Recently, we covered Baylor philosopher of law Frank Beckwith in the Synthese affair, but there was an older dustup – involving him and Baylor University – that got covered in debris from later conflicts, and we just now remembered it:
Twenty-nine members of the J.M. Dawson family have called on Baylor University to remove the associate director of the institute that bears Dawson’s name.
In an open letter dated Sept. 11, Dawson family members question the appointment of as associate director of Baylor’s J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies.
However, two of Beckwith’s key colleagues have claimed the protest is misguided, affirmed Beckwith’s qualifications and championed Baylor’s right to select a diverse faculty.- from Marv Knox, “Dawson family protests Beckwith’s appointment to Baylor institute,” Baptist Standard , 9/19/2003
In short, the Dawsons were taking the position that, because they had been generous with the university – and old J. M. Dawson held certain opinions re separation of church and state – they could dictate who sat at the desk named after him.
It was clearly a position that any university would have to reject. What would prompt such a public display of ignorance of the principle of academic freedom among otherwise worthy citizens?
“The Discovery Institute works to get the concept called ‘intelligent design’ into the science curriculum of public school textbooks, claiming that intelligent design is a scientific, not a religious, concept. In our judgment and in the judgment of the scientific community, this is a ruse for getting a religious notion into the public schools–clearly a violation of the separation of church and state.”
Surprisingly, despite the hype, the Discovery Institute does not do that, and didn’t then. It presses for the right of students and teachers to examine the evidence for Darwinism as the supposed key mechanism of evolutionary change.
Of course, to a Darwinist, all doubt amounts to heresy. And the Dawsons were possibly assisted in looking like back country hicks by a Darwin pressure group. All blown over now, thankfully, but we’ve been saying for years that the Darwin lobby are bad people to know.
It’s okay for them to engage in censorship and career muggings of decent people. But if you try it at their urging, at best you’ll come off looking foolish. At worst, facing legal fees and settlements – if anyone takes you seriously and the victims follow up.
Oddly, Beckwith was involved in a series of conflicts from then on, simply because – as a constitution specialist – he thought that it might be constitutional to teach ID in school, not because he thought it was a good idea. He serves as a warning that if you take any position that is not servile Darwinism, you may have to fight the tenurebots every inch.
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