This is a sad story of compartmentalization carried to an extreme: a Ph.D. student in the geosciences who is also young earth creationist. This is a tricky subject: religion is not a litmus test for awarding a degree, but supposedly depth and breadth of knowledge is. I say that you cannot legitimately earn an advanced degree in geology and at the same time hold a belief contrary to all the evidence, and that the only way you can accomplish it is by basically lying to yourself and your committee throughout the process—and look at this…the student agrees.
Asked whether it was intellectually honest to write a dissertation so at odds with his religious views, he said: “I was working within a particular paradigm of earth history. I accepted that philosophy of science for the purpose of working with the people” at Rhode Island.
And though his dissertation repeatedly described events as occurring tens of millions of years ago, Dr. Ross added, “I did not imply or deny any endorsement of the dates.”
In other words, he was going through the motions. He was doing “research” on the distribution of mosasaurs 65 million years ago, but what he was actually doing was echoing ideas he disagreed with to fit the expectations of his advisors—he was a complete fraud.
I have a hard time imagining spending 4+ years working hard at something I believed was a complete lie, but this guy did it, and thinks he accomplished something. His motive clearly was not a love of science, but to acquire credentials under false pretenses that he could then use to endorse his ideology. What a waste of his time; I wouldn’t hire such a phony, and I don’t know anyone who would. Where could he end up working? But of course…
Today he teaches earth science at Liberty University, the conservative Christian institution founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell where, Dr. Ross said, he uses a conventional scientific text.
“We also discuss the intersection of those sorts of ideas with Christianity,” he said. “I don’t require my students to say or write their assent to one idea or another any more than I was required.”
If his training was a lie, I guess he doesn’t have any scruples about lying a little more: I’ve seen the job ads from Liberty University, and a “young earth philosophy” is a prerequisite for teaching there. He teaches something called CRST 290, which is in a “religious studies” category, taught as part of their required instruction in “creation studies”.
CRST 290: History of Life
An interdisciplinary study of the origin and history of
life in the universe. Faculty of the Center for Creation
Studies will draw from science, religion, history, and
philosophy in presenting the evidence and arguments for
creation and evolution.
I think the University of Rhode Island might want to review their doctoral programs a bit. It looks like someone can slip through with only the most superficial knowledge of their field, and can admit to faking it throughout their entire training. This kind of slack in the standards diminishes the luster of degrees from RI.
It also says something even worse of Liberty University. They’ll hire any old hack to teach their courses.