’s tenure.
Contrary to Darwinists claims that persecution is not happening, or that it is deserved by intelligent design proponents, it is clear to otherwise qualified scientists that their support of ID is an issue, and one that will affect their careers forever more.
“There is a pattern happening to everybody who’s pro intelligent design,” says one pro-design biologist, who declined to be named because his own tenure process has just begun. “The same thing could happen to me,” he says. “I don’t want to get into trouble.”
In Gonzalez’s case the damage has already been done. In spite of his impressive publication record, in spite of meeting all the requirements for tenure at ISU, the university has denied him tenure–and clearly his research into intelligent design was a negative factor:
Eli Rosenberg, who chairs Iowa State’s physics department, concedes that Gonzalez’s belief in intelligent design did come up during the tenure process. “I’d be a fool if I said it was not [discussed],” he says.
Rosenberg insists, however, that intelligent design was not a “major” factor in the decision. But his comments to other reporters undermine that claim. Last week, he made clear to the Des Moines Register that “impact in the community, how you are being received in the community” was one of the criteria used to deny Gonzalez tenure. Given that Gonzalez has an outstanding publication record, the only thing that “being received in the community” can refer to is the negative reaction to his support of intelligent design. That places intelligent design squarely in the center of the justification for denying Gonzalez tenure.
Fortunately, according to Nature there are scientists outside of ISU who do not think Gonzalez’s support of intelligent design is an adequate reason for blackballing him from the scientific community:
But not all scientists agree. “Nothing I have seen in his refereed papers leads me to believe his beliefs are impinging on his science,” says David Lambert. “I would have said he was a serious tenure candidate.”
Let’s hope ISU President Geoffroy thinks on this as he makes his decision on Gonzalez’s appeal.
UPDATE 4:25PM PST:
Dr. Gonzalez is out of the country speaking at a university but was reached via e-mail today with news about the Nature article. He responded as follows:
The reporter is not correct to say that I am appealing on the grounds of my religious belief. That is absolutely false. I specifically told a representative of the President’s office last week that I am not appealing the tenure decision on the grounds of religious discrimination.
Regarding the second quote [that “He considers himself a ‘sceptic’ of Darwin, and says that his Christianity helps him to understand Earth’s position in the Universe”], it is not something I said. I said something like, “ID research can have positive religious implications”. The way he phrased it, it might be interpreted to mean that I employ my Christian beliefs to force fit the data into a Christian mold. My ID research is strictly based on observations; it does not depend on any religious assumptions, Christian or otherwise. Neither do we discuss religious aspects in our Privileged Planet book.