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Who Wants to Sue the University of Minnesota?


In light of Kitzmiller finding that ID is religion I decided to see exactly what PZ Myers, who votes on tenure at the University of Minnesota, said about denying tenure to people who believe in ID.

In short order I found I was preceded in this investigation by author “Joy” at Telic Thoughts. So without further ado, especially considering what a thorough and excellent job she did, go read it there then comment here about what you’d like to see done about a University of Minnesota representative boasting about the unversity practicing religious discrimination.

More on PZ Myers’ Public Boasting
by Joy

My thoughts are that the University of Minnesota needs to censure Associate Professor Paul Myers and assure the public that he will not be allowed to participate in tenure decisions.


Then people making tenure decisions are justified in voting against atheist scientiests because science is agnostic. Everyone knows science neither confirms nor denies the supernatural. How does that grab ya? -ds

It doesn't grab me at all. I don't see your point. How one's religious belief is informed by science is irrelevent. How one's personal beliefs inform their understanding of science isn't. There are reasons to believe (erroneous or not) that in order to accept ID as a valid scientific theory one misunderstands the field completely. A committe deciding tenure has every right to evaluate that candidate based on how he perceives that candidate's grasp of the subject is. The source of his misunderstanding is irrelevent. So I don't see how voting against an atheist because science is agnostic has anything to do with this discussion, provided that the candidate's atheism doesn't make him grossly misinformed on the science.

Atheism isn't a religion. It's an unscientific belief. Anyone who would deny the possibility of things beyond the ability of science to investigate doesn't understand science and hence may be reasonably denied tenure for that. Isn't it fun putting on the thought police uniform and derailing people's careers because you disagree with them! Academic freedom... piffle! Protecting our cherished dogma is where it's all at. -ds mjb99

I'm not sure this would qualify for religious discrimination. Misunderstanding the discipline is supposed to teach certainly can disqualify someone as a candidate for a teaching position and it should. Whether or not you agree that ID is not science, Myers has every right to hold that opinion and has every right to base his tenure-granting decisions upon it. If you were hiring a physics professor who didn't believe that light behaved as both a wave and a particle, you wouldn't hire him even if he promised to teach from the book. Why? Because a professor has roles outside of the classroom and you would have to be reasonably sure the professor would lie if asked point blank by a student outside of the classroom what he believed. If a person's religion interferes with his ability to do his job, I don't think that you can argue that that is discrimination. If you were hiring someone to wait tables on Friday nights, you couldn't reasonably hire an orthodox Jew. Likewise you wouldn't hire a Catholic who claimed religious conscience as a doctor at an abortion clinic. And you would make those decisions based pretty much solely on their religion.

And you would most definitely take a closer look at a candidate who you believed had a fundamental misunderstanding of science.

Then people making tenure decisions are justified in voting against atheist scientiests because science is agnostic. Everyone knows science neither confirms nor denies the supernatural. How does that grab ya? -ds mjb99
Of course, a regenerate humanity will cease to distinguish between science and religion because all knowledge is, in reality, ONE. However, until then, this nasty business...everything is collapsing like a house of cards amid mutual recriminations...the dead are burying their dead. What exciting times we live in! tinabrewer
Myers responded to Joy's post, and she came back at him. I think a reprimand of Myers by the UMM would be in order, but I doubt it will happen. crandaddy

The law (which you don't agree with) also says that ID is not science, so for PZ to vote against tenure for someone who advocates teaching ID as science is perfectly legal (and reasonable) -- religion doesn't even have to enter the equation.

Pay attention. That's not what PZ said. He said he would vote against tenure for anyone who *claims* ID is science. They don't have to teach it, they only have to think it. Thanks for playing. You can go back to your own blog now -ds cody

So ID is not religion, except when you need it to be? Nice.

