DEGREES OF FOLLY
by William Bennetta
Editor of The Textbook Letter
published by The Textbook League
Degrees of Folly was first published in BASIS,
the Bay Area Skeptics Information Sheet,
the Newsletter of the Bay Area Skeptics
in February, 1989, and subsequent months
(This version has been reformatted to create a single page;
links to the originals files are at the conclusion of this page.)
[On 8 December 1988, the "New York Times" told that the Institute for Creation Research -- the most prominent center of creationist pseudoscience in the United States -- had suffered a setback: The California State Department of Education had barred the ICR from issuing masters' degrees in science.
That news, by itself, might not have seemed remarkable, for the ICR's charlatanry had been widely publicized for several years, and the idea of the ICR's awarding degrees in science was absurd. But the "Times" also told some things that surely WERE remarkable. The ICR already had been approved once by the Department, some seven years earlier, and actually had been passing out degrees. Moreover, the ICR's new application for approval, submitted in 1987, had led to some strange proceedings: The Department had sent a committee of five men to examine the ICR's programs, and three had voted favorably. The application had been denied only after one of the three changed his vote.
How had all this happened?
Here is the first part of an article in which Bill Bennetta, one of BAS's advisors, will answer that question. Bennetta has collected the relevant documents and has interviewed the members of the committee. In this installment, he tells how the committee's visit to the ICR resulted in a misleading report that omitted or distorted anything that might have conveyed the real nature of the ICR, its aims and its programs. Next month, he will recount how two members of the committee later told the real story, and he will describe what occurred after that.]
When California's legislature adopted the Private Postsecondary Education Act of 1977, its statement of legislative intent spoke of "protecting the integrity of degrees and diplomas" issued by private institutions.
The Act sought, among other things, to impose discipline on the operation of unaccredited schools and to inhibit the distribution of bogus degrees by diploma mills. It said that no school in California could award degrees unless the school had been certified by a recognized accreditation agency or had been approved by the superintendent of public instruction -- the chief of the State Department of Education. To gain the superintendent's approval, the school would have to demonstrate, to a committee of examiners, that its academic resources and programs were comparable to those at accredited schools that offered their same degrees.
In 1981, when the superintendent was Wilson Riles, the Department overtly scorned the legislature's vision: After what was evidently a mock examination that would seem superficially to comply with the Act, it approved the granting of advanced degrees in science and in science education by the Institute for Creation Research (ICR).
The ICR (which then was in El Cajon, but now is in Santee) is the creation of Henry Morris, a fundamentalist preacher and former engineer who poses as an expert in geology, biology, paleontology and various other fields in which he has no detectable credentials. Like Morris himself, the ICR is avidly committed to "creation-science," the fundamentalist enterprise that seeks technical validation for the doctrine that the Holy Bible is an absolutely accurate account of history and an infallible textbook of science.
The functionaries of the ICR spend a lot of their time in devising quasi-scientific "evidences" that will seem to verify the Bible's creation narratives, other biblical episodes, and the fundamentalists' belief that the age of the universe is only 6,000 years -- a figure based on the sum of the lifespans of the patriarchs listed in the Book of Genesis. They spend even moretime in purporting to refute evolutionary views of the universe, of Earth, and of living things. (Henry Morris has suggested that the concept of evolution was devised by Satan himself and other "evil spirits," while they were perched atop the Tower of Babel. (1)
At first glance, doing "creation-science" may seem to be a tough job: Isn't it hard to peddle, as scientific, a book that says that beetles have only four feet and that a newborn animal's color pattern is determined by what the parent animals happened to see when they were mating? In fact, the job is easy, because "creation-science" has nothing to do with science; nor is it intended to win the allegiance of scientists or of anybody else who might be tempted to count a beetle's feet or to think about genetics. Instead, it has been concocted for two extra-scientific audiences and two extra-scientific purposes.
The first purpose is to bolster the religious faith and anti-intellectualism of fundamentalists at large, most of whom know nothing of science and very little of what the Bible really says; rather than reading the Bible itself, they rely on preachers' accounts e biblical beliefs seem scientific to public officials -- who typically know as little as the fundamentalists know about science or about the Bible -- so that such beliefs can be injected into public-school science classrooms.
Given their naive audiences, the creation-scientists are free to reject most of 20th-century science and to offer in its place a stew of weird tales and fatuous assertions, spiced with distorted quotations from legitimate scientific literature. They offer an astronomy in which the asteroids seem to have originated during a battle between good and evil angels, (2) and in which the sun is, and always has been, continuously shrinking. (By extrapolating the shrinkage backward through time, they find that the solar system cannot be billions of years old, as scientists say it to be.) They offer an astrophysics in which the speed of light is adjustable, so that photons from remote galaxies, millions of light-years away, have been able to reach Earth in the mere 6,000 years since the universe began.
They offer a geophysics in which rates of radioactive decay are capricious, so that radiometric dating can indicate that a rock is millions of years old although it really was formed only a few thousand years ago. They offer a geology in which many of Earth's features, including the fossil record of life, were formed during Noah's Flood. And they offer a biology in which organisms occur as immutable, separately created "kinds" -- a term that they have borrowed from the King James version of Genesis and that they cannot define or explain.
To promote the dignification and dissemination of "creation-science," Henry Morris in 1981 set up something that he called the ICR Graduate School. And he promptly sought approval from the Department of Education to award masters' degrees -- not in Bible-study or religion but in geology, biology, "astro/geophysics" and science education.
The Department's record of what ensued is far from complete, but it does retain the names of the people whom the Department picked to evaluate the four degree programs that the ICRGS had proposed. I have checked on those people, and I have found nothing to suggest that they were qualified to assess programs in science or in science education. There is, however, evidence that at least one of them was connected with the ICR or with some of the ICR's leaders.
The result of their efforts was a signal event in the annals of quackery: In June 1981, Wilson Riles gave his Department's endorsement to the ICR and, in effect, lent the prestige of the state of California to the whole nonsensical business of "creation-science" -- talking serpent, shrinking sun, fantastic photons, and all.
Like all approvals granted under the Act of 1977, the ICRGS's approval had a term of three years. If things had proceeded normally, the school would have had to apply again, and would have been examined again, in 1984. But in that year the legislature was amending the Act, so all existing approvals were extended for three years. The ICRGS did not have to re-apply, then, until the end of 1987. Its application, signed by Henry Morris, was submitted on 24 December.
Consider the context in which that new application was received. During the preceding few years, "creation-science" and the men who purveyed it had been repeatedly exposed and publicly denounced by scientists and jurists alike. One of the most potent analyses had been issued in January 1982 by Judge William Overton, of the U. S. District Court in Little Rock, when he ruled unconstitutional an Arkansas statute that would have authorized the teaching of "creation-science" in that state's public schools.
Overton wrote a highly readable, analytical opinion that considered the nature of science and showed repeatedly that "creation-science" was not science at all: It was biblical religion in disguise. His text described tactics by which specific creation-scientists had distorted science and had misrepresented their own enterprise; and among the people whom he named were Henry Morris and two other preachers who worked at the ICR -- Duane Gish and Richard Bliss. (Bliss, who was and is the ICR's "professor of science education," thus became (as far as I know) the only such professor whose weird writings about science have been excoriated by a federal court.
Creation-science soon suffered further debunking in a number of trenchant books, most of which analyzed specific antics of Morris, Gish and the ICR. These books included Niles Eldredge's "The Monkey Business" (1982), Norman Newell's "Creation and Evolution" (1982), Philip Kitcher's "Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism" (1983) and Ashley Montagu's "Science and Creationism" (1984).
In 1987 an especially conspicuous blow was dealt to "creation-science" by the Supreme Court, which upheld two lower courts in finding that a Louisiana creationism law -- very similar to the Arkansas statute that Overton had nullified -- was unconstitutional. Again, "creation-science" was found not to be science but to be an anti-scientific religious doctrine. (3)
The Court's ruling preceded, by some six months, the ICRGS's application for renewed approval by California's Department of Education.
The application was governed by section 94310.2 in Article 1.5 of the state's education code. Article 1.5 incorporates the Act of 1977 and amendments to it. Section 94310.2 provides that the superintendent of public instruction shall not approve the granting of degrees by an unaccredited institution unless an assessment of each degree program has shown that "The curriculum is consistent in quality with curricula offered by appropriate established accredited institutions" and that "The course for which the degree is granted achieves its professed or claimed academic objective for higher education, with verifiable evidence of academic achievement comparable to that required of graduates of other recognized schools accredited by an appropriate accrediting commission. . .." In the processing of the application, decisive roles were played by three officers of the Department. Bill Honig, who succeeded Wilson Riles in 1982, is the current superintendent of Public instruction. Joseph Barankin works directly for Honig, in Sacramento, as an assistant superintendent and as the director of the Department's Private Postsecondary Education Division (PPED), the branch that handles all applications from postsecondary schools seeking state approval. Roy Steeves works for Barankin, at the Department's Los Angeles office, as an assistant director of the PPED.
In March 1988, Barankin gave the ICRGS case to Steeves. Henry Morris and his associates by then had begun to amend their application to meet the PPED's standard requirements for documentation. They resubmitted it, in final form, on 9 June. During the next few weeks, Steeves recruited the committee that would visit the ICR, examine its programs, and recommend whether approval should be granted. By law, the actual decision about approval would rest wholly with Bill Honig, notwithstanding any finding or recommendation that the committee might report.
The members of the committee were: Robert L. Kovach, professor of geophysics at Stanford; Stuart H. Hurlbert, professor of biology at San Diego State; G. Edwin Miller, vice-president for administration at United States International University (in San Diego); James A. Woodhead, professor of geology at Occidental College; and George F. Howe, professor of biology at The Master's College, a religious school in Newhall.
The committee had no professor of education, even though one of the ICRGS's programs was in "science education" and was aimed chiefly at preparing teachers.
The five men of the committee, along with Steeves (who was their coordinator), visited the ICR on 3, 4 and 5 August. Their report was typed in final form, and was signed by all five and by Steeves, on the 5th. It was spread over ten pages, but it had much blank space and several unfilled sheets; if competently designed, it would have fit onto six.
The text of the report was, in a word, baloney. It continually omitted or obfuscated any information that might have told the real nature or aims of the ICR, the ICR's graduate school or the men on the schools's faculty, and it repeatedly promoted the pretense that the ICR was doing scientific work. For example:
Since the spring of 1985, the ICR has published a quarterly booklet of devotional readings called "Days of Praise". Each issue has had, on its back cover, a some boiler-plate that calls the ICR "A UNIQUE complex of evangelistic, missionary and educational ministries" and lists the "ICR Graduate School of Creationist Science" as one of the "Typical ICR Ministries." Yet the report never told that the ICR itself calls the ICRGS a religious outlet.
On page 2, the report said: "The stated purposes of ICR are twofold: to conduct research (and educational programs) with the goal of validating the theory of creation science and to conduct education programs primarily designed to train science teachers in elementary and secondary schools. . . . (4) The three master's degrees in science relate to the first stated objective and the degree in science education relates to the other objective."
THAT THROW-AWAY LINE ABOUT "VALIDATING THE THEORY" WAS THE ONLY REFERENCE TO "CREATION-SCIENCE" IN THE ENTIRE REPORT. THERE WAS NOT A WORD ABOUT ITS CONTENT OR ITS SORDID, RICHLY DOCUMENTED HISTORY.
The report absolutely avoided a question that any alert reader must ask: If the "three master's degrees in science" were related to the objective of validating "creation-science," why were the degrees to be awarded in biology and geology and astro/geophysics and not in "creation-science"?
Page 4 said: "We commend the institution for having recruited faculty members who have demonstrated academic and research capabilities." Yet the report did not cite any academic or research achievement by any member of the ICRGS faculty, nor had any such thing been claimed in the ICRGS's application. Indeed, one of the striking features of the application was that its resumes of faculty members FAILED TO SHOW ANY SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATION OR PROJECT.
Page 5 said that the ICR's courses tried "to present a two-model evaluation addressed to the origin of life." There was nothing to tell what that meant. There was no explanation that the "two-model" system is the doctrine saying that every person must embrace either godless, pernicious, evolutionary science or fundamentalist Christianity. (No other religions merit consideration; this is why, conveniently, the number of models is only two.) There was no explanation that "two-model" nonsense had been soundly discredited and that Judge Overton had called it "a contrived dualism which has no scientific factual basis or legitimate educational purpose."
The report was baloney through and through. Was it intended for a reader who knew nothing about the ICR and would rely on the report for all his information? If so, it would thoroughly mislead him. Was it intended for a reader who already knew much about the ICR? If so, it could only lead him to conclude that it had been composed by six rubes who had not done their homework and had been fully fooled by the ICR -- or that it had been composed by the ICR's own public-relations specialist.
The report did include some comments that were critical of the ICR, but they were uniformly cryptic and incomprehensible. They mentioned for example, course titles that "did not accurately define course content"; courses that were "unstructured, with variable instructor contact time and inadequate or lacking classical textbooks"; "a great need to strengthen laboratory instruction and improve lab facilities"; and a failure to make an even presentation of "conventional interpretations of scientific evidence." But they never cited examples or told what they really were talking about, and so they never told what really was going on at the ICR.
The report ended with a one-sentence paragraph: "The committee recommends to the superintendent by a vote of 3 to 2 that full institutional approval be granted."
The superintendent, Bill Honig, was not misled. And professors Hurlbert and Woodhead, the two committee members who had voted against approval, soon submitted documents that furnished Honig with real information -- not only about the ICR but also about the fatuous proceedings of the committee itself.
End of Part I
1. See chapter 3 of his book "The Troubled Waters of Evolution (second edition; 1982).
2. See Henry Morris's book "The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth" (1972).
3. For a detailed account of the Louisiana case, see my two-part piece in the July/August and September/October 1988 issues of "Terra", the bimonthly of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
4. Notice how the report adopted creationist lingo in falsely suggesting that the creationists have a "theory."
[Part I of this article ran in our February issue. Here is a summary:
By law, no postsecondary school in California can award degrees unless the school has been certified by a recognized accreditation agency or has been approved by the superintendent of public instruction (the chief of the State Department of Education). To gain his approval, the school must show academic resources and programs comparable to those at accredited schools that offer the same degrees.
In 1981, when the superintendent was Wilson Riles, the Department approved the granting of MS degrees in biology, geology, "astro/geophysics" and science education by the ICR Graduate School (ICRGS), an arm of the Institute for Creation Research. The ICR is not a scientific institution. It is a fundamentalist religious organization and is avidly committed to creation-science, the fundamentalist effort to devise quasi-scientific "evidences" that the Bible is an accurate book of history and of science. In its literature, the ICR calls itself a complex of "ministries" and lists the ICRGS as one of these. The president of the ICR and the ICRGS is Henry Morris, a preacher and former engineer.
In 1987, after the superintendency of the Department had passed to Bill Honig, the ICR sought renewed approval. During the preceding few years, "creation-science" and the men who purveyed it had been repeatedly discredited by scientists and jurists. An especially potent analysis had been issued in 1982 by Judge William Overton, of the federal district court in Little Rock, when he ruled unconstitutional an Arkansas law that would have put "creation-science" into public schools. Overton showed that "creation-science" was simply biblical religion in disguise, and he denounced specific misrepresentations made by preachers from the ICR. By 1987, nobody could have made a serious inquiry into the ICR or "creation-science" without finding that both had been exposed as fakes.
In August 1988, the Department sent a five-man committee to assess the ICR's degree programs. The committee's report, dated 5 August, was baloney. It omitted or obscured anything that might have disclosed the nature or aims of the ICR and the ICRGS, and it promoted the fiction that the ICR did scientific work. It mentioned "creation-science" only once, in a throw-away line; it never told what "creation-science" was. It never told that the ICR itself called the ICRGS a religious ministry. It attributed "academic and research capabilities" to the ICRGS's faculty, even though no academic or research achievements had been claimed in the ICRGS's application. It ended with: "The committee recommends to the superintendent by a vote of 3 to 2 that full institutional approval be granted."]
