Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XVI: Wherein Geology is Roundly Abused

My darlings, our trek through these Christianist earth science textbooks has been a long and tiresome one, but our perseverance has at last been rewarded: we have arrived at the units on Geology! Thanks to the Flood myth, God is all over this branch of the earth sciences like long-lost relatives on a lottery winner. Geology is second only to evolutionary biology when it comes to science creationists can’t stand. So this should be good (for sarcastic values of good).

We’ll see if either Science of the Physical Creation or Earth Sciences 4th Edition acknowledge the fact that it was geology that first dealt creationism a mortal blow. I mean, before the early geologists really got to looking at the earth and went, “This overwhelming evidence shows this planet must be very old indeed,” it was possible for a scientist to be a creationist and still be perfectly respectable. But then James Hutton and Charles Lyell kneecapped the young earth theory with a rock hammer. And then, as creationism was thrashing around, hollering “It’s only a flesh wound!” and threatening to bite off their kneecaps, along came Darwin and lopped its head off with the theory of evolution, which itself had been forged in the fires of Lyell’s elegant evidence for an elderly Earth. And ever since, young earth creationists have been hobbling about headless, whilst brashly proclaiming they can still wear a hat.

So let us marvel at their shenanigans by first turning to page 192 of A Beka’s Science of the Physical Creation.

Before we get to the goddy stuff, I need to have you sit down and take a few deep breaths, because I know what I’m about to tell you will come as a terrible shock. I’m afraid that SPC defines geology improperly. Amazing, I know, but there it is: they say geology is the science that studies fossils. Sorry, my beloved paleontologist friends: your field just got given to us. Probably it’s because the A Beka staff will find it easier to attack geology that way.

Unfortunately, some areas of geology, especially the study of fossils, have become dominated by evolutionary philosophy. Therefore we must be careful not to assume that the hypotheses and theories of modern geologists are the best explanations for the existing features of the earth. God, the only “eyewitness” to the formation and geologic history of the earth, sheds light on these areas in His Word, and the statements of God are irreconcilable with evolutionary philosophy. The great Flood mentioned in Genesis, for example, is undoubtedly responsible for most of the earth’s present features and fossils, although evolutionists reject the Flood as a myth.

Yeah, we see how this is gonna go. Need I remind you that this is used as a science textbook for Christian students? This travesty where religious stories are treated as fact is foisted upon kids as science fact.

Image is a demotivational poster showing a circle of arrows on a background of blue sky. In the center of the arrows is a wormhole leading to a black hole. The topmost arrow is: "The Bible is the word of God. "But how can you be sure it's the word of God?" The next arrow says, "Because the Bible tells us so." "But why believe the Bible?" Next arrow is, "The Bible is infallible." "But how do you know it's infallible?" Which leads back to the first arrow, "The Bible is the word of God." Beneath the image is the caption, "Creationist logic. It is the equivalent of dividing by zero."

They next say the “study of earthquakes and volcanoes helps us appreciate God’s power and at the same time offers the hope of someday predicting dangerous earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.” Which leads me to wonder, why is God incapable of just saying to his loyal fans, “Oh, BTW, guys, I’ve scheduled a catastrophic eruption of Mount Merapi for Tuesday at ten am local time, and I’ve arranged for the East Anatolian Fault to slip really big on Saturday afternoon at three twenty-three. Could you make sure everybody gets the message? Kthxbai.” Or, if it’s supposed to be a secret, why are these fanbois so keen on spoiling God’s big surprises?

I feel a little weird that they’ve used Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens to illustrate the unit so far. Leggo my volcanoes, creationists! You don’t understand ’em anyway.

The beginning of Chapter 8, Foundations of Geology, is mostly just-the-facts, and I’ll put the fact that they got the Earth’s skin too thin down to projection. They’re only off by 10 kilometers, so whatevs. And I’ll put the suggestion that the ocean floor is covered with soil as well as sediment down to careless writing. The “fact” the “sediments were probably laid down during the worldwide Flood” I’ll put down to brain dysfunction brought on by too much prayer. Which, in turn, probably explains writing sloppy enough to talk about average sediment thickness “beneath the land.” The age of the book may explain the abundance of incorrect values for things like the extent of the upper and lower mantle. Then again, that could also be Good Christian Ignorance™ at work.

I will give them this: they describe the odd properties of mantle rock quite well, describing it as plastic rather than molten rock, and distinguishing its behavior under different types of force. And I learned a nifty new phrase: Gutenberg Discontinuity.

They go on to Plate Tectonics next, and oh, my, are they conflicted. Y’see, “Although evolutionists like to connect the idea of plate tectonics with a long time span, which would contradict the Scriptures, the idea that the earth’s surface consists of moving plates is neither supported nor rejected by Scripture.” So it’s all “many geologists believe,” and plates “are thought to exist,” and “advocates of plate tectonics” “suggest” everywhere. They handle it okay until they get to the eureka moment of plate tectonics, when we found those lovely magnetic stripes on the ocean floor on both sides of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Then they lose their shit:

However, the magnetic stripes were later shown to have been an illusion; extensive research demonstrated that parallel stripes of reversing magnetism do not exist on the seafloor.

