The Institute for Creation Research Brings a Flawed Lawsuit
Against the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Texas Citizens for Science Claims ICR Has No Valid Legal Justification for Its Litigation
A Report and Analysis by
Steven Schafersman, Ph.D.
President, Texas Citizens for Science
2009 April 20
Updated: 2009 December 3
Updated: 2010 June 22
Updated: 2010 September 1
The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) filed a lawsuit against the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) on Tuesday, 2009 April 16. The lawsuit names as defendants the eight members of the THECB in both their official and individual capacities, thus making it expensive for each member. No doubt all will be represented by the same team of attorneys, but each will have to consider their individual financial liability, which will be unappealing and discouraging to them. This will intimidate them to settle with terms favorable to ICR. ICR could have just sued the THECB as an institution, but that would not be mean-spirited and intimidating enough for the litigious ICR.
In addition, probably all of the appointed THECB members are social and religious conservatives appointed by Governor Rick Perry who presumably would want ICR to have its Masters Degree in Science Education, and would certainly have voted in favor of ICR if Dr. Paredes had originally recommended that. The THECB members correctly decided, however, that they must support Commissioner Paredes' recommendation, which he reached after carefully evaluating ICR's application using a team of professional scientists and science education professors who had the actual expertise to perform the evaluation. (The first evaluation team had no one on it who was competent to professionally evaluate ICR.)
Since the April 2008 decision rejecting the ICR's application for THECB Certification of its Master Degree in Science Education program, the THECB and ICR have been in mediation under the administrative appeal process. When ICR appealed, it and the THECB agreed to undergo mediation. Unlike arbitration, the mediator can only suggest a mutually-acceptable resolution, not compel one. In this case, the THECB was willing to certify a Masters Degree program with several suggested titles, such as Creation Studies, Christian Apologetics, Genesis Studies, Biblical Studies, Creation Apologetics, Origins Theology, and so forth (all of which would be legitimate graduate degrees for ICR to offer, in my opinion, and certainly comparable to the graduate degrees offered by similar Christian Ministries and religious institutions of higher learning). But the ICR would not budge from its demand for a Science Education degree which the THECB was unwilling to grant. So mediation ultimately failed.
I certainly expected this lawsuit to be filed. So did Commissioner Raymund Paredes and former Assistant Commissioner Joseph Stafford. Furthermore, the lawsuit concerns grounds that they and I expected. The ICR claims that the THECB is perpetrating "viewpoint discrimination" and "censorship" in violation of the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment applies Federal laws, especially Constitutional laws, to subordinate governments such as the states. In this case, ICR demands the protection of its Constitutional rights of
free speech (including academic speech and religious speech), freedom of the press (including freedom from "prior restraint" censorship of academic speech associated with freedom of the press), freedom from viewpoint discrimination (as well as content discrimination), free exercise of religion, freedom of association, freedom from hostility toward religious viewpoints), freedom from arbitrary and abusive governmental discretion, freedom from anti-accommodational evolution-only-science enforcement policy practices, freedom from unequal protection (especially in academic "evolution-only-science-credentialing" politics that act like a government-controlled "titles of nobility" monopoly scheme in postsecondary Science Education), and reputation injuries, etc.
ICR contends that its "federal rights" and "civil rights" "have been violated and continue to be violated by the...defendants," "despite ongoing opportunities" to "undo or otherwise remedy their own respective 14th Amendment-violating wrongdoings." ICR further contends that the defendants are "acting contrary to governing federal law...under color of state law," but "without valid authority of state law, since state law cannot validly violate preemptive federal law." Then ICR claims that the two additional advisory committees of "evolutionists" were "improperly composed," but for legal reasons they cannot be named as co-defendants to this civil action. Whew. That's a good thing for the science and science education professors who just gave their requested advice to Commissioner Paredes.
ICR seeks declarative and injunctive relief for THECB's denial of the Certificate of Authority that ICR seeks, i.e. ICR wants the court to give it the authority to grant Master of Science Degrees in Science Education that the THECB refused to do.
ICR's Misleading and Inaccurate Claims
The ICR Complaint next contains a long section titled "Procedural History & Background Facts" which details the history of events and substance of the process. One important section is paragraph 41, in which ICR claims it "met or exceeded" the 21 Standards of Certificates of Authority. In fact, ICR did not meet several of those standards which was the basis of the THECB's refusal to grant the Certificate of Authority. Three of those unmet standards were faculty qualifications, the curriculum, and academic freedom of the faculty and students. The standard of judging these things is comparison with other Texas institutions of higher learning that offer the same Master of Science Degree in Science Education. ICR was in no way comparable to other institutions, which was the original THECB justification for denial of the certification. Indeed, ICR compares so unfavorably that in my opinion it would never be able to achieve accreditation from a legitimate accrediting association, and I believe ICR's plan was to keep renewing its state Certificate of Authority indefinitely (or seek legislative assistance in some fashion; see this brief report about a current attempt to do this). The publications listed at the bottom contain the details of this analysis.
