Chemistry professor Ned Bowden of the University of Iowa didn’t expect a hostile backlash from 25 of his colleagues when he wrote an article for the university’s website, Iowa Now, supporting the existence of God. Bowden did not refute the theory of evolution in the article, but merely suggested that much of it actually supports the biblical account of creation.
Bowden’s peers, mainly from the biology department, wrote a response lambasting and accusing him of being ill-informed. They said Iowa Now was doing a great disservice to the university by publishing the article. Some of Bowden’s colleagues went as far as calling into question his credentials for teaching a class on Genesis and Evolution.
But Bowden said the professors failed to notice that he was not arguing against evolution, only pointing out unresolved holes in the theory.
“Denying that these gaps exist is embarrassing and makes science appear as arrogant,” the associate professor told me. He believes it is important for scientists to admit they don’t know everything about how the world came into being.
The faculty members also disapproved of Bowden’s acknowledgement of the existence of God. This shows the intolerance of science, Bowden said: “When you come out so strongly saying evolution has to be accepted and no one has a right to question it, people are going to be offended.”
Bowden wrote the article more than half a year ago but he said Iowa Now didn’t publish it until two weeks ago because school officials were afraid it would offend people, especially the state legislature who helps fund them. But even after the controversy, school officials stood by their decision to publish the piece, citing their desire to foster a community conducive to civil dialog.
Not everyone at the university opposed the article. Faculty members contacted Bowden personally in support of his views, but said they don’t talk about what they believe because they don’t want to “stick their necks out.”
The website will not permit Bowden to respond to the rebuttal.
But his colleagues’ reaction shows it’s not enough to embrace the theory of evolution, holes and all. To be accepted, scientists must deny any belief in a creator who brought the world into existence. Bowden wishes the scientific community would just admit that there is much they don’t know about the origin of the world: “When talking about evolution it’s 10 percent science and 90 percent creative writing.”