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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Columnist and lawyer Ken Connor weighs in on Gonzalez tenure case

Here's columnist Ken Connor on the Gonzalez tenure denial:
It seems that many scientists and academicians who hold views contrary to Dr. Gonzalez have concluded that the best way to avoid debate about the evidence for intelligent design is to simply deny jobs to those who will not affirm their atheistic worldview. The fact that these scientists, who are supposedly open to following the evidence wherever it leads, have resorted to blatant discrimination to avoid having this conversation speaks volumes about the weakness of their position. They realize their arguments are not sufficient to defeat the intelligent design movement and they must, therefore, shut their opponents out of the conversation. All the evidence suggests that it is unjust that Dr. Gonzalez was denied tenure and that this ruling should be overturned on appeal. Nevertheless, what happened to Dr. Gonzalez is a reflection of the growing strength of the intelligent design movement, not its weakness.

My sense is that he is right about Gonzalez' tenure denial demonstrating strength, not weakness. The one thing that the materialist CANNOT abide right now is a frank assessment of the evidence.

Connor's byline describes him as
Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC and a nationally recognized trial lawyer who represented Governor Jeb Bush in the Terri Schiavo case.

Other Gonzalez case news:

Chuck Colson's team weighs in on "a career-killing theory", recalling the similar cases of Carolyn Crocker and Rick Sternberg:
Gonzalez is not being discriminated against for teaching intelligent design, but simply for believing it. He says he never even taught intelligent design in the classroom. His work on intelligent design has been extracurricular.
I’m appalled by the way the scientific and academic community blatantly discriminates against those who suggest that the universe may be something more than the product of chance. Iowa State’s decision is a blatant assault on academic freedom. It is ideological discrimination of the worst kind—something we would not expect in a free society or tolerate in academic institutions that claim to pursue truth.

Here's some information on Gonzalez's citation record, by science Ted Davis, not a fan of intelligent design. Davis is part of the "ASA List" which, heaven knows, I have flayed often enough in the past for playing "political church" while the right of anyone to question materialism in academic life is slowly being eroded. However, the Gonzalez case seems to have scared some of them smart - it's like, so blatant, so obvious, and so public now that only a useful idiot, fellow traveller, or materialist agent could doubt that a serious problem exists. Scroll through the comments I linked, for most interesting reading along those lines.

At Uncommon Descent, Bill Dembski points out an instance where Hector Avalos, an atheist religion prof who is Gonzalez's nemesis, appears to have coyly inflated a member magazine article into a journal article on astronomy. Raises some interesting questions. In the combox, at #15, Dembski notes,
A hundred years from now Gonzalez’s ideas about our place in the cosmos being designed to facilitate scientific discovery will be remembered. Avalos, on the other hand, will be seen as a crank flailing to find justifications for why the evidence of design in the universe is nothing of the sort. A key point to bear in mind: If Avalos is getting promoted for undercutting ID (in popular venues at that), and if ISU denies Gonzalez tenure because of his support of ID, then ISU has not only made up its mind about ID but also undercut academic freedom on this topic.

Well yes, Bill, but that's why the materialists must get rid of Gonzalez in the short term. To them, the short term is all that matters. If Avalos now has tenure, he can use his position more effectively to destroy the careers of any non-materialists. Anyway, at Comment #44, Dembski replies to Avalos's justifications, focusing on the main question we now want to know the answer to:
To Hector Avalos: I’m happy to concede whatever other designations the periodical MERCURY may have. The larger issue is that it is a popular periodical and you cite your piece in it as though it had some leverage against Guillermo Gonzalez and his scholarship. This is patently absurd. Gonzalez is a professional in astrophysics as well as in its larger metaphysical implications. You are an amateur in both. Moreover, the question of just what it took for you to gain tenure at ISU remains. Was your MERCURY piece one of the things you cited as evidence that you should receive tenure? Please answer the question (the timing is right since you were an assistant professor when the piece came out). Was it in fact counted in your favor? If so, why shouldn’t Gonzalez’s PRIVILEGED PLANET count likewise in favor of his tenure? Or do you know in advance (on what grounds? scientific? ideological? philosophical? …) that he’s full of it and you’re not.

This is one combox worth reading!, especially further down where our stalwart contributors start doing the "thang" that brought down Dan Rather - uncovering information that was actually available that no one had bothered to dig out before ...

Meanwhile, a friend draws my attention to some interesting opinions by religion prof Avalos:

Cutting violent passages out of Scripture. That reminds me of Bowdler, the English scholmaster who sought to protect the boys by cutting the bawdy passages out of Shakespeare, and gave us the word "bowdlerize" inconsequence.

Of course, Avalos is entitled to his opinions - on some of which I may well dine out, so I certainly don't want the little crank suppressed on that account. Besides, the Bible always changes more lives when people try to suppress it.

But people like Avalos, probably a maverick in his field, always end up outgrowing their ass hats, and then one must really do something.

My other blog is the Mindful Hack, which keeps tabs on neuroscience and the mind.

If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

NEW!! Evolution in the light of intelligent design - look up intelligent design topics here.

Animations of life inside the cell, indexed, for your convenience.

Anti-God crusade ... no, really! My recent series on the spate of anti-God books, teen blasphemy challenge, et cetera, and the mounting anxiety of materialist atheists that lies behind it.

