(Repost) Adventures in ACE I: In Which Oddities Are Explored

I recently spent an instructive few months reading Jonny Scaramanga’s blog, where I learned just how screwed up Accelerated Christian Education is. Imagine a room full of young kids stuffed in study carrels (“offices,” in ACE parlance), sitting silent on hard plastic chairs while they’re taught truly-true Christian things from thin newsprint booklets. As they grind through their science lessons, they answer review questions such as:

Christ’s shed blood is the _______ of our salvation. (Science PACE 1085)

Welcome to the whacky world of ACE, where until recently kids were taught that the Loch Ness Monster exists (and is a plesiosaur – checkmate, atheists!). Considering this is an “education” taught to far too many kids in Christian private and home schools worldwide, as well as involving many of the same people who create the supposed secular Responsive Ed curriculum used in publicly-funded charter schools, we should pay close attention to their shenanigans.

Let us investigate the violence done to the earth sciences, shall we? Continue reading “(Repost) Adventures in ACE I: In Which Oddities Are Explored”

(Repost) Adventures in ACE I: In Which Oddities Are Explored

(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education: In the Beginning…

For a while, now, I’ve planned a series on the kind of creationists who like to run around calling themselves geologists and invade GSA meetings under false pretenses. People like “Stone Stubborn” Steven Austin, who does real geology only to the extent it gives him a Trojan Horse into professional journals and meetings. These smarmy barstards have a distressing tendency to lie by omission, trying to lure actual geologists into associating with them by pretending they’re legit. Then they tell their fundie flocks they’ve presented their work professionally, therefore their creationist crap is SCIENCE. Only, they fail to mention it wasn’t open and avowed creation science they were presenting to the professionals, but innocuous mainstream stuff.

But, you know, they’re kinda clownish, and I can just hear people poo-poohing their danger to the scientific community. Nobody outside of a handful of fundie freaks takes these Young Earth Creationist douchebags seriously, right? We’re not at risk like biology is, yo. No one’s boarding school boards trying to muck with the geology curriculum, so let the rabbits wear glasses and Steve Austin play totes legit geologist to the church-addicted crowd.

Um. Continue reading “(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education: In the Beginning…”

(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education: In the Beginning…

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXVb: A Thermonuclear Load of Creationist Nonsense

In our last edition, we saw Christianists trying desperately to sneak God into matter and energy. Today, the creationist nonsense gets positively explosive. Hold tight, kiddos.

The SPC folks explain that nuclear fission can be used to blow things up as well as power stuff. They’re quite blasé about the effects of an atomic bomb explosion. They’re all about describing the heat and light of the chain reaction; not so much about telling us what it does to living things like, oh, y’know, innocent human beings. They’re also quick to handwave away the problem of nuclear waste. But considering how enamored the American Right is of fossil fuels, this amuses me greatly: Continue reading “Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXVb: A Thermonuclear Load of Creationist Nonsense”

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXVb: A Thermonuclear Load of Creationist Nonsense

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXVa: Atomic Bombs of Creationist Crap

Let us return to this week to A Beka’s Science of the Physical Creation. Now that they have thoroughly butchered the history of chemistry, it’s time to address matter. It appears the creationists are okay with it. The SPC writers even define it correctly, explaining that it

1) Occupies space

2) Has inertia

3) Can’t be created or destroyed

4) Ordinarily exists as a solid, liquid, or gas.

It’s a limited and somewhat outdated description, but perfectly serviceable for an 8th grade textbook.

They’re careful to explain that mass does not equal weight, and do so with the easily-understood example of a book on Earth vs. the Moon: the weight will change, while the mass remains the same, cos of gravity.

So far, so science.

They desperately try to insert some religion into the mix when they get to atoms, but the best they can do is interject that the founder of modern atomic theory was a Christian. But the poor dears have to immediately admit that the Christian! John Dalton actually got the idea of atoms from Democritus, not the Bible. And when they briefly talk about alchemists being “men who tried to produce gold by chemistry and often wizardry,” you get the sense they think wizardry is not a bunch of fanciful crap based on superstition, but an actual thing that works (only not for making gold). But that’s about as much as they can manage when explaining elements and atomic symbols. They bang on a bit about how John Dalton was a Bible-believing Quaker, but even in the special text box they set aside for him, they can’t tie his work directly to his religion. Continue reading “Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXVa: Atomic Bombs of Creationist Crap”

