Grasping for Straws

Oh, this is classic.  Here’s a new article on “Academic Freedom” where the author spews all kinds of inane statements about ID science and cries for the poor Darwinist who won’t do his job.

Opponents of evolution have of late been trying to frame their arguments as being about academic freedom and free expression. As a result, the anti-evolution Discovery Institute is ecstatic over the recent discovery of e-mail messages among professors at Iowa State University criticizing the views of a pro-intelligent design professor whose tenure bid was denied.

That’s a rather vile accusation.  No, the DI is not ecstatic over Gonzalez’s treatment and it’s rather shameless to assert that they are.  They would much rather not have to go through this all, as I’m sure Gonzalez wouldn’t. It’s beyond the pale that the author would make light of such a grim subject.

The Christian Law Association, meanwhile, frames a lawsuit against the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution by a fired postdoc who does not believe in evolution or want to do work related to evolution as a matter of his being punished for his beliefs.

And this is plain false.  Dr. Abraham bent over backwards to do work and he was kicked out, not because of poor job performance or not doing his work, but because of his beliefs.

But the groups arguing for freedom of expression of evolution deniers have not been heard agitating for the rights of Richard Colling. He’s a professor at Olivet Nazarene University, in Illinois, who has been barred from teaching general biology or having his book taught at the university that is his alma mater and the place where he has taught for 27 years.

Of course, there is a world of difference there, but let’s not that stop us from attacking others.  The case of Dr. Colling is quite different from the case of Dr. Gonzalez or Dr. Abraham.  In the case of Dr. Colling, he’s being reprimanded because he’s not doing his job.  Of course, he didn’t lose his job or anything, but hey, whatever.  Meanwhile, Dr. Gonzalez was denied tenure, which means he may as well have lost his job since he will be expected to pack up and leave, and Dr. Abraham was fired outright.

Let me just point out that I support the teaching of evolution, as I’ve pointed out before multiple times (see here and here).  Even if Olivet Nazarene has a policy statement specifically denying evolution – which means that no academic freedom is at stake here – I would not support that.  Evolution should be taught, both the strengths and weaknesses.  That said, as professors we get some leeway as to how we teach and what subjects we cover, but that doesn’t give the professor carte blanche to teach anything.  Things that are not specifically covered in the curriculum for the class (which usually has to be approved by the department) should not be included, regardless of how we feel about it.  I do not teach ID in my classes.  Dr. Gonzalez did not teach ID either.  If either of us were to do so, then we would not be doing our jobs properly.  Dr. Colling, however, was teaching things that were not in the curriculum, hence he was not doing his job properly.  For that, he was reprimanded, nothing more.  He didn’t lose his job, nor did he lose (was denied from) his tenure.  Comparing Dr. Colling’s situation to Dr. Gonzalez’s or Dr. Abrahams is just grasping for straws.


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