Creationism school wants to offer master’s degrees


If the venerable, old and wrong Institute for Creation Research hoped to sneak through their request to grant graduate science degrees in creationism, they are disappointed this morning. The Dallas Morning News exposed their plans on the front page: “Creation college seeks state’s OK; Dallas school plans master’s in science education, fueling debate over teaching evolution.”

To be more accurate, the headline should have said “fueling debate over teaching creationism,” since that’s where the controversy lies.

Also see the story in the Austin American-Statesman. (Update 12/19/2007 — see these posts, too: Lack of resources; Bending science to keep religion rigid.)

Steve Benson cartoon from 2004, creationists Cartoon by Steve Benson of the Arizona Republic, 2004; via Panda’s Thumb

It’s scary to think people can be granted a degree in lying to innocent children, and that it would be counted as a factor in favor of their teaching, instead of as a problem to be overcome like a bad background report.

But ICR was granting degrees in California. They hope to expand their sales in Texas, closer to the Bible Belt’s buckle.

A state advisory group gave its approval Friday; now the final say rests with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which will consider the request next month.

How will the state’s serious higher education institutions respond? What should Texas education officials do? It’s a difficult question, really. Generally states allow any institution that gets accreditation to grant degrees. ICR was denied accreditation in California, but set up a separate accrediting company for Bible colleges and religiously affiliated schools. When the U.S. Department of Education authorized that accrediting association as acceptable for Pell Grant and Stafford Grant purposes, California’s ability to stop the madness was limited. Texas allows degrees for colleges that teach chiropractic medicine, and there are probably several other degree granting programs that would raise eyebrows of rational people, were they better known.

“It just seems odd to license an organization to offer a degree in science when they’re not teaching science,” Mr. [Dan] Quinn [of the Texas Freedom Network] said.

“What we’re seeing here is another example of how Texas is becoming the central state in efforts by creationists to undermine science education, especially the teaching of evolution.”

A group of educators and officials from the state Coordinating Board visited the campus in November and met with faculty members. The group found that the institute offered a standard science education curriculum that would prepare them to take state licensure exams, said Glenda Barron, an associate commissioner of the board.

Dr. Barron said the program was held to the same standards that any other college would have to meet.

“The master’s in science education, we see those frequently,” she said. “What’s different – and what’s got everybody’s attention – is the name of the institution.”

No, it’s not the name of the institution that worries us — it’s their history of defending buncombe, hoaxes and falsehoods as science, detracting from the education of science in a major way.

Science education in the U.S. is under assault. ICR is asking Texas to surrender the nation’s future and accept the ICR’s white flag of ignorance as the state’s own. It is unclear to me whether the state may refuse to do that, though it would be the moral thing to do to refuse.

See also:

What can a poor citizen of Texas do?

Rules for the Higher Education Coordinating Board listed at the Board’s website deal with student achievement, not college accreditation.

The meeting is set for January 24, in Austin. Here you’ll find a list of the commissioners — is there any hope that an appointee from the Ann Richards administration is still there? — and the commissioner, Dr. Raymond Paredes. Their office contact numbers are listed, too. When one sees these assaults on the future of students and Texas’ economic future, one begins to appreciate that in a southern state with a set of “weakened” governor’s duties, it makes a difference who sits in the governor’s chair and makes the appointments to even minor state boards.

Perhaps we can hope that someone will point out the stuff taught at ICR is anti-Aggie and anti-Longhorn, not to mention anti-oil and anti-grapefruit, pro-boll weevil, and generally bunk.

California once denied ICR the right to grant science degrees. There were lawsuits, and a special exemption granted.

The chief victims of this scheme, ultimately, is any kid who gets an education in the odd and incorrect stuff taught at ICR. No one thinks for a moment that these graduates are going to set any part of the research world on fire, discover a new source of fossil fuels, or advance any part of geology, biology, paleontology, or physics. The intent, clearly, is to give true believers and fellow travelers papers that allow them to infiltrate public education.

__________________________________________

Here is the distance education class list for the Institute for Creation Research, for 2008. I have highlighted a few pseudo-science or otherwise questionable courses in red.

