Editor’s Note: Georgia State University has responded to our complaint: “As a public university, Georgia Southern is well aware of its great responsibility to abide by all provisions of the Constitution of the United States of America, including the freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment. The institution strives to investigate allegations of Constitutional violations promptly and to take appropriate corrective action based on the results of the investigation. The institution appreciates your communication of a potential violation and will proceed with a thorough investigation of the allegations….”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 29, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Two renowned evolutionary biologists, Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne, have joined with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, to ask Georgia Southern University in Statesboro to investigate a professor for promoting creationism.
A joint letter was sent on Oct. 21, detailing complaints from students about GSU history professor Emerson McMullen’s promotion of Christian beliefs. According to those reports and FFRF’s subsequent investigation, McMullen “crosses ethical and constitutional lines.”
McMullen allegedly uses extra-credit assignments to try to “convert” students by inviting them to write about McMullen’s religious beliefs. He has reportedly also promoted Christian propaganda such as the recent movie “God Is Not Dead,” which pits an atheist professor against a Christian student.
Coyne of the University of Chicago examined some of the class material and took apart the unscientific claims, noting that most of what McMullen said on the topic was “completely wrong.”
“A teacher should be free to express opinions, however ill-informed, so long as he or she makes it clear that they are no more than his opinions. He should not be free to penalize students who fail to parrot his opinions,” Dawkins noted. “And if his opinions include Young Earth Creationism, my personal opinion is that he is no more qualified to teach history than a ‘flat earther’ is to teach geography or a proponent of the ‘stork theory’ is to teach reproductive physiology.”
“What really disturbs us is the allegation that McMullen gives students extra credit for summing up his own views on religion! That’s not teaching, that’s preaching,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
Coyne is the author of Why Evolution is True; and Dawkins is author of such books as The Greatest Show on Earth, and The Selfish Gene, as well as his international blockbuster The God Delusion. Coyne’s new book, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible, is due out in May.
FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew L. Seidel headed the investigation.
The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science is a Washington, DC-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, founded in 2006 by renowned evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, and devoted to advancing a scientifically literate and secular world.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.