Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XV: Wherein Water Proves God is an Asshole

One thing reading Christianist textbooks does is teaches you to be cynical. No claim, no matter how innocuous, no matter how heart-warming, can be taken for granted. Observe:

Earth Science Fourth Edition’s chapter on groundwater begins with a charming little story about PlayPumps, which are merry-go-rounds attached to water pumps. It sounds like a difference-making idea: African village kids get some nice playtime, women don’t have to work so hard to get water, and advertisements on the water towers help pay for the pumps. It’s a great idea! Except, they don’t work too great. You need a good source of clean groundwater to begin with, kids would have to “play” three hours more per day than the standard 24 available, and the ads actually don’t make enough money to pay for the upkeep.

All of these problems were manifest two years before this book was published, by the way. Yet not a single problem is mentioned in the text. [Read more…]

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XIV: Wherein We Row Our Creationist Boat Gently Down the Streams

At last we leave the vasty deep behind and sail upon the streams and lakes of the world. Alas, we’re still stuck on the S.S. Earth Sciences 4th Edition. A Beka’s Science of the Physical Creation only talks about freshwater features in the context of weathering and erosion. I’ve peeked ahead at that chapter, and I can assure you we’re in for some serious creationist fuckery there. The open question is: can it out-Christianist the Christianist experts at ES4? Stay tuned to find out! [Read more…]

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XIII: Wherein We Dive into Dominion

Ah, ocean exploration. Tis true, we know less of the ocean deeps than we do the surface of Mars. Tis also true that creationists know less of it than scientists do. But they believe oceans are “so essential to biblical dominion,” so Earth Sciences 4th Edition plans to take us exploring.

They blurb the chapter by waxing eloquent over how mysterious the ocean is. There’s been a Mysterious Sound detected by underwater microphones, even, which they say “scientists think come from an animal larger than the blue whale.” As per usual, creationists haven’t got much of a clue as to what scientists actually think. It could be an animal larger than a blue whale, but it could also be ice calving, or an animal smaller than a blue whale, but really talented at making low-frequency noises. It could even be Cthulu snoring. But NOAA’s pretty sure now that it was actually just an icequake, and they were just joshing about the possibility of it being a mysterious maclargehuge animal.

Now, why would creationists cling to the large animal theory? [Read more…]

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XII: Wherein We are Made Seasick

After the extraordinary nonsense of Earth Science 4th Edition’s last chapter, I’m fervently hoping this one is a bit less stuffed with inanity. Our heads and desks all could use the break.

Refreshingly, we begin with an ecowarrior-worthy bit on The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Ocean currents, we’re told, gather our plastic waste and concentrate it in an area of the Pacific Ocean that “could be larger than Texas!” Bad for the environment, bad for animals, they say, without pretending there’s anything good about it. It’s ES4 at its actual best. Yeah, the kids reading this textbook will end up desperately ignorant about science, but at least they won’t end up thinking pollution is a glory unto God. They may even agree to help us preserve the planet, as long as that doesn’t require responsible birth control.

Image shows Twilight Sparkle shrugging. Caption says, "Never know, could happen"

Look, I’ll take what positives I can get. [Read more…]

Adventures in ACE XV: Oh, Hail, They’re Full of Sleet

I doubt anything will top the hilarity that ensued when the ACE writers got snowed by a perpetual motion machine peddler, but it’s still ACE, so we know they’ll get something drastically wrong. They’ve already rather lost the thread. We’re in a section called Structure of the Hydrosphere. We are supposedly talking about the hydrologic cycle. But the ACE folks have gotten so caught up int he various aspects of precipitation that they’ve rather forgotten about that whole cycle thing. It’s kind of like talking about forest succession by getting hung up on the details of a few specific trees.

Perhaps it’s because they got muddled by the magnetic snowflakes.

Anyway, after God’s washed everybody white as (presumably magnetic) snow, Ace’s dad tells us that sometimes all that condensed moisture is warm enough to make rain, but if it falls through a cold layer of air, it might become sleet. Like a good red-blooded American, he defines sleet as “tiny pellets of ice.” None of this British partially-melted snow nonsense.

Ace wants to know what the difference between sleet and hail is, so Mr. Virtueson (gawd, these names kill me) tells him some basic facts, like “Hail is often formed during violent updrafts of warm, moist air.” Then he makes it sound like hailstorms are part of a similar but different process than thunderstorms, which is a little sort of misleading: you can have hail without thunder, but it’s all coming from basically the same type of storm clouds. Then he says hail starts as a sleet pellet, which… no. It doesn’t. Sleet’s more of a winter storm thing, and is rather bigger than the teeny-tiny ice crystal that forms the condensation nuclei of a hailstone. And the hailstones aren’t necessarily traveling up and down within the cloud: we now know they may get their layers by traveling through different zones within the cloud. I’ll give the fictional Mr. Virtueson a break on the up-and-down thing, though, because PACE 1087 hasn’t been revised since 1986. Yep. Sure is some great modern edimication thar.

