Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dr Grady McMurtry - What are his qualifications and scientific expertise?

Dr Grady S McMurtry describes himself as "Full-time International Creation Emissary, Biblical Scientific Creationist, Apologist" and operates the organisation called "Creation Worldview Ministries", based in Orlando Florida, which appears to have no other staff (according to their web site).

Given his high profile in the UK on Revelation TV recently and his novel ideas on genetics, global warming and plate tectonics I thought I would check out his qualifications and record of scientific research in these areas. He is usually addressed on his TV appearances as "Dr Grady" and there is great deference to his qualifications: the implication being that he knows better than the viewers. In fact, although he has a general science education it appears to be in agricultural related subjects and his Doctorate is in theology, not science, and is not from a recognised university of any standing.

Summary of this article
Dr Grady McMurtry's qualifications appear to consist of an undergraduate degree in agriculture (majoring in forestry) and a masters degree in environmental science.
His doctorate is in theology and from a non accredited private college that does not make doctoral theses available for public scrutiny. His second doctorate is honorary. He does not seem to be involved in any academic research work. His family background suggests that he is the son of Grady Louis McMurtry who was head of the secret society Ordo Templi Orientis founded by Aleister Crowley.

To add balance to this article I have included direct links to videos of interviews and discussions with Dr McMurtry so that readers can make up their own minds. In January 2009 I also added a section entitled "in his defence" which includes some points in his defence which were emailed to me by a reader.

Academic Background
Stated qualifications from his web site
BS, University of Tennessee, Institute of Agriculture
MS, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science
DD, School of Theology, Columbus, Georgia
DLitt, Mid-Continent University, Kentucky
Regent of the School of Theology, Columbus, Georgia
Adjunct Professor, School of Theology, Columbus, Georgia
Florida Christian College, Guest Lecturer

My research so far

BS, University of Tennessee, Institute of Agriculture
This is an undergraduate degree in agriculture, not science.
McMurtry is not listed on their web site as a notable graduate although eleven astronauts and many scientists are!

MS, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science
MS is a post graduate degree (masters degree). Grady McMurtry's MS is in forestry and was issued by the State University College of Forestry at Syracuse University in 1972. This is part of the State University of New York, an umbrella for various institutions in New York state mainly providing vocational qualifications. The College of Environmental Science based in Syracuse concentrates on forestry and related areas. Current MS degrees from this school are taught degrees and not research based. It is unclear how much research was involved in his MS. His masters degree thesis was entitled "The Redwood National Park : a case study of legislative compromise" (source).

DD, School of Theology, Columbus, Georgia
DD is a Doctor of Divinity (i.e. theology) and is not related to any scientific discipline. Dr McMurtry has stated in interviews that it is a doctorate in Christian apolagetics.

I cannot locate such a school of theology.
No link to it from his web site, but on http://www.lwcf.com/college/faculty.htm he is listed as having a degree from Christian Life School of Theology, so this may be the correct name.
This is listed as a private college at http://www.directoryofeducation.net/colleges_universities/USA/Georgia/Christian+Life+School+of+Theology/508/
Their web site www.clst.edu is not working and the domain name appears to no longer be registered.
Their web site was linked from the page footers on http://www.lwcf.com/college/info.htm which is a non accredited bible college so there may be some connection between them.

According to http://www.ohwy.com/ga/h/hx425302.htm
"Christian Life School Of Theology is a non-profit private institution, located in Columbus, Muscogee County, GA. Total enrollment is approximately 50. The program lasts for less than one year. Popular programs include Religion/Religious Studies."

The founder of Christian Life School of Theology, Ronald Cottle, has been accused by the US Attorney of runing a sham university called Tri-Valley University. This follows complaints about Christian Life School of Theology (which later changed its name to "Beacon University").

According to this report in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (subscription required):
Christian Life students complained that they had been duped into believing the school was accredited, prompting the school to reach a settlement with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in 2003, agreeing to refund tuition. Christian Life, which later changed its name to Beacon University, also received a settlement payment in exchange for no longer awarding degrees.

Dr McMurtry appears on the staff list of the connected Beacon Institute of Ministry - Richmond Center

DLitt, Mid-Continent University, Kentucky
In 2011 Dr McMurtry received a second doctorate (Doctor of Letters) from Mid-Continent University of Mayfield, Kentucky.

