President Joanne Gora of Ball State University has publicly declared that the worldview of philosophical naturalism (PN) is the only legitimate worldview that may be taught in any science classroom at BSU. Her comments were in response to the controversy raised by the Freedom From Religion Foundation over certain aspects of an upper level elective course taught by Science Prof. Eric Hedin on the Boundaries of Science. Including in his reading list for the class were books favorable to the theory of Intelligent Design (ID) with respect to the origin of natural systems, including biological systems. ID stands in contrast to the favored view within science that all things in nature are the result of undirected, natural cause and effect. By declaring that ID is “religion” and “not science”, President Gora has, in effect declared that the worldview of PN and only that worldview can be heard in any science class at BSU. Of course, Gora likely doesn’t see that as even being a worldview question, which is part of the problem here. She, like so many others, likely believes that by declaring ID out of bounds, she has made sure that BSU’s science classrooms are “worldview neutral”. Such is not the case.
President Gora may want to consider exactly how any academic discipline is “worldview neutral.” (exactly what does a “worldview free science classroom look like?) Careful reflection as to what material is actually being taught across a whole range of disciplines at BSU (or any other school for that matter) will reveal that all courses are fraught with worldview implications and perspectives. Naively (there’s no other word for it), Gora thinks she can protect the science department at BSU from worldview intrusions. Perhaps she would be so kind as to explain in detail exactly how that is accomplished, especially when one particular worldview, PN in this case, is given free reign and actively promoted throughout the entire discipline. This seems strangely at odds with her statement that:
Creation science, intelligent design, and other worldviews that focus on speculation regarding the origins of life represent another important and relevant form of human inquiry that is appropriately studied in literature and social science courses. Such study, however, must include a diversity of worldviews representing a variety of religious and philosophical perspectives and must avoid privileging one view as more legitimate than others.
Unless and until scientists that think ID is NOT science can tell us how they know scientifically that any apparent design we observe in natural systems, including biological systems, can not be actual design, even in principle, then holding to the view that undirected natural cause is science, whereas intelligent cause is “religion” is bluff and bluster. By giving the PN worldview free reign in science classes at BSU, President Gora is violating her principle of “privileging one view as more legitimate than others.” From the dawn of human history to today there has never been a single, peer reviewed scientific research study that even remotely confirms the hypothesis (if there even is such an hypothesis) that nature is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect. However, there has been a plethora of philosophical opinion on the matter, much of it being passed off as actual science in more recent decades. This, evidently, is the “consensus opinion” to which Gora made appeal in her remarks.
Intelligent design is overwhelmingly deemed by the scientific community as a religious belief and not a scientific theory,” President Jo Ann Gora said. “Therefore, intelligent design is not appropriate content for science courses. The gravity of this issue and the level of concern among scientists are demonstrated by more than 80 national and state scientific societies’ independent statements that intelligent design and creation science do not qualify as science.”
The question is not one of academic freedom, but one of academic integrity, she added. “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.
And there you have it. The “consensus” of science scholars is that PN is how things really are. If only they had the actual science to back that up. President Gora might want to reconsider how she can defend the view that PN is science and anything opposed to that, especially ID, is not. Its a sham and I’m embarrassed to be an alum! (Earned my MA there)