Inflating Your Credentials - Part One
(Article first published in March 2007)
(Follow this link to skip the pre-amble summarising the BCSE's activities in seeking to discredit others' credentials; this article is mostly an introduction).
Today, I want to begin talking about the subject of inflated credentials. If you want to be taken seriously by people from beyond your own sphere, it's pretty fatal to be caught inflating your credentials.
As such, the BCSE is very interested in trying to persuade the public that those who question Darwin do so on insufficient credentials. The BCSE's researcher Roger Stanyard takes this to rather extreme lengths. Whereas the BCSE claims to be devoted to the single issue of what goes on in state school science lessons, a quick browse around the BCSE's website shows that he appears to have something of an obsession with looking into where the UK's evangelical pastors got their degrees from, and whether they're of the standard they ought to be.
Prejudice And Absurdity
Sometimes this leads Mr. Stanyard into quite absurd statements. Here is one on its page about "London Theological Seminary":
"BCSE is in no position to comment on how high the standard of training given is. However, LTS’s web site says that some of its students have had no formal qualifications at all. That ranks it very low indeed. The web site states that “the examination system with its attendant emphasis on diplomas and degrees has been rejected. If the threat of examinations is what keeps a man diligent in his studies, it may certainly be questioned whether he has been called of the Lord. The same thing applies if his supreme aim is the possession of some qualification.” Clearly exams and qualifications are of no concern to this educational institution.
It seems astonishing that in the first decade of the 21st century the LTS trains some people who then walk into the word [sic] of responsibility with no formal, recognised, qualifications at all."
This is "clear"... how?
This may all be "clear" to a hard-line materialist like Mr. Stanyard, but I think it'll be somewhat less convincing to those without his anti-evangelical agenda!
The qualifications which a God-honouring church will recognise will be that a man is well-taught, able to teach, and personally godly. These things are laid down in the Bible. Whether this is best achieved by having formal academic training with a validated degree from a recognised university (which I have - BA, University of Glamorgan), or by on-the-job training supervised within the local church, or by any combination of different options in between, is a matter of debate and to some extent a matter of personal preference.
But that's not so Mr. Stanyard and the BCSE - apparently these atheists have determined that unless you have a formal academic training with a validated degree, then you are some kind of charlatan. They have settled once and for all for us what is a proper training to be a pastor and preacher - so we don't need to discuss it any more.
One wonders at just what point Mr. Stanyard and/or his fellow atheists at the BCSE became authorities on theological education. Of course, one also wonders the larger point - just what kind of organisation is the BCSE really that it takes it into its hands to comment on such matters anyway? What's this got to do with it?
I'll also pass a comment on the BCSE's complaining that LTS apparently takes students without prior qualifications. What Mr. Stanyard is (deliberately?) forgetting is that many men who enter the Christian ministry do so as mature men. They might be in their 40s, or their 50s. Their might be many reasons for this. The Christian ministry is not a career - it is a calling from the risen Lord. What qualifications they gained before leaving school at 16 are pretty irrelevant by that stage. As such, Mr. Stanyard's attempt to use this as a grounds on which to smear LTS tells me two things: 1) What Mr. Stanyard real agenda is and 2) How little actual real material he has to carry it out. Why stoop so low unless you really need to?
I'll pass on from this. Anyone with a passing knowledge of evangelical theology will already know that the BCSE's website is an appalling sink of prejudice and ignorance on related matters. The BCSE could do with a good deal of theological education itself before it says anything more about related matters, much less sets itself up as an authority on the subject.
We have documented such things at length. I bring it up again to show that it's the same old story - the BCSE pretends that its agenda is science - but the the side-track into efforts to discredit Christians keeps taking over the show.
I documented another example of the BCSE's attempt to insinuate that those questioning the dogmas of materialism have false credentials in relation to its page on "Creation Ministries International" (CMI).
Here, Mr. Stanyard in listing the names and roles of CMI's staff decided that he would put the word "scientist" in quotation marks every time it was used - just to let you know that in his opinion they're not.
This was despite the fact that if you chose any one of their staff scientists then you'd have someone with more credentials than the BCSE's leadership combined - and even if you looked at their staff who weren't employed as scientists you still found vastly more credentials than the entire BCSE committee put together!
When I pointed out this inconsistency, do you think the BCSE re-named themselves The British Centre for "Science" Education - in case anyone started doubting their strong belief in fairness? ;-)
Who's Inflating Their Credentials?
If you live in glass houses, then you ought to be careful about throwing stones.
One wonders if Mr. Stanyard, who is a management consultant, has any sense of irony when he seeks to discover if anyone is inflating their credentials. It is, after all, Mr. Stanyard himself who has written to MPs and newspapers and got himself onto the radio, claiming to speak on behalf of a national centre of science education. One wonders what the phrase "frauduent misrepresentation of your own credentials" would mean if it doesn't cover calling yourself "The British Centre for Science Education" when you don't have a single science educator on-board... ?
A classic case of this is on the BCSE's page about Dr. David Tyler. Anyone who doesn't have an agenda to smear Dr. Tyler will have to admit that his multi-disciplinary expertise is considerable. He has qualifications in education, in science, is a chartered physicist, has been or is a senior lecturer at a UK university in manufacturing systems and in management education, and writes with impressive knowledge across a wide range of subjects. You can read some of his regular writings here: http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.php?author=11.
The BCSE, though, obviously feel that their case is a bit weak, so their article on him says very little about this.... the body of it takes the "he-has-never-denied-beating-his-wife" "so-loaded-with-unwarranted-assumptions-it-can't-even-be-refuted" approach, and then concludes with "He is not even a practising scientist. He's in management education." If Mr. Stanyard, a management consultant who's never been a practising scientist and yet who writes to legislators in the name of one ever needs to find out what a hypocrite looks like, then where shall we direct him, folks?
Where's This Going?
Today I have introduced the subject of inflating your own credentials. The BCSE are rather desperate to suggest that those who question Darwinism are doing so. I say "desperate", because the above examples show that they have felt the need to over-step the line rather a lot in their present attempts to do so. On the other hand, the BCSE itself has been one great exercise in inflated credentials. Do they have no sense of shame in presenting themselves to MPs etc. the way they have done?
As I continue this series, I don't want to carry on talking about the BCSE's allegations. I want to shine the light on the BCSE themselves. Are they being honest about their own credentials? The evidence is pretty damning, and I have it.