Observations and inanities by a second-shift assistant supervisor in the Puppy-Grinding division of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy® (our motto: "Sure it's cruel, but think of the jobs!"), your host, Brent Rasmussen.
Texas Crazy: Master's Degree in Stupid
The creep of creationism in Texas is not limited to the public school system, which is often held intellectual hostage by backward members its Board of Education, as was discussed in other posts of mine. No, it doesn't end there, for Texas State Rep. Leo Berman wishes to give full scientific legitimacy to biblical literalism at the graduate level. Berman has introduced House Bill 2800 (PDF), which would exempt purely private, nonprofit schools from the authority of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board when it comes to the certification of master's degrees. While the legislation is actually quite sweeping it its implications, Berman's purpose is to allow "schools" such as the Institute for Creation Research to offer Master of Science degrees in, yes, creation science.
Per Nora Zimmett of Fox News, I'm going to let Berman speak for himself here, for he does it better than I could paraphrase:
. . . 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.”
Opponents of the bill are concentrating their fire on the potential the bill would have for creating "diploma mills" all over Texas, diluting the academic heft of any degree granted in the state, regardless of what school it is from; if private institutions that take no public funds can grant whatever degrees they want with no oversight, a lot of nonsense will result. Now, that to my mind is not nearly the worst part about this bill, but let's run with it for a moment, and take a guess at what other kinds of degrees might be offered were the bill to pass.
- Doctor of Biology, Unicorn Studies
- Master of Anthropology, concentration in Leprechaun Civilization
- Double-major: Master of Alchemical Sciences and Sorcerer Repulsion
- Master of Language Arts, Parseltongue
- Master of Business Administration, Ferengi Commerce
And I could go on. In fact, I will.
- Master of Engineering, Cylon Construction (Subtrack: Skin-jobs)
- Master of History, Specializing in Total Lack of Genocidal Atrocities of Any Kind, 1939-1945
- Master of Fine Arts, Flea Circus Performance
That was fun.
But of course, the real problem is a little more stark, but isn't being presented as such. The ever-diplomatic Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education put it extremely mildly when she said, "Teaching that the Earth is only 10,000 years old is a little irregular in modern science.”
I love Dr. Scott, but she is the master of understatement (I think Texas may soon offer that degree as well, by the way). Once again, let us have Rep. Berman kick us off:
“If a school’s teaching all evolution, would that be a balanced education?”
Yes! Yes it would be! Because that is what actually happened! It's happening right now! But you see, Mr. Berman, the biblical account of creation, in contrast, did not happen. Thus to teach it and award degrees in it as though it were "science," or "true," or "not crazy" would be an off-balance education (or as Michael Steele might put it, "off the hook").
But really, the goal of a good science education is not "balance," nor should it be. It is to inform. To enlighten. To learn facts. To understand the universe as it actually is. It is not an analysis of philosophical arguments over which myth is more true-ish.
[This post is a sorry-ass rehash of material already spewed at my column at Examiner.com]