The state of Texas has decided that a graduate school with a faculty sporting Ph.D.s from UCLA, Penn State, the University of Montana, Colorado State, Case Western and Indiana University, with a few lowly Ed.D. degrees thrown it, isn’t qualified to grant master’s degrees because it teaches students to evaluate thoroughly the pluses – and minuses – of evolution and creation.

The verdict came just a week ago from the Texas Higher Education Consulting Board, which rejected an application from the Institute for Creation Research Graduate School for a Certificate of Authority to grant degrees.

The rejection came on the recommendation of Commissioner Raymund Paredes despite earlier approval recommendations from a site team dispatched by the state agency to evaluate the education offerings as well as the agency’s advisory committee.

In a case that appears to be an example of the academic censoring described in Ben Stein’s movie “Expelled,” state officials even read into the record for the agency’s hearing a state statute regarding “fraudulent” education programs without giving supporters of the ICR program an opportunity to explain or respond.

“Expelled” covers the following key questions:

  • Were we designed or are we simply products of random chance, mutations and evolution occurring without any plan over billions of years?
  • Is the debate over origins settled?
  • How should science deal with what appears to be evidence of design?
  • What should be taught to children and college students about our origins?
  • Is there any room for dissent from the evolutionary point of view?
  • Is it appropriate for eminent scientists who depart from strict evolutionary dogma to be fired and blacklisted, as is occurring in academia today?
  • Should government schools and other institutions be engaged in promoting the secular, materialistic worldview to the total exclusion of differing points of view?
  • Is science so advanced and so certain that it should be exempt from the societal norms of open dialogue and free debate?
  • Why is it simply inconceivable and unacceptable for some evolutionists to consider the possibility – no matter how remote – that our world might actually have a Creator?

“This is the second time in 18 years that a state’s top educational authority has attempted to thwart the Institute for Creation Research’s ability to offer master’s degrees in science and science education,” said a statement from the Answers in Genesis organization.

“Such a setback for a school – which has several qualified Ph.D. scientists on its faculty – merely confirms what the just-released film ‘Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’ has been exposing: academia will not tolerate any challenge to evolutionist orthodoxy and will suppress the liberties of Darwin-doubters,” AIG said.

ICR has been issuing master’s degrees in California since 1981. In 1990 it overcame a challenge from state educational officials who tried to deny the school the opportunity to offer degrees.

“ICR eventually won approval in a federal court,” Answers in Genesis said. “Due to its recent move to Texas, ICR had to apply to the THECB for similar authorization … and once again found itself running another educational gauntlet.”

According to the Dallas Morning News, Henry Morris III, the chief executive officer for the ICRGS, said the school prepares students to “understand both sides of the scientific perspective, although we do favor the creationist view.”

After being rejected, he said the institute may revise its application or pursue a court action.

“We will pursue due process,” he told the board. “We will no doubt see you in the future.”

Under state procedures, the ICRGS now would have 45 days to file an appeal, or 180 days to begin a new application.

According to Answers in Genesis:

“ICR has argued that its quality faculty and rigorous program – presented in a creationist framework – prepare students to become effective science teachers. … Paredes has claimed that what ICR teaches is contrary to what is required in Texas’ public schools, and that because ICR’s program insists on accepting the biblical account of creation, it inadequately covers science. ICR counters with the observation that its students learn all about evolution, the scientific method, etc. – but that they are also exposed to the scientific problems with evolution.”

It was Joe Stafford, assistant commissioner for academic affairs in Texas, who during the hearing read into the record a Texas Education Code statute about preventing “fraudulent” colleges, but ICRGS officials were denied any opportunity to respond to that allegation.

Among the 13 faculty members listed by the ICRGS, 10 have earned Ph.D.s in their fields of expertise, another is a doctor of veterinary medicine and two more have doctorates in education.

Going into the hearing, officials from ICRGS said they had revamped their offerings “to meet, and in some areas to exceed, virtually all of the AAAS Project 2061 Benchmarks (in science, mathematics, technology, etc.) and the National Science Education Standards.”

However, it had a level of concern “about whether its public viewpoints have or will become the subject of unequal (or otherwise improper) discriminatory treatment in conjunction with the processing of ICRGS’ application.”

“The ICRGS is concerned that educational politics may unduly influence the processing of ICRGS’ application in a manner that chills free speech, and thus dampens postsecondary education diversity, perhaps facilitating the promotion of a postsecondary education market ‘monopoly,'” the organization said.

On the Dallas newspaper’s forum, opinions were divided:

“They rightly rejected the attempt by the Institute of Creation Research to inject religion into scientific teaching,” wrote David Alkek.

But Daniel DeVelde said, “Good educators should want to give a complete education, including both evolution and intelligent design. Many scientists and educators should want to put both on the table for examination. Good education should explore all theories, not just the one someone happens to like.”

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