A revealing paragraph is 134. ICR declares that its "minority viewpoint...is sincerely and institutionally held," and "impacts ICR's ability to 'freely exercise' its religious and scientific viewpoints." These viewpoints include the following:
- Genesis 1:1 is foundational truth about God, and its truth is thus foundational for honoring Him...;
- "science" should not be taught from an "atheistic-evolution-only" perspective (because that perspective is false and should be avoided according to 1 Timothy 6:20) [Tim Sandefur hilariously points out that ICR's attorney incorrectly writes "1st Timothy"!];
- the supposedly "foundational" notion that an evolutionary "Big Bang" occurred "14 billion years ago", which notion Commissioner Paredes officially endorsed...is a false notion that is "science falsely so-called; and
- science education should emphasize the geologic importance of the Genesis Flood, due to its unique worldwide impact on earth's history.
Science Falsely So-called
It is interesting that ICR appeals to the Bible to justify not teaching science from an "atheistic-evolution-only" perspective. This is probably not the first time an attorney has used the Bible as a legal source, but it is just as unwarranted and irrelevant as all previous attempts. The King James version of the New Testament, at 1 Timothy 6:20, contains the well-known phrase "science falsely so-called," which would more accurately be translated as "falsely called knowledge" or "falsely named knowledge." The problem is that the original Greek phrase pseudo numou gnosis ("falsely named knowledge") was translated into the Latin Vulgate version of Jerome as falsi nominis scientiae (literally "falsely named knowledge," not "falsely named science," since scientiae meant knowledge in Jerome's time), and the KJV translators foolishly used the cognate English word "science" rather than an accurate translation of the original Greek word gnosis or the Jerome-translated Latin word scientiae (since both literally mean "knowledge") for their English translation. As a result, science has been saddled with the unfortunate phrase "science falsely so-called" ever since.
The reason might be that the very first English translation of John Wycliffe, which was taken directly from the Latin Vulgate version and not the original Greek, slavishly followed the Vulgate's choice of words, word order, and syntax. According to references about the Vulgate in Wikipedia ("Many Latin words were taken from the Vulgate into English nearly unchanged in meaning or spelling"), many of the words chosen by Wycliffe entered the English language because of his early translation from the Vulgate. Subsequent translators, such as William Tyndale and the KJV translators, who translated from the original Hebrew and Greek sources, were nevertheless heavily influenced by these very early English versions. And as is well known, the KJV New Testament translation comes almost entirely from Tyndale.
To test this hypothesis I examined the original early translations, which are easily available on the Web now, so I didn't have to invest in several ancient Bible translations which are frankly hard to find in printed form. Wycliffe has "fals name of kunnyng," so he laudably translated Jerome's Vulgate Latin correctly into the Middle English of his time. I can't fault Wycliffe at all, so good for him. Tyndale, however, has "sciece falsly so called," so perhaps he deserves the blame. Although he used the original Greek to translate into English, I suspect Tyndale was influenced by the Latin Vulgate version--he apparently did not consult Wycliffe, but should have. The King James version, of course, has "science falsely so-called," obviously taken directly from Tyndale. The KJV translators also should have followed Wycliffe, not Tyndale. However, even in the day of the Jacobean KJV translators the word "science" simply meant "knowledge," not science as as it means today, the systematic study of nature using empirical, logical, and skeptical methods. So Tyndale and the Jacobean Bible-translating scholars can be partially but not totally blamed for using "science" rather than "knowledge" since for them the two words were synonymous.
The true and worst culprits are the present-day Fundamentalist Protestant Christians who stupidly insist on basing their faith on the inerrancy and literalism of an inaccurate and out-of-date Bible translation (the KJV or Authorized Version) and similar incompetent spin-off translations (New King James Version, New International Version, etc.) that uncomprehendingly follow it or worse. Modern accurate translations, such as the New English Bible ("so-called 'knowledge'") and the New Revised Standard Version ("falsely called knowledge"), translate the original Greek phrase correctly and--using these accurate translations--modern science is spared the indignity of being called false in the Bible, the so-called Word of God. If these modern and accurate translations were used, generations of American Sunday School students would not experience the unsettling spectacle of having modern science called false and trashed in front of them by unscrupulous Bible-quoting Creationist ministers and Sunday School teachers. Is it any wonder why the vast majority of American citizens are scientifically illiterate? They are actually taught to reject science in this country because their trusted Sunday School teachers claim it is false.
The author of the original Greek text of Timothy (traditionally Paul, but reliable Bible scholars today doubt this attribution and think the letter was written much later by someone else and certainly not Paul) is warning his readers to avoid "false knowledge." This "false knowledge" almost certainly refers to Gnosticism, an early Christian religion that preached the possession of secret knowledge; Gnosticism was the primary rival to orthodox Christianity at the time the letter was written, certainly later than the time of Paul. Gnosticism was eventually suppressed by the early orthodox Church but its original texts were rediscovered in Egypt in the 20th century in the Nag Hammadi codices; previously, only snippets were known because they were quoted by early orthodox Christian Church fathers in their desire to refute Gnosticism. So the "false knowledge" Timothy is warning his readers against is Gnosticism, not Science. Obviously, ICR is obsessed with "science falsely so-called," which of course it interprets to mean modern science, the rival to the one, true science: Creation Science. This is a common belief among all Fundamentalist versions of Creationism in the United States.
