We’re saddened to report on a recent administrative action at Baylor University (a Baptist school) in Texas, where administrators ordered a professor’s personal website be shut down because of "anonymous concerns" that the site supported ideas associated with the intelligent design movement (IDM).
Baylor’s record on dealing with academic freedom, particularly as it concerns intelligent design the IDM, is now all the more odious. In 2000, Baylor removed intelligent design theorist William Dembski, now at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, because Dembski "refus[ed] to rescind a statement supporting Intelligent Design as a legitimate form of academic inquiry."
The professor under fire this time is Robert Marks, distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering, who launched a website called the “Evolutionary Informatics Lab” in June to study whether natural selection can use chance mutations to generate new information. "Marks’ conclusions, as explained on the website, placed limits on the scope of Darwinism and offered scientific support for Intelligent Design," explains Baptist Press.
The debate, surprisingly, does not concern the validity of Marks’ research, but rather "Baylor’s policies and procedures of approving centers, institutes, products using the university’s name," according to Lori Fogleman, director of media communications at Baylor. In July, after giving an interview to the IDM-promoting Discovery Institute, Marks was asked by Baylor’s engineering school dean to remove the website. In response, Marks requested a meeting for discussion, but just shy of a week before the scheduled meeting, all references to the Evolutionary Informatics Lab on Marks’ website were forcibly removed.
Should we be surprised? Dembski, the previous victim, offers a fairly chilling perspective on academic freedom when it comes to disagreement with Darwin:
"You have to understand, in the current academic climate, Intelligent Design is like leprosy or heresy in times past. To be tagged as an ID supporter is to become an academic pariah, and this holds even at so-called Christian institutions that place a premium on respectability at the expense of truth and the offense of the Gospel."