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Thursday, April 24, 2008

I'm as surprised by the news as anyone.

In a move that will doubtless shock the nation, Texas recently decided not to grant a local educational institution accreditation for a Master's program in science education. Okay, more specifically, they made such a decision about an online Master's degree in science education to be offered by the Institute for Creation Research. Yes, you read that correctly: a degree in science education to be offered by the Institute for Creation Research. Seriously:

A Bible-oriented group's proposal to offer an online master's degree in science education was unanimously rejected Wednesday by a panel of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The action by the board's Academic Excellence and Research Committee came after Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes recommended against the proposal, submitted by the Dallas-based Institute for Creation Research. The full coordinating board is scheduled to consider the matter today.

Paredes said the institute's plan is infused with creationism and runs counter to conventions of science, which hold that claims of supernatural intervention are not testable and therefore lie outside the realm of science. He also said that the institute, by insisting on a literal interpretation of biblical creation, would fail to prepare students adequately for the field of science education.

"Hence, the program cannot be properly designated either as 'science' or 'science education,' " Paredes said.

It's hard not to love the logic: the program has no science and certainly isn't about science education. Therefore, no accreditation for you! It's so simple, so elegant, so correct. The ICR appears to be taking the defeat in stride, however:

Henry Morris III, CEO of the Institute for Creation Research, said Wednesday's ruling was not a surprise. He conceded that his organization is biased in favor of a creationist worldview but said that shouldn't be a disqualifying factor.

"We do understand very thoroughly that we represent a minority viewpoint in the scientific community," Morris said. "We still feel we teach good science."

Indeed, they do very good science if by "good" you mean "horrible" and by "science" you mean "propaganda." Again, seriously:

The proposal by the Institute for Creation Research has been a difficult one for the coordinating board, in part because of what Paredes described as a flawed review process. The coordinating board's staff and an advisory committee recommended approval of the proposal last year, but Paredes ordered a fresh review after an outcry from scientists and science educators, including some of the state's leading university researchers.

Paredes said the institute's catalog and other records portray as unshakable fact that the Earth is about 6,000 years old, that God created all things in the universe in six days as described in Genesis, that theories of origin and development involving evolution are false, and that most biblical miracles require a temporary suspension of basic natural laws.

"Whatever the ultimate merit of such views, they clearly stand at odds with the most basic tenets of scientific work such as observation, testing and analysis," Paredes said.

Indeed, a program in science education run by a group that believes the Earth to be no more than 6,000 years old is a little like a seminary run by people whose only acquaintence with Christianity is "Jesus Christ Superstar." Actually, Superstar is too sympathetic to Christianity for that to be a good analogy- it would be more like a seminary run by the people who put on this musical.

In other news, following a close vote of 5 to 4, the Texas Bureau of Agriculture overruled a previous decision permitting foxes to guard hen houses.

"We just don't think it's a good idea," commented one senior observer.

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