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Group claims Ball State prof teaching creationism

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Ball State University is investigating an atheist organization's complaint that one of the professors at the Indiana college is teaching religion rather than science.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed a formal objection to Eric Hedin's teaching with university officials. Hedin teaches an honors class called "Boundaries of Science," which the foundation maintains teaches creationism rather than science. The foundation's website say the group is dedicated to "nontheism" and separation of church and state. It is a member of a larger organization called Atheist Alliance International.

"BSU appears to offer a class that preaches religion yet gives students honors science credit," foundation attorney Andrew Seidel said in a letter to Ball State President Jo Ann Gora. "BSU appears to have a class with a non-biologist undermining genuine science and scholarship of the Ball State biology department by teaching creationism, a religious belief ... masquerading as science."

Hedin is listed as a member on the Ball State website as a member of the department physics and astronomy, not biology. The faculty directory says he teaches classes in nanoscience and cosmology.

Hedin, the foundation, and a university spokesman did not return phone calls from The Associated Press seeking comment Tuesday morning.

"Faculty own the curriculum. In large part, it's a faculty matter," Provost Terry King told The Star Press (http://tspne.ws/14MI2lI ). "But we have to ensure that our teaching is appropriate. All I have so far is a complaint from an outside person. We have not had any internal complaints. But we do take this very seriously and will look into it."

The course is an elective, not a required class, King said.

Retired professor Ruth Howes, who formerly taught the Boundaries of Science class, said it's important to help students understand viewpoints that are different from their own.

"Students are not expected to totally agree with these viewpoints, but they are expected to understand them. I think that is probably what professor Hedin is trying to do, and I would expect the university to back this effort thoroughly," Howes said.

But Seidel said the course does not appear to be an honest investigation into the intersection of science and religion.

"We don't have a problem with the class per se, but with the way it's being taught," Seidel said. "A class on the intersection of religion and science would be exciting, but that's not what's being taught."

He said some students who have taken the class have posted on Rate My Professor that he "constantly talks religion" and "does not believe in evolution."

Seidel would not identify the person who complained to the group, noting that a former Rhode Island high student who filed a lawsuit over religious prayer received hate mail and death threats.

