Archive for Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Miller named to chair KU religious studies department

December 21, 2005


Kansas University announced today it has named Timothy Miller to serve as acting chair of the Department of Religious Studies through June 2006.

Miller will replace Paul Mirecki, who stepped down from the post recently after being under fire for a controversy that sparked headlines around the country.

Mirecki, an associated professor, planned to teach a religious studies course on intelligent design. Then his comments on an Internet discussion board about the course, religious fundamentalists and Catholics sparked sharp criticism. The course was canceled. Mirecki resigned from his post as department chairman, and reported being physically assaulted by two unknown men in an incident he said was connected to the controversy.

Barbara Romzek, interim dean of KU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, today appointed Miller to serve as chairman.

A scholar of alternative religions in America, Miller has been on the faculty since 1973. He had previously served as departmental chair from 1997 to 2002.

Miller holds master's and doctoral degrees from KU. Miller has published five books, including Following in His Steps: A Biography of Charles M. Sheldon, the story of a Topeka pastor, and The Quest for Utopia in Twentieth-Century America. He has edited two books and published more than 30 scholarly journal articles. With the exception of a visiting professorship at Dartmouth College in 1995, Miller has been on the KU faculty, starting as lecturer in 1973 and earning the rank of professor in 1998.

Miller received the Steeples Award in 2002, an annual award to faculty in the college for outstanding service to the state of Kansas.


Bob Forer 11 years, 1 month ago

Finally, the administration made a gutsy deciion: choosinga gutless leader.

ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie 11 years, 1 month ago

Let's hope this guy is more emotionally stable and less bigoted than Mirecki.

wonderhorse 11 years, 1 month ago


An associate professor is tenured and can chair a department. Happens a lot, although I'll agree that is a long time to go without getting full professorship.


Please show me where Mirecki is either emotionally unstable or a bigot. I have yet to see any examples of either posted.

wonderhorse 11 years, 1 month ago


Miller is allied with Mirecki and is anti-ID as a science.

What kind of power play are you thinking? I think this is the dean's way of backing Mirecki.

ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie 11 years, 1 month ago

The hateful and juvenile tone of Mirecki's emails combined with the fact that he wants to sue the LPD because he believes they're diggin too deep to find his "attackers" leads me to believe he is unstable. He may have an impressive CV, but even Chimp Bush can claim himself as an ivy league graduate.

wonderhorse 11 years, 1 month ago

I din't see anything hateful or juvenile about his e-mails. I think you're reading too much into it, because of your insecurities.

What is this about suing the LPD? I hadn't read that. Can you post a cite?

Laura Wilson 11 years, 1 month ago

It is fairly common for a past chair to step in as an acting chair. There are a lot of associate professors who never make full professor and they're often very good teachers, very good administrators. And while Tim's credentials aren't the same as Professor Mireki's doesn't mean he's not a good professor or good administrator. He was chair for five years and being chair is not a fun job. I'm sure he'll do fine this time around, too.

ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie 11 years, 1 month ago

I don't hate Mirecki, not at all. If anything, I have sympathy for him. He's created a horrible mess for himself and I hope he seeks help.

mom_of_three 11 years, 1 month ago

"Hope he seeks help" for what? For having different ideas about ID than some, for getting beat up and having no one believe him, for wanting to teach a class some didn't want taught..... I don't know what he needs help for. He did get caught up in a terrible mess, but it wasn't just created by him....He had lots of help

Dani Davey 11 years, 1 month ago

Wendt - I like you and most of the time I agree with you but on this whole Mirecki issue you're as crazy to the left as some of these posters are to the right. The University has never come out against Mirecki and just because they aren't kissing his ass doesn't mean they have a pro-ID stance. The University of Kansas is a big place, with the interests of lots of students, staff and faculty to think about (not just Paul Mirecki). It's hard enough to pay to maintain and run a quality University of 30,000+ students and attract students from out of state as it is...the last thing the University needs is to go crazy to the left and lose all it's financial support from the state.