Finally, science is secular, not atheistic or theistic, so claiming that science or any aspect of it (e.g., biology, evolution) is "atheistic," as the ICR attorney does, is completely false. Secular is the term that describes the middle and neutral point-of-view or position between theism/supernaturalism/religion on one side and atheism/naturalism/irreligion on the other. Secularism advocates neither side nor criticizes either side--it is the neutral position found in the U.S. Constitution, public schools, and in science. Logic tells us that a god, if it exists, could have miraculously used evolution to create the natural world as we perceive it today or that the alternative is true, that the universe formed purely naturally without the aid of supernatural contrivance. Modern scientists, including modern evolutionary scientists, ignore the theological implications of science and evolution when conducting and publishing their scientific work no matter what their religious beliefs. Studies show that fully 40% of modern scientists are theists who believe in a personal god, so terming science or any aspect of science as "atheistic" is nonsensical. Several famous evolutionary scientists, such as Kenneth Miller and Francis Collins, are public Christians who are also highly critical of Scientific Creationism (because Creationist claims and methods are notoriously pseudoscientific). Furthermore, they--as do other religious scientists--keep their religion out of their scientific research and journal publications, because the religious beliefs of scientists are irrelevant to the validity and accuracy of scientific investigations and conclusions (although their beliefs may inspire research topics or ideas). Miller and Collins are Ultimate Creationists, believing that the Christian God created the universe with the properties we find today that allowed life to evolve, but they do not feel the obligation to explain how this happened. They are under no scientific obligation to do so, although as I have explained in another essay, they are under several philosophical obligations--ontological, metaphysical, moral--to do so.
ICR's Misleading and Inaccurate Claims, cont.
Paragraph 135 contains more about these obsessions. Section (c) makes two claims:
ICR is defending its civil rights to teach a non-atheistic view of "science".
THECB claims the regulatory power and right to define "science" as limited to evolution-only views of science.
The bold font and underlining (and all caps and different font sizes, found elsewhere) are so characteristic of extremist writing. In the court-ordered amended version, Timothy Sandefur also identifies spelling errors, rhetorical flourishes, and neologisms, which he says "provides non-stop, thigh-slapping hilarity." I have found this style again and again in Young Earth Creationist literature in Texas over the decades. For some reason, they can't resist this practice. It is used, for example, by the Mel and Norma Gabler Educational Research Analysts, Texans for Better Science Education, and SBOE member Terri Leo.
But let's move to the substance of the claims. Both are untrue. Science is not atheistic, so there is no such thing as a "non-atheistic" view of science. Science is methodologically naturalistic, not ontologically naturalistic, and that certainly does not exclude the existence of a deity. What ICR wants to do is teach an explicitly theistic and supernaturalistic view of science, and that is not possible to do with modern science. That brings us to a refutation of the second claim: the THECB does indeed have the power and right to define modern, mainstream science as limited to a methodologically naturalistic view of science, since that is how modern scientists, educational institutions, and modern culture define it. Indeed, the THECB is obligated by Texas statute to ensure that science degrees in Texas meet this criterion. This will necessarily exclude a Creationist view of science, since Creationism invokes supernaturalism and theism as an explicit part of its belief system, opposing naturalism in both its forms. Note that this does not forbid ICR from teaching Creation Science and Young Earth Creationism in Texas; it only prevents ICR from being able to award an official Texas-certified Master of Science degree in Science Education.
ICR correctly says that its graduates must take a program of courses and thus must earn their degrees by completing a quantity of academic, so ICR is not a diploma mill. But ICR also says it is "not 'deceiving the market' by offering or issuing any supposedly 'fraudulent or substandard college or university degrees,'" and here I would strongly disagree. A Master of Science Degree in Science Education from ICR would surely be "fraudulent and substandard," and thus violate Texas statutes, because it would teach, encourage, inculcate, and indeed indoctrinate students with pseudoscience rather than science by any reasonable and rational definition of the discipline.
