Disco. Inst. flack Rob Crowther is crowing about a grant they gave to Guillermo Gonzalez. Gonzalez was the Iowa State University astronomer who got tied in with the ID creationists at Disco. and with the old-earth creationists at Reasons To Believe, then was denied tenure when his publication rate dropped precipitously. Disco. responded to the tenure denial by insisting simultaneously that Gonzalez’s ID research was powerful evidence of the scientific validity of their theological views, and that it was improper for ISU to consider this supposedly scientific work (“viewpoint discrimination” was their charge).
When ISU pointed out that Gonzalez wasn’t just publishing less, but had also gotten no major grants and no telescope time, Disco. blasted back that grants and telescope time were irrelevant:
The claim is advanced, for example, that Gonzalez failed to secure enough funding for his research. But observational astronomers are not heavily dependent on sumptuous grants to support their research. They only need an already existing telescope, enough money to fly or drive to the facility, and an inexpensive computer to analyze the observational data they obtain.
And that’s what makes Crowther’s announcement so amusing. First, apparently Gonzalez needs not only a grant, but has to have an observatory at his own institution and have time on another ‘scope:
Gonzalez will oversee the College’s new observatory, acquired from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. …
Generous donations from Discovery Society supporters have helped build a base of financial support for Dr. Gonzalez to continue his ongoing cosmological research. Gonzalez will both teach and have time to continue his research, especially during the summers. He plans to use the observatory to study photometric variations of sun-like stars to determine if the Sun’s level of variation is exceptional. And, also to observe transits of planets orbiting other stars. Other research will make use of computer simulations.
“Having ready access to a state-of-the-art robotic telescope will make it more likely that I can obtain useful data,” says Gonzalez. “In addition, I plan to continue observing at McDonald Observatory in west Texas at least once a year.”
Needless to say, this is a far cry from what he was saying less than a year ago, when insisting that grants and telescope time weren’t that important.
“Astronomical observations related to astrobiology or comparison of the Solar System’s properties to other planetary systems serve to test the Privileged Planet thesis,” added Gonzalez. “Any research relating to the Privileged Planet thesis is relevant to ID.”
Sadly, that wasn’t what Gonzalez and his supporters claimed during the tenure struggle. Disco.‘s backgrounder claims:
…Dr. Gonzalez’s intelligent design work … was conducted completely outside of any relationship to ISU. First Amendment forbids a government entity like ISU from discriminating against an employee like Gonzalez on the basis not of his job performance but on that of ideas expressed outside the work environment. Dr. Gonzalez’s public comments and speeches as a citizen are clearly protected not only by academic freedom but by the First Amendment.
ID can either be a personal belief, irrelevant to tenure considerations, or a scientific claim subject to review by peers as part of the tenure process. His work on Privileged Planet is either a relevant part of his tenure packet (as measured by the fact that he seems to have listed it as part of his tenure review packet, and that Disco. defended Gonzalez by claiming “ISU tacitly endorsed Gonzalez’s work on The Privileged Planet by administering his Templeton grant for the book project while he was writing it”), or off the table because it’s part of his private actions undertaken “as a citizen,” rather than as an ISU professor.
Of course, the department’s decision on tenure suggests they didn’t buy Disco.‘s earlier protestations. And the fact that Gonzalez’s appeals were rejected at every level suggests that no one else took him seriously. It seems, now, that even he and the Disco. Inst. didn’t buy these persecution claims. The fact that he now insists he needs a grant and telescope time to conduct his ID research undermines every defense that he offered before.
Unfortunately for him, no amount of money can turn ID into science. Gonzalez may be able to feed his own confirmation bias in his new position at a Christian college, but that’s not testability. Nothing will falsify his religious views, nor could anything. As for Grove City College, we can hope they won’t look too closely at his recent behavior. The college insists “The ethical absolutes of the Ten Commandments and Christ’s moral teachings guide the effort to develop intellect and character in the classroom, chapel, and cocurricular activities,” which presumably includes the prohibition on bearing false witness.