Intelligent design & creationism vs. teaching & scholarship

A couple of odd ones from last week's Inside Higher Ed, both related to the way scholarship, higher education and the intelligent design/creationism movement intersect.

First up, Blasphemy of a Different Kind, involving people possibly being fired for teaching evolution at an Adventist school. Although the university involved claims that the firings weren't related to the teaching of evolution, it's hard to imagine that there wasn't some connection.

The president of La Sierra's board of trustees on Friday asked for the resignations of Jeff Kaatz, the vice president for university advancement; Jim Beach, the dean of arts and sciences; Lenny Darnell, a trustee; and Gary Bradley, an adjunct professor of biology, according to a campuswide note from the administration.

The university, which is affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, has been dealing in recent months with a controversy over the teaching of evolution that has its Adventist benefactors threatening to withdraw its religious accreditation -- and the $4 million per annum that comes with it. Now the university faces a scandal in which a trustee, a vice president, a dean, and an adjunct professor were asked to resign over a recording made, purportedly by accident, of the four men talking informally about the church and university leadership.

Next is Paying for Rejection about a case where a journal has rejected/retracted an article by and Intelligent Design advocate after it was initially published on their website but before it appeared in the print edition. The published reached a financial settlement with the author to compensate for the retroactive rejection.

A mathematics journal has reached a financial settlement with an advocate of intelligent design after withdrawing a paper by him shortly before publication.

Applied Mathematics Letters accepted the paper by Granville Sewell, professor of mathematics at the University of Texas El Paso, earlier this year. The paper, "A Second Look at the Second Law," questioned the second law of thermodynamics: a fundamental law of physics that states that disorder - entropy - always increases in a closed system.

The paper was posted on the journal's website but was retracted shortly before its scheduled publication in the print edition.

In response to a complaint about the article from science blogger David vun Kannon, the journal's editor-in-chief, Ervin Rodin, director of the Center for Optimization and Semantic Control at Washington University in St Louis, offered his apologies for even considering the paper for publication.

"Applied Mathematics Letters is attempting to live up to its aim of being an outlet of 'rapid publication.' Unfortunately, this may sometimes lead to hastiness," he wrote.

A couple of very interesting cases, certainly not completely clear cut to the outsider in terms of exactly what happened or why. It both cases I would guess that we have far from complete information.

Read the IHE stories and see for yourself. Both are certainly case studies in the fact that science and religion just don't mix.

4 responses so far

  • csrster says:

    I'm with Eddington on this one
    "If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell's equations—then so much the worse for Maxwell's equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation—well these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation. "

  • IntelligentAnimation says:

    csrter, you called it right. Darwinism flies directly into the face of the 2nd Law with no hope of sidestepping it. Darwinist Accidentalism doesnt just brush up against the 2nd Law... It attempts to reverse it. In short Darwinism is a hopeless fraud, a fallacy that explains nothing.
    Entropy is a merciless mother.

  • NJ says:

    HighlyUnintelligentConstipation @ 2:

    Darwinism flies directly into the face of the 2nd Law with no hope of sidestepping it. Darwinist Accidentalism doesnt just brush up against the 2nd Law... It attempts to reverse it. In short Darwinism is a hopeless fraud, a fallacy that explains nothing.

    The only people who claim this are the ones who couldn't pass a HS thermodynamics exam with Lord Kelvin himself acting as coach.

    What is 'merciless' is your willingness to believe proven liars and appear stupid on the Internet.

    Now, go open a new bag of Cheetos.

  • Glen Reese, Ph.D says:

    I actually know a little about the 2nd law-6 years of postgrad physics helped me with that. And I know that there is no conflict between Darwin and the 2nd law, because the biosphere is not a closed system. And it is far from equilibrium because low-entropy energy keeps pouring in from the sun. We (and nature) use some energy to build complex structures, while degrading a bunch of it- radiating it back out at lower temperature and higher entropy. The ordering process continues merrily along even up to this day, while net universal entropy continues to increase.

    Perhaps you should brush up on complex natural systems in which order appears spontaneously. They are quite common, and none conflict with the 2nd law. Google "non-equilibrium thermodynamics", or "complexity theory" or "Ilya Prigogine", for instance.

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