Academic Freedom and ICR's Statement of Faith
There are many ironies associated with the ICR's demands for declarative and injunctive relief, such as its claim to teach "science" and to offer a graduate program in "science education." But surely nothing can be more ironic than ICR's demand that its First Amendment rights of freedom of "academic speech" and "freedom from 'prior restraint' censorship of academic speech" be protected by the court as asked for in ICR's Complaint. As amply documented in my earlier reports, ICR affords its students and faculty no academic freedom, no freedom of "academic speech," and no "freedom from 'prior restraint' censorship of academic speech." In fact, ICR demands exactly the opposite of its students and faculty. I wrote in 2008 January 6 that
the ICR's statements of faith includes the tenet, "All things in the universe were created and made by God in the six literal days of the creation week described in Genesis 1:1-2:3, and confirmed in Exodus 20:8-11. The creation record is factual, historical and perspicuous; thus all theories of origins or development which involve evolution in any form are false." ICR's Graduate School Science Education Program Objectives include, "The ICRGS student will develop content knowledge in science from the evolutionary and creationist worldviews in order to relate science and [science] education concepts as revealed in scripture" and "The ICRGS student will use knowledge of the students in his/her classroom to...implement a variety of methods to convey successfully scientific knowledge as it relates to a created universe with purpose and destiny." That is, the ICRGS student is expect to use the knowledge he or she learns at ICR to indoctrinate younger students in Biblical Creationism. A noble objective, indeed, and one which many Texas citizens would appreciate. Other tenets include formation of Earth's surface features by a catastrophic global flood, specially-created Adam and Eve, and a Creator who remains active in natural laws and processes.
ICR requires that its faculty and students sign a statement of faith each year that precludes academic freedom by demanding that they reject evolution and promote a Creationist point of view. The THECB site evaluation panel said in its report that,
The institution also makes clear in the faculty handbook the expectation that faculty publications should promote a creationist point of view, and represent unequivocal commitment to the stated doctrinal positions in the institution's Bylaws. The institution's statement on academic freedom has been distributed to all the faculty....
ICR's statement on academic freedom in its faculty handbook concludes with this paragraph:
In choosing to be a part of the faculty of the [ICRGS] Division of Education and Research, faculty members indicate their support of the Division's doctrinal position and their commitment to the mission of the Institute. . . . Acceptance of this limitation to academic freedom is reaffirmed with each annual contract.
Now this is fascinating. Today I accessed the two links cited above to re-inspect the ICR statement of faith and the ICRGS's "Science Education Program Objectives" and found that both were not working. The "statement of faith" link now takes one (points) to the "National Creation Science Foundation" (note the different URL) with the untrue statement that, "The central core of ICR's mission is scientific research, which formed the basis of our founding in 1970 by Dr. Henry M. Morris." To the contrary, ICR was founded explicitly as a Christian Ministry to promote Young Earth Creationism. In reality, ICR does not perform and has never performed any scientific research (it performed pseudoscholarly research from the beginning and in the last decade has performed some pseudoscientific research). The second link to the ICR's "Science Education Program Objectives" results in an error message.
Fortunately, ICR's "Tenets of Scientific Creationism" and "Tenets of Biblical Creationism" can still be found here as accessed on 2007 December 15. The Tenets come from a 1980 article by Henry Morris. ICR explicitly says
The Institute for Creation Research Graduate School has a unique statement of faith for its faculty and students, incorporating most of the basic Christian doctrines in a creationist framework, organized in terms of two parallel sets of tenets, related to God's created world and God's inspired Word, respectively. [emphasis added]
The ICR "Science Education Program Objectives" can still be found here, last accessed on 2008 January 19.
There is no question in my mind that ICR removed these pages from their website to clumsily hide the obvious hypocrisy involved when comparing its official statements and objectives--which severely limit the academic freedom of speech and "freedom from 'prior restraint' censorship of academic speech" of its students and faculty--with its demand for academic freedom of speech from the THECB to give ICR the authority to grant a state-certified graduate degree in Science Education. I cannot conceive of a more clear-cut example of hypocrisy (much more than mere irony) than demanding that a federal court grant you a something that you do not grant to your own faculty and students. Also, of course, the THECB is not denying freedom of academic speech to ICR by refusing to give ICR a Certificate of Authority. The freedom of "academic speech" argument is bogus when applied to the THECB's statutory obligation to regulate the quality and integrity of post-secondary academic degrees, which has nothing to do with First Amendment freedom of speech but everything to do with anti-fraud laws. The point is that freedom of academic speech rights do apply to faculty and students within legitimate institutions of higher education and the ICR unethically fails to acknowledge this.
I argue that ICR's justification for declarative and injunctive relief--that it is a victim of viewpoint discrimination, censorship of its academic freedom, and denial of its civil rights under Federal First and Fourteenth Amendment laws--is nonsense. ICR's claim that it suffers from "anti-accommodational evolution-only-science enforcement policy practices" is frankly absurd. ICR has every right in the world to teach its Creationist pseudoscience to paying students and can continue to do that, so that falsifies its claim of illegal or coercive victimization by the State of Texas. It has no right, however, to demand that its graduating students be awarded a Texas-certified Master of Science degree, since under no definition of science or practice of legitimate science education in the United States can ICR's curriculum be termed "science." ICR is by self-definition a Christian Ministry and its Graduate School is an extension of that institution. ICR promotes, advocates, and markets a well-known ideology or pseudoscience--Young Earth Creationism--and that same pseudoscience is taught in its Graduate School. This is so clear that ICR's complaint should be quickly denied by summary judgment.
