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Feb 25 2014

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education IIb-2: In Which We Reclaim Earth Science for God’s Glory

Remember how awful the first half of this ES4 introductory chapter was? It gets worse. Find something to clench while screaming, “Dana, you did this to me!”

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. But this is what kids in Christianist schools and homeschools are getting taught.

We’ve reached 1B, “A Christian Approach to Earth Science,” and I believe it is a measure of the trauma caused by the previous section that I am hopeful that a section with a title such as this will contain some actual science, even if by accident. But the beginning is not encouraging, as it states it’s not what we look at, but how we look at it, that’s important. Ken Ham said it best when he said

We’re treated to a hypothetical discussion between two scientists about the Grand Canyon: a secular one, and a biblical Christian, who

will describe how God created a very good earth and everything in it from nothing about 7,000 years ago. He notes that man’s sin brought God’s judgement on the world through a global flood. That flood probably formed the layers of rock, and the retreating flood-waters gouged out the canyon. And seeing this canyon reminds us that God judges sin.

Which worldview is right? The worldview that accepts the Word of God is the right perspective.

And these people have the unmitigated gall to talk about bias.

Finally, in 1.5′s opening description of scientific models, we get a brief bit of honest, actual science. But by the 3rd paragraph, they’re back to harping on worldviews. They accuse secular scientists of deliberately using models to disprove the Bible. Any notion that the models disagree with the Bible because reality does, and it’s reality that secular scientists are exploring, is dismissed. They’ve got their Bible goggles firmly on and Bible plugs in their ears. And they say straight up that biology and earth science are where “the models created in the two worldviews” differ drastically. This, my dear geologists, should warn you about the violence biblical literalists do to your beloved discipline.

There’s a charming sidebar laughing at those silly secular scientists and their ridiculous “big bang theory.” It’s totally unpossible! Where’d the matter come from, huh? There wasn’t enough gravity to compress everything into the singularity, but if there was, it was too much to let it expand, but if it could expand, there’s now way it could’ve clumped into stars, because “debris from explosions keep [sic] moving farther away.” Duh. Checkmate, atheists!

Remarkably enough, the description of scientific models and so forth isn’t completely awful. They even very nearly define “theory” correctly, in a limited fashion (“models that scientists use as frameworks to explain their observations”). However, the sidebar illustration showing the progression from worldview to models shows they’re just being sneaky. Define all this science stuff as various kinds of models, stamp models as coming from yer worldview, and boom – you can do violence to theories such as evolution while being able to usurp the authority of the word “theory” for your own creationist purposes. Also, scientific laws “are our imperfect attempts to describe the laws known only to God by which He governs the universe.” All Ur Science R Belong to Us.

At this point, I turn weeping to the adorable photo of a diver holding a clipboard and chucking a curious manatee under the chin, and burble, “Why? Why must I go on?”

Because the earth science community needs to know what violence is being done to it.

Section 1.7 is a mercy, a discussion of data and its uses that doesn’t mention god once. O sweet relief!

But then we read the question that heads 1.8 with dread: “So, What is Science?” Science, according to ES4, is all about collecting data and stuff for God. We are introduced to a new term: dominion science, “science done to accomplish the work of biblical dominion…”

They’re not scientists. They’re the Christian version of the Borg.

Image is a Borg cube with a cross, with the caption "Resistance is futile." Via AtheismResource.com

At the end of 1.8, we are treated to a sidebar about The Gap Theory, wherein we are told we must completely and totally believe the Bible, which means believing the earth is 7,000 years old (where are they getting that figure? I thought it was 6,000!). We also learn that the Christians who believe things like the Gap Theory in order to account for the ancient age of the earth are dangerously wrong.

So glad we cleared that up.

After all that, it’s jarring to get to section 1C and find a decent description of the scientific process, wherein it is admitted science isn’t a checklist. They can’t resist inserting a plug for biblical dominion in there, of course, but otherwise it’s reasonably good. We learn about forming scientific questions, doing initial research, stating our hypothesis complete with explanations we can test, and collecting data. Here, they even admit experiments aren’t the be-all and end-all of data collection. Amazing. Maybe Ken Ham didn’t read this far. They even resist burbling about god during the steps about analyzing data and making models, probably trusting we remember the relationship between worldviews and models. There’s not another headdesk moment until we get to the final step: publication in a scientific journal – such as the Creation Research Society Quarterly.

