Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XV: Wherein Water Proves God is an Asshole

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?

Image is a pie chart showing the percentage of saltwater, and the percentage of freshwater. An expanded view shows the percentage of freshwater as surface water, in glaciers, and underground. Underneath, caption says, "WTF, God?!"

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.

Image shows two diagrams modeling Europa's subsurface water.
These artist’s drawings depict two proposed models of the subsurface structure of the Jovian moon, Europa. Geologic features on the surface, imaged by the Solid State Imaging (SSI) system on NASA’s Galileo spacecraft might be explained either by the existence of a warm, convecting ice layer, located several kilometers below a cold, brittle surface ice crust (top model), or by a layer of liquid water with a possible depth of more than 100 kilometers(bottom model). If a 100 kilometer (60 mile) deep ocean existed below a 15 kilometer (10 mile) thick Europan ice crust, it would be 10 times deeper than any ocean on Earth and would contain twice as much water as Earth’s oceans and rivers combined. Unlike the Earth, magnesium sulfate might be a major salt component of Europa’s water or ice, while the Earth’s oceans are salty due to sodium chloride (common salt). While data from various instruments on the Galileo spacecraft indicate that an Europan ocean might exist, no conclusive proof has yet been found. To date Earth is the only known place in the solar system where large masses of liquid water are located close to a solid surface. Other sources are especially interesting since water is a key ingredient for the development of life as we know it. Image and caption courtesy NASA.

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.

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Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XV: Wherein Water Proves God is an Asshole

7 thoughts on “Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XV: Wherein Water Proves God is an Asshole

  1. 1

    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. (1) At the moment, only Earth is known to have so much liquid water on the surface, (2.) 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. (3.)

    Numbers added for ease of reference below :

    1. Not just Europa either, a lot of Jovian and Saturnean and other outer solar system moons and even Ceres :

    Once thought to be rocky, we now believe Ceres may contain 200 million cubic kilometres of water in its mantle. This is more than the amount of fresh water on the Earth.
    – Page 10, “Ceres may be a failed miniplanet” by Jeff Foust in Astronomy Now magazine, November, 2005.

    Earth may have aquired a lot of its water from comets and icy asteroids.

    2. Pluto from just days ago seems geologically active as do parts of Charon – could be that water there is on surface or near it as a form of exotic “lava” flow! Mars has hints of surface liquid water too :

    http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/nasas-curiosity-rover-finds-the-first-signs-mars-has-liquid-water-right-now-20150413-1mkdvi.html

    Albiet seasonal and very salty!

    3. We already have a number of possibilities with exoplanets like Kepler 186 f, Gliese 5812 d (if it exists) and others being likely suitable for having liquid surface water although whether or it is actually present remains unknown if highly likely.

  2. 2

    ^ See also :

    Kepler186 f : http://www.space.com/25530-earthsize-exoplanet-kepler-186f-habitable-discovery.html

    Gliese 581 d : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gliese_581_d

    (The existence of Gliese 581 g, an earlier suspected and announced world around that star – located next to Beta Librae a.k.a Zubenescahmali in our skies and only 20 ly distant – which was even more promising for life has since been refuted, sadly.)

    Plus : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_potentially_habitable_exoplanets

    Kepler 22, Kepler 438 b, Kepler 296 e and more are out there. I would caution that there are a lot of uncertainties for instance the exact masses of some of these exoplanets and whether liquid water is actually present and or how their atmospheres may render such oceans non-surface or too deeply buried or too hot /cold etc .. Note that worlds previously thought to be suitable have shifted into the “sorry, not so-much” column when more information has come in or calculations been made. Still. All that aside, it seems pretty clear other Earths with other seas are almost certainly out there and probably even relatively common.

  3. 4

    Obviously what we need is for Jesus to warm up the atmosphere so all that water locked up in glaciers will melt. Who cares if some Mooslims in Bangladesh drown or starve?

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