The Case of the YEC Geologist, Marcus Ross

What are your thoughts about this?

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The cognitive dissonance roaring in his head must sound like a freight train.


What will he be publishing five years from now?

I guess we will have to wait and see.

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The NYT article is from 2007. I wonder if he’s published any non-YEC science in the last 12 years?


The SA article says Ross took a job at Liberty U. as Assistant Director of Creationist Studies. The 2019 Liberty U web site has him still being there as Director now but having published nothing but YEC claptrap in the last decade.


I think it demonstrates that scientists are fair that he was able to get his PhD.


What do you think about this @glipsnort?

Plain and simple it is that education institutions are enforcoing conclusions on free men . Thety must obey or be punished. Even in acedemic things they may not question or teach against conclusions enforced by forceful people. its all go wrong and illegal.
the schools etc etc belong to the people, they must obey the freedom of thought/speech concepts upon which the nation was created.
Rejecting creationist teachers or their ideas or anything is just historic tyranny.
If a person has memorized what is standard teaching and then adds thier own stuff its fair and square. Same for students listening.
The truth is king and not these left wing liberal clowns running things.

Yes, that has been my observation at many (but not all) fundamentalists and evangelical Christian educational institutions. Bruce Waltke comes to mind as a prime example. (I could name many others but I don’t want to further complicate their career situations.) Waltke dared to express a viewpoint concerning origins which was treated as a “thought crime” and he was fired from his evangelical seminary within hours. Just as Robert wrote, failure to obey can lead to swift punishment. Fortunately for Dr. Waltke, his stature as a Christian theologian brought him a similar faculty position at another seminary within a very few days.

I’ve known many other Christian academics over the years who were not so fortunate. They and their families suffered terribly in ways that would not have been tolerated at most secular universities. (In my experience, even if one lacks tenure at a secular educational institution, one’s income is usually secure until the end of the term, contracts are honored, and one usually has enough lead time to look for another academic post at another institutions for the following academic year. Indeed, when standards of employment fairness are violated, faculty at most secular universities have more legal options.)

When the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed depicted various allegations of employment discrimination against ID proponents and people who did not affirm evolutionary biology, my first thoughts were of the many fundamentalist and evangelical Christian organizations which have been far more swift and aggressive concerning “origins thought crimes.”

Robert, do you believe that evangelical Christian professors at evangelical educational institutions (many of which receive various forms of federal and even state taxpayer funded aided by means of student loans, for example) should also receive “freedom of thought/speech” protections?

I know lots of “creationist teachers” at many secular universities. However, my hunch is that Robert is referring to Young Earth Creationists. In any case, teaching one’s creationist viewpoint is rarely part of one’s job description at those universities.

Robert, do you believe it is “fair and square” that a Flat-Earther should teach geography and earth science at a state or provincial university? Should someone who denounces
childhood vaccinations or denies the Germ Theory of Disease keep their teaching position at a medical school?

What about right-wing conservative clowns? Do they have a monopoly on truth being king?


No. christian schools by definition are to teach Christian conclusions. Truth has already been settled. in the nations schools truth can not be settled especially in saying religious conclusions are false WHICH they claim are creationist foundations.
the education institutions must be free and must not censor or dictate right and wrong on our mutual inheritance in origins.
YES religious schools , as a option, must teach thier conclusions and if some teacher does not then fire them. Why did they go there??

The reality is that nobody does teach flat earth or anti-germ theory stuff because its not true stuff.
Creationism is true and popular.
By the way they do fire/not hire just based on opinions of being creationists even if they only taught the other stuff. here in canada many famous cases.
IF the teacher has memorized the standard stuff then they can teach that and add their own stuff. Fair and square. Thats the historic moral, intellectual, legal, right of a free people in a free nation.
Especially in conclusions that are historic, were dominant, and still fantastic popular.
Using obscure cases can not trump the reality of academic freedom.
Anyways it should be up to the people to decide.not the state by dictate or courts etc.
the people, if ever a actual need, would reject a flat earther/etc but would accept creationists.
By the by. using some extreme case like germ rejection/flat earth could be use to completly stop any innovation or contrary or slightly disagreeing conclusions in any science subject WHEN science is built on this and this would be taught to students on any subject and a general design to question things and be imaginative and innovative.

And state universities by definition teach actual science.

Then why did Martin Luther bother with the Reformation?

Because, much like Luther, they assumed that God’s revelations in the Bible and in his scriptures are more important than man-made traditions like the Young Earth Creationism of George McReady Price and Henry Morris.

Think again.


