The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

More Creationist Shenanigans in Texas

Posted by mattusmaximus on April 21, 2009

Well, there seems to be an interesting mix of sanity & lunacy coming to Texas.  I am referring to the recent effort by creationists with the Institute for Creationist Research (ICR) to demand the state recognize their “Master’s degree in science education.” Needless to say, had the ICR been successful, this would have been an absolute disaster.  Fortunately, the ICR lost their bid with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB).

Well, true to form, the ICR is not going away quietly.  Instead, they are now threatening to sue the THECB…

The complaint, filed on April 16, 2009, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, named Raymund Paredes, the Texas Commissioner of Higher Education, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and its members as defendants, in both their official and individual capacities, accusing them of imposing “an unconstitutional and prejudicial burden against ICRGS’s academic freedom and religious liberties” (p. 63) and asking the court for declarative and injunctive relief.

Of course, what does the complaint emphasize?  That newfound bugaboo of the creationist movement: academic freedom.  Starting with the release of Ben Stein’s awful pseudo-documentary, ironically titled “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”, last April, the creationists showed they were changing tactics to argue that attempts to keep their religiously-based pseudoscience out of science classrooms was tantamount to “censorship” and “against open inquiry & academic freedom”.

Shortly after the release of Expelled, numerous state legislatures proposed so-called “academic-freedom laws” meant to give creationist teachers & organizations cover for pushing their ideology in public schools.  Unfortunately, one such law did indeed take hold in Louisiana.

And now, the creationists are trying the same tactic in Texas, with the exception that they’re now going after higher education as well as the public school system.  Well, fortunately, the THECB isn’t a group that is so much influenced by who sits in the Texas governor’s mansion, because Gov. Rick Perry has caused much trouble pushing his anti-scientific nonsense by stacking the Texas Board of Education with creationists.

So what is the state of the lawsuit by ICR?  Well, chances are that it won’t go anywhere in the courts, especially when the following info is revealed about the ICR’s complaint…

The sixty-seven-page complaint teems with various factual claims and legal arguments, leading a blogger for the Dallas Observer (April 20, 2009) to quip that it “reads kind of like stereo instructions.” It also teems with unabashed creationist rhetoric, citing articles from the ICR’s publication Acts & Facts along with case law, explaining that Paredes — born as he was in 1942 — was not a witness to the Big Bang, asserting that discussions about the origin of life and the formation of the earth “do not become ’empirical science’ simply because those discussions emit from the oral cavities of ‘scientists'” (p. 33), and insisting that the Big Bang “should not be confused with the ‘great noise’ mentioned in 2nd Peter 3:10” (p. 21).

However, I don’t think winning this court battle is necessarily what the ICR wants; don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that if they won we’d never hear the end of it, even if they eventually lost on appeal.  What I’m getting at is a time-honored creationist & woo tactic, playing the role of a martyr attempting to take on the big, bad system which conspires against The Truth. My guess is that the ICR is simply making noise in an effort to get its followers to donate cash to the cause.  I sense that the real goal is for somebody to make a lot of money off these shenanigans, and – sadly – I believe the ICR & other creationist organizations (such as the Discovery Institute) will be quite successful in this endeavor.

2 Responses to “More Creationist Shenanigans in Texas”

  1. […] Original post by mattusmaximus […]

  2. Andrew said

    I analyze this lawsuit from a lawyer’s perspective over at my blog.

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