Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Columnist and lawyer Ken Connor weighs in on Gonzalez tenure case


Here’s columnist Ken Connor (Terry Schiavo lawyer) on the Gonzalez tenure denial:

It seems that many scientists and academicians who hold views contrary to Dr. Gonzalez have concluded that the best way to avoid debate about the evidence for intelligent design is to simply deny jobs to those who will not affirm their atheistic worldview. The fact that these scientists, who are supposedly open to following the evidence wherever it leads, have resorted to blatant discrimination to avoid having this conversation speaks volumes about the weakness of their position. They realize their arguments are not sufficient to defeat the intelligent design movement and they must, therefore, shut their opponents out of the conversation. All the evidence suggests that it is unjust that Dr. Gonzalez was denied tenure and that this ruling should be overturned on appeal. Nevertheless, what happened to Dr. Gonzalez is a reflection of the growing strength of the intelligent design movement, not its weakness.

My sense is that he is right about Gonzalez’ tenure denial demonstrating strength, not weakness. The one thing that the materialist CANNOT abide right now is a frank assessment of the evidence.

Connor’s byline describes him as

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC and a nationally recognized trial lawyer who represented Governor Jeb Bush in the Terri Schiavo case.

Other Gonzalez case news:

Chuck Colson’s team weighs in on “a career-killing theory”, recalling the similar cases of Carolyn Crocker and Rick Sternberg:

Gonzalez is not being discriminated against for teaching intelligent design, but simply for believing it. He says he never even taught intelligent design in the classroom. His work on intelligent design has been extracurricular.

I’m appalled by the way the scientific and academic community blatantly discriminates against those who suggest that the universe may be something more than the product of chance. Iowa State’s decision is a blatant assault on academic freedom. It is ideological discrimination of the worst kind—something we would not expect in a free society or tolerate in academic institutions that claim to pursue truth.

Here’s some information on Gonzalez’s citation record, by science history prof Ted Davis, not a fan of intelligent design. Davis is part of the “ASA List” which, heaven knows, I have flayed often enough in the past for playing “political church” while the right of anyone to question materialism in academic life is slowly being eroded. However, the Gonzalez case seems to have scared some of them smart – it’s like, so blatant, so obvious, and so public now that only a useful idiot, fellow traveller, or materialist agent could doubt that a serious problem exists. Scroll through the comments I linked, for most interesting reading along those lines.

Here at Uncommon Descent, Bill Dembski points out an instance where Hector Avalos, an atheist religion prof who is Gonzalez’s nemesis, appears to have coyly inflated a member magazine article into a journal article on astronomy. Raises some interesting questions. In the combox, at #15, Dembski notes,

A hundred years from now Gonzalez’s ideas about our place in the cosmos being designed to facilitate scientific discovery will be remembered. Avalos, on the other hand, will be seen as a crank flailing to find justifications for why the evidence of design in the universe is nothing of the sort. A key point to bear in mind: If Avalos is getting promoted for undercutting ID (in popular venues at that), and if ISU denies Gonzalez tenure because of his support of ID, then ISU has not only made up its mind about ID but also undercut academic freedom on this topic.

Well yes, Bill, but that’s why the materialists must get rid of Gonzalez in the short term. To them, the short term is all that matters. If Avalos now has tenure, he can use his position more effectively to destroy the careers of any non-materialists. Anyway, at Comment #44, Dembski replies to Avalos’s justifications, focusing on the main question we now want to know the answer to:

To Hector Avalos: I’m happy to concede whatever other designations the periodical MERCURY may have. The larger issue is that it is a popular periodical and you cite your piece in it as though it had some leverage against Guillermo Gonzalez and his scholarship. This is patently absurd. Gonzalez is a professional in astrophysics as well as in its larger metaphysical implications. You are an amateur in both. Moreover, the question of just what it took for you to gain tenure at ISU remains. Was your MERCURY piece one of the things you cited as evidence that you should receive tenure? Please answer the question (the timing is right since you were an assistant professor when the piece came out). Was it in fact counted in your favor? If so, why shouldn’t Gonzalez’s PRIVILEGED PLANET count likewise in favor of his tenure? Or do you know in advance (on what grounds? scientific? ideological? philosophical? …) that he’s full of it and you’re not.

