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Ball State backpedals on intelligent design


Shafer Bell Tower at Ball State University ©iStockphoto.com/lydiabilby

Ball State backpedals on intelligent design

Students at Indiana's Ball State University will no longer hear intelligent design perspectives in honors science classes after the school president blasted it as a “theory” overwhelmingly rejected by the scientific community.

In response to pressure from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), Ball State president Jo Ann M. Gora released a statement Wednesday saying the school will limit intelligent design inquiries to humanities or social science courses.

Gora’s statement comes in response to recent criticism launched at physics and astronomy professor Eric Hedin’s honors class, “The Boundaries of Science.” Hedin, a Christian, listed on the class syllabus books by qualified scientists and intelligent design proponents like Stephen Meyer and Michael Behe.

One of Hedin’s students related information about class discussions to Jerry Coyne, a professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago and author of Why Evolution is True. On his blog, Coyne posted his complaint letter to Ball State administrators, whom he said “rebuffed” him.

“His shoving of Christianity and religion down the throats of science students must stop,” Coyne wrote of Hedin. “I will do my utmost until it does, or until I fail. … This will now go to the lawyers,” he wrote.

Coyne reached out to the FFRF, who on Wednesday gave him credit for first alerting them to the situation. FFRF lawyer Andrew Seidel wrote a May 15 letter to Gora demanding an investigation. Ball State responded with a four-member panel that considered course material and spoke with Hedin.

By June, WORLD reported growing support for Hedin that included Indiana state Sen. Dennis Kruse, who serves as chairman of the Senate education committee: “I come from a Christian perspective and a conservative perspective. I’m under the impression academic freedom should be for everybody.”

Despite support, the panel ruled against Hedin’s material, although it has not released the review of Hedin’s class. A school spokeswoman said Hedin remains an important and valued member of the school’s physics and astronomy department.

In her statement, Gora did not disclose the future of Hedin’s class, focusing only on intelligent design teaching: “On this point, I want to be very clear. Teaching intelligent design as a scientific theory is not a matter of academic freedom—it is an issue of academic integrity. As I noted, the scientific community has overwhelmingly rejected intelligent design as a scientific theory.”


Samantha Gobba

Samantha is a freelancer for WORLD Digital. She is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute, holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Hillsdale College, and has a multiple-subject teaching credential from California State University. Samantha resides in Chico, Calif., with her husband and their two sons.


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