"If Ball State is going to ban faculty speech favoring intelligent design by claiming that it would violate the separation of church and state, then it must apply the same ban to faculty speech that promotes atheism or attacks intelligent design in the classroom," says Dr. John West, Vice President of Discovery Institute.In her published remarks on the issue, this is what President Gora said:
Discovery Institute is asking BSU to investigate its honors seminar "Dangerous Ideas." The sole textbook used in the course is an anthology edited by a prominent atheist in which the authors assert that "Science Must Destroy Religion," that "There is no God; no Intelligent Designer; no higher purpose to our lives," and even that scientists should function as our society's "high priests." The book contains an afterword by atheist evangelist Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion.
“Intelligent design is overwhelmingly deemed by the scientific community as a religious belief and not a scientific theory,” President Jo Ann Gora said. “Therefore, intelligent design is not appropriate content for science courses. The gravity of this issue and the level of concern among scientists are demonstrated by more than 80 national and state scientific societies' independent statements that intelligent design and creation science do not qualify as science.”Nowhere in there did President Gora ban faculty speech on the discussion of intelligent design on campus. Instead, Ball State is banning the teaching of intelligent design in science classes because it is not established science (it is not science at all, for that matter). The two are very different things. Leave it to the Discovery Institute to conflate them.
The question is not one of academic freedom, but one of academic integrity, she added. “Said simply, to allow intelligent design to be presented to science students as a valid scientific theory would violate the academic integrity of the course as it would fail to accurately represent the consensus of science scholars.”
The other peculiar thing here is which First Amendment clause has been used. By demanding that the atheistic seminar be investigated, focusing on the religious nature of the course and contrasting it with intelligent design, John West is focusing on the establishment clause rather than the free speech clause and, thus, is agreeing that intelligent design is religious, in nature. Otherwise, why would he care about a philosophy seminar promoting atheism? This is a substantial shift away from the standard position of the Discovery Institute, which has continually put forth the idea that ID is not tied to religious practice or theology. If it is going to be argued that banning it is a violation of the establishment clause then it must be.
It is difficult for me to believe that this is what they really meant to say or that they could have made such a rookie mistake.