ICR v. Paredes: First Impressions

AS you know, the Institute for Creation Research Graduate School has sued the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Raymund Paredes, the first named defendant, is Commissioner of Higher Education and a member of the Board. This is our earlier post when the news first broke: ICR Sues Over Status Of Creationism Degree.

The ICR complaint is 68 pages long. We won’t pretend that we’ve fully digested it. Nevertheless, we’ll give you our first impressions of the case. No doubt we’ll be better educated in this matter as the situation progresses.

First, we predict that the Discovery Institute will stay out of this. As we explained here: Intelligent Design: It’s Not About Science, the Discoveroids’ goal is to eventually get a killer case to a theocracy-friendly Supreme Court that will crush the First Amendment forever. They have some people who actually believe they’re all about science, but at the top they know their true purpose.

They don’t want the legal landscape littered with precedents like the Dover decision, which is why they must have been secretly delighted when the Dover school board got tossed out after case was over and their rational successors decided not to appeal. It wouldn’t surprise us if the Discoveroids even helped to bring about that election result.

There are two specific reasons why the Discoveroids probably won’t be siding with ICR in the current litigation. First, ICR is a young-earth creationist outfit, and declares openly that their “science” is scripture-based. The Discoveroids need to pretend that they’re not about religion, in the hope of bypassing the First Amendment. Second, from even a casual reading of the ICR complaint, it’s almost certain that their case will be a loser. Therefore the Discoveroids will keep their distance. But it’s possible — as in Dover — they’ll file an amicus brief on some technical point, just to show the flag.

Now, let’s take a look at the mind-numbing complaint filed by ICR, available here. We think we understand ICR’s claim, even though we have no familiarity with the intricacies of the civil rights law upon which their case is based. The state of Texas won’t recognize graduate degrees in science education issued by ICR. We wrote about that last year: Texas won’t approve creationism degree! Such state-recognized degrees are a step along the road that would permit ICR’s graduates to be certified as science teachers in the state-run schools.

For the first 5 pages, the complaint names the defendants, members of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. They’re being sued not only as members of the Board, but also individually. Suing them in their individual capacities seems unnecessary, but ICR explains that in paragraph 10, page 6. It’s supposedly so that any injunction will be binding on them individually, as well as binding the Board.

That’s ridiculous. An injunction against the Board would do the job. Going after the members individually strikes us as a hardball tactic, because it could make them personally responsible for legal fees (the civil rights statute provides for that). But we’re not certain — perhaps this sort of thing is customary in suits against Texas state entities. It seems a bit nasty to us, however. We’re expecting the individual Board members to file motions to dismiss the complaint against them as individuals — and to seek sanctions against ICR for putting them to the trouble.

Paragraph 11, page 6, says that the Board took discretionary action that amounts to “viewpoint discrimination,” thus violating ICR’s rights. Just what the Board did is thereafter described in page after page, but essentially what they did is refuse to recognize ICR science education degrees.

Paragraph 18 on page 8 is interesting enough that we’ll copy it here. “ICRGS” is the Institute for Creation Science Graduate School. The italics and bold are in the original:

In short, ICR is presently not allowed to use Acts & Facts to invite Texas residents to apply for admission into ICRGS’s graduate program in “Science Education”, because [the Board] (due to Defendants’ actions) has banned ICRGS’s M.S. [Master of Science] program in Texas, as purportedly “fraudulent or substandard” — simply because ICRGS promotes the viewpoint that Darwin was wrong.

Acts & Facts is a publication of ICR. We suspect they have no problem publishing it, but they can’t use it — at least now — to promote their graduate school the way they may have been doing in the past.

We don’t know if the civil rights laws have ever been applied to “viewpoint discrimination” before. Race, sure. Gender, certainly. And religion also, where, for example, a state agency wouldn’t hire someone based on church membership. But can there be “viewpoint discrimination” in the context of science education? How can someone teach science if his viewpoint is anti-science? Is it unfair discrimination to deem him unfit? That’s what this case is all about.

Well, let’s go on with the complaint. There are several pages about the court’s jurisdiction, and why the case is properly brought in Dallas. We’ll skip that stuff. Then they give a load of history, about how the Board has turned them down in the past. Useful information, but boring. However, in the “Curriculum” section starting on page 17, where they recount that they were told their sources were “creationist,” we quote from the next page:

The former criticism is blatant viewpoint discrimination, offending ICRGS’s institutional academic freedom rights under the 1st and 14th Amendments. ICRGS, which conspicuously affirms its Biblical creationist viewpoint as an institutional distinctive, [sic] should not be required to academically “shut its mouth” or “go to the back of the [postsecondary science education] bus” just because it affirms the truth of Genesis 1:1, or because ICRGS corroborates the Biblical account of the Genesis Flood (the historicity of which has been repeatedly corroborated).