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXVa: Atomic Bombs of Creationist Crap

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXIV: Wherein We Are Told Tall Tales

Should you read Earth Science Fourth Edition’s Chapter 5 for your own selves, you’ll discover we just spent a whole post on a few scattered paragraphs about mammoths. That probably seems a bit excessive, even in light of the copious amount of glaring wrong. And then you’ll look at the next few paragraphs, and, depending on your temperament and the sort of day you’ve had, you’ll either a) scream “Oh, for fuck’s sake!” b) begin sobbing uncontrollably, c) develop a semi-permanent nervous tic, d) laugh until you’re in danger of a rupture, or e) all of the above, followed by moving to your own desert island, where all mention of creationism is strictly forbidden by Article I, Section I of your constitution.

Yep. The BJU folks are about to tell us the story of Earth. The effect is rather like having a snide and supremely smug young-in-years-but-ancient-in-ignorance young earth creationist person reciting their version of “the facts” to you in the auditory equivalent of a funhouse mirror showroom.

First, let us begin with our Section Objectives. We will, at the end of this bit, be able to: Continue reading “Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXIV: Wherein We Are Told Tall Tales”

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXIV: Wherein We Are Told Tall Tales

Adventures in ACE XVIII: Creationist Nonsense of the Deep

Put on your wetsuits and grab your scuba gear, my darlings, cuz the creationists are about to shower us with ocean babble that just doesn’t hold water. Yep. We’ve reached ACE’s idea of oceanography. It’s sooo bad.

It starts with Ace not knowing why Earth is called The Blue Planet. The former bookseller in me can’t help but heave an exasperated sigh and say, “Cuz it’s this big and it’s blue.” (Industry in-joke, my darlings.)

You’ll be astonished to hear that the ACE writers are not, in fact, moon landing denialists, as Mr. Virtueson is happy to tell us that astronauts landed on the moon in 1969, looked at Earth, and saw lotsa blue. Because water. And that brings to mind some Bible verses, which he renders thusly:

“Psalm 104:1-6 states, ‘…O LORD my God, thou art very great… who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters…. Who laid the foundations of the earth…. Thou coveredest it with the deep as with a garment…”

When creationists use lots of ellipses, I tend to wonder what they’re hiding. In this case, it’s quite a bit of redundant crap that shows these verses should be taken metaphorically. It’s poetry, not a science lesson. But of course these dogma-dazzled drips can’t understand that.

Ace’s profound insight is that the Bible calls oceans the “deep” a lot, and wow, how deep are they? His dad tells us the Mariana Trench is super-dooper deep. Which, y’know, is great trivia and stuff, but does nothing to tell us about ocean depth in general. It’s helpfully illustrated with a drawing that is not at all to scale: Continue reading “Adventures in ACE XVIII: Creationist Nonsense of the Deep”

Adventures in ACE XVIII: Creationist Nonsense of the Deep

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXIII: Holy Chemistry, Kids!

Earth Science 4th Edition butchers geology in agonizing detail rather than bludgeoning it quickly and leaving it for the vultures. So, while we plod through that interminable mess until it’s caught up to Science of the Physical Creation’s next geology unit, we’ll go ahead and do up one of the things SPC has got that ES4 does not: a section on chemistry.

Now, you’re probably wondering how creationists will manage to fuck this one up. Oh, trust me, they’ll find ways. Let us discover them together. Continue reading “Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXIII: Holy Chemistry, Kids!”

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXIII: Holy Chemistry, Kids!

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXII: Wherein We Hunt the Mammoth

Very nearly every argument for Young Earth Creationism, from the (pseudo)scientific to the theologic, is incredibly embarrassing. Some might be semi-plausible until a smidge more education shoots them down. Some were all right for their time (pre-Enlightenment), but are woefully outdated now. And some are so bloody ridiculous and easily debunked that even creationists should be deeply ashamed of them.

Earth Science 4th Edition’s Chapter 5, “The Changing Earth,” begins with such an argument. In a supposed science textbook, one meant to rival a good secular education, and one that a person would expect to find only the best creation “science” ideas in, we get… frozen mammoths.

Image is a painting of a woolly mammoth frozen in a block of ice. Caption says, "Dang, it got cold in here."

