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University Faculty: No Certification for Group's Creation 'Science' Master's Degree

Survey Respondents Overwhelmingly Oppose State Certification for Dallas-based Group’s Science Education Master’s Degree Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2008

A survey of science faculty at Texas colleges and universities reveals overwhelming opposition to state approval for a master’s degree in science education from a Dallas-based creationist group.

The online survey, sponsored by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund in association with the National Center for Science Education, queried 881 science faculty members at 50 public and private Texas universities. The survey asked whether the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board should certify a master’s degree in science education from the Institute for Creation Research. Nearly 200 faculty members responded, with 185 (95 percent of respondents) opposed to certifying the program and six (3 percent) in favor. Four (2 percent) respondents skipped the question.

The Institute wants state approval to train teachers how to educate students about the origins of the universe from a Christian biblical and creationist "worldview."

The Coordinating Board is considering the issue at a meeting this week in Austin. The overwhelming opposition to certification reflects broad agreement among science educators that they should focus on teaching sound science, not religious beliefs, said Kathy Miller, president of the TFN Education Fund.

"Our universities should be training science teachers who can provide a 21st-century education in Texas classrooms," Miller said. "Approving degree programs that instead promote a false conflict between science and faith would be a disservice to students and a threat to our state’s reputation as a center for science and research."

The online survey invited respondents to explain their positions.

"In our race to keep America current and at the forefront of modern science and technology, it is critical that we do not add any self-imposed hurdles," wrote Frank Pezold, professor of biology and dean of science and technology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. "Teaching religion as science or science as religion confounds and weakens the objectives of both."

A sample of other comments from survey respondents follows below.

Coordinating Board committees are considering the Institute’s application at a public hearing on Wednesday. The full board is set to vote on the issue Thursday.

The online survey was conducted April 6-19 by Raymond A. Eve, professor of sociology and acting head of the Center for Social Research at the University of Texas at Arlington. Prof. Eve conducted the survey as an independent consultant for the TFN Education Fund. He has substantial experience in survey research and is co-author of The Creationist Movement in Modern America (Boston: Twayne Press, 1991).

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The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund is a nonpartisan research and citizen education organization that works on issues involving religious freedom, civil liberties and public education.

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What Are University Science Faculty Saying about the Institute for Creation Research’s Master of Science Education Degree Program?

Survey comments from science faculty:

"The great state of Texas can ill-afford either the cost, or the international embarrassment, of conflating faith-based religious doctrine with scientific empiricism. Theology certainly has a place in college curricula, but it isn't in science departments."

- Matthew Rowe, professor of biological sciences, Sam Houston State University

"Intelligent design is not science and shouldn't be associated with a degree in science, or taught as a viable scientific hypothesis or theory in any science or philosophy class. It is a belief. Science is not based on beliefs; it is based on hypothesis testing."

- Allan W. Hook, professor of biological sciences, St. Edward’s University (Austin)

"If Creationism is taught in schools, it should be a part of the social science curriculum, not life science. Life Sciences concepts are based on scientific evidence. There is no scientific evidence to support Creationism. Creationism is not a theory, but a belief, not supported by any evidence."

- Cindy Wedig, biology lecturer, University of Texas-Pan American; adjunct faculty member at Baylor College of Medicine

"I am a scientist and a committed Christian, but Creationism is NOT a science."

- Gilbert T. Rowe II, professor of marine biology, professor of oceanography, Texas A&M University-Galveston, Texas A&M University; Regents Professor, Texas A&M System

"If Texas expects to compete on national and international markets relative to the production of scientists, then it must ensure that science, and not pseudo-science, is taught in schools. Students who lack the scientific understanding of the evolutionary process tend to score much lower and often fail to adequately complete undergraduate and graduate programs in biology. It is simply unacceptable to teach creation or intelligent design in school curricula unless it is taught in guise of a course in philosophy or religion. In addition, having reviewed much of the creation institute's literature, I must conclude that the mission of that organization is to purposely misrepresent science and intentionally deceive the public. As a Christian, I cannot condone such dishonesty at any level."

- Jeff Kopachena, associate professor and head of biology, Texas A&M University-Commerce

"Science seeks out truths about the nature of the physical universe. It is all about freedom of inquiry. Creationism claims to already hold the truth, leaving the only role for inquiry that of supporting what is already known. This is not only completely unscientific, it represents a type of narrow fundamentalist thinking (like that which we so strongly oppose in other cultures) that sets the stage for a return to the terrible loss of freedoms suffered by those early scientists who had to sign loyalty oaths, submit their work to religious censors or worse."

- Eric Swanson, professor of geology, University of Texas at San Antonio

"It is very clear that the problem with creationism is not having it taught in higher education institutions, but rather having it taught as science in science classrooms. It is no more appropriate to teach religion in a science classroom than to teach calculus in an American literature class. Scientists are not trained in the doctrine or research tools required to effectively study religion. We (scientists) are unqualified to teach this kind of course. If a university chooses to teach such material, it should be offered through either a philosophy or the religion department where people are qualified to address the nuances of religion and religious doctrine."

- Malcolm McCallum. assistant professor of biology; editor, Herpetological Conservation and Biology; Texas A&M University-Texarkana

 

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