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Dr. Larry Moran and Censorship of Intelligent Design

Michael Egnor

Commenting on the recommendations by Matt Nesbit and Chris Mooney that Darwinists tone down the venality of their attacks against religious faith and against scientists who support intelligent design, atheist “evolutionist” Dr. Larry Moran, professor of biochemistry at the University of Toronto, replied:

I’m opposed to censorship of any kind but I really wish Matt Nisbet and Chris Mooney would voluntarily decide to keep their stupid mouths shut for a few years.

Is Dr. Moran genuinely “opposed to censorship of any kind”? Consider his statement a few months ago on the moral dilemma that Darwinists face regarding students who are Christians:

Of course, we all recognize the problem here. How do you distinguish between a good Christian who is lying for Jesus and one who has actually come to understand science? It seems really unfair to flunk the honest students who admit that they still reject science and pass the dishonest ones who hide their true beliefs…As we’ve seen time and time again on the blogs (and elsewhere), the Christian fundamentalists have erected very strong barriers against learning. It really doesn’t matter how much they are exposed to rational thinking and basic scientific evidence. They still refuse to listen…This is one of the reasons why I would flunk them if they took biology and still rejected the core scientific principles. It’s not good enough to just be able to mouth the “acceptable” version of the truth that the Professor wants. You actually have to open your mind to the possibility that science is correct and get an education. That’s what university is all about. [empahsis mine]

Dr. Moran insists that professors investigate students’ religious beliefs in order to ascertain whether or not Christians who “mouth the acceptable version” (i.e., who pass their exams) genuinely believe “science,” which Dr. Moran defines as materialist metaphysics. If they don’t accept Dr. Moran’s personal atheist ideology, he “would flunk them,” regardless of their grades.

Dr. Moran’s inquisition isn’t merely theoretical. He applauded the denial of tenure to Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, the highly qualified Iowa State University astronomy professor who supports intelligent design. Commenting on an email written by Iowa State astronomy department chairman Eli Rosenberg in which Rosenberg candidly admitted that Dr. Gonzalez’s support for intelligent design was the reason that he was denied tenure, Dr. Moran notes approvingly:

I see nothing wrong here. I looks to me like this is grounds for tenure denial.

Consider Dr. Moran’s chilling comment about Kirk Durston, a Ph.D. candidate in biophysics at the University of Guelph. Mr. Durston has pointed out that intelligent design theory may be applied to an understanding of the enormous complexities of protein folding, which remains one of the deepest problems in molecular biology. Mr. Durston offered to visit and present his evidence at the University of Toronto. Dr. Moran replied:

I admire Kirk for his willingness to subject his scientific evidence for intelligent design to a group of experts on protein folding. It’s very courageous of him since he’s putting his scientific reputation on the line.

Why should Mr. Durston’s willingness to present his scientific evidence for intelligent design to other scientists require courage? Isn’t the presentation of evidence a routine part of science? Why should presenting evidence for intelligent design put Mr. Durston’s “scientific reputation on the line”?
Dr, Moran has even less tolerance for undergraduate students who express support for intelligent design. How would Dr. Moran deal with undergraduate students at the University of California at San Diego who do not believe in Darwinism? Dr. Moran:

Flunk the IDiots…40% of the freshman class [at UCSD] reject Darwinism… the university has become alarmed at the stupidity of its freshman class and has offered remedial instruction for those who believe in Intelligent Design Creationism…UCSD should not have required their uneducated students to attend remedial classes. Instead, they should never have admitted them in the first place…[T]he University should just flunk the lot of them and make room for smart students who have a chance of benefiting from a high quality education.

Dr. Moran believes that students and untenured scientists who accept the possibility of intelligent design in nature and who don’t share his atheist metaphysical beliefs should be investigated regarding their beliefs, should be flunked regardless of their grades if their beliefs are found wanting, and should be denied tenure if they get past the materialist filter and make it through graduate school. Is Dr. Moran genuinely “opposed to censorship of any kind”?
On the other hand, Dr. Moran strongly opposes censorship against some members of the academic community:

On the other hand, if you already have tenure then you have jumped these hurdles and your right to say silly things is protected by academic freedom. That right must be upheld at all costs.

Dr. Moran, presumably, has tenure.

Michael Egnor

Senior Fellow, Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence
Michael R. Egnor, MD, is a Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook, has served as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and award-winning brain surgeon. He was named one of New York’s best doctors by the New York Magazine in 2005. He received his medical education at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed his residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital. His research on hydrocephalus has been published in journals including Journal of Neurosurgery, Pediatrics, and Cerebrospinal Fluid Research. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Hydrocephalus Association in the United States and has lectured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.