The farcical report by the committee that had visited the ICR was signed (on its last page) by six men; and even the way in which it was signed was fatuous. The five members of the committee were denoted by their names alone, with nothing to tell who they were, what their professions were, where they worked, or why they might have been able to assess degree programs in science or science education. The reader learned only that they were "Dr. George F. Howe, Dr. Stuart H. Hurlbert, Dr. Robert L. Kovach, Dr. G. Edwin Miller, Dr. James A. Woodhead."
The signature of the sixth man, Roy W. Steeves, bore the cryptic note "For PPED." Steeves was in fact an assistant director of the Private Postsecondary Education Division of the State Department of Education, and he not only had recruited the committee but had managed its proceedings. The report did not tell this, nor did it describe the proceedings.
The report was not the last word, however, nor had integrity drawn its last breath. The two committee members who had voted against approval -- Woodhead and Hurlbert -- decided to furnish Bill Honig with individual accounts of what they had seen.
On 16 August, Woodhead sent to Honig a two-page letter. It was on stationery of the Department of Geology at Occidental College, and its signature block identified Woodhead as the chairman of that department. The text said, in part: "One problem with the course of study at ICR is that the curriculum is quite restricted in each of the science departments, apparently as the result of the small size of the faculty. (1) A more serious problem is that course titles . . . do not actually represent course contents as indicated by the corresponding syllabi. The result is that students' transcripts must be misleading to other educators or potential employers.
"The major problem . . . is that the teaching of scientific method is entirely ignored. Laboratory equipment and computing facilities are almost entirely lacking, and hardly any classes include laboratory components. A glance through the catalogs of any of the schools the ICR considers to be comparable shows that in every instance laboratory work is an essential part of the scientific curriculum. (2) Yet students working for advanced degrees at ICR do so without laboratory segments in their classes. . . .
"On another level, though, I wondered how ICR can expect its students to successfully challenge the results of modern science if they are not taught scientific method. For that reason I spent a large part of my time during the three days of our visit perusing masters' theses. . . . I looked at seven or eight . . . and found them, as a group, to be dreadful. . . .
"The topics chosen were, in general, much too broad for masters' theses, and their scientific contents were much too thin. For instance, how can second-year graduate students be expected to debunk all of the current understanding of geochronology, sedimentation or the propagation of light. . . ? In the first example, the student exhibited a near total misunderstanding of the principles of radioactive decay as applied to geochronology and [had] obviously never done any geochronological work; in the second, the student used the time-honored technique of 'proof by blatant assertion' to place all of sedimentation within a catastrophist framework; (3) and in the third, the student's argument for the existence of an 'ether' to support the propagation of light in a vacuum was just plain stupid. . . . At worst, the students cannot write decent theses because, first, they do not understand scientific method, probably because the faculty members do not understand it themselves or are precluded from teaching it by the tenets of ICR, (4) and second, they do not have the requisite background in mathematics, physics and chemistry. . . ."
The other dissenting member of the committee, Hurlbert, sent his observations to Honig, on 26 August, in a 37-page document showing all the features that had been absent from the committee's own report: clarity, candor, rigor and care. The document was on plain paper, but its title sheet identified its author as a professor in the Department of Biology at San Diego State University.
In his introduction, Hurlbert repudiated the report of the committee, saying that he had had little influence on its content and that he did not consider himself to be an author of it. The rest of his text comprised twelve major sections. Here are some items:
On page 2, in his section "Flaws in the review process," Hurlbert noted that the review involved very complex issues, yet the Department had invoked its standard procedure: "Five persons who were unknown to each other . . . were asked to meet, discuss, interview, reflect, read, analyse, argue, deliberate, and write a final report, all within a 48-hour time period. . . . Perhaps such a schedule suffices for reviews of more traditional organizations. But ICR is a politically controversial, radically unconventional institution with marginal qualifications and an anti-science philosophy."
On page 3, in the same section, Hurlbert told that the materials distributed to committee members before their visit did not include curricula vitae of the ICRGS's faculty. So ". . . about ten days before our site visit, I requested that the [Department] arrange for a full set of complete curricula vitae to be sent to each VC [visiting committee] member. I was told this was not possible. .. ."
"Three sets were made available to us at ICR and we scanned them as time permitted. However, most . . . were very incomplete, many being nothing more than one-page summaries of the sort that might be given to a journalist preparing an article on ICR. . . . ICR seems not enthusiastic about having complete curricula vitae of its faculty members inspected by outsiders."
On page 5, under "Problems in the report of the Visiting Committee," Hurlbert told how the report had not disclosed the ICR's major purposes and had naively parroted the ICR's claim to having programs in science. Yet the primary purpose of both the ICR and the ICRGS were clear in documents that the committee had seen: "to teach 'creation science'; to increase the number of 'creation scientists' with conventional (in name) graduate degrees in science; to foster the teaching of 'creation science' in private and public schools by increasing the number of teachers trained in the subject. . . ."
On page 7, in the same section, Hurlbert noted how the report said that the ICRGS's courses "attempt to present a two-model evaluation addressed to the origin of life." He commented: "This is the most misleading statement in the VC report. It suggests there is a balanced and fair presentation of the evidence and the differing interpretations of it. Virtually all of the documentation and testimony support exactly the opposite conclusion. . . ."
Starting on page 12, Hurlbert quoted from eight statements indicating "that the highest scientific, educational and judicial bodies in North America are in full agreement that 'creation science' is non-scientific." One statement was the decision by Judge Overton. The others came from such bodies as the National Academy of Sciences, the Academic Senate of the University of California, and the American Chemical Society. All had been issued before 1986.
(Hurlbert did not say, but maybe should have said: All those statements were in the public record and had been available to Roy Steeves. If Steeves had made any effort to prepare the members of the committee, he surely would have furnished significant material from the existing literature about their subject: At the very least, they deserved to be warned that they would be visiting a known den of charlatanry. But Steeves had made no such effort.)
On page 17, under "Conventional scientific interpretations are NOT 'fairly presented in ICR courses,'" Hurlbert told this: "One of the students interviewed misinterpreted a QUESTION from the VC about WHETHER a fair balance of viewpoints on origins, etc. was presented. . . . He thought we were SUGGESTING such balanced presentations should be the norm. He objected strongly to the supposed suggestion, and seemed unaware that -- according to the claim in ICRGS's Application (p. 3) -- he had been the recipient of balanced presentations." (5)
On page 21, under "Purposes of ICRGS are religious, not scientific," Hurlbert said: "ICRGS's claim that its purpose is 'to discover the truth about the universe by scientific research. . .' is inaccurate. By ICR's own testimony, all the major truths relating to 'origins' are already known and are given in the Bible and in the ICR tenets. . . . The Absolute Truth is already known to them and ICR's primary purpose is to disseminate it."
On page 24, under "Misrepresentations of weaknesses in ICRGS program": "Most of the faculty members have doctoral degrees, though often not in the fields in which they are teaching and advising students. The archetype in this regard is Dr. Henry Morris. His doctorate is in civil engineering. Yet he teaches a course (Advanced Studies in Creationism) that treats the 'origin and history of the universe, of the solar system, of life, of the various forms of life, and of man and his cultures . . . using data from paleontology, astronomy, biochemistry, genetics, . . .' Dr. Morris has no formal training or practical experience in any of these fields."
On page 25, in the same part: "According to [the dummy catalog submitted with the ICR's application], 'The Master's program in Biology trains students in the nature and origin of the living state through a broad background in all areas of vertebrate biology.' The statement is quite odd. One would not expect the study of vertebrates to shed much light on the origin of life. But of course from ICR's point of view, each 'kind' of vertebrate originated fully formed from the hand of God. That is the only opinion that ICRGS staff and students are allowed to hold."
"It is complete misrepresentation, however, to claim that the program provides 'a broad background in all areas of vertebrate biology.' Aside from the course in Human Biology, ICRGS does not offer a single course in vertebrate biology. Not one!" (5)
After explaining more misrepresentations mounted by the ICR, Hurlbert said: "The ICRGS program severely violates the trust placed in it by the students. The students are misled into thinking that with the skeletal curriculum and facilities provided by ICRGS they can put a small stone in a sling and upend some nasty, humanistic, evolutionistic Goliath, some large body of conventional scientific evidence and theory.
"[Henry Morris] was quite frank in stating to the VC that he likes the students to take on these big topics because the resultant theses can then be used to produce creationistic publications. .. ."
"The students are deceived in many ways. They are encouraged to think that the selective quoting of 'authorities', selective neglect of evidence, setting up and demolishing of straw men, and adhering to prescribed opinions regardless of the evidence all are valid modes of scientific analysis."
So the truth was known. Woodhead and Hurlbert had told it. And Hurlbert -- by describing the ICR's antics in detail, and by supporting his account with examples and quotations -- had written the report that the committee should have written. (6) Indeed, he had written what the committee probably WOULD have written if the committee had been responsibly prepared for its task and had been allowed to operate with diligence, integrity and care.
(I learned about the operation of the committee when I sought answers to obvious questions: Given that the committee's report was incompetent, false and misleading, why had Hurlbert signed it? Why had Woodhead signed it? Why had ANYONE signed it? I shall tell the answers, and shall tell the real objective of the committee's work, in Part III of this article.)
Honig evidently did not see the committee's report, or the dispatches from Woodhead and Hurlbert, until late October or early November. That is what he said when, on 10 November, he met in Sacramento with three members of the committee: Woodhead, Hurlbert and Howe. (He had invited all five members, but Kovach and Miller could not attend.)
Honig was not pleased. He knew that something was foul; he seemed intent on ensuring that the ICR would not gain approval if its programs were bogus; and he wanted the committee members to reconsider what they had seen and how they had voted.
It was unlikely that anything could make Howe reconsider, for Howe was the ICR's man. (Indeed, he had been among fifteen people whom Henry Morris, in a letter sent to the Department on 7 June 1988, had recommended for the committee.(7) He brought to the November meeting a 17-page document, addressed to Honig, that purported to refute Hurlbert's account. It was typed on plain paper. It showed Howe as its author, described him in a footnote as "a research scientist," but did not cite any affiliation. (Howe worked at The Master's College, a religious school in Newhall.)
Howe's text had two parts: a statement in which he urged Honig to approve the ICR, then a 13-page letter from Henry Morris. (The letter was addressed not to Honig but to Howe, at Howe's residence; again, there was no hint of his affiliation.) Morris, pretending to answer some of Hurlbert's charges, repeated some of the ICR's usual evasions and throw-away lines. Example: ". . . we have only a small resident faculty, but each member has a terminal degree in his fields, plus extensive research and teaching experience." (Recall: Hurlbert's issue was not whether the ICR men had degrees in "their fields" but whether "their fields" were the fields in which they were teaching. As for their experience: Where were the curricula vitae that would describe and document it? Morris did not say.)
The meeting did not yield any definitive changes, but it evidently confirmed Honig's suspicions, bolstered his determination to avoid participating in a sham or a scam, and suggested that he might resolve the case by turning to Kovach, the professor of geophysics at Stanford. Kovach already had seen Hurlbert's dissent; and in late November, the Department sent to him other documents providing information that had not been presented (or had not been considered) during the committee's proceedings in August. Kovach would examine those documents before talking with Honig.
End of Part II
1. The ICR's application to the Department showed a "regular faculty" of eleven men, including the librarian. These eleven ostensibly ran three departments of natural science and a department of education.
2. In its application, the ICR had to name, for each of its programs, an accredited institution that offered a comparable program. In science education, the ICR compared itself to the University of Wisconsin; in geology, to San Jose State; in biology, to San Diego State; and in "astro/geophysics," to the University of Toronto, the University of Colorado, the University of Texas at El Paso, Colorado State University, and the University of California at San Diego!
3. "Catastrophism," in the lingo of "creation-science," means explaining geological phenomena as relics of Noah's Flood. The Flood itself is disguised as "a catastrophe" or "a worldwide catastrophe."
4. All functionaries of the ICR must make an annual commitment to the tenets of both "scientific creationism" and "biblical creationism," as listed in the ICR's bylaws. The tenets of "scientific creationism" include declarations that life did not originate through natural processes but was made directly by a supernatural Creator; that "Each of the major kinds of plants and animals was created functionally complete" and did not evolve; and that the first humans were specially created in fully human form.
5. Emphasis in the original.
6. For a free copy of Hurlbert's document, write to him at the Department of Biology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182.
7. When I talked with Roy Steeves on 17 January 1989 about the recruiting of the committee, Steeves was not sure whether he had got Howe's name from Morris's letter or had independently found Howe by surveying college catalogs.
[Parts I and II of this article ran in our February and March issues, respectively. Here is a summary:
By law, no unaccredited post-secondary school in California can issue degrees unless the school has been approved by the superintendent of public instruction (the chief of the State Department of Education). In 1981, when Wilson Riles was superintendent, the Department approved the granting of MS degrees in biology, geology, "astro/geophysics", and science education by the ICR Graduate School (ICRGS), an arm of the Institute for Creation Research. The ICR is not a scientific institution, but a religious ministry promoting "creation-science", a pseudoscience based on literal readings of the Bible. The president of the ICR and the ICRGS is Henry Morris, a preacher and former engineer.
In 1987, after the superintendency of the Department had passed to Bill Honig, the ICR applied for renewed approval. By then, "creation-science" and the men who purveyed it had been repeatedly discredited. Nobody could have inquired into "creation-science" or the ICR without finding that both were fakes.
In August 1988, the Department sent a committee of five to assess the ICR's degree programs. The five were: Robert L. Kopach, professor of geophysics at Stanford; Stuart H. Hurlbert, professor of Biology at San Diego State; G. Edwin Miller, vice-president for administration at United States International University; James A. Woodhead, professor of geology at Occidental College; and George F. Howe, professor of biology at The Master's College, a religious school. (Howe -- who had been nominated for a place on the committee by Henry Morris -- would emerge as the ICR's advocate.) The committee was managed by the man who had assembled it: Roy W. Steeves, of the Department's Private Postsecondary Education Division (PPED).
The committee's report was farcical. It omitted or obscured anything about the real nature or aims of the ICR and the ICRGS, and it promoted the fiction that the ICR did scientific work; then it recommended "by a vote of 3 to 2 that full institutional approval be granted." Its last page bore the signatures of the committee members, who were denoted by name only. There was nothing to suggest their professions, affiliations, titles, or qualifications.
Later in August, the truth got out. The two men who had voted against approval -- Woodhead and Hurlbert -- furnished Honig with separate accounts of what they had seen. Hurlbert wrote that he had had little influence on the committee's report and was not an author of it. Then he exposed the ICR's operations and misrepresentations in detail, providing many examples and quotations.
On 10 November, Honig met in Sacramento with Woodhead, Hurlbert, and Howe. (Kovach and Miller had been invited, but could not attend.) Howe brought a disingenuous document, written mostly by Henry Morris, that purported to rebut Hurlbert's account. The meeting was inconclusive. Honig, who evidently did not want to take part in a sham or scam, judged that he might resolve the case by turning to Kovach. Kovach already had seen Hurlbert's dissent; and in late November, the department sent him other information that had not been considered during the committee's doings in August.]
George Howe and Henry Morris have been working together for many years. In the 1970s, for example, each was an officer and a director of the Creation Research Society -- a fundamentalist group whose members must subscribe to a creed that begins with: "1. The Bible is the written Word of God, and because we believe it to be inspired throughout, all of its assertions are historically and scientifically true in all of the original autographs. To the student of nature, this means that the account of origins in Genesis is a factual presentation of simple historical truths."(1)
Morris was the Society's president early in the decade, and Howe was the editor of its quarterly. In 1977, Howe became its president.
