MUNCIE, Ind. (AP)
— Four conservative Republican Indiana legislators are questioning Ball
State University's decision to prohibit the teaching of intelligent design
in a science course.
sent a letter this week to Ball State President Jo Ann Gora, saying her
decision last summer raised questions about whether the school had
violated the religious and academic freedom of the professor involved, The
Star Press reported.
followed complaints that the "Boundaries of Science" class taught by Eric
Hedin, an assistant professor of physics, was promoting the idea that
nature displays evidence of intelligent design, as opposed to evolution.
Intelligent design holds that the order and complexity found in nature
must be the result of rational design, as by God, and that evolution or
other processes are insufficient to account for them entirely.
that intelligent design is overwhelmingly regarded by the scientific
community as a religious belief and not a scientific theory.
The letter was
signed by Senate education committee Chairman Dennis Kruse of Auburn,
along with Sens. Travis Holdman of Markle and Greg Walker of Columbus and
Rep. Jeff Thompson of Lizton. Because the university has declined to
release a report prepared by a faculty review panel, "we feel unable to
judge whether the investigation was fair and impartial," the lawmakers
"In order to
determine if legislative action is required, we feel obligated to
investigate whether BSU has acted in accord with state educational policy,
legal requirements, and BSU's own published standards," the letter said.
wrote that they also were "disturbed by reports that while you restrict
faculty speech on intelligent design, BSU authorized a seminar that
teaches 'Science Must Destroy Religion.'"
spokesman Tony Proudfoot said the legislators apparently were referring to
an honors seminar, "Dangerous Ideas," which uses a book that includes an
essay with that title.
"This is not a
seminar that teaches that 'Science Must Destroy Religion,'" Proudfoot
said. "That phrase is simply the title of one four-page essay among 109
the university is limited in what it can say about the situation with
Hedin because it's a personnel matter for the 18,000-student school.
academic credentials are an asset to the university," Proudfoot said. "He
remains an important and valued member of our physics and astronomy
Institute, a Virginia-based intelligent design think tank, has defended
John West, the
group's vice president, said he hoped the lawmakers will force Ball State
to release the review panel's report.
should be public so the public can judge whether what happened was fair or
biased or whatever," West said.