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Habitable Zone astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez denied tenure

Guillermo Gonzalez, Privileged Planet astronomer and longtime target of atheist materialists, has been denied tenure. Fact sheet folllows.

Update:

For some background on the Gonzalez case (I will update more later), visit Bipod at Telic Thoughts:

So let’s get this straight. Hector Avalos, an atheist at Iowa State University, is leading a crusade of Scientific McCarthyism against Guillermo Gonzalez. The stated reason by Avalos: “”We certainly don’t want to give the impression to the public that intelligent design is what we do.” Now Avalos and the other 120 signers of the document will deny that they’re doing anything inappropriate, but let’s be serious. This is Scientific McCarthyism in a cheap tuxedo;-)

“Mr. Avalos said the statement was not intended to silence Mr. Gonzalez, or to get him fired…”

Sure. Then why single him out?

To respectfully protest this decision:

Dr. Gregory L. Geoffroy
President, Iowa State University
1750 Beardshear Hall
Ames, Iowa 50011-2035
(515) 294-2042

[email protected]

It is barely conceivable that the Iowans have shame, even if “evolutionary psychology” has not discovered it yet. Heck, if I were a contributor to their alumni fund, I would be overwhelmed with shame.

Now back to the fact sheet: 

 Here is a fact sheet I have just received:

Biography of Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez

Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez is an Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Iowa State University (ISU).

Born in Havana, he and his family fled from Cuba to the United States in 1967, where he earned a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Washington in 1993. Author of nearly 70 peer-reviewed scientific papers and co-author of a major college-level astronomy textbook, Dr. Gonzalez’s work led to the discovery of two new planets, and he has had his research featured in Science, Nature, and on the cover of Scientific American.

Dr. Gonzalez’s Scientific Research

In late 1995, Dr. Gonzalez began working on a series of projects examining stars with planets to see what sorts of properties they exhibited. This has been a major part of Dr. Gonzalez’s scientific research, and he has published twelve articles in peer-reviewed science journals on the subject and continues to research new planets and systems. Dr. Gonzalez’s research in this area led to he and his associate researchers discovering what is known as the Galactic Habitable Zone (GHZ), a term Dr. Gonzalez coined. Our star, the Sun, is one of the few stars in the Galaxy capable of supporting complex life. The sun is composed of the right amount of “metals,” and its orbit about the galactic center is just right. Our solar system is also far enough away from the galactic center to not have to worry about disruptive gravitational forces or too much radiation. When all of these factors occur together, they create a region of space now known as a Galactic Habitable Zone. Dr. Gonzalez believes every form of life on our planet—from the simplest bacteria to the most complex animal—owes its existence to the balance of these unique conditions. Dr. Gonzalez has also made novel contributions by developing the idea of the moon as “Earth’s lunar attic,” where the moon may serve as a repository for meteorites that came originally from earth or other nearby planets. Dr. Gonzalez views the moon as a museum for the history of our solar system, and further exploration could yield great insight into our planet’s own history. His work has lead to feature stories in Science and Nature, two of the world’s premiere scientific publications. And he and his associates wrote a cover story about GHZ in Scientific American.

Dr. Gonzalez’s Book on Intelligent Design

In 2004, Dr.Gonzalez co-authored the book The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery, which presents empirical evidence for the hypothesis that the universe is the product of intelligent design. Supported by a research grant from the Templeton Foundation, the book has earned praised from such eminent scientists as David Hughes, a Vice-President of the Royal Astronomical Society, Harvard astrophysicist Owen Gingerich, and Cambridge paleobiologist Simon Conway Morris. The Privileged Planet was developed into a documentary and shown on PBS stations around the country.

Attacks on Dr. Gonzalez’s Academic Freedom

After the release of Privileged Planet, ISU religious studies professor Hector Avalos—faculty advisor to the campus Atheist and Agnostic Society—began publicly campaigning against Dr. Gonzalez and his work. Although Dr. Gonzalez had never introduced intelligent design into his classes, Avalos helped spearhead a faculty petition urging “all faculty” at ISU to “uphold the integrity of our university” by “reject[ing] efforts to portray Intelligent Design as science.” Avalos later conceded to a local newspaper that Gonzalez was the key motive for the petition. The logical conclusion of this campaign against Dr. Gonzalez came in the spring of 2007 when ISU President Gregory Geoffroy denied Dr. Gonzalez’s application for tenure.