Since 1982, Howe and Morris have been linked in a fundamentalist "legal defense" organization that, according to its president, seeks to "blow evolution out of the public schools." (I shall tell more about this next month.)
So when Roy Steeves, in the summer of 1988, named Howe to the committee that would examine the ICR, he furnished Howe with a chance to do a big favor for an old pal. And Howe evidently made the most of it, according to accounts that Hurlbert and Woodhead gave to me during telephone interviews. Hurlbert said that Howe had succeeded in turning the entire assessment into nonsense by frustrating any consideration of the obvious and crucial question: Was the ICR teaching anything that could be called science?
Woodhead told me: "With our committee constituted as it was, there was no possibility that we could have written a decent report. There was one person there, Howe, who would not have voted against those people [the operators of the ICRGS] even if their whole thing was a sham -- which is how, I think, it turned out."
Just how WAS the committee constituted? It evidently was constituted in defiance of the education code and the PPED's own "Guidelines for the Approval of Degree Granting Institutions Pursuant to California Education Code Section 94310.2", a document issued in May 1987. The code clearly called for an assessment of "each degree program offered by the institution", and page 26 of "Guidelines" said: "Visiting Committees for first-time applicants will consist of a minimum of five technically qualified educators for each program offered. Reapproval Visiting Committees will consist of three and may, if designees prescribe, consist of five or more technically qualified educators for each program offered.(2,3)
But Steeves, for assessing the ICRGS's program in biology, enlisted not three "technically qualified educators" but two: Hurlbert and Howe. For geology, he had only one: Woodhead. For "astro/geophysics", he had only the geophysicist Kovach. And for science education, he had nobody.
On 15 February 1989, in a letter, I asked Steeves some questions about the composition of the committee. One question dealt with the absence of a science-education expert. In his reply, sent on the 17th, Steeves asserted that the committee HAD had such an expert: George Howe.
"It is true", he wrote, "that Dr. Howe received his training in the field of biology, but he is the Chairperson of the Division of Natural Sciences at The Master's College. I have enclosed the appropriate pages of the catalog for your perusal. His professional assignment ideally prepared him for the review of the Science Education program at ICR."
This was just a wild bluff, for the catalog pages lent no support to Steeves's assertion. Howe's division at The Master's College(4) did not offer any program in education, did not offer even one course in the theory or practice of education, and had nothing corresponding to any of the education courses claimed by the ICRGS.(5) (Howe taught in the division's four-man Department of Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Mathematics, which "seeks to promote a broad understanding of scientific facts and principles and exposes the unwarranted interpretations of scientific evidence that have damaged the cause of Christ.")
So: For assessing the ICRGS's program in science education, Roy Steeves's committee had had nobody at all. That program had received a free ride.
In my letter of 15 February, I also asked Steeves about the absence of an astrophysicist. His answer was: "We did have a professor of geophysics [i.e. Kovach] who advised us that in the field there is no real distinction between the study of astrophysics and geophysics. As a matter of fact, Dr. Kovach also has received training in astrophysics."
How the committee operated cannot be reconstructed fully, for its members have some conflicting recollections. All, however, seem to agree on these points:
=> THE PPED DID NOT FURNISH THE COMMITTEE MEMBERS WITH ANY SIGNIFICANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE ICR, OTHER THAN THE ICRGS'S APPLICATION FOR APPROVAL, UNTIL THE COMMITTEE MET AT THE ICR ON 3 AUGUST. Steeves admits this, and defends it as standard practice. "To depart would have possibly raised due-process questions", he says. (This presumably is why the PPED denied Hurlbert's request for copies of the ICR men's curricula vitae.) Steves says that all the committee members knew that the ICR was clouded in controversy. Kovach disagrees. He did not know what he was getting into, he says, and he later "was surprised that it turned out to be so emotional and controversial".
=> THE COMMITTEE'S CHAIRMAN WAS KOVACH. This was not told in the committee's report, Kovach says, because there was an explicit agreement that the chairman would not be identified.
=> STEEVES INSISTED THAT THE COMMITTEE'S REPORT HAD TO BE SHORT AND HAD TO AVOID DETAIL. Steeves confirms this. If he had allowed elaboration, he says, we would have had a much longer report but no conclusion. As an administrative task, we had to get closure. We were trying to accomplish a purpose -- making a recommendation."
=> THE REPORT WAS DRAFTED BY KOVACH FROM PIECES THAT THE MEMBERS, WORKING SEPARATELY, HAD WRITTEN. THERE WAS NO SIGNIFICANT REWRITING BEFORE THE REPORT WAS PRESENTED FOR THE MEMBERS' SIGNATURES.
=> STEEVES EMPHATICALLY PRECLUDED ANY PROTRACTED DELIBERATION, AND INSISTED THAT THE REPORT HAD TO BE TYPED AND SIGNED BY THE EVENING OF 5 AUGUST. Woodhead says: "Steeves was in charge, and he vetoed the idea of taking [Kovach's draft] home for pondering." Kovach says: "Steeves set the theme. It had to be done then and there, not later. What he said amounted to 'You are not getting out of this motel room until we get this report finished and signed.'"
All of this, if infer, represents the PPED's standard practice as well as the PPED's version of due process.
I infer, too, that the PPED's regular practice includes a patently meaningless vote like the one in which the examination of the ICR culminated. There is no evidence that the committee made a discrete, identifiable assessment of each of the ICR's degree programs; but if such work was done, it was then negated. In the end, the committee voted on only one question: Should the ICRGS as a whole -- including its financial and administrative structure, as well as its four degree programs -- be approved?
In effect, then, everyone voted on everything. Kovach, a geophysicist, voted on the biology program; Hurlbert, a biologist, voted on financial practices; Miller, an expert in finance and administration, voted on all four degree programs, even though he apparently did not claim expertise in any of the related disciplines; and so forth. Why had Steeves bothered to recruit any experts at all?
My inquiry into the ICR case has convinced me that the PPED acted with foolish insouciance and with only one objective: to create a nominal report by filling some sheets of paper with words. I do not think that the PPED took the examination seriously or cared about getting a valid result, even if (as things turned out) some individuals in the committee DID care. I see no sign that the PPED had any qualm about producing a farcical document, even if this would create a fierce dilemma for Bill Honig.
A question remains: Given that the report was incompetent, false, and misleading, why did the members of the committee sign it?
Woodhead says that he signed because he had promised to take part in a job and had been led to understand that the job included finishing and signing a report by the evening of 5 August. "What my signature means", he explains, "is that I was there".
Hurlbert says: "I signed as a statement that I was present and had participated. I did not think that it was a valid report. There were too many omissions and too much wrong information."
Kovach says that he signed because "It was a competently prepared report for the committee in the time that we had to prepare it." Miller thought that "it was a reasonably representative view of what we saw during our two- or three-day stay there." Howe "felt it was a very good report and said what we wanted to say."
I do not know how much of this history was known to Bill Honig in November, when he started to clean up the mess that the PPED had made. But I suspect that, after his meeting on 10 November with Woodhead, Hurlbert, and Howe, he understood that the committee's proceedings had included much sham and that at least two signatures on the committee's report did not mean what readers would surely imagine them to mean.
Early in December, after the Department had sent additional information about the ICR case to Robert Kovach, and after Kovach had examined that information, Honig called him. Kovach later gave me this account of the conversation:
"[Honig] did not ask me to change my vote. He asked, 'Given this [new information], what would you do?' My answer was 'I would concur with what the new material said.' So, in effect, I changed my vote. IF WE [THE COMMITTEE] HAD HAD ALL THAT INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO US IN A TIMELY MANNER, I WOULDN'T HAVE VOTED FOR APPROVAL TO BEGIN WITH."(6)
On 8 December, in a story by Sandra Blakeslee, the "New York Times" told that Honig had barred the ICR from granting science degrees. Honig was quoted thus: "No one is stopping the [ICR] from granting degrees in religion or creation. But they are holding their people out to have science degrees, which they don't. The vast bulk of what they learn is not science."
Blakeslee recounted that a committee had visited ICR and had voted 3-to-2 for approval, and that Honig had asked the committee to reconsider. She quoted Honig again: "They had grave reservations about the science, but did not want their recommendation to put the school out of business. We then made the institute an offer. We will recommend approval and all you need to do is come up with a new name. Just don't call it science."
The ICR had refused, Blakeslee wrote; and Kovach, after discussion with Honig, had switched his vote.
On the same day when Blakeslee's story appeared, the director of the PPED, Joseph Barankin, sent a letter to Henry Morris. It said that the PPED had decided to deny approval and that the case would be reviewed on 10 January by the Council on Private Postsecondary Educational Institutions. (This is a state agency, separate from the Department of Education. It had no authority over approvals, but it can hear appeals and advise the superintendent.)
Early in January, however, things changed abruptly. Honig's Department drew back from the decision to deny approval, and the PPED began to negotiate with the ICR. On 6 January, functionaries of the Department -- in conversations with me and with others who had heard rumors of a deal -- said that the Department and the ICR had completed an agreement, and that the ICR case was no longer on the council's agenda. They would not tell the agreement's substance.
On 10 January, Barankin told me that an agreement was being wrought, and he listed some terms that he expected it to have, but he denied that it actually had been completed and signed.
What was going on? I shall try to answer that question next month.
End of Part III
NOTES: (1) Later parts of the creed endorse the doctrine of organic "kinds", the worldwide extent and effect of Noah's Flood, and the special creation of a man named Adam and a woman named Eve. I have not yet seen the Society's report of the research by which those names were discovered.
(2) "Designees" evidently means the director and other functionaries of the PPED, who act for the superintendent of public instruction.
(3) During inquiries to the PPED, I have found no suggestion that the May 1987 rules have been changed or superseded. As far as I know, they were in force during the examination of the ICR and are in force now. For a copy of "Guidelines", write to Joseph P. Barankin, Director, Private Postsecondary Education Division, State Department of Education, P.O. Box 944272, Sacramento, CA 94244.
(4) Until 1985, the school's name had been Los Angeles Baptist College.
(5) According to the ICRGS's dummy catalog, the core of the ICRGS's science-education program included courses called Curriculum Design in Science, Curriculum Implementation in Science, and Instructional Design and Production.
(6) Emphasis added.
[Editor's note: This is the last of our long installments about the ICR case, but we will continue to report on it. Next month, Bennetta will tell about the Department's putative plan to send a new committee to make a new assessment of the ICR.]
[The first three parts of this article ran in "BASIS" in February, March and April, respectively. Part III ended with a promise: In May I would tell of a plan calling for the State Department of Education to make a new examination of the ICR Graduate School (ICRGS), an arm of the Institute for Creation Research.
I must renege. There is indeed a plan, and it evidently revolves around a formal agreement between the Department and the ICR. The agreement is embodied in two documents: a letter sent to the Department by Wendell R. Bird, the ICR's lawyer, on 10 January; and a reply sent to Bird by Joseph P. Barankin, director of the Department's Private Postsecondary Education Division (PPED), on 3 March. Not until 27 March, however, did Barankin respond to my several requests for a copy of the second letter; and so I have not had time to analyze the agreement or to get Baranakin's answers to my questions about it.
I shall delay my account of the agreement, and I shall consider here some other aspects of the ICR case. One aspect is this: The committee that the PPED sent to the ICR last August included TWO ringers -- not just one. Another aspect is this. The Department has begun an effort to obscure the PPED's fiasco and to justify the conduct of Roy W. Steeves, the PPED's man who chose and managed the committee. This cover-up includes the dissemination of foolish, false or misleading statements in the name of the Department's chief, Bill Honig.
In writing here, I assume that my readers have seen the earlier parts of this article. -- W.B., 8 April]
In its issue for the winter of 1986, the "California Science Teacher's Journal" printed a fine analysis of creationism and "creation-science" by the paleontologist Richard Cowen, of the University of California at Davis. One of Cowen's best points was in his annotated bibliography. Commenting on a creationist tract, he stated the grand rationalization that all "creation-scientists" seem to revere: "Telling a lie for Jesus is presumably OK!"
Cowen's insight is valuable, for nobody can understand the antics of creationists and "creation-scientists" without understanding that their endeavors revolve around continual misrepresentation. Their need to misrepresent themselves and their enterprise is inevitable and quite irreducible because the very core of "creation-science" is a sham -- an illusion in which Bible stories are not Bible stories but are something else.
Misrepresentation is certainly the central theme of the ICR case, for the entire affair sprang from the ICR preachers' deciding to issue degrees in fields for which they had no qualifications --fields for which, in fact, they had only hostility and contempt.
In principle, they might have chosen to distribute degrees in fundamentalist religion, the thing to which they and the ICR were quite explicitly devoted. Instead, they picked geology, biology, "astro/geophysics" and science education.
Why? Did they think that mining companies were desperate for geologists whose work would be guided by stories of the Flood? That biotechnology labs were crying for biologists who could declare the mysterious biblical doctrine of "kinds"? That universities were clamoring for professors of education who could show young teachers how to count a beetle's feet and find only four?
Probably not. A more credible explanation lies in Henry Morris's repeated declarations that creationism and "creation-science" had to be injected into public schools. The ICR had even published a model resolution that state legislatures could use for that purpose.* It seems likely that all four of the ICRGS's programs -- the three named after branches of science, as well as the one in science education -- were aimed at that objective. They would equip fundamentalists with diplomas that would be useful in securing certification and employment as public-school science teachers.
This view, in which the degrees are seen as political devices, provides the only evident explanation for the ICR's rejecting the deal that Bill Honig offered last autumn: The Department would expedite approval of the ICR if the ICR would stop misrepresenting its programs and would retitle its degrees to reflect the fact that it teaches religious doctrines, not science. As the "New York Times" told on 8 December, the ICR said no.
NONSENSE FROM THE START
Because my article has focused on events during and after the three days when the PPED's committee visited the ICR, I may not have made clear that the PPED's exercise was nonsense from the start. Even before Roy Steeves chose the committee, the PPED had accepted, and so had dignified, the ICR's application; and that document was patently defective, sometimes self-contradictory and often absurd. It did not give information that it purported to give, nor did it provide a comprehensible picture of curricula, courses or faculty. Instead of academic resumes of the ICR men, it offered baseball-card sketches. It included a dummy catalog that had been assembled and edited by hand, but (according to my reading) it did not explain why the ICR was not submitting a REAL catalog. And so forth.
There were only three things, I think, that the application really made clear. First: The ICR's "science" was taught by men who had to swear, each year, that "science" was the business of believing ancient religious scriptures. Second: If only for that reason, the ICR was being absurd in claiming that its programs were comparable to those at state universities. Third: The ICR was mocking the Department of Education to its face.
Did anyone in the PPED really read the application? If yes, then the PPED -- from the time when it accepted and began to process the application -- was derelict. If no, then the same conclusion follows.
THE SECOND RINGER
Part III of this article told that George F. Howe, a member of the committee that the PPED sent to assess the ICR last August, was an old pal of the ICR's president, Henry Morris, and was allied with Morris in an organization that seeks to "blow evolution out of the public schools". (The lCR's lawyer, Wendell Bird, serves the same organization. See the box on page 5.)
It now is clear that another committee member, G. Edwin Miller, was another of Morris's buddies. From 1973 to 1985, Miller had held a series of administrative posts at Christian Heritage College, a Bible school in El Cajon. During most of that time -- specifically, from 1973 to 1980 -- the ICR had been a part of the college; and from 1978 to l980, the college's president had been Morris.
In his book "A History of Modern Creationism", Morris tells explicitly of his close association with Christian Heritage College and with Miller, whom he sometimes denotes by a nickname. On page 227 he says: "[The fundamentalist preacher Tim] LaHaye was president of the College until 1978. I then served as president for two years, then Art Peters for two years. Dr. Eddy Miller, who originally came as Dean in 1973, is now president (as of 1984)."
