As of Monday night, the adopted statement had garnered 114 signatures from UNI faculty.
The effort was led by Wendy Olson and Jim Demastes, two faculty members in UNI's department of biology. Olson said the effort arose out of "a flurry of e-mails" that began to circulate when it was announced the university would be hosting a lecture by Guillermo Gonzalez, an ISU assistant professor of physics and astronomy and Iowa's most prominent proponent of intelligent design.
"When that was announced to us, e-mails were flying back and forth about intelligent design as a theory," said Olson, an assistant professor of biology. "Really it had nothing to do with (Gonzalez), but it brought up that whole issue."
Olson said people began to question why UNI's chapter of Sigma Xi - an international honor society of science and engineering - decided to invite an intelligent design proponent.
According to a press release announcing the lecture, organizer Paul Shand felt it was important to get a first-hand account of intelligent design from a proponent "rather than basing opinions on articles and other things members may have read."
To balance the argument, Sigma Xi will follow Gonzalez's lecture with an Oct. 27 lecture titled "Evolution versus Intelligent Design: It's Time to Saddle Up and Draw a Hard Line." The lecture will be presented by John Staver, a professor of science education and director of the Center for Science Education at Kansas State University.
As a member of UNI's department of biology, Olson said she felt it was important to make known the stance of at least 114 UNI faculty members.
"It's not that I have an issue with intelligent design; it is just a religiously based theory," she said. "It is not something that has a scientific basis to it."
Gonzalez said he was disappointed the faculty signed the statement denouncing intelligent design before they even heard him talk.
"If they are so determined that they already know what intelligent design is about and that it is not good for science that they won't hear my side of the story before they issue the statement, they are probably not very open to discussion," he said.
Gonzalez, who argues for intelligent design based on the link between the conditions required for life and the conditions required for doing science, said he will focus his lecture on the history and current research in intelligent design.
Olson said she will be attending the lecture, as well as encouraging her students to go.
"People should hear what they actually are saying," she said.
Olson said she does not plan on standing up and making any kind of statement of her own at the lecture, but says she will if triggered.
"If he does say something along the lines that science totally backs this up, I will as a biologist have to stand up and say that that is not true," she said.
Gonzalez said he has been asked to give an extended question and answer session as a result of the extra attention brought on by the statement.
According to a UNI press release about the lecture, faculty members from the UNI College of Natural Sciences also will be available after the lecture "to discuss the nature of science, as well as the scientific support for evolution by natural selection."
William Dillon can be reached at 232-2161, Ext. 361, or William.Dillon@amestrib.com