I’ll keep up with this story. Incidentally, Gonzalez is a Christian. This will be a chance to find out how many profs who claim to be churchgoing Christians are really materialist fellow travellers who prefer to hang out with Thumbsmen – or honest dupes.

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26 Responses to Habitable Zone astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez denied tenure

  1. Well doesn’t this sound familiar. I wonder what excuse they’ll provide.

  2. Ah, well if he is a Christian, then it’s a good thing he was denied tenure. We don’t want religious fundamentalists tenured!!
    /Darwin-Thought-Police

    On a serious note, what can we expect from people who deny debating scientists with an opposing view on origins?

    I predict that darwinists will get more and more nasty as time moves on, doing things that will openly reveal the religious nature of Darwinism.

    Stay tunned!

  3. 3
    Granville Sewell

    This makes me very, very angry.

  4. Where do we write to complain?

  5. 5
    Granville Sewell

    This is the kind of thing I expect from biology departments, but in my experience physics and mathematics departments tend to take academic freedom more seriously. I have been outspoken on intelligent design for 30 years now, and to my knowledge have never been punished in any way for them, at Purdue, Texas A&M or UTEP. And Guillermo doesn’t even talk or write about design in biology, just draws the same obvious conclusions from the “fine tuning of the universe” and similar things that many other scientists do, his views are not nearly as controversial as, for example, Behe’s. Sounds like something is badly wrong at ISU.

  6. To anyone who wants to know where to write to complain, I gather that the honcho to write to is

    Dr. Gregory L. Geoffroy
    President, Iowa State University
    1750 Beardshear Hall
    Ames, Iowa 50011-2035
    (515) 294-2042
    [email protected]

    A friend suggests focusing on Gonzalez’s excellent record and academic freedom, as well as fair play.

    Excellent thoughts, all.

  7. These types of stories are reminescent of the Galileo saga. Galileo wasn’t persecuted by the church as much as he was by the Aristotlian professors who controlled the universities.

    It will come to a point where the university is no longer the center of learning, but the center of dogma

  8. Hector Avalos, an atheist at Iowa State University, is leading a crusade of Scientific McCarthyism against Guillermo Gonzalez.

    I’ll bet dollars to donuts that Hector wouldn’t stand a chance against Guillermo in a hard-science test (like basic mathematics and physics).

    Academia in America has become a cess-pool of intolerance, despite its claim that it promotes tolerance as the highest virtue.

    They only tolerate those who agree with them, but this is antithetical to the definition of tolerance, which is putting up with those with whom you disagree.

    This is ultimate hypocrisy and completely despicable. Hector Avalos should be a national poster-boy for intolerance.

  9. “I’ll bet dollars to donuts that Hector wouldn’t stand a chance against Guillermo in a hard-science test (like basic mathematics and physics).” – Gil

    For those who are not aware, he’s not a scientist at all, but a professor of religion.

  10. I didn’t notice this before, but Bipod quotes Avalos in the linked post as saying, “We certainly don’t want to give the impression to the public that intelligent design is what we do”. LOL!!!

  11. The difference between Avalos and Gonzalez is that Gonzalez is a brilliant scientist, and Avalos is a religious fanatic.

    The irony is palpable.

  12. Hector Avalos reveals his worldview at the Society of Biblical Literature.

    http://www.sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleId=520

    The sixth paragraph begins:

    “In the interest of self-disclosure, I should say that I am a secular humanist and a Mexican immigrant.”

  13. Md O’Leary, Dr Sewell and others:

    My submitted comment:

    __________

    Dr. Gregory L. Geoffroy
    President, Iowa State University
    [etc]

    Dear Sir:

    I have seen in the online media that Dr Gonzalez [I live in a small Caribbean Island so that's the access to such news I will have] has been denied tenure, probably under circumstances connected to the publication of a semi-popular book regarding habitable zones in the cosmos.

    Now, he has in such work more or less said nothing dramatically different from what many physicists and astronomers have been raising over the past several decades, in light of mounting evidence of cosmological fine-tuning. In addition he plainly has a resume that would be the envy of many a colleague.

    Therefore, if he has been denied tenure in material part because of such a publication, that says more about your University and its administration than it does about Dr Gonzalez.