About two weeks ago, in response to a written request, Roy Steeves sent to me copies of the resumes that had been submitted to him by the five men whom he eventually named to the committee. When I looked at the resume furnished by Miller, I saw that he had not declared his association with Henry Morris and the ICR. I was not surprised.
In Part III, I called Miller "an expert in finance and administration". That was naive. I had not finished looking into Miller, and I was taking him (and some statements by Roy Steeves) at face value. Now I say: I myself do not know Miller to be an expert in anything. On his resume, he claims a doctorate in "human behavior" and lists some job-titles, but he describes no work or publications.
WHAT DID STEEVES KNOW?
Although Miller had failed to declare his association with the ICR, Roy Steeves may have known about it. The dummy catalog submitted with the ICR's application mentioned (on its page 10) the years when the ICR had been a division of Christian Heritage. And Miller's resume showed HIS years at Christian Heritage. Taken together, the two documents could have told Steeves the story --if Steeves looked at them.
As soon as I learned (in February) that George Howe was a crony of Henry Morris, I informed several people who are following the ICR case; and some of them sent queries to Bill Honig. The Department has replied with a form-letter that ends with a typewritten "Best regards, BILL HONIG" but is signed by "Shirley A. Thornton, Deputy Superintendent for Specialized Programs". I assume that it was composed by Thornton. Her essential message seems to be: The Department is committed to an attempt at obscuring and rationalizing what the PPED did. Her rationale seems to be: Folly and dereliction are quite alright if they are STANDARD folly and dereliction, and we do not need brains if we have lists. Here is her whole text:
This responds to your recent letter regarding the Education code Section (ECS) 94310.2 reapproval application of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). You had expressed concerns regarding one of the members of the qualitative review and assessment committee.
Standard Policy allows the nomination of one committee member by the school undergoing the committee visitation. Dr. Howe was ICR's nomination. The Department does not inquire into the political or religious beliefs of any educator who serves on a review committee, although the Department facilitator, Roy Steeves, did inquire of each member by telephone in advance as to their [sic] willingness to set aside personal religious beliefs in carrying out the duties of a committee member.
Dr. Howe is listed in the catalog of an accredited institution [The Master's College] as the person responsible for science education in that accredited institution. That school, accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, also is recognized by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing for the preparation of teachers for the public school system.
We were not aware that Dr. Howe was affiliated with the Creation Science Legal Defense Fund. However, Dr. Howe's duties as a committee member were confined to the review of the teaching of science and science education in that institution, and he was not required or expected to defend or deny the religious beliefs of the faculty or the administrators of the school.
Thank you for your continuing interest in private postsecondary education.
I comment on Thornton's effort:
"Standard policy allows the nomination . . ." That is bafflegab. "Nomination" can mean the mere recommending or proposing of a person for a post, or it can mean the definitive choosing or appointment of that person. Which meaning applies here? "Dr. Howe was ICR's nomination." Does that mean that the other ringer, Miller, was NOT "ICR's nomination"? Did Steeves -- by a stupefying coincidence, and with no prompting by the ICR or its agents -- just happen to name a second pal of Henry Morris to the committee? Or did Steeves perhaps let the ICR make two "nominations", even though "standard policy allows only "one"?
". . . the Department facilitator, Roy Steeves did inquire of each member. . . ." Stuart Hurlbert and James Woodhead deny that. Each man, after I recited Thornton's text to him, said that Steeves had not inquired, by telephone or otherwise, about "willingness to set aside personal religious beliefs".
"Dr. Howe is listed . . ." My friend Tom Jukes, who teaches biochemistry at Berkeley and is an eminent quack-watcher, had a basset hound -- Bellman by name -- who for many years was listed as an expert by the American Association of Nutritional Consultants. I must ask Tom whether the Department ever sought Bellman's advice.
". . . as the person responsible for science education. . . ." That is false. In the context of the ICR case, a program in "science education" means a program for preparing teachers of science. As I told in Part III, the catalog of The Master's College does not show that Howe or his Division of Natural Sciences is responsible for any such function. The school's only acknowledgment of science education seems to be a course called Elementary Curriculum II, which deals with "teaching science and social studies in the elementary school." It is given in the Division of Social Sciences.
"That school . . . also is recognized by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. . . ." If Howe's Bible school is certifying teachers for public classrooms, then the Commission has an error to correct. But alleged attributes of the school are irrelevant to the matter at hand: Steeves named Howe, not the school, to the committee.
If Thornton thinks that attributes of the school are important, let her notice: The committee was impaneled to examine master's-degree programs in science and science education, but Howe's school does not offer master's degrees in any of those fields or in any others but one. That one is religion, the very thing that the ICRGS stridently professes not to be teaching. Let her note too that the "Statement of Faith" in the catalog of Howe's school precludes the school's offering legitimate instruction in science.
"We were not aware that Dr. Howe was. . . ." That seems odd. Howe is listed -- yes, Thornton, LISTED -- on the Defense Fund's letterhead.
"However, Dr. Howe's duties . . . he was not required or expected.. . ." But a "creation-scientist" is still a "creation-scientist", and "creation-science" is still quackery, and the notion of sending George Howe to make a "review of the teaching of science and science education" is still as absurd as it was last August. And an imposture is still an imposture, no matter what may have been "expected" by the people who fostered it, and no matter how desperate those people now may be to hide what they did.
---------*The model ran in issue 26 of "Impact", one of the ICR's monthly bulletins about creationism. Issue 26 was undated but probably was printed in 1975. Appended to the model was "documentation" that included stuff like this: "It can be documented that the evolutionary philosophy has served as the pseudo-scientific basis and justification for racism, modern imperialism, nazism, anarchism, communism, behaviorism, animalistic amoralism, humanism and practically all other anti-Christian and anti-theistic social philosophies and movements of the past century and more."
SIDEBAR: WHO IS THIS BIRD?
The ICR, in its recent negotiations with the Department of Education, has been represented by Wendell R. Bird, a lawyer from Atlanta. Bird has been prominent in creationist causes during the past decade or so, but his record does not seem enviable.
In December l98l, during the trial that led to the nullification of the Arkansas "creation-science" law, Bird tried to dissuade several witnesses from testifying. (In at least one case, he succeeded.) According to an article in "Christianity Today" for 22 January 1982, Bird admitted doing this; and Steven Clark, the state's attorney general at the time of the trial, said that Bird's efforts were "tantamount to tampering with justice.
Bird also made a marginal appearance in the opinion that Judge William Overton issued when he found the Arkansas law unconstitutional: "The defendants argue that the teaching of evolution alone presents both a free exercise problem and an establishment problem which can only be redressed by giving balanced treatment to creation science, which is admittedly consistent with some religious beliefs. This argument appears to have its genesis in a student note written by Mr. Wendell Bird. .. . The argument has no legal merit."
Despite this, Bird's student note (which had appeared in a l978 issue of the "Yale Law Journal") has been glorified, reprinted and sold by creationist organizations (including the ICR) as if it were a benchmark in jurisprudence.
From the summer of l98l through the spring of l987, Bird led the defense of the Louisiana "creation-science" law as it was ruled unconstitutional by a federal district court, a court of appeals, and the Supreme Court. In that campaign, he acted as a "special assistant attorney general" of Louisiana and also as counsel to the Creation Science Legal Defense Fund -- the private group of fundamentalists, headquartered in Shreveport, that supplied nearly all the money for the defense. The Fund's Board of Reference included Henry Morris and Duane Gish (of the ICR) and George F. Howe.
Bird's strategy in the Louisiana case was futile but amusing. The defense lawyers knew that any description or documentation of "creation-science" would show it to be fundamentalist religion; so, while asking court after court to uphold the teaching of "creation-science" in public schools, they refused to say what "creation-science" was. (See my article in the July/August l988 issue of "Terra", published by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.)
Bird, Morris, Gish and Howe still serve that group in Shreveport, but the group now is called the ACADEMIC FREEDOM Legal Defense Fund. Its idea of academic freedom was shown in a solicitation that its president issued in August l987. "Our best and most victorious days are still in the future!" he wrote. "We're still going to blow evolution out of the public schools!" -- W.B.
[The first four parts of this article ran in "BASIS" in February, March, April and May. They told how the Private Postsecondary Education Division (PPED) of the California State Department of Education, in August 1988, staged an "assessment" of the ICR Graduate School (ICRGS). The school is an arm of the Institute for Creation Research, a fundamentalist organization that disseminates the pseudoscience called "creation-science."
The assessment was made by a five-man committee, chosen and managed by a PPED officer named Roy Steeves, that included two ringers --two men who had had close associations with the ICR or with the ICR's president, Henry Morris. The committee wrote a false, misleading report saying that the Department's chief, Bill Honig, should approve the ICR as a source of masters' degrees in science and in science education.
Later, however, two of the committee's legitimate members told the truth about the lCR; and Honig -- at least in statements that he gave to the newspapers last December -- refused the approval. But in January the Department drew back from that decision and began to negotiate with the ICR.
I shall describe here the results of those negotiations, after I make some final comments about the antics of Roy Steeves. I assume that my readers have seen all the earlier parts of this article. -- W.B., 11 June]
MORE ABOUT MILLER
In Part IV, I told a little about G. Edwin Miller, one of the ringers whom Roy Steeves had named to the committee; and I wondered whether Miller had been recommended by the ICR. Here is why this seemed important: The Department already had admitted that the other ringer, George Howe, was "ICR's nomination"; but the Department also had said that its "standard policy" allowed only "one" such nomination by a school undergoing assessment.
I now know that Miller, too, was an ICR "nomination." Like Howe, he was one the people whom Morris had recommended in a letter sent to the Department on 7 June 1988.
PROMO BY MEMO
I saw Morris's letter a few days ago, when I went to Sacramento and examined the PPED's whole file on the ICR case. It had many engaging documents, but none more engaging than the memoranda in which Steeves -- writing to the PPED's director, Joseph Barankin -- seemed to promote the ICR, the ICR's positions, and the ICR's pseudoscience. For example:
- On 23 May 1988, before he began to recruit the committee, Steeves sent a memo in which he summarily declared that "they [the ICR men] ARE scientists" and then said: "this group believes that the universe is decaying from an original creating event. That cosmology is remarkably similar to what they are saying at Cal Tech. In the Biology program the underlying religious belief is that mutation is occurring away from an original creation. At the same time evolutionary theory is generally accepted in the biological sciences, so is devolutionary [sic] theory accepted and particularly in the study of mutations, which seems to be one of their [WHOSE?] specialties."
- On 8 August, three days after the committee had written its report, Steeves sent a memo that urged approval. Two days later, he sent another. The second memo warned Barankin that Stuart Hurlbert would be submitting "a letter which in his opinion is a minority and dissenting opinion to the visit report."
- On 29 August he wrote: "There is nothing in Dr. Hurlbert's report that I can see that was not discussed at one time or another during the course of the Committee meetings at the school site." (He did not suggest why so great a mass of material, if it had been "discussed" by the committee, was not acknowledged in the committee's own report.) Then he accused Hurlbert of "creating a series of straw men."
- On 1 September he wrote that he was "appalled" by a comment in which (he inferred) Hurlbert had questioned the motives of G. Edwin Miller. Then he said: "Dr. Miller was not there as an expert on science curriculum. He was there as an expert on school finance." (Steeves did not tell that Miller, whatever the reason for his presence on the committee, had VOTED on the ICR's "science" curriculum.)
Later Steeves announced that "These [ICR men] are quite capable of teaching science and they do so." (He did not disclose how he had learned that.) Finally he declared: "This thing is a dispute between theists and atheists. . . ."
So there it was: the ICR's "two- model" stuff, neat and pure. People who saw the ICR's charlatanry for what it was, and who objected to the state's certifying it as science, were categorically "atheists."
Did Steeves really believe what he wrote? Did he really think that Caltech professors were teaching a cosmology in which modern physics was summarily rejected and in which the universe was only 6,000 years old? Did he really think that modern biology had a "devolutionary theory" that figured in "the study of mutations"? I do not know.
STILL AT IT
Roy Steeves is still on the Department's payroll, and -- as I told in Part IV -- the Department has undertaken a cover-up that includes an effort to justify Steeves's conduct. Right now, the chief element of the cover-up seems to be a plain refusal to answer mail. During the past two months, several people who are following the ICR case have sent inquiries to Bill Honig, including inquiries about the matter of G. Edwin Miller, but to no avail. One such letter was dispatched on 6 April and still has not been acknowledged.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?
After the Department, in January, abandoned its announced decision to deny approval, Joseph Barankin made a kind of agreement with the ICR's lawyer, Wendell Bird. I say "kind of" because the agreement is so burdened by undefined terms, unspecified conditions and unanswered questions that it does not seem to be a respectable effort. It is embodied in two letters -- one sent to the Department by Bird on 10 January, the other sent by Barankin to Bird on 3 March.
In April, after studying the letters, I sent to Barankin some questions about their content. He has not replied. Here is my own, unaided reading of the major points in his deal with the ICR:
- The ICR says that it will revise its "science courses" and "science curriculum," conforming them to science courses and curricula at accredited schools. During this effort, "ICRGS's interpretations" will be removed from all courses that will carry credit toward science degrees. "Interpretations" will be confined to courses or activities that will not count toward degrees.
Barankin, then, has accepted two bizarre propositions. One is that natural sciences, and science courses at accredited schools, exist as mere piles of information, unsullied by interpretation or thought. The other is that the ICRGS, which is explicitly a creationist "ministry," really intends to excise creationist "interpretations" from its degree programs and intends to relegate creationism to some peripheral diversions.
- To learn whether the ICR has made the contemplated revisions, the Department will dispatch a new committee. One member will be selected (not merely suggested or recommended) by the ICR. The total number of members is not specified.
- The new committee will examine the ICR's programs in biology, geology and "astro/geophysics," but not the program in science education. That program evidently will get another free ride, like the one that was awarded to it, last August, by Roy Steeves.
In my April query to Barankin, I asked whether, in making the agreement, he had had advice from anyone who knew about science. I also asked: If the Department were to approve the ICRGS's interpretation-less courses, how much would the Department have to spend annually to monitor the courses and to ensure that no "interpretations" were creeping in? I am sorry that Barankin refused to answer.
The ICR has asked the Department to conduct the new examination by early August. I do not know whether the Department has yet picked a date or has chosen any members for the new committee.
SIDEBAR: CATHY AND JOEY AND S.B. 190
S.B. 190, State Senator Becky Morgan's bill that would reform the regulation of unaccredited schools operating in California, has been endorsed by both the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill would create a new agency for controlling unaccredited colleges and vocational schools, would remove that function from the Department of Education, and would abolish the PPED.
The Education Committee approved S.B. 190 on 3 May, by a vote of 9 to 0, after a brief hearing. A report of the committee's proceeding, written by Diane Curtis, ran in the "San Francisco Chronicle" on 4 May, under the headline "'Diploma Mill' Bill Advances." Here is an excerpt:
Catherine Sizemore, lobbyist for the California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools, led the opposition, which was joined by 17 leaders of unaccredited schools.
Sizemore said her organization shared Morgan's concerns, but disagreed that the best way to achieve reform was to take authority away from the present regulator, the [PPED], and create a new state agency.
Sizemore, who has made no secret of her live-in relationship with [the PPED's] director, Joseph Barankin, said the regulators have been hamstrung by lack of staff and money to oversee the schools. Rather than create a new agency, she said, [the PPED] should be given a chance to implement reforms approved by the Legislature in the past five years.
I find irony in Sizemore's effort, for I think that she herself -- through her relationship with Barankin, and its insistent suggestion of a conflict of interest -- has done much to promote the legislation in question. Bill Honig has known for months about Barankin's affair with Sizemore, who represents many schools that the PPED presumably oversees; and by tolerating the appearance of ethical conflict, Honig seems to have said that the Department of Education has no interest in straightening the PPED out. I speculate, then, that some senators will see S.B. 190 as the only practical way to achieve reforms.
