Where’s Sharon Begley When We Need Her?

Returning to Newsweek after a five year stint as a science writer for the Wall Street Journal, Sharon Begley posted a blog piece yesterday about Darwinist biology professor Richard Colling. Colling teaches at a small Nazarene university in Illinois and, according to Begley, has come under fire by church leaders because he is a theistic evolutionist and authored a book called Random Designer.

Anger over his work had been building for two years. When classes resumed in late August, things finally came to a head. Colling is prohibited from teaching the general biology class, a version of which he had taught since 1991, and college president John Bowling has banned professors from assigning his book.

Two years? Robert Marks’ evolutionary informatics website was barely online two months when Baylor admins gave it the heave-ho. Granted, private religious institutions–unlike state universities–have the right to enforce doctrinal beliefs as part of their First Amendment freedom. Of course, if Colling’s university–like Baylor University–has claimed that it guarantees academic freedom, then that is another matter. If Colling’s academic freedom has been hindered then that needs to be corrected. We support academic freedom, obviously, for Darwinists as well as Darwinist-skeptics.
Begley’s blog is a bit unclear as to just who is attacking Colling. It sounds more as if the attacks have come from church leaders as opposed to university administrators.

At least one local Nazarene church called for Colling to be fired and threatened to withhold financial support from the college.

Clearly, Colling has not been fired.

Begley continues:

In a letter to Bowling, ministers in Caro, Mo., expressed “deep concern regarding the teaching of evolutionary theory as a scientifically proven fact,” calling it “a philosophy that is godless, contrary to scripture and scientifically unverifiable.” Irate parents, pastors and others complained to Bowling, while a meeting between church leaders and Colling “led to some tension and misunderstanding,” Bowling said in a letter to trustees.

All of these attacks are coming from outside the University. That’s a big difference from the cases where ID proponents have suffered harassment, persecution and reputation bashing — almost always at the hands of their own administrators and faculty colleagues.
The cases of academic persecution against Darwinists are few and far between — can you name even three? — whereas IDers unfortunately find themselves attacked from all sides, and all too often. Sternberg, Leonard, Wells, Bryson, Crocker, DeHart, Kenyon, Behe, Marks, and the list goes on and on and on.
Where was Sharon Begley when these stories needed to be told? Where is she now when Robert Marks is under attack at Baylor? Why didn’t she cover the appalling public treatment of Guillermo Gonzalez by faculty and administrators at ISU — a major state funded university — over the past several years?
The biggest threat to academic freedom on Darwinism is not tiny religious universities that impose doctrinal standards but most every other university that imposes a Darwin-only litmus test. And the biggest accomplice in all this is the mainstream media which ignores the abuses heaped upon Darwinian skeptics but self-righteously champions the cause of the lonely professor under fire for courageously supporting the institutionalized orthodoxy of Darwinism.
Richard Colling can apply for a job at practically any university in the country without fear of being shunned because of his views on evolution. Not so Guillermo Gonzalez. Where should he apply, Ms. Begley?

Robert Crowther, II

Robert Crowther holds a BA in Journalism with an emphasis in public affairs and 20 years experience as a journalist, publisher, and brand marketing and media relations specialist. From 1994-2000 he was the Director of Public and Media Relations for Discovery Institute overseeing most aspects of communications for each of the Institute's major programs. In addition to handling public and media relations he managed the Institute's first three books to press, Justice Matters by Roberta Katz, Speaking of George Gilder edited by Frank Gregorsky, and The End of Money by Richard Rahn.