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Feb 08 2013

Creationists will be poisoning children’s brains tomorrow

Once again, I’m going to have to miss the sad, sorry Creation Science Fair that takes place every year in Minneapolis. It’s taking place tomorrow, at the Northwestern College Totino Fine Arts Center in Roseville.

DinoArk

I say sad not because the participating kids do a bad job — some of the posters are fine, others definitely are not — but because these kids are having a healthy interest in science warped to support an absurd dogma. The science is subverted to support a ridiculous ideology.

Each exhibit MUST include a Scripture reference. Some ideas are not specifically mentioned in the Bible, but there are verses that develop principles that can be related to your project. The intent is to relate all areas of science to the Creator of the universe.

If you’re doing science, you’re examining a real world phenomenon objectively and testing it against a reasonable hypothesis; this activity is in conflict with the unreasonable hypothesis that phenomena are the product of an unobservable space ghost’s omnipotent whims. Imagine a secular science fair that demanded that all the results be supported by quotes from an atheist — it simply doesn’t happen, and even adamant atheists like me would consider that utterly weird. But creationists have no problem demanding that their ‘science’ bow down before an imaginary being.

39 comments

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  1. 1
    Lorax

    I’ll almost certainly be going and will write up a post on it again. However, it most certainly is science because, and I quote the TCCSA “Unlike Many Secular Educators We Teach The Scientific Method!”

  2. 2
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Look at the size of that ostrich

  3. 3
    Inaji

    Imagine a secular science fair that demanded that all the results be supported by quotes from an atheist

    It’s interesting to imagine the furor and outrage such would cause.

  4. 4
    vaiyt

    The backwards N clinches it, really.

  5. 5
    jamessweet

    Imagine a secular science fair that demanded that all the results be supported by quotes from an atheist — it simply doesn’t happen, and even adamant atheists like me would consider that utterly weird.

    Okay, this gives me an AWESOME idea: A Monty Python Science Fair. Each exhibit must include a Monty Python reference.

    Okay, maybe I’m missing the point here about epistemic justification, etc., but tell me it wouldn’t be totally kick-ass…

  6. 6
    Nepenthe

    @jamessweet

    Dibs on the “Carrying capacity of African and European swallows” booth.

  7. 7
    viaten

    It’s not at the Har Mar mall like it’s always been in previous years but at a Christian college for one day only. I wonder why.

  8. 8
    gravitybear

    They aren’t having it at Har Mar Mall anymore? I note that they have moved it to a religious college.

  9. 9
    ashleybell

    Again… The biggest hypocricy is that they clearly recognize the trump card that science holds.

  10. 10
    tfkreference

    Some ideas are not specifically mentioned in the Bible

    You can say that again.

  11. 11
    Doubting Thomas

    So, I’m guessing a kid who actually used science to debunk one of the myths wouldn’t get too far in these fairs. Like if he/she brought up evidence of the age of the universe or the earth etc.

  12. 12
    viaten

    “Pray your exhibit will witness to non-Christian visitors.”

    They might have to pray extra hard if they’re at a Christian college rather than the Har Mar mall.

  13. 13
    Sastra

    Each exhibit MUST include a Scripture reference. Some ideas are not specifically mentioned in the Bible, but there are verses that develop principles that can be related to your project. The intent is to relate all areas of science to the Creator of the universe.

    The funny thing is that if you take this advice literally you can take the Bible metaphorically and it seems to me there is absolutely nothing — not even evolution — which would or could be excluded given this criteria. “Principles that can be related to your project” could be discovered in verses which talk about something which goes up, down, or sideways — which involve increase or decrease — which reference circles or straight lines — which result in change or stasis. And voila! If all else fails, stick in something about how the heavens or the earth show how “glorious is God” and you’re covered. “Our Friend the Beaver.”

