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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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