That is one combox worth reading!, especially further down where our stalwart contributors start doing the pajamaheddin “thang” that brought down Dan Rather – uncovering information that was actually available that no one had bothered to dig out before …

Meanwhile, a friend draws my attention to some interesting opinions by religion prof Avalos:  Cutting violent passages out of Scripture. That reminds me of Bowdler, the English schoolmaster who sought to protect the boys by cutting the bawdy passages out of Shakespeare, and gave us the word “bowdlerize” inconsequence.

Of course, Avalos is entitled to his opinions – on some of which I may well dine out, so I certainly don’t want the little crank suppressed on that account. Besides, the Bible always changes more lives when people try to suppress it.

But people like Avalos, probably a maverick in his field, always end up outgrowing their ass hats, and then one must really do something.

Also, here are a few stories I posted at Mindful:

Why headaches do not have themselves.

Evolutionary psychology – the alleged very latest on the origins of morality

Growth of spirituality at universities

Consciousness is more than the impact of billiard balls thwacking each other

O’Leary’s thoughts on acting and the self.


[...] [*]Yes, Avalos is indeed the bowdlerizing little crank who wants to cut out the violent parts out of the Bible. Honest. Sigh. [...] Historian of science assails denial of Gonzalez’s tenure at ISU | Uncommon Descent
MT: Things are at a sad pass when we can easily identify a Pilate, a Barabbas and a crowd . . . Have we become so ignorant of our cultural history that we do not see how we are facing a very familiar game by the powerful in the face of one who makes them feel threatened? Has it occurred to them that the fact that hey cannot simply laugh off this man as an ill-educated eccentric is itself telling? GEM otf TKI kairosfocus
SeekAndFind: "Does belief in Panspermia ( i.e., a hypothesis that the seeds of life are prevalent throughout the Universe, and furthermore that life on Earth began by such seeds landing on Earth and propagating.) count as intelligent design?" I think it does, but only a very attenuated version mostly accommodating materialism. Panspermia still seems to assume Darwinism as the basic explanation for evolution past single promordial cells, and therefore rejects most of the central tenets of ID as defined by leading exponents and thinkers like Behe, Meyer, Dembski, etc. All the implications of Darwinism follow as also accepted by Panspermia, including evolutionary psychology, consciousness as an epiphenomenon of complex brains, etc. magnan
MTan: Yes, but the problem is less Pilate than the Crowd. Said Crowd is the majority opinion of "mainstream" science--and they have chosen Barabas to go free. S Wakefield Tolbert
"Crucify him!" They said of Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez. Are we going to witness the modern-day manifestation of Pilate in IOWA? But we support him. And support academic freedom. http://www.eLearningStreams.com/origins/Gonzalez.html MatthewTan
seekandfind re does panspermia count as ID If it's directed panspermia like Francis Crick wrote about (search our site for this) then it very likely does. Panspermia is the hypothesis that the first cells or protocells arrived here from outer space. However, unless they originated in our solar system (which seems unlikely given that life seems to have appeared on the earth not long after our solar system formed) it's exceedingly improbable it could have made it to the earth from another solar system without being purposely targeted in a transport vessel of some kind. The earth is so small and intergalactic space so large that the chance of a planet around another star exploding and one of the fragments containing life arriving here by chance is quite unlikely. If microbial life was sent here in some manner of guided spacecraft then it stands to reason the life it carried was, if not totally designed, at least custom designed for our world. Personally this makes the most sense to me but it still leaves open the question of how the senders came to exist. We don't know the scope of different configurations of matter and energy that lead to self-awareness and intelligence. It's possible (in fact it seems probable given the fine tuning of the universe) intelligence existed before the observable universe was born and it certainly could have self-organized in some exotic manner any time after the birth of the universe. The bottom line is there's a stark and unyielding discontinuity between inanimate matter and the simplest (but still extraordinarily complex) free living cell. No attempt to come up with a plausible chemical pathway for this leap in complexity has come anywhere near success. The leap required makes the evolution of the flagellum look like child's play in comparison. DaveScot