Quarterly Course Rotation for 2008

Winter Quarter to begin second week in January

SE 502 Educational Psychology (3)
SE 503 Instructional Design (3)
SE 506 Curriculum Implementation (3)
AG 506 Geochronology (4)
GE 505 Geochronology (4)
BI 504 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy (4)
Spring Quarter to begin 4th week in March

SE 504 Educational Research (3)
SE 505 Curriculum Design (3)
SE 507 Inquiry and the Nature of Science (3)
AG 507 Paleoclimatology with Lab (4)
GE 510 Principles/Patterns in Paleontology (3)
GE 510L Principles/Patterns in Paleontology Lab (1) (duration 1 week)
BI 507 Principles/Patterns in Paleontology (3)
BI 507L Principles/Patterns in Paleontology Lab (1) (duration 1 week)
BI 572 Advanced Cell and Molecular Biology (3/4)
Summer Quarter to begin 3rd week in June

SE 502 Educational Psychology (3)
SE 503 Instructional Design (3)
SE 506 Curriculum Implementation (3)
AG 510 Planetary and Stellar Astronomy with Lab (4)
BI 506 Advanced Ecology with Lab (4)
GE 501 Physics and Geology of Natural Disasters (3)
GE 572 Geology Field Investigation (Lab) (2)
Fall Quarter to begin 2nd week in September

SE 504 Educational Research (3)
SE 505 Curriculum Design (3)
SE 507 Inquiry and the Nature of Science (3)
AG 513 Creation and Cosmology (3)
GE 502 Geology of the Global Flood (3)
BI 505 Biological Concepts (3)
BI 505L Biological Concepts Lab (1)

It doesn’t help the reputation of the school among scientists that the geology department is headed by Dr. Stephen Austin, generally regarded by many scientists as a major perpetrator of pseudo-science and hoaxes. Course descriptions for a few classes, below, contain code words that will raise the hackles of geologists who know the pseudo-science claims; and, to me, these courses sound like undergraduate seminars, not graduate-level work.

GE 505 GEOCHRONOLOGY (4)

A review, critique, and evaluation of assumptions and evidences for the age of the earth and its rock layers. Particular emphasis will be placed on surveying the use of the radioisotope dating methods, especially potassium-argon, rubidium-strontium, samarium-neodymium and uranium-thorium-lead, to expose the fatal problems with them. Special emphasis will also focus on the results of the RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth) research project, including helium diffusion in zircon, fission tracks, radiohalos, discordant isochron ‘ages’, and radiocarbon in supposedly ancient organic materials and diamonds, that together indicate that nuclear decay was grossly accelerated during a recent catastrophic event in earth history and that the earth is therefore young. A thorough analysis of all the evidence indicating a young earth will be undertaken.

GE 510 PRINCIPLES AND PATTERNS IN PALEONTOLOGY (3)

A lecture/seminar/lab course that reviews the mode, tempo, and biases of fossil preservation and major features and patterns of the fossil record. The student is trained in the principles of pattern recognition and paleobiological and paleoecological interpretation. The lab reviews techniques of field collection, laboratory preparation, mathematical analyses, and interpretation of fossil material. No prerequisite, but BI503 and/or GE502 is recommended. Cross listed as BI507.

Courses in Astro/Geophysics don’t exactly build confidence in the discerning educator’s eye, either. These are graduate level courses? Seriously? See the phrase “fatal problems” with isotope dating methods? What that means is that these fellows dispute atomic theory. That’s not science. Take a look:

AG 505 GEOCHRONOLOGY (4)

A review, critique, and evaluation of assumptions and evidences for the age of the earth and its rock layers. Particular emphasis will be placed on surveying the use of the radioisotope dating methods, especially potassium-argon, rubidium-strontium, samarium-neodymium and uranium-thorium-lead, to expose the fatal problems with them. Special emphasis will also focus on the results of the RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth) research project, including helium diffusion in zircon, fission tracks, radiohalos, discordant isochron “ages,” and radiocarbon in supposedly ancient organic materials and diamonds, that together indicate that nuclear decay was grossly accelerated during a recent catastrophic event in earth history and that the earth is therefore young. A thorough analysis of all the evidence indicating a young earth will be undertaken.

AG 507 PALEOCLIMATOLOGY (4)

Climates before and after the Genesis Flood. The descriptive and observational components of this course are suitable for the general graduate student who desires an exposure to descriptions of past climates. Numerical climate models like MM5 (Mesoscale Meteorology Model) and CAM (Community Atmospheric Model) will be used to explore unique conditions believed to have been present on Earth during and following the Genesis Flood. Data from conventional sources such as ice cores and sea-floor sediment cores will be interpreted in context of a young-earth time model.