Update, 2009 December 3: United States District Court Judge Jane J. Boyle of the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, ruled two days ago in a Memorandum Opinion & Order of 2009 December 1 in the case of ICR Graduate School v. Raymund Paredes and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in favor of a Motion to Dismiss by the Defendants, Paredes and the THECB. Attorneys for the THECB Defendants argued that the Northern District of Texas (Dallas) was an improper venue for this case and the Western District (Austin) was the proper venue. Judge Boyle agreed with this argument. Further, Defendants argued that the case should be dismissed rather than transferred because Plaintiffs (ICRGS) has filed an identical lawsuit in Texas District Court in Travis County which had been transferred to and is now pending in United States District Court in the Western District of Texas (Austin). The Plaintiff argued that the two cases were not identical because the Austin case "includes THECB as an additional defendant." Judge Boyle thought this difference was insufficient to forestall dismissal rather than transfer since the Plaintiff seeks exactly the same relief in the other case. The Court thus "dismissed without denying Plaintiff access to the relief it seeks."
Update, 2010 June 22: United States District Court Judge Sam Sparks of the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, has denied Plaintiffs (Institute for Creation Research Graduate School) its motion for summary judgment and granted Defendants (Raymund Paredes and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board) its motion for summary judgment. His Court Order of 2010 June 18 is also listed below. This is a complete and comprehensive victory of science over pseudoscience and science education over religious indoctrination. This was a major decision of a federal court in ICR's litigation against the THECB and it delivered what might be the final blow against ICR's quest for a Texas-certified Masters of Science Degree in Science Education. ICR can still appeal and seek a trial.
On Tuesday, June 22, I learned that District Court Judge Sam Sparks had ruled against ICR in its litigation against the THECB on June 18. Several news reports and blogs carried this information that day. Specifically, the judge granted summary judgment to the Defendants (THECB) and denied summary judgment to the Plaintiffs (ICRGS, the ICR Graduate School). Although I have not yet written an analysis of the judge's decision, I did update the webpage you are currently reading. The TCS website has many pages devoted to the ICR v. THECB litigation (see list below). The two primary ones are these:
- http://www.texscience.org/releases/icr/ICR-lawsuit-analysis-2009April20.htm (this one, with many links)
- http://www.texscience.org/reviews/icr-thecb-certification.htm (the original TCS investigative report)
The THECB originally denied ICRGS's application because its curriculum, which was designed to promote Young Earth "scientific creationism" and "Biblical creationism," did not adequately cover the breadth of knowledge of the discipline taught. The THECB's decision was based on the conclusion by the Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes that the ICR Graduate School program "inadequately covers key areas of science and their methodologies and rejects one of the foundational theories of modern science," and thus "cannot be properly designated as either 'science' or 'science education.'" ICR sued the THECB alleging "viewpoint discrimination" and suppression of "academic freedom" and constitutional free speech, free exercise, equal protection, and due process rights. The federal district court rejected ICRGS's claim that the Board engaged in "viewpoint discrimination," finding no animus toward any religious viewpoint. Applying a "rational basis" standard, the court rejected claims that the Board violated ICRGS's free exercise and free speech rights, as well as claims under the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act and under the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment. In my lawsuit analysis TCS looked at these issues and rejected all ICR's arguments. I noted the enormous hypocrisy that the ICR was asking for rights it refused to give to its own faculty and students (free speech, academic freedom, etc.). The judge agreed with me. Of course, ICR's constitutional rights were never violated. Instead, ICR was asking for special favors that it legally did not deserve.
Go to these June 22 blog columns for a quick summary of what happened today:
You can download a pdf copy of the District Court judge's order from here:
The district judge's decision is 39 pages long and quite detailed. He rejected every ICR argument and claim. I will eventually write an analysis of the decision and post it on the TCS website.
ICR filed two lawsuits against the THECB in 2009. Today's decision brings the one before District Court Judge Sam Sparks to a satisfactory conclusion. The first lawsuit (the original filing in federal court) before District Court Judge Jane Boyle was decided on 2009 December 1 by the court granting a motion to dismiss to the Defendants, the THECB.
Update, 2010 September 1: In an Acts & Facts article in the September 2010 issue, "Fighting the Dragon, Science Education and Academic Freedom in the Courts," ICR's CEO, Henry M. Morris III, states that ". . . ICR's legal battle is over. . . ," although promising that "ICR will have more to say on the ramifications of these issues next month" and "we will not retreat from other public efforts t fight the 'Dragon' and his minions." In a news item today, the National Center for Science Education reports that
Information about the graduate school vanished from the ICR's website over the summer of 2010, but writing in Creation Ministries International's Journal of Creation (2010; 24 : 54-55), Chris Ashcraft reported, "On 25 June 2010 the ICR board of directors voted to close the Grad School," citing a June 30, 2010, e-mail from Henry Morris III. Replacing it, apparently, is the ICR's School of Biblical Apologetics, which offers a Master of Christian Education degree; Creation Research is one of four minors.
