Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education V: Wherein We Map for God

Honestly, you’d think something as prosaic as mapping could avoid Godification. SPC doesn’t even bother with a chapter on cartography: maps are maps, and they’ve nothing to say about them.

ES4, however, devotes a whole chapter to the subject. And yeah, it gets goddy.

Image is a pastel-colored hand-drawn map of Jerusalem from 1650. ZION is printed in the bottom center-right.

Yes, possibly even as goddy as the Thomas Fuller map of Jerusalem. Image courtesy Geographicus Rare Antique Maps via Wikimedia Commons.

The chapter starts out fine: instead of a creationist cartologist, we get a nice demonstration of the power of maps, using, of course, Dr. John Snow’s cholera map. And the BJU staffers who wrote this chapter, at least, aren’t completely anti-vax. They discuss how government agencies use maps to track down areas with high disease rates, and say that targeting vaccination programs toward “areas with high rates of infections” is “far more effective and costs less than vaccinating a whole population.” Which may be true with rare or not easily transmitted diseases, I suppose, but I do wish their emphasis had been on getting everyone vaccinated for the common stuff. Herd immunity is an important thing. Still. At least they’re not taking this opportunity to say never vaccinate. Small mercies.

They do a fine job explaining what maps are, and scale, and perspective. But for some reason, there’s a textbox on Progressive Creationism right smack in the middle. I have no idea why. It’s nothing to do with maps, and they don’t even try to relate it. They just yammer. And it’s obvious they don’t like those progressive creationists, no sir. You can tell from this question: [Read more…]

Liberty University Pumping Creationists Into Public Schools

Sometimes, I wonder if my obsession with debunking Christianist textbooks is rather ridiculous. After all, how many truly committed creationists are there, really? Aren’t there more important causes I should be investing my time in? Surely I could be doing more on the feminist front, f’r instance. I could be pouring my time and energy into meatier posts about the magnificent science of geology. And I feel vaguely guilty that I let myself get distracted by the latest creationist outrages in textbooks that are foisted upon a mere fraction of the world’s children.

But then, I read survivors’ stories, and yes, I do think of the children: all those bright and curious minds stunted by the ignorant adults around them. I hope at least a few of them stumble upon this series, and find themselves jolted out of the confining creationist box and launched on an epic adventure in the science of their choice (even if it’s not one of the geosciences, although of course I think those are the best).

And there’s the fact we all learn some things about the earth sciences along the way, in what I hope is an entertaining fashion.

Not an inconsiderable consideration for me is that I’ve found so few women* debunking creationist nonsense, so it helps me feel like I’m doing my bit for diversity in the creationist nonsense debunking community.

Besides, Jonny Scaramanga recently said why creationism and the debunking thereof matters, so that’s told me this quest is not quixotic.

But when it really comes down to it, the main reason why I feel it’s bloody damned important to keep you guys informed as to what creationists are teaching their kiddies is because their kiddies are growing up ignorant, and then spewing that ignorance all over our public schools: [Read more…]

New at Rosetta Stones: The Story of Wallace’s Woeful Wager

Well, you knew I couldn’t resist doing up a post on that subject, right? Of course! I looked up some of Wallace’s writings on the subject, did some digging round inside Flat Earth and the net regarding his nemeses, and wrote you up a little something. All right, it’s not little, it’s actually a bit long. Not like novella length or anything, but nice and meaty. Settle yourselves in and enjoy the tale! [Read more…]

Flat Earth: An Astonishingly Good Book About a Very Bad Idea

When I’m reading creationist textbooks, one thing I’m grateful for is that they’re not written by flat-earthers. One wonders why they’re not: after all, a literal reading of the Bible points very much to the idea that the earth is, indeed, a plane rather than a sphere. But some ideas are so difficult to sustain in the face of plain scientific evidence that even people who, in all seriousness, claim that every living thing on Earth descends from the inmates of a single wooden boat which survived  a violent global flood, can’t bring themselves to believe it. Really, did anyone post-Renaissance ever seriously believe that nonsense? [Read more…]

Adventures in ACE X: Misinformed About Metamorphic

There comes a point when, during the perusal of an ACE science PACE, the brain bluescreens. The system shuts down for self-protection. It’s usually at about the point where you’ve encountered the umpteenth wrong thing in as many sentences, and you begin wondering how any adult can be so bloody fucking ignorant. You suddenly realize that more than one bloody fucking ignorant adult was involved in writing this pablum. And you begin to consider that some of the children being subjected to this shit will never recover, but will someday regurgitate this shit with updated pictures and errors, then expect a whole new generation of kids to lap up their intellectual vomit. This is about the point where the brain crashes.

