Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education VII: Awash in Creationist Nonsense

Take your seasickness prevention pills and weigh anchor, my darlings. We are embarking on a long voyage, and I’m afraid it won’t be the lovely salt sea, but an ocean of creationist bilge we be sailin’. BJU has got a lot to say about oceanography. A good portion of it is utter bunkum. And there’s three bloody chapters of this shite.

Image shows a cat in a cardboard pirate ship. Caption says, "I comes to plunder yer living room."

The wrong starts out strong with Dr. Emil Silvestru, a creationist speleologist from Romania. He started his career as a secular scientist, then jumped into Christianity with both feet and became a young earth creationist. The quality of his “reasoning” can be assessed by the following explanation:

After becoming a Christian he quickly realized that the ‘millions of years’ interpretation, so common in geology, was not compatible with Genesis. ‘Once I became a Christian,’ Emil says, ‘I knew I had to “tune up” my scientific knowledge with the Scriptures.’

‘Although philosophically and ethically I accepted a literal Genesis from my conversion, at first I was unable to match it with my “technical” side.’

Eventually, after soaking in creationist claptrap, he concluded that the Flood (which totes happened and must have been global because the Bible never exaggerates for poetic effect) made things that normally take ages happen superfast, yay, problem solved! Which is probably why the vast majority of the papers he’s got on Google Scholar are babble printed in creationist publications: next to no papers printed in mainstream journals appear, and most of his citations are him citing his own work. I suppose that’s only to be expected for someone who works for Creation Ministries International (formerly Answers in Genesis).

To be clear: I don’t get the sense Silvestru is aware he’s lying to himself and others. He strikes me as a True Believer who, when he converted, honestly figured the Bible must be 100% literal and true, and after a frantic search, grabbed the first straw he could find to shut the cognitive dissonance up.

That doesn’t make him any less wrong. Or ridiculous. Observe the dumbfuckery he unleashes upon the unfortunate pupils using this textbook:

The present is not the key to the past! More than 75% of all known rocks are sedimentary rocks, most of which are believed to have been formed in the oceans. Over 90% of the rocks formed in the oceans were laid in shallow oceans. But only 10% of present-day oceans are shallow. The sediments the oceans hold are insignificant compared to the millions of tons of sedimentary rock. These facts clearly show that present processes of sedimentary rock formation are not the key to rock formation in the past!

Uniformitarianism clearly unhinges the poor man.

Wading through all that bullshit: yes, sedimentary rock is roughly 75% of the rock we see in continental outcrops. But it’s not “75% of all known rocks.” It’s more like 8%. It’s like icing spread haphazardly on a cake, glopped on thick in places, in other places thin, and some pretty extensive bits missed altogether. We know from outcrops, drill cores, seismic studies, and other methods that igneous rock makes up the bulk of the Earth’s crust, with a healthy chunk of metamorphic rock rounding out the mix. These are “known rocks” by anybody’s definition but a creationist’s.

Now, it’s true that lots of those sedimentary rocks were laid down in shallow seas. I don’t know if his percentages are right, but it doesn’t matter if they are. Sea level changes as glaciers melt and freeze, and as plate motions open and close ocean basins. When the seas rise, shallow seas flood the continents. Rock gets eroded, critters contribute their shells and skeletons of calcite and silica, and new sedimentary rock gets deposited. You can go to the Paleomap Project site and watch those seas rise and fall over deep time. With global warming going as it is, Emil might even get to witness the beginning of new shallow seas himself. No bets on whether that’ll light his bulb or not.

Image is a paleomap of the United States ca 75 million years ago. It shows the seaway going through the middle of the continent, and the types of dinosaurs found on either side of it.
Paleogeography of North America during the Late Cretaceous (~75 Ma), showing biogeographic distribution of chasmosaurine ceratopsid dinosaurs on the western landmass, Laramidia, during the late Campanian (~76–73 Ma). Image and caption courtesy Sampson et al, “New Horned Dinosaurs from Utah Provide Evidence for Intracontinental Dinosaur Endemism.” (CC BY 2.5). Click the photo for the paper.

I don’t even have the stomach to quote the rest of his inanity. If I did, we’d be here til the seas advance. He thinks “most caves formed toward the end of the Flood, created by hot and very aggressive fluids called hydrothermal solutions that ate away the limestone in a matter of months.” Now, aside from the fact that by creationist reckoning, most if not all limestone formed during the Flood, but could hardly have done so in such “aggressive fluids,” he’s just boiled Noah & Co. and dissolved the Ark in order to get some holes in rock that couldn’t exist. Brilliant.

Want to know how all those cave formations which take hundreds of thousands to millions of years to form managed to happen in about 4,000 years? Don’t ask Emil. He just skips right past that problem. What an expert.

The poor schmuck thinks that the Flood “is by far the most logical source of rock-forming and rock-eroding processes.” He fails logic. Don’t take logic lessons from him unless you thrive on derisive laughter aimed squarely at you. He thinks the Flood formed all those deep canyons under the ocean. Never mind all those scientists with their silly mechanisms for submarine canyon formation like turbidity currents, underwater landslides, mass wasting, slumping, and, in special cases, rivers merrily carving into the beds of evaporated seas until said basins are flooded by seawater once again.

Do you see the amount of egregious wrong packed into three short paragraphs by one single fool? This does not bode well for the rest of this unit. I’ve peeked ahead, and it appears the nonsense-to-science ratio remains absurdly high. I’m afraid we’re going to end up like Odysseus, stuck for 10 years on a voyage that should have taken a few weeks.

We’d better make a stop for extra grog, just in case. We won’t survive this journey if we have to ration it.

Image shows me dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow, holding a bottle of Captian Morgan rum.
Get a little Captain in yer.
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Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education VII: Awash in Creationist Nonsense

8 thoughts on “Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education VII: Awash in Creationist Nonsense

  1. 1

    I don’t get the sense Silvestru is aware he’s lying to himself and others.

    Sounds like just another egotist to me. His attitude seems to be that billions of people around the world accept the scientific theories but only a few people (his fellow creationists) know the real truth. That’s how special he is. That’s what makes him the one in a million.

    Conspiracy Theorists think the same way: “You and all your friends are being fooled by the conspirators, but we brave few know the truth. We are the elite. You are not.

  2. 2

    (I’ll read the rest, I promise…)

    Wow…my de-conversion went in exactly the opposite direction: YEC/Fundy kiddo goes to college to major in Biological Sciences (because she wanted to be a veterinarian). Starts studying actual biology.
    Realizes there’s a choice: cling to YEC beliefs, or be a real and educated scientist-type person–the Theory of Evolution being such a basic, foundational concept and framework for ALL life science and all…
    Yeah, it took a while, but I did make the latter choice. Shedding the last wishful-thinking part of Xtianity took much longer.

  3. rq
    4

    The sea of ignorance has no borders nor dimensions, just cryptic little pictures saying ‘Here There Be Monsters, No Gods, Best Avoid’.
    The only way to survive for any extended period of time is to drink all the rum. All the time. Sorry, DonDueed. (Not sorry at all.)

  4. rq
    8

    Yessss, that’s one more for the ‘Book!!!’ bandwagon.
    We’ve been pestering her for some time now, and hopefully, that pestering will soon yield results.
    With ‘soon’ probably measured on a geological timescale. ;)

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