Catholic Church A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

Collins, Francis My review of Francis Collins’ book The Language of God

Columnists weigh in on the intelligent design controversy A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

Darwinism dissent Lists of theoretical and applied scientists who doubt Darwin

Gilder, George A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

Intelligent design academic publications.

Intelligent design-friendly students should be flunked, according to bio prof Evolutionary biologist’s opinion that all students friendly to intelligent design should be flunked.

Intelligent design controversy My U of Toronto talk on why there is an intelligent design controversy, or my talk on media coverage of the controversy at the University of Minnesota.

Intelligent design controversy timeline An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

Intelligent design and culture My review of sci-fi great Rob Sawyer’s novel, The Calculating God , which addresses the concept of intelligent design.

March of the Penguins A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

Origin of life Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.

Peer review My backgrounder about peer review issues.

Polls relevant to the intelligent design controversy A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

Stove, David O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Denied tenure: Habitable zone astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez

Guillermo Gonzalez, Privileged Planet astronomer and longtime target of atheist materialists, has been denied tenure. Here is a fact sheet I have just received:

Update: For some more background on the Gonzalez case (I will update more later), visit Bipod at Telic Thoughts:

So let's get this straight. Hector Avalos, an atheist at Iowa State University, is leading a crusade of Scientific McCarthyism against Guillermo Gonzalez. The stated reason by Avalos: ""We certainly don't want to give the impression to the public that intelligent design is what we do." Now Avalos and the other 120 signers of the document will deny that they're doing anything inappropriate, but let's be serious. This is Scientific McCarthyism in a cheap tuxedo;-)

"Mr. Avalos said the statement was not intended to silence Mr. Gonzalez, or to get him fired…"

Sure. Then why single him out?

Hey, to respectfully protest this decision:
Dr. Gregory L. Geoffroy
President, Iowa State University
1750 Beardshear Hall
Ames, Iowa 50011-2035
(515) 294-2042

Now the fact sheet:

Biography of Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez

Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez is an Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Iowa State University (ISU).

Born in Havana, he and his family fled from Cuba to the United States in 1967, where he earned a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Washington in 1993. Author of nearly 70 peer-reviewed scientific papers and co-author of a major college-level astronomy textbook, Dr. Gonzalez’s work led to the discovery of two new planets, and he has had his research featured in Science, Nature, and on the cover of Scientific American.

Dr. Gonzalez’s Scientific Research

In late 1995, Dr. Gonzalez began working on a series of projects examining stars with planets to see what sorts of properties they exhibited. This has been a major part of Dr. Gonzalez’s scientific research, and he has published twelve articles in peer-reviewed science journals on the subject and continues to research new planets and systems. Dr. Gonzalez’s research in this area led to he and his associate researchers discovering what is known as the Galactic Habitable Zone (GHZ), a term Dr. Gonzalez coined. Our star, the Sun, is one of the few stars in the Galaxy capable of supporting complex life. The sun is composed of the right amount of “metals,” and its orbit about the galactic center is just right. Our solar system is also far enough away from the galactic center to not have to worry about disruptive gravitational forces or too much radiation. When all of these factors occur together, they create a region of space now known as a Galactic Habitable Zone. Dr. Gonzalez believes every form of life on our planet—from the simplest bacteria to the most complex animal—owes its existence to the balance of these unique conditions. Dr. Gonzalez has also made novel contributions by developing the idea of the moon as “Earth’s lunar attic,” where the moon may serve as a repository for meteorites that came originally from earth or other nearby planets. Dr. Gonzalez views the moon as a museum for the history of our solar system, and further exploration could yield great insight into our planet’s own history. His work has lead to feature stories in Science and Nature, two of the world’s premiere scientific publications. And he and his associates wrote a cover story about GHZ in Scientific American.

Dr. Gonzalez’s Book on Intelligent Design

In 2004, Dr.Gonzalez co-authored the book The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery, which presents empirical evidence for the hypothesis that the universe is the product of intelligent design. Supported by a research grant from the Templeton Foundation, the book has earned praised from such eminent scientists as David Hughes, a Vice-President of the Royal Astronomical Society, Harvard astrophysicist Owen Gingerich, and Cambridge paleobiologist Simon Conway Morris. The Privileged Planet was developed into a documentary and shown on PBS stations around the country.

Attacks on Dr. Gonzalez’s Academic Freedom

After the release of Privileged Planet, ISU religious studies professor Hector Avalos—faculty advisor to the campus Atheist and Agnostic Society—began publicly campaigning against Dr. Gonzalez and his work. Although Dr. Gonzalez had never introduced intelligent design into his classes, Avalos helped spearhead a faculty petition urging “all faculty” at ISU to “uphold the integrity of our university” by “reject[ing] efforts to portray Intelligent Design as science.” Avalos later conceded to a local newspaper that Gonzalez was the key motive for the petition. The logical conclusion of this campaign against Dr. Gonzalez came in the spring of 2007 when ISU President Gregory Geoffroy denied Dr. Gonzalez’s application for tenure.

I’ll keep up with this story. Gonzalez is a Christian. This will be a chance to find out how many profs who claim to be churchgoing Christians are really materialist fellow travellers who prefer to hang out with Thumbsmen - or honest dupes of materialists.

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