F***ing electricity, how does that work?


My brother-in-law Shannon sent along this image, evidently clipped from a Christian textbook for kids. I suspect it’s been floating around the blogosphere for a bit, though this is the first I’ve seen it. He says he can try to obtain the book from one of the many local religious bookstores. I’ve told him I would gladly pay for it and shipping if he manages to find it — it’s bound to have tons more juicy bits of nonsense like this. Maybe even something about tides going in and out without a miscommunication, if we’re lucky! That particular brain dropping can’t possibly be O’Reilly’s own… can it?

Pic below the fold. Or at the Twitpic link above, your choice. It’s a click either way.

Comments

  1. Nele says

    Is this really authentic and verified not to be a POE? The text is so mindnumbingly stupid and falls so mindstaggeringly back behind concurrent scientific knwoledge that I have problems accepting it as real christian thinking.

    But on the other hand – one should be never surprised by fundamentalist stupidity. No matter how far you lower the bar of possible inanity, there is always that one more fundamentalist who walks under it with a raised head and a smirk on his face…

    Nele

  2. Matt says

    That’s from the Bob Jones University textbooks (Independant Fundamental Baptists). I was taught from those books as a home schooled kid. Other texts have chapters about how all the animals could fit on Noah’s ark, and how Jesus’ could have sweat drops of blood. Thoughtful stuff that nearly destroyed my scientific curiosity until my 20s.

  3. davidct says

    Why do believers wallow in their ignorance as if it were a virtue. There really should be a church of the complete dumb-ass for these people. Perhaps there is under another name.

  4. says

    Comment #1 is correct. PZ Myers covered this in July 2010 on the sb site. Many others have too. This is what bjupress have to say about their own publication: Are Christians Just out of It, Scientifically Speaking?

    BJU Press science writers take the position that science describes what can be observed, and their writing reflects that.

    In our new edition, we have not used the word “mystery,” but the concept of some things being beyond our knowledge is still there. We believe it is better to teach students that the study of science is limited by our human senses than to teach them in such a way that they leave the class thinking they know things none of us really does.

    HERE is their 2007 ‘corrected’ edition ~ If you click the “look inside this book” feature you’ll of course find a few trite Christian howlers

    bjupress’ big market is the fringe homeschoolers. A good question to ask is “what (if anything) should be done about homeschooling?” As much as I treasure freedom of the individual it is my view that homeschooling should not be permitted to replace public school [putting aside sheep stations in the Aussie outback & the like]

  5. Robert B. says

    That… actually makes me angrier than it probably should. That’s like God of the gaps, except the reason there’s a gap is that they’ve bludgeoned and dragged away the scientist who was standing in that spot.

    And I really love that biblical verse, as if the author of that psalm knew what lightning was. The connection between electricity and lightning wasn’t confirmed until the 18th century. If God wanted to take credit for electricity he should have provided a user’s manual.

  6. kraut says

    Luckily in Canada there are standards for home schoolings texts and tests that evaluate the knowledge of a topic.
    That kind of crap would simply not fly here. Those books simply do not make it as part of a homeschooling curriculum.

  7. F says

    Glossing over the ten million things we know about electricity, but which the book authors apparently kn ow nothing, what is less mysterious about anything else? Why are things solid, and have mass? What makes wind and why can we easily move through gasses and liquids? What is heat? How do we convert breakfast into life-giving energy? Magnets! Light. How the hell does sound work? You can’t see it.

    Weird how some things rate being mysterious where others do not.

  8. kraut says

    The biggest mystery for me is: what is time? Does it exist?

    Does it only exist because the arrow of entropy?
    What happened to the earth, myself, everything that existed yesterday – where is it?
    The future has to be here already, how come we cannot see it – after all everything that exists exists in a continuum and is not created moment by moment.

    This is really a mystery.
    The author also presumes in his statements that only things experienced by your senses directly can be grasped, that tools to measure the phenomena are just not existent.
    This guy never once even visited a lab, research facility, an engineering project or got his TV serviced.
    An idiot of utter cluelessness that should not be permitted near children, as his ignorance really borders – -or already is – mental and psychological child abuse.

  9. Cwayne says

    Stupid. Immensely stupid. Dangerously stupid. Thank you, religious folks, for terrifying us so with your utter lack of desire to know anything.

  10. titusvader says

    @7
    Gahhh! Why are people allowed to teach children from a book like that? I thought we had laws against child abuse.

  11. evilDoug says

    It is perhaps best that they don’t know that about 99% of electricity used by humans is “made” using f***ing magnets, and that the relationship between electricity and magnetism is kind of incestuous. And circular. With pi.

  12. says

    So it turns out I had internet access at the cabin for the weekend, but I let the blog coast anyway. I am heartened to know that this post has gone gangbusters despite being old news!

