Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XIX: Wherein We Learn Christianists Make Lousy Sci-Fi Writers

Buckle in, kiddos. Earth Science 4th Edition’s unit on geology is roughly the size of the entirety of Science of the Physical Creation. And you know it’s going to be a rough ride, because it starts with a blurb from Andrew Snelling. Yes, Dr. Andrew “I’m Happy to do Conventional Geology with Billions of Years and No Goddidit so I Can Get Published in Legitimate Journals, Then Use Those Creds to Shit All Over Geology” Snelling. Yes, Dr. Andrew “Lying About Radiometric Dating for Jesus” Snelling. When you quote a lying fraud right up front as a legit scientist, I tend to suspect that the rest of what you’ve got may not, in fact, be legitimate science.

Let’s find out.

Snelling sez, “Creationist scientists have found overwhelming evidences of a recent, global, cataclysmic, biblical Flood.” Um. No. In fact, what’s happened is that, far from presenting an “increasingly irrefutable” case for Young Earth Creationism, what the “Flood geologists” have managed to do is refute their own claims (pdf).

Go read that PDF I linked. You’ll need it. You’ll love it. It provides the warm and fuzzy schadenfreude that will help the rest of this series go down easier. There. Isn’t it lovely to see their “scientific theory” disproved by their own research? Of course it is.

Now make sure you have an empty stomach, because the “Geology – the Earth Speaks” chapter is about to make you toss your cookies.

They begin inducing nausea by crowing about how the Apollo 8 astronauts decided to quote Genesis “in a spirit of unity and human achievement.” Yes, because a few smug white dudes blurting a verse from the dudes’ Christian holy book proves… stuff and things? Rather than prove they were a product of their culture, and Bob Jones University people think shitting Christianity all over the world is totes unifying? M’kay.

They also think that the astronauts’ quoting of poetry from an old book  relentlessly pounded into them since childhood proves that scientists are just silly-willies for thinking centuries of astronomy have shown Earth is just one planet among many, orbiting an average star in an average galaxy in the immensity of space. So, I suppose, if they had quoted this (in my opinion, far more apt) verse:

In my glory, I have passed beyond the sky and the great earth…

then we should assume the Hindus were right all along, then?

From this, we’re moved into a section on the “Evidences for Design.” Ready for some new and irrefutable proof that God totes made the world just for lil ol’ us? Keep waiting. It’s all the usual stuff that amounts to a puddle marveling that the hole it’s in fits it exactly.

Image shows a picture of a puddle of water in a pothole eroded into a gray schist creek bed. Beside it is a quote from Douglas Adams: “This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!'"

If you’re interested anyway, here is all their convincing proof:

1. “Earth’s mass and structure.” They talk about how our gravity is just right. They babble about how astronauts have to exercise to prevent weightlessness from weakening their bones and muscles, and how we’d get tired real quick if Earth’s gravity was higher. This is proof of design! Or, y’know, that we evolved to cope with this planet’s particular gravitational pull.

What’s really precious is this: their bullshit about the plates being separate “has influenced the rise of diverse human cultures and has resulted in the development of a vast variety of living things from the original created kinds.” Dude, just give up. That’s evolution. And you forgot the babble about Babel.

2. Earth’s Moon is Ever So Unique. So you claim, creationists, but moons like ours are probably actually really common. And yeah, it causes tides,which we think may be somewhat necessary for complex life, but there are other ways tides can happen. And tides could be a very bad deal for any life around low-mass stars, so maybe not so great for some ETs, eh? As for that gush that the lunar calendar is only possible cuz God: people, please. You’d still be marveling just as hard at the solar calendar, or calendars based on particular extrasolar stars, or anything else that happened to be regular enough to base a useful calendar on. It’s like being amazed that people can use sticks to keep count, and thinking that if there weren’t any sticks, we wouldn’t be able to count things – while ignoring the billion-and-one other ways we’ve got handy to keep track of numbers.

