I was very gratified to read Professor Larry Moran’s recent post, On teaching creationism in American public universities (17 March 2014). Professor Moran not only believes that Intelligent Design qualifies as science, but he also believes that it should be legal to teach science courses in Intelligent Design at university. To be sure, Moran thinks that ID is very bad science; nevertheless, he insists that “university students are mature enough to handle diverse points of view.” Good for him, I say. While Professor Moran and I have had our disagreements about evolution in the past, I salute him as a fair-minded man.
Professor Moran’s post concludes with a zinger aimed at Professor Jerry Coyne, who maintains that “although it’s illegal (as well as dereliction of duty) to teach intelligent design creationism in public schools and universities, it is okay to criticize it, for you can criticize ID on the grounds of bad science without bashing religion.” Moran comments:
It’s okay to criticize ID as bad science but it’s illegal and a dereliction of duty to allow any professors to defend ID and make the case that it’s actually good science. My head is spinning.
Professor Moran is also bemused at the antics of the lawyers and scientists who are agitating to keep Intelligent Design out of university science classrooms (highlighting mine – VJT):
It’s fun to watch while my American colleagues wiggle and squirm over this issue. The latest “problems” are whether you can categorically label intelligent design as religion and not science and whether you can criticize it in a science class without seeming to criticize religion.
2. I think that much of what Intelligent Design Creationists advocate qualifies as science by my definition of science. It’s just bad science.
3. There’s a fine line between banning all mention of religion and promoting atheism. It’s not clear whether promoting a solely materialist view of the world violates the US Constitution.
For anyone who would question Professor Moran’s commitment to free speech, the following passage from his post should lay all doubts to rest (highlighting mine – VJT):
It’s not a good idea to offer astronomy courses on an Earth-centered solar system or geology courses based on the idea that the Earth is only 6000 years old. Those ideas are just too far out on the fringe. You’re unlikely to find any university professors who want to teach such courses.
However, there are lots of other controversies that aren’t so easily dismissed. If some of the more enlightened Intelligent Design Creationists want to teach a science course at my university, I would not try to prevent them. Just as I didn’t try to prevent Michael Behe and Bill Dembski from speaking on my campus…
If Ken Miller, Francis Collins, or Simon Conway-Morris want to teach a course on theistic evolution, I’d be happy to support them. It would be fun to start a debate about the conflict between science and religion and let students see both sides of the issue…
There are … people who would use the legal system to prevent courses on Intelligent Design or Theistic Evolution at publicly-funded American universities. It seems incredible to me that they would resort to lawyers to block the teaching of certain subjects at a university but there you go.
Moran marvels at the fact that his American scientific colleagues “don’t see this as censorship.” Having attended two universities where lecturers were not afraid of discussing the “big issues” in front of their students, I have to say that I share his astonishment. It’s high time for the anti-free speech zealots seeking to bar Intelligent Design from American campuses to realize that university students are not children, and won’t tolerate being treated as such.