    Would love a copy of this Science 4 textbook, even the ‘corrected’ format. I’m certain that the depths of its facepalmitude have not yet been plumbed. And I suspect — strongly, in fact — that I could still wage an excellent rebuttal to their “explanation”. It’s like they pullquoted every single “electricity is wild” purple prose intro paragraph from every explanation of what electricity actually is, in order to make the case that electricity isn’t understood at all — despite the fact that it damn well is very well understood indeed.

    Careful evilDoug@20: you might be making the case that their god tacitly endorses “going both ways” since, you know, electricity is all Yahweh’s doing.

  13. Robert B. says

    @ kraut:

    Time is just as mysterious as you say, but even so, it would still be wrong to say “we cannot say what time itself is like” as this book does for electricity. We don’t know everything about what time is like, but we still know quite a bit. So it’s not just idiotic and clueless to call this a mystery, it’s a deeply mistaken way to talk about scientific mysteries anyway.

  14. grumpyoldfart says

    What annoys me is that mainstream churches know the creationists are wrong, but they look the other way and say nothing. Their silence will be their downfall. There will be no place for liberal priests if creationist zealots gain control.

  15. kraut says

    . “So it’s not just idiotic and clueless to call this a mystery”

    A mystery is something that cannot be explained at present – that is all that this word means. Mystery is not a religious term – otherwise the detective shows would have to play in church and not the cop shop.

  16. idonotknow says

    God of the gaps anyone? This is such a standard ploy. 1) Misrepresent how well science can explain a topic, particularly one that may be “mysterious” or difficult for non-specialists, thereby discrediting the established ability of science to explain the natural world. 2) Promote the idea that anything currently unknown is forever beyond understanding, therefore goddidit. I guess it’s not surprising that the underlying message is that asking questions and human inquiry is a pointless waste of time, they don’t want people asking questions and thinking for themselves.

  17. Alan(UK) says

    As has been said above, this is an old one. But you do not have to go to a nut-job publisher for this sort of stuff.

    On Saturday I went into a public library and picked up a book intending to look something up. The book was:

    Electrical Installations for NVQ Level 3 published by Nelson Thornes and endorsed by City & Guilds. Basically, this is all that stands between you and inadvertent homicide.

    Opening it at random I found some pictures of electronic components (don’t ask why). There was a piece of text about each with a reference to the picture. The pictures frequently did not relate to the text and in one case they used the same picture for two different components. The problem was not just the mistakes but the fact that the publisher was prepared to allow this book to be thrown together by people who clearly did not know their subject and did not care. These were not the only errors. Did anyone at C&G even read it?

    There are laws to prevent people profiting by selling contaminated food, but there are no laws against contaminating minds. The publishers are putting their ill-gotten gains before public safety.

    In comparison, Science 4 is merely quaint.

  18. kraut says

    Yes, you wise guy, and I never used mystery in this religious terms as you might have noticed.
    So why do you put such an importance on one religious definitions, ignoring the other 80% non religious ones?
    I don’t quite get it.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mystery
    mystery
    [mis-tuh-ree, -tree]   Example Sentences Origin
    mys·ter·y
    1    [mis-tuh-ree, -tree] Show IPA
    noun, plural -ter·ies.
    1.
    anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown: the mysteries of nature.
    2.
    any affair, thing, or person that presents features or qualities so obscure as to arouse curiosity or speculation: The masked guest is an absolute mystery to everyone.
    3.
    a novel, short story, play, or film whose plot involves a crime or other event that remains puzzlingly unsettled until the very end: a mystery by Agatha Christie.
    4.
    obscure, puzzling, or mysterious quality or character: the mystery of Mona Lisa’s smile.
    5.
    any truth that is unknowable except by divine revelation

    “. So it’s not just idiotic and clueless to call this a mystery, it’s a deeply mistaken way to talk about scientific mysteries anyway.”

    I reference point one. Does a religious definition now trumps secular definitions on a skeptics website? Is that where you guys want to go, cede primacy to definitions exclusive to the realm of religion? Un-fucking-believable if I had not seen it with my own eyes.

  19. says

    Jason, you really missed out. Had I known that you like to collect horrid Christian writings a mere six months ago, I could have showered you with most of my own Christian books that I got when I was in high school.
    In the summer, I was helping my mom and stepdad clean our their basement in preparation for renovations when I came across a box of a bunch of my old stuff (like Lazer Tag, Car Wars, mixed tapes, etc), that included fascinating religious books like “Devotionals for Awesome Teens”, “If God Loves Me, Why Can’t I Get My Locker Open”, “Bob Larson’s Book of Cults”, and poorly written Christian fiction like “Dead Air” and “This Present Darkness”.
    Sadly, all those works, and pretty much everything in that box but my still working(!) Lazer Tag are now in the local landfill.
    Your loss!

  20. says

    Lol – I searched found THIS book, one of the handful of Christian devotional texts that I had as a teenager.
    Sooo awesome! And let me assure you, that even by evangelical Christian standards, I was NOT cool back then in high school. (Or now, for that matter.)

