Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XIII: Wherein We Dive into Dominion

Ah, ocean exploration. Tis true, we know less of the ocean deeps than we do the surface of Mars. Tis also true that creationists know less of it than scientists do. But they believe oceans are “so essential to biblical dominion,” so Earth Sciences 4th Edition plans to take us exploring.

They blurb the chapter by waxing eloquent over how mysterious the ocean is. There’s been a Mysterious Sound detected by underwater microphones, even, which they say “scientists think come from an animal larger than the blue whale.” As per usual, creationists haven’t got much of a clue as to what scientists actually think. It could be an animal larger than a blue whale, but it could also be ice calving, or an animal smaller than a blue whale, but really talented at making low-frequency noises. It could even be Cthulu snoring. But NOAA’s pretty sure now that it was actually just an icequake, and they were just joshing about the possibility of it being a mysterious maclargehuge animal.

Now, why would creationists cling to the large animal theory? Could it be… Leviathan?

Image shows Dana Carvey as the Church Lady, holding a markerboard that says, LEVIATHAN.

They also seem to be under the delusion that the oceans contain “unlimited mineral wealth,” as that’s one of the reasons they cite for Serving God as an Oceanographer. I think my favorite part of that section is where they tell their audience that, in order to become an oceanographer, the hopeful person will face stiff competition and must study at least one science. Meaning, people who believe that the shit in this book is science are already out of the running.

They go on to prove that what they’re teaching ain’t in no way science in the very next section, where they discuss The Earliest Oceanographers.

You may wonder when people began studying the sea. The Bible doesn’t mention the ocean between its creation (Genesis I) and when the “fountains of the deep” broke up (Genesis 7). We can only imagine that during the 1656 years between these two events, people probably learned to build ships to explore the world and use the ocean. Noah possibly used some of that knowledge to build the Ark.

Imagination indeed, seeing as how there’s jack diddly shit for evidence offered for that nonsense, even in their beloved Bible. They’re just telling fairy tales. I feel compelled to remind you that they claim this is an earth science textbook.

Their story continues by saying Noah and family settled inland in Iraq, and remained landlubbers for centuries, until God got pissed at them for that whole Tower of Babel thing and scattered their asses. Where’s the archaeological proof? They don’t give any. There’s no science in this at all, just blinkered adherence to an old book and their fevered, fettered imaginings. When evidence does rea its head, they shoot it between the eyes for not confirming their bias:

The remains of the oldest known boat was [sic] found in a desert in Kuwait. Though scientists have dated the boat at about 7,000 years old, it is probably 5,000-5,200 years old because it would have to be younger than the date of the Flood. (No known human artifact has ever been found that definitely cacave paintingsme from before the Flood.)

My. That’s quite the blithe hand-waving away of scientific evidence. One wonders how they disregard the evidence for so very many human artifacts that definitely date from before the Flood, such as the famous Indonesian cave paintings (ca. 40,000 years ago), bows from ca. 7,000 BC, sandals found beneath Mount Mazama ash that range in age from 10,500 to 9,200 years old, painting kits from 100,000 years ago, and a variety of other human goodies that existed well before the creationists’ universe did. One suspects they think that waving the Bible at all that pesky science makes it go away.

Austronesians are given short shrift in ES4’s brief history of ocean exploration, because people sailing round the ocean and colonizing remote islands long before God got round to separating the waters and the dry land is terribly inconvenient. The only non-Westerner to get a node is Zheng He, who sailed round the Indian Ocean and Africa back in the 1400s.

The Challenger expedition gets pride o’ place, as it should – but they spell Sir Charles Wyville Thomson’s name wrong throughout. A text box claims he was called “Professor of Creation” by many, a claim Google’s certainly never heard of, with or without the proper spelling. It’s as if the further scientific knowledge advances, the more desperate creationists get to claim various famous scientists as their own, evidence to the contrary be damned.

They cling desperately to Matthew Fontaine Maury, pious Confederate scientist and author of The Physical Geography of the Seas. They make out that Psalm 8:8 had more to do with his mapping ocean currents than his experience with sailing. They desperately need to believe that science depends on Christianity. Alas for them, he was an old earth man, and shared the attitude of his contemporaries that if science conflicted with the Bible, it was due to a failure to interpret one or the other correctly. They weren’t like today’s creationists, declaring that science has to fit a literal interpretation of the Bible, evidence be damned. But yes, he was a religious man: good show, creationists! There have indeed been a few Christians in science. Not that that means anything.