I have 2 comments to make : First .... To those who think that Guillermo Gonzalez does not deserve tenure because he believes the fine-tuning of the universe and the conditions that create life on our privileged planet are better explained by intelligent design, you might want to ask yourselves why the following professors who endorsed his work are TENURED : 1) Owen Gingerich Research Professor of Astronomy and of the History of Science at Harvard University and a senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Author of The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus 2)Michael J. Crowe Cavanaugh Professor Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame 3) Philip Skell Evan Pugh Professor Emeritus of Physics, Pennsylvania State University Member, National Academy of Sciences 4) Henry F. Schaefer III Graham Perdue Professor of Chemistry Director, Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry, University of Georgia Five-Time Nobel Prize Nominee 5) Simon Conway Morris FRS is a British paleontologist. He made his reputation with a very detailed and careful study of the Burgess Shale fossils, an exploit celebrated in Stephen Jay Gould’s Wonderful Life. Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology in the Department of Earth Sciences at Cambridge University. Just to name a few... Are these respected scientists loonies too ? Are they people who don’t know what they’re talking about when they endorse Gonzalez’s work ? The Second one is a question... Does belief in Panspermia ( i.e., a hypothesis that the seeds of life are prevalent throughout the Universe, and furthermore that life on Earth began by such seeds landing on Earth and propagating.) count as intelligent design ? No less a distinguished scientist than E.O. Wilson (Pellegrino Research Professor in Entomology for the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University) seems to be attracted to it. There is a hypothesis that alien lifeforms seeded earth eons ago with microorganisms to produce life as we know it. See here for instance : http://www.panspermia.org/whatsnew.htm It says : “E.O. Wilson thinks panspermia is likely: Some serious biologists – and I count myself among them – have begun to wonder that among the enormous and still unknown diversity of microorganisms one might – just might – find aliens among them – true aliens that arrived from outer space. They’ve had billions of years to do it. But especially during the earliest period of biological evolution on this planet. We do know that some bacterial species that have earthly origin are capable of almost unimaginable extremes of temperature and other harsh changes in environment, including hard radiation strong enough to crack the Pyrex vessels around the growing population of bacteria.” SeekAndFind
More Gonzalez commentary: http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/vernon/070528 russ
I agree Denyse, and if Crick had written "Life Itself" before 1962 you'd have to wonder if he'd have been awarded the Nobel prize. How sadly true that for many in science "nothing matters but saving materialism." benkeshet
The fact that these scientists, who are supposedly open to following the evidence wherever it leads, have resorted to blatant discrimination to avoid having this conversation speaks volumes about the weakness of their position. They realize their arguments are not sufficient to defeat the intelligent design movement and they must, therefore, shut their opponents out of the conversation.
This is one of the things that makes every one realize that Darwinists know they can't win the scientific debate. People who have "overwhelming evidence" on their side don't act like this. Mats
Benkeshet, I am going to take a flyer on this and say that even Crick would probably be shunned if he said that today. Back when Crick was a younger, fresher salad, materialists ASSUMED that they could come up with a materialist explanation for the origin of life. They didn't know that, they assumed it. And Stanley Miller's experiment had already convinced them that finding the origin of life was within reach, once they stumbled on a fortuitous circumstance - They were much like cavers (spelunkers) finding a long-dead pirate's treasure in a cave on an island where key sources attest that he left it. Under those circumstances, materialists could be expansive. Those materialists too ready to declare a victory based on the latest speculation could well afford to suffer a little smacking down from a senior Nobelist, a little reminder that all quests are difficult by nature. Who really believed, after all, that aliens had seeded the universe? All Crick was doing was raising the bar. Asking them to definitively rule out intelligence as an explanation. The TROUBLE was that the bar was really way higher than Crick was proposing to raise it. Today, it is all different. Anyone who proposes that intelligent design is the best explanation had better have someone's army behind him. And evidence does not matter. Mathematical probability does not matter. Nothing matters but saving materialism. And that - of course - is behind the move to rid universities of people like Gonzalez, who have (or may have) evidence that materialism is not true. O'Leary
You just have to wonder if a heavyweight like Nobel laureate Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the double helix form of DNA, would also be black-balled at Iowa State for writing his controversial book, "Life Itself," more than a quarter century ago, in which he espoused "Directed Panspermia" i.e. intelligently directed seeding of the universe. http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=1107 The article at this link Astrobiology Magazine concludes: "Crick and Orgel wrote in their book 'an honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.'" benkeshet

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