  21. says

    kraut @30: take it down a notch. I’m no linguistic prescriptivist. I’m just explaining exactly why THEY used “mystery” the way they did, and why they felt the need to point out that they removed the word in the ‘corrected’ version (thinking that would make all the difference).

  22. kraut says

    “kraut @30: take it down a notch.”

    “. So it’s not just idiotic and clueless to call this a mystery, it’s a deeply mistaken way to talk about scientific mysteries anyway.”

    You are apparently not only a lousy canuck, you are also one that has extensive trouble with context.

  23. says

    I did not say it was anything other than idiotic and clueless. I, in fact, strongly agree that it is both of those things. And I agree that a scientific mystery is definitely nothing like a religious “mystery”. I was, in actuality, attempting to explain the context as I see it for why they thought merely removing the word “mystery” solved the whole problem of them being totally fucking clueless about science.

    I have asked you to take it down a notch because you seem to be taking direct offense at my explaining this. I meant you no offense — so I am honestly taken aback by your level of hostility toward me in both of your last two comments. I’m really not sure why or how it’s reasonable in your mind to react the way you did. If you think that makes me lousy, well, I did what I could.

  24. says

    Since I thought merely re-explaining my point would have sufficed the first time through, before kraut decided I’m terrible at context, I’ll take two specific bits of his last post and discuss them here.

    Yes, you wise guy, and I never used mystery in this religious terms as you might have noticed.
    So why do you put such an importance on one religious definitions, ignoring the other 80% non religious ones?
    I don’t quite get it.

    I put no importance on the religious definition except as regards how the religious people in question are trying to use it, and how they think replacing the word solves the problem. The reason they think removing that word solves the problem, is because they’re using it in the sense of definition 5 as I pointed out, and they think it’s just that scientists don’t like that word because “mystery” implies “God”. Just because you, me, and the rest of the English-speaking and non-Christian world knows the word means something else, doesn’t mean they do. It actually wholly explains why they ‘corrected’ the passage the way they did, to the exclusion of actually, you know, CORRECTING THE FUCKING SCIENCE.

    “. So it’s not just idiotic and clueless to call this a mystery, it’s a deeply mistaken way to talk about scientific mysteries anyway.”

    I reference point one. Does a religious definition now trumps secular definitions on a skeptics website? Is that where you guys want to go, cede primacy to definitions exclusive to the realm of religion? Un-fucking-believable if I had not seen it with my own eyes.

    Understanding context actually involves understanding why people use the words they do, and in what definition they intend for it. By acknowledging that the religious people involved are using the word “mystery” to explicitly hat-tip God for the existence of electricity (as reinforced by their Bible quote), you get a better insight into just how, exactly, completely ass-backward their understanding of the world is. Nothing that I’ve said cedes the word to them, and if I somehow had the power to remove definitions for words from common usage (by scrubbing that meaning from everyone’s head — because words mean what large swathes of our population agree them to mean!), then I’d gladly remove the word “mystery” from the religious lexicon.

    I’d also reestablish “catholic” as meaning “benefiting humanity”, for what it’s worth, and remove the entire history of the Catholic Church from that gross co-opting of language. But I think at this point the word is irredeemable and must succumb to the death-of-a-thousand-cuts it has endured.

    Now, do you want to yell at me some more about context?

  25. kraut says

    “. So it’s not just idiotic and clueless to call this a mystery, it’s a deeply mistaken way to talk about scientific mysteries anyway.”

    first off, I had expected to realize that this was NOT your quote.

    I had no issue with you until you butted in to reference one meaning of “mystery” to the apparent exclusion of all others. I had an issue with a certain idiot here (robert whatever)that apparently cannot think beyond the confines of religious explanations and whose sole answer to my use of the word resulted in posting the above quote.
    I resent very much and am pissed off at a guy who seemingly posits that certain words can only have religious context, despite the fact that only willful ignorance can produce such a statement.

    So, I hope you get over my apparently uncanadian critique of your postings which you in true canuck fashion interpret as hostile.
    As you might have gathered from my handle I am not of canadian extraction but an immigrant who rather vents without the niceties of politeness – sometimes, especially when I have to read utter bull like that of Mr. Robert whatever.

    I

  26. says

    kraut: I did in fact know that was not my own quote. I was stepping in to explain the textbook authors’ use of the term, at least in part to defend Robert B, who is extraordinarily un-idiotic (a recent example). He is in fact, as far as I’ve seen, a very scientifically minded commenter, and if you believe he posits that words can only have a religious context, I strongly suspect he’d disagree. I don’t actually know his religious views, but I would be surprised if he was nearly as accomodationist as you think.

    I believe that since it is my blog, I am pretty much allowed to butt in whenever and however I want. You know, since I started the conversation, so you can safely assume I’m present and will referee between commenters when I please.

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