Creationists Target Texas Colleges and Universities Again

Once again creationists are trying to undermine science education in Texas. On Wednesday the Texas House Higher Education Committee will consider legislation that would bar the state’s colleges and universities from discriminating against or penalizing “in any manner” faculty members or students who engage in research on “intelligent design” — the name creationists have given to their pseudo-scientific attacks on evolution.

This isn’t the first time creationists have targeted the teaching of evolution in Texas colleges and universities. State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, proposed the same bill in 2011. It never got a committee hearing. In 2008 the Institute for Creation Research in Dallas lost a bid to get the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to certify its master’s of science education degree program. The ICR then sued the state, but that went nowhere.

Now Rep. Zedler is back with his academic fraud protection legislation, House Bill 285. This year he’ll get his committee hearing. We have a briefing paper on HB 285 here, but the key points are the same as in 2011.

  • “Intelligent design” isn’t science; it’s creationism dressed up in a lab coat, as a federal court made clear in the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover decision in Pennsylvania.
  • Texas institutions of higher education shouldn’t be required to look the other way when faculty or students distort mainstream science and research. Those institutions should (and do) protect academic freedom, but they shouldn’t be required to protect academic fraud.
  • HB 285’s bar on penalizing such fraud “in any manner” could put colleges and universities in the position of having to fund junk science research into “intelligent design,” allow creationists to teach freshmen biology students that the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting evolution is wrong, and interfere with a professor’s ability to evaluate and grade a student’s mastery of course material.

The State Board of Education has done a pretty good job of turning Texas into a national laughingstock when it comes to science education in our public schools. Unless legislators want to do the same thing with our colleges and universities, they should slam the door shut on absurd legislation like HB 285.

Click here for more on HB 285. Then call members of the House Higher Education Committee (click here for contact information) and tell them to oppose this bill.

16 thoughts on “Creationists Target Texas Colleges and Universities Again

  1. I’m uncomfortable with any judge or other govt bureaucrat having the power to say what is legit or fraudulent scientific inquiry. That’s why we have peer review and free open and rigorous debate in academic journals, no?

    1. Yes, that is exactly why we have peer review and free open debate. Unfortunately, the creationists and ID-proponents have chosen to ignore the fact that they failed in both of those areas, and they continue trying to place their defunct ideas into the educational system.
      That’s why these things keep going to court (often they’re the ones that bring it there, as well). It is also why they lose every time.

  2. Zedler’s bill accidentally show that tenure still has value. I wrote about this the last time this came up:

    Protect intelligent design? Let’s protect all unpopular research

    Tenure was intended to provide just the sort of protections that Zedler is so worried about. Representative Zedler has not provided one clear case of a person who “lost tenure” because of teaching intelligent design. That, to me, says that tenure is working as it is supposed to.

  3. Texas House Committee on Higher Education – Funding “Intelligent design”

    This bill has taken two two further steps in making Texas’ children at all levels NOT READY or PREPARED to ask the hard questions to get those right answers, when furthering their education when they begin applying for a jobs, because they will not know the difference between Creationism and REAL Science, as their competition from China and Japan, will know the differences. To ask hard questions, one must have their facts straight.

    Representative Zedler who is a past hospital payroll clerk who has dealt with money, has learned to manipulate the Texas’ law system to get the ‘the money’ so he can further his personal agenda which will place other Americans to a great disadvantage as well as being able to acquire university and college money for those who share his Creation agenda. Mr. Zedler wants to customize his agenda so many with the God/Creation view may ‘acquire higher learning’s funding for this agenda’, by utilizing the ploy that any academic support can’t be discriminated against or penalize in any manner if a student or faculty member from that college uses the colleges’ funds to perform their research on any subject, which will be presented to the world, stating as a fact that those alternate theories to other than science of the origination and development of organisms exist.’

    This is what most Texas lawmakers are attempting to do now within all of the Texas’ school system, so as to extend their own personal religious agendas of ‘what is important’ which is to fail to respect others’ view of religion, and to compell others to view his religion as ‘the one and only one.’

    Americans practice many religions which in most colleges are considered/classified as philosophies within this country and under the Consitution, which a federal court has already ruled that Zedler’s agenda is unconsitutional, Zedler still wants ‘the freedom to fund his agenda’ with higher education money from these colleges that taxpayers-parents spend to send their children to these Texas schools of higher learning, to get an education, FREE FROM RELIGION so that they can compete with the world. Religion is a philosophy, not an academic subject. A student should be allowed to pursue and learn about a number of philosophies, but not have any ‘philosophy’ intermingled with any science of any kind or allowing the monetary support of a philosophy’s importance OVER that of Science supported. Zedler needs to pursue his agenda within a religious center, not for using college funding with no controls or no questions.

