Steven D. Schafersman, Ph.D.
President, Texas Citizens for Science
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
2008 April 16
I request that the members of the Academic Excellence and Research Committee and Participation and Success Committee of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board deny the application of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) for a Certificate of Authority to award Masters Degrees in Science Education.
I can't go into detail during this brief presentation, but I have written a long report--The ICR's Quest for Official Texas Certification to Award Masters Degrees in Science Education--available on the Texas Citizens for Science website that describes the history, activities, and subterfuge of the ICR to promote Scientific Creationism and damage science education in the United States. I urge that you read it if you want more information.
The ICR is not a science or science education institution. It promotes Young-Earth Creationism, a form of pseudoscience. In fact, ICR's publications, literature, course curricula, educational history, and in-house, pseudo-scholarly research all indicate that it promotes an anti-scientific program and ideology that is alien to modern, legitimate science. ICR President John Morris accurately describes ICR as a "creation-science research group" and a "Christian ministry," not a science education institution. ICR promotes a branch of theology known as Creation Studies or Creationism. The ICR Graduate School describes itself as "the premiere graduate institution in the disciplines of creation science." Creation Science (or Scientific Creationism) is a well-known religion-inspired pseudoscience that was invented early in the previous century in an attempt to gain scientific acceptance for Biblical Creationism masquerading as science. Creation Science, along with ICR, was institutionalized in the early 1960s when evolution returned to biology textbooks following the launch of Sputnik and a national effort to improve science education in the U.S.
Creation Science has been rejected as legitimate, accurate, and reliable science by about 180 professional scientific, educational, scholarly, religious, and civil liberties organizations in policy statements they have published. These statements document the fact that Scientific Creationism is a pseudoscience based on religion, not science, and thus ICR's graduate program does not teach "science education," but rather teaches a highly sectarian, anti-science education. In addition, I have copies of letters from three Texas Nobel Laureates--Drs. Steven Weinberg, Alfred Gilman, and Robert Curl--and Dr. Daniel Foster, President of the Texas Academy of Medicine, Engineering, and Science. All four ask that ICR not be granted a Certificate of Authority to offer or award Masters Degrees in Science Education.
Glaring Deficiencies in ICR's Program Revealed: It Does Not Meet THECB Curriculum Standards
Examination of ICR's proposed science education graduate program by qualified and professional scientists and science educators has revealed glaring deficiencies that ICR will not be able to correct. The proposed program unavoidably violates THECB Public Postsecondary Education Institution Curriculum Standards §7.7 (9) and (12) (A) and (D). ICR wants to teach science education solely by online distance education, an impossible task given the hands-on instructional materials and laboratory equipment required to do teaching experiments. This violates Standard 12A: "Substantially all of the courses in the areas of specialization required for each degree program shall be offered in organized classes by the institution."
The ICR faculty members have advanced scientific degrees in biology and geology, but none of them are scientists, since they acknowledge that they give priority to Biblical Scripture over that of natural evidence and logic of scientific investigations when it comes to reaching scientific conclusions, and they all sign a statement of faith promising this (an excerpt: "All things in the universe were created and made by God in the six literal days of the creation week described in Genesis 1:1-2:3, and confirmed in Exodus 20:8-11. The creation record is factual, historical and perspicuous; thus all theories of origins or development which involve evolution in any form are false."), a statement that is completely unscientific and frankly intolerable to any legitimate scientist. The faculty teaches about evolution, but none of them accept it even though evolution is considered the central explanation in modern biology, so none of them can teach biology education effectively. They all believe the Earth is 10,000 years old, so none of them can teach geology education effectively, for all modern scientists accept the fact of vast ages of time. Also, the ICR faculty does not conduct legitimate research in either science or science education, a requirement for an upper-level science education program. All of these facts about the ICR faculty members violate Standard (9): "Faculty Qualifications. The character, education, and experience in higher education of the faculty shall be such as may reasonably ensure that the students will receive an education consistent with the objectives of the course or program of study."