I’ve reached out to him multiple times about his mosasaur research. Never heard anything back

This is a very helpful article by Marcus, published in the Journal of Geological Education:


Before anyone downloads it, it would be useful to know in what way it’s helpful, and to whom.

I think deciding whether to admit someone like Ross to a PhD program raises lot of complicated questions, some of which are well explored by the NY Times piece. I don’t have time to write a coherent summary, so scattered thoughts:

In principle, it’s possible to do science without any metaphysical commitment to the reality of the concepts you’re dealing with (this would be instrumentalism, I guess). From that perspective, it shouldn’t matter at all what Ross’s metaphysical commitments are. In practice, though, real scientists are almost always motivated by curiosity about how the real world works. Given that, it’s an excellent bet that someone with Ross’s beliefs will very quickly stop going through the motions of doing science – which is in fact what happened.

If the student in question doesn’t change his views, then, admitting him is likely to be in some sense a waste of a graduate education, which could have instead gone to someone who would use it for its intended purpose. On the other hand, we make too many PhDs anyway, and lots of people get them who shouldn’t. One more, especially one from a lower tier school, doesn’t matter much in the long run. (Would it be appropriate to reject an otherwise capable applicant whose medical condition carried a short life expectancy? Would that be a waste of an education?)

On a different axis. . . A YEC’s commitment to YECism could be viewed as a rejection of a core value of science, and indeed of scholarship, which is a willingness to draw conclusions based on empirical evidence and reason. On the other hand, having somebody with a profoundly different worldview than the overwhelmingly secular one currently present in research universities would inject some real intellectual diversity.

Viewed in terms of likely consequences, admitting Ross was likely to end up handing a scientific credential to someone who fundamentally rejects science, and in so doing help advance a pernicious cause. I don’t think there’s any ‘on the other hand’ here – it’s just bad. But not that bad. There are other cases where the cause is much more pernicious, e.g. admitting a Holocaust denier for a European history PhD, or someone who denies that viruses cause disease to a virology program.


Fascinating post, Glipsnort. And I was especially struck by this one among your thoughts:

Yes, traditional YECism has certainly involved much rejection of a core value of science. Yet, the topic also brings to my mind the case of Dr. Todd Wood, whom I think the label of “atypical YEC” might rightly apply. I believe he does respect science, scholarship, evidence, and reason—even though I disagree with him on various science and theology topics. I have great respect for him. I also wonder if he might add some of what you called “real intellectual diversity” at a secular research university.


Given the relationship between grad student and mentor, some of the decision also comes down to interpersonal relationships. Ross must have made a good impression, as did his subsequent work ethic and attitude.

One might say that post-graduation success can be very Darwinian. :wink:

From a more cynical view, Ross is probably not going to be competing with other PhD’s for grant money which increases the chances of others getting funding.


I don’t think so. His respect for science goes only so far, given his prior and unshakable commitment to a recent, 6-day creation. He could do useful science in areas unaffected by that commitment, but that wouldn’t increase diversity. He could do work in relevant areas, but it would be valueless, diversity to no point. Or of course he could bury his beliefs and just do biology “as if”, but the cognitive dissonance would be too stressful, and I can’t see him maintaining any real interest in the work.


As awareness grows that the majority of people getting PhDs will not become faculty members nor stay in academic research, it’s become more common for PhD programs to encourage students to consider careers outside of academia, and even provide resources for that. Thus, it is increasingly inaccurate to say that the “intended purpose” of a PhD is to make someone have a career in academic science, in fact often such rhetoric is discouraged, because it results in the unproductive perception that any sort of career other than an academic one is a “failure”. The solution isn’t to give out less PhDs, since it is very clear that university research labs benefit immensely from having many graduate students around to teach and do research at a relatively cheap cost.

In many schools, especially less famous ones, it would not be considered a waste. The purpose of getting a PhD is simply to do enough quality work contributing to some research effort until you pass a certain standard. The work should be substantial enough that even the PhD alone is a meaningful and worthwhile contribution to the scientific endeavor.

From the quoted Scientific American article:

Dr. Dini, of Texas Tech, agreed. Scientists “ought to make certain the people they are conferring advanced degrees on understand the philosophy of science and are indeed philosophers of science,” he said. “That’s what Ph.D. stands for.”

@eddie will love this. :rofl:


I didn’t mean that we’re making too many PhDs for the supply of academic research posts. I meant that (in my perception) that too many people are earning PhDs when they could be doing something more useful with their lives. I also think we’re producing a great deal of research that has no value – just people going through the motions because it’s required, rather than because their research actually advances human knowledge in any meaningful way. I’ve reviewed too many papers that had no real value, that were destined to disappear into an electronic void. “What a waste of human life” has been my reaction to more than one paper.