MUNCIE, Ind. – Ball State University's president told a Seattle group that promotes the anti-evolution theory of "intelligent design" that the school will review its complaint that one of its classes is an endorsement of atheism.
President Jo Ann Gora notified the Discovery Institute that it would review its "Dangerous Ideas" class in a letter sent Monday, The Star Press reported (http://tspne.ws/1c3TSP6 ).
"Our intent is to ensure that their content and pedagogy reflect the highest academic standards," Gora wrote.
Believers in intelligent design say the theory is based on scientific evidence that suggests the universe and evolution couldn't have developed by chance and that supernatural forces were at play. Opponents say it is just another name for creationism, which teaches that the Old Testament story that the world was created in seven days is true.
A federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled in 2005 that intelligent design and creationism are the same thing.
The think tank challenged the appropriateness of the "Dangerous Ideas" course after Gora told an atheist organization that had objected to another Ball State class that the teaching of "intelligent design" and creationism isn't appropriate for science courses.
The "Dangerous Ideas" course uses "What is Your Dangerous Idea?" as its textbook. The think tank says the textbook declares that "science must destroy religion" and that "scientists should function as our `high priests."'
The complaints are the latest in a series of religion-based flaps at the 18,000-student university since this summer. Ball State was criticized in July for hiring astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, who wrote a book arguing that the conditions that produced life on Earth suggest an intelligent design. The hiring came after another professor at the school was accused of teaching creationism.
The Discovery Institute's complaint argued that a textbook used in the "Dangerous Ideas" course "appears to be one long argument for atheism."
John West, vice president of the Discovery Institute, said Ball State continued to "stonewall by refusing to answer basic questions that have been raised about its potential violations of the law, the federal and Indiana constitutions, and its own guarantees of academic freedom and due process."
West questioned whether the reviews, being done by subcommittees in the honors college, would be impartial.
"We are seriously concerned about whether the subcommittees being established will apply the same standards fairly and equally to all faculty," West said.
The institute contends that the "Dangerous Ideas" course violates Gora's new policy "forbidding its faculty from favoring or endorsing one side of a religious debate over another."
But Gora wrote that nothing submitted by the group "persuades us we should change our position" on "intelligent design."