    Why should Zedler be permitted to further his personal agenda when parent’s money is being asked to go up so their children can get a higher educational degree to succeed? This money Zedler wants his Creation driven agenda to have, isn’t going to be nationally recognized once completed, but will be providing by the state, federal and students’ parents so as to keep his unconstitutional agenda alive at the expense of others, who are attempting to get through the system and succeed. If something has already been equated as unconstitutional, why should anyone that they can’t provide academic proof for those to read, and have the permission to do further research and try to justify the none proof from which we know will be received after a non-academic, expensive Bible referenced project would be derived from, be getting money from Accredited schools who are financially struggling and keep upping the tuition.

    Ultimately, because the Texas legislature has allowed this unconstitutional bill to go further in down the trail, which holds views that goes against others’ Constitutional freedoms, one can believe that Texas would prefer to have a whole generation of people ‘to be led’ and not succeed, in ‘the real world of work’, with those who know the difference between Creationism and Real Science. The funding for Zedler’s agenda shouldn’t be taken from the academic schools; this is inappropriate.

    Mr. Zelder’s consistent agenda also goes against all American’s freedoms of religion, such as in the case, if an American has chooses the Islamic religion, which is associated with the Sharia moral code. Mr. Zedler wants to into place laws against these Americans who have equal rights. Our two hundred twenty-six year old law states that clearly that there will be Freedom of Religion and that there will be ‘Separation of Church and State’. For Zedler, it is all about the money which can further his personal agenda. Why would anyone who knows the difference between Creation and Real Science allow money from their child’s college be ‘ripped off’ for a non-academic project (creationism isn’t academic)…education is expensive.

    I have three bachelors (first two earned before I enlisted in the navy and the third was earned while on active duty) and one masters earned after my enlistment; I presently live in Texas, and am appalled at the education and religion discussion. In the world, religion which is a philosophy, is a minor part, but dealing with science, that can be life threatening or life sustaining one. Knowing the difference is important to life and getting a job. When my legal guardian ship enters college, if there is any creationism taught or money taken from the establishment in which she is going to learn and learn to compete in the world for a real job, that is supporting any research relating to the theory of ‘intelligent design’, you, will I promise, will see my face and my lawyers in your office and the college’s office. To have research funded for creationism is a waste of my money, because my funds are to send my legal guardianship is for my legal guardianship to learn and know the difference between religion and science; I will be investing within that Texas college, and I don’t want my money sent to that college to be funding anyone attempting to prove the origination or development of where an organism came from, because I already have that knowledge and I would prefer my money not be used that way. Using College funds to develop a theory on which there is no other information to gain academic, strong science which can be proved, is a poor investment within any college. I would withdraw my legal guardianship from your Texas college, if I believed you backed and supported this funding. I would also prefer that my legal guardianship be able to understand and know the differences between Creation, which is a philosophy since there are so many religions but only ONE Real Science.

  4. To those of us opposed to this HB285 nonsense, please call/e-mail your respective state reps & senators. It is an insult to the hard working scientists who have, and will continue to learn so much about human evolution and all animal evolution in general. Do bible stories really need “protection” of this sort?

    1. All nine of the Texas state representatives received my above email. It’s MORE than an insult to those who KNOW that it is SCIENCE makes the world go, and not a philosophy which is entirely personal, to each and everyone of us. It’s all about the money for Zedler at the expense of those who want an education.

  5. I called the committee members. I highly suggest that others do the same. It took a total of 10 minutes.

    The future of our young people depends on this fight. Texas is already the laughingstock of the world [not just the nation]. Let’s not let our young people suffer for our neglect.

    If we stand idly by and watch as this stuff passes, we can expect to see our young people unemployable when they graduate from our public colleges and universities. We will not have leaders to take over when we’re unable to continue. They’ll be too ignorant.

    1. @Marsisi: Thanks for your pro-action. I called & e-mailed all the members of the higher education committee. Let’s hope we made some impact.

  6. From Wikipedia:

    “The Supremacy Clause only applies if Congress is acting in pursuit of its constitutionally authorized powers. Federal laws are valid and are supreme, so long as those laws were adopted in pursuance of—that is, consistent with—the Constitution. Nullification is the legal theory that states have the right to nullify, or invalidate, federal laws which they view as being unconstitutional; or federal laws that they view as having exceeded Congresses’ constitutionally authorized powers. The Supreme Court has rejected nullification, finding that under Article III of the Constitution, the power to declare federal laws unconstitutional has been delegated to the federal courts and that states do not have the authority to nullify federal law.[2]”

    From the U.S. Constitution:

    “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”