BSU prof accused of preaching Christianity

0

Ball State University is investigating a complaint that one of its assistant professors in the department of physics and astronomy is preaching rather than teaching.


The Freedom From Religion Foundation, whose mission is to act as an umbrella for those who are free from religion and are committed to the principle of separation of state and church, filed an objection to Eric Hedin’s teaching.

In a letter to BSU President Jo Ann Gora, the group claims Hedin’s “Boundaries of Science” Honors College class “takes your school motto, ‘Education Redefined,’ too far.”

“BSU appears to offer a class that preaches religion, yet gives students honors science credit,” foundation attorney Andrew Seidel wrote to 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.”

Written By: Seth Slabaugh
continue to source article at thestarpress.com

NO COMMENTS

  1. Ball State U., Indiana. The Ball is as in canning, the Ball Jar (Mason Jar).

    Eric R. Hedin, Assistant Prof. of Physics and Astronomy, so not tenured. ~41 refereed Publications 1986-2013, but none of these in Teleology.
    Research Interests:
    Nanoscience, Information Theory, Teleology, Cosmology

    ASTR 151 Boundaries of Science syllabus

    This is a freshman level class, it is not core curriculum, no pre- or co- requisites. Any description of anything related to this course number/title is quite clear that it is not purely a science course but that it includes teleological material. Exactly what he’s presenting and how is another matter, but at the college level, wouldn’t academic freedom permit him to teach his opinion on it? Student performance can be measured without regard to personal acceptance of the “god” position in the same way as one can take a course on 20th century totalitarianism without having to embrace nazism, stalinism or maoism.

    The syllabus is pretty up-front and specific. Boundaries of science is a good title for what he’s got on the syllabus. It is not Frontiers of science, it’s about limits or interface between science and religion. No one who read it should have much cause for surprise that these topics came up. On the surface of it, the following sounds a bit misinformed and off-the-wall:
    “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…”

    Admin: The link to source article is giving me a Failed to Open Page error: Too many redirects.
    The link’s URL is http://www.thestarpress.com/article/20130521/NEWS01/305210019/BSU-creationism-science?gcheck=1&nclick_check=1

    • In reply to #1 by whiteraven:

      Hi Whiteraven,

      Many thanks for the link to the sylabus, some parts of the BSU Site have not been updated for four years, and I wasted fifteen minutes on it.

      This is a very worrying development, BSU’s main activities appear to be teacher training – particularly elementary level.

      A look at the reading list confirms that the class is on the creationism form of theology. The class description further details the approach. It’s standard theological fare: circular arguments, assumed thought-experiment premises, and so on.

      … wouldn’t academic freedom permit him to teach his opinion on it?

      It seems clear that the FFRF have complained because the class is not billed as theology – but as science.

      Student performance can be measured without regard to personal acceptance of the “god” position in the same way as one can take a course on 20th century totalitarianism without having to embrace nazism, stalinism or maoism.

      True. But the complaint is not that students are being measured on their acceptance of the Professor’s religion. The complaint is that the class is promoted as a science class when it is actually a theology class. In addition, the class description suggests that it is only presenting two theological views – Christianity and creationism.. That’s two counts of attempting to establish a religion in a State institution.

      Boundaries of science is a good title for what he’s got on the syllabus. It is not Frontiers of science, it’s about limits or interface between science and religion.

      I believe you are mistaken. On three sets of evidence – class description, reading list and complaint – the class is not about science at all. Even before we enter the classroom we can see that the deck is stacked, and that philosophy of science is only being presented from a teleological viewpoint – which is theology and not science. It is pretty clear that there is not even neutral philosophical reflection on the boundaries of science (whatever that might mean).

      No one who read it should have much cause for surprise that these topics came up.

      I agree. Your point would be …?

      On the surface of it, the following sounds a bit misinformed and off-the-wall: “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…”

      I don’t understand why you think that. As I have outlined above there is, at the very least, a case for BSU to answer. I would also like to hear how such a course was even approved. While I appreciate that Faculty are wholly responsible for the curriculum the University authority should, at minimum, be keeping them within the law.

      In addition, if I were Dean, I would be most puzzled as to why creationism is a suitable subject for trainee teachers after Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District

      Also, how did the University come to employ a Science Faculty member who lists a research interest in teleology? I assume that an interest in teleology is not an automatic bar, but it does raise serious questions about the scientific credentials of a candidate.

      To report a technical problem please use the orange feedback button, bottom edge of page. See Comment 2 for a link to the full story.

      Peace.

      • In reply to #3 by Stephen of Wimbledon:

        In reply to #1 by whiteraven:

        Hi Whiteraven,

        Many thanks for the link to the sylabus, some parts of the BSU Site have not been updated for four years, and I wasted fifteen minutes on it.

        This is a very worrying development, BSU’s main activities appear to be teacher training – particularly elemen…

        Stephen

        Nice, real researched and well reasoned post. Andrew S. and I are working on a somewhat similar case here in central Florida and I have great respect for his ability to separate the wheat from the chaff. The religious seem determined to insert religion into the curriculum of every educational system in the U.S. and we must meet them at the doorstep of the schools, whether elementary or college and challenge superstition being taught as fact in any classroom.