    Liberal apologists have had much practice in “making theological virtue out of scientific necessity” as Jerry Coyne puts it. Every discovery of the last 200 years has been hailed by some True Believer as not a threat to faith but simply a positive development in our appreciation of God and further confirmation of Christianity. And they can always find a Bible verse to helpfully massage which will do a good enough job of backing them up. Conservatives do the same; they just draw the “metaphor” line a little more tightly in a few places.

    People of faith are masters of the art of spindoctoring. And kids are good at being sneaky. So I think this “show a Bible verse” rule is really no practical impediment to doing anything.

  14. 14
    peterh

    An enterprising student could investigate the gripability of various species of cocoanuts.

    I always cringe a bit when encountering “witness” used as a transitive verb.

  15. 15
    Glen Davidson

    One of the major goals of the Creation Science Fair is to practice and instill the use of the scientific method in the process of the student’s research and study.

    Uh-huh.

    How to use science to pretend that it supports superstition.

    Aside from the preferred superstition, that would apply about equally to ancient alien “theories.”

    Glen Davidson

  16. 16
    Storms

    Dibs on Monty Python “Stuctural integrety techniques required for catapult ready trojan horse artifacts.”

    Otherwise, population genetics with the persian captivity? Socialogical study of canabalism coupled with 2 Kings 6 where they’re eating eachothers kids? Or even, Psychology of magical thinking along with, well, the whole damned book.

  17. 17
    twosheds1

    Couldn’t a kid enter the fair with a project that shows something in the Bible is false? High school age kids are supposed to do an experiment-only project, so, just as an example, a kid could determine if all species could have fit on the ark, and then proceed to go through all the species thought to exist at the time, starting with the 3000+ species of beetle, etc., and then determine that the ark couldn’t possibly have held them all. And as a bonus, said student could determine the size of a ark needed, and conclude that maybe the ark was a metaphor for the Earth.

  18. 18
    grumpyoldfart

    That exhibit in the photograph…I’ll bet the parents told the kid to do the “N” backwards because they thought it would raise the “cuteness” level and maybe influence the judges to award a prize. Rat cunning, these fundies.

  19. 19
    No One

    They need an exhibit about bananas.

  20. 20
    robro

    This is one of the more overt examples of using the bibles to prove or support any crazy idea you might have. I might start digging around for verses to prove that everyone on Earth should send me a $1. Oh, yeah!

  21. 21
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    I wonder how an exhibit showing the effects of using the value of 3 for pi would go over? It has scriptural authority, right? And it would screw some maths over big time.

    Okay, maybe I’m missing the point here about epistemic justification, etc.,

    Well, keep in mind that Monty Python is much more internally consistent. And well-written. Not to mention, much less rapey and genocidey.

  22. 22
    Augustus Carp

    Did anyone else note that lovely bit about an old lady who was so impressed with what she saw that she “was convicted to start attending church and get right with God.”

    Now that’s the stuff!

  23. 23
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Not to worry, Augustus.

    I have a friend who knows a guy who’s sister’s mother-in-law knows of three elderly Christians who were at the Creationist Science Fair last year and all three of them realized just how much of it was absolute bullshit and are now self-described atheists.

    And you know it is true because you read it on the internet!

    I am very tired of these stories about someone reading a Chick tract, or hearing a televangelist give a sermon, or visited the AIG website, and suddenly accepted god and Jesus and realized the Truth of the Bible. And I doubt that even 1% are truthful accounts.

    I guess ‘don’t lie’ doesn’t really count if you are trying to increase the soul count for Jesus.

  24. 24
    Augustus Carp

    Oh I know it’s true….. but if they had merely been “convinced” I would have found the whole thing far-fetched

  25. 25
    glodson

    This makes me want to cry.

    My brother and sister-in-law have bought into this bullshit. My nephew, a bright kid, is being homeschooled. I’m powerless to stop this. I’ve tried. I’ve argued. I even went as far as dig up theistic evolution nonsense just to try and get some real science, even if tainted, to him.