Mid-Continent University is a conservative baptist university with an interest in biblical orthodoxy. It runs a Center for Biblical Creation. It does not offer doctoral study programmes.

According to this article the doctorate was "earned":
recently earned his Doctor of Letters from Mid-Continent University.

But according to this other article it is honorary:
Mid-Continent University bestowed the degree of Doctor of Letters (D. Litt.) upon Dr. Grady S. McMurtry on January 31, 2011.

Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis has an honorary doctorate from the same University, but does not use the title "doctor". This article shows Ken Ham's graduation.

His scientific research
I have been unable to find any research papers authored or co-authored by Grady S McMurtry in any peer reviewed journal. This does not mean that there aren't any. I just can't find them, but if there were a lot of articles I think I would have. He appears to not be currently involved in any academic research or investigation.

His title of Adjunct Professor
This comes from the same college where he got his DD: "Total enrollment is approximately 50".

In his defence (this section added 27/01/2008)

I have been emailed by someone who says:

"Dr Mcmurtry actually graduated first in his class at University and is a member of Mensa. DD is a proper doctorate awarded to him."

This all appears to be correct and I am happy to add it to this article for balance, while at the same time pointing out that being generally clever does not make you an expert on geology or evolutionary biology. His doctorate is an honorary one and its in theology, not in a scientific subject. I am not denigrating him as a person, just asking logical questions about his real scientific expertise.

His beliefs

A summary of his claims about Evolution:

A video summarising some of his novel ideas about plate tectonics and other evolution related issues:

An article written by him giving his views on Global Warming and "Environmental Terrorism":

And from his own web site:
I Dr. Grady S. McMurtry have been studying the Global Warming/Global Cooling controversy since the 1960s. Even when I was an evolutionist scientist and teacher, I knew that neither was true. I am completely convinced that the controversy is 100% politically motivated and not based on good science. The promoters of either view are either extreme socialists or extreme communists. Their sole primary purpose in promoting either view is to destroy Christian capitalism and replace it with extreme socialism/communism based upon the religion of Secular Humanism.

Public records of his organisations finances can be found here:

His donation to the 2008 Republican presidential campaign:

Links to other articles about Dr Grady McMurtry

Videos of some of his TV appearances

Dr McMurtry tells the story of his early life and conversion:

Revelation TV "World in Focus":
Part 1 - http://blip.tv/file/673356
Part 2 - http://talkgod.blip.tv/file/686989/ (includes a phone in)

Revelation TV Programme "Creation, Science and the Bible" filmed in Israel:
Part 1 - http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=RwWZSlHLYFY
Part 2 - http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=CuCzs8RJjMA
Part 3 - http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=FkAQMK3nB1Y
Part 4 - http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=cvf8la48fxM
Part 5 - http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=8X8cTmHANhg

Speaking on "Creation Evangelism" at Harvest Temple Church, Georgia, August 2009 (the talk starts about 45 minutes in):

In October 2010 Revelation TV broadcast a live debate between Dr McMurtry and the the Filipino televangelist Eli Soriano (known as "Brother Eli") who does not believer in a young earth. This programme was followed a few days later by a second recorded show of the debate which had continued after the live broadcast ended. 

This can be viewed on YouTube:

His family background?
His name got me wondering if he was related to Grady Louis McMurtry whom I had heard of as one of the leaders of the Thelema religion founded by Aleister Crowley.

According to his often repeated testimony, Dr Grady S McMurtry was born In San Francisco and raised on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley where his father was a student and then a lecturer. He became a Christian at the age of 27 and 18 months later became a committed creationist.

The oddest similarity is that Grady Louis McMurtry had a son born in San Francisco in 1946 (November 13th) which would make him 62 if he was still alive. This information is given in a letter that McMurtry sent to Crowley asking Crowley to draw up a horoscope for his new son (a task he declined).

The son was named Grady Shannon McMurtry (Grady S McMurtry - another coincidence?), and moved with his parents to the University of California, Berkeley where his father had funding under the GI Bill to study for a political science degree. By 1948 he had completed his bachelors and masters degrees, as was common under post war accelerated academic programmes. (source: http://user.cyberlink.ch/~koenig/rf/rf5.htm ).

