The Claim

“A few months after this interview Baylor University shut down his research website once they discovered a link between his work and intelligent design.” (Ben Stein, Expelled)

The Facts

Baylor UniversityRobert Marks’s “Evolutionary Informatics Laboratory” website – touting intelligent design – was originally hosted on a Baylor University server. Concerned that the material on the website misleadingly suggested a connection between the intelligent design material and Baylor, administrators temporarily shut the website down while discussing the issue with Marks and his lawyer. Baylor was willing to continue hosting the website subject to a number of conditions (including the inclusion of a disclaimer and the removal of the misleading term “laboratory”), but Marks and Baylor were unable to come to terms. The site is currently hosted by a third-party provider.

This was not Baylor’s first conflict with intelligent design. In 1999, the Michael Polanyi Center, a two-person ID think tank unaffiliated with Baylor’s science or religion departments, was established at the university. Though the center only existed independently for about a year, it caused significant discord among faculty, many of whom were concerned that Baylor’s excellent reputation for scientific research would be damaged by an association with ID. In October 2000, the center was integrated into Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning, and shortly afterwards its director, William Dembski, was demoted for his failure to work collegially with other faculty, as indicated in a press release from Baylor University. Dembski was listed as an associate on Marks’s Evolutionary Informatics Laboratory website.

Given this history, it was consistent for Baylor to be sensitive to attempts to portray it as sponsoring intelligent design: the science departments have been reluctant to be associated with a field they consider unscientific, and the issue has been a source of strife at Baylor for several years. In any event, the worst that happened to Professor Marks was that he had to remove his web site from Baylor’s webserver. In no other way was his free speech impinged, nor have his work conditions changed in any way: he remains a Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Baylor, holding a full professorship in the School of Engineering and Computer Science. He continues to teach his courses and conduct research. Where is the harm?

Read More

Scott, Eugenie. Baylor’s Polanyi Center in Turmoil. Reports of NCSE 20 (4): 9-11