In keeping with ACE’s awful diagram tradition, their illustration of a thundercloud makes it look like hail only ever bounces from the top of the storm.

Image is a drawing of a thunder cloud, showing the areas of updrafts, downdrafts, and the freezing level. Light rain and heavy rain are shown coming from the bottom. Hail is shown by arrows flying from the top.

Diagram of a thunderhead from ACE PACE 1087.

The reality is most often quite a bit more mundane, although apparently the LP supercells may heave their hail out the top and end up launching it a few miles, even. Neato. But, usually, it just drops out the bottom.

Image is a computer-generated model of a supercell thunder cloud, showing its basic anatomy. Hail is shown coming from the bottom, along with the heavy rain.

Supercell diagram courtesy Kelvinsong (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Next, we’re treated to some hailstorm trivia, where Ace gets to show off his homeschool hots by remembering a storm in India in 1888 that killed over 240 people. Yes, children, it is vicious stuff. I’m surprised Mr. Virtueson doesn’t remind everyone that God hurls the biggest hailstones of all.

Mr. Virtueson then goes on to show off his knowledge of frost. It actually appears he hasn’t got any. He describes it thusly: “If the temperature is above freezing, the condensed moisture is called ‘dew.’ If the temperature is below freezing, the condensed moisture freezes and is called ‘frost.'” Nope. He’s just described atmospheric icing, pretty much. Frost goes straight from vapor to ice without passing the liquid phase.

The ACE writers suddenly remember that they’re supposed to be talking about the hydrologic cycle, so they have Mr. Virtueson abruptly announce, without pausing for breath, that all this evaporated water condensing into clouds and precipitating upon the ground means “the hydrologic cycle is complete.” He then informs us that temperature is important because “heat from the sun speeds up evaporation.” I had the impression that the sun’s loving rays were the very engine of this whole cycle, but apparently, in Christianist world, it just sort of helps things along.

Mr. Virtueson’s happy to inform us that warm air means clouds can hold more water, then their water falls as rain when the cloud cools. It’s a little more complicated than that, but like most Real True Christians™, he’s anxious to skip ahead to the death and destruction. He’s morbidly happy to tell us that lotsa rain can make rivers or lakes overflow and flood stuff. He jumps right into the mayhem of the Johnstown Flood (including a handy pronunciation guide for those who may not realize how to moosh together the words Johns and town). He lovingly lingers on the more than 2,000 drowned folk and the 1000+ missing people who were never found, plus all that luscious property damage. And he then lustily describes the even worse property damage from flooding in New York and Pennsylvania in 1972. Three billion dollars’ worth of property damaged or destroyed! “More than 15,000 people lost their homes”! You can practically hear him salivating, even though his delivery is desert-dry.

A handy “Facts from Science” box informs us of further water woe, sharing the records for rainfall. They get heaviest in a year right (Cherrapunji, India), but screw the pooch with an old, mistaken amount for heaviest 24 hour rainfall cited in the Monthly Weather Review for 1965. The actual value is 71.8″ that fell on the Foc-Foc Plateau on Réunion Island on January 7 and 8, 1966. Hey, at least they got the island right, and they were only off by a decade and a few inches of rain. And yes, we can definitely see how accurate and up-to-date they are. Marvel, people. Simply marvel.

Of course, you already know why they’re lavishing so much time on flooding:

“Even though local flooding does occur in some areas, I’m certainly glad God promised never again to destroy the entire Earth with water,” said Ace.

“I am too, Ace. Though flooding reminds us of God’s judgement, the Lord promises a flood of blessing to those who give to His service. Malachi 3:10 declares, ‘Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.'”

That, my friends, is Christianist science right there. But, just in case folks don’t realize all that Bible talk is really-real science that completely belongs in a science textbook, Mr. Virtueson endeth with this lesson:

“In ancient times, men recognized the hydrologic cycle as one of the natural processes God had placed upon Earth for man’s survival. ‘He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them’ (Job 26:8). ‘For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly’ (Job 36:27, 28).”

They must’ve been so excited to find the King James Version babbling about “vapour,” as it sounds so properly scientific. Alas for them, the NRSV, which is rather more faithful to the original language, renders it as “mist.”

It’s rather fitting to close this section with the words of a blowhard asshole extolling God’s glories to a poor sod who’s just been sorely abused by same. If there is a god, I know he’s a sadistic shit I’ll be very annoyed with. Never mind all that flooding he caused or allowed: he let this ACE PACE come into existence. I think that’s proof enough of his psychopathic tendencies. And no, I won’t be at all surprised if it turns out that the entire ACE curriculum was the result of a bet between him and Satan.

Image is an engraved image from Gustave Doré's English Bible showing Job, dressed in a few rags and looking very scrawny, arguing with his friends.

“Job speaks with his friends.” Engraving by Gustave Doré.

