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quarta-feira, fevereiro 13, 2008

Evolution and Academic Freedom

from the February 12, 2008 eNews issue
http://www.khouse.org (visit our website for a FREE subscription)

Nearly 150 years after Darwin published Origin Of The Species, his theory of evolution continues to cause controversy. This next week the Florida Board of Education will vote on the state's new science standards, including what will be required in the area of evolution education. In the meanwhile, a professor at Iowa State University recently lost an appeal after arguing his tenure was denied because he supports Intelligent Design.

While many people believe that the evolution controversy is about religion, many closely involved believe it is more about the academic freedom of a scientific minority - a minority that argues that evolution is insufficient to explain the well-engineered complexity of life on earth.


Florida's time for the science standards battle has arrived. On February 19, the state board will finalize its decision on how to handle the prickly subject of evolution in the state's science standards. If left as they are, the standards would promote microbes-to-man evolution as basic scientific fact.

The board held a final hearing Monday to allow differing views to be expressed. Concerned citizens traveled from the far nooks and crannies of Florida to voice their opinions and nearly 80 people spoke over five hours. Significant numbers expressed concern that evolution should not be promoted as a fact but as a theory, while others argued that a soft approach on evolution would set the state back and would fail to prepare the students for college.

The chairmen of various district school boards joined the fray.

Chairmen like Debra Walker of the Monroe County School Board argued that the science standards should remain the same. Walker asserted that there would be little controversy over evolution if people were better educated in science.

On the other hand, Patricia Weeks, chairman of the Baker County School Board argued that, "The standards deny academic freedom to students and teachers." Her local school board had voted to request revised standards in which "evolution is not presented as fact."

While the state board has given all sides freedom to speak, only the votes next Tuesday will show whether the open forum had any effect on the science standards.


In the meanwhile, Guillermo Gonzalez believes that he was wrongly denied tenure at Iowa State University because he supports Intelligent Design.

Gonzalez, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Iowa State, appealed the decision to deny him tenure last spring. He argued that the decision was based not on his research and his teaching, but on a smear campaign against him because he supports Intelligent Design.

The Iowa Board of Regents voted 7-1 to deny his appeal on February 7. Gonzalez, however, had not been allowed to give oral arguments to the board. He believes that if he had been able to do so, he might have proved his case. Emails between professors and administrators at Iowa State justified his position.

"I don't see how they come to reach an informed decision without all of the relevant facts," Gonzalez said. He believes the vote was a "major blow to academic freedom."

Related Links:

Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez And Academic Persecution - The Discovery Institute
Professor Who Backs Intelligent Design Loses Tenure Appeal - AP
Evolution Backers, Opponents Make Points At Orlando Hearing - Orlando Sentinel
Bay District School Board to Discuss Evolution - WJHG.com