Unanswered questions about Gonzalez

Casey Luskin continues his misguided complaints about ISU’s decision not to grant Guillermo Gonzalez tenure. He approvingly quotes this passage, originally by Wired:

Though out-of-context email excerpts can be misleading, statements like “this is not a friendly place for him to develop further his IDeas? make it sound like Gonzalez was not, as the university insisted, judged solely on the content of his astronomical scholarship.

Here is the problem with this line of argument, one that Luskin has pushed pretty hard throughout this process.

If we assume that Gonzalez’s work on ID (his “IDeas,” in the felicitous phrasing of one of his colleagues) are not part of his astronomical scholarship, then we have to ask why the DI earlier claimed “that ISU tacitly endorsed Gonzalez’s work on The Privileged Planet by administering his Templeton grant for the book project while he was writing it.” Why would ISU be tacitly endorsing the work of one of its astronomy faculty unless that work were part of his “astronomical scholarship”? And isn’t Disco’s claim that ID is real science, and that Gonzalez is an example of that sort of real science? (Hint: yes.)

On the other hand, if his work on ID is not part of his “astronomical scholarship,” it is perfectly fair for his department to wonder why he is spending so much time on that project, apparently to the exclusion of grants or major new research in his own field.

In other words, the Disco. Inst. has danced around the question of why his colleagues should not have considered ID as part of “the content of his astronomical scholarship.” Nor is it clear why they wouldn’t be entitled to question his allocation of vast swaths of his professional time and resources to projects other than astronomical scholarship. In short, it remains unclear why it would be improper for ISU to consider Gonzalez’s work on ID. Indeed, it isn’t clear how it could have been appropriate, under the circumstances, to ignore that work.


  1. #1 nunyer
    December 9, 2007

    Not surprising at all . . .

    According to the DI, ID isn’t religious unless you criticize it – then you’re anti-religion.

    Judge Jones is a good ol’ boy who’ll do as the DI wishes, until he doesn’t – then he’s a liberal activist judge.

    Just more doublespeak. What else would you expect from an outfit which pays for lawyers instead of labs?

    And they’re the ones who complain about moral relativism . . .

  2. #2 Fastlane
    December 10, 2007

    I hope that this noise by the DI really turns around and bites them in the ass.

    I hope a standard tenure question for any science related position at a university or research organization is “Do you believe in Intelligent design or other cationism related ideas that might conflict with your research at this institution?”

    Any scientific institute is entirely within their authority to ask such a thing, expecially now, given the double speak of the DI and its supporters.

    To protect themselves, they don’t want to give the DI any reason to claim their institute supports ID or creationism, which the DI is more than willing to do on the flimsiest of grounds, based on their past behavior. And any institute isn’t going to want to have to deal with the publicity and possible lawsuits of these whiners.

    Let’s hope the backfire is much worse that DI could ever imagine.


  3. #3 Josh Rosenau
    December 10, 2007

    I’m not sure that would be a productive approach.

    If the tenure applicant has been productive and has applied scientific principles successfully for that long, it doesn’t matter if the person is a creationist. Kenneth Miller and Francis Collins are, by some fair definition of the term, creationists (they believe that God created by some means). They just don’t think that that belief is within the realm of science, and don’t try to force their religious beliefs into their research or scientific writings.

    I don’t question that Michael Behe deserved tenure. He showed himself to be competent by the relevant standards. Sure, he became a bit of a crank afterwards, but lots of tenured professors have cranky beliefs. Occasional crankery is the price you pay to the true genuises who need the freedom of tenure to make gigantic breakthroughs.

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