A representative of the Department observed the Education Committee's hearing but did not testify. Later in May, the Department began active opposition to the bill.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved S.B. 190 on 12 June, by consent -- that is, without a debate or a vote. (This was possible because the bill, if enacted into law, would have no significant effect on the state's general fund.) S.B. 190 now will be considered by the full Senate. -- W.B.
[The first five parts of this article ran in "BASIS" in February, March, April, May and July. They told how the Private Postsecondary Education Division (PPED) of the California State Department of Education, in August l988, staged an "assessment" of the ICR Graduate School (ICRGS). The school is an arm of the Institute for Creation Research, a fundamentalist ministry promoting the religious pseudoscience called "creation-science."
The assessment was made by a five-man committee that had been chosen by, and was managed by, a PPED officer named Roy W. Steeves. The committee included two ringers -- George F. Howe and G. Edwin Miller -- who had been linked closely to the ICR or to the ICR's president, Henry Morris. The committee produced a false, misleading report that concealed the real nature of the ICR, promoted the ICR's scientific pretensions, and said that the Department's chief, Bill Honig, should approve the ICR as a source of master's degrees in biology, geology, "astro/geophysics" and science education.
Two of the committee's legitimate members, James Woodhead and Stuart Hurlbert, then sent separate reports to Honig, telling the truth about the ICR. Steeves -- writing to the PPED's director, Joseph P. Barankin -- endorsed the ICR and urged that Honig should grant the approval that the ICR wanted.
Honig, at least in statements that he gave to the press last December, refused the approval. In January, however, the Department drew back from that decision and began to negotiate with the ICR; and on 3 March, Barankin and the ICR reached an agreement. The ICR would revise its curriculum, purging the "ICRG's interpretations" from all courses that would count toward degrees. (The ICR claimed, and Barankin evidently believed, that science courses purged of interpretation would be like courses at accredited schools. I asked Barankin, in a letter, whether he had had advice from anyone who knew about science, but he did not answer.) To learn whether the ICR had made the contemplated revisions, the Department would send a new examining committee; one member would be selected by the ICR.
The new committee is now at work, and I shall tell something about it here. I assume that my readers have seen the earlier parts of this article. -- W.B., 12 August]
A QUESTION OF INTENTION
Did the ICR ever really intend to revise its "science courses" and curriculum, excise "ICRGS's interpretations" from degree programs, and (in the words of its agreement with the Department) "conform the classroom lectures, course textbooks, and other course aspects" to science courses at accredited schools? Documents issued by the ICR may suggest an answer.
On 8 March, mere days after the agreement had been reached, the ICRGS's dean, Kenneth Cumming, sent a letter and a brochure to a prospective applicant for admission to the ICRGS. The brochure conspicuously proclaimed that the ICRGS's "Purpose" was: "Education, research, and publication in scientific and Biblical creationism." (Both the letter and the brochure said that the ICRGS's programs were approved by the State of California. They told nothing about the events of 1988, nor did they tell that continued approval depended on a new review by the Department.)
In June, when the ICRGS had begun its summer session and presumably was running its revised and conformed degree programs, the ICR mailed the June-July-August issue of its quarterly devotional booklet, "Days of Praise".
The back cover bore the same boiler-plate that had appeared on all the earlier issues. It described the ICR as "A UNIQUE complex of evangelistic, missionary and educational ministries," and it listed the "ICR Graduate School of Creationist Science" as one of those ministries. I speculate, then, that be ICR -- regardless of what its agreement with the Department said -- may actually have intended to continue doing business as usual, dispensing the same old stuff.
In parts IV and V of this account, I told of the Department's efforts to obscure and rationalize the fiasco of last August. Department functionaries first had issued evasive, false or misleading statements and then had simply ignored inquiries. In early June, when I was writing Part V, they had failed to acknowledge several letters that asked how G. Edwin Miller had got onto the committee that Steeves had assembled for assessing the ICR.
Later in June, however, the Department resumed answering mail, and at least two people who had inquired about the matter of Miller received a form-letter signed by Shirley A. Thornton, Bill Honig's "Deputy Superintendent, Specialized Programs Branch." It said, in part:
At this point, it seems irrelevant to discuss the relationships of Mr. Howe or Mr. Miller. The committee on which they served has written its report and been disbanded. The final committee decision was to deny reapproval. . . . ICR is now in the process of taking corrective measures which shall be verified by another qualitative review and assessment committee this August.
Consequently, we are focusing our efforts on ensuring that the most qualified and impartial panel possible will be selected for [the new assessment committee]. You have my assurance that extra diligence will be taken to ascertain whether committee members have any affiliation whatsoever with ICR or related organizations; if you have any recommendations on how to do so, please share them with Dr. Joseph Barankin, Director, Private Postsecondary Education Division, . . .
This seemed to say that the Department was taking a different stance. It was not admitting that the 1988 committee's proceedings had been defective, but neither was it still trying to justify them. And it evidently saw that the picking of the new committee would demand care and expertise.
THE NEW COMMITTEE
As I write this, the members of the new committee have just finished their visit to the ICR. They were there on 7, 8, 9 and 10 August, and they now will give some weeks to the writing of their report.
The members are: Christopher J. Wills, a geneticist from the department of Biology, University of California at San Diego; Richard E. Dickerson, chief of the Molecular Biology Institute, University of California at Los Angeles; Everett C. Olson, a vertebrate paleontologist from the Department of Biology, University of California at Los Angeles; Lawrence S. Lerner, a physicist and historian of science from the Department of Physics-Astronomy, California State University at Long Beach; and Leroy E. Eimers, from the Department of Science and Mathematics, Cedarville College.
Eimers evidently is the member who, under the agreement between the ICR and the Department, was chosen by the ICR. Cedarville College is a Bible school in Cedarville, Ohio. (During a period in the 1950s it was called Cedarville Baptist College and Bible Institute.)
I do not know why the ICR picked an Ohioan rather than a Californian, nor do I know much about Eimers himself. Unlike the four others on the committee, he is not listed in the 1989-1990 edition of "American Men & Women of Science"; and neither he nor his college department is in the 1986-1987 edition (the most recent one available to me) of "Directory of Physics & Astronomy Staff."
At least two of the Californians on the committee have had earlier experience with creationism and can be expected to show some special understanding of creationists and the ICR. Dickerson has served as a scientific expert in two legal actions that arose from creationists' attacks on science education in public schools, and Learner was a member of the state panel that recently drafted the new "Science Framework" to guide science instruction in the public schools of California.
The draft has been opposed strenuously by creationists, because it lays strong emphasis on forthright teaching of scientific information about the history of Earth and the history of organisms. (See Diane Curtis's story "The Evolution Battle Evolves," in the "San Francisco Chronicle" for 20 July.) Lerner also has written at least two articles that dealt wholly or partly with creationism, and I have had the pleasure of being the co-author of one of them. (See "The Treatment of Theory in Textbooks," which ran in April 1988 in "The Science Teacher", the monthly of the National Science Teachers Association.)
The committee is being managed by Jeanne Bird, who joined the PPED, as a staff consultant, this spring. She is now one of the PPED's assistant directors. When I talked with her by telephone on 21 July, she was cordial but reticent. She said that she held no degree in science or in law, but she would tell no more about her education. Nor would she say what kind of work she had been doing for the PPED, or whether she had had any experience in managing the assessment of degree-granting institutions.
SIDEBAR: MEET PROFESSOR JOHN
D. James Kennedy is a fundamentalist preacher who makes commercial religious programs for both television and radio. His headquarters operation, Coral Ridge Ministries, is in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His enterprises include a daily, half-hour radio show called "Truths That Transform".
On 10 May, that show offered an interview with Henry Morris's son John. John Morris has worked at the ICR for some years and now holds at least two jobs there: administrative vice-president and "full professor of geology." One of his geological specialties is discovering that humans and the great dinosaurs lived, very recently, side by side. (See his book "Tracking Those Incredible Dinosaurs and the People Who Knew Them", issued in 1980 by the ICR's publishing arm, Master Books.) He also searches for the remains of Noah's ark.
The interview on "Truths That Transform" was conducted by one of D. James Kennedy's associates, who asked: "What does evolution have in common with the New Age and Marxism?" The putative answers were provided by John Morris, who also promoted a religious video in which he recently had appeared. The video is called "The Evolution Conspiracy: A Quantum Leap into the New Age". After telling his radio audience that there was no evidence for organic evolution, and that "doctrinaire evolutionists are also doctrinaire atheists, and most of 'em are Marxist," he tried to link evolutionary science to the New Age:
It's just -- you know, there's no evidence in the fossil record that [organic evolution] ever did occur; scientific law shows that it couldn't occur, statistics show that it's highly unlikely -- impossibly unlikely --and so evolutionists, even, are abandoning this concept of pure naturalism, of naturalistic evolution. What they're doing, though, instead of moving over into the creationist camp, they're moving into another sort of evolution. Uh, instead of being naturalistic evolution, they're -- they're saying now that these sorts of things couldn't happen without an overriding mind, without a design.
But instead of attributing that to God, they're --they're basically saying that nature is alive, that Mother Nature is thinking -- that -- this is the essence of Eastern mysticism. Uh, it's the New Age movement. You would be surprised how much of the technical, scientific literature talks about this idea that nature is alive, that it thinks and it does this on purpose. . . . So the New Age movement is very definitely evolutionary, and modern evolution is moving in the direction of the New Age. In fact, they used to show the -- the monkeys, you know, getting bigger and bigger and turning into man. Well, now the drawings, they go beyond man into man in a lotus position. My goodness, this is the essence of the satanic world-view.
All this was news to me. I had not known of any scientific law showing that organic evolution could not occur; I had not noticed that scientists were flocking to the New Age movement; I had never seen scientific drawings in which monkeys (or anything else) got bigger and bigger until they turned into a man in the lotus position; and I surely had not know that this was "the essence of the satanic world-view." I hope that John Morris explained all those things to the new visiting committee that the Department of Education sent to the ICR on 7 August, so that the committee's members could fully appreciate the work and intellect of the ICR's "full professor of geology." -- W.B.
[The first six parts of this article ran in earlier issues of "BASIS", starting in February. Here is a summary:
By law, no unaccredited postsecondary school in California can issue degrees unless the school has been approved by the superintendent of public instruction -- the chief of the State Department of Education. In August 1988, the Department's Private Postsecondary Education Division (PPED) staged an "assessment" of the ICR Graduate School (ICRGS).
The ICRGS is an arm of the Institute for Creation Research, a fundamentalist ministry that promotes the religious pseudoscience called "creation-science." The assessment was made by a five-man committee that had been chosen, and was managed, by a PPED officer named Roy W. Steeves. The committee included two ringers who had been linked closely to the ICR or to the ICR's president, Henry Morris.
The committee produced a false, misleading report that hid the real nature of the ICR, promoted the ICR's scientific pretensions, and said that Bill Honig, the superintendent of public instruction, should approve the ICR as a source of masters' degrees in biology, geology, "astro/geophysics" and science education. But two of the committee's legitimate members then sent separate reports to Honig, telling the truth about the ICR.
Roy Steeves, in memoranda to the PPED's director, Joseph P. Barankin, endorsed the ICR and urged that it should be approved.
Honig, in statements that he gave to the press in December 1988, refused the approval. In January, however, the Department drew back from that decision and began to negotiate with the ICR. On 3 March, Joseph Barankin and the ICR reached an agreement. The ICR would revise its curriculum, purging "ICRGS's interpretations" from courses that would count toward degrees. To learn whether the ICR had made the revisions, the Department would send a new examining committee; one member would be selected by the ICR.
The new committee visited the ICR in the second week of August 1989 and now is writing its report. Four of its five members are scientists from campuses of the University of California or the California State University. The fifth, evidently the one chosen by the ICR, is from an Ohio Bible college. The committee is being managed not by Roy Steeves but by another PPED officer, Jeanne Bird.
The ICR men, as I now shall tell, have publicly predicted that the committee's report will be damning and that Honig again will deny approval.
In writing here, I assume that my readers have seen the earlier parts of this article. -- W.B., 13 September]
A LETTER FROM PROF. JOHN
The new committee's visit consternated the ICR men, for the Department had taken important steps to ensure that the new examination of the ICRGS would be legitimate. The ICR's sweet-heart, Roy Steeves, was no longer in the picture; the new committee was dominated by respectable, perceptive scientists; and the committee would have abundant time for writing a respectable, perceptive report.
All this was different from the cozy proceeding that Steeves had conducted a year earlier, and it left the ICR men dismayed. They foresaw that the committee would report that their school was defective and unworthy of approval, and that Bill Honig would follow the committee's judgment.
With this vision of doom before them, they began an effort to win the sympathy of the press and the public, presumably in the hope that a rash of newspaper articles and letters would sway the committee or Honig.
Late in August, news organizations in southern California got a notice of an ICR "news conference" that would be held on the 31st. The ICR, said the notice, would "respond to the imminent State decision to shut down ICR's graduate school of science."
The notice was accompanied by two other items: a letter from John Morris, the ICR's administrative vice-president and "full professor of geology"; and a handout, headlined "Basic Freedoms Under Attack at ICR," that offered a fiercely misleading account of the ICR case. These items merit attention, for they seem to foretell the tactics that the ICR will use if Honig does indeed deny approval, and if the ICR appeals his decision.
The heart of John Morris's letter was in three paragraphs. Here they are; the superscript numerals refer to my comments, which will follow:
Enclosed is evidence(1) of improper action of a particularly disturbing sort, that of an adversarial attitude on the part of the State toward an approved(2) school in good standing, which has led to the threat of immediate closure, all the while ignoring our fully qualified faculty,(3) the excellent records or our graduates and our large and concerned constituency.(4)
The underlying reason for the action is that our small graduate school in the sciences(5) holds a perspective on science(6) different from that of Honig. He claims that allowing our perspective to exist in California is tantamount to state agreement with our position.(7) However, censoring minority opinions(8) violates academic(9) and religious freedoms,(10) and in effect establishes a state religion, with no dissenting voice allowed.
If Honig is allowed to silence our minority views on controversial scientific concepts,(11) what is to keep him from decreeing that only certain political views can be taught in California or a certain philosophy of economics, or religion, or psychology, or journalism? Will accounts of historical events be revised next? Remember, this is America, a pluralistic society, . . .
I comment on Prof. John's text:
(1). The enclosed item was not evidence at all; it was merely the "Basic Freedoms" handout. (2). In calling the ICRGS "approved," Prof. John begs the question: Whether the ICRGS should be approved is the very thing that the Department is investigating. Prof. John also omits that the proceeding by which the ICRGS first got its "approved" status, in 1981, was a sham. (3). I'll be surprised if the committee's report ignores the ICRGS's faculty or fails to tell how qualified they are. (4). The law governing approvals does not tell the Department to assess the size or emotional state of a school's "constituency."
(5). This is more question-begging: Whether the ICRGS is really a "graduate school in the sciences" is one of the things that the Department must judge. (6). This would have meaning if it were illustrated by some examples of the ICR's "perspective" -- a Noah's-ark story, for instance, or some proprietary raving about organic evolution, Marxism and satanism. (7). Whether the ICR's "perspective" should exist is not in question. The only issue is whether the ICR should pass out degrees in science and in education. And if the Department were to say YES, the Department surely WOULD be lending the state's imprimatur to the ICR's pseudoscientific rubbish.
(8). The proceeding at hand has nothing to do with censorship. It is concerned only with academic quality and with the legitimacy of degrees. Honig has said often that the ICR can run its programs, teach its beliefs and issue degrees, as long as it does not mislabel them as scientific. (9). What can "academic freedom" possibly mean to men who each year, lest they be sacked, must swear their overriding devotion to Bible stories and their concomitant rejection of basic principles of modern science? (10). "Religious" freedoms? Prof. John forgets that the ICR claims to be teaching science, denies that it is teaching religion, and refuses to be certified as a religious school. (11). Again, examples would help. Reporters surely would enjoy learning about such "scientific concepts" as imaginary fossils on Mt. Ararat, or visions of dinosaurs roaming the Garden of Eden with Adam.