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  • coincidence
    Perhaps May 21 is "Evangelical Day" over at the IBJ?
  • Mind boggling
    I don't know what's more depressing: that this passes for a defensible elective in a publicly funded SCIENCE class, or that more than half of the posters here are defending this charlatan. Intelligent design is creationism. Creationism is religion. Yes, we have freedom of religion, which deserves to be protected. Now someone kindly show Professor Hedin his freedom by escorting him over to the Religion department at BSU. Carry on.
  • Chuck
    Chuck, regarding creation you stated you had "no interest in a discussion with anyone who buys into it". You certainly have the freedom to believe what you choose, and the students of Ball State have the freedom to choose the classes they prefer to take. But neither you nor I know the specifics of what this class was teaching. Explaining the criticisms of evolution in a scientific class is perfectly valid and constructive in an educational setting. Those criticisms include the creation approach. You don't know, and neither do I, if the educational approach to analyzing evolution included one lecture or 3 weeks of lectures. Neither of us knows if the professor was slamming evolution and promoting creationism. Neither of us knows if the professor was doing his job and, one would hope, presenting the alternative views and allowing his students to see the various pros and cons to each theory. And yes, as each theory is unprovable in current form, they remain theories. You clearly have chosen to not even engage in discussion with those who believe in creation (or presumably even recognize the merits of creation and the inherent flaws of evolution). But college used to be about intellectual discovery and enlightenment. Especially science. So while I'll ignore your snarky response, the core issue you criticize - that the class should be taught exclusively in a religious studies curriculum - fails muster upon further evaluation. Just because you think creation is bunk doesn't mean your theory of evolution has sole exclusive rights in the scientific educational domain. And I must say, spend 5 minutes doing a google search of the "most ridiculous college courses", and one will quickly wonder where all the outrage is over the hardcore politically skewed offerings at many universities (virtually all of which receive federal dollars, and many of which are public universities). For example, see Occidental College and their course THE PHALLUS, which was a required course for graduation in certain majors. One can only wonder what the landscape would look like if the political right were as feverish about these offerings as the atheists are about creationism. As with most things, it doesn't take investigative journalism to discover the hot button threats to the left. They'll show you by their actions.
  • Rats, aliens and BOOM
    JB - What an insightful post full of wonder, awe and what ifs. Loved how you worked both aliens and rats in the trash for the black plague into your argument. Yes, you pro-creationists are really good at cherry-picking facts to prove your point. However, all of you continue to ignore my point that the teaching of creationism belongs in a religious curriculum and should not be taught as a scientific course. Creationism appears to me to be a school of thought based on heart-felt conjecture and opinion, with no hard evidence or physical facts to support it. Doesn't make it an unworthy philosophical path to consider. But surely doesn't classify it as a science.
  • Thoughts
    Back in the time of the black plague, scientists genuinely believed that rats originated from trash, as they were seen scurrying from trash in alleys. In its most basic form, this is evolution in a nutshell. Inanimate matter - trash - somehow spontaneously created life - the rat - and BOOM - the world began on its merry way of evolving from single cell organisms into, eventually, complex organisms. As sophisticated as some would like to make the issue, it truly boils down to this simple truth. Secondly, does anyone else find it interesting that archaeologists never discover and trumpet their findings of the various evolutionary stages of mammals? Why don't we have museums showing the fossils of mammals, reptiles, fish, and insects that complete this "proven science" of evolution? We have the dinosaur bones. We have the cavemen. But how did a single cell, created from literally nothing, evolve into a dinosaur? Where are the evolving dogs that are changing into cats? The fossils of elephants evolving from anteaters? Where is the human with gills, the human with wings, the human with multiple legs, all showing the evolutionary relationships to its distant cousins the fish, the birds, the insects? That's right, all we see is the hunched over caveman. That's it - the "missing link". Case closed. From a single cell to the most complex brain structure on the planet, with zero physical evidence other than a hunched over caveman. For people who are so adamant about physical proof, it is astonishing that this suffices. Interestingly, if one studies the other side (a practice most evolutionary proponents detest), you will see that the narrative has changed over the past decade or so, notably by Christopher Dawkins, suggesting the spontaneous creation of life on earth may have come about by foreign life. Yes, aliens. And they say it with a straight face, because they realize, as indicated above, a rat cannot generate from a metal can full of trash. Life cannot generate from non-life. So call it what you will, intelligent design, creation, what have you. But to witness evolutionary militants refusing to even debate the issue is sad. As complex as all of this is, it actually boils down to very simple questions that do not require PhD's to comprehend and investigate intellectually.
  • Freedom
    Hey Horace, I totally support your right for freedom of religious expression as well as your right to take this class. BUT I do believe this class should be presented as part of a religion curriculum and not as a science course.
  • The bigger question
    Here's the bigger question: Why should anyone be allowed to dictate the religious beliefs of another person or group? We have freedom OF religious expression in this country; not freedom from religion. You don't like what the prof is teaching? Fine. Don't take his class. But leave me my freedom to take the class if I want to.
  • believing in evolution
    Chuck, To buy into evolution, you must accept the premise that up until a particular day, there was no life; and then after that day there was life. This is known as spontaneous generation, and it was proved false centuries ago. Evolution is a theory that can be used to explain some observations. Evolution cannot be tested. What evolutionists call "preponderance of evidence" is, in fact, a large number of observations. Evidence comes from experimental testing, something to which evolution is not subject. What evolution cannot explain is DNA, RNA, and, more importantly, gender; especially in light of what we know about how DNA and RNA function. The Theory of Intelligent Design - not "creationism" - does explain those things. It is also not subject to testing. Something for you to consider: If there is no creator, why is there anything at all?
