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Jul 11, 2013 10:05 AM EDT

BSU Faces Criticisms for Hiring Former ISU Professor Who Supports ‘Intelligent Design’

Professor was denied tenure at Iowa State University six years ago for supporting the theory of intelligent design.
(Photo : Reuters) Professor was denied tenure at Iowa State University six years ago for supporting the theory of intelligent design.

Ball State University is facing criticisms for its decision to hire Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, who is rumored to support the idea of Intelligent Design, the concept of an intelligent entity creating the universe.

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Gonzalez, a former Iowa State University professor, will be teaching introductory astronomy classes at the school beginning August.

The recruitment is deemed controversial because the university is currently investigating Eric Hedin, an assistant physics professor from the department of physics and astronomy at the school, who was accused in May by the Freedom from Religion Foundation for teaching intelligent design in his 'Boundaries of Science' honors class.

The atheist organization objected to Hedin's class by saying that the course teaches creationism rather than science.

Andrew Seidel, a lawyer from the foundation claims that hiring Gonzalez as a tenure-track assistant professor of astronomy could damage the university's reputation and its science curriculum.

"Ball State already has a serious issue with creationism being taught as science by an astronomy professor, Hedin," Seidel said. "Now they've hired another astronomy professor and creationist to teach science at their university, Gonzalez. This disturbing pattern could be serious blow to the science curriculum at Ball State. Their reputation and ability to attract outstanding professors may suffer."  

"If the university wants to retain any scientific credibility, they should start hiring scientists who will teach real science and not religious apologetics," Jerry Coyne, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago.

Gonzalez has also penned a book on intelligent design in 2004, 'The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is designed for Discovery.' At the time, critics questioned the book as they felt it wasn't based on science.

However, John West, the vice president of the Discovery Institute, believes that Gonzales is a right-hire for the university.

"The fact that a department of physics and astronomy doesn't immediately blacklist someone who has argued for cosmic design does not supply evidence that the department is a hotbed of intelligent design," West said. "It simply means the department doesn't believe in the kind of knee-jerk censorship engaged in by some Darwinian biologists."

Defending the university's selection, Gonzalez says, "In my opinion, the controversy surrounding my hire is artificial -- largely generated by one activist blogger who is not an astronomer," he added. "Lastly, I need to reiterate that I was denied tenure at ISU not because of poor academics on my part, but for ideological and political reasons." 

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