A CONSPICUOUS HEDGE
The other document that the ICR distributed to news organizations -- the "Basic Freedoms" handout -- was comparable to Prof. John's letter in both falsity and hysteria. Its most significant paragraph was its last:
Does the state have the power to tell a private Christian school such as the ICR (which has never accepted a penny of state or federal money)* that it cannot teach as its conscience dictates? Is this the beginning of the end of our cherished American freedoms? Will all Christian education soon come under similar attack if this precedent is allowed? Maybe so, but please be aware that ICR will not accept these rulings without exhausting every reasonable and feasible avenue of appeal. We hope concerned individuals everywhere will realize the serious implications of this precedent. . . .
The signal phrase here is "every REASONABLE AND FEASIBLE avenue of appeal." If Honig denies approval, the ICR presumably will invoke the administrative appeal processes provided by law. (The first would be a plea to the state's Council on Private Postsecondary Educational Institutions, which has no power over approvals and can merely advise Honig.) But what if the administrative appeals were to be unsuccessful? Would the ICR men take Honig and his Department to court?
I do not think so. I think that they recognize that a lawsuit, too, would fail and would also engender a new, ruinous expose of creationism and "creation-science." And I think that this recognition is reflected in their hedge about "reasonable and feasible" avenues.
The ICR's effort to gain attention from news organizations achieved only modest success -- perhaps because the ICR men's only "news" was their desperation.
The "San Diego Union" for 31 August offered a report by Michael Scott-Blair, who had skipped the "news conference" but had conducted interviews on the preceding day. He recounted various statements by John Morris and the corresponding comments by Bill Honig. For example:
John D. Morris . . . yesterday accused state Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig of intervening in one evaluation [of the ICRGS] and of "stifling academic freedom." Morris said the state had used "dirty tricks" in an attempt to force the institute out of business.
"Nonsense," said Honig, reached by phone at his Sacramento office yesterday.
"I gave them a full year to prove they are offering acceptable quality science courses toward their master's degree. But a preliminary indication from a team of scientists that visited the campus earlier this month suggests the institute comes up short by a long way." . . . .
Honig said he has no wish to close the institute, but disagrees with "teaching creationism and calling it a science degree. . . ."
Similar stories ran on 1 September in "The Tribune" (another San Diego paper) and in the San Diego edition of the "Los Angeles Times".
Several papers (e.g., the "San Jose Mercury News" for 1 September) ran foolish puff-pieces that simply promoted the ICR's views. They were based on an Associated Press story that evidently had consisted wholly of assertions by the ICR men, with nothing from anyone else. On 8 and 11 September I called David Sedeno, the correspondent in charge of the AP's San Diego bureau, to ask about the defective dispatch. He said that he would review his files and then call me, but I heard no more from him.
----------*The ICR advertises that its students can get educational benefits from the Veterans Administration. But the matter of government money is really irrelevant: The law governing approvals applies equally to schools that get such money and schools that do not.
[Parts I through VII of this article have described the continuing effort by the ICR Graduate School (ICRGS) to gain reapproval, from the California State Department of Education, as a source of advanced degrees in science and in science education. The ICRGS is an arm of the Institute for Creation Research, a fundamentalist ministry that promotes the religious pseudoscience called "creation-science." The founder and president of the ICR is Henry Morris, a preacher and former engineer who poses as an expert in geology, biology, paleontology and various other fields in which he has no detectable credentials.
In Part VI, I told that the Department had sent a committee of examiners to the ICR, in early August, to make a new assessment of the ICR's operations. Four of the committee's five members are scientists from campuses of the University of California or the California State University. The fifth, evidently selected by the ICR, is from a Bible college in Ohio.
In Part VII, I told of the reaction by Henry Morris and his associates to the committee's visit: Foreseeing that the committee would declare the ICRGS defective and unworthy of approval, and that the chief of the Department, Bill Honig, would follow the committee's judgment, the ICR men tried to win sympathy from the press and the public. On 31 August they held a "news conference" to denounce Honig and to distribute a fiercely misleading account of their transactions with his Department, but they achieved only modest success. Most news organizations apparently recognized that the ICR men's only "news" was their own desperation.
The examining committee has not yet submitted its report, nor has there been any other substantive development, during the month since I wrote Part VII, in the ICR case per se. The ICR men have not been idle, however, and in September they mailed a new batch of religious pamphlets to their followers. One of those pamphlets merits special attention from anyone who is interested in the ICR case or in creationism, and I shall tell about it here. W.B., 13 October]
By definition, creationism is a fundamentalist political movement that seeks to impose onto the population at large, by political means, a body of religious beliefs that revolve around the creation stories in the King James version of the Holy Bible.
The creationists' most conspicuous efforts today are directed against science: They strive to suppress science education in the public schools, to undermine the public's understanding and appreciation of science, and to censor science itself. Their ultimate goal is to abolish science altogether and to replace it with a pseudoscientific system for affirming biblical narratives and beliefs. That system is "creation-science."
Because the creationists' campaign against science and science education is so prominent, and is so large a part of their current program, the implications of creationism in other realms are often overlooked. Yet those implications are strong and clear -- and nowhere clearer than in the creationists' assiduous denigration of all religious traditions and supernatural beliefs but their own: Any other beliefs are denounced as an evil frauds or are patronized as degenerate vestiges of biblical truths that are known, in proper form, to fundamentalists only.
For an example of how creationists scorn other religious traditions as mere corruptions of biblical lore, consider this: They have announced that the Australian aborigines' Dreamtime stories are simply defective recollections of events recounted in the Book of Genesis, and that the aborigines colonized Australia after the time of Noah's flood. (The announcement was made in l986 in "Ex Nihilo", a creationist magazine.
A year later, it was properly noted in "The Bumbling, Stumbling, Crumbling Theory of Creation Science", a booklet issued by the Catholic Education Office in Sydney. The booklet's author, Barry Price, commented: "Surely it must be close to blasphemy to dismiss the aspirations, hopes and religious history of a proud people as 'racial memories of Creation and the Tower of Babel'!")
Or consider an unsigned article in the September 1989 issue of "Back to Genesis", one of the monthly bulletins published by the ICR. Here is the whole article, verbatim; the ellipses appear in the original:
DID YOU KNOW . . . that the Havasupai Indians living in the Grand Canyon believe this Canyon originated as a result of a flood?
. . . "Before there were many people on earth there were two gods: Tochapa of goodness, and Hokomata of evil. Tochapa had a daughter named Pu-keh-eh, whom he hoped would become the mother of all living. Hokomata, the evil, was determined that no such thing should take place, and he covered the world with a great flood. Tochopa [sic], the good, felled a great tree and hollowed out the trunk. He placed Pu-keh-eh in the hollowed trunk, and when the water rose and flooded the earth, she was secure in her improvised boat.
"Finally the flood waters receded and mountain peaks emerged. Rivers were created; and one of them cut the great gushing fissure which became the Grand Canyon.
"Pu-keh-eh, in her log, came to rest on the new earth. She stepped forth and beheld an empty world.
"When the land became dry, a great golden sun rose in the east and warmed the earth, and caused her to conceive. In time, she gave birth to a male child. Later, a waterfall caused her to conceive, and she gave birth to a girl. From the union of these two mortal children came all the people on the earth. The first were the Havasupai, and the voice of Tochopa [sic] spoke to them and told them to live forever in peace in their canyon of good earth and pure water where there would always be plenty for all. . . ."
This is, of course, a recognizable (albeit distorted) version of the worldwide Flood of Noah's day. It adds more evidence to support the fact that all peoples are descended from Noah and have a common cultural background.
The "creation-scientists" promulgate such absurd stuff in the service of their "two-model" doctrine, which starts with the declaration that there are only two possible views of "origins." One view comes from literal readings of the Bible; the other comes from natural science; and the two are opposed in a kind of zero-sum contest, so that any evidence supporting the first must be an indictment of the second.
To sustain that nonsense, creationists must ignore, twist or trivialize all the other views of "origins" that exist now or ever have existed. If they were to admit that there are more than two views, their "two-model approach" would collapse, and all their arguments for teaching biblical beliefs in public-school science classrooms would become arguments for teaching religious ideas from countless other sources as well. That is not what the creationists want. They want the schools to propagate fundamentalist beliefs only, as the only ones that deserve to be taken seriously.
So they disdain the aborigines' Dreamtime lore as an ersatz Genesis, and they represent the aborigines themselves as unfortunates who cannot recall what really happened back at Babel. They turn Pu-keh-eh into an ersatz Noah, turn her hollowed tree into an ersatz ark, and turn the Havasupai into people whose faulty memories have substituted a matriarch for a nautical patriarch.
In the same way, they dismiss any number of other myths as debased versions of biblical tales -- false versions that are unworthy of inclusion in any consideration of "origins" but that somehow, while being false, show that the Bible is true.
When we see that creationism and "creation-science" entail the systematic denial or denigration of most of the world's religions, cultures and cultural history, we see how broad the social implications of creationism really are. Those implications must be publicized and apprehended more widely, especially among public-school officials and teachers. Far too many educators -- misled by too many mindless newspaper stories about "evolution" -- imagine that the creationists despise science alone, and that teachers of history or social studies or literature have nothing to worry about. That is wrong.
The September "Back to Genesis" also offered a revelatory one-page piece by Henry Morris's son John, who is the ICR's administrative vice-president and "full professor of geology." Prof. John's headline asked: "Do The Difficult Questions Have Answers?" His text said that they surely did, and he gave ten examples. Here, in full, are the five that I found most engaging:
2) Where did God come from? The Bible reveals God as self-existent. This is a basic assumption of Christianity, but all the facts of nature support the validity of this assumption.
3) Where did Cain get his wife? Adam and Eve had "sons and daughters" (Genesis 5). Such unions were a genetic problem by the time of Moses, but were not a problem so soon after Creation.
4) Human color differences? Genetic studies have shown that all humans have the same color, although some have more of the skin-coloring agent than others.
5) Where did the races come from? All humans are descended from Noah's family. Isolation of language groups following the dispersion at the Tower of Babel caused certain characteristics to be expressed which best fit the local environment.
6) What about the dinosaurs? The Bible reveals that land animals were created on Day Six of Creation Week. There is much evidence that humans and dinosaurs have lived at the same time.
I read Prof. John's Q-and-A effort in several ways. It is a reliable sample of the breezy pronouncements that pass for "science" at the ICR. It is a compelling index to the intellectual condition of the ICR's audience. And most importantly, it is a declaration about the fate of the ICR's "graduate school": To me, it says that the ICR men have decided against making any serious attempt to save that "ministry," and that they already have written the school off. Let me explain:
If Bill Honig denies the school's application for reapproval -- as the ICR men, by their own accounts, expect him to do -- then their only real hope will lie in a lawsuit. I have speculated, in Part VII of this article, that the ICR men will not go to court; and Prof. John's most recent performance has convinced me that my speculation was right. I cannot imagine that anyone who expected to sit on a witness stand and pose as a "scientist," and who expected to be questioned by well prepared adversaries, would today be publishing claims about Moses's genes and Fred Flintstone's pets.
S.B.190 BECOMES LAW
S.B.190, State Senator Becky Morgan's bill for reforming the regulation of unaccredited schools that operate in California, was signed into law by Governor George Deukmejian on 1 October. A summary of the law's provisions will accompany the next installment of "Degrees of Folly."
THE BIBLE BELT BECKONS
If the ICR men fail to obtain Bill Honig's reapproval of their "graduate school," and if they want to remain in the science-degree business, they may move their operation to another state.
On 8 September, I called Donald Drake, who is the acting vice-president of Tennessee Temple University, a Bible college in Chattanooga. Rumor had it, I said, that Tennessee Temple already had offered the ICR a new home. Was the rumor right?
"There has been interaction about it," Drake replied,"but I can't define it any more than that. My understanding now is that [the ICR men] are going to stand and fight it out in California. But if that doesn't work, I'd be very excited to see them come here. I think they would have a much more cooperative relation with our state than they've had in California. -- W.B.
Parts I through VIII of this article ran in earlier issues of "BASIS", starting in February 1989. Here is a summary: By law, no unaccredited school in California can issue degrees unless the school has been assessed and formally approved by the superintendent of public instruction -- the chief of the State Department of Education.
In August l988, the Department's Private Postsecondary Education Division (PPED) staged an assessment of the ICR Graduate School (ICRGS). The ICRGS is an arm of the Institute for Creation Research, a fundamentalist ministry that promotes the pseudoscience called "creation-science." The founder and president of the ICR is Henry Morris, a preacher and former engineer who poses as an expert in geology, biology, paleontology and various other fields in which he has no detectable credentials.
The Department's assessment of Morris's school was made by a five-man committee that had been chosen by, and was managed, by a PPED officer named Roy W. Steeves. The committee included two ringers who had been linked closely to the ICR or to Morris, and the committee's report was bogus: It hid the real nature of the ICR, promoted the ICR's scientific pretensions, and said that the superintendent of public instruction, Bill Honig, should approve the ICR as a source of masters' degrees in science and in science education.
Two of the committee's legitimate members then sent separate reports to Honig, telling the truth about the ICR. But Roy Steeves, in memoranda to the PPED's director, Joseph P. Barankin, endorsed the ICR and urged that it should be approved. Honig, in statements that he gave to the press in December 1988, refused the approval; but in January 1989 the Department drew back from that decision and began to negotiate with the ICR.
On 3 March 1989, Joseph Barankin and the ICR reached an agreement. The ICR would revise its curriculum, purging "ICRGS's interpretations" from courses that would count toward degrees. To learn whether the ICR had made the revisions, the Department would send a new examining committee; one member would be selected by the ICR. Despite the agreement, the ICR continued to advertise the ICRGS as a "Graduate School of Creationist Science," devoted to "scientific and Biblical creationism."
The new committee visited the ICR in August 1989. Four of the committee's five members are scientists from campuses of the University of California or the California State University. The fifth, evidently selected by the ICR, is from a Bible college in Ohio. The committee is being managed not by Roy Steeves but by Jeanne Bird. Bird joined the PPED in the spring of 1989, as a staff consultant, and became one of the PPED's assistant directors a few months later.
Henry Morris and the other ICR men, according to their own statements, expect that the committee will declare the ICRGS unworthy of approval, and that Honig will follow the committee's judgment. On 31 August, in an effort to win sympathy from the press and the public, the ICR men held a "news conference" to denounce Honig and to distribute a fiercely misleading account of their transactions with his Department.
They achieved only modest success, however: Most news organizations apparently recognized that the ICR men's only "news" was their own desperation. The committee has not yet given its report to Honig. I recently asked the Department about the status of the committee's work, and I shall tell here what I learned. -- W.B., 14 December 1989
On 20 November 1989, Jeanne Bird replaced Joseph Barankin as director of the PPED. Bird's title is "acting director"; she presumably will manage the PPED through the end of this year, when it will go out of business. (See sidebar.) According to the Department's public-relations officer, Susie Lange, Barankin now has a special assignment and works for Bill Honig's deputy superintendent for specialized programs, Shirley Thornton.
As a part of that assignment, Lange says, Barankin is still handling the ICR case. Responsibility for the case, however, remains with Jeanne Bird in the PPED, even if Barankin no longer works there.
WHAT'S TAKING SO LONG?
Early on 4 December I telephoned Jeanne Bird to learn how the case was developing. She said that she had to go to a meeting and would return my call in the afternoon. The person who called me in the afternoon, however, was Gregory Roussere, the Department's lawyer who has overseen the ICR case and who accompanied the members of the new committee during their visit to the ICR.