The ES4 authors back off the Bible for a bit, giving a God-free inventory of ancient and modern ways to sample the ocean and stuff therein. They do get briefly biblical in their Life Connection story about yeti crabs, but it’s the boilerplate God-created-it-wow-here’s-a-vaguely-relevant-verse, and far from exciting. Yeti crabs are cool enough without the creationist claptrap.

Image shows a pale beige crab with very hairy arms.
Yeti crab. Image courtesy Wanida.w (CC BY-SA 3.0)

For the rest of the chapter, the main text strikes a rather secular course, surveying the history of diving and submersibles before concluding with a limp “Studying and managing [Earth’s] resources are key to proper dominion.” It’s the sidebars that get weird. There’s this rather opaque cartoon that illustrates – well, I actually have no idea what they’re getting at. Perhaps one of you can figure it out:

Image shows the secular and creationist cartoon scientists in a submersible, watching a fish floating by. The secular scientist is saying, "No way! That fish is extinct!" The creationist scientist is saying, "Yes way! But... NO Proof!" No, I have no idea, either.
The WTF cartoon from Page 365 of ES4.


A cross-box asks us, “In view of potential hazards to humans, should Christians be excited about manned deep-sea exploration?” Hey, you’re the folks busily overpopulating the earth. In my opinion, you’d better get excited about exploring potential real estate. But it’s an odd question, coming as it does near the end of a chapter that’s been busy cataloging a long list of exploratory triumphs.

Besides, they’re saved, right? So Christian explorers get to do exciting stuff that expands humanity’s knowledge (work with me, people, it could happen… even if accidentally), helps us with this dominion stuff, and, if anything goes wrong, the explorer gets fame and heaven. Sounds like a bargain!

On that strange note, here endeth our oceanic odyssey. Next, we get to watch them muck up fresh water. I can hardly wait…

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XIII: Wherein We Dive into Dominion

12 thoughts on “Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XIII: Wherein We Dive into Dominion

  1. 3

    The cartoon is a mystery to me too, but given that the fish looks a little like a coelacanth, I’m going to guess it’s:

    something observation is not real science something if tetrapods evolved from lob finned fishes why are there still lobe finned fishes something no evidence for evolution something

  2. 4

    I agree that it is probably about the coelacanth. Maybe the “No proof” refers to scientific claims of extinction, I dunno.
    The Yeti Crab is awesome, though, and totally proof of divine creation, right?

  3. rq

    Coelecanth. But because it still exists, it is no proof for evolution. And it’s still a fish, not a fish with monkey paws, therefore.
    I’m guessing I’m repeating what latveriandiplomat said in different words.

  4. 6

    Wow. Maury?? Really?? I’m surprised that the authors know about him. We were never taught about him way back when I was in school. Of course we also didn’t have these creationist books in the curriculum either. Thanks public school system for nothing!!!!!!
    I give up trying to figure out the cartoon. Since The Far Side went away it’s been all downhill. LOL

  5. 8

    There’s been a Mysterious Sound detected by underwater microphones

    I used to stand sonar watches on submarines. The ocean is a pretty noisy place and that sound can travel long distances. Once in the Arctic Ocean we tracked a freighter which was at least fifty nautical miles (100 km) away.

  6. 11

    in order to become an oceanographer, the hopeful person will face stiff competition and must study at least one science.

    The accuracy of their content aside, it’s difficult to take this material seriously as a science textbook, when its authors fail their spelling of essential terms, like “duh-minion”.

  7. 12

    I think that it meant that scientists had thought the fish was extinct (which to creationists means the scientists had stated absolutely that it was), but now that a live one has showed up, the scientists are going to weasel out by saying that you can’t prove something is extinct, so they had never said it was, really.

    I wrote a whole rant on the two meanings of “supposed to”, once, based on a creationist account of the coelacanth. “It was supposed to be extinct” can either mean “I dunno, I guess so, umph” or “kill it, burn it, cover it up!” They assumed the second – they totally miss the provisional nature of science.

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