Iowa State University denies tenure to gifted pro-ID astronomer

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by Teleologist, May 26, 2007.

  1. Iowa State Promotes Atheist Professor Who Equates Bible with Mein Kampf While Denying Tenure to ID Astronomer

    by John West

    While Iowa State University denied tenure this spring to gifted pro-ID astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, it turns out that it decided at the same time to promote to full professor outspoken atheist Hector Avalos, religious studies professor and faculty adviser to the ISU Atheist and Agnostic Society. Avalos has led the charge against Gonzalez and intelligent design on ISU's campus, helping to draft a 2005 petition denouncing intelligent design that ultimately was signed by more than 120 ISU faculty.

    Apparently ISU professors who are horrified by the supposed mixing of metaphysics and scholarship on the part of ID proponents have no qualms about supporting Avalos's explicit anti-religious propaganda, including his effort to equate the Bible with Hitler's Mein Kampf (for more on Avalos's view of the Bible, see below). It is worth pointing out that ISU issued a press release a few years ago boasting about Avalos's appointment as the executive director of a group affiliated with the Council for Secular Humanism that seeks to debunk religion.

    Avalos's promotion to full professor comes just in time for the publication of his new book on the Bible later this month. According to the publisher's description, Avalos argues in the book that our world is best served by leaving the Bible as a relic of an ancient civilization instead of the "living" document most religionist scholars believe it should be. He urges his colleagues to concentrate on educating the broader society to recognize the irrelevance and even violent effects of the Bible in modern life.
    Just how extreme Avalos's view of the Bible is can be seen in his previous book, Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence (2005), in which he repeatedly equates the Bible with Hitler's Mein Kampf. Indeed, in a section of the book titled "Scripture: A Zero-Tolerance Argument," Avalos actually suggests that the Bible is worse than Mein Kampf:

    In fact, Mein Kampf does not contain a single explicit command for genocide equivalent to those found in the Hebrew Bible... Thus, if all of Mein Kampf is to be rejected simply for its implied genocidal policies, we should certainly reject all of the Bible for some of its explicit and blatant genocidal policies. [p. 363] At other points, Avalos appears to blame Jewish people for Hitler's attempt to exterminate them, locating the origins of the Holocaust in what he calls "Hebrew racism." Consider the following passages:

    "The purpose here is to show that the Nazi policy of genocide was based on premises quite similar to those in the Hebrew Bible." [p. 316] "the Nazi Holocaust represents the synthesis of attitudes found in both the New Testament and the Hebrew scriptures." [p. 318]

    "[Scholars Katz and Wolpoff] fail to see the parallels between certain practices promulgated in the Hebrew Bible itself. Indeed, the supreme irony of the Holocaust is that the genocidal policies first systematically enunciated in the Hebrew scriptures were reversed by the Nazis. Nazi ideology simply had better technology to do what biblical authors had said they would do to their enemies." [pp. 318-319]

    "Hitler saw himself as trying to counteract Hebrew racism, which he saw as the main counterpart and enemy of the German race." [p. 319]

    As if these statements were not enough, Prof. Avalos has equated creationism with Nazism, denounced religion-inspired acts of love, and even suggested that we "eliminate religion from human life altogether":

    "Nazi ideology is similar to creationist ideology, which believes that scientific findings support the biblical stories of Creation and the Flood." [p. 318] "any act of love based on religion is immoral." [p. 369]

    "Mother Teresa... advocated policies that helped to generate the very pool of poor people she was attempting to help. Religious beliefs are largely responsible for arguments against contraception, which helps to perpetuate poverty and conflicts over scarce resources. So in the end, did Mother Teresa help more people than were harmed by her religious belief?" [p. 370]

    "until the Abrahamic religions overthrow the master-slave model in which they were born, we see little progress to be made. Since all religious beliefs are ultimately unverifiable, the greatest scarce resource of all is verifiability. And one way to remedy or minimize unverifiability in any decision-making process, especially that leading to violence, is to eliminate religion from human life altogether." [p. 371, emphasis added]

    Iowa taxpayers can be relieved to know that ISU is making sure their tax dollars will be spent on worthy scholars like Prof. Avalos rather than disreputable astronomers like Dr. Gonzalez.
  2. fhl


    Interesting that you tend to find the same places that fight ID'ers teaching science will nonetheless have no problem placing atheists in charge of religious studies.

    It's all sort of a game and a one way street to these people.
  3. According to Guillermo Gonzalez he never taught ID in any Iowa State classroom. Thus he kept his religion apart from the school where he teaches. Indeed Guillermo has 68 papers on astronomy published in peer-reviewed science journals, over 1500 citations to those papers, co-authored an article that made the cover of Scientific American, was featured in Science Magazine, and co-authored an advanced astronomy textbook last year used by at least a half dozen major universities that I know of today including Iowa State. Guillermo’s work in his field is nothing short of outstanding.