Most egregious is the ICR Graduate School curriculum: to qualify for a Certificate of Authority, the ICR science education curriculum must be similar to those of institutions that also offer graduate programs in science education, but the ICR's is not similar; it is not even close. The ICR's curriculum violates Standards (12) (A) and (D): "The quality, content, and sequence of each course, curriculum, or program of instruction, training, or study shall be…such that the institution may reasonably and adequately achieve the stated objectives of the course program. Each program shall adequately cover the breadth of knowledge of the discipline taught and coursework must build on the knowledge of previous courses to increase the rigor of instruction and the learning of students in the discipline…. The degree level, degree designation, and the designation of the major course of study shall be appropriate to the curriculum offered…." The ICR curriculum did not meet the standards for such courses at other institutions. Rather than teach science education, the ICR program teaches students illogical and specious arguments and baseless rationales to reject accurate and reliable scientific facts, knowledge, and explanations that have been accepted by science for over 140 years. The ICR program teaches their student teachers how to damage and corrupt the science education of their future students and encourages them to do this. This is the opposite of science education; it is willful and destructive miseducation.
ICR Teaches Creationist Pseudoscience, not Science, in a Deceptive Manner
ICR President John Morris says, "All true science is creation science," but this statement is so blatantly untruthful that it proves how woefully misguided is the ICR science education curriculum. If you award the ICR Graduate School a Certificate of Authority to grant Masters Degrees in Science Education, you will immediately devalue every legitimate graduate science education program in every university in Texas. Creationism has long been recognized as based on religion, not science, by several Federal court decisions, including the U.S. Supreme Court. ICR already arrogantly expects you to give them the Certificate of Authority they desire, for they are now advertising on the back cover of their journal, Acts & Facts, the availability of obtaining a masters degree from them. The advertisement reads: "Earn the M.S. degree in Science Education with one of 4 new minors in ICR's online Distance Education program." While ICR can certainly teach their "graduate education" program to whatever students will accept it, they cannot legally describe it as being able to award students an "M.S. degree in Science Education" without official state or accrediting association authority. They have already left their previous California-approved accreditation agency, the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS), and they have not yet gained a Texas Certificate of Authority to award graduate degrees, so ICR is guilty of false advertising, a criminal offense.
ICR Should Be Certified to Award Theology Degrees in Creation Studies
Despite the mendacity of ICR, which deceptively tries to pass itself off as a legitimate science education and research organization, I recommend that you do offer to give ICR a Certificate of Authority to award a Masters of Theology degree in Creation Studies. The reason is simple: ICR is litigious and will sue the THECB and probably the Coordinating Board members personally if they don't get something for the money they have invested in Texas. ICR sued the California public education agency and its superintendent in 1991 to get the accreditation they desired and believed was unfairly being withheld from them. When the court agreement ended, ICR was able to obtain accreditation from TRACS, a Protestant Fundamentalist accrediting association, which Texas does not recognize. If the Coordinating Board follows good evaluative procedures, solicits and relies on expert advice from recognized scientists and science educators (as it now has), honestly measures the ICR graduate program against its published Curriculum Standards (as it now has), and offers ICR certification to administer an appropriate degree program in Theology (as I advise), any litigation brought against the THECB by the ICR will fail, because any court will see that the ICR was treated fairly, ethically, and legally by a state agency governing board.
I do not recommend that the THECB recognize TRACS accreditation in Texas, since it promotes Biblical Literalism which is not a creditable scholarly program. I also do not recommend that you give the ICR the authority to offer graduate degrees in Scientific Creationism or Creation Science, since this is a well-known pseudoscience, much like Astrology, UFOolgy, Velikovskyism, and Bigfoot, and would only make Texas a laughingstock. Creation Studies, however, is a recognized branch of Theology, along with such areas of study as Eschatology, Theodicy, Apologetics, and Hermeneutics. I don't think any scientist would object if ICR were to be given a Certificate of Authority to grant Masters Degrees in Theology or Creation Studies. The ICR faculty is well-qualified to teach theological subjects specializing in Creationism. Texas has several Schools of Theology and Bible Colleges that award similar theological graduate degrees under the authority of the State of Texas. Of course, a theology masters degree is not what the ICR wants to offer, because its graduates would not then be able to use it to achieve certification to teach science in Texas schools. But believe me--that would be a very good thing for Texas.
Texas Citizens for Science Last updated: 2008 April 20