I haven't been posting as much as I'd like to recently, as real-life commitments are craving for my attention. In situations like this, I have to rely on my ability to get others to write my posts for me, in blog-speak known as "guest posts". So it's without further ado that I present… a post by Guillermo Gonzalez about his experiences at the Iowa State University:
The controversy over ID at ISU
by Guillermo Gonzalez
Krauze asked me to give a brief summary of the recent controversy over ID at ISU for readers of this blog. As I am writing this, things have settled down a bit on campus, though there is still considerable buzz about ID among students and faculty.
Although I've been associated with the Discovery Institute for about 5 years, relatively few people knew about my interest in ID until Regnery published The Privileged Planet in March 2004. Illustra Media followed a few months later with the release of their documentary based on the book. Near the start of the fall 2004 semester at ISU, two local atheist professors, Hector Avalos and John Patterson, began publicly criticizing me and my book. From then on, every time I was interviewed by local media on ID, the reporters went to Avalos and Patterson for the opposing view. The content of their criticisms consists of the usual false charges and personal attacks one finds all over the Internet: "ID is creationism in a cheap tuxedo", "Gonzalez has a hidden religious agenda", etc.
Given this, I decided the best course of action was just to ignore the local atheists. Unfortunately, the controversy over the showing of the Privileged Planet documentary at the Smithsonian in June 2005 served as a rallying point for atheists across the country (organized by magician James Randi). Patterson, apparently not wanting to be left out, published a letter in the Ames Tribune, wherein he likened me and the ID movement to the Taliban. I responded, but not in kind. That brought out another atheist ISU professor, Virginia Allan, who repeated Patterson's libelous charge and went on to call me an astrologer. Needless to say, none of these criticisms had anything to do with the content of my book.
Seeing that his atheist friends weren't making any progress in turning the public against me, in early August Avalos turned to a political approach. He began circulating a petition denouncing ID as non-science. I first heard about it on August 3, when an ISU professor who had received an email copy of the petition forwarded it to me. It was a clever approach. Nowhere in the petition statement does he mention me by name, but since I am by far the most prominent ID proponent on campus, it is obvious who it is directed against.
By late August, Avalos had collected over 120 signatures from ISU faculty. He published part of the list in the ISU Daily and submitted the full petition to the administration. This greatly interested the local media; I was being interviewed daily by television, radio and newspaper reporters "“ and so was Avalos.
This has been stressful for me. After a year of lying about me and ID in the local media, Avalos has successfully turned many professors on campus against me. And, I'm sure it has not escaped his notice that I'm not tenured.
I have neither taught nor advocated that ID be taught at ISU. My only "thought crime" was to publish a book presenting evidence of design in the physical sciences.
Things may look pretty bad for me right now, but there have also been some positive developments. In early September, the university president issued a statement reiterating the university's strong stance on academic freedom. He also decided that ID would be handled by individual departments as they saw fit, rather than university-wide. I considered this a victory, as my academic freedom had been my greatest concern.
One professor who signed the petition told me in an email that he was having second thoughts about it. He didn't realize this was going to create such a hostile climate for one of the faculty on campus. An administration official told me that she had received a similar email from another faculty member who had signed the petition.
I have received many emails, phone calls and letters of support from other faculty and from people all over Iowa and across the nation. These have been a great encouragement to me.
I don't know how things will develop over the coming months. I'm sure Avalos, with his newfound political power in the form of the petition signers, will not sit on his hands. I do know that if he didn't think much of my design argument, he wouldn't be resorting to such extreme tactics.