Iowa Citizens For Science

12 December 2007

Iowa Citizens For Science has issued a press release regarding Guillermo Gonzalez's denial of Tenure at Iowa State University, and his new lawsuit based on that tenure denial:

Iowa Citizens for Science, a grassroots group dedicated to improving public education, feels that the Discovery Institute and Guillermo Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the creationist think tank, are circumventing the normal scientific process to promote their religious ideology. Gonzalez and the DI have announced plans to sue Iowa State University, asserting that ISU violated Dr. Gonzalez’ First Amendment rights in denying his tenure application.

The claim that his rights were violated seems odd to many observers. “How can Gonzalez complain if his work on ID was considered?” wonders Dr. Tara Smith, president of Iowa Citizens for Science and assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa. “If intelligent design is scientific, his department is entitled judge his work in that field. If ID is not science, it’s fair to question why their faculty member is spending so much of his time and resources on it. The claims of persecution issuing from the Discovery Institute and Dr. Gonzalez require that intelligent design be both science and religion. This isn’t about science, it’s about politics.”

The ISU astronomy department did not publicly release detailed reasons for the tenure denial, but the Chronicle of Higher Education found that Gonzalez’ rate of publication had dropped off dramatically since he joined the ISU faculty. None of his graduate students had completed their programs, and he had not received grants from the National Science Foundation or NASA, the major funders of astronomical research. The decline in Gonzalez’ productivity corresponds to the time when he began writing and promoting intelligent design.

Dr. Paul Bartelt, past president of the Academy of Science and professor of biology at Waldorf College, is not surprised. “Intelligent design is not science, and it’s fairly predictable that his scientific productivity dropped off once he devoted himself to pursuing an unscientific agenda. I don’t know what his department considered, but declining scientific productivity and the reasons for that decline would be fair points to consider.” Tenure denial is not rare; a third of the applicants in Gonzalez’s department over the last decade were denied tenure.

Gonzalez listed The Privileged Planet, his book about intelligent design, in his tenure review file. “How can he and the DI claim that it was improper for ISU to consider the material he asked them to review?” Dr. Gregory Tinkler, of Iowa Citizens for Science, asked. “He invited his colleagues to consider his work on ID. His department and the scientific community have examined ID, and found that it isn’t science. Gonzalez made his best case and lost at every level of tenure review. Being a religious scientist is perfectly normal and acceptable, but scientists are supposed to be able to separate science from non-science, and good research from bad. Academic freedom protects a scientist’s ability to do science, not to pass off a political or religious crusade as science.”

In 2005, faculty members at ISU, the University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa signed petitions to inform the public and policymakers that ID is not science. The Kansas Board of Education was considering ID-based science standards, and the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial under way in Dover, Pennsylvania was testing whether teaching intelligent design in public high schools was unconstitutional. A federal judge, John A. Jones, ruled in December, 2005 that intelligent design is a form of creationism making it a religious view and not a science, and that teaching it in public schools violates students’ First Amendment rights.

Iowa Citizens for Science is a grassroots nonprofit dedicated to improving science education in the Hawkeye State. Its membership consists of scientists, educators and parents from across the state. On the web at

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