    My brother is ignorant of the science behind all this. He is because like many, he trusted the wrong source. And so this nonsense will be repeated. It is a bit heartbreaking as this wall of ignorance is being built by so many leaders in these churches. It keeps people in the pews and stops them from asking unfortunate questions.

  26. 26
    davidgentile

    What’s the opposite of schadenfreude? The impotent rage I feel when people deliberately endarken themselves and anyone they can influence.

    Funny how the Tree of Knowledge was in the Garden, but the bible doesn’t mention all the Stupid Trees God clearly sowed all over the Earth.

  27. 27
    michaelbusch

    And now for something completely different … (that actually works – each project is likely to be very different from the one next to it).

    A sneaky kid could have a lot of fun with this, putting in obscure/offensive references. e.g. “Ezekiel 23:20″. Alternatively, find parts where the Bible says something absurd (e.g. π = 3 or insects with 4 legs) or contradicts itself (Genesis is good, Exodus 4:11 & Mark 9:17 is more subtle). For the latter, the kid would have _two_ references -> extra credit!

    More seriously:

    @glodson:

    You might try talking about / sending over books about other topics that aren’t seen as directly religiously offensive (e.g. astronomy, parts of geology, descriptive biology, chemistry, physics, computer science / programming, and especially math). Those of my friends who were raised in households that pushed nonsense like ‘creation science’ have almost all now rejected it completely, because they learned enough of math and real science and the habits of critical thinking. Then they applied those skills to the nonsense they had been taught, and correctly rejected it.

  28. 28
    glodson

    @27 I’m thinking of stealing much of Jen McCreight excellent posts on PokeMon evolution to create little things for my nephew to read. I can’t use it directly, as that would be noticed by my brother with this being an atheist network. At least he can learn some of the ideas.

    And I’ll also do the physics route, and astronomy. I know enough about that to twist any creationism argument into knots. That will lead to the bad questions, like “how can the universe appear to be 13.5 billion years old when god created it 6000 years ago?” I know the creationist work around, but at least he can learn some real science.

    It is disturbing though, as the creationists accuse us of indoctrinating children while they ignore evidence and create ignorance to protect their religion.

    Finally, my little girl is a great little logic bomb. She’s very smart, and she likes dinosaurs, like all little kids. I can’t wait for her to get a little older so I can take her to our local natural history museum. Maybe she’ll have a good influence on her cousins.

  29. 29
    Alan Eckert

    I never comment, but I need to say something about the project about testing the cooling rate of soda pop. Great concept and set up. However–and please correct me if I’m wrong–but shouldn’t the conclusion state that the evidence supports the hypothesis, not that the “hypothesis was correct”?

    Also, this experiment relies on the THEORY of Thermodynamics. Since it is just a theory, and since laws can only come from God™, your conclusions are false and inspired by the devil.

  30. 30
    michaelbusch

    @glodson @28:

    Pokébiology 101 is pretty fun. I liked the last installment, with the direct confrontation of what evolution is and what it is not. If I may suggest a couple of other accessible sources: if you want things that are more descriptive, you can pull from Attenborough (I first read his books in second grade). If you want PZ-style, Claire Nouvian’s picture book “The Deep” from ’07 has a lot of good pictures of deep-sea life – with a focus on squid.

    One observation: at some level, you don’t need to directly confront creationist arguments unless you want to. You just need to teach the actual methods and results of science. e.g. “Here’s how we can measure how far away things are in space. [examples of what a lightyear is, parallax, luminosity distances, angular diameter distances] We see things up to 13.77 billion lightyears away. That means light left them 13.77 billion years ago.” If that contradicts with something someone else has taught them, the student should be encouraged to think about that and what test would show which statement is right.

    Re. the dinosaurs: it’s a good place to start. Steve Ostro, my thesis advisor, once told me that people got interested in science because of dinosaurs, outer space, and stuff blowing up.

  31. 31
    milpa

    Can you imagine what the scientology science fair looks like? May the Xenu be with you.