Next time, we shall be learning somewhat about the oceans. Oh, goody. Apologies to the fans of horrid under-the-sea-exploration machines, but I’m afraid Mr. Virtueson’s creators haven’t got enough imagination to create something like that. I suggest you stock up on your happy drugs of choice. All the better if they’re stimulants, as Mr. Virtueson’s virtue is not in his storytelling abilities.

 

*Holy shinoozles, Batman! I about lost my shit when I saw that Cilaos, the city touted in this PACE as being the record-holder for 24-hour rainfall, is in a caldera on an active volcanic island. I was all, “Oh, no, you didn’t!” Happily, they selected the extinct caldera to situate it in. This is excellent good news, as it would truly suck for the town to wake up one morning in a lava lake. Of course, that would’ve given whole hot buckets of new significance to the meaning of the town’s name, which is “the place one never leaves.”

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XI: Wherein We’re Told Salty Fish Stories

Oh, hey, now that we’re out of that horrible imaginary undersea contraption, Earth Science Fourth Edition is talking about seawater composition! Aren’t you excited? Surely, they can’t muck that up too badly, right?

Wrongo. Folks, it sez right in our Section Objectives that we’re so very, very screwed. We are to “evaluate different Flood theories that could account for the saltiness of the oceans.” And the creationist crap spews thick, chunky, and stinky from the beginning. There is so, so very much wrong that we are neck-deep and sinking from the start. We may need that robot thingy to escape this crap.

Image is a painting of a red-orange machine that looks sort of like an old diving helmet on robot legs. It has fat rings sticking out horizontally from its top, like ears. Its legs bend backwards at the knees. It looks like it's drunkenly dancing in the surf on a deserted tropical island. It is frightening.

Figure 13-5 from BJU’s ES4. Run away!!!!

[Read more…]

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education X: Wherein We Go Walkies Under the Sea

After the dumbfuckery of Duncan’s “the volcanoes made all the floodwater!” paper, it’s almost relaxing to imagine ourselves stuffed into the disturbing-looking “deep-sea mechanical walking vehicle” the authors of Earth Science 4th Edition wish us to imagine. It is at least more plausible than every single volcanic eruption ever to occur before modern times happening at once, and yet not vaporizing the Ark.

Image is a painting of a red-orange machine that looks sort of like an old diving helmet on robot legs. It has fat rings sticking out horizontally from its top, like ears. Its legs bend backwards at the knees. It looks like it's drunkenly dancing in the surf on a deserted tropical island. It is frightening.

Figure 13-5 from BJU’s ES4. Our chariot awaits…

Good lord, what are those shooter-dealies sticking out of its private area? Did the creationists want to make sure their drunken diving bell ship is definitely perceived as male? Is it about to leave a bunch of fish severely psychologically traumatized, babbling about probes? Are we really supposed to imagine exploring the ocean in this thing?!

It appears so. Ah, well. Hopefully, there won’t be too much creationist nonsense happening as we have a look at ocean basin topography. [Read more…]

Adventures In ACE XIV: God’s Special Snowflakes

When this series is over, I’m going to need that mind-zapper thingy from Men In Black. You’ll probably need it, too, so you’re welcome to borrow it when I’m done. If we don’t clear our minds of this crap, we’ll never be able to play in the snow again.

We had hints last time that the writers of ACE PACE 1087 suck mightily at understanding the science of the hydrosphere. But verily, I say unto you, that introduction gave us no warning at how spectacularly incompetent they are at the science of snowflakes. I know I always tell you to pad any surfaces around you before proceeding, but I really mean it this time. And don a helmet and a neck brace so that repeated headdesking won’t result in permanent injury. Also, if anyone in your household is sleeping, or there are persons or animals who get distressed by loud howls of derision, please take this opportunity to procure a gag, thick pillow, or some other device that will muffle your cries. [Read more…]

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education IX: In Which We Read a “Research Paper”

Did you think sea level would be a topic even Christianists can discuss without controversy? Ha! HA, I say! O ye of little faith in their ability to give the simplest subjects a bizarre religious twist. Of course they can make sea level controversial! Earth Science 4th Edition certainly delivers. And you are going to choke on your tasty beverage when you see what their idea of a quality research paper is, so I advise you spit-take proof your machine right now. [Read more…]

God’s Old Earth Curriculum Chapter 3: In Which Minerals and God Aren’t Mixed

We’ve seen quite a lot of Christianist nonsense lately. I’m here to tell you, it’s about to get worse than you ever expected. We’ll be seeing the young earth creationist idea of a “research” paper next, and I’m afraid ya’ll are going to rupture yourselves laughing. It’s too much concentrated derp following the inanity that is ACE. So let’s cleanse our palates with a visit to the Old Earth section of our Christian educational explorations! Turn to Chapter Three with me, and we’ll see what’s in store.

I can hardly believe my eyes. Every chapter thus far has begun with a blurb about God. Here, that perfect record is broken. The pattern, it is unraveled. My psychic abilities, they do not exist. How could this be?

Image is a demotivational poster of a gray kitten with round blue eyes and one paw resting on its mouth, looking perplexed. Caption says, "You perplex me. I like it."

[Read more…]