Eric Hedin promoted; discussions between Ball State and creationist legislatures have unclear outcome

May 10, 2014 • 9:02 am

I seem have gotten this link from about a dozen readers. Eric Hedin, who was at the center of Indiana’s Ball State University (BSU) intelligent-design fracas, has been promoted to associate professor at BSU. As you may recall, Hedin was teaching an Honors Physics and Astronomy course, heavily larding it with intelligent-design (ID) and religious materials, with his apparent purpose of being to reveal God’s hand in nature. According to reports, Hedin also proselytized his students for Christianity, saying, for instance, that creation was due to the Abrahamic God because no “Hindu monkey god” could have done that.

After the Freedom from Religion Foundation wrote a protest to BSU, its president Jo Ann Gora, convened a committee to investigate the matter, and the outcome was that a) Hedin could no longer teach ID or push religion on his students, and b) BSU wasn’t going to teach any form of intelligent design as science (see Gora’s uncompromising statement here).

Well, the Discovery Institute (DI)—a group of determined but faith-sodden ID purveyors—wouldn’t let that decision rest, and leaned on conservative Indiana legislators, four of whom (all Republicans) protested to Gora and went to BSU to meet with her (see here, here, and here). In my last post on this issue, I wrote this:

Professor Ceiling Cat’s Prediction: the Discovery Institute will lose this one; Gora will not back down and the Indiana legislature won’t go to the mat for creationism lest they look really stupid. And that means we can expect an endless series of whiny posts from DI flack David Klinghoffer, kvetching about censorship (I’m their “Censor of the Year,” an award which brings me endless pleasure) and calling me names.

Well, as usual, PCC was correct, at least according to ancillary information in the Muncie Star-Press’s announcement of Hedin’s promotion. When people sent me this article, I think they wanted my reaction about the promotion, but, really, I don’t have much to say. BSU has their standards for promotion, Hedin apparently met them, and so became an associate professor. (Unlike most other universities, by the way, BSU doesn’t automatically confer tenure with promotion to associate professor, but they’re working on it.) What I cared about was getting religion and ID out of science classes, and I never for a moment wished Hedin any professional setbacks.

What interested me in the new article was stuff about the meeting between the creationists legislators and the president of Ball State:

But Kruse [Dennis Kruse, chair of the Indiana legislature’s education committee] and Ball State officials sat down last month for a private meeting.

And on Monday, Kruse told The Star Press, “Ball State officials were very attentive to our requests and concerns during the April 4 meeting. A majority of issues have been resolved, and I look forward to working more on these matters concerning academic freedom with the university.”

He declined to answer questions.

BSU spokeswoman Joan Todd also was vague about the meeting.

“It was a productive meeting, a great opportunity to discuss important issues, and at this time we have nothing more to add,” she said.

John West, a vice president at The Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based intelligent design think tank, on Tuesday told The Star Press: “That’s news to me that anything has been resolved. If it has been, I think the public deserves an explanation of what exactly has been resolved.”

What that means, of course, is that the legislators (and the DI) made no headway in moving Ball State, for if they had, the legislators would have told West. That’s supported by what else is in the newspaper article:

Hedin’s class remains canceled and a “gag order” on BSU professors remains in effect, West said.

“They can’t be resolved through closed-door meetings and private assurances that are never revealed,” he added. “BSU is a government institution, and its policies and actions should be open to public inspection.”

. . . West, from The Discovery Institute, says his group’s concerns have not been resolved.

“… professor Hedin is a superb scientist, and so it is good that BSU has recognized that fact,” he said. “But that makes their one-sided censorship of Hedin — but not of professors who oppose intelligent design — all the more disturbing.”

And yes, Klinghoffer’s kvetching has already begun at the Discovery Institute. It’s futile. They lost. Move along folks; nothing to see here.

You  know, the Discovery Institute would have a lot better chance of having their “hypotheses” taught in science classes if they could support them with evidence, or make predictions that conventional modern evolutionary theory couldn’t. In fact, they promised to do that within a decade or so—over a decade ago.  All they have to show for themselves since then is a series of lost court cases and a bunch of criticisms of evolutionary biologists.  What “science” they have is simply God-of-the-gaps arguments, which haven’t convinced any scientists. Of course, they see all of us—including religious scientists like Ken Miller and Francis Collins—as engaged in a giant conspiracy to push materialism and naturalism on the world, and therefore we simply won’t accept the “convincing” evidence for ID.