I looked for this “extensive research” on Google Scholar. I found some nonsense from a theosophist, and… well, bugger-all, really. I spent an hour chasing round the internets for this “extensive research,” and all I got was jack diddly, aside from a craptastic Institution for Creation Research article by Stone Stubborn Steven Austin back when he was hiding himself behind the pseudonym Stuart E. Nevens, and some other drips of creationist dribble. Surely, if the research was so bloody extensive, if these stripes really were an illusion, I’d find at least one non-creationist saying so, or at least a single peer-reviewed paper in a reputable science journal. But no. Not a one.

So much for that.

This section finishes with the SPC writers fussing over Pangea, hemming and hawing over whether Genesis 10:25 alludes to Pangea’s division or if it’s merely talking politics. They then mention that many desperate creationists have latched on to the idea that maybe the continents went zipping round during the Flood, before throwing their hands up and asking for some wash water:

Since there is no way to experimentally verify the idea that the continents were once together, and since God does not clearly reveal whether it’s true or not, it must remain merely an interesting speculation. We know from the Scriptures, however, that if the continents were once together, the separation had to occur much more quickly than evolutionists believe.

And so you see, kids, you’re supposed to shit all over the ginormous amounts of independent and converging evidence for plate tectonics, because Bible. And even if some genius comes up with a way to experimentally prove plate tectonics, but said experiment shows it took place over millions of years, you have to shit on that, also, too, because Bible.

And this is science according to Christianists.

Image shows Inigo Montoya. Caption says, "Science. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

But even the Christianists are unable to find fault with faults. It’s folds that give them trouble:

Presently, folding is a slow process, but it has likely occurred much more quickly in the past. The geologic upheavals accompanying the Genesis Flood probably produced many of the spectacularly folded rock layers we now see.

They dump that steaming pile of horseshit, then, without even a paragraph break, they go right on in to what synclines and anticlines are (although their descriptions of both are more reminiscent of first year geology students than supposed experts). Kids are taught the creationist crap in the same breath as legitimate earth science. They have no way to tell that what they’re being taught is twaddle.

Next, we shall see how the SPC folks mutilate earthquakes and volcanoes… for the children.

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XVI: Wherein Geology is Roundly Abused

15 thoughts on “Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XVI: Wherein Geology is Roundly Abused

  1. 2

    ..they say geology is the science that studies fossils.

    So wonder what they think palaeontologists do then and also why geology then includes metapmorphic and igneous rocks as well as planetary geologists studying geomorphology on other planets like Pluto, Mars, Venus etc .. with that definition.

    (& I think an IAU definition o f something fundamental (ahem, Pluto, cough) was bad! ;-)

  2. 5

    “sediments were probably laid down during the worldwide Flood”

    As the Earth was almost completely flat before the flood (as I’ve heard many Christians claim) where did that sediment come from? It couldn’t have washed down from non-existant mountains or hills.

  3. rq

    Local lore has it that god created the earth’s features by compressing a perfect sphere between his palms to compress it (top and bottom), and thus it formed wrinkles. This was all because he made the Bowl of Heaven too small and the earth wouldn’t fit under it, but the hedgehog provided him with this squeezing advice.
    (The hedgehog was rewarded with a spiny coat of gold, but due to danger from greedy humans, it requested a duller, spiny coat of brown needles instead. Not much of a reward, to be in fear for your life constantly. God seems to be prone to fucking up every now and then, ostensibly with the best of intention.)
    Anyway, you can’t disprove this version, either! ;)
    [/folk tales]

  4. 8

    Oh yes, folds give them trouble. Especially if there’s a really cool unconformity associated! I remember once asking a creationist about this photo I took on my favourite beach ever. That’s Triassic red sandstones over folded Upper Carboniferous schists and greywackes! I don’t know how that could possibly have formed during a flood (the same flood, even). And sadly said creationist was of no help either because I never got a response…

    So I wonder, does that book get into angular unconformities at all? Surely some creationist somewhere has come up with a Flood-compatible rationalization for them?

  5. 9

    Oh, why do I actively look for these things…

    Answering my own question, here’s a creationist on angular unconformities:

    What I’ve been claiming is that the weight of strata above is a necessary resistance to the tilting of the strata beneath in the creation of angular unconformities; that is, the strata above would have to have already been in place before the tilting occurred, as opposed to the accepted theory which puts the tilting first, then erosion, then the laying down of strata above. The heavy and horizontal weight overhead would force the tilting or folding strata to form a horizontal upper surface, probably the result of violent erosion from friction between them and the upper layer as the force was applied.

    On the present theory it’s hard to see how tilted strata without a weight overhead could be anything but very irregular and jagged. And this is also where I question the idea that erosion at this point would level such a formation. I also question the idea of a hiatus or time gap during which the strata are no longer forming. What could cause that cessation? And if the strata did keep on forming after such a tilting of strata the new sediments would be forced to settle in the crevises between the jagged or folded uprights, they wouldn’t just neatly arrange themselves in a new horizontal layer lying flat across the top of them.

    Why didn’t the sediments just keep on settling in the crevices after folding!!! In the cervices!!! And how can strata possibly ever get eroded at all, conditions never ever change anywhere!!!

    Mutability and deep time. Creationist can’t grasp those concepts even when they’re trying.

  6. rq

    I photographed evidence of the flood today… I mean, a dolomite formation from the Upper Devonian, same difference, right?

  7. 12

    All the more reason to feel sorry for the subjects of indoctrination. Creationist homeschool is like laundry day: a boring, pointless chore where you sit and watch the drum turn round and round. Their time would be more productively spent washing their clothes, where at the end of the day the material would at least pass the sniff test.

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