A Career-Killing Theory

colson2Proponents of intelligent design never know when they might be led away to the ideological chopping block. Take, for example, biologist Carolyn Crocker, who was banned from teaching evolution at George Mason University after mentioning intelligent design. Or evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg, who was demoted by the Smithsonian Institute after he approved an article that supported intelligent design. Now add Guillermo Gonzalez to that list. Last month, Gonzalez, assistant professor of astronomy and physics at Iowa State University, was denied tenure. His supposed crime? Believing something other than Darwinism. Why else would he be denied? It certainly can’t be his lack of academic accomplishments. Iowa State requires its faculty to publish fifteen peer-reviewed articles in order to qualify for tenure. Gonzalez has submitted sixty-eight. On top of that, Gonzalez’s ground-breaking research in astronomy has led to the discovery of two new planets. And on his own time, Gonzalez produced The Privileged Planet, a groundbreaking book and documentary film on intelligent design, in which he explains that the earth is uniquely situated to sustain complex life. Mathematically speaking, the probability of a planet like ours with all of the necessary conditions to sustain complex life, Gonzalez says, is 10 to the negative fifteenth power, or one thousandth of a trillionth. Random chance cannot explain the alignment of all of these conditions, such as the optimal distance from the right kind of star, plate tectonics, the size of a moon that can stabilize itself on its axis, the shielding presence of larger planets nearby, the right amount of oxygen and water . . . just to name a few. The only thing that can explain this is intelligent design. It’s a bold assertion, and a risky one. After his film was released in 2005, three of Gonzalez’s colleagues, including the faculty advisor for the campus Atheist and Agnostic Society, began campaigning against Gonzalez. Since then, more than 400 faculty members at Iowa State, the University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa have signed a petition condemning the presentation of intelligent design as science. Although Gonzalez’s name is not mentioned in the petition, he is clearly the target of this rank prejudice. Gonzalez is not being discriminated against for teaching intelligent design, but simply for believing it. He says he never even taught intelligent design in the classroom. His work on intelligent design has been extracurricular. I’m appalled by the way the scientific and academic community blatantly discriminates against those who suggest that the universe may be something more than the product of chance. Iowa State’s decision is a blatant assault on academic freedom. It is ideological discrimination of the worst kind—something we would not expect in a free society or tolerate in academic institutions that claim to pursue truth. Gonzalez has appealed the denial of his tenure to Iowa State President Geoffroy. You may want to get in touch with the president and let him know your views.  
Take Action
Contact Iowa State's president, Gregory Geoffroy, and urge him to reconsider the decision to deny tenure to Guillermo Gonzalez.  
For Further Reading and Information
Iowa State Faculty Admit Intelligent Design Played Role in Scientist’s Tenure Denial,” Discovery Institute, 18 May 2007. “ISU Prof Appeals Denial of Tenure,” Des Moines Register, 15 May 2007. “Intelligent Design Scientist Denied Tenure Despite Exceeding Standard Requirements,” Discovery Institute, 14 May 2007. The Privileged Planet (DVD)—This hour-long documentary explores the scientific evidence for intelligent design and purpose in the universe. Also available in VHS. BreakPoint Commentary No. 070206, “A Passion for Truth: Darwin Strikes Back.” BreakPoint Commentary No. 050401, “A Question of Power: Darwinists on the Losing Side of History.” Read more BreakPoint commentaries on intelligent design in the classroom.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary