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Chronicle of Higher Education reports on Evo-Info Lab controversy


Chronicle of Higher Education, Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Baylor U. Removes a Web Page Associated With Intelligent Design From Its Site


Another controversy over the study of intelligent design is brewing at Baylor University. Officials at the institution, in Waco, Tex., have removed from the university’s Web site a personal Web page created by Robert J. Marks II, a professor of engineering, that outlined his work in an “evolutionary informatics” laboratory. A lawyer representing Mr. Marks said Baylor’s actions amount to viewpoint discrimination and a suppression of his client’s academic freedom.

A mirror site of the laboratory’s Web page describes evolutionary informatics as merging the theories of evolution and information, and “investigating how information makes evolution possible.”

. . .

“The university has imposed restrictions that we don’t think any self-respecting professor would agree with,” said Mr. Gilmore. “We’re being treated this way because of the content on the Web site. They don’t treat other faculty members this way in policing their personal Web sites.” . . .

Will the three papers listed on his (former) Baylor site still be peer-reviewed? Ben Z
"A lawyer representing Mr. Marks said Baylor’s actions amount to viewpoint discrimination and a suppression of his client’s academic freedom." From the American Association of University Professors Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure:
...Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition. Academic freedom is essential to these purposes and applies to both teaching and research. Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth.... ACADEMIC FREEDOM 1. Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties...
Hmm. j
I wonder if Baylor's leadership would argue that they're avoiding controversy in order to save the institution, just as a student might justify keeping a low profile to avoid the wrath of anti-ID or militant materialist professors. Certainly there's wisdom in choosing one's battles. But if one never fights, then how can one claim to be, to use a biblical metaphor, "salt and light"? russ
oops, I meant blaze new trails StephenB
A generation ago, educators insisted that "a mind is a terrible thing to waste." Today at Baylor, minds are persecuted for not wasting, for failing to be like everyone else, for daring to blase new trails in scientific thought. Beyond that, one can only marvel at how this school has lost its sense of mission. Imagine a Christian university terrified at the prospect of being associated with Christians. How deep can irony go? StephenB
Violence - last shelter of the helpless! Shazard
I almost hesitate in posting this because there are so many eyes on this site that I’m scared to death I’ll ask or say something wrong, but this whole episode is so puzzling... It seems to me that allowing this type of research would give those who oppose ID a better footing in their objections to ID. If nothing were being produced by Marks that would advance the design inference, they would be able to *show* the world that ID is worthless to the advancement of science. As a lay person, this latest saga certainly seems to suggest that ID must be a *much* bigger threat to Darwinian evolution than it’s supporters are willing to admit. If what Dembski says is true, Lilley knew that he was involved in the lab. Lilley signed off on the grant that was advanced to the lab, so he must have been well aware that Dembski was involved as his name was on the grant. It doesn’t appear that Dembski was sneaking into the lab in some devious fashion. What’s really puzzling is that it didn’t seem to me that what was going on in that lab was a threat to evolution...in fact, I would think that any research in regard to the information observed in nature would be of great benefit to the ToE. One would think that by placing Dembski or other ID theorists smack dab into the mainstream scientific environment, provide them with grants and demand that they produce results which will answer questions that have yet to be answered in regard to the design inference, it would allow for Darwin supporters to put more pressure on them to produce results. If no results were forthcoming, their case against ID would be solid. Mainstream scientists in these debates tell us that that ID must produce results, and that the research must be considered in mainstream peer reviewed journals, yet every time it looks as if there is a minute chance of that happening, the plug is pulled. Why? It only took a few months in this case before the complaints were strong enough from those who were in opposition to the lab to come forward. I wonder how having Dembski on the campus could be that threatening? What were they worried would happen as a result of his involvement? Was it just the matter of the reputation of the school? Would that reputation lend to less grant assistance, or as bork said, are they afraid they’ll have a hard time publishing? Just as in the aftermath of the Gonzalez case, the sciencebloggers are claiming that ID advocates will be crying “persecution” or “censorship”, yet what else can this be called other than censorship? I don’t know what other explanation would apply. I think bork is right in that most people don’t pay much attention to ID and it wouldn’t seem that the science or engineering departments in most university would have all that many people who would be so adamant that ID shouldn’t be considered at some level. So, it just really seems that this type of censorship must be coming from higher up. Forthekids
So much for academic freedom. I attend Baylor, and assure you very few people have actually heard what is going on. Someone must know someone who could push more buttons. I assume Baylor is afraid of being blackballed as a scientific community, if Baylor gives the appearence of being sympathetic to ID than the faculty may have a hard time publishing. I think this is a real possibility- but if this is true then it needs to be said. I forsee Dr. Marks leaving as a faculty member to be honest. I don't think Baylor offers him the freedom he desires. I hope he fights for his rights. bork
Question - How does this happen at a Baptist univ? If they are affliated with a denomination, why aren't the denomination heads going crazy over this? I mean just going to www.baylor.edu and they have this on the front page "An active and fun campus, a caring Christian community, and top academic programs -- three great reasons to apply to Baylor today!" Along w/ Bible verses... My condolences to Dr. Marks jpark320

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