One thing reading Christianist textbooks does is teaches you to be cynical. No claim, no matter how innocuous, no matter how heart-warming, can be taken for granted. Observe:
Earth Science Fourth Edition’s chapter on groundwater begins with a charming little story about PlayPumps, which are merry-go-rounds attached to water pumps. It sounds like a difference-making idea: African village kids get some nice playtime, women don’t have to work so hard to get water, and advertisements on the water towers help pay for the pumps. It’s a great idea! Except, they don’t work too great. You need a good source of clean groundwater to begin with, kids would have to “play” three hours more per day than the standard 24 available, and the ads actually don’t make enough money to pay for the upkeep.
All of these problems were manifest two years before this book was published, by the way. Yet not a single problem is mentioned in the text.
You get to see why they’re reluctant to admit problems with such solutions as they explain how tiny a fraction of water in the world is fresh and available for humans to drink. They almost manage to face the fact that their god is either a) an omnipotent asshole, b) an ineffectual ass, or c) non-existent:
Clean drinking water is essential for life. God made the earth with an abundance of water, but it surprising that only a very small part of it is drinkable. Why would a good God put His creatures in such a situation?
Why, indeed! Alas, they fail to face facts, and proclaim that the answer is to glorify God, duh! And look, we can show our love for each other, too! And play on merry-go-rounds (that can’t actually pump nearly enough drinking water for the village, but nevermind).
This is the kind of thinking you have to engage in to convince yourself that god is great. And they’re shocked that atheists aren’t persuaded. Gee.
After that close call with facing reality, we’re treated to a very secular explanation of groundwater, water tables, permeable vs. impermeable rock, and such like. The special section on depleted aquifers shows us what havoc sinkholes in Florida can wreak (yepper), and introduces us to other ways that pumping too much groundwater can screw things up, such as causing gigantic cracks from subsidence in dry country like me old home state of Arizona. They talk about ways we can avoid depleting said aquifers, without even mentioning prayer. These godless stretches are bittersweet to me. While it’s nice to get a break from the creationist crap, it reminds me that smart and talented people are wasting huge amounts of time and energy on total bullshit. Who knows how much better off we’d be if they turned their attention from forcing reality to conform to their myths and focused on actual science instead?
A cross-box on the next page breaks the secular streak. It’s one of those ain’t-God-great-for-designing-this-amazing-water-molecule, earth-is-sooo-special things that sounds precisely like a puddle marveling at the unique shape of the hole that must have been specially designed to fit it. “Nowhere else in the known universe is there so much of this special compound,” they say.
Wrongo. 140 trillion times wrongo. It takes a creationist to be that especially wrong. I mean, seriously, these folks are so invested in Earth being unique that they have to blind and deafen themselves to any evidence to the contrary. I’m sure they’d backpedal and claim they meant liquid water, but that won’t fly, either – Europa has 2-3 times the volume of Earth’s liquid water in its subsurface oceans. At the moment, only Earth is known to have so much liquid water on the surface, but give us a few decades and I’ll bet you a dollar we’ve found a planet or hundred with far more liquid surface water than we have got.
This information is trivially easy to find. It’s like they got stuck in the 19th century. They certainly love to pretend our knowledge hasn’t advanced past the Victorian age when it suits them. I mean, for fuck’s sake, we’ve known there’s water in space for nearly half a century! Yet here they are pretending space is dry.
The Christianist claptrap is dialed back as hard and soft water is discussed. Nary a religious word is spoken as the many uses of water are elucidated. When we arrive at Conserving Water, we’re reminded that God wants the planet filled to bursting with people, but of course we’ve gotta meet those people’s needs. I’m glad to see they don’t smugly expect God to miraculously supply clean water to all these excess people. Let’s hope this Christianist social consciousness catches on among the “birth control is eevil!” set before the planet’s resources are completely used up.
The dirty hippies writing ES4 even go so far as to talk about water quality standards and laws against pouring waste into streams as if they’re a good thing. I wonder if this happy state of affairs will continue into the 5th edition, or will there be a right-wing backlash?
This is our jumping-off point, as the ES4 folks will soon be on about caves. This is our opportunity to hop back to our sadly neglected Science of the Physical Creation and watch the A Beka folks sorely abuse geology before we return to go spelunking BJU’s creationist cave nonsense. It’ll be… um… nice… to survey the other book for a bit. For certain qualities of nice, anyway. You might want to supply yourself with a helmet, because I’m not entirely sure the pillows will protect your skull and its innards from serious damage as you headdesk your way through the next installment.