And the writers are completely ignorant about how these mammoths were buried. They wish to inform us that “secular scientists” believe these mammoths were buried slowly. FFS. We know the well-preserved ones ended up becoming so by a variety of sudden mishaps: falling through ice, getting struck and buried by landslides, falling into crevasses in glaciers, and similar. All we have to do is what crime scene investigators do: investigate the death scene, carefully note the condition of the body and its surroundings, and piece together what happened from all the clues.

Creationists are apparently incapable of doing this.

And their explanation – “that the mammoths were trapped near the Arctic Ocean by rapidly changing climate conditions” – is bloody ridiculous on several levels.

Listen: even on their terms, this whole “mammoths suddenly got caught in the cold” notion is bloody insensible. Their own climate models (which we will get to in a future installment) claim the pre-Flood world was “mild to tropical.” The place was mild all over, right? So why was God such an asshole, giving mammoths all this cold-weather gear on a toasty planet?

The woolly mammoth like all mammoths is closely related to elephants,‭ ‬but features a number of special adaptations that helped it survive in the much colder latitudes of the northern hemisphere.‭ ‬First and most obvious is the growth of the long shaggy coat of hair over its body,‭ ‬the longest strands of which being up to meter long.‭ ‬These long hairs covered a denser growth of under hair that provided the main insulation which in turn covered the skin which had a thick layer of fat underneath it to provide even further insulations from the cold.‭ ‬Still the adaptations went even further as the skin itself had sebaceous glands that would have secreted sebum,‭ ‬an oily substance primarily composed of dead fat cells into the hair.‭ ‬Sebum has a number of functions that help maintain skin and hair integrity,‭ ‬but most important to mammoths is that the secretion of sebum would have helped to waterproof the long hair and further increase its insulatory properties.

In addition to all that, they had big fat humps of fat, small ears to minimize heat loss, and to top it all off, their blood had antifreeze properties. Why, pray tell, would all these extreme cold adaptations be necessary in such lovely and temperate climes as the earth enjoyed before the Flood? Why did God want the mammoths to swelter?

And if creationists wish to claim they weren’t all that cold-adapted before the Flood, and actually evolved from elephant “kind,” they’ve got an enormous problem: you’d never get enough mammoths in time. Seriously: two breeding proto-elephants pump out a bunch of mutant offspring which give rise to each of the various species of existing and extinct elephants, mammoths, and mastodons in less than a thousand years? And there’s suddenly millions of each of them, perfectly adapted to special niches in a “rapidly changing climate”? Even though they’re slow breeders? Really. Sit down and try to do that math. It’ll never work

So the same folks who claim macroevolution isn’t happening now want us to believe that these supremely cold-adapted animals arose from evolution far more rapid than is possible for a K-strategy species. And then, and then, they want to tell us those same animals lived in “broad coastal lands around the Arctic Ocean,” which, per their very own creation science, had to still be warm as all shit.  Even they are forced to acknowledge that all that supposed volcanic hurly-burly during the Flood would’ve made the floodwaters hella hot, so those coastal areas would have “had a mild climate, with grasslands and forests.” This mild climate is where mammoths evolved antifreeze blood and all the other extreme anti-cold measures? Seriously?

And then, they say, these superbly cold-adapted animals suddenly “died from exposure to the arctic cold.”

Image is a painting of a woolly mammoth with huge tusks and an extremely shaggy coat, standing on the tundra. Caption says, "SUPERBLY ADAPTED TO THE ARCTIC COLD, INCLUDING ANTIFREEZE BLOOD AND 3 METER-LONG GUARD HAIRS. CREATIONISTS CLAIM THEY "DIED FROM EXPOSURE TO THE ARCTIC COLD""

Do they even listen to their own bullshit?

We will be generous and ignore the fact they apparently don’t know that mammoths were also all over America. They weren’t just in the Arctic and hanging out in Siberia. Which kinda destroys their whole here’s how the mammoths died! scenario, but hey – just pretend nobody ever found mammoth remains in, oh, y’know, southern Iowa. There! One less insurmountable problem. Now they can go back to figuring out how adaptations to extreme cold happen on a comfy warm coast, in slow-breeding species, and why God allowed this turbo-evolution rather than just conjuring up a bunch of new animals after the Flood.

Good luck with that.

Dear students subjected to BJU Press materials who may be reading this: study the scenario contained within this textbook carefully. Compare its claims not only with independent, established facts, but with conflicting and nonsensical claims within this very textbook. After an honest evaluation, do you still feel confident you’re not being sold a bill of goods?


Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXII: Wherein We Hunt the Mammoth