    Guillermo is a victim of religious discrimination by a publically funded institution. A clear violation of the first amendment freedom of religion clause, as well as the first amendment freedom of speech clause, both of which protect Guillermo in his personal life outside the school against this very kind of discrimination.
  4. Key Developments in Gonzalez Tenure Denial Case, May 21-26
    John West

    Here is a recap of the major developments this week in the Guillermo Gonzalez tenure case:

    1. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Gonzalez ranks first among his astronomer colleagues at ISU according to the "h-index" statistic, which seeks to measure how widely a scientist's articles are cited by other scientists. According to the Chronicle, “Mr. Gonzalez has a normalized h-index of 13, the highest of the 10 astronomers in his department. The next closest was Lee Anne Willson, a university professor who had a normalized h-index of 9.”

    2. It was revealed that at same time ISU denied tenure to Gonzalez this past spring, the university promoted to full professor his chief academic persecutor, atheist professor Hector Avalos, who believes that the Bible is worse than Hitler's Mein Kampf.

    3. The world's preeminent science journal, Nature, featured the Gonzalez case in an article in its news section. In the article, Gonzalez's former post-doctoral advisor at the University of Texas, Austin, is quoted as saying: "He is one of the best postdocs I have had” and "I would have said he was a serious tenure candidate."

    4. U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Sam Brownback issued a statement defending Gonzalez's right to academic freedom, while Darwinist academics vociferously advocated blacklisting pro-intelligent design scientists from academia.

    5. ISU spokesman John McCarroll continued to invent facts in his effort to defend the tenure denial, this week claiming that a professor's publications prior to being hired by ISU aren't considered during the tenure process. Asked to provide documentation for this latest claim, McCarroll declined to respond.

    If you have just heard about this story, you should check out the key developments from last week, which included the admission by two members of Gonzalez's department that intelligent design played a role in his tenure denial, and the release of tenure statistics showing that ISU approved 91% of its tenure applications this year. In addition, tenure standards for ISU's Department of Physics and Astronomy revealed that outside research funding was not a stated criterion for tenure decisions in the department
  5. This fiasco will play out in court no doubt and will end with this guy getting some money but no tenure. The taxpayers of Iowa will foot the bill for having a PC-crazed faculty.

    The whole episode, and the many others like it that play out every year, raise the question of why public universities require tenure. This particular case is particularly egregious because of the obvious discrimination, but in most cases it is not so blatant. That doesn't mean idealogical discrimination is not prevalent. How many conservative or evangelical full professors are there? Very few, I'd wager. The Left pursues a policy of systematically blacklisting anyone who does not go along wiht their policies. It's not just in academia either. The media, foundations, law firms even major corporations are hostile to anyone who doesn't sing from the PC hymnal.

    It's supremely iromic that academic tenure, which was intended to protect intellectual freedom, has become a tool to suppress it. I see no reason for it to continue on public university campuses. At best, it shields deadwood and mediocrity. At its worst, as here, it involves the university in odious discrimination.
  6. "The whole episode, and the many others like it that play out every year, raise the question of why public universities require tenure."

    Same reason certain judges are given lifetime appointments, essentially so they don't have to bow to political pressure or the temporal winds of whatever wave is popular at the time.

  7. The ideal of academic freedom has been replace by PC tyranny, enforced by outmoded tenure rules. Is it so terrible that professors at a state-supported university have to maintain a minimal level of responsibility? That they have to answer to the people that pay their salaries like the rest of us?
  8. Lifetime appointed judges can be impeached if there is sufficient cause, professors can be removed if there is sufficient cause.

    You would not be bitching if the professors were Rush Fatbaugh dittoheads...

    Simply because you don't like their politics, is not grounds for their removal, nor an end to the tenure system.

    "Academic tenure is primarily intended to guarantee the right to academic freedom: it protects respected teachers and researchers when they dissent from prevailing opinion, openly disagree with authorities of any sort, or spend time on unfashionable topics. Thus academic tenure is similar to the lifetime tenure that protects some judges from external pressure. Without job security, the scholarly community as a whole might favor "safe" lines of inquiry. Tenure makes original ideas more likely to arise, by giving scholars the intellectual autonomy to investigate the problems and solutions about which they are most passionate, and to report their honest conclusions."

  9. science is about not taking anything on faith...
  10. ("Mother Teresa... advocated policies that helped to generate the very pool of poor people she was attempting to help. Religious beliefs are largely responsible for arguments against contraception, which helps to perpetuate poverty and conflicts over scarce resources. So in the end, did Mother Teresa help more people than were harmed by her religious belief?" [p. 370])

    This is true.
    #10     May 27, 2007