Saturday, March 25, 2006

Baylor University Strikes Against Academic Freedom Again

A few years ago, Dr. William A. Dembski was released from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Nevermind the fact that he holds mulitple degrees, including four masters and two Ph.D.s (from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago), four postdocs (from Northwestern University, MIT, Princeton University, and the University of Chicago), had taught at three universities previously (Northwestern University, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Dallas), had written many articles and had written and edited over twenty books, held a graduate and postdoctoral fellowship with the National Science Foundation, and had won several academic awards and honors.

What Baylor apparently cared about was that Dembski was a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture and the executive director of International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design. Dembski was the director of the Michael Polyani Center at Baylor, the first intelligent design think tank and a major research university (Baylor). He was released after a controversy surrounding the center and is currently heads the Center for Theology and Science and is the Carl F. H. Henry Professor of Science and Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

The associate director of the Michael Polyani Center under Dembski was Dr. Bruce Gordon. Gordon, will also be leaving Baylor University at the end of the 2005-2006 school year.

However, Baylor is not done cleaning the house of intelligent design advocates. Dr. Francis J. Beckwith, the associate director of the J.M. Dawson Church-State Institute at Baylor University and a fellow and faculty affliate of the Center for Religious Inquiry Across Discplines (CRIAD), was denied tenure by Baylor University on March 24, 2006. As in Dembski's case, it didn't matter to Baylor that Beckwith has multiple degrees (including three masters and a Ph.D.) from prestigious universities, holds many prestigious positions in over twenty academic societies or organizations (including being tapped to advise the President of the United States on Constitutional issues), has written, edited, or contributed to over thirty books and fifty articles, and has accomplished more by the age of forty-five than those who released will accomplish in their lifetimes combined. Beckwith has accomplished more than I can post in this blog. Please see his biography to get just a small glimpse of everything he's done.

What Baylor cares about, most likely, is Beckwith's political, philosophical, and theological views on issues such as prenatal life, marriage, the rationality of Christian belief, and, of course, intelligent design.

Baylor University aspires to be a top-tier research university with deep Christian roots in a vision called the "Baylor 2012 Vision." With such a play of politics and such an oppostion to the the truth and even to freedom of speech, academia, and thought, the university will never proceed forward. The entire administration at Baylor University (the president, the regents, the faculty senate, etc.) needs to rethink the decisions they make regarding the education of students at Baylor.

I am most disappointed at the incredible antagonism and disregard for the truth evident in this university. I will miss Professor Beckwith dearly, as he was to be my undergraduate advisor. I have no kind words for Baylor University and am appalled at what appears to be a university conspiracy against intelligent design and against open dialogue.

3 comments:

Matt Tapie said...

I second that Sam. Nice post and great blog.

David said...

Most of this is a quiet way to remove all traces of 2012 from Baylor. I think in many ways it's less of an outright antagonism against intelligent design or free thought and more fear of stepping into the unknown. Not really all that much better, but what I'm seeing is people comfortable with where they were being pushed not to go there. Baylor because of its size, financial resources, etc. was uniquely positioned to execute 2012 and try to become and institution unlike any other in the United States, and perhaps the world. But, from what I can tell because of the fact that moving out from there could cause some major upsets in people's lives here, Baylor will return to the path it was on before: remaining known in the region but not pushing beyond where it has previously stood. The way I saw it, in 2012 Baylor was attempting to be the bridge between Christian universities that are in many instances increasingly distant from (or in some cases irrelevant to) major sections of contempory culture and other major universities that also are distant from other segments of American culture.

Anonymous said...

Sam,

I guess the bottom line here is that Baylor doesn't want to be ridiculed for trying to support ideas that are less than logical (and less than divine). I do not quite understand why some people will devote their whole lives to worrying about an issue that isn't necessary for our salvation. Evolution doesn't go against God. Scientific principles are the methods by which God created the world and all things in it. The divinity of the creation is that God used real principles to create this earth, not just magic. He wanted to show us that he has ultimate control over all things. If you wish to devote youre career to religion then devote it to obtaining salvation, not arguing frivelous issues. I'm sure that your advisor was a great mentor, but the bottom line is that he was devoting all of his energies into such a frivelous topic. If you want to study christianity, study Christ and his teachings not the dynamics of the creation of the earth.

Mark
Christian/Scientist
Baylor