The story of the Robert Marks debacle has now made the pages of The Chronicle of Higher Education. If the account is accurate, I’m going to do something you’ll only rarely see: I’ll take the side of the creationist.
The problem is that Baylor was more than a little ham-fisted in intruding on Marks’ academic freedom. Marks is promoting this bogus idea of something called “evolutionary informatics”, and he admits that he is doing it on his own time (which leaves Dembski, his colleague, dangling without any legitimate connection to Baylor; if Marks is doing it on his own time, what is he doing hiring Dembski and granting him office space on campus?), and that he had a web page promoting it. The web page is the bone of contention; it seems to have advertised a non-existent Baylor connection, and they had meetings to clear that up.
At that meeting, Mr. Marks agreed to terms outlined by Baylor to remove
any wording on the Web page that implied that Mr. Marks’s work in
evolutionary informatics was associated with the university, Mr. Gilmore
said. When those conditions were met, the evolutionary informatics page
was to be allowed back online, he said. But after the meeting, Baylor
officials asked for further changes beyond what both parties had agreed
to, according to Mr. Gilmore, and the Web page remains offline.
I categorically reject Marks’ whole philosophy and I’d probably call him delusional, but … it is the professor’s job to talk freely about wacky ideas if he wants. A web page that can be shared (and laughed at) is a reasonable part of the commitment to public communication, and I don’t think Baylor should restrict it. Even if the professor is a bit of an embarrassment, and the subject is a sore spot for the university.
The creationists shouldn’t take joy in this, though. You know, Baylor and other universities are going to be even more reluctant to take on faculty with ID/creationist leanings after this: they’re learning that they really stink up the joint.