Ball State University announced that intelligent design would not be taught as a science subject any longer following the receipt of a complaint about the curriculum. President Jo Ann Gora said Wednesday that creation science and intelligent design are two subjects that do not qualify as science and hence would not be taught in the classes of the public university hereafter.
Gora also added that the scientific community had strongly felt that the subject of intelligent design tilted more towards religious beliefs than scientific theory and would therefore not be suitable content for a science course.
The statement by the university’s president was in response to the complaints from Freedom From Religion Foundation that alleged that Eric Hedin, a physics assistant professor crossed boundaries by teaching intelligent design in an honors science class. The foundation’s allegation was that Eric may have been teaching Christianity to the students of the class in violation of the principle that the state and the church were separate entities.
Joan Todd, a spokeswoman of the Ball State University, commented that Hedin’s classes were being monitored by the university’s authorities to make sure that the content that was handled in the class was in line with the specified curriculum.
Professor of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, Jerry Coyne, praised Gora’s response and credited the victory in part to the Freedom From Religion Foundation. He added that without their warning, it would not have been possible for BSU to be in the know of what was going on in the classes.
Whereas the foundation was in support of Gora’s statement on the issue, John West, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and a proponent of intelligent design criticized the move.
The institute’s blog carried West’s writing about Gora’s insistence that the university was committed to pursuing absolute academic freedom while she simultaneously chose to silence those science teachers who believed that there is proof of intelligent design in nature. He reiterated that academic freedom also meant protection of differing and unpopular views among different members of the faculty.
However, West’s argument was forestalled by Gora’s statement which emphasized that tutoring religious ideas was not considered as appropriate in the university.
Gora opined that the teaching of intelligent design as a science subject did not fall under the gamut of academic freedom but it was something that had to do more with academic integrity. The scientific community had rejected in entirety the fact that intelligent design is a scientific theory and teaching the subject did not represent the highest standards of scientific discipline. It, therefore, would mean violation of academic integrity if the subject of intelligent design was presented in the form of valid scientific theory to the students. It would also misrepresent the agreement reached by the scholars of science on the matter.