According to Roussere, each member of the committee had submitted, in August or in early September, an account of what he had observed during the visit. Jeanne Bird then had directed the synthesis of those accounts into a draft of the committee's report; and copies of the draft had been sent to all the members, in mid-November, so that they could offer comments and corrections that would be reflected in a new draft.
Further drafts will be generated until all the members reach a consensus and sign a report that can be delivered to Honig. "We'd like to finish it as soon as we can," Roussere commented, "but as a reality, we probably won't have a final report until the first of the year."
Why, I asked, has the writing of the report proceeded so slowly? The chief reason, Roussere said, is that the PPED has been preoccupied with preparations for implementing some new legislation that will take effect on 1 January 1990. That legislation governs the assessment and approval of vocational schools.
The ICR men, meanwhile, have just distributed another batch of religious pamphlets, including the December issues of "Impact" and "Acts & Facts". "Impact" offers an end-of-the-world piece --"Earthquakes in These Last Days" -- by Steven A. Austin, of the ICR's Geology Department. (For a note about one of Austin's earlier ventures in pseudoscience, see "A Truth Patrolman Tracks Prof. John," in "BASIS" for October.)
Austin mentions the California earthquake of 17 October 1989, links some biblical passages to earthquakes, and then tells how recent earthquakes should be interpreted:
Jesus Christ spoke of them as "signs" of His coming again to earth. He said, "There will be earthquakes in divers places" (Matthew 24:7; Mark 13: 8), a fact now verified by the global distribution of earthquakes recorded on seismographs. Furthermore, He said this sign is the "beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:8; Mark 13:8). The word translated [as] "sorrows" in many English Bibles is the Greek [word] for "birth pangs." Just as we know that a woman is going to give birth to a child because of birth pangs, Jesus says we know that the intolerable anguish of God's judgment and the return of His Son is [sic] at hand.
Austin concludes that "our basis for understanding earthquakes" should be this: They are divine devices for judgment, deliverance and communication. An unsigned article in the December "Acts & Facts" says that the California Republican Assembly (CRA) last October adopted a resolution supporting the ICR' s attempt to get approval from Bill Honig.
According to the article, the resolution accused Honig of intending to deny the ICR men's academic and religious freedom; it also called for investigations of Honig's actions by the federal Civil Rights Commission and by the attorney general, among others. I have not yet been able to get the CRA's comment about the "Acts & Facts" piece.
SIDEBAR: SB190 IS NOW LAW
SB190 -- State Senator Becky Morgan's bill for reforming the regulation of unaccredited schools that operate in California --was signed into law by Governor George Deukmejian on 1 October. The bill had been approved in the Senate (by a vote of 31 to 1) on 19 June. It then had been amended by the Assembly, which passed the amended version (by a vote of 70 to 5) on 13 September. Two days later, the Senate accepted the amended text (by a vote of 23 to 4); and on 20 September the bill went to the governor.
Since 1977 the responsibility for regulating vocational schools and unaccredited, degree-granting organizations has resided, by statute, with the superintendent of public instruction -- the chief of the State Department of Education. Morgan's law will transfer that responsibility to the California Council for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education, a new agency that will come into existence on 1 January 1991 and will be devoted entirely to overseeing postsecondary schools.
Concomitantly, the new law will abolish the Department of Education's Private Postsecondary Education Division (PPED) and the Council for Private Postsecondary Educational Institutions, an agency that was established in 1977 to advise the superintendent of public instruction. It will not, however, affect the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC), an advisory body that serves the governor and the legislature. A committee convened by CPEC will prepare, by 1 October 1990, a forecast of the new council's operating budget, including an estimate of any subsidy that the council may need, from the state's general fund, to supplement the fees that will be paid by regulated schools.
The council will have authority to establish "minimum criteria" governing the operation of unaccredited, degree-granting schools and to grant or deny approval to such schools. No unaccredited school will be able to grant degrees, legally, unless it has won approval. The council will begin practical operation on 1 July 199l and will have 15 members: the superintendent of public instruction, the secretary of state, a representative of the California Student Aid Commission, six representatives of schools that fall under the council's jurisdiction, and six people from the general public.
(The text of the law adds: "It is the intent of the Legislature that the members of the general public . . . have a strong interest in developing private postsecondary and vocational education, and include representation from businesses that employ persons in positions requiring academic, vocational, or technical education.")
Any civil-service employee who may be working for the PPED on 31 December 1990 will become an employee of the new council; and any school that may be holding an approval under current law will have its approval extended "for a period not to exceed four years from the date of the institutions's last approval review."
The new law offers a new opportunity and mechanism for policing unaccredited schools and for driving bogus outfits from the state, but it is not as potent a law as it might have been. One glaring weakness lies in the composition of the council: Two-fifths of the council's members will come from unaccredited schools -- that is, two-fifths of the regulators will be regulatees -- but none of its members need come from ACCREDITED ones.
Hence there is no clear, mandated link between the council and the mainstream academic community, nor any clear, mandated safeguard against the council's turning into a mutual-certification club. The law's actual effect will depend on the integrity of the council's members and technical staff, their diligence in resisting attempts by diploma mills to vitiate the law, and the willingness of the legislature and the governor to support the council with money. If the council must depend entirely on license fees for its funds, and must see its own budget shrink when it refuses to approve or reapprove a school, then both the intent and the letter of the new law may be compromised. -- W.B.
[Parts I through IX of this article ran in earlier issues of "BASIS", starting in February 1989. Here is a summary: By law, no unaccredited school in California can issue degrees unless the school has been assessed and formally approved by the superintendent of public instruction -- the chief of the State Department of Education.
In August l988, the Department's Private Postsecondary Education Division (PPED) staged an assessment of the ICR Graduate School (ICRGS). The ICRGS is an arm of the Institute for Creation Research, a fundamentalist ministry that promotes the religious pseudoscience called "creation-science." The founder and president of the ICR is Henry Morris, a preacher and former engineer who poses as an expert in geology, biology, paleontology and various other fields in which he has no detectable credentials.
The Department's assessment of Morris's school was made by a five-man committee that had been chosen by, and was managed by, a PPED officer named Roy W. Steeves. The committee's report was bogus: It hid the real nature of the ICR, promoted the ICR's scientific pretensions, and said that the superintendent of public instruction, Bill Honig, should approve the ICR as a source of masters' degrees in science and in science education.
Two of the committee's members then sent separate reports to Honig, telling the truth about the ICR. But Roy Steeves, in memoranda to the PPED's director, Joseph P. Barankin, endorsed the ICR and urged that it should be approved. Honig, in statements given to the press in December 1988, refused the approval; but in January 1989 the Department drew back from that decision and began to negotiate with the ICR. The ICR was represented by Wendell R. Bird, a lawyer from Atlanta. On 3 March, Bird and Joseph Barankin agreed that the ICR would revise its curriculum, purging "ICRGS's interpretations" from courses counting toward degrees. To learn whether the ICR had made the revisions, the Department would send a new committee; one member would be chosen by the ICR.
The new committee examined the ICR in August 1989. It was managed not by Steeves but by Jeanne Bird, who had joined the PPED in the spring of 1989 and had become an assistant director a few months later. The committee comprised Christopher J. Wills, a geneticist from the Department of Biology, University of California at San Diego; Richard E. Dickerson, chief of the Molecular Biology Institute, University of California at Los Angeles; Everett C. Olson, a paleontologist from UCLA's Department of Biology; Lawrence S. Lerner, a physicist from the Department of Physics-Astronomy, California State University at Long Beach; and Leroy E. Eimers, from the Department of Science and Mathematics, Cedarville College. Eimers was the member who had been chosen by the ICR, in accordance with the agreement reached in March. Cedarville College is a Bible school in Cedarville, Ohio.
After the committee's visit, Henry Morris and the other ICR men feared that the committee would declare the ICRGS to be defective and unworthy of approval, and that Honig would follow the committee's judgment. On 31 August, in an effort to win sympathy from the press and the public, the ICR men held a "news conference" to denounce Honig and to distribute a fiercely misleading account of their transactions with his Department.
The committee has now submitted its report. I shall describe the report here, and I shall present excerpts on pages 4 through 7. -- W.B., 12 February 1990]
The report of the committee that examined the ICR in August 1989 is dated on 12 January 1990 and has 48 single-spaced pages. It is divided into six major sections; the longest (called "Findings") spans some 40 pages and has many subsections.
As a whole, the report is admirably done. As a whole, it is candid, precise, readable and rich in examples showing the bases for the committee's signal conclusions: The ICR, despite its name, is not a scientific-research institution and does not offer proper graduate education or training in science.
In only two significant instances does the report hide or distort important facts, depriving the reader of information that is necessary to an understanding of the ICR case and of the report itself.
The first instance of obfuscation is the entire section titled "Background." It starts on page 1 of the report, has only four paragraphs, and is worthless. It mentions an anonymous "visiting team" that reviewed the ICR in August 1988, and then it says:
The visiting team initially had been split 3-2 in favor of approval. However, on December 5, 1988, one of the visiting team members officially notified the [Department] that he wished to change his vote from approve to disapprove. . . . [Later,] legal counsel for the ICR contacted the [Department] and requested that the Superintendent reach an agreement with ICR regarding corrective measures that were to be instituted by ICR in response to the visiting team's report. . . . As a part of the negotiations for reaching agreement, the Superintendent determined that . . . there would be a need to bring together another appropriate group for an on-site review.
But how did that vote-changing come about? Did the member in question have any REASON for changing his vote? And why did the superintendent need to convene "ANOTHER appropriate group" for a new review, instead of sending the original "visiting team" again? If the original team's report was the basis for the ICR's "corrective measures," would not that team be the best group for judging whether proper corrections had been carried out? And just who WERE the members of that team anyway? I infer that the writer of the "Background" text was guided not by a desire to inform but by a need to write some sentences while hiding the mess that had been made in 1988 by Roy Steeves, Joseph Barankin and their "visiting team."
The other defective passage is the report's very last paragraph. In stilted, legalistic prose, it tells that one member of the committee, Leroy Eimers, did not agree with many of the conclusions drawn in the report. (I have quoted the whole paragraph in the last of the excerpts that accompany this article.) On its face, it is extraneous and silly: It fails to suggest that Eimers had any evidence to support his position, or that he tried to challenge even ONE of the specific, detailed findings that the report sets forth.
Still, a less-than-alert reader may be tempted to take it seriously; and an alert reader surely will wonder why so rigorous a report ends with such vapid fluff. Both readers, if they are to appreciate what they are looking at, need to know that Eimers was the ICR's man. The report omits this fact, however, and I see no legitimate excuse for the omission.
NOT EVEN TRYING
At about the same time when the committee was finishing its report, the ICR men mailed the January issue of "Impact", one of the ICR's monthly bulletins about creationism. That issue included the ICR's "1989 Annual Report," which had only four paragraphs and said nothing about any scientific work or any scientific publication by any of the ICR's employees.
The text began: "This past year (except for the attacks on our Graduate School) has been by far the best year of the past decade." It then told that "amazingly successful Back-to-Genesis conferences" had been held in several states, that the ICR men had participated in debates and had lectured "to audiences totaling about 300,000 people, not including radio and television audiences," and that the ICR's weekly radio program, "Science, Scripture and Salvation", was being broadcast by "over 350 outlets in over 40 states and around the world."
Recent publications were listed in the annual report's last paragraph:
Important books published in late 1988 or during 1989 included "Noah's Ark and the Lost World" (by John D. Morris), an enlarged edition of "Science, Scripture, and the Young Earth" (by Henry M. Morris and John D. Morris), "The Genesis Solution" (by Ken Ham), and finally, "The Long War Against God" (by Dr. Henry Morris). Dr. [Steven] Austin's "Mount St. Helens" video also was released.
I have not seen that video. A flyer that the ICR distributed in August 1989 said only that Austin's product provided "explosive evidence for catastrophism" and a "SPECTACULAR collection of pictures." The ICR's current mail-order catalog lists the video but provides no description. The catalog also offers an audiotape called "Mount St. Helens -- Explosive Evidence for Creation". It is part of a series of tapes labeled "Back to Genesis."
On 17 January the ICR issued a "news release" headlined "ICR Under Continued Attack by Bill Honig." It said that the ICR had not yet seen the visiting committee's report but had learned of "the panel's findings" from the news media. Then it gave another misleading account of the ICR case and of the ICR itself, including this: "ICR's graduate programs are strictly scientific with courses taught by scientists who have doctorate degrees. . . ."
That false claim, viewed in the light of the committee's report, was ludicrous. The report had shown how "scientific" the ICR's programs were, and it had demolished the pretension that the ICR's teachers were "scientists." Reading the release, I wondered whether the ICR men really had not seen the report when the release was printed. When had the Department sent a copy of the report to them?
On 9 February I talked with William Rukeyser, a Department spokesman. He told me that Jeanne Bird had sent the report to the ICR, evidently by first-class mail, on 12 January.
[Excerpts from the report follow.]
ITEMS FROM THE REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE THAT EXAMINED THE ICR IN AUGUST 1989
In all that follows, the use of italic or boldface type reflects the use of underscoring or boldface (respectively) in the text of the report. I have not added any emphasis during editing, though I have made some interpolations that, I think, will clarify certain passages. Each of my interpolations is enclosed in square brackets. -- W.B.
[Note for the electronic edition: Italics and boldface have been rendered here as capital letters.]
=> [On page 2, under "Background," the report tells the new committee's "charge," which has been adapted (with some minor typographic alterations) from a passage in the letter that Wendell Bird sent to Joseph Barankin on 10 January 1989. Here is the "charge":]
The Institute for Creation Research Graduate School's science degree courses that count toward a [sic] M.S. degree will be consistent with, and comparable to, similar science courses of California-approved graduate schools. Specifically, ICR will have a "curriculum consistent in quality with curricula offered by appropriate established accredited institutions which are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education," and its courses will be "consistent in quality with curricula offered by appropriate established accredited institutions," and will be "comparable to the courses required of graduates of other recognized schools accredited by an appropriate accrediting commission recognized by the U.S. Department of Education." [All the quotation marks had appeared in Wendell Bird's letter.]
=> [On page 3, the report names the accredited schools that the ICR (in a revised application for reapproval, submitted in July 1989) listed as "comparables" -- that is, as schools that offered programs and degrees like the ICR's programs and degrees. For "astro/geophysics," the "comparable" was Abilene Christian University, in Texas; for biology and for geology, it was Loma Linda University, a Seventh-Day Adventist school in Loma Linda, California; and for science education, it was Biola University, a fundamentalist school in La Mirada, California. The report then offers this curious paragraph:]
ICR later submitted other comparable institution[s] to be considered, without specifying degree areas. These included the University of California at San Diego, California State University at Long Beach (CSULB), San Diego State University, San Jose State University, University of Colorado, Colorado State University, University of Texas at El Paso, University of Toronto, and University of Wisconsin.
=> [On page 9, in the committee's comments about an ICR course called Human Anatomy and Comparative Mammalian Anatomy Lab:]
The text used in this course is "Gray's Anatomy". . . . In the syllabus, four out of twelve days of actual lectures were devoted to vestigial organs in man, [which are] of only minor anatomical importance. One day was devoted to comparative anatomy of muscles, and one apparently to a survey of the evolution of the kidney. No mention was made in the syllabus of comparative skeletal anatomy.
The highly descriptive exam that was provided showed a commendable degree of rigor, but dealt entirely with human anatomy. Despite the title of the course, comparative anatomy was not mentioned in the exam; neither were vestigial organs. . . . This course shows a remarkable degree of discordance between what is claimed to be presented, and what is actually presented.