It’s hard to get through without multiple system failures, is what I’m saying. [Read more…]

God’s Old Earth Curriculum: Introduction

One of the resources I use for our AiCESE articles is a site called Old Earth Ministries. Their tagline is “It’s An Old World After All!” They’re definitely not secular: go to their site, and you’ll see it peppered with Christian apologetics and pleas for you to become a Christian. They represent a variety of old earth creationist viewpoints, and so it’s a bit of a hodgepodge. They describe themselves as mainly “Progressive Creationists,” which will make the biologists scream in frustration:

This view accepts that God created each species of plant and animal as a unique creation, without the use of evolution, and the days of creation refer to a long periods [sic] of time.

Yeah, some folks just can’t stomach evolution. I find it sad that their interpretation of faith allows them to accept most of modern science, but when it comes to evolutionary biology, they fall at the fence. Their God can apparently use allegory for lotsa stuff, but heaven forfend there weren’t a literal Adam and Eve. Unpossible!

Image is a green poster with the British crown and the words "Keep calm and deny evolution."

Image courtesy God of Evolution (CC BY 3.0)

[Read more…]

The More Things Change: Creationists and Their Lying Lists Edition

This is why history is so fascinating to me: I get to learn that creationists have been using the same dishonest tactics for at least 96 years. I’m reading Ronald L. Numbers’s The Creationists, and on page 66, I come across this paragraph from William Louis Poteat, responding to creationist T.T. Martin’s list of “twenty-one really great scientists in the world” supposedly rejecting evolution:

Two do not appear in the biographical dictionaries, five are misrepresented, seven won reputation in other than biological fields, and six have been in their graves more than forty years, two of these having died long before Darwin’s great book was published. One lone biologist is left to support the thesis that the doctrine of evolution is discarded by the science of today. And this man’s position is so peculiar that he is usually mentioned as the single exception to the universal acceptance of evolution by biologists of responsible position.


Image shows a cat lying in front of a notebook and pen, looking up at someone off-camera. Caption says, "I've reduced your list to reputable evolutionary biologists only. Alas, it is blank."

This is laughably familiar to anyone who’s been following the creation-evolution wars for more than ten seconds. The Discovery Institute, that laughable bunch of assclowns polluting my fair city with their ignorance, likes to put out a list of “scientists” who supposedly “Dissent from Darwinism.”

Cast your mind back to 2001, when DIsco clogged up some major newspapers with a cunning advert trying to convince the public that scientists totes don’t like evolution! See how they spun: [Read more…]

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education IV-E: Wherein there is a Climate of Jeer

The Christianist authors of ES4, after achieving a crescendo of kookiness, manage to dial it back down to nearly normal as they explain Short-Term Climate Change. They explain things like ENSO and La Niña in terms befitting a science text. But you can see them slipping when they devote a section to volcanism. All that ash! It cools the world!

Um. Actually. Ash is just a part of what causes cooling due to volcanic eruptions. But BJU writers can’t be bothered with little things like sulfur dioxide. They also claim forest fires and “large regional dust storms” can cool the climate like volcanoes. Forest fires in Northern latitudes may cool it a bit, but not because of ash – it’s because all those lovely dark green conifers are gone, which means snow’s free to reflect the sun’s heat, and it’s not like that’s going to reverse the upward trend in warming. If an area hasn’t got snow, even that bit of cooling is unlikely. And, of course, burning trees releases bunches o’ carbon, which ultimately leads to more warming. As for dust storms, sure, those dust clouds can reduce temps – but that’s neglecting the winds that, in some regions, bring warm air right back in. And if increased dust starts landing on snow, you get an increase in solar radiation absorption, and you’ve warmed stuff right up again. [Read more…]

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education IV-d: Wherein there is a Climate of Sneer

If you’re one of those whacky people who thinks the opinion of 97% of scientists counts for something, you may want to grab a stick, wrap it in leather or a leather equivalent, and place it between your teeth. One of those mouth guards for people who grind their teeth in their sleep would also work. A stress ball may also help avoid damage caused by clenching hands. If you’re prone to pounding surfaces when frustrated to the point of apoplexy, please acquire a pillow or punching bag before continuing. [Read more…]

Adventures in ACE IX: More Senseless about Sedimentary

We left our merry band of Creationists, so ignorant even other YECs can’t stand ‘em, breezily ignoring all the sedimentary rock in previously-frozen wastes. Now we shall continue on while they butcher the rest. I hope you have hair. You’re gonna need some to pull out. If nature has blessed you with a pate that requires no shampoo, you may wish to glue some locks to your noggin. Don’t worry about having to acquire appropriate hair-care products: they won’t be there for long.

Now just imagine having to read this tripe repeatedly…

Image is a polar bear standing against a rock wall with its front paws over its face. Caption says, "Ahhh, the horror! Make it stop."

[Read more…]