I must admit that the news that NCSE reported today was not known to me until today (I don't subscribe to Creation Ministries International's Journal of Creation), but it is nevertheless gratifying to learn about even two months later. I note that the ICR Board of Directors' decision was three days after the June 22 U.S. District Court decision of Judge Sam Sparks that granted a motion of summary judgment to the THECB, so ICR is obviously not going wait around and lick its wounds but rather quickly move on. Good for them!
ICR's School of Biblical Apologetics is not accredited, and its Master of Christian Education degree is therefore not an accredited degree. ICR explains:
Due to the nature of ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics—a predominantly religious education school—it is exempt from licensing by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Likewise, ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics is legally exempt from being required to be accredited by any secular or ecumenical or other type of accrediting association.
This is a very slick way of stating that one's degree program is completely worthless from a legitimate or professional academic standpoint. The Master of Christian Education degree cannot be transferred to any accredited institution of higher learning nor can it be used to justify a higher salary due to better academic credentials. It will only be useful for employment by Bible Colleges and private Fundamentalist religious schools (although there are plenty of these in the U. S.) that accept such valueless degrees. Texas Citizens for Science is completely satisfied with this outcome.
Primary Court Documents for Institute for Creation Research Graduate School v. Raymund A. Paredes et al. (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board)
There are two separate cases in two separate courts under litigation.
The ICR Graduate School filed two separate lawsuits against Raymund Paredes in his capacity as Commissioner of Higher Education. The first was filed in a United States District Court in Dallas and the second filed in a Texas District Court in Austin. The lawsuits are identical except that the THECB was named as a defendant in addition to Raymund Paredes in the Texas District Court lawsuit.
TCS does not understand how ICR can litigate two identical lawsuits in two different U. S. District courts at the same time, although the second was admittedly first filed in a Texas District Court and transferred to the U.S. District Court. Why ICR did this, however, is obvious: ICR wished to double its chances of getting at least one favorable opinion from two different courts. If the two courts disagreed then all the better, since this would make the issue ripe for appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has not been favorably disposed to church-state separation in recent years. ICR hopes to appeal to the pro-religion prejudices of some members of the Supreme Court rather than to legal precedent, which is not a very ethical thing to do. The five Conservatives on the Supreme Court, however, are all Catholics, so we will see how things work out for ICR if the appeals get that far.
The federal lawsuit in Dallas is in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, Judge Jane J. Boyle presiding, case number 3:09-CV-0693-B. Judge Boyle was appointed by George W. Bush in 2004. This case was finally decided on 2009 December 1 with a Memorandum Opinion & Order in which District Judge Boyle granted a motion of the Defendants (Paredes and the THECB) to dismiss the lawsuit due to improper venue and the existence of an essentially identical lawsuit undergoing litigation in Austin (U.S. District Court Western Division of Texas).
The original Texas District Court lawsuit was moved (because it should have been originally filed by ICR in a federal, not state, district court) to the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, Judge Sam Sparks presiding, case number 1:09-CV-382-SS or A-09-CA-382-SS. Judge Sparks was appointed by George H. W. Bush in 1991. This is the case that was settled on 2010 June 18.
The presence of many similar documents in two different courts is confusing. In addition, ICR filed some documents with the United States "Northern District Court of Texas: Austin Division," but the Austin Division is in the Western District of Texas, so it appears that even the ICR attorney has sometimes confused the two cases. The best way to distinguish the documents in these two cases is by using the case number at the top of the first page of each document, the last letters of which designate the judge by initials.
A-09-CA-382-SS (1:09-CV-382-SS) - Institute for Creation Research Graduate School (Plaintiff) vs Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board et al. (Defendants) before Judge Sam Sparks, United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division.
- ICR-Plaintiff's-1st-Amended-Complaint-2009June2-SS.pdf (2 MB)
- District-Court-Order-Granting-Summary-Judgment-for-Defendants-2010June18-SS.pdf [Final opinion and order.]
3:09-CV-0693-B - Institute for Creation Research Graduate School (Plaintiff) vs Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board et al. (Defendants) before Judge Jane J. Boyle, United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division.
- ICR-Plaintiffs-Original-Complaint-2009April16-B.pdf (7.5 MB)
- ICR-Petition-Contested-Case-Status-2009April16-B.pdf (5.9 MB)
- Affidavit-Patricia-Nason-2009Nov2-B.pdf [This document is a fascinating 22-page response by the Chair of ICRGS's Science Education Department that defends ICR against the written objections of well-known Professor of Science Education Gerald Skoog (and agreement by other scientists on the THECB's investigative team) in THECB's ICRCommentsFromScientists.pdf.]
- Memorandum-Opinion-and-Order-2009Dec1-B.pdf [Final opinion and order.]