=> [On page 10, in the committee's remarks about the ICR's course Medical Microbiology:]
The overview in the syllabus says, "Because this is not a lab course, cultivation, identification, and disease-prevention techniques are not practiced." In contrast, at Abilene Christian University, Biology 553, Microbiology, is accompanied by Microbiology Laboratory (3 hours per week), and the lecture course description carries the warning, "Not credited without the laboratory." Hence Abilene Christian University would give no credit for the course as taught at the ICR.
=> [On pages 14 and 15, in remarks about the ICR's course Theoretical Physics II -- Thermodynamics:]
A serious question is raised by what appears to be [a term-paper topic:]
In recent years there has been a surge of interest among the non-creationists in the combination of quantum-mechanical uncertainty and the role of the observer, irreversibility, non-equilibrium processes, and mathematical chaos as a possible way to overcome the difficulty to evolution posed by the Second Law. Has the intellectual difficulty been solved? Can ordered complexity such as that which is characteristic of the biosphere arise spontaneously by chaos?
This is undeniably a leading question, telegraphing the desired "No" answer. In popular lectures, creationists often assure audiences that the Second Law of Thermodynamics categorically excludes the evolutionary process -- at least at the biological level, and perhaps the cosmological and geological levels as well.
This assertion is based on a misinterpretation of the Second Law that is so elementary that few undergraduate physical science majors would be misled. If such a conflict actually existed between the Second Law and the processes of evolution, the conflict would have been noted by the scientific community at large more than a century ago, and would have assumed a central place in scientific debate.
When this Second Law issue was raised at the ICR site visit, the faculty member most concerned responded that he considered interpretation of the Second Law to be a philosophical rather than a scientific matter. But this simply is not so. Whatever its philosophical overtones, the Second Law is as much a physical law as any other, and must be interpreted properly in a physical context. To teach otherwise is a breach of scientific integrity. .. . The issue really is one of comparability: Is the curriculum aimed at teaching the basic science of physics as it is taught in comparable institutions? The answer is "No." What would be only a deplorable rhetorical device in popular lectures becomes a serious issue of scientific professionalism in the classroom.
=> [On page 19, in remarks about the ICR's "science-education" course called Curriculum Design in Science:] In spite of its stated objectives, this course does not appear to take into consideration current trends in science curriculum design and implementation. This may reflect the background of the instructor, an educational psychologist who has no specific preparation in science education, and who has never taught science.
=> [On pages 21 and 22:] The Institute for Creation Research, by its very name, implies that it is the site of original scientific research. Yet not one of the resident faculty members can be said to have an active, ongoing research program. In fact, those faculty who did have research programs prior to arrival at ICR seem to have dropped out of research entirely. . . .
GERALD AARDSMA (Astro/Geophysics) published five peer-reviewed scientific papers and one internal report in the period 1979-87, all prior to his arrival at ICR in 1988.
STEVEN AUSTIN (Geology) has only a single peer-reviewed scientific paper, published in the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin in 1978, and one book, published [for] ICR. .. . He became a full-time resident faculty member of the ICR in 1979.
RICHARD BLISS (Science Education) lists six articles in journals or newsletters, but none of these are more recent than 1975. He joined the ICR in 1976.
KENNETH CUMMING (Biology) has a respectable list of 18 publications in fisheries research, but the most recent is [from] 1977. He came to Christian Heritage College in 1979, and to the Institute for Creation Research in 1982. [My readers will recall that Christian Heritage is a Bible school in El Cajon, and that the ICR had been a division of that school until 1980.]
ROBERT FRANKS (Biology) lists no scientific publications.
DUANE GISH (Not currently teaching) had a respectable scientific publication record in biochemistry prior to 1976, being first author on 12 papers and a subsidiary author on an equal number. But his active research seems to have come to a halt a decade and a half ago. He was first author on a paper for the last time in 1971, and subsidiary author for the last time in 1976. He came to the ICR in 1971.
HENRY MORRIS (Not currently teaching) has a considerable publication record in civil and hydraulic engineering, but his last peer-reviewed scientific paper appeared in 1971. He founded the Institute for Creation Research in 1970.
JOHN MORRIS (Geology) has had three papers and one patent, the most recent paper being in 1983. He joined the ICR in 1984.
ANDREW PETERSON (Science Education) lists no scientific publications.
LARRY VARDIMAN (Astro/Geophysics) lists seven peer-reviewed scientific papers and 2 reports between 1971 and 1983. He came to Christian Heritage College in 1982 and to ICR in 1987, and has published nothing since then.
The pattern is clear. Although some of the younger faculty profess their intention to maintain research activity, no member of the resident faculty of the Institute for Creation Research has continued an active and published research program since arrival at the ICR. The Institute for Creation Research can therefore not be considered to be a scientific research institution.
=> [On pages 28 and 29:] The Biology laboratory contains a small amount of equipment of the sort found in a very modestly equipped high school. There is no equipment of any sort for carrying out experiments in biochemistry or molecular biology. . . .
The laboratories for geology are directed toward rock analysis and serving as an adjunct to field studies. They are somewhat less satisfactory than those in comparison schools such as [California State University at Long Beach], but in view of the restricted coverage of topics in coursework, they serve their purpose fairly well. . . . [Despite the use of plurals here, the report tells elsewhere that the ICR has only a single, one-room lab for geology.]
Experimental work in the Astro/Geophysics laboratory seems to be aimed entirely at radiocarbon dating, a very minute fraction of the field of physics. Professor Aardsma currently is involved in the building and refinement of a radiocarbon dating apparatus. . . . However, the [acquiring and assembling of equipment] is slow and irregular, and no firm projection can be made for an "up-and-running" date. . . .
[Aardsma intends] to carry out several projects, one of which is to detect significant radiocarbon in an uncontaminated, freshly mined sample of coal, thereby demonstrating that the sample is much younger than the age assigned by mainstream geologists. This goal illustrates the weakness of much of the "research" carried out at ICR: the object of the research is to defend a prior viewpoint rather than to determine the best interpretation of the experimental facts.
The Science Education laboratory appeared to be the only one of the four laboratories that is suited to its function. It is well-equipped with displays, demonstrations, small animals, and small equipment of a sort suitable for high-school or elementary-school teacher training. The site visit team was told that classes from the local schools regularly come to the room for special lectures on weekends.
=> [On page 30:] [The committee talked with a student in the ICR's biology program] about his plans following completion of the M.S. The student speculated that he might remain with ICR as their librarian for a while, and after that, he would see. When he was asked whether he might consider continuing on elsewhere for a Ph.D., he commented, "Who would take me, with THIS degree?"
=> [On page 34:] The M.S. theses produced since the ICR graduate program commenced in 1981 are the measurable "product" of this program, and the best witness to its quality. . . . As far as [the committee] could determine, none of the [17 graduates who have written theses] is presently engaged in mainstream, peer-reviewed scientific research, and fewer than half are involved in scientific education or teaching. In the absence of evidence about subsequent achievements of ICR graduates, the four M.S. programs must stand or fall on the quality of the Masters theses produced.
=> [On page 35:] In general, the quality of the theses was low, as compared with M.S. theses from the comparison institutions. They tended to be little more than extended term papers, based on library research rather than true independent research. While a library research M.S. thesis is permitted by the rules of the ICR, the issue of quality of that research remains. [Nearly all theses] were works of advocacy rather than investigation. They set out, not to find out something, but to prove something -- one or another of the creationist tenets. . . .
As far as the [committee] could determine, not one of the seventeen M.S. theses has ever been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, or has led to an article that was published there. Examination of the theses shows why this should be so. The standards of scholarship, and even of understanding of the subject matter, are very low.
=> [On page 36, in the committee's comments on a thesis called "A Survey of Heavy Metal Pollution in the Tijuana River . . .":] This thesis is a thorough investigation of consequences of pollution of various kinds in the Tijuana Valley, and includes an interesting approach to sewage treatment. . . . The graduate student worked at the Santee Sewage Treatment Facility prior to coming to ICR, and continued to work there during and after his M.S. program. The experiments seem all to have been carried out at that Facility in the course of the student's regular job. The thesis is essentially a job-related industrial report in bioengineering, and a good one. Its status as representing an original piece of work in biology is less clear. With revision, this thesis might be acceptable at comparable institutions.
=> [On page 37, in comments on the thesis "A Critique of Molecular Homology":] [The author says] that similarities between molecules in different species could be explained by convergence in similar environments, rather than by common ancestry. [When] the thesis was written, no such examples were known and there were plenty of counter-examples. Since then, one possible example of molecular convergence has been found, but the two molecules . . . most certainly had a common ancestor.
The author also makes other blunders of scholarship in citing the scientific literature. The most egregious is a case in which he quotes a prominent English paleontologist, Dr. Colin Patterson, as admitting that evidence for common ancestry in evolution has been "precisely falsified." A standard literature citation number appears in the text of the thesis. But when one turns to the bibliography of references, one finds that the citation is not to a paper by Patterson, but to a June 1982 issue of "Impact," the four-page essay insert that accompanies every issue of the monthly ICR newsletter "Acts & Facts".
The supposed Patterson "confession" has been thoroughly discredited, not least by Patterson himself. But it keeps cropping up in the creationist literature, and it is discouraging to see the writer of this thesis accept it so uncritically. This thesis, with its many errors of fact and interpretation, would not be acceptable at any university or college of which the committee is aware.
=> [On pages 38 and 39, in comments on the thesis "A Determination of the Time of the Flood from the Geologic Ages of River Deltas":]
The terms "uniformity" and "uniformitarianism" [quotation marks added], which have quite different meanings to a geologist, are used interchangeably in the rhetoric of this work. On page 7 the author argues that the age of a river system can be found by dividing the volume of the delta by the annual deposition rate. While the author professes to know better than to take the deposition rate as a constant, he asserts that, after all, uniformitarians surely won't object to setting the annual flow of a river equal to a constant. He distorts the meaning of the term "uniformitarian" [quotation marks added], apparently for the purpose of reaching the conclusion that he desires, and mocking an opposing view.
This is followed on pages 9-10 by a nonsensical interpretation of uniformitarian arguments. However, the author still is confronted by the need to represent the volume of the Mississippi Delta (the delta on which he concentrates most attention) as far smaller than it is known to be. To this end, he denies the validity of the principle of isostasy, so as to be able to neglect the depression of the crust under the weight of deltaic deposition. He dismisses the principle of isostasy as a mere "model or suggestion," in spite of the fact that it is a simple application of Archimedes' Principle, and has been amply documented all over the world. Having done all this violence and more to scientific principles, he then obtains an age of exactly 4563 years for the Mississippi River. .. . This thesis is the antithesis of true scientific investigation.
=> [On page 41, the committee tells of a thesis called "A Classical Field Theory for the Propagation of Light", which originated from the antipathy shown by Thomas G. Barnes -- a "creation-scientist" who is no longer at the ICR -- toward 20th-century physics. As for its content:]
While there are some references in the thesis to standard scientific literature, the key references are to such "mystifications" of science as that by (nonscientist) Gary Zukav ("The Dancing Wu Li Masters"), and to unpublished works by other students of the same thesis supervisor. These latter works are cited as proving things which, if true, would have excited widespread interest [within] the physics community. . . .
[The student] demonstrates gross ignorance of special relativity, a theory that he proposes to invalidate or supersede. He treats the famous "twin paradox" (p. 7) as though it were a real, unresolvable paradox rather than an exercise for lower-division undergraduate physics students. . . . Having thus demonstrated his inability to do so, he then invents an ether for the propagation of light, and carries out some impressive looking but totally worthless calculations. The thesis is without scientific value.
=> [On page 42, the committee looks at "Theories of Origins: Do They Persist Despite Contrary Evidence?", which the ICR had accepted as thesis in "science education":]
A thoroughly discredited limitation on the age of the Earth is cited, based on the heat liberated through the decay of the Earth's magnetic field. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is misquoted and misused (p. 105). On the subsequent page is the nonsensical comment, ". . . it is inappropriate to classify [the phenomenon of crystallization] as increasing order and thus being contrary to the Second Law." This is followed by [more nonsense] concerning a "lowest energy state."
Of course, crystallization does increase the order of the system that consists of the molecules taking part in the crystallization, and decreases the entropy of [that] system at the expense of the entropy of the surroundings. Thus crystallization does not violate the Second Law. The comments on the energy of the system betray a misunderstanding of the roles of energy and entropy in thermodynamic processes.
=> [On page 43, the committee dispatches another thesis in "science education" -- one that deals with the creationists' "two-model" doctrine and has a subliterate, 25-word title. The document is invalidated, the committee observes, by a fundamental error in applying a common statistical manipulation called the Student T-test:]
[T]he T-test is applicable only to two statistically independent sets of data. The author applies it to two sets of results involving use of the same items in jumbled order. Clearly the T-test is inapplicable in this setting and the conclusions of the thesis are invalid. The "analysis" at the end of the thesis is not an analysis but an assertion. It sets forth the common creationist view that creation and evolution both have opponents, and concludes that one is as good as the other, so both should therefore be taught in the schools.
=> [On page 46:] It was noted earlier that the Institute for Creation Research is not, in fact, an institution for scientific research. Based upon the foregoing, it now must be acknowledged that, by the standards of comparable institutions, the ICR also is not an institution for proper graduate scientific education and training.
=> [The final section of the report, "Conclusions and Recommendation," begins on page 46 and has four paragraphs. Here they are, in full:]
The [committee] focused specifically on an assessment of ICR's science degree courses and curricula in order to determine whether the State Department of Education can assure students that the four M.S. degrees offered by ICR do not deviate substantially from similar science degrees offered at comparable accredited institutions.
The conclusion of the [committee], based on the findings specified in this report, is that students of the ICR cannot be provided with that assurance. Specifically, the ICR curriculum is not "consistent in quality with curricula offered by appropriate established accredited institutions," and its courses are not "comparable to the courses required of graduates of other recognized accredited schools." The issue is one of quality control, and of maintaining uniform and recognized standards for the M.S. degree in science and science education throughout the state and nation. The ICR programs do not meet these standards. The recommendation to the Superintendent is therefore to deny reapproval.
It should be noted in closing that the [committee] did not feel it necessary to address any issues of scientific integrity (not "academic freedom" as ICR has argued) that might be posed by the creationist orientation of the ICR; it became clear that the [committee] would be fully occupied with issues of academic quality. The questions raised by creationism, however, are far from trivial. They involve the issue of scientific integrity because of the fact that the unamendable bylaws of the ICR require each faculty member annually to reaffirm his adherence to a particular set of beliefs (the tenets of "scientific creationism") as a condition for continued employment.
Inasmuch as these beliefs or tenets directly overlap the areas of presumed free scientific investigation [by] the faculty, the issues of scientific integrity and unfettered intellectual enquiry would have arisen of necessity, had the low quality of the graduate programs not made those superfluous. To be specific, unless these questions of scientific integrity are adequately addressed, no remediation of the problems addressed in this report will render this program acceptable under [California's education code].
Although all members of the committee were in agreement that there were problems and deficiencies in the ICR programs, one member, Dr. Eimers, did not agree with the estimation of the severity of those problems as they are communicated in this report, nor did he concur with many of the conclusions drawn. Also, he felt that consideration should be given to the positive attitude of the ICR in seeking to implement the suggestions of the previous committee, including the "minority reports."
It was the conclusion of this member that at least [the ICR's programs in geology, in science education, and in "astro/geophysics," with the last renamed and called simply "physics"] were of sufficient quality to meet the minimum standards of comparability and that the problems discovered were not severe enough to constitute sufficient grounds for denial of reapproval by the Superintendent.
The report's last page shows the signatures of the members of the committee. In each case, a signature block tells the university or college, and the department, with which the member is affiliated. This is strikingly different from the signature page of the bogus report that was produced in 1988. That earlier report gave no hint of who its signatories were, or where they might be found.
The original ten articles by William Bennetta published in BASIS are available at:
Texas Citizens for Science Reformatted by Steven Schafersman Last updated: 2007 December 19