Ball State is reviewing one of its courses after allegations that a professor is crossing the line by expressing his religious beliefs in class. The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a formal complaint against Ball State professor Eric Hedin’s teaching of “Boundaries of Science,” an Honors College course.
Andrew Seidel, the foundation’s attorney, said the group acknowledges the value of such a class, but argues Hedin’s class is one-sided.
“This class does not appear to be an honest investigation into the intersection of science and religion,” he wrote in a letter to president Jo Ann Gora.
Seidel also said Ball State could face legal and credibility questions because of Hedin’s teaching.
“We take matters related to academic integrity very seriously,” university spokesperson Joan Todd said. “To that end, the university has initiated a thorough review of the course to make certain the curriculum is appropriate and the methods of instruction are academically sound.”
Seidel said the foundation is also filing an objection to other classes Hedin has taught, including an introductory astronomy class.
“You have a good reason to be talking about religion in a religion and science class, but there is no reason it should be coming up in your introductory level astronomy class,” he said. “Religion is not a part of astronomy.”
Fifth-year senior criminology major Jake Owens said he was in Hedin’s astronomy 100 class in the Fall Semester of 2011 and that he wasn’t bothered when Hedin brought up religion.
“He brought it up a lot when he would get into the constellations and how amazing the universe was,” he said. “He didn’t bring it up, obviously, when he was going into the scientific aspects.”
But Owens, who identified himself as a Christian, said Hedin did not open religion up to discussion in his class..
“I hate to say it, but it was more of a preaching type of thing,” Owens said. “It wasn’t like he said it and then opened it up to say, ‘Does anybody else have an opinion on this?’ If I remember correctly, some people did say things, whether they agreed or disagreed, but he didn’t really open it up for discussion.”
Seidel said the foundation just wants an investigation of the courses and for the university to take steps to correct the issues if the allegations are found to be valid.
He said the foundation has received more evidence that this case shows more preaching and less teaching as the issue has gained publicity.
On ratemyprofessor.com, Hedin has received generally positive reviews with a few specifically mentioning religious bias.
“Extremely nice guy and an easy class. However, the class had an extremely Christian bias and he does not believe in evolution. Many of his views do not quite jive with those of mainstream science,” one rater said.
Another said Hedin was a great teacher, but he “constantly talks religion, as an atheist, I was slightly concerned my science teacher is a devout christian.”