ICR's Original Complaint and Petition for Contested Case Status in OCR Form:
OCRed PDF files are capable of extracting text by highlighting and copying (OCR means "optical character recognition"). (Thanks to John Pieret who OCRed the original court pdf files and to Tony Whitson who requested that John email the two files to me to post. Their blogs are listed below.)
Previous articles and reports about the ICR v. THECB controversy written by TCS:
- http://www.texscience.org/releases/icr/ICR-lawsuit-analysis-2009April20.htm (This report.)
- http://www.texscience.org/reviews/icr-thecb-certification.htm (This is the primary detailed investigative report.)
Articles, documents, and blog columns about the current ICR lawsuit:
- http://ncseweb.org/creationism/legal/institute-creation-research-graduate-school-v-paredes-et-al (Long but incomplete list of court documents for ICR v. Paredes et al.; most of these are minor documents but several major documents are missing, however, the NCSE list contains several minor documents not linked in the present TCS report, which is therefore also incomplete; together, the two sites have links to all the court documents.)
- http://ncseweb.org/news/2009/04/icr-sues-thecb-004745 (NCSE by Glenn Branch: ICR Sues THECB, April 2009)
- http://ncse.com/rncse/28/2/setback-icr-texas (NCSE by Glenn Branch: A Setback for the ICR in Texas, April 2008)
- http://sandefur.typepad.com/freespace/2009/08/the-latest-on-icrs-texas-lawsuit.html (Timothy Sandefur discusses ICR's amended complaint; the original was so bad the court asked for an amended version, which while shorter was equally bad!)
- http://sandefur.typepad.com/freespace/2009/04/icr-lawsuit-against-texas-higher-education-coordinating-board.html (Timothy Sandefur, a practicing attorney who is very knowledgeable about legal document style, is very critical of both the style and substance of the ICR Complaint.)
- http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/3857710119.html (ICR's Press Release)
- http://evaluatingchristianity.wordpress.com/2009/04/22/you-dont-trust-creationists-with-your-science-education-heres-why-you-shouldnt-trust-their-lawyers-either/ (Evaluating Christianity by Andrew - You have to read this one; Andrew is an attorney and he eviscerates the ICR Complaint from a legal perspective; his conclusion: "The bottom line is that there is literally no way this complaint survives a motion to dismiss.")
- http://curricublog.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/icr-2009-lawsuit/ (Curricublog by Tony Whitson)
- http://dododreams.blogspot.com/2009/04/horse-race.html (Thoughts in a Haystack by John Pieret)
- http://blog.au.org/2009/04/22/a-ruse-by-any-other-name-texas-fundamentalists-want-state-to-honor-religion-as-science/ (The Wall of Separation by Sandhya Bathija)
- http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/icr-v-paredes-first-impressions/ (The Sensuous Curmudgeon by ?)
- http://tfnblog.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/creationists-take-it-to-court-in-texas/ (TFN Insider usually written by Dan Quinn)
- http://www.icr.org/article/censorship-texas-fighting-academic/ | http://www.icr.org/article/4598/ (Analysis by James Johnson, ICR's attorney who wrote the ICR court documents)
- http://bit.ly/dcjxHQ (Documents about ICR v. THECB on THECB site, including staff and commissioner's official recommendations)
Graduate School Sues Texas Agency Over Academic Discrimination
Contact: Lawrence Ford, Director of Communications, Institute for Creation Research (ICRGS), 214-615-8398, firstname.lastname@example.org
DALLAS, April 21 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Institute for Creation Research Graduate School (ICRGS), a California-based science education institution established in 1981, has filed suit in both federal and Texas state courts against the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), its commissioner, and some of its board members, for interfering with the constitutional rights of ICRGS in its application to move the school to Texas.
Named as defendants in the suits are THECB Commissioner Raymund A. Paredes, Lyn Bracewell Phillips, Joe B. Hinton, Elaine Mendoza, Laurie Bricker, A. W. "Whit" Riter III, Brenda Pejovich, and Robert Shepard, in both their individual and official capacities, for discriminating against the private school's academic and religious viewpoint.
ICRGS additionally names as defendant in the state lawsuit the THECB agency itself, which has a prior record of abusing the constitutional rights of other private educational institutions in the state, as determined by the Texas Supreme Court in 2007.
Since 1981 ICRGS has offered the Master of Science degree in biology, astro-geophysics, geology, and science education, and recently consolidated its four majors into a single Science Education major on a predominately distance educational platform, except for required science labs and/or field studies. Since its inception, ICRGS faculty members have been highly credentialed science professionals with terminal degrees from such schools as UCLA, Harvard, UC Berkeley, and other competent institutions, along with noted experience in science research at top private and government laboratories in the United States.
In fall 2007, the THECB Site Evaluation Team and Advisory Committee recommended approval of the ICRGS application to grant degrees in the state of Texas. However, both agency recommendations were subsequently rejected by Commissioner Paredes after evolution-only activists pressured the commissioner to deny ICRGS a degree-granting license in the state.
