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 Et Tu, Baylor U?

Fresh Ink
Published: 10-01-07

Baylor University has made tremendous strides in the past several years in working toward the vision of “Baylor 2012”. In the beginning of the first “Imperative” of Baylor 2012, a vision of critical thinking is stated. 

“Baylor will seek to maintain a culture that fosters a conversation about great ideas and the issues that confront humanity and how a Christian world-view interprets and affects them both.”

While Baylor has made progress towards many 2012 goals, it just took a giant leap backward on this keystone concept, which has academic freedom for students and faculty as its foundation.

Baylor has literally censored a “distinguished instructor” who has been conducting computational studies of what Darwinian evolution can and cannot accomplish.  His website was hosted on Baylor servers (as professors are permitted to use).  However, some still mysterious (and anonymous) person or persons objected to the content of his website. 

Baylor’s administration literally took one of his web pages down.  This was in direct violation of an agreement hammered out just days before that included his changing the title of the material and putting an agreed-upon disclaimer on the site stating that it represented Professor Marks’ views only and not those of all of Baylor.  Academic censorship, not based on poor scholarship or bad data—but purely and simply based on a disagreement of the conclusions.  The conclusions were not deemed to be particularly favorable to the notion that Darwin was right and no intelligence was required in the creation of the world and everything in it.

A Baylor spokesman said that taking the page down has nothing to do with content and everything to do with rules relating to Baylor’s official endorsement of ideas.  Right.  Just like shutting down Dr. William Dembski and the Michael Polanyi Research Center wasn’t about content.  Just like initially denying tenure to scholar Dr. Francis Beckwith wasn’t about his views.   (Thankfully, Dr. Beckwith later received tenure after appeal).  That Baylor would be so un-bold as to cower to those who advocate a secular society must give its supporters pause. 

One would think that scholarship consistent with the beliefs of the vast majority of both Americans in general and Baptists in particular would be something Baylor would cultivate, not censor. Christians are called to be salt, not sugar. 

Is Baylor Consistent?

The geology department’s statement on evolution is instructive.  It includes numerous pages, several in direct conflict with clear teaching of most Baylor parents’ and students’ beliefs.

Authorities listed as “suggested reading” include Stephen J. Gould (the most vocal atheist in America until his death), Richard Dawkins (the most vocal living atheist on the planet who openly mocks all religion and whose “weasel” computer program is a joke compared to Professor Marks’ work), and Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, a so-called think-tank devoted (and partially publicly funded) to promoting evolution and discrediting non-evolutionary beliefs.  Curiously, the pages on the geology site end with the certification that:

“The information on this page was written and approved by the faculty of the Geology Department at Baylor University. “

Some “conversation”.  If the beginning of the Baylor 2012 vision is to be attained, and the Christian mission preserved, it is imperative that Baylor stand up to the pressure of the Darwinists and insist that Baylor professors and students have the academic freedom to express their views, even if in the minority.   (What new idea isn’t in the minority?)  What restrictions are next, (after censoring web sites, of course)?   Professor Marks, Baylor students and faculty, and yes, Baptists, deserve better. 

Mr. Mark Ramsey is the founder of Texans for Better Science Education. Their website is www.strengthsandweaknesses.org.

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