Creationist “grad school” sues over Texas “science education” degree accreditation

Added August 2009: Refusing to deal with the Complaint discussed below, the judge ordered that a new complaint must be filed before the lawsuit could proceed. Click here for the ICR’s second amended complaint.


The Institute for Creation Research Graduate School (ICR/ICRGS) has filed a lawsuit (April 16, 2009) against the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and the Board members and the Commissioner as individuals, charging that they violated constitutionally-protected civil rights of the ICR/ICRGS when they rejected the ICR bid for state accreditation for a distance education program for a masters degree in “science education.”

This is a remarkable lawsuit in many respects.

Everyone expected that ICR would challenge the outcome in federal court, after exhausting their state administrative remedies. I was wondering if they would sue to get their program accredited, or sue to have their program exempted from the need for accreditation. Remarkably, they have sued for both, and without first exhausting their administrative remedies. ICR is arguing that the state has no power to grant or withhold accreditation from a private religious school that is not receiving public money, and, at the same time, that the state should be compelled by the federal court to grant such accreditation (!).

The legal complaint filed by ICR is bizarre not only in its arguments, but in the rhetoric of its language and even its textual presentation. Rather than attempting to describe it, here is one paragraph (from p. 62):
Note the strenuously sophistic effort to present this as a civil rights case, and the invocation of Ben Stein‘s movie Expelled, and the ACSI lawsuit against the University of California.

Click here for a pdf [1.2 MB] of the last 10 pages of the complaint, which includes a recitation of alleged civil rights violations (including the paragraph above), and the remedies being sought from the federal court. I think these 10 pages provide a good summary of the lawsuit. [Note: Longer documents come in 40-page chunks. The actual complaint is 66 pages of text, so that pagination should be used.]

Complete court documents are linked from Steven Schafersman’s excellent overview of the lawsuit & related developments, with links to a rich body of background and discussion of this matter.

The complaint includes the url for an article on the ICR website that tells you all you need to know about their “Graduate School.”

Interestingly, the complaint also includes a reference to what may be the first use of the word “pseudo-science,” in the first “Pauline” epistle to Timothy (1 Ti 6:21):

  • KJV:  “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane [and] vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called …”
  • Vulgate: “o Timothee depositum custodi devitans profanas vocum novitates et oppositiones falsi nominis scientiae
  • Textus Receptus: “Ὦ Τιμόθεε τὴν παρακαταθήκην φύλαξον ἐκτρεπόμενος τὰς βεβήλους κενοφωνίας καὶ ἀντιθέσεις τῆς ψευδωνύμου γνώσεως

Even Casey Luskin could have done a better, more calm, sane, reasonable, etc. job of legal writing than this. The complaint is full of wild, sophistic rhetoric — so wild that it looks like it was written for some other purpose, without any regard for actually trying to win something in court. It’s written in the kind of language used by Hollis Greene in Big Love when he’s talking on the telephone. I thought maybe this was written by a law student in a crackerjack-box law school (or does ICR also have its own School of Law?), but it appears that James J. S. Johnson got his JD from the University of North Carolina. A notice in the March 2004 Wake Forest alumni magazine tells us:

James J.S. Johnson is a lawyer, part time state agency trial judge, adjunct professor for LeTourneau University in Texas and a cruise-ship lecturer.

Here are a couple of his revealing posts:

On the University of California case referred to in the complaint paragraph featured above: NCSE has posted an update on the appeal of that case, with a link to their page of case documents.

For earlier posts here on the ICR accreditation issue, see .



  1. Helena
    Posted April 23, 2009 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Actually, no one, except Bible thumpers, has thought Titus was written by Paul for well over a century–more likely one of Titus’ students. Secondly, science falsely so-called, means the physical and intellectual sciences of the Roman empire which already showed that Christian dogma was false (that is why it is called ‘false’)

  2. Posted April 27, 2009 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I wonder what the difference is between SCIENCE and “science”. ICR apparently does both. Do they also do “SCIENCE”?

  3. Wes
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Helena said: “Secondly, science falsely so-called, means the physical and intellectual sciences of the Roman empire which already showed that Christian dogma was false (that is why it is called ‘false’)”

    Since the Greek word is “gnoseos” (knowledge), might this in fact be a reference to the Gnostic sects of Christianity which were beginning to proliferate in the second century CE? The author might be saying something like “Avoid the false prophets who claim to impart secret knowledge”

    The Roman “science” of the day probably would have been called “philosophia” or something like that by a contemporary. Reserving the word “science” solely for knowledge of the natural world didn’t become a convention until the 19th century.

    • Hannah
      Posted January 18, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      I don’t understand, are you saying that they are unqualified because they teach Creationism?

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  4. […] again in suit over grad “science ed” degree in Texas Unwilling to deal with the hilariously hideous complaint that was filed initially by the Institute for Creation Research in their attempt to get […]

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