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What Does Eric Hedin Really Teach? Self-Professed Agnostic Student Speaks Out about "Boundaries of Science" Seminar

Hedin_Eric.jpgWith the bald-faced effort by President Jo Ann Gora of Ball State University (BSU) to censor discussions of intelligent design in science classes, the outlook for BSU physics professor Eric Hedin and his "Boundaries of Science" interdisciplinary honors seminar is looking grimmer, although the battle isn’t over by a long shot. What remains muddy for most people is the exact "crime" Professor Hedin is supposed to have committed. Did he push his religion? Did he bully students? Did he promote "creationism"?

Thanks to a public documents request to BSU, I previously was able to present the first-person testimony of one of Hedin’s students, who reported that "[t]he sole content of [Hedin’s]… lectures involved the life cycle of stellar bodies and the Big Bang theory." Most of the course, meanwhile, "was spent in discussion with small groups" on topics "such as the nature of time and reality, the definition of truth, whether there were categories of life, and the fine-tuning of universal parameters for life to exist." According to the student:

These conversations were fascinating, engaging, and challenging in the best of ways. Never once did I personally hear any complaints from my fellow students; on the contrary, the mood was always positive — we enjoyed stretching our minds. Dr. Hedin was always respectful and kind.

Now, also thanks to a public documents request, we have the testimony of a second student of Dr. Hedin’s, who originally posted these comments on a local news website:

This is a SCIENCE CLASS, one of the multiple of science classes chosen by Honors students. Yes, we get a choice on which discipline we want to study, and yes, Honors classes are very liberal in letting the students assist in deciding the semester’s curriculum, nobody forces us to study the subject. The theological aspect of the class is purely DISCUSSION-BASED, and we study astrophysics and astronomy for a large portion of the class as well. The professor poses an unbiased question for us students to debate, intelligently, I might add, and thus we further our understandings of the possibilities of the universe. The only time the professor even delves into the students’ debates is to refute any arguments that are just blatantly incorrect, do not consider all of the possibilities, or seem derogatory and opinionated in nature, … much like the arguments posed by the people who [are] generating this tirade against Professor Hedin.

Is this student simply a religious fanatic, covering up for Professor Hedin’s misdeeds? Read on:

I’m an agnostic and I find absolutely nothing wrong with his teachings… as far as intelligent and thought-provoking discussions go, it is one of the most INNOVATIVE classes I have had during my time at Ball State. I lean more towards scientific evidence than anything else, but being an intelligent, curious, and open-minded individual, I appreciate all of the discussions that this class has had and all of the new ideas I have come to understand. There is nothing wrong with this class, and I would recommend it to anyone, no matter what their religious beliefs are. (emphasis added) �

The student went on to criticize all the people who have castigated Professor Hedin’s course who actually know nothing about it:

Please do not blindly state that the class focuses on "Creationism and Christianity and nothing else" when you have not even taken the class yourself, and are only saying that to support your own pedantic arguments. This class is a wonderful example of the thought-provoking discussions we have in Ball State’s honors classes, so please excuse me if I seem a bit too derisive of those of you who have not taken the course.

Don’t talk about what you don’t know? Good advice, Witness No. 2, and good testimony too. So that’s two percipient witnesses so far for Dr. Hedin, and zero for Dr. Gora and BSU.

Now, if you’re sitting on a bunch of ear and eyewitness facts, BSU, the sort that concretely indicate Dr. Hedin was up to no good, then let’s see them, for sunlight is the best disinfectant. Discovery Institute as well as the local Muncie newspaper have filed public documents requests asking BSU to release the report of the one-sided committee that was appointed to investigate Hedin, but the university has declined to do so. Perhaps BSU doesn’t want to release the report because it will reveal just how unjustified — and bigoted — the university’s treatment of Professor Hedin has been.

Joshua Youngkin

An attorney, and previously, Discovery Institute Program Officer in Public Policy and Legal Affairs.



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