3. “Earth’s Tilt and Rotation.” Again, life can evolve in a variety of environments. We’ve got it good, bu worlds with complex life and very odd axial tilts can be imagined. Not to mention, that tilt and rotation we’ve got? Imparted by the celestial body that created our Moon when it whacked into us. We’ve already established the Moon and its formation are far from unique. The Cosmic Lottery’s doubtless thrown up a few other winners.

4. “Earth’s Liquid Water.” Oh, yes, the ES4 authors are on about water, and they’re sweatily constructing straw-scientists: “Some scientists believe that if a planet has water, then life is possible, but frozen water can’t support life.”

And which scientists, pray tell, are saying ice cubes exclusively will do? Or did you get so hung up on surface water that you forgot about water under ice? Who says complex life is impossible without water, anyway – I mean, aside from you Christianist types? Life without water is totally possible. Here’s an article with a handy table of solvents life could use. Water’s great, yeah, but only people who envision a tiny, human-centric universe thing it’s the only possibility for life.

5. “Earth’s Atmosphere.” Sigh. At this point, I’m getting blue in the face repeating myself. We evolved to breathe a certain atmosphere. Other smart species on this very planet evolved to breathe water. Smart species on other worlds will have evolved to breathe theirs. We rely ultimately on energy from the sun. Life elsewhere will have evolved to rely on their sun, or if their atmosphere is opaque, on other energy sources. Christ, you people have no imagination.

Also, newsflash: even our atmosphere contains poisonous gasses. This “all other atmospheres contain poisonous gasses” crap is just speciest. And incredibly ignorant – there are species right here on earth that find our atmosphere toxic. Speaking of ignorant, so is your little cross-box about how “without nitrogen compounds, the earth could not feed the amount of life that it has.” Life on other planets might find that shit poisonous because they’ve evolved to eat stuff that relies on a completely different type of fertilizer. It’s like people thinking we can’t sweeten shit without high fructose corn syrup, ignoring all the other possible sweeteners around, including the fact that some folks don’t like sweet stuff at all.

6. “Earth’s Magnetic Field.” You destroyed your argument the moment you admitted that “Most of the planets and even some of the moons in the solar system also have strong magnetic fields.” Not unique. Next.

7. “Earth’s Sun.” Oh, hey, looky here! “Stars like the sun make up roughly 10% of all stars.” Not even close to unique. Moving on, then.

8. “Earth’s Place in the Solar System.” At a rough and perhaps low estimate, there are perhaps “a billion trillion Earth-like planets in the Universe.” And you lot think this is the only one that hit the sweet-spot-in-the-solar-system jackpot? Puh-leez. We know gas giants are common as muck, and we have a good idea how solar systems form, and the process is so thoroughly ordinary that I will eat my beloved cat alive if we turn out to be unique in our position. And y’all know I love this homicidal felid fiercely.

9. “Earth’s place in the Milky Way.” Oh, you mean in that one of four spiral arms? Not unique. Not even to this galaxy. And there are abundant spiral galaxies. Everywhere we look, we see spirals. Jesus has really got you blinkered, hasn’t he?

Image is three slices of the Hubble Deep Field image, showing a variety of galaxy shapes, sizes, and colors.
So here are a few details from the Hubble Deep Field image, which show a whole buncha spiral galaxies. This is only a portion of an image that covered a mere one 24-millionth of the sky. And that was pointing at a bit that looked relatively empty. Public domain image courtesy NASA.

All right, so we’ve seen their proofs, my darlings, but we haven’t heard the clincher yet, so withhold judgement a mo’, m’kay? Here’s their checkmate:

Image shows the Hubble Deep Field, with the caption, "If our solar system were located within the dusty regions of our galaxy, we would not be able to see the immensity of the universe which reflects the immensity of our God."
Figure from bottom left of page 80 of ES4. They seriously think this is a compelling argument.