Whatever happened to moderation?

Baille 11 years, 1 month ago

"Miller is allied with Mirecki and is anti-ID as a science."

At least Miller sounds rational. ID is fun, but it ain't science.

LarryFarma 11 years, 1 month ago

Posted by wendt on December 21, 2005 at 5:15 p.m.

Chancellor Hemenway, in essence, stated that someone who criticized a pseudoscience with as much validity as astrology was "vile". .

You don't know what you are talking about. Hemenway was responding to the email in which Mirecki said that the course would be a "nice slap in the big fat face of the fundies."

We now have clowns on both sides of the debate -- MIrecki on one side, and the Dover school board members and Michael Behe on the other side --

(1) One Dover school board member collected $850 from his church to purchase ID books for the school library and then lied about it in court.

(2) Behe, a witness for the defense in the Dover case, testiified that ID is on the same level as astrology. Had he defined ID as not an explanation for the origin of species but as just a scientific criticism of evolution theory, it would not have been necessary for him to say that.

james bush 11 years, 1 month ago

Good luck to Mr Miller! I would have to think he or anyone else in the Department would be better suited to guide religious studies curriculum than the bigot Mirecki.

bigjim 11 years, 1 month ago

Hey jimcountry, glad to see you're keeping the lib dogs at bay. Watching them try to defend Mirecki is hilarious. The man is trash, bashing Catholics, Jews, and Protestants like that. Out of the 1500 or so faculty at KU, Mirecki is the idiot that gave them a bad name. I doubt he has many friends and I'll bet they can't wait to see him go.

norm 11 years, 1 month ago

So, we move from a guy who got a bit too big for his britches by making internet posts that were traced (KU staff and faculty frequently misuse their State issued email address to post on all manner of internet sites....this religion guy is not alone....he just got caught) to a guy like Miller who has seen himself and his "publications" over the past many years as "radical"; and as being a "thorn in the side".....of KU?

It's hard to NOT notice that Miller was nowhere to be seen in the public in support of his fellow "academician". Where was his "thorny" nature when it was really needed by one of his own....or were there already internal struggles? Weren't there "issues of ethics" for Miller in the late '70's and early '80's vis-a-vis in fraternizing with students in the way we all know gets you in trouble or was that another "religious" "professor"?

Miller owns rental property in town and perhaps has been tamed by all that money he's getting both from KU and from the rental land/house he owns. Owning rental property ain't no crime. Allowing a misguided member of your "club" to swing in the breeze is pretty reprehensible from our view point, though and could be construed as a "moral crime". Is this a Voltairish/Candide like view of "....all things happen for the best in this best of all possible worlds...."?

QUESTION: Does Miller get a salary increase for these extra duties, or does he just have to pucker up and kiss cheeks a bit more for this fabulous new title?

lunacydetector 11 years, 1 month ago

i wonder if this guy is an agnostic or an atheist?

Brian Laird 11 years, 1 month ago

Bigjim - Just because someone derides political opponents (i.e. fundies) and wants to score points against them ("slap in their face") does not mean that they are a "bigot" or an "idiot. Intemperate, maybe. You complain about him, but you are no different. Look at your quote "Hey jimcountry, glad to see you're keeping the lib dogs at bay". Somehow I think that "lib dogs" is a bit harsher than "fundies".

Your hypocracy is stunning.

bigjim 11 years, 1 month ago

boltzmann, I don't think you read the things Mirecki said (much much more than "fundies" and "Slap in their ...". REad some old articles of what he had to say about the Pope and the Jews then you will understand.

Bob Forer 11 years, 1 month ago

Jim, why don't you just go back to the hills with your redneck friends.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 1 month ago

Miller will do fine as chair. He's more of an iconoclast than an ideologue. His viewpoints about almost anything have been anything but obscure. Just check out the Lawrencian for his monthly column, and any of his old Plumber's Friends newsletters if you want to get an idea of where he stands on almost anything. But it probably wouldn't be a good idea to ask Dolph Jr. for his opinion.