After serving in the Korean war Grady Louis McMurtry returned to Berkeley where he was graduate student and teaching assistant in the Political Science Department. He was there until 1956, when his son would have been nine years old.

By 1959 he had moved to Sacramento to work as a management analyst for the State Department of Labor.

In 1962 he became disillusioned with the leadership of the OTO (the Thelema order he belonged to) and went to work at the department of Treasury in Washington DC. He also taught night classes in politcal science at George Washington University.
Betwen 1969 and 1974 he was back in California running his own version of the OTO from the house he shared with his wife until they separated in 1974. He died in 1985.
Grady Louis McMurtry also published many volumes of poetry, science fiction and esoteric writing.

For more information about him see this article:
He appears at the end of this video doing some rather odd things:

The name Grady S and the Berkeley connection seem too much to be a coincidence. How many Grady McMurtrys could there have been on the campus at the same time? But if he is the son of Grady L why hide it? It would be an even bigger testimony of conversion. It may be that his mainstream supporters would be put off by the connection to Crowley (whom they would view as a Satanist, although the truth is much more complex).

Here are photographs of Grady L and Grady S at similar ages. They do look quite similar apart from the beard:

In conclusion, this is an intriguing side issue and hopefully someone can clarify the story and solve the mystery. It may just be a coincidence after all.
Please leave a comment if you know any more.

Update 28 Mar 2009

The mystery is apparently solved. According to this page Dr Grady S McMurtry IS the son of Grady Louis McMurtry, but was disowned by his father. This article also seems to confirm that Grady S studied for an MS (masters degree) in Forestry at Syracuse university:
This fact has long been known but not openly publicized. ... In truth; in Volume I of Grady Louis McMurtry’s biography ‘IN THE NAME OF THE BEAST’ I mentioned how Shannon was born on November 13th 1946 and in Volume II, I point out that “Shannon began attending the University of Tennessee at Knoxville” and later he attended “Syracuse University as a graduate student majoring in forestry.” ...... So, is the evangelist Grady Shannon McMurtry really Grady Louis McMurtry’s son? We don’t like to admit it but yes, he is ... in fact, on Shannon’s own website [http://www.creationworldview.org/aboutus.asp] he admits to getting his B S at the University of Tennessee, Institute of Agriculture and that he later attended State University of New York at Syracuse to get his M.S.. ... as did Grady's son. Coincidence? How many Grady Shannon McMurtrys could have been attending these two school at the same time and studying the same thing? So, if people wondered why Grady Louis McMurtry disowned his son I guess it could be said that father and son couldn’t be farthest apart!

The ten year old Grady S McMurtry is mentioned in the book The Unknown God: W.T. Smith and the Thelemites By Martin P. Starr (see here for the quote).

Given that his father disowned him its a bit of a mystery why he does not mention this. maybe he feels it would undermine him in the eyes of fundamentalists or it would taint his stories about Berkeley? His background is significant for other reasons. I wonder if being brought up in that sort of an environment makes it easier to reconcile belief in the wildly supernatural assertions of creationism with a firm belief in scientific principles?

Update 27th Sept 2009
I found an interesting account in another blog of an encounter with Dr McMurtry at a church in the USA. Click here to read it.

Update and reflections 29th January 2013
Since this article was first published many of the links in it will be to pages that no longer exist. During 2011 a large number of web sites were created promoting Dr McMurtry's expertise. Most of these have the same content and you can find them by clicking here to see a Google search. Some use free hosting services and others domains  like drgrady-mcmurtry.com, drgradysmcmurtry.net, drgradysmcmurtry.org. All of the domain based ones resolve to the same IP address ( which hosts similar sets of web sites for other people with similar designs to the McMurtry ones.  They are all interlinked so it may be some attempt to gain search engine rankings for each other or for his main web site.

All of this information is in the public domain.
If you have more detailed information or wish to correct any of it please leave a comment and I will approve it for immediate publication on this page (the only exception being comments which include profanity, which it is my policy never to approve).

Linking to this article
If you have a blog or web site please feel free link back to this article from it.