AG 510 PLANETARY AND STELLAR ASTRONOMY (4)

An introduction to planetary and stellar astronomy, including aspects of the sky, time, coordinates, telescopes, and observational techniques. The structure and origin of the universe will be studied.

AG 513 CREATION AND COSMOLOGY(4)

This course teaches the basics of cosmology, outlines the big-bang theory, and contrasts it with several creationist cosmologies. It touches on areas of science such as orbital mechanics, astronomy, relativity, and quantum mechanics, but not in great detail.

The biology courses look innocuous, if one hasn’t read the claims ICR makes about biology from time to time, in their church publications. I’ll wager it will be almost impossible to get a syllabus for these biology courses or any of the other courses, between now and January 24.

BI 505 BIOLOGICAL CONCEPTS (3)

A survey focusing on the various theories of biological origin and diversification, their historical development, current versions and their impact on biological thought. The evolutionist and creationist models of nature are reviewed in light of contemporary biological knowledge. Emphasis is placed on distinguishing between observation, hypothesis, evidence, and confirmation as applied to evaluating evolutionists and creationist paradigms and their implications.

BI 506 ADVANCED ECOLOGY/FIELD/LAB (4)

A model is presented for how the biosphere is designed and structured, and how it functions. Communities, ecosystems, and biomes are examined to see how they fit the model. Mankind’s role in managing the earth is discussed and evaluated along with possible solutions to various environmental problems. Prerequisite BI 502.

BI 507 PRINCIPLES AND PATTERNS IN PALEONTOLOGY/LAB (4)

(Also listed as GE 510) In this lecture/seminar/lab students review the mode, tempo, and biases of fossil preservation and the major features and patterns of the fossil record. Students are also trained in principles of pattern recognition and paleobiological and paleoecological interpretation. The lab reviews techniques of field collection, laboratory preparation, mathematical analyses, and interpretation of fossil material. No prerequisite, but BI 503 and GE 502 are recommended.

BI 512 ADVANCED CELL AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY (3)

An in-depth, comparative investigation into several metabolic pathways that are required to acquire, convert, and use energy in different cell types within and between organisms. This course also places special emphasis on the regulation of these metabolic pathways, the integration between different pathways within the cell, and the implications in the current origins debate of these processes. Pre-requisite BI 501.

Do they use tinfoil covered mortar boards at graduation?

This quote greets visitors to the ICR website — prophecy? Their goal?

And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
Isaiah 59:14

Readers, please, tell us how things are in your state — and, do you think Texas should authorize degrees in creationism, in education?

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11 Responses to Creationism school wants to offer master’s degrees

  1. […] Education” offered by the “Institute for Creation Research Graduate School.” (See this post on Ed Darrell’s blog for an overview of the program, and the links here for more information on TX & the creationist […]

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  2. […] Or, to get a good overview of the program without clicking through the pages on their site, you can visit this post on Ed Darrell’s blog. […]

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  3. […] interest forces me to be more timely with this notice — a post from this blog is featured, a post on the astounding proposal to award degrees in creationism to educators in […]

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  4. […] Creationism school wants to grant master’s degrees (MFB) […]

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  5. Ray says:

    windar 007 claims to be a zoologist. I think not, although he plays one on the internet. I smell a typical, barely-educated creationist in zoologist’s clothing.

    First problem: Whales didn’t originate “6+” million years ago. The story starts almost 50 million years ago. A real zoologist would know that.

    Second problem: windar 007 is relying on the quote-mining of other creationists, a standard practise for those who know nothing about the subject in which they debate. Were he/she really a zoologist he/she would have access to something a bit more substantive than this.

    Third problem: windar 007’s sources are vastly out of date. Isn’t it silly to use old sources when new data is coming into existence all of the time? A real zoologist would have more recent info at hand rather than a 5th edition Colbert, a 1997 Carroll and a 1986 papper from a Russian guy that no one has ever heard of except for the creationists.

    Fourth problem: windar 007’s reference about DNA is rather vague and general, not to mention wrong. I would expect more from a zoologist. But then again, windar 007 is no zoologist.

    Fifth problem: windar 007’s comments are of the “I can’t believe it” nature, rather than a real refutation. His best attempt is to try to mock. So much for his/her expertise in zoology, eh?

    If you’d actually like to see how it’s done, go to my article on whale origins at:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/features/whales/

    and see if you can make substantive argument this time.

