Sunday, December 04, 2005

COM: Dumb Professors come on all sides

University cancels creationism class

TOPEKA, Kansas (AP) -- A University of Kansas course devoted to debunking creationism and intelligent design has been canceled after the professor who planned to teach it caused a furor by sending an e-mail mocking Christian fundamentalists.

Twenty-five students had enrolled in the course, originally called "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and Other Religious Mythologies," which had been scheduled for the spring.

Critics of intelligent design say it is merely creationism -- a literal reading of the Bible's story of creation -- camouflaged in scientific language.

Professor Paul Mirecki, chairman of religious studies, canceled the class Wednesday, the university said.

Mirecki recently sent an e-mail to members of a student organization in which he referred to religious conservatives as "fundies" and said a course depicting intelligent design as mythology would be a "nice slap in their big fat face."

He later apologized, and did so again Thursday in a statement issued by the university.

"I made a mistake in not leading by example, in this student organization e-mail forum, the importance of discussing differing viewpoints in a civil and respectful manner," he said.

Chancellor Robert Hemenway said Mirecki's comments were "repugnant and vile."

"It misrepresents everything the university is to stand for," Hemenway said.

The class was added to the curriculum after the Kansas Board of Education decided recently to include more criticism of evolution in science standards for public school students.

State Sen. Kay O'Connor, a Mirecki critic, said the university did the right thing.

"I'm glad they decided to listen to the public. The public response was so negative because of what seemed to be so hateful coming from the KU professor," said O'Connor, a Republican. "I am critical of his hatefulness toward Christians."