Dr. Eric Hedin is an Assistant Professor of Physics at Ball State University in Indiana. Beyond his many courses in physical science, he also teaches an elective interdisciplinary seminar on "The Boundaries of Science." The syllabus describes this course as follows:
In this course, we will examine the nature of the physical and the living world with the goal of increasing our appreciation of the scope, wonder, and complexity of physical reality. We will also investigate physical reality and the boundaries of science for any hidden wisdom within this reality which may illuminate the central questions of the purpose of our existence and the meaning of life.
As a college science professor for twenty years, I can affirm the appropriate nature of such a course. In fact, this courses is in line with The Liberal Art of Science: Agenda for Action, The Report of the Project on Liberal Education and the Sciences (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1990). This AAAS study concludes that students can learn science effectively in historical and cultural context.
The long course bibliography at the end of the syllabus reflects a diversity of perspectives on science, both current and historical. Indeed, this bibliography includes books and essays by many distinguished scholars, including Oxford University mathematician John Lennox, Harvard University astronomer Owen Gingerich, Oxford mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose, and physicist and Anglican priest John Polkinghorne.
Some of the authors represented in the bibliography are supporters of intelligent design in biology: Biochemist Michael Behe and philosopher of science Stephen Meyer jump out in this regard. Others (like biologist Francis Collins and physicist Karl Giberson) are staunch critics of intelligent design and defenders of Darwinian evolution. In addition, the authors in the bibliography hold a wide diversity of religious views. Some are Christians. Lee Spetner and Gerard Schroeder are Jewish. Roger Penrose is an atheist. Antony Flew was a former-atheist-turned-deist. Paul Davies is perhaps best described as some form of pantheist.
Questions about the evidence for design in the universe and the boundaries of science are perfectly legitimate topics for a university seminar. These topics have provoked centuries of scholarly discussion, and the scholars cited in Hedin's bibliography are some of the leading voices in this great conversation. This fact hasn't stopped the inquisitors at the militantly atheist Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) from launching a witch-hunt and demanding that Ball State University investigate, censor, and punish Hedin for his supposed misdeeds. Unfortunately, the university seems to have acquiesced to the demands for the witch-hunt, agreeing to investigate the unfounded complaint from FFRF.
Ball State University officials need to hear from people who support Prof. Hedin's academic freedom and who oppose the witch-hunt agenda of the militant atheists of FFRF.
Do your part by signing a petition in support of Prof. Hedin that will be delivered to university officials. I just did it myself. Also, encourage your friends to sign the petition, which is available at www.academicfreedompetition.com.