When The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last week that the faculty senate of Baylor University voted 26-2 to recommend that the administration dissolve the recently established Michael Polanyi Center for Complexity, Information, and Design, many readers must have assumed that the new hotspot in the Darwin Wars was Waco, Texas. Move over, Kansas. After all, despite much huffing and puffing about procedural matters—the center was established by administrative fiat, under the auspices of the university's Institute for Faith and Learning, rather than through traditional faculty channels—it is clear that opposition to the center has a great deal to do with the ongoing debate over the "intelligent design" movement, which one Baylor faculty member describes as "stealth creationism." But the controversy at Baylor is more complicated than simply a battle between defenders of the Darwinian establishment and champions of intelligent design, and those complications have much to tell us about the challenges facing Christians who are committed to excellence in scholarship—and who are convinced that their faith and their scholarship do not belong in separate compartments, sealed off from each other.The Baylor story begins with Robert B. Sloan, Jr., who has been president of the university since 1995. Sloan, a New Testament scholar with a doctorate in theology from the University of Basel, has sought to increase Baylor's academic excellence while re-emphasizing the university's Christian tradition. As a result of his unapologetic statement that prospective Baylor faculty members should be "individuals who sincerely espouse and seek to express their academic and professional identities through the particularity of the Christian faith—i.e., ...1
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