  • Hey ddem
    Hey ddem, Wow, you really know how to pigeon hole a guy. You claim I'm a liberal with answers (sure don't) who's really not open-minded, thinks you're sad and silly (I don't but I do think creationism is when taught as a college science course) and who somehow shares the same environmental politics as Al Gore?! Mea maxima culpa. Consider me properly chastised by your scintillating post. And thanks for showing why any level of philosophical discussion with a self righteous mind set such as yours would be a futile waste of time for a wretched liberal such as me.
  • same old
    another "open minded" liberal with all the answers for us sad and silly people. "no discussion" - just like the global warming hoax brought to us by the brilliant C+ student Al Gore. such an environmentalist he sold his "green" channel to big oil for millions...the hypocrisy continues.
  • Not angry, no discussion
    Hey BT, please know I am not angry nor do I not respect those with an opposing view. I just do not agree with creationism and have no interest in a discussion with anyone who buys into it. Sorry, but I will always consider this concept sad and silly. How about we agree to disagree and go on with our lives?
    • snappy retort
      A snappy retort that you are unable to answer. All you can do is get angry when a logical question is raised. How unfortunate that you cannot have a discussion, but instead become angry when your beliefs are questioned. I guess I won't ask you questions about dinosaurs living with man... that will only cause you to become mad... wouldn't want that.
    • Thank you JCB
      I wanted to respond to Chuck Darwin, but your response was great. You covered my points in a way I could not. Thank you for bringing up the logical questions that science cannot answer.
    • JCB opens my eyes...not
      Those who support creationism always have a snappy retort to refute evolution. Playing the Divine Creator card is always a real discussion stopper. As for something to think about - I'd rather not waste time considering a "theory" that somehow places early man alive at the same time as dinosaurs. Or at least that's what you'll find at the Creationism Museum in Kentucky. And I consider that both silly and sad.
      • Science
        Too many folks nowadays place powerful emphasis on science at the exclusion of a creator. Truth remains that science has not and cannot prove everything -- even scientist must use faith along the way. Science hasn't proved how the world began, but it does propose theories for us to believe. Scientist also rely on in/direct evidence similar to those that believe in a creator. So the science thumpers need to back off this prof at BSU. Science does not owm the market on truth and so opposing viewpoints should not be silenced.
      • Something to think about...
        I guess it is not hard to see what you "believe in" Chuck Darwin. The Theory Evolution is interesting, but it is exactly what it says it is.... a theory (especially when it comes to creation). While evolution has been scientifically proven in micro scale (meaning within the same species), it has not been proven on a macro level (i.e. a bird evolving to a fish or others crossing species). Furthermore, the issue with evolution is that it cannot explain creation. Things only evolve if they actually exist. So when you say something like "How silly and sad that some have been duped into believing creationism has any validity," you might want to ask yourself some basic questions about how science validates what you believe in as well; such as 1.) when has nothing created something?, 2.) when has non life created life? 3.) When has chaos and randomness created fine-tuning? I think science has much a more difficult time answering these questions than the thought of identifying in a divine creator. Also, would it be outrageous to think that an "intelligent designer" would create life that could adapt to a changing environment? Just some things to think about.
        • really?
          freedom OF religion - not freedom FROM. "bomb making class"? - sure Lori that is the same. some outside atheist group trying to impose THEIR beliefs on others is OK though? land of the free? what am I missing here? round up all of these religious people and silence them! slippery slope here people.
        • Flawed?
          Flaws in the Theory of Evolution, oh Educated Christian? Just what might those flaws be? The twisted logic behind the "theory" of creationism is an laughable insult to science and intelligent thought that some believe is worthy of being taught as an alternative to scientific fact. How silly and sad that some have been duped into believing creationism has any validity.
        • Perspective
          I consider the First Amendment to be sacred because it protects all religions and non-religions from government interference and more importantly, vise versa. Collega age students, however, are not 5 year old kids. The bright kids will figure this out, and the others will never get it. It is kind of like having school zones by high schools. If high school aged kids don't yet know it isn't safe to run out in front of cars, then perhaps natural selection should keep them from procreating. I am against having tax payer dollars pay for this kind of class, but there are more important things to worry about like the state legislature trying to pass bill making creationism equivilant with science in the public education that affects the younger kids.
        • AAAUUUUUGGGG!
          Thank God (Yes, GOD)that I attended a private college, where ideas can still be freely exchanged. Because Ball State is a state school does NOT mean that religion cannot be discussed (see, almost all the writings of the founding fathers). As long as the professer supports open discussion of all ideas, leave him alone! As long as he discusses the flaws in the Theory of Evolution AND the aspects of Intelligent that Design that are not scientifically provable, he's doing his job.
        • Bomb class?
          Pizman, would you feel the same way if bomb making was a class? I mean, it's not required, it's only an elective.
        • BSU
          Its stories like these that prove that a Ball State diploma is worth less than the paper that its printed on. A real institution of higher learning would have taken care of this long ago. No way should this crap be taught in a SCIENCE class.
        • guest
          It is an elective. Let it go!!

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