ID is religion when a judge says it is religion. I disagree but I'm not the law so legally, ID is religion for now. So for you ID is religion until you want to discriminate against people who believe ID then it's no longer religion but just crappy science that professors should be denied tenure over? :roll: -ds Jeffery Keown
I believe damage can already be shown. Keep in mind that discriminating against religious belief in employment is the same as discriminating against color. PZ Myers in his capacity as a University of Minnesota employee has declared the he will not promote people who believe ID is science. Since ID is a religion according to Kitzmiller and ID teaches that it is a belief based upon science, Myers is announcing that the University of Minnesota will not promote certain people due to their religious beliefs. In the eyes of the Equal Employment Opportunity law this is the same as discriminating against sex, color, race, or national origin as they are all equally protected by the act. So when considering Myers' representation of the University of Minnesota, if for some reason discriminating against ID religion doesn't offend you, pretend he said the University of Minnesota won't promote black poeple or women because, being black or female, they might have an agenda that will interfere with their performance on the job. DaveScot
I find this argument to be a most intriguing catch 22. However, until PZ actually discriminates against somenone, I do not believe that there is any room for a law suit. In the heat of the moment, he might choose to save his university from the nasties of such, and offer tenure to a spit spit IDer spit spit. bFast

Hippy Hollow is not really a beach, Dave, nor is Lake Travis really a lake, just a reservoir.

Well exCUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSE me. Hippie Hollow is a 109 acre clothing-optional park with approximately 1/2 mile of rocky shoreline where 350,000 annual visitors go to swim and sunbathe. About half the shoreline is protected for swimming 100 yards out from the shore and the other half is accessable by boat where they may anchor near the shore or in the case of houseboats tie directly up to the shore. Lake Travis is a 20,000 acre man-made lake with approximately 300 miles of shoreline and a maximum depth of 200 feet at the dam. Lake Travis is most popular boating destination in the state of Texas and Austin has more boat owners per capita than any other city of its size in the United States. -ds Xavier

Prof. Myers said "I can assure you that if someone comes up who claims that ID 'theory' is science, I will vote against them."

So I asked him (on Pharangula, his blog), "PZ, if the tenure candidate believed in ID based on religious faith, but said it was not science and therefore not something to be taught as science, however, they thought they might might blog in support of it on their own time -- given all that, is that an automatic disqualification?"

He replied, "Nope. Although I would scrutinize them a little more skeptically, I will admit."

Well isn't that special. Just having religious faith that the world is designed causes PZ Myers to treat a tenure candidate differently from one who doesn't hold that faith. UM needs to censure this anti-religious bigot and keep him from ever participating in a tenure decision again. -ds AndyS

Since ID is science and not religion, how would this be religious discrimination?

Hmmm, Davey?

Can't have it both ways, dear.

This is really complicated so you might need to get someone to help you sort it out. 1. Legally ID is religion as decided in Kitzmiller. 2. ID proponents don't agree and believe it to be science. 3. The University of Minnesota is bound by the rule of law not by belief of ID proponents. After you've studied this for a few days and think you understand all three of these facts, get back to me. -ds dhogaza

Reading this, it sounds like PZ is saying that he'll vote against people who believe ID is science, which is different than people who believe in ID. Since we seem to be temporarily accepting that ID is religion, at least for the sake of this discussion, isn't this sort of like the difference between someone who believes in the resurrection, and someone who believes the resurrection is science? One is a person with a religious belief, and the other is a person who doesn't understand what science is.

Nearly every major religion believes in some form of Intelligent Design, at least at the cosmological level, if not at others. PZ doesn't seem to be saying that he'd vote against these people, he seems to be saying that he'll vote against people who feel this is a belief motivated by science rather than faith.

ID proclaims that ID is science, not religion. A court, albeit an unreviewed district court ruling which holds little weight, has ruled that ID is religion. As long as the law views ID as religion then believing that ID is science is protected as religious belief. Now if someone is TEACHING this in a science class as opposed to simply holding it as a personal belief, there's justification in making it a part of the employment decision. Employment is based on performance criteria on the job and while some, indeed very many, off-the-job considerations are legally relevant, religious belief is not one that may be considered. -ds


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