Saturday, December 11, 2010

evangelical scientist persecuted by fundamentalist scientists in academia

This is what happens when...

a.) people conflate and confuse "old-earth" and "young-earth" versions of "creationism" (a form of ignorance that is often, frustratingly, perpetuated by the media)

b.) one deals with fundamentalists on Evolution (the science-laced narrative that evolution can [or at least will be able to] "explain" everything we see around us in terms of the development of life)-- in the face of someone who advocates critical thinking and the investigation of alternative hypotheses

c.) one deals with academics who supposedly value tolerance and academic freedom

d.) all of the above

The answer, sadly is D.

From Peter Smith of the C-J...

No one denies that astronomer Martin Gaskell was the leading candidate for the founding director of a new observatory at the University of Kentucky in 2007 — until his writings on evolution came to light.

Gaskell had given lectures to campus religious groups around the country in which he said that while he has no problem reconciling the Bible with the theory of evolution, he believes the theory has major flaws. And he recommended students read theory critics in the intelligent-design movement.

That stance alarmed UK science professors and, the university acknowledges, played a role in the job going to another candidate.

Now a federal judge says Gaskell has a right to a jury trial over his allegation that he lost the job because he is a Christian and "potentially evangelical."...

Originally, Gaskell was rated the leading candidate by the UK search committee, which was looking for a founding director for the observatory, which opened in 2008.

Gaskell had a doctorate in his field, had published extensively on such subjects as black holes in space, and had developed an observatory at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln atop a campus parking garage — an innovative approach UK eventually would use...

But search committee members also learned of lecture notes Gaskell posted on his University of Nebraska website for a talk, "Modern Astronomy, the Bible and Creation."...Much of the lecture seeks to show the harmony between modern astronomy and the biblical book of Genesis. But on the topic of biology, Gaskell says there are “major scientific problems in evolutionary theory," even though he accepts it...

Gaskell, in his lecture notes, calls [young-earth] creationism “very bad scientifically and theologically” and said it “actually hinders some scientists becoming Christians.”...

One of Gaskell's attorneys, Francis J. Manion, said Gaskell “would have been the perfect foil to what those (UK) decision-makers view as the kind of scientific obscurantism represented by the Creation Museum: an openly Christian man of science who accepts evolution.”...


At December 11, 2010 at 3:30 PM , Blogger William Lang said...

His personal website (Martin Gaskell—Personal Homepage) is interesting. It contains his detailed discussion for Christians about faith and science, "Modern Astronomy, the Bible and Creation." It turns out he's a theistic evolutionist; I didn't see anything in his website that made me uncomfortable.

At December 11, 2010 at 10:35 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

thanks for the link!

At December 12, 2010 at 11:32 AM , Blogger Janet P said...

You'd hope that with the increasing number of highly educated persons coming out now willing to consider "Intelligent Design", or at least questioning the validity of fundamental evolutionary assumptions, that this type of persecution would be on the decline; unfortunately I guess not.

It makes me wonder why not?

I have been thinking about the speed of light as it relates to the age of the universe and I think a possible explanation could lie in Einstein's Theory of Relativity, as the principle applies to time and space.

The concept of Time is, of course, impossible to completely define. However, relativity suggests that if you were to actually travel at the speed of light, the time your watch keeps would slow down by a factor of 70,000.

So say you were in a spacecraft travelling to Sirius at the speed of light.
Round trip for you in the spacecraft would only be about 8 hours, but upon your return to Earth, you would find that 18 years had passed.

It's all simply a matter of your Time-Reference Point.

Anyway - don't really have time for a debate right now, but thought it was an interesting idea.

At December 12, 2010 at 2:30 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

JP, that sounds like physicist Gerald Schroeder's argument in his book, The Science of God.

At December 12, 2010 at 3:24 PM , Blogger Janet P said...

I have never heard of Schroeder.
I'll have to check out his book!

I was listening to a lecture recently on the time-space continuum and the thought occurred that it might have something to do with apparent age of universe.

At December 13, 2010 at 1:18 PM , Blogger William Lang said...

Janet, I've seen young-earthers suggest that the theory of relativity might explain how the universe can be so large and still be young (we see objects in the sky that are millions of light years away, so therefore millions of years old). But the problem is that there is one constant in relativity: the speed of light. It's the same for all observers regardless of their location or motion. So if something is a million light years away, the light really did take a million years to get here, and the object really is a million years old.

At December 13, 2010 at 9:34 PM , Blogger Janet P said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At December 13, 2010 at 10:19 PM , Blogger Janet P said...


Nowhere in my comment did I suggest that the speed of light changes.

The theory of relativity suggests that if you could travel at the speed of light, you would essentially stop moving through the dimension of time so that time would not pass for you, but would be actually passing at the speed of light all around you.
It would definitely not be the same for all observers, although the speed of light itself would remain constant. That's what "relativity" tries to explain.

So here on Earth, our sense of a trip across the universe is millions of years, but for an observer travelling at the speed of light, the trip would be quite momentary.

Mind-boggling!!! But this really is what the theory suggests. So maybe the age of the universe could be seen as a matter of perspective.

At December 13, 2010 at 11:01 PM , Blogger Janet P said...

In summary

According to Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity:

The faster you move, the slower time moves compared to that of a stationary observer.

Einstein said that if you take a clock around the equator and compare with a clock measuring time at the poles, the clock travelling around the equator would be found to actually lose time as compared to the one at say, the North pole. I believe this has been tested, using atomic clocks and a supersonic jet -- and found to be accurate. But I'd have to research the details.


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