After twice convening ex parte advisory committees of his choosing (both of which included no committee advisors with special competence in the private sector Christian education school market served by ICRGS), Commissioner Paredes recommended on April 23, 2008, that the THECB deny a Certificate of Authority to ICRGS, which the voting members did on April 24, 2008.
Since June 2008, ICRGS has worked through the administrative appeal process with the THECB, and the controversy is pending in the State Office of Administrative Hearings.
ICRGS is a private, non-profit graduate school that receives no state or federal funding.
Religious school suing Texas college board
The Associated Press
April 20, 2009
DALLAS -- A religious institute is suing the state's college board over being denied permission to offer a master's degree in science education.
The Dallas-based Institute for Creation Research Graduate School alleges the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board violated its civil rights.
The Dallas Morning News reported Monday that the institute filed a lawsuit last week in federal court. The suit contends the coordinating board discriminated against the institute because it doesn't support evolution.
Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes has said the institute did not demonstrate it met acceptable standards of science. When the board denied the master's program request last year, he said the institute's proposed program would not prepare future educators to teach to public school standards.
Institute leaders have said they would teach both creationist and evolutionist views, despite favoring creationism.
Local Creationists Create Mammoth Lawsuit Over State's Refusal to Allow Grad Degrees
By Robert Wilonsky
Monday, Apr. 20 2009
For those with a little free time this morning, the Institute for Creation Research filed an 80-page complaint in Dallas federal court at the end of last week claiming that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has done violated its constitutional rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religious exercise. For starters. Why come?
Says the suit, when the THECB -- of which Raymund Paredes, Ph.D. serves as commish -- decided last year not to let the Royal Lane-based joint hand out master's degrees in science, they "perpetrated viewpoint discrimination and censorship." The lawsuit reads kind of like stereo instructions, but here's one excerpt among many worth a look:
THECB's Commissioner Paredes' unquestioned faith in a "Big Bang" of "14 billion years ago" (which he may believe in by faith, but he has no eye-witness knowledge of such) should not be confused with the "great noise" mentioned in 2nd Peter 3:10. The evolution-only viewpoint discrimination is further illustrated in Commisioner Paredes' opinion (of 4-23-2008) that evolutionary thinking as "foundational" to "modern science."
Creationists Say Texas Ain't Fair
Courthouse News Service
Monday, April 20, 2009
DALLAS (CN) - The Institute for Creation Research Graduate School claims the Texas Higher Education Commission is violating its constitutional rights by prohibiting it from offering an online Master of Science degree from its home base in California. This bellicose 80-page complaint also claims the state will "persecute ... Bible-based Protestant evangelical institutions" if they offer the plaintiff's online master's program.
The plaintiff claims to offer "science education program from an institutional viewpoint of Biblical and scientific creationism." It is represented in Federal Court by James J. S. Johnson.
Dallas-based Institute for Creation Research sues state over denial of its master's program
By HOLLY K. HACKER
The Dallas Morning News
Monday, April 20, 2009
The Institute for Creation Research has taken its fight to train future science teachers to the courthouse.
The Dallas-based creationist group alleges that its civil rights were violated by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Last year, the state agency denied the institute permission to offer a master’s degree in science education, saying the program did not meet state academic standards.
The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court, alleges that the coordinating board discriminated against the institute because of its views on evolution.
Raymund Paredes, the state’s higher education commissioner, has said that the proposed master’s program would not prepare future educators to teach science standards in Texas public school classrooms.
Institute leaders have said they would teach both the creationist and evolutionist views, but that their group favors the former.
Creationist group says state rejection of degree plan violates its civil rights
By HOLLY K. HACKER
The Dallas Morning News
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The Institute for Creation Research has taken its fight to train future science teachers to the federal courthouse.
The Dallas-based group alleges that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board violated its civil rights by denying the institute's request to offer a master's degree in science education.
The board said the program did not meet state academic standards.
The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Dallas, alleges that the higher-education agency rejected the degree program because of the institute's claim that scientific evidence shows the earth is only 6,000 years old.
Among the institute's arguments in the lawsuit: "The monopolistic realities of the science education market in Texas (and in America generally) would limit creationist learners to science education opportunities from evolutionist graduate schools."
It says the institute is "the only graduate school which specializes in creationism-informed science education."
Raymund Paredes, Texas' higher-education commissioner, has said the institute's proposed master's program would not prepare future instructors to teach science standards in Texas public-school classrooms.
A spokeswoman for the Coordinating Board said the agency has no comment on the case because it's under litigation.
The late Henry M. Morris, a Dallas native known as the father of "creation science," created the institute in 1970. The theory centers around the philosophy that science and religion both indicate that a divine being created the Earth and all living things.
The institute has offered science degrees in California for years. Once it moved from San Diego to Dallas (in 2006), it needed approval from the state of Texas to offer degrees here.
Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, has introduced a bill that would, in effect, exempt the institute from state rules that degree-granting universities must follow.
Texas Citizens for Science Updated: 2010 June 22 with reporting of Federal District Court Order