William A. Dembski

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William A. Dembski : biography

July 18, 1960 –

The center’s mission, and the lack of consultation with the Baylor faculty, became the immediate subject of controversy. The faculty feared for the university’s reputation – it has historically been well regarded for its contributions to mainstream science – and scientists outside the university questioned whether Baylor had "gone fundamentalist". Faculty members pointed out that the university’s existing interdisciplinary Institute for Faith and Learning was already addressing questions about the relationship between science and religion, making the existence of the Polanyi Center somewhat redundant. In April 2000, Dembski hosted a conference on "naturalism in science" sponsored by the Templeton Foundation and the hub of the intelligent design movement, the Discovery Institute, seeking to address the question "Is there anything beyond nature?". Most of the Baylor faculty boycotted the conference.

A few days later, the Baylor faculty senate voted by a margin of 27–2 to ask the administration to dissolve the center and merge it with the Institute for Faith and Learning. President Sloan refused, citing issues of censorship and academic integrity, but agreed to convene an outside committee to review the center. The committee recommended setting up a faculty advisory panel to oversee the science and religion components of the program, dropping the name "Michael Polanyi" and reconstituting the center as part of the Institute for Faith and Learning. These recommendations were accepted in full by the university administration.

In a subsequent press release, Dembski asserted that the committee had given an "unqualified affirmation of my own work on intelligent design", that its report "marks the triumph of intelligent design as a legitimate form of academic inquiry" and that "dogmatic opponents of design who demanded that the Center be shut down have met their Waterloo. Baylor University is to be commended for remaining strong in the face of intolerant assaults on freedom of thought and expression."http://www.arn.org/docs/dembski/wd_upicommentary1200.htm

Dembski’s remarks were criticized by other members of the Baylor faculty, who protested that they were both an unjustified attack on his critics at Baylor and a false assertion that the university endorsed Dembski’s controversial views on intelligent design. Charles Weaver, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor and one of the most vocal critics of the Polanyi Center, commented: "In academic arguments, we don’t seek utter destruction and defeat of our opponents. We don’t talk about Waterloos."

President Sloan asked Dembski to withdraw his press release, but Dembski refused, accusing the university of "intellectual McCarthyism" (borrowing a phrase that Sloan himself had used when they first tried to dissolve the center). He declared that the university’s action had been taken "in the utmost of bad faith … thereby providing the fig leaf of justification for my removal.", Oct 19, 2000 Professor Michael Beaty, director of the Institute for Faith and Learning, said that Dembski’s remarks violated the spirit of cooperation that the committee had advocated and stated that "Dr. Dembski’s actions after the release of the report compromised his ability to serve as director.", October 19, 2000 Dembski was removed as the center’s director, although he remained an associate research professor until May 2005. He was not asked to teach any courses in that time and instead worked from home, writing books and speaking around the country. "In a sense, Baylor did me a favor," he said. "I had a five-year sabbatical."http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/10/the-pseudo-scie.html

Seminary teaching

From 1999 to 2005, he was on the faculty of Baylor University, where he was a focus of attention and controversy. During the academic year 2005-6, he was briefly the Carl F. H. Henry Professor of Theology and Science at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as the first director of the school’s new Center for Theology and Science (since replaced by prominent creationist Kurt Wise).Creationist to will lead seminary science center Peter Smith. The Courier-Journal, April 17, 2006 (article available for a fee at ) The seminary teaches creationism but its professors vary on the details, with most adhering to the Young Earth creationist viewpoint of a relatively recent creation which occurred literally as described in Genesis; Dembski does not hold to Young Earth creationism. On his position at Southern, Dembski also remarked that "Theology is where my ultimate passion is and I think that is where I can uniquely contribute." Jeff Robinson. Baptist Press, September 16, 2004 He left Southern in May 2006. Starting in June 2006 he became a professor in philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Since taking up a position within Southwestern’s School of Theology in June 2006, Dembski has taught a number of courses within its Department of Philosophy of Religion., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dembski’s personal website For some of his courses, he requires that his students promote Intelligent Design on "hostile" websites for course credit. The Southern Baptist Convention operates both seminaries.