Welcome to The Old Earth Ministries Online Geology curriculum! I hope your attention spans are nice and short today, because this first chapter is only about 1,370 words long. And it’s meant to last all week. According to the instructions, we’re to read all the words today, do some research tomorrow, take quiz the day after, then review, then test on the final day. Easy-peasy as long as you’re a quick reader.
I know you’re all burning to know: is old earth creationist curricula just as god-soaked as our young earth texts? Judging from the opening paragraph: you betcha!
The study of the earth and its rocks is also a study of God’s creation. It is God who set the laws of nature which shape this planet’s rocks and what they are today. In order to get a full understanding of God’s creation, we must study not only the lifeforms upon earth, and the stars in the sky… we must also study the rocks beneath our feet, and understand how they were formed.
So far, so Godly. Anyone else feel transported back to the 19th century? But of course, it’s to be expected in a Christian textbook. Let’s see how the science fares.
I do like Greg’s definition of geology, which includes planetary geologists. Good. We need more people to realize geology isn’t limited to Earth anymore, especially with all of the fantastic Mars geology happening.
Next, we’re introduced to the layers of the earth. I’m not thrilled with Greg’s mad writing skillz here. He says first, “The earth is made up of several layers.” Then he continues the paragraph by saying that climatologists or meteorologists study the atmosphere, and geologists study the layers of solid matter. He finishes by saying “Many geological features are caused by climatology…” No, dear. First, you promised me layers and delivered me a mish-mash. That’s not clear writing. Second, climatology doesn’t cause any such thing. Climatology is a branch of science. It’s weathering that causes rocks to change.
He tells us that the earth’s surface has two main regions: continents and ocean basins. We learn continents are big and made of “granite type rocks,” plus metamorphic and sedimentary ones, but he doesn’t tell us what ocean basins are made of. We discover the ocean crust is dense, but not why it’s dense. Maybe he’ll tell us later, when we get round to discussing tectonic forces like he promises.
We get a bare-bones explanation of topography and topographic maps, complete with a wee thumbnail photo of a topographic map, and a link to Wikipedia for “additional study.” FYI – it seems most of his “additional study” links go to Wikipedia. This isn’t ideal in something that’s supposed to be a curriculum, especially not with all of the fabulous resources you can find on various university websites.
Now we learn there are three parts to a continent: the shield, the stable platform, and folded mountain belts. It would have been nice if we’d been introduced to the concepts of a craton and a continental shelf, but it’s not to be. Fortunately, we’re told that folded mountain belts “are great evidence that the earth’s crust is in motion.” Yay for evidence!
Now we’re on to ocean basins, and at last learn their crust is made of basalt. We’re also given a decent description of oceanic ridges. Nice. A paragraph on seafloor spreading links us to a video of same. This is one of the reasons online textbooks can rock harder than paper, and I’m glad to see Greg putting the medium to good use. Now if he would only make the pictures larger. Even the full versions are itty-bitty. Sigh.
But the best part is ages: “Most of the current oceanic crust is less than 150 million years old, whereas the age of the continental shields are typically around 700 million years old.” Huzzah! Millions of years! Take that from a fellow creationist, Ken Ham!
We learn neat things about the abyssal floor, such as it being covered with abyssal hills in many places, and that said hills are the most abundant landform on earth. I did not know that, but it’s true! Then we’re on to seamounts and trenches, continental margins and continental shelves, and a missed chance to mention turbidity currents when glancing over continental slopes and submarine canyons. Sigh.
The chapter ends with a brief description of the earth’s innards that’s really no different from a million other brief descriptions of same. No creationism is on display. Yay!
Now it’s time for research! You may have to write an essay! It’s up to your parents. There are simple topics suggested like “When did the science of geology first begin?” and who was its daddy (Charles Lyell! And Mary Lyell was its mom!). I guess I’m not a Christian homeschooler, because I’d be making the kiddos research one of the features or processes mentioned in depth, with references to better sources than Wikipedia. I’m cruel like that. I’d let them substitute a layer or many of the Earth cake, because baking geology is fun and delicious.
Right. On to the quiz, which I shall myself take. Wish me luck.
#5’s tricksy: “Seafloor spreading is caused by convection currents in the outer core.” True or false? False, cuz it’s caused by convection in the mantle. And #11 (This person is regarded as the father of modern geology) could cause a schism, cuz they don’t have Lyell as an option! Greg’s a James Hutton partisan. Okay, fair ’nuff. I like that William Smith is one of the choices, though. Very tricksy!
So, if you read the text and do the research, you can get 100% just like me, especially since you know what tricks to watch for. Now for the test.
Watch for true/false #3, its trying to trip you up (The earth’s core is made up of three parts: the mantle, the outer core, and the inner core). You’ll realize this because you’ll go “Where’s the lithosphere?” then realize that’s not part of the core, then double-take and go, “Hey – neither is the mantle!” That’s the point where you realize that reading the word mantle made you think of the layers of the earth, not the core – or was that just me?
The rest are pretty easy if you’re good at retaining facts and remember how thick things are. There’s one fill-in-the-blank question, wanting to know who the father of modern geology is, which we now know is James Hutton. My Samsung Galaxy Tablet wanted it to be James Bond. I must learn it some history of geology. Despite that silliness, I managed 100%. Which must mean I know some geology, but actually means I’m good at multiple-choice tests. Not everyone is, and I’m not sure that’s something online curricula such as this take into account. They should.
Overall, that wasn’t so bad. Minimal godbotting outside of the opening paragraph. Decent enough info, even though Greg could use some assistance from people who know how to write textbooks. And I love that, at the bottom, he’s included the Association for Women Geoscientists – Career Page. This is a creationist who knows women can have science careers! Outstanding! He just needs to fix the broken link there.
So far, despite some quibbles, I’m pretty pleased. We’ll see how things go in later chapters, but it’s already trouncing A Beka and BJU. You go, Greg! Show them YECs what’s what!