You may know by now that Guillermo Gonzalez, the pro-ID astronomer, was just denied tenure at Iowa State. If you know that then you also know that the ID crowd is in full cry and wail at this outrageous persecution. That was predictable, of course; the ID movement, being primarily about public relations and not science, has a long history of false or unsupported claims of persecution (which shouldn’t surprise us, I suppose; after all, their religion has its origin in an act of alleged martyrdom). Says the DI:
This is a very sad day for academic freedom. Dr. Gonzalez is a superb scholar and a fine human being. His research has been featured in Scientific American, Science, Nature, and many other science journals. Iowa State’s decision to deny him tenure is a travesty, and the university should be held to account for its action. This deserves to be an even bigger story than the persecution of evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg at the Smithsonian.
It deserves precisely the same attention as the fake persecution claims of Richard Sternberg, to whom nothing actually happened other than his own discomfort at being caught redhanded engaging in a clear conflict of interest by flouting the normal peer review standards of the journal he was editing to sneak in a pro-ID paper that he had solicited himself and hid from the associate editors and the editorial board who were more qualified than he to review it. That is, just enough attention to debunk the false cry of persecution.
Here’s what those screaming persecution won’t say: they have not one iota of evidence that tenure was denied because Gonzalez is an ID advocate. None. They are presuming that to be the case because it fits the story they’ve been falsely claiming for years, that the evil Darwinian priesthood is out to destroy anyone who believes in God. It is convenient for them to cry persecution, but there simply is no evidence for it. And here’s something else they won’t say: people get denied for tenure every single day, all over the country, for a million different reasons, some fair and some unfair.
Here’s a perfect example in the same field: Sean Carroll of Cosmic Variance. Sean was denied tenure by the University of Chicago despite an incredibly impressive publication record and reputation as a scholar (see his CV here). He’s published dozens of papers in the top journals in his field, as well as acting as a referee for many of the top journals. He’s organized academic conferences all over the world. He’s taught at and delivered seminars in his field at the finest universities, including Harvard, MIT, Brown and Princeton.
Given Dr. Carroll’s exceptional track record of scholarship, there is no earthly reason why he should have been denied tenure at any university in the world. But he was. Did he whine endlessly about how persecuted he was? Nope. Here’s his response:
The bad news is that I’ve been denied tenure at Chicago. It came as a complete surprise, I hadn’t anticipated any problems at all. But apparently there are a few of our faculty who don’t think much of my research. A stylistic clash, I imagine. And a handful of dissenters is all it takes to derail a tenure case. I don’t think there are many people in the outside world who believe that the University of Chicago is better off without me than with me, but there seems to be an anomalously high concentration of them among my own colleagues.
That’s it. So what did he do then? He went and got another appointment at another world class institution, CalTech. And he’s done some writing on tenure and the fact that it’s often a crapshoot. People even better than Gonzalez are denied tenure all the time. It can happen for a million reasons ranging from scholarly incompetence to old fashioned personality clashes. Get over it and get a new job.
I’m sure Gonzalez will land on his feet. Even if another state institution won’t hire him, I’m sure BIOLA or any number of other religious schools would love to have him. And if worst comes to worst, he can join Dembski at one of the many seminaries around the country. Heck, if nothing else he can make a nice living going from church to church telling his story of martyrdom (without a shred of evidence, of course; as long as it fits the preconceived desire to be picked on for Jesus, they’ll buy it).