        • In reply to #4 by JHJEFFERY:

          Hi JH,

          I haven’t finished your thesis yet, sorry. I have scanned it (by eye, not machine), and I was intrigued enough to start reading it properly. It doesn’t appear to support your on-line contention that Ancient Roman Established (meaning State-sponsored) religions were not powerful …

          Back to the OP.

          Nice, real researched and well reasoned post.

          Thank you. I like text communication precisely because it gives one the opportunity to look up the facts.

          As my favourite YouTube poster, Potholer54, says: “You don’t need me to tell you what to think. Facts speak for themselves.” He’s a former Science Journalist of the old school.

          I highly recommend his series on Science and the media. If only his model of journalism was the how mainstream media works.

          Andrew S. and I are working on a somewhat similar case here in central Florida …

          Andrew S?

          Have you alerted the FFRF or the NCSE (or both)? I urge you to, they know how to get these things out into the open. It seems to me that pulling these cases out into the daylight is what really gets things done – but my perception may be somewhat skewed by reading RDFRS every day!

          I’ve also found that this Site welcomes stories on the young – I submitted a candidate story on Scouts that was nearly a month old – with little expectation. But it was duly published. RDFRS re-publishes a lot of news sources, so you would need to get a local paper or TV station to post your story first.

          I have great respect for his [Andrew S's] ability to separate the wheat from the chaff.

          It is a skill I have attempted to learn almost every day – since I started Media Studies at the age of ~15 (my school decided I needed another challenge). While I’m not a great fan of Arts and Humanities education, Media Studies opened my eyes to their social and political value.

          The religious seem determined to insert religion into the curriculum of every educational system in the U.S.

          We were not the first to notice that the young is where it’s at, when considering the long strategic game. We’re also not the first to recognise that education – and the arts and humanities in particular – are key to forming the reactionary thinking methods that we all develop despite the best intentions, often, of our teachers.

          Religions have been doing this for, literally, millennia. I sometimes feel that, in some sense, they’re still laughing up their sleeves at us – ‘ … they’ve only just understood … ‘.

          We must meet them at the doorstep of the schools, whether elementary or college and challenge superstition being taught as fact in any classroom.

          That’s a good short-term response, and you must continue.

          Also, ask yourself this question: How did Eric Hedin come to be in a position – despite decades of furore over creationism in schools – where he could create a course, in a teacher-training college mind you, which appears to have gone undetected for some considerable time?

          The answer is: Strategy.

          Not Hedin’s strategy. He is, almost certainly, a mere pawn in this game. Nor are we ever likely to be able to unearth the full unvarnished story where all the players are named and all their nefarious acts and crooked motivations are laid out before us.

          But history is bunk.

          What is important is to recognise wheels within wheels. We do not have to be conspiracy theorists (indeed, that is likely to be counter-productive), but we do need to see that past religious, cross-church, co-operation produced a political movement that was only, like the tip of an iceberg, signalled by success of right wing candidates at the polls – and in Congress.

          To counter this problem in the longer term you must try to meet fellow atheists, skeptics, humanists and secularists and persuade them to become politically active. I am in deadly earnest.

          Peace.

  2. Stephen of Wimbledon 5

    I haven’t finished your thesis yet, sorry. I have scanned it (by eye, not machine), and I was intrigued enough to start reading it properly. It doesn’t appear to support your on-line contention that Ancient Roman Established (meaning State-sponsored) religions were not powerful …

    Nor was it meant to. That’s a different subject. You may glean a little of that from the thesis, but this is more collateral knowledge than the thesis subject.

    Andrew S?

    Have you alerted the FFRF or the NCSE (or both)? I urge you to, they know how to get these things out into the open. It seems to me that pulling these cases out into the daylight is what really gets things done

    I will be the lead attorney representing FFRF in the case against the Orange County School Board. Am working closely with attorney Seidel. Wish us luck (although I don’t think we’ll need it).

      • In reply to #9 by Stephen of Wimbledon:

        In reply to #6 by JHJEFFERY:

        A Lawyer and Historian.

        Is there no limit to your talents?

        Peace.

        Talent? Not so much. Probably just educated beyong my capacity to understand. But, except for the case on behalf of FFRF, my legal career is just about over. Hope to spend some time teaching. Really want to get that thesis published but it seems to fall between the cracks in academia. If you can wade through it, I would appreciate your input.

        Best

        JHJ

  3. Stephen of Wimbledon 5

    But history is bunk.

    Let me slightly disagree with you here. You’ve said this before or I wouldn’t mention it. I do know where you are coming from, but I would put it differently:

    History is difficult.

    • In reply to #7 by JHJEFFERY:

      But history is bunk.

      History is difficult.

      I’ll concede that determining historical facts is hard – and that there are some indisputable historical facts.

      However, that does not entail me abandoning my position:

      History: The revisionism of past, inaccurately and incompletely recorded, events.

      Peace.

Leave a Reply