The Bible describes our ultimate Enemy as "the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan" (Revelation 20:2), who wages war against the saints with his many "ministers" (2 Corinthians 11:15) who do his bidding. What is his primary strategy? To thwart the impact of God's Word.
The battle that began in Eden with the deception of Eve and Adam's great sin has continued unabated since the Fall. Forty years ago, the Institute for Creation Research joined the fray to teach believers the message of the Creator and to engage the opposition in defense of the truth. And while the scope and intensity of the battle continue to increase, our commitment to the fight has not diminished.
Many Acts & Facts readers have been with us since the 1970s and are familiar with ICR's long history of defending truth. However, our new friends may not be aware of the continual battles being waged in our courts.
The initial success of The Genesis Flood, published in 1961 by Drs. John Whitcomb and Henry Morris, created an uncomfortable stir among evolutionary and secular scientists. It was the first serious effort to deal with the scientific evidence for Noah's Flood and thus struck at the core of the "old earth" theories that dominated academic and scientific thinking. A 1968 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Epperson v. Arkansas) declared that it was unconstitutional to forbid the teaching of evolution in public schools, which ultimately transformed public schools into an "evolution only" domain for secular science.
The numerous public debates in the 1970s and 1980s by Drs. Morris and Duane Gish openly challenged, and often humiliated, evolution's proponents, but also encouraged Christians to look for ways to insert creationist thinking back into the public schools. Often those efforts were spearheaded by Christians elected to local school boards, thus opening the doors for lawsuits to challenge the "evolution only" practice.
In the early 1980s, two major lawsuits were filed, one in Arkansas and another in Louisiana, in an attempt to gain legal permission to teach creation science in the public schools. Both stressed fairness and freedoms, as well as an understanding of the basic scientific methodology for evaluating all available evidence--especially on issues as important as our origins. Unfortunately, by the time these suits went through the various legal channels, the legal precedent against creation science in public schools was so firmly established that the courts had no difficulty in negating those efforts.
During the late 1980s and 1990s, the ID movement gained prominence, using the term "intelligent design" rather than "creation science." Although its proponents tried desperately to avoid being labelled "creationists," the courts and various school boards refused to buy into their reasoning. Their last and most well-known lawsuit was Kitzmiller v. Dover in 2005. The Dover, Pennsylvania, school board had passed a resolution requiring that "students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin's Theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, Intelligent Design."1
The case failed, and the opinion by Judge John Jones was scathing in its denunciation of the "creationists" and the ID movement in general. Part of the rationale for Judge Jones was that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987) that a Louisiana law requiring creation science to be taught along with evolution in public schools was unconstitutional. Thus, the "law of the land" now asserted that creation was "religion" and could not be taught in public schools as an alternative to evolution.
All of the various attempts over the past 25 years had one focus in common: an attempt to legalize the teaching of creation--in one form or another--in the public schools.
ICR fought a legal battle with the state of California in 1990 in order to retain our right to operate the ICR Graduate School (ICRGS). ICR did not advocate or initiate any lawsuits related to the public school efforts, believing that education and persuasion are more appropriate and effective than compulsion.
When ICR began moving its offices to Dallas in 2005, we approached the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) for permission to grant degrees in Texas, as we had been doing in California since 1981. We were told that we would have to demonstrate our credibility for at least two years prior to making application to the THECB, since we were not accredited by a Texas-sanctioned accreditation organization.2
ICR made formal application to the THECB in fall 2007. Subsequently, the THECB Site Evaluation Team recommended approval of the ICRGS application to grant degrees in Texas. In December, the THECB Advisory Committee reviewed the application and the Site Team evaluation and also recommended approval. However, both agency recommendations were rejected by Commissioner Raymund Paredes after evolution-only lobbyists and activists pressured the commissioner to deny ICRGS a degree-granting license in the state.
Two critical issues were at stake here. First, ICR is a private, non-profit organization that takes no monies from any state or federal program. As such, our institution should have been exempt from any oversight by the THECB, since their charter only gives them authority over those schools that receive such funding. Secondly, ICR was in no way threatening to invade the public schools, as was alleged by evolution activists, but rather emphatically stated that our mission was for and to Christian schools. Subsequent meetings and a formal mediation with the THECB failed to resolve the matter, so ICR filed suit in order to reverse the THECB ruling.
To be clear, ICR asked for no money in this lawsuit, and we required no outside financial assistance; we did this rather quietly and hopefully, all the while understanding the bias against us. Our effort was to draw out the clear issues and give the courts a chance to allow Christian organizations to pursue their Kingdom "viewpoints" without interference from the government. Unfortunately, after two years of intense interface with both the state and federal judiciary, a federal judge in Austin issued a summary judgment against us.
Over the five years since the Dover case, the amount of anti-creation activity has increased significantly. Not only have prominent atheists become bestselling authors, but the public intensity of the creation-evolution controversy has raged nationally. Both California and the 9th Circuit Court have recently sided against the Association of Christian Schools International, refusing to reverse the exclusion of university applicants who studied at Christian high schools, ruling that any high school courses that included a creationist view of science (or a providential view of history) are disqualified as credit-worthy for California university admission purposes.
That ruling, unjustified by any commonsense evaluation, adds to the growing and very public animosity toward Christians who take a strong, positive position on the authority and accuracy of the Scriptures. Now, with the federal ruling against ICR, the Texas government may mandate that any private sector college, even those that accept no government funding, may be regulated by the THECB, even to the extreme that the THECB may reject a science education program because it features a creationist viewpoint. The effect of these two major rulings is that private Christian education will now face greater discrimination in California and in Texas--two states that set educational precedents for the nation.
The message is clear: no science programs offered from a biblical creationist viewpoint are allowed. Even private schools will be judged by the restricted, secular practices of public schools, reinforced by the secular (read "non-Christian") interpretations of the Establishment Clause that now dominate the legal system.
ICR will have more to say on the ramifications of these issues next month. However, please know that, while ICR's legal battle is over, we will not retreat from other public efforts to fight the "Dragon" and his minions. The battle is raging as never before. Evangelicals are intimidated by anti-Christian court victories. Pastors are running from the controversy, and errant "evangelical" groups like the BioLogos Foundation are funded by evolutionists, which emboldens them to attack those who hold fast to the inerrant Word.
How can you help? First and foremost, ICR needs your intercessory prayer for strength to engage the Enemy and for open doors to present the unwavering message of the Creator. We also need your financial support as never before. God has opened many doors for us in the past year--but those doors require significant funding to follow through on the opportunities. Pray with us. Support as you can. God will "make the increase."
- Board Press Release for Biology Curriculum. Dover Area Board of Directors press release, November 19, 2004.
- While TRACS, under which ICRGS was accredited in California, was approved by the U.S. Department of Education, the state of Texas excludes this accrediting agency.
* Dr. Morris is Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris III, H. 2010. Fighting the Dragon. Acts & Facts. 39 (9): 4-5.