Oh, well, then. Wow. I assume all those goatherders who couldn’t see what Hubble sees were total atheists, then. Wait, they weren’t? Guess I’ll just stand my king back up now, and actually, I’m afraid my pawns have pwned you…

Also, the next time I get called arrogant by a fundie, I’m reading this bit to them:

But as we look at the earth and the heavens from the perspective of Scripture, we see that we play an important, central role. God has made us in His image…. God has also called us to have dominion over the earth. The earth wasn’t just created for life; the earth was created for us – intelligent, spiritual, human life. As we study the earth and wisely use its systems to improve our lives, we are not selfishly abusing it if we intend to declare God’s glory through good and wise dominion. We are fulfilling our God-given calling.

Then they quote Psalm 8 after a bit of pseudo-humble aw-shucksing.

Dear Christianists: you are not allowed to ever call an atheist arrogant again.

This section of the chapter ends with a little light theistic evolution bashing. One of their questions is pretty revealing: “If theistic evolution were true, then where did sin come from and why do we need a Redeemer?” Nice appeal to consequences fallacy, there. And right after saying it’s the theistic evolutionists who have “a real logical dilemma,” too. Jolly good show.

After having read an entire section of gotcha arguments any two-bit science fiction author has already found a zillion ways around, I am no closer to believing in God. I’m also no closer to believing that this textbook has anything to do with science, outside of a few stray facts crammed in. But I am much closer to praying that none of the ES4 authors ever tries their hand at sci-fi writing.

 

Here’s a bit o’ a bibliography that murders every single argument they made in this section:

The Anthropic Coincidences: A Natural Explanation

Review: The Privileged Planet

Anthropic Principle, a list of resources from Talk Reason

Argument from fine tuning

Goldilocks Zone

Is Earth Unique or Is Life Common Across the Universe?

The Privileged Planet Part 3: The Anthropic principle

How common are Earth-Moon planetary systems?

Lots of planets might have big moons just like ours

Extraterrestrial Zoology

Friction from Tides Could Make Extrasolar Planets Habitable

New conditions for life on other planets: Tidal effects change ‘habitable zone’ concept

Astronomical and planetary boundary conditions for the evolution of life

Life Without Water?

The Sky May Be Filled with Earth-like Planets

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Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XIX: Wherein We Learn Christianists Make Lousy Sci-Fi Writers

19 thoughts on “Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XIX: Wherein We Learn Christianists Make Lousy Sci-Fi Writers

  1. rq
    1

    Reminds me of the old saying, “You’re so unique, just like everybody else!”
    Well, that’s us! Unique, sure, because we’re us and it’s our own little individual world, but… these are just itty bits of rocks and chemistry floating around in space, just like everything else!

  2. 2

    Dear Dana:
    Goddamn, I knew you were good the first time I happily chanced to read you! But this latest post is at warp speed and headed right straight out of this Universe and into the next! (I blame the Tholians…)

    Jeebusfuckingchrist but that is one fine piece of writing!

    Thank you!!11Eleventy!
    sparks

  3. 5

    Most of the Earth is inimical to human life. If a human were dropped into the North Atlantic more than a kilometer or so from land, their lifespan is measured in hours. Minutes if it’s February.

  4. 6

    Fine. It would be equally miraculous if humans evolved in the North Atlantic, more than a kilometer from land. Especially if it all happened in a single February.

    (Or inside the mantle, or in the ionosphere, or inside the caldera of Mauna Loa, or in the Antarctic…)

  5. 7

    Will the Real Dr Snelling Please Stand Up? about his curious split personality.

    There appear to be two geologists living, working and publishing in Australia under the name of Dr Andrew A Snelling. Both have impressive (and identical) scientific qualifications – a BSc (Hons), in Geology (University of NSW) and a PhD, for research in uranium mineralisation (University of Sydney).

    (a) Dr A A Snelling 1 – creationist geologist, a director of CSF and regular contributor to, and sometime editor of, the CSF’s quarterly magazine, Ex Nihilo (now CREATION ex nihilo).

    (b) Dr A A Snelling 2 – consulting geologist who works on uranium mineralisation and publishes in refereed scientific journals.

    He doesn’t even have the decency to believe in Philip Gosse’s Omphalos theory of created appearance. Did Adam and Eve have navels? That conundrum inspired the title of his great book, the Greek word for navel. He proposed that the Universe was created with the appearance of being much older, because the Universe was created in the middle of its cycles. But to many people, it has seemed like a theory of divine fraudulence.

