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Gonzalez Co-Author Says "Tenure Denial Springs From Ignorance of Design Theory and Scientific Hubris"

The Des Moines Register has today published a letter by CSC Senior Fellow, Dr. Jay Richards, defending his and Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez's work in their book The Privileged Planet. Below you will find the complete text of Dr. Richard's letter.

There were additional letters published today in support of Gonzalez following the president of Iowa State University's decision last week to uphold his denial of tenure. Two challenge Dr. John Hauptman's op-ed from last week. Amazingly, Hauptman admitted his complete disregard for academic freedom and said that he denied tenure to Gonzalez, who he said was "very creative, intelligent and knowledgeable, highly productive scientifically and an excellent teacher," because Gonzalez was a proponent of intelligent design. One letter pointed out:

Coincidentally, on the same day that Hauptman's lengthy defense of his "no" vote appeared in the Register, another article in the paper noted that ISU president Gregory Geoffroy "said that, Gonzalez's advocacy of the 'intelligent design' concept was not a factor in the decision to turn down his request for tenure."

Here's the text of Dr. Richards' letter: Tenure denial springs from ignorance of design theory and scientific hubris
The June 2 Iowa View about the denial of tenure to astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez by Iowa State University physicist John Hauptman displays almost total ignorance of the argument that Gonzalez and I make in our book "The Privileged Planet" ("Rights Are Intact: Decision Rests on, 'What Is Science?'").

For instance, after listing the conditions needed to build a habitable planet like Earth, Hauptman says, "Why are these conditions so 'perfect' for us, allowing humans to exist and, above all, to ask these questions? Intelligent design is the notion that a supreme being arranged it for us."

No it's not. We never argue for design based on the rarity of habitable planets. In fact, we spend a great deal of time arguing that that's a bad argument. Rather, we argue that the overlap of conditions for life and for scientific discovery suggests design, because you would expect such an overlap if the universe were designed for discovery, but not otherwise. Hauptman doesn't even know our basic premise - which a number of prominent scientists have found persuasive - even though it's in the subtitle of the book ("How Our Place In the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery").

Hauptman then tells readers, "Intelligent design is not even a theory. It has not made its first prediction, nor suffered its first test by measurement. Its proponents can call it anything they like, but it is not science." But in the book, we make predictions and list ways our argument can be tested: Find native animal life in a radically different astronomical setting than ours, or based on chemistry other than carbon or in an environment hostile to scientific discovery, and you've falsified our argument. Find a place that is hostile to life but more congenial to science than the Earth, and our argument collapses. So, by Hauptman's own definition of science, "The Privileged Planet" qualifies.

Hauptman was involved in denying tenure to Gonzalez. So we now know that decision was based not only on ill-informed prejudice against intelligent design, but on ignorance of Gonzalez's views. What does that say about the integrity of the tenure process at ISU?

- Jay W. Richards,
co-author, "The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery,"
East Grand Rapids, Mich.