On 24 April 2008 the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) unanimously rejected an application from the Dallas-based Institute for Creation Research (ICR) to grant graduate degrees in science education. ICR, like Answers in Genesis, espouses Young-Earth Creationism, a literal view of the Bible that contends the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. ICR sought approval from the THECB to begin offering degrees immediately while waiting for accreditation from the state-recognized Southern Association of Schools and Colleges.

This decision was a reversal from December 2007 when the Certification Advisory Council of the THECB preliminarily recommended that ICR be allowed to offer on-line Master’s degrees in science education. This recommendation was soundly criticized by science and education experts, including a letter from 2007 AIBS president Douglas J. Futuyma (see http://www.aibs.org/position-statements/20071228aibsletterto5.html).

In response to the concerns raised by the scientific and education communities, THECB Commissioner Raymund Paredes appointed a second committee of scientists and science educators to re-evaluate the ICR. Paredes requested ICR to supply more specific information on its online learning program, science curriculum, and faculty research. The entire THECB was initially scheduled to vote on the ICR request on 23 January 2008, but ICR asked for an extension to address Paredes’ concerns; the vote was postponed until 24 April 2008.

The day before the THECB vote, the Academic Excellence and Research Committee heard public comments from 10 people, including Steve Schafersman, president of Texas Citizens for Science; the majority of the speakers, like Schafersman, urged the committee to reject ICR’s request. THECB Commissioner Paredes agreed and recommended a denial of the ICR proposal. According to an article from the 23 April 2008 Dallas Morning News, Paredes said, “Evolution is such a fundamental principle of contemporary science it is hard to imagine how you could cover the various fields of science without giving it [evolution] the proper attention it deserves as a foundation of science.” He continued, “Religious belief is not science. Science and religious belief are surely reconcilable, but they are not the same thing.”

Henry Morris III, chief executive officer of the ICR, indicated that his organization will appeal the decision within 45 days and may pursue legal action in the Texas courts.

 


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