[Except for that "sic," where they presumably meant to say "distinction," all formatting in the foregoing excerpt, including the bracketed language, is in the original.]

What’s so touching about this is that ICR appears to be serious. They’re quite forthright about what they teach, but they just don’t grasp that courts have repeatedly found their creation “science” to be religion, and thus the states can’t promote it. Let’s continue, but we’ve got to skip a lot or we’ll be at this forever.

In paragraphs 64-66, on pages 28-29, they explain why the Board’s “review panel” (which turned them down) was flawed. It was comprised of experts who were all “evolutionists,” and there was no “balanced representation.” Paragraph 66 says there were no Biblical creationism-affirming educators on the panel, only self-avowed evolutionists who had no expertise regarding Biblical creationism-affirming private Christian education.

Paragraph 68 on page 30:

ICRGS simply agrees with, and thus adopts, the Bible-transmitted view of the apostle Paul, who wrote that the natural creation so effectively displays proof of God’s creatorship that anyone who rejects that evidence is “without excuse”.

Hey, what’s the problem here? Why can’t their graduates be certified to teach science in Texas?

Moving to near the end, paragraph 134 on page 61 is a beauty. “… ICR’s minority viewpoint, which is sincerely and institutionally held … impacts ICR’s ability to “freely exercise” its religious and scientific viewpoints, which include its sincerely held beliefs that …”

Then they enumerate those beliefs: the Great Commission of Matthew chapter 28 is obligatory; Genesis 1:1 is foundational truth; “science” [their quotes] should not be taught from an “atheistic evolution-only” perspective [they show, with a scriptural reference, that doing so is false]; the big bang is false and is “science so-called;” and finally that science should emphasize the importance of the Genesis Flood, due to its unique worldwide impact on earth’s history.

After that, if you can believe it, they go on at length to expand upon those “sincerely held beliefs.” If those beliefs are “sincerely held,” and they say “sincerely” several times, then they get extra credit in court, right?

In conclusion, they want the Board to be ordered to give them a Certificate of Authority to grant Master of Science degrees in Science Education, with optional minors in Biology, Geology, Astro-geophysics, and General Science.

Their graduates could then go on to get certified to teach science in Texas public schools. Do you have any objection to that?

Addendum: Our follow-up post is here: ICR v. Paredes: Second Impressions.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “ICR v. Paredes: First Impressions

  1. A couple corrections:

    1. Paredes is not the head of the Board; he is the Commissioner. The Board Chairman (recently appointed by Gov. Perry) is the biblical literalist Whitt Riter III (see
    http://curricublog.wordpress.com/2008/11/16/whit-riter/ ).

    2. Although I also thought that program accreditation would entail teacher certification, that seems to be a separate process. I learned this from Gerald Skoog, who knows more about these things in Texas than anybody else. He has been involved in both the THECB and the teacher certification processes for years. The relationship between these processes is not clear to me. It seems that THECB accreditation would make it harder to deny teacher licensing, since the standards and criteria could not be totally distinct for the two processes; but I’ve found out that there are two distinct processes.

  2. Note that ICR complains extensively about Skoog in their court documents. He must be doing something right!

  3. I’ve tried twice submitting this on your earlier post, where you comment on the image-only pdf problem. see my comment at

    http://dododreams.blogspot.com/2009/04/horse-race.html

    I will wait to d/l from Steve’s page, but you could also ask John for the file directly.

  4. Thanks, Tony. I’ve patched it up now. Much appreciated. I understood ICR’s complaint better than I understood Texas bureaucracy.

    About delays, the spam-catcher has been a big problem, and several comments from others are getting hung up in moderation for no apparent reason. I approve such comments as soon as I’m aware of them. Big inconvenience.

  5. The OCR’d version of the ICR complaint is now posted, with other new material, on the Texas Citizens for Science page at:

    http://www.texscience.org/releases/icr/ICR-lawsuit-analysis-2009April20.htm

  6. Thanks, Tony. Too late for my earlier post, but it may yet come in handy.

  7. Right, Joshua. I’m planning to include a link to that in my next post.