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Want a Good Grade in Alison Campbell’s College Biology Course? Don’t Endorse Intelligent Design (Updated)

Why do we need academic freedom legislation like Tennessee’s HB 368? In case biology lecturer Alison Campbell decides to relocate to the United States. Sadly, even if she remains in New Zealand, there are already people here who don’t allow for the free flow of ideas, especially when it comes to discussion of evolution.

Biology lecturer Alison Campbell at the University of Waikato in Hillcrest, New Zealand, exemplifies a mindset that is tragically common in academia. She openly boasts that if a student were to use standard ID arguments such as the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum, that student would be “marked down”:

If, for example, a student were to use examples such as the bacterial flagellum to advance an ID view then they should expect to be marked down; that particular creationist trophe has been well & truly discredited.

Campbell of course doesn’t give any hint as to why this supposed “creationist trophe has been well & truly discredited”–but my guess is that she gets her information from Judge Jones (who made lots of mistakes regarding irreducible complexity and the flagellum). Her post is basically a recapitulation of the Dover ruling, and it’s a 100% “Judge Jones Said It, I Believe It, That Settles It” ‘analysis’ of intelligent design. I don’t want to belabor her misunderstandings, but as a quick rundown:

  • She capitulates to the conspiracy theory that ID is creationism because of the editing of the Pandas textbook, ignoring the fact that prepublication drafts of Pandas used the term “creationism” in a way that is very different from standard formulations of creationism that caused it to be declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. (For details, see here or here.)
  • She rants about the “Wedge document” even though its actual text is far more benign than she realizes, ignoring the fact that leading evolutionists have expressed their own motivations in the debate over ID and evolution. (For details, see here or here.)
  • She teaches in New Zealand where they don’t have the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. That’s probably why she found it so scandalous that she wrote (partly copying from Judge Jones): “one of the witnesses for the Dover school board admitted that their personal view is that the designer is God and Professor Minnich testified that he understands many leading advocates of ID to believe the designer to be God.” (emphasis in original). Dr. Campbell might not realize it, but she just heartily endorsed what is perhaps the most illiberal and anti-freedom aspect of the Kitzmiller ruling. In America, Judge Jones’ logic is usually immediately seen as bigoted because the fact that someone believes in God should never be taken as a reason to dismiss or ban their scientific views. (For a discussion, see here or here.)

Dr. Campbell isn’t interested in tolerating other perspectives. Her mind is made up, as she says: “ID is not science (no matter its protestations to the contrary) & I don’t expect to see explanations from that quarter in science class.”

So if you’re a student at the University of Waikato taking biology from Alison Campbell, beware: don’t endorse intelligent design. Unless, of course, you don’t mind being “marked down.”


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.