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Thought Cops On The Beat At Iowa State University

The Darwinist inquisition is spreading -- as if by design. Inquisitors at George Mason University, Ohio State University, and the Smithsonian have recently hunted down and tried to disgrace scientists and educators for daring to defy the Darwinian orthodoxy. Now we see that the witch hunt has turned to Iowa State University and CSC senior fellow, astronomer, Guillermo Gonzalez.

A story in today’s Des Moines Register asks and answers this question:

"Why would the world care about a little-known astronomy professor at a public university in Iowa? It's because of the 2004 book he co-authored with theologian Jay W. Richards called "The Privileged Planet."
Dr. Gonzalez is hardly a “little-known astronomy professor.” In fact, he is well known among astronomers and cosmologists as an expert on the astrophysical requirements for habitability and on habitable zones. He is a co-founder of the concept of Galactic Habitable Zones (GHZ). He and his colleagues captured the cover of Scientific American for their foundational and defining work on the very idea of GHZs. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed science papers, the latest being “Habitable Zones in the Universe” forthcoming in the journal Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres.

And what exactly is his unpardonable sin? He’s a scientist who is also a leading proponent of the theory of intelligent design. So, a group of narrow-minded and intolerant faculty members have started a petition to rule intelligent design as inherently unscientific; and are seeking to essentially ban it from being researched, taught, even discussed, at ISU. In so doing they have targeted the only person on the campus who publicly is known to advocate for the theory in his work.

The Register reports that:

One Iowa State professor, Hector Avalos, accused Gonzalez of having a hidden religious agenda. A former student and close friend stopped returning his e-mails and calls. Opponents have charged him with forcing his scientific evidence into a religious prism, fingering him as an academic fraud.
Sound familiar? It should. The Washington Post recently reported on similar harassment suffered by Smithsonian researcher, and evolutionary biologist, Richard Sternberg. And, before that Nature magazine even ran a short story on attempts at Universities to stifle discussion of intelligent design, and any questioning of Darwinian evolution.
"I didn't expect this level of vitriol," he says after hanging up. "This level of intense hostility, just knee-jerk emotional response from people. People have strong convictions that you can't bring God into science. But I don't bring God into science. I've looked out at nature and discovered this pattern, based on empirical evidence. . . . It obviously calls for a different explanation."
What is the "different explanation" that gets intolerant thought cops like Avalos all worked up?

According to the Register:

The book claims that Earth is so unique, it must have been created by an "intelligent designer." Most scientists say there's no way to test that theory — as opposed to Darwin's theory of natural selection — so it belongs in religion or philosophy courses, not in science classes.
The Privileged Planet does address the uniqueness of earth, but the real focus and the claims that the authors make are actually about the correlation between measurability and habitability. It isn’t just that the earth is rare, but that it is also extremely well suited for us to discover that it’s rare. This is a hypothesis that can be researched and tested. Gonzalez and Richards describe it like this:
Our claim is that Earth’s conditions allow for a stunning diversity of measurements, from cosmology and galactic astronomy to stellar astrophysics and geophysics; they allow for this rich diversity of measurement much more so than if Earth were ideally suited for, say, just one of these sorts of measurement. … In a very real sense the cosmos, our Solar System, and our exceptional planet are themselves a laboratory, and Earth is the best bench in the lab.

According to a letter in today's Register, Gonzalez writes:

The Privileged Planet presents an original argument for design based on evidence drawn from the physical sciences. We do not discuss biological evolution in the book or in the documentary video based on it. Our argument is testable and should be challenged on the evidence.
The article goes on to report:
"It occurred to me - the best place in the solar system to view a solar eclipse is also the best place in the solar system to support complex life," Gonzalez says. "Is that just a coincidence?"

It's the first connection Gonzalez had made between the ability of a planet to sustain life and the ability of a planet to have optimal conditions for scientific discovery.

He noticed more connections between measurability and habitability. Our location in the Milky Way. A clear atmosphere rich in oxygen. The relatively thin crust of this planet that functions as a vast scientific archive.

Years of research followed and became the hypothesis of his book: "The same narrow circumstances that allow us to exist also provide us with the best overall setting for making scientific discovery."

And that hypothesis threw him into this intellectual firestorm.

So, developing a scientific hypothesis that presents a dissenting view on a scientific issue on a college campus will now get you investigated and perhaps censured (and denied tenure of course, which is likely the critics real aim). This should be a wake up call for scientists and scholars who dare to buck the established orthodoxy. The thought police are out there and they aren’t going to stop until you get in line and shut up, and woe to those who don’t.

Care to help stem the tide of such intolerance? Click here.

Read Gonzalez's excellent letter recently published by The Daily, the ISU newspaper.