Image is a kitten with its face tucked in its paws on a table. Caption says "head-desk"

And their photo of scientific journals includes the Answers Research Journal. As in, the Answers in Genesis cheap imitation of a scientific journal.

Image is a demotivational poster of a crowd of people face-palming. Caption says, "Epic facepalm. You fail that much."

Let us raise our bruised and bloodied foreheads and gaze ahead to 1.10, wherein we learn “What Scientists Do.” Now, here’s where it’s useful to have become wise in the ways of creationists, because we see a term that looks all sciency: “operational* science.” This, I’m afraid, is not a real real science term. It’s bullshit. It’s meant to distinguish between “real” (as per creationists) science and that fake sorta stuff Darwinists do. Which is a problem for creation earth scientists, because they, too, have to rely on “historical science,” which isn’t as real as real science. And so worldview is called upon, because historical science done with a biblical worldview is totes okay.

I wonder if they’ll revise this section in light of the spanking Bill Nye delivered Ken Ham over just this sort of inanity….

Nah.

They give a very terse, narrow definition of the principle of uniformity: “assumes that the world operates in a reliable and unvarying way.” One suspects groundwork is being laid for future fuckery.

A prosaic section describing various branches of earth science lulls us into a false sense of security, from which we are rudely jolted by this chapter’s parthian shot:

Tragically, many earth scientists have an atheistic, secular worldview. True dominion science needs people with a biblical worldview to take up careers in earth science as their calling in life. We need to reclaim earth science for God’s glory and for good and wise dominion. Who knows how God can use you in the future.

Pay attention, people. This is what kids are being taught in fundamentalist Christian schools and homeschools. They’re being turned out thinking this is what science really is. They’re being taught to take dominion over the earth, including secular science.

You should bloody well be concerned by now.

 

 

*Ken Ham calls it “observational” science. It’s all the same creationist bullshit.

14 comments

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  1. 1
    rq

    I know it’s early afternoon, but I think I’m just going to pour myself a large glass of homemade apple wine, and then I’ll look at yesterday’s post and pretend that you haven’t posted since then.
    Dry Falls…

    1. 1.1
      rq

      By the way, Pompeii is out. It might make a nice, enjoyable, science’y break from these books.

  2. 2
    thebookofdave

    They give a very terse, narrow definition of the principle of uniformity: “assumes that the world operates in a reliable and unvarying way.”

    Oh. Does this mean that decay rates remain stable, and we can finally rely on radiometric dating?

  3. 3
    Trebuchet

    @rq: It’s only 8:22 in the AM on this side of the world. I’m having to make do with black coffee! I don’t know how Dana does it.

    1. 3.1
      rq

      Ugh. (That’s all I have.) :)

  4. 4
    busterggi

    It would be a better science book if it had only blank pages.

  5. 5
    Lithified Detritus

    Gack.

    For what its worth, though, I’m out there doing my best to teach kids real Earth Science, and I’m not alone.

    >shameless plug/shameless plug<

  6. 6
    Lithified Detritus

    Blechh.

    Preview is still borked…

  7. 7
    Lithified Detritus

    I was trying to say that folks who care about Earth Science education might consider supporting organizations that promote it.

  8. 8
    Menyambal

    Last I looked, Ken Ham was saying the Earth is between 6 and 10 thousands of years old. (That’s from _The_Answers_Book_ from about 1994.) Which is to say these guys can’t even get one significant figure in their date.

    I liked the creation at 4004 BC, myself, with Jesus born in 4 BC and the world ending in 1996. I was rather disappointed when it didn’t.

  9. 9
    Lenard Lindstrom

    Has anyone checked Earth Science Fourth Edition for plagiarism.

    Section 1.7 is a mercy, a discussion of data and its uses that doesn’t mention god once. O sweet relief!

    Maybe it was copied verbatim from a legitimate science textbook. Other, mostly decent sections may have been edited to add a creationist slant. Redacting earlier works without credit is a long-standing Christian tradition.

  10. 10
    hexidecima

    “True dominion science” Seems like the same kind that anyone who needs to use lies to support their claims. These folks are certainly in good stead with Nazis, Stalinists, etc.

  11. 11
    Darkling

    and I’ll bet the book’s not even made from soft and absorbent paper rendering it completely useless.

  12. 12
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Darkling:
    Two words- kitty litter

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