Bob Forer 11 years, 1 month ago

Attendance at a univesity does not necessarily clean away the grim of a hillbilly mentality. Once you take him out of the hills, he's still a "billy," albeit, an educated billy.

LarryFarma 11 years, 1 month ago

If the only alternative to evolution theory is some form of creationism, and if all forms of creationism are religious, then any criticism of evolution theory promotes creationism and religion and hence must be barred from public-school science classes because of the constitutional principle of church-state separation. Thus, evolution theory is immune from criticism in our public-school science classes.

Opponents of intelligent design insist that it is just a religious concept just so they can use the constitutional principle of church-state separation to try to keep it out of public-school science classes. Intelligent design can be taught as just a scientific criticism of evolution theory, with no reference to religion. As for the claim that intelligent design is pseudoscientific, there is no constitutional separation of pseudoscience and state. The name "intelligent design" is unfortunate because it implies the existence of an "intelligent designer."

wonderhorse 11 years, 1 month ago


Why do you say that the only alternative to evolution theory is some form of creationism? ID is not science. Evolution has stood the test of peer review for quite awhile. If someone could come up with a peer-reviewed alternative, I would be willing to listen. To the best of my knowledge (somebody correct me if I'm wrong), nobody has published a peer-reviewed article regarding ID.

LarryFarma 11 years, 1 month ago

Posted by wonderhorse on December 22, 2005 at 11:40 a.m.

Larry Why do you say that the only alternative to evolution theory is some form of creationism? ID is not science.

My statement had nothing to do with whether creationism or ID is scientific or not. I was only talking about alternative explanations for the origin of species, whether those explanations are scientific or not. Some ID/creationism proponents have claimed -- and I think that some proponents of evolution theory agree -- that ID/creationism is the only alternative to evolution theory as an explanation for the origin of species, so that disproving evolution theory would automatically prove ID/creationism. This claim is sometimes called the "dichotomy" concept or -- in the disparaging words of the court opinion of the Dover case -- the "contrived dualism" concept.

Anyway, there are some scientific criticisms of evolution theory that have nothing to do with creationism or ID -- some examples are criticisms that concern (1) the mathematical probability of evolution and (2) the propagation of favorable mutations. Because these scientific criticisms of evolution theory would tend to discredit it, then according to the dichotomy concept these scientific criticisms would indirectly promote creationism and consequently religion and hence cannot be taught in public-school science classes because of the church-state separation principle.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 1 month ago

Pilgrim-- Do you understand the difference between hate and disrespect? And particularily, do you understand that his disrepsect stems directly from his experiences being brought up catholic, a disrespect shared by millions of "recovering" catholics (going back way further than Martin Luther.)

Not a word about Jews in your quotes, but I'm sure you'd view any criticism of Israel as hatred of Jews.

bigjim 11 years ago


Good posts. Whether the libs call Mirecki's comments hate or criticism, the comments certainly show Mirecki's complete lack of objectivity in his area of teaching. It constitutes professional misconduct and I think he should be removed for it. What Catholic, Jew, or Protestant would attend his class after hearing his remarks?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years ago

Why is it the supporters of ID think that "objectivity" means accepting this stupid idea as science, when it clearly isn't?

bigjim 11 years ago

Just_another_bozo, evolution isn't a science either since it doesn't fit the scientific method of being repeatable or observable.

wonderhorse 11 years ago


uhm, yes, the theory of evolution is a science, and is taught as such. Please take a class, it will clear your head.

wonderhorse 11 years ago


"agnostic" and "atheist" aren't comparable terms. One can be an agnostic and be theist or atheist. One can also be an atheisit and be either gnostic or agnostic. It would be tough to be a gnostic atheist, but I suppose it could be done.

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