Marcus R. Ross submitted an “impeccable” doctoral dissertation on the abundance and spread of mosasaurs, marine reptiles that, vanished at the end of the Cretaceous era about 65 million years ago. But Ross is part of a growing number of Ph.D. candidates causing controversy – he is a “young earth creationist.”
Ross, along with individuals like Los Alamos National Laboratory geophysicist Dr. John R. Baumgardner, are causing many ardent evolutionist all kinds of heart burn. Baumgardner is a recognized expert on the earth’s mantle, but he is also a young earth creationists. Dr. Kurt Wise studied under famed evolutionsit Stephen Jay Gould at Harvard. As a creationists, he teaches at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, says people like this are trying to “miseducate the public.” I guess by illustrating that not every trained qualified scientist agrees in lock-step with Scott is some type of miseducation for us ignorant masses.
Professor of Biology at Texas Tech University, Michael Dini was threatened with a federal investigation when students complained about his refusal to write letters of recommendations essentially for those who did not tow the evolution line.
Bryan Leonard was not allowed to give his selected topic, the pedagogical usefulness of teaching alternatives to the theory of evolution, for his doctorate in education dissertation at Ohio State University. He had to change topics after three faculty members wrote the administration saying his thesis would subject students to something harmful (the idea that there were scientific alternatives to the theory of evolution) without any benefit.
Some would allow for religious individuals with differing beliefs to continue to pursue higher level degrees in science. Dr. Steven Case, a research professor at the University of Kansas, said it would be wrong to “censor someone for a belief system as long as it does not affect their work. Science is an open enterprise to anyone who practices it.” Even though he champions the teaching of evolution, he said it would be frightening if universities began “enforcing some sort of belief system on their graduate students.”
Others, like Scott and Dini, disagree. Scott said that universities should consider the difficulties that would arise from admitting a doctoral candidate with views “so at variance with what we consider standard science.” She said such students “would require so much remedial instruction it would not be worth my time.”
Why does she believe creationists would need “remedial instruction?” Is it not clear from cases such as Ross, Baumgardner and Wise that creationists have no problem learning the evolutionists material. They can even write their dissertation using that belief system, so clearly she is using the false assumption that they would be academically behind as a reason to discriminate on religious grounds.
Dr. David E. Fastovsky, a paleontologist, professor of geosciences and Ross’ dissertation adviser said that he had talked with Ross often about his religious beliefs, but that was not reason to block his Ph.D. candidacy. “We are not here to certify his religious beliefs,” he said. “All I can tell you is he came here and did science that was completely defensible.”
Shouldn’t that be all that matters?