    In his book Omphalos, he discussed a lot of the old-Earth evidence of his day in incredibly gory detail. A present-day successor writing Omphalos II would write in equally gory detail about
    Tree rings, lake varves, and ice layers
    Radiometric dating
    Milankovitch astronomical cycles
    Evidence of continental drift
    Distances of stars and galaxies
    Star-cluster ages from stellar evolution
    Galactic chemical evolution: the older stars are less enriched in heavier elements
    The Big Bang: the expansion of the Universe, the Cosmic Microwave Background, nucleosynthesis, primordial fluctuations
    Molecular-phylogeny work

  6. 8

    Seems like the Christianists here are using a much crapper and less sophisticated and factual version of the “Rare Earth” argument.

    They also think that the astronauts’ quoting of poetry from an old book relentlessly pounded into them since childhood proves that scientists are just silly-willies for thinking centuries of astronomy have shown Earth is just one planet among many, orbiting an average star in an average galaxy in the immensity of space.

    (Pedant mode on, sorry.) Pet beef of mine but as you later noted (#7) our Sun is actually NOT an average star but only about 5% of stars are G-type yellow dwarfs with the majority of stars being red & orange dwarfs. The stellar breakdown going approximately like this :

    70% = Red (M) dwarfs, of which not a single one is ever visible to our unaided eyes. Or has ever “lived” out its lifespan and “died” either. (Dwarf here = “main sequence” or core hydrogen fusing star in essence.)
    10% = Orange (K) dwarfs with another
    10% = white dwarfs, a whole sub-class of stellar remnants, the cores of ex-stars.
    5 % = Yellow (G) dwarfs like our Sun and Alpha Centauri and Tau Ceti.
    5% A, & F “Sirian” and “Procyonese” type dwarfs. (The term “White dwarfs” already being taken & yellow-white being a bit clunky and confusing !
    Less than 1% = Blue (O & B) dwarfs plus all the giants and super-giants and sub-giants.

    Despite which these last rarest superluminous categories of stars dominate our skies because they can be seen from vats distances away. Note that whilst the nearest M, K & G dwarfs are all in the nearest star system to ours at 4 light-years and the nearest A & F stars Sirius and Procyon are just 10 or so light years away, the nearest B type star Regulus is 77 ly distant and nearest O type star is hundreds of light-years away. So whilst our star isn’t really a galactic superstar (like say, Rigel) and fades in comparison with most of the stars in our night skies it’s certainly not average although not super rare either.

    Probably belabouring the point here (alright, definitely belabouring it, sorry) but that “average star” thing is a constantly repeated bit of mis-info that really bugs me. Now, okay, not sure if “median star” sounds better or quite how else to phrase it but still!

    This “all other atmospheres contain poisonous gasses” crap is just speciest. And incredibly ignorant – there are species right here on earth that find our atmosphere toxic.

    Absolutely spot on! Furthermore, our original atmosphere was toxic to us -abut delightful to the first living unicellular creatures which then went on to create, by their consumption, Earth’s current atmosphere which was actually toxic to them and why those anerobic species here on earth today are here but aren’t able to cope with the atmosphere they helped make.

    Wow. I assume all those goatherders who couldn’t see what Hubble sees were total atheists, then. Wait, they weren’t?

    Even worse they ignore how the Christianists along with almost everyone else were always astounded and gobsmacked and also horrified and generally fought against the improved understanding of the cosmos – three words words Galileo and Bruno.

    Its the religious who have always been limited in their imagination about the scale of the cosmos wanting to keep it small and short and us-centred. Science OTOH, has the Copernican principle of mediocrity.

    “The earth wasn’t just created for life; the earth was created for us – intelligent, spiritual, human life.”- Christianist.

    But then if that’s true why did we evolve so late in the Earth’s history? Why all those endless aeons when life was just bacteria then insects and why are these creatures still around and so much of our biomass? Watching CarlSagan’s ‘Cosmic Calendar’ really puts us and our planets prehistory in