A couple of weeks ago, I criticized Ball State University for hiring a prominent creationist to teach science courses. Coming after complaints alleging that another science faculty member had taught a course from an “intelligent design” perspective, the hire raised troubling questions about the quality of scholarship at the University.
Yesterday, a friend on the BSU faculty shared with me a strong statement on the controversy just issued by President JoAnn Gora.
The money quote:
As this coverage has unfolded, some have asked if teaching intelligent design in a science course is a matter of academic freedom. On this point, I want to be very clear. Teaching intelligent design as a scientific theory is not a matter of academic freedom – it is an issue of academic integrity. As I noted, the scientific community has overwhelmingly rejected intelligent design as a scientific theory. Therefore, it does not represent the best standards of the discipline as determined by the scholars of those disciplines. Said simply, to allow intelligent design to be presented to science students as a valid scientific theory would violate the academic integrity of the course as it would fail to accurately represent the consensus of science scholars.
The statement made no reference to the prominent creationist who was hired, but it was unambiguous in recognizing that “intelligent design” is neither academically appropriate nor scientifically accepted, and assuring the faculty and alumni that religious doctrine will not be taught in science classes at Ball State.
A failure to clarify its continued commitment to intellectual integrity would have significantly diminished BSU’s academic reputation, so the issuance of this statement was a welcome relief (if unaccountably tardy).
But better late than never.