  32. 32
    DLC

    hm . . . I think I’d go with the computer science one where NASA computers discovered that an entire day was missing in astronomy. (Well, there’s an old “Just-So” story about how this all happened that’s very common in Jesus-ite myth reinforcement circles )
    Or : for the MPFC -based (and thus infinity x more fun) fair :
    Conclusive proof that Norwegian Blue parrots do in fact need to be nailed to their perch, lest the muscle up to the bars of their cage and VOOM! fly off for the fjords they pine for.

  33. 33
    Argle Bargle

    The Monty Python science fair needs some quotes from Life of Brian. I’ll do the Blessed Are The Cheesemakers booth.

  34. 34
    devnll

    “Imagine a secular science fair that demanded that all the results be supported by quotes from an atheist”

    Its rather worse than that. Imagine an “actual science” gathering of any sort that demanded that all the results be supported by a quote from any specific source at all. Thats not how you do science, and teaching kids to do science that way would be wrong even if the required source were credible.

  35. 35
    reynardo

    Surely all you’d have to use on your poster of evolution, age of the earth or similar would be John 8:32: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

    Justify it with James 3:1 “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

    And as your clincher, Titus 2:7-8 : Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

  36. 36
    poxyhowzes

    There are actually several ‘science’ Fair projects (IMHO) that might arise out of this endeavor.

    Project One: [Value of Cubit] What was the value of the ‘cubit’ that Jesus would have recognized? Modern translators of the bible seem to use 15 inches. Why do they use that value? Do other biblical resources indicate a different value for the cubit in Jesus’s time? Do non-biblical resources indicate a different value in Egypt, In Babylon, in Canaan?

    Project Two: [How Far Did Jesus Go?] Relate the value of the biblical cubit to other lengths mentioned in the Bible. Try to figure out how far Jesus had to walk to get to various places that the Bible describes him visiting. On a map of the holy land, plot, as best you can, Jesus’s entire itinerary during his ministry.

    Project Three: [How Far Did Saul Go?] Based on the value of the cubit determined in your previous research, plot the route of “The Road to Damascus,” and plot the spot where Saul was converted by the Holy Ghost. At what point on “the Road to Damascus” at the time of Jesus would Saul have left the Holy Land?

    Project Four: [An Interactive Experiment.] Construct a model of the ‘Sea’ described twice in the bible, recognizing that that the 30:10 ratio will not be achievable unless you receive Divine Guidance. If you do not receive direct Divine Guidance, do your best anyway and enter a footnote explaining why your petitions for such guidance were unsucessful.

    Then have visitors to your display measure both the distance “across” your sea, and the “line” around it. Record all observations in a laboratory notebook, and calculate a value of Pi based on them.

    Project Five [Phase Transformation] What does the term “molten” mean with regard to the ‘sea’? For what period of time did the ‘sea’ remain molten? Suggest at least three possible alternatives for investigation, and, using biblical resources, investigate each alternative. Then compare non-biblical resources. Unless all sources lead to the same, definitive conclusion, suggest areas in which additional investigation might be productive and suggest agencies to whom to apply for additional grant monies.

  37. 37
    WhiteHatLurker

    Could we use these bits of scripture?

  38. 38
    Christopher

    @28 Glodson – I also have a nephew at risk of being stunted by godbots. My guess is that the kid might not be able to easily distinguish between rational claims to knowledge and irrational claims, so my plan is to get the little guy to ask the “How Do You Know That?” question as often as possible about everything. I don’t care how obnoxious it gets. Whatever I can do to circumvent his being trained to shut down. I suppose he’ll eventually also have to learn “Why can’t I ask that?” too.

  39. 39
    yubal

    our oldest daughter will be able to calculate the distance of the earth to the sun at the age of 11 years.

    based on observations with our primitive self made observatory in our backyard…

    …just saying

    (yes, my wife helps her with the math)

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