    Please, before you do further damage to the credibility of science, revisit and reverse this utterly unwise decision; one that frankly smacks of academic McCarthyism.

    I remain

    Respectfully yours

    [Signature Block]

    ATTACHMENT: A copy of Dr Gonzalez’s “resume” as I have seen it.

    _________

    GEM of TKI

  14. Avalos, as a secular humanist, is lame duck losing it’s feathers.

    Ironically he comes from a pentecostal family.

    I’ll bet his whole scheme of hatred against religion is based on some psychological trauma he went through related to that religious background – it almost always is the case with bitter, fulminating guys like that.

    He sates, “…the Bible has no intrinsic value or merit. Its value is a social construct…”

    I suspect that leading archaeologists across the globe would be very much amused by such astounding ignorance.

    Sir William Ramsay wrote of Luke: “Luke is a historian of the first rank … this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.”

    So history is of no value & irrelevant?

    And George Washington said, “Above all, the pure light of revelation has had an influence on mankind, and increased the blessings of society. It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

    But Avalos also says, “The alien and irrelevant nature of biblical world views is admitted by many academic scholars.”

    Q: Indeed, but which “scholars”?
    A: Those like Avalos who are blind materialist dupes and channels of feckless drakenfutter – seeking revenge or merely seduced by the temporal ease and pleasures of the “Dark Side”.

    He should not be allowed to take shots at someone far more relevant and intelligent than himself.

    Oh the pride of fools!

    If Avalos had a grain of lucidity (or a summary knowledge of US history) he would realize that it is those very “alien and irrelevant biblical world views” that have given him freedom to speak his opinions in a free country where virtually all the judicial foundations were those of Judeo/Christian values – taken directly or indirectly from that same bible.

    Avalos is a clear liability to the university and it’s reputation – not an asset.

    Everyone knows what is really going on, and if the manitos at Iowa State had any sense of their own they would fire Avalos and give Gonzalez tenure with apologies.

  15. Support Academic Freedom!
    Support Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez!
    Support ID!

    http://www.elearningstreams.co.....zalez.html

  16. Perhaps the most interesting work I’ve read in astrobiology and astrophysics was from Professor Gonzalez re; The Galactic Habitable Zone. I hadn’t realized it was him that coined the term! That’s solid objective work and it’s published on Nasa’s website, he wrote an article that made the cover of Scientific American, and a whole host of other respectable peer reviewed and popular journals.

    This is pure, unadulterated intolerance because “The Privileged Planet” is such a popular work with creationists.

    I suggest writing letters to the editor of Iowa newspapers. Iowa is predominantly either rural and small towns under 3,000 people (89% of the population). It’s a red state in the so-called heartland and considered more often than not inside the bible belt. If the good people of Iowa find out that their kids are going to a state college where an atheist is appointed professor of religious studies (Hector Avalos) and a fine astronomer like Guillermo Gonzalez is getting shown the door for popularizing the notion that earth is uniquely suited for intelligent life they’ll have a conniption fit and call for heads to roll.

  17. Here’s what I just sent to the president of the university

    Dear Sir,

    I am writing to express my displeasure at the treatment of a fine astronomer whose work is featured in the astrobiology section of Nasa’s website, made the cover of Scientific American, and can be found in many other fine peer reviewed and popular scientific publications. Some of the most enjoyable and intriguing reading on the question of life in the universe has been about “The Galactic Habitable Zone”, a phrase Prof. Gonzalez coined which is now common in the astrobiology and astrophysics community.

    Everyone who knows anything about this case realizes Gonzalez is being denied tenure because his work “The Privileged Planet” has become a popular banner for creationists and intelligent design proponents. What was Gonzalez supposed to do, suppress his research and opinions because the “wrong people” might use it for an “unscientific” agenda? One goes where the evidence leads and that’s all Professor Gonzalez has done.

    Of course Professor Avalos’ crusade has played a large role in this as well. I’m here to tell you sir when the good people of Iowa find out their children are going to a state university where atheists are made professors of religious studies, while a Christian astronomer is being shown the door for having the temerity to publish good science that reasonably suggests the earth is a rare and special planet, heads are going to roll. The people of Iowa will find out. Letters to the editor of Iowa newspapers detailing this sordid affair will make sure of that. Here’s a list of where you might be seeing your name and this story in the future: http://www.usnpl.com/ianews.php

    I suggest you rethink your decision and do the right thing before the parents of Iowa students get wind of it. It’s not too late… yet.