    Like

  6. windar 007 says:

    Ray sez: “Evolutionary biology tells us that whales are more closely related to hippos than either is to the rest of the ungulates. DNA analyses make this abundantly clear – not to mention the fact that at least one fossil species of ancient whale has hooves on the ends of its toes. How does creationism/ID account for and explain this? And please, no “God works in mysterious ways” nonsense.”

    As a zoologist I sure am glad Ray mentions the myth of “whale evolution” – yup, proto-whales (no one know what they looked like, of course) grazing on some ancient shore “6+ million yrs ago” looked out to sea and thought, “The food would be so much better out there.” Thus began an evolution from hooves-to-fins, the nostrils of this alleged prototype moving to the top of the head (Colbert, 5th ed, p. 393). Hey Ray – how many of these proto-whales drown as the nostrils were making the slow transition?
    Colbert states (p. 392), “Like the bats, the whales (using this term in a general & inclusive sense) appear suddenly in early Tertiary times, fully adapted by profound modifications . . . ” This is just what creation science says, Ray. Whales have always been whales – showing up in the f.r. completely formed as . . . . whales.
    Pakicetus’ restoration is only a “possible appearance” (Colbert, Figure 26-1).
    Carroll (1997, p. 329) said “it is not possible to identify a sequence of mesonychids leading directly to whales.”
    G.A. Mchedlidze, a Russian expert on whales has expressed serious doubts as to whether the likes of Pakicetus, A. natans & others – even if accepted as aquatic mammals – can properly be considered ancestors of modern whales (Rotterdam: A.A. Balkema, 1986, p. 91).
    Ray talks about DNA –
    http://www.arn.org/idfaq/What%20about%20the%20molecular%20evidence.htm

    Darwin works in mysterous ways.

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  7. Ray says:

    Holy Cao! Could she really be Anne Coulter? C’mon, let’s see that Adam’s apple!

    Let’s look at some “victorian” and pre-“victorian” theories like heliocentricity and the germ theory of disease. Hmm, they’re old. Maybe we can attack them, too. Pass the word: If an idea is old it’s wrong. Hey, wait, the idea that life and the Earth were created are even older… maybe we should ditch them?

    Sorry, Cao, but your argument is nothing more than faith wrapped up in a clearly political Coulterish rant. Yes, let’s get into a discussion about the science that backs up evolution.

    Issue 1: Evolutionary biology tells us that whales are more closely related to hippos than either is to the rest of the ungulates. DNA analyses make this abundantly clear – not to mention the fact that at least one fossil species of ancient whale has hooves on the ends of its toes. How does creationism/ID account for and explain this? And please, no “God works in mysterious ways” nonsense.

    Like

  8. Ed Darrell says:

    Oh, Cao! Denial is a virus, and it colors your views.

    1. Evolution theory is as current as the human genome. The theory is used because it works. It’s valid. It predicts accurately. It allows us to find cures for cancer, treatments for diabetes — and a vaccine for malaria. None of that concerns you, I know.

    2. Piltdown was debunked by a scientist investigating why the specimens did not fit evolution theory. Evolution theory saves us from hoaxes. No creationist could ever have discovered the hoax, working from creationism. In fact, creationsts were the source of Nebraska Man. I note you didn’t mention that.

    The beaks of the finches are solid evolution evidence. No debunking ever done there. Don’t fall victim to such hoaxes.

    What’s your problem with real science, Cao? You don’t appear to be familiar with much of it at all. Any hoax that comes down the pike that fits your political biases, you swallow, hook, line and sinker. And why such attacks, falsely based? Haven’t you got any evidence?

    The science that backs evolution? All of it does. Which parts do you try to deny?

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  9. […] things like this: a creationist group in Texas is trying to get a graduate program in creationism accredited as a graduate program in science! Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub has the details, along with reporting on the fight by biology […]

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  10. Cao says:

    The theory of evolution is antiquated, yet they continue to use that junk science – Piltdown Man’s debunked skull, the debunked story of the 4-winged fruitflies, the debunked story of the canary beaks – as FACTS when it’s propaganda just like Global Warming.

    What is your problem, are you opposed to real science? I never see you show any over here. You’re full of malicious attacks on people who disagree with you, but your opinion is based on hyperbole and character assassination.

    Let’s get into a discussion about the science that backs up evolution.

    Like

  11. Cao says:

    The controversy has nothing to do with teaching creationism; it’s about exposing the victorian-age ‘theory’ of evolution as a ‘theory’ and opening peoples’ minds to the multicultural liberal indoctrination centers that are forcing the environmental religion on people and calling it ‘education’.

    Like

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