Enjoy your failure, guys, and best wishes from Censor of the Year.


21 thoughts on “Eric Hedin promoted; discussions between Ball State and creationist legislatures have unclear outcome

  1. Well, here’s hoping Hedin isn’t going to proselytize anymore and he spends his career doing productive things that involve avoiding the help of the DI (which he probably never really asked for anyway and probably brought down more heat on him than he was prepared to deal with).

  2. “Discovery Institute would have a lot better chance of having their “hypotheses” taught in science classes if they could support them with evidence”

    Or if they even had a hypothesis that any possible observation could relate to either positively or negatively.

    1. Perhaps, like real scientists, when one hypothesis doesn’t pan out they could move along to another one. I hear alchemy isn’t being taught at the college level.

  3. I agree, there is no problem here. Of course there would have been a lot of noise from the Disco ‘Tute had the tenure decision gone the other way.

  4. If Hedin is a good physics professor, then congratulations to him on his promotion. If Hedin believes a load of religious nonsense, that is up to him. If Hedin wants to mix the two in his teaching, then BSU were quite right to stamp on him, and congratulations to them; it is even more to their credit if they have ignored the problems that he caused them and promoted purely on merit.

    1. That’s a possibility. Or, as it seems likely that there’s a closet creationist in the administration, recruiting in Bible schools, hiring people like Hedin and Gonzalez, perhaps that’s who is responsible for his promotion.

      1. I did suspect the entire department could be infested, especially considering Jerry’s e-mail exchange with the chair at the beginning of the whole thing. You’d think a responsible scientist would have said “WHAT? IN MY DEPARTMENT? I’ll get right on it. Thanks for letting me know.” But the chair thought the course was fine.

  5. And here’s an inspiring letter to the editor in today’s Daily News:
    Bronx: Voicer Morris Osborne was and remains right on point about himself being handmade by the almighty God. If mankind evolved from apes, then there would be no such thing as apes anymore. They would all be in human form by now. The bible is the truth, not some 1,500 year old work of fiction. — Sean Boyd.

  6. Well, knowing how BSU administration works the StarPress in Muncie, much like a press release newspaper in exchange for “leads and exclusive interviews, I don’t trust much from the newspaper.

    The whole conversation got pulled behind closed doors because alternative media sources were all over BSU and Jo Ann Gora quickly yanked the spines out of the republican creationist lawmakers lead by Senator Dennis Kruse.

    However, they promoted Hedin as a result. Again, knowing how difficult it is to make tenure at BSU with all the politics, this will not sit well with the other professors.

    This went from a public matter to a private matter, professors are gagged, creationist lawmakers are satisfied, and the conservative StarPress gets to write the story which puts it all to rest.

    Classic cover-up…

    1. Why does it have to be a cover up?
      There is very little that can’t be explained through the regular operations of the university.

      By all accounts Hedin is a good teacher so discounting this current drama there is very little reason for him not to have progressed to the next step towards tenure. (he did not receive tenure only the next step)

      The drama with his ID promoting class wouldn’t have made a single headline if it wasn’t for the interference of the discovery institute and at no point through this incident does it appear that Hedin made a single public statement supporting DI and there efforts.

      It simply looks like normal university operation. His course was reviewed, found to be off script and was not renewed…. case closed. It’s only DI that insists on adding drama and conspiracy to the situation.

      1. The hearing notes on the case against Hedin were sealed and unavailable for public records search. The senators were very adamant about the lack of transparency when first contacting BSU, but then suddenly went offline themselves when contacted by Gora. There has been nothing transparent about the handling of this case, and then suddenly everything is kosher, and Hedin gets promoted with an asterisk.

        Sorry, even without the creationists from DI, this smacks of a coverup right down to the neat bow placed on the newspaper article saying, “Nothing more to see here, folks.”

        The StarPress in Muncie, Indiana has always been spoon fed “releases” or “articles” that BSU wants to share with the public. BSU hasn’t had a critical eye shed on her in years because the so-called “journalists” at the local newspaper are only “reporters”.

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