(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education VI: Oceans O’ Creationism

After a long interlude with ACE, we’re now ready to jump in the deep end of our other creationist textbooks. Make sure you’ve got your scuba gear!

Science of the Physical Creation’s on about the oceans now. They begin their section on oceanography with Psalm 104: 24-25, because it has got the word “sea” in it, and sez God made it, therefore “God did it” is Science Fact. I suspect they’re doing this because there are only so many ways to work God into a discussion of seawater.

They talk about all the stuff dissolved in the oceans, and how salinity varies depending on evaporation or freshwater influx. Part of me is humming a little tune about evaporites, and how vast beds of same wouldn’t have formed repeatedly in the midst of a great big flood. Oh, the ideas I’m having for creationist kiddies and science fairs just now… we should get some of the more subversive ones to try to create gypsum deposits in deep water.

We are now given many facts about thermoclines and color and pressure and such. It’s all very ho-hum. But they can’t even get their facts straight about sea ice, claiming that “when salt water freezes, the salt is left behind.” Nope. Sea ice is quite salty when new; over time, that salt (in the form of brine) drains, so it’s only multi-year sea ice that isn’t salty. This is basic stuff that’s got nothing to do with the age of the earth or evolution. I have no idea why they can’t get it right, aside from basic scientific ignorance. They also diligently avoid mentioning that sea ice is important to climate and ocean currents. Gee, I can’t imagine why.

Image shows a polar bear clinging to a knob of ice in a sea otherwise free of it. Caption says, "What global warming? I'm practicing for the circus!"
Speaking of currents, they lump turbidity currents in with more permanent currents like the Gulf Stream and Humboldt Current. Never mind that those are very different things: they’ve both got “current” in the name and so must be of a kind, right? Oy. At least they define what a turbidity current is reasonably well.

Many of us love the sound of ocean waves on a beach. The SPC folk feel they must brand this with God™:

One of the most peaceful sounds in all of God’s creation is the gentle breaking of ocean waves upon a beach.

Yes, that is so very relevant to oceanography. So is Psalm 107: 25. Indeed. I like how it shows their desperation to shoehorn God in to a discussion that doesn’t need him one bit. Puts me in mind of God’s Mighty Wind. Perhaps we should all pray the almighty stops eating beans.

Their inability to understand basic science facts reappears as they claim longshore currents only happen when there’s a sandbar offshore. Baloney. They happen on any beach that has got breaking waves.

At least they get rip currents mostly right, and give the correct advice for escaping one (swim parallel to the shore until out of the current, or ride it out if necessary). Bravo for that, at least.

You’ll be happy to know that, unlike Bill O’ Reilly, they can explain the tides. Quite clearly, with many diagrams, and without reference to God even once, in fact. I want to book the authors on the O’ Reilly Factor now. How awesome would it be to have him schooled by a bunch of Christianists?

Next, they’re on about the continental margins, and here is where they go off the rails. After a fairly sensible description of the continental shelf, slope, and rise, they clobber us with the following:

The sediments found there [in the continental rise] may have been deposited by runoff from the continents during during and after the great Flood mentioned in Genesis.

The Antarctic Peninsula’s continental rise would like to inform you that no, there wasn’t a great gob of sediment dumped by God’s Genocidal Flood. Instead, there has been a fairly steady rate of accumulation, varying from 1.1 to 4.3 cm/1000 years during interglacial periods, and 1.8 to 13.5 cm/1000 years during glacial times. Oh, and there’s up to 1 million years of sediment deposition represented there. Whoops.

It’s quite adorable watching them describe features like seamounts and mid-ocean ridges while trying to avoid talking about plate tectonics. The closest they come is when they say, “Many scientists believe that the ocean floor is slowly spreading at the mid-oceanic ridges, at a present rate of perhaps 2 centimeters per year.” Note the weasel-words. See how they writhe and twist to avoid the fact that plate tectonics is well-established, with enormous amounts of evidence behind it. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing even more pathetic squirming when they’re forced to talk about it later. As it is, they’ve just lobbed a ton of facts without context at their hapless students. It’s what fundies excel at.

Before they begin babbling about oceanography, they give us a sidebar about “Fish with Antifreeze.” Here is where they really get their creationism on:

God equipped certain fish with a type of “antifreeze” that enables them to endure frigid temperatures…

Scientists have discovered that certain proteins found in the blood of these fish, dubbed “antifreeze proteins,” appear to prevent their blood from freezing. The way in which these proteins function is not fully understood, but it is evident that they are there by design, thanks to the great wisdom of the Creator.

Allergic to evolutionary biology, I see. We actually have a pretty good understanding of how those antifreeze proteins happened, and it didn’t involve God zapping ’em in – unless he was extremely careful to make it look exactly like evolution did it. Things like this make folks at A Beka look like a right bunch of ignorant tossers, and by trying to protect the kiddie’s faith by wrapping it in a shell of obvious lies, they make it that much easier to shatter the whole delicate construct. Faith that has to flee facts is hardly robust. You’d think an omniscient and omnipotent God wouldn’t need his followers to lie so transparently in order to keep people worshiping him. But here we are.

After that bit of inanity, the SPC authors wax enthusiastic over the various implements of oceanography. There’s some interesting stuff here, like the very odd research vessel FLIP, and the neato fact that the first diving suits were invented in the early 1700s. I’d also never heard of ABE, an unmanned submersible that could carry out missions by itself. Creationists do love them some technology, even if they ignore all the scientific data said technology collects.

I’m frankly amazed they didn’t mention God or shit on evolution in their text box on “Unusual Life of the Deep.” Did God only create the critters who depend on photosynthesis or something?

The generally shoddy writing in this chapter returns at the end, when they tell us that “a few instruments, however, have survived almost unchanged since the 1872 expedition of the H.M.S. Challenger.” Then they talk about sonar (didn’t exist before WWII), specialized thermometers (definitely much changed since 1872), ALACE (invented in the 1980s), and Nansen bottles (invented in 1910). No, we never do learn what those “almost unchanged” instruments are. Bad editors. For Shame.

Because they haven’t been able to clobber us with God for a few pages, they end the chapter with this little outburst:

But when we look at the structure and function of the oceans, we gain an increased appreciation for the glory of God as revealed in His creation.

And they finish us off by bashing us over the head with Psalm 107: 23-24. Neither of these efforts have convinced me their God had anything to do with the oceans at all. Spewing Bible verses and pointing at stuff shrieking it was totes created, without showing me one iota of evidence that this is so, leaves me feeling much the same as I do when EL James howls that Ana and Christian are totally the greatest romance of all time. What’s being said is nice and all, but is completely contradicted by what’s been shown.

Image shows a cat wearing a top hat, monocle, and bow tie. Caption says, "What absolute twaddle."

This chapter has been a ho-hum intro to oceanography with a fish story thrown in. I’m sorry for the kids reading this schlock – the real thing is far more enthralling. I just hope a few of them manage to get that yearning to explore the seas, shake off this pseudoscience education, and get the real oceanography story at a reputable university.

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(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education VI: Oceans O’ Creationism