By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
"It is a scientific society," Williams says proudly. "We did not want it to get into the hands of theologians or people who are interested in wanting to press for big issues."
Creationists play the credentials game because they've been forced to, says Jim Cooke, a geologist for Mobil Oil in Dallas who describes himself as a creationist (his credential: a master's in geology from Tulane University). "The evolutionists, in the early part of the debates, would say, 'You don't have a Ph.D.--what do you know?' So now creationists play the credentials game too," he says. "Now perhaps we can get past that and talk about the evidence."
But with Dr. Carl Baugh, both credentials and evidence are at the heart of his controversy. And those credentials are a slippery thing, having evolved several times in recent years.
Only one thing about Baugh's academic history can be established with any certainty: In 1959, he earned a three-year "graduate of theology" degree from then-unaccredited Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. The rest of his purported academic credentials appear to be flimsy correspondence-course degrees, and even these have changed between books and articles written by Baugh.
On his resume, Baugh claims he earned a bachelor of arts degree from Burton College in 1961. During an interview, Baugh said the school is an "adjunct" of a college in Australia--a college he admits no longer exists.
Baugh also lists a master's in archaeology, earned in 1984, and a doctoral degree in education, conferred in 1989, both from Pacific College of Graduate Studies in Melbourne, Australia. Baugh, who admits he's never even been to Australia, says he obtained the degrees through correspondence courses. He says the college was founded in 1980 by Dr. Clifford Wilson, a creation scientist who Baugh says is the former head of something called the "Australian Institute of Archaeology." He and Baugh have worked together on at least two books since first meeting in 1982 in Glen Rose. Baugh displays a copy of his diploma as well as his doctoral dissertation on the Internet (http://www.texoma.com/linesden/cem/). The diploma indicates that Pacific College of Graduate Studies has locations in both Melbourne and Poplar Bluff, Missouri.
Baugh also claims that the school is accredited in Australia. He says he used to keep a copy of the college's accreditation papers on the Internet, along with his diploma, but was told by school officials to remove the accreditation document because it was an internal school record, not intended for public distribution.
"I don't know if they are currently accredited, but they forwarded me papers that they are accredited," Baugh says. "It certainly was accredited. But you know how schools go in and out of accreditation. The degrees I received were listed by the state as accredited programs at the school."
Baugh says he realizes that obtaining advanced degrees via correspondence seems dubious, but that it was the best way for him to continue with his research as well as obtain the scientific credentials he needed. "When you have the truth, you don't sacrifice it," he says.
Exaggeration, however, appears to be OK.
Pacific College of Graduate Studies has no authority to grant advanced degrees in Australia, says Robert Smith, executive director of the Australian Education Office in Washington, D.C. Only 38 universities in Australia are authorized to grant undergraduate and graduate degrees, Smith says. Pacific College of Graduate Studies isn't one of them.
Smith adds that Australia has no accreditation system as such. What the government grants are sanctions allowing a school to operate as a university and confer degrees. Australia has plenty of unsanctioned religious colleges, Smith says, but their degrees are only recognized in the sphere of religion.
Back in the United States, Pacific College of Graduate Studies is similarly unrecognized. An official of the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education says the school has no standing in his state. Leroy Wade, senior associate for the board, adds, though, that his office received an application for standing from the college just two weeks ago.
"We didn't even know they existed," Wade says. The school is applying for an exemption from accreditation on the grounds that it is a religious school, he adds.
Baugh's mentor, Dr. Clifford Wilson, tells yet another story. He says Pacific College of Graduate Studies is in the process of applying for accreditation. He seems perturbed by the questions about the school and Baugh's credentials.
"Dr. Carl Baugh doesn't need all that that has gone on with attacking him and all," Wilson told the Observer. "And I don't want to be part of that." He then abruptly ended the telephone conversation.
It is, indeed, hard to keep up with Baugh's degrees, because they keep changing. On the resume he provided to the Observer, Baugh claims only two advanced degrees. But in previous books he's written, Baugh has listed as many as three advanced degrees--including two doctorates. In Dinosaur, published in 1987, Baugh claimed to hold doctoral degrees in both education and anthropology.
Baugh now admits that the anthropology degree came from an unaccredited school that no longer exists--the "College of Advanced Education" in Irving, Texas. He says he "subordinated" that degree when he obtained his Ph.D. from Pacific College of Graduate Studies, and "therefore that degree does not exist because the school does not exist."