About five years ago (can it have been that long?), I wrote a bunch of posts about Eric Hedin, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Ball State University (BSU) who was an advocate of intelligent design. My beef with the guy was that his honors course, “The Boundaries of Science”, included a lot of religiously-infused material on ID, which he was using to proselytize the students (Hedin is a devout Christian). Since Ball State is a public university, and the courts have ruled that ID, as a religiously motivated area that isn’t really science (viz., the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District case), Hedin was clearly violating the law by teaching ID. I complained and, as I recall, got the Freedom from Religion Foundation to write a letter to the school explaining Hedin’s illegal teaching.
Eventually, BSU decided that Hedin couldn’t teach his course any longer, and the President, Jo Ann Gora, issued a frank statement saying that “teaching religious ideas in a science class is clearly not appropriate”. Hedin went back to his regular teaching, was eventually given tenure (I never wanted him punished, only to stop purveying lies to his students), and Ball State hired another Discovery Institute flack and IDer, Guillermo Gonzalez. The Discovery Institute gave me their 2014 Censor of the Year award for supposedly stifling Hedin’s freedom of speech—an award of which I remain immensely proud)—and life went on.
Now the Muncie Indiana Star Press, the paper where BSU is located, report that Hedin has retired from the school and taken a job at Biola University, a Christian school whose name was formerly the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (“Biola” is an acronym of that). Seth Slabaugh at the Star Press, who’s covered this story from the start, wrote the article below (click on screenshot to read it):
Seth interviewed me for the article, and I had the usual reaction to the promulgation of religious lies to students. Here’s a bit of the piece:
I have very much enjoyed teaching and conducting research with my colleagues in the Department of Physics and Astronomy over the past 15 years,” Hedin told The Star Press via email recently. “This fall, I will begin a new academic position as professor and vice chair of the Department of Chemistry, Physics, and Engineering at Biola University in La Mirada, Calif. I look forward to the opportunity to serve in Biola’s School of Science, Technology and Health, within an academic setting where the integration of science and faith flourishes.”
That, in fact, “is what got him into trouble at Ball State, trying to infuse a course in science with religious creationism, something that Ball State eventually barred him from doing since it violates both scientific truth and the First Amendment prohibiting religious proselytizing in the classroom,” said biologist Jerry Coyne, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago’s Department of Ecology and Evolution.
“I hope that Ball State now realizes what kind of man they hired, and how strongly he needed to mix the incompatible magisteria of science and faith,” Coyne told The Star Press. “Biola’s gain is also Ball State’s gain.”
Hedin refutes “Coyne’s insinuations of proselytizing in the classroom … My teaching is grounded in accepted science, and, as appropriate, allows for students to participate in free and open discussions of scientific evidence and its relevant implications.”
Sorry, but ID is not accepted science, and that’s what the courts have ruled. But, of course, since Biola is a private Christian school, Hedin is now free to put as much Jesus into his science courses as he wants. As a media official at Biola wrote Slabaugh, that school’s teaching of evolution seems, well, a bit diluted (my emphases):
[Hedin] has been hired as a professor of physics at Biola. To clarify, Biola University was founded as the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, however, when Biola became a college in 1949, the acronym was dropped. In 1981, Biola became Biola University and is now ranked by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education as a Doctoral/Research-Intensive university. Biola provides robust coursework in science, technology and health in which evolutionary theory is discussed within a context of how best to understand God’s creative work.Biola is pleased that Dr. Hedin will be joining our team of outstanding professors this Fall. Biola’s School of Science, Technology and Health provides Biola students unparalleled opportunities for study in cutting-edge facilities with highly talented professors who are Christ-centered and student-focused. This rich educational experience provides a path for students to integrate their Christian faith with rigorous scientific study, enabling each one to build significant competencies with a depth of ethics and leadership potential in their chosen profession.
It has not escaped my notice (nor Slabaugh’s) that the dean of Biola’s School of Science is the former president of Ball State, Paul Ferguson, who was forced to resign from BSU on grounds unrelated to Hedin or religion. I’d bet that Ferguson had a hand in Hedin’s hiring.
In response to Hedin’s claim that he is teaching “accepted science” at Biola, I countered one more time:
Hedin had earned tenure at Ball State two years ago. He was making $70,096 at the time of his retirement. “His decision to retire was entirely his own,” BSU spokesperson Kathy Wolf said.
“As for intelligent design creationism being ‘grounded in accepted science,’ that’s simply untrue,” Coyne told The Star Press. “It’s rejected by the vast majority of biologists. Just as we don’t encourage students to debate alchemy versus chemistry or flat-earth versus round-earth views in the class, it’s not fruitful to weigh accepted science against rejected science. “
So, Hedin will be at Biola in California, making a good living by purveying lies to children, an endeavor which I consider totally reprehensible. Even if Hedin believes those lies, he’s simply brainwashing his students, and he should know better. The love of Jesus can really blind you to the truth about nature.