Carlos Cerna

Carlos Cerna

Carlos Cerna is a graduate of La Sierra University who has been very outspoken in his criticism of the teaching of origins at the university and has claimed to have been given a poor grade in retaliation for his creationist beliefs. [5] [3]

According to Cerna and two other students, a heated exchanged occurred between Cerna, Louie Bishop, two other students, and Lee Greer, a biology professor at LSU at a Breakout Workshop on campus on February 26, 2009. The four students challenged Greer during a question and answer period after Greer’s presentation. [6] An article on Educate Truth about the event describes it as follows:

Grismer’s tone escalated into what Olmo and Lemus [the two other students] described as yelling. According to Cerna, it was Bishop that really got Grismer riled up. Bishop quoted Matthew 19:4 to Greer, asking how he reconciled what the Bible said about human origins with evolution. According to Olmo and Lemus, Grismer said, “You’re stupid and ignorant. You don’t know enough to say anything. Your kind of thinking drives planes into buildings.” [6]

But it was an episode several months later involving a paper Cerna wrote that has been the most widely reported (see sources). Cerna took the senior capstone biology course UNST 404B, co-taught by Gary Bradley and Lee Greer, in the spring semester of 2009. As a requirement of for the course, Cerna was required to write a capstone paper demonstrating his learning of the course material. Cerna had an email exchange with Bradley and Greer about his paper which the professors felt was an inadequate paper.

“The paper you sent me is unacceptable in its present form,” Gary Bradley, a professor of biology, wrote to Cerna May 12. “You said you would address the geological issues presented in class, demonstrating that you understand the data and the mainstream interpretations. Only then would you attach a paragraph taking issue with that interpretation. You have not done this. You have demonstrated only superficial knowledge with what was presented in class and even that was done with clear apologetic skepticism.” [3]

“His paper was given a ‘C’ grade, which Cerna felt was reprisal for his Young Earth Creationist views. Cerna then leaked his email correspondence with Gary Bradley and Lee Greer — who co-taught the course — on the Educate Truth site.” [5] Educate Truth has since removed the page with the leaked emails, but they remain online. [1]

After Cerna graduated in June, 2009, he at some point widely distributed a copy of his captstone paper, including distributing it through Educate Truth (which has since removed the paper and any reference to the episode involving the paper). [4]. “After the class ended and Cerna graduated, it came to light that Cerna plagiarized parts of the paper (discovered by someone working with Biology Chair Jim Wilson on If this had been found while Cerna was still a student, he would have received a failing grade.” [5]

Influential atheist author and blogger PZ Meyers wrote about the LSU controversy and Carlos Cerna’s complaints about his capstone paper on Meyers’ blog Pharyngula. Meyers reported that “The student, Carlos Cerna, has announced his intention to get a Ph.D. in molecular biology.” [4]

Sources and media coverage

1. Carlos Cerna and Gary Bradley, original email exchange, May 12-13, 2009.
2. Carlos Cerna, Letter to Wisbey from Carlos Cerna, Educate Truth, June 1, 2009 (published August 25, 2009).
3. Jack Stripling, Creating Controversy, Inside Higher Education, September 1, 2009.
4. P.Z. Meyers, Carlos Cerna will someday demand his Ph.D., Pharyngula, September 1, 2009.
5. Jared Wright, Educate Truth and Consequences: The Assault On La Sierra University Continues, Spectrum blog, September 10, 2009.
6. Educate Truth Staff, Creationist students find little support from LSU, Educate Truth, April 7, 2010.
7. Trudy Sassaman, Darwin losing to Adam and Eve as Adventist board pressures LSU on creationism, April 22, 2011.
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