I blogged the other day about material that influences the chair of the Texas board of education (Where the creationist chair of the Texas education board gets his information).  Texas seems intent on claiming a particular reputation as an educational backwater – FoxNews reports on a proposed bill which effectively allows the Institute of Creation Research to offer science degrees (Bill Would Allow Texas School to Grant Master’s Degree in Science for Creationism).

State Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) proposed House Bill 2800 when he learned that The Institute for Creation Research (ICR), a private institution that specializes in the education and research of biblical creationism, was not able to receive a certificate of authority from Texas’ Higher Education Coordinating Board to grant Master of Science degrees.

I know nothing about Leo Berman (beyond his views on evolution), but one thing I do know is that the Institute for Creation Research should not be empowered to grant degrees in science.  But actually, his proposal seems to be couched in absurdly general terms:

“If you don’t take any federal funds, if you don’t take any state funds, you can do a lot more than some business that does take state funding or federal funding,” Berman says. “Why should you be regulated if you don’t take any state or federal funding?”

This seems to me to be a dangerous proposal that would result in all sorts of ridiculous “educational establishments” being set up.  But why stop there?  Why not remove all regulation from people and organisations not taking state funds?  A recipe for disaster, I suggest, possibly as great as that perpetrated by the under-regulated banks and finance houses that have led the world economy to its present parlous state.  But back to the proposed bill.

HB 2800 does not specifically name ICR; it would allow any institution that meets its criteria to be exempt from the board’s authority. But Berman says ICR was the inspiration for the bill because he feels creationism is as scientific as evolution and should be granted equal weight in the educational community.

“I don’t believe I came from a salamander that crawled out of a swamp millions of years ago,” Berman told FOXNews.com. “I do believe in creationism. I do believe there are gaps in evolution.

“But when you ask someone who believes in evolution, if you ask one of the elitists who believes in evolution about the gaps, they’ll tell you that the debate is over, that there is no debate, evolution is the thing, it’s the only way to go.”

Now, I don’t normally go in for personal insults, but this quotation does suggest to me that Berman is a seriously under-educated loon – note all the crap about the “elitists” who believe in evolution.  Oh and “he feels creationism is as scientific as evolution and should be granted equal weight in the educational community”. In point of fact the evidence for (and of) evolution by natural selection is overwhelming, the theory makes testable predictions that haven’t so far falsified the theory.  Contrast that with the sort of religious tosh that the ICR believe, and for which there is not a jot of evidence.

Regarding this bill and educational standards,

[...] advocates of more conventional science education say the THECB [Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board] was right to deny ICR certification and that Berman’s motives in introducing the bill were simply to reward an institution loyal to him.

“You just can’t play fast and loose with the rules that everyone has to follow just to favor a constituent,” says Scott. “I think the people of Texas should be very concerned about this issue.”

While HB 2800 makes its way through the legislature, ICR and the THECB will continue their mediation before a Texas state judge. Insiders say that if the mediation does not go their way, ICR will sue the board.

So it’s very clear the bill is aimed squarely at empowering ICR to push out misinformation and a distorted view of science, and evolution in particular.  Ulitimately, it would seem the ICR aim to generate a cadre of “scientifically qualified” teachers whould move out across the USA and pollute science education with their medieval ideas.

As Karen at Bligbi says: “What the f*** is next? A masters in intelligent falling?”.

Other blog responses: Bligbi: A Master of Science in Creationism?!; Friendly Atheist: Getting a Masters of Science Degree in Creationism; Little Green Footballs:Texas Lawmaker Backs Creationist ‘Degree’

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