    Sincerely,

    David Springer
    Austin, TX

  18. No doubt this university is supported with public funds. Where’s the ACLU when you really need them!

  19. WorldNetDaily is running the Gonzalez story: Intelligent design scientist denied tenure at Iowa State

    It will be interesting to see which media outlets consider this news.

  20. Send an email to the president of Iowa State University using the online form at http://www.godandscience.org/g.....nzalez.php

  21. Guillermo Gonzales = Galileo Galilei?

    Interesting similarities here…

  22. 22

    Russ wrote (comment #9) –

    “I’ll bet dollars to donuts that Hector wouldn’t stand a chance against Guillermo in a hard-science test (like basic mathematics and physics).” – Gil

    For those who are not aware, he’s not a scientist at all, but a professor of religion.

    Very interesting. Paul Mirecki, the Kansas University professor who wrote in a semi-public online forum that his new course that labeled intelligent design and creationism as “mythologies” would be a “nice slap in the big fat face of the fundies,” is also a professor of religion. It looks like these religious folks are bending over backwards to show that they are not anti-science — another example is the “Clergy Letter Project” — see http://www.clergyletterproject.net/index.php

    This is like the intolerance that some faculty members of Southern Methodist University showed towards the Darwin v. Design conference that was held on their campus. See http://www.uncommondescent.com.....y-over-id/

    It is ironic that after making such a fetish over “peer review” in falsely claiming that there are no peer-reviewed papers about intelligent design, the hypocritical Darwinists would urge the denial of tenure to a pro-ID professor whose number of peer-reviewed papers — 68 — vastly exceeds his university’s benchmark of 15 peer-reviewed papers normally expected of candidates for tenure. It looks like the old academic principle of “publish or perish” has become “publish and perish anyway” for Guillermo Gonzalez.

  23. Nice letter Dave!

  24. http://www.stuorg.iastate.edu/.....rces.shtml

    To read Avalos’ take on the Bible and astronomy, this link takes you to the ISU Atheist Agnostic society page. BTW, you can also download the audio of a debate between Avalos and Wm. Lane Craig about evidence for the resurrection (IMO Craig wins, no contest).

  25. Ms O’Leary

    ISU has now replied to my letter of protest, with “plausible dianiability.”

    I have responded, citing a key excerpt from Mr McC in it.

    I reproduce my reply below.

    GEM of TKI

    Onward response May 15, to a representative of the President ISU:

    Mr McCarroll

    Your response in the name of the President of ISU, which strongly suggests that Mr Gonzalez failed to be a productive and promising academic, ADDS to my concern, as the highlighted portions in the below will tell, by sharpest contrast with the well-known record of Mr Gonzalez in the public domain.

    I excerpt one particular point, which is utterly unbelievable:

    “. . . evaluation was based on an assessment of the excellence of his teaching, service, scholarly research publications and research funding in astronomy, using standards and expectations set by the faculty in the department. The consensus of the tenured department faculty, the department chair, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the executive vice president and provost was that tenure should not be granted.”

    One would not know from your remarks just cited, that Mr Gonzalez has more than trebled the published research outputs of those typically granted tenure at ISU, as one may easily see from other information easily accessible in the public domain. His pioneering role in several key points of emerging astronomical studies is also highly promising — at least, to any unbiased observer.

    Even his “strong minority” position on cosmological fine-tuning is well within the range of credible academic opinion; and I — correct me if I am wrong here — understand that he has not in any wise attempted to improperly present such disputed matters in the student classroom. [I note here that one of the first to notice and comment on the existence and evident significance of cosmological finetuning was the late, great Sir Fred Hoyle, one of my personal academic heroes.]

    Indeed, I must say that, given the clear fact — “plausible deniability” notwithstanding — of a campaign against Mr Gonzalez led by a prominent member of a different department, and the associated petition signed by a large number of faculty, on the strength of your response, this action by ISU’s tenured elites takes on more and more of the tone of academic McCarthyism.

    Please, stop the shameful madness before it is too late!

    GEM of TKI

  26. [...] remember the gifted young astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, a specialist in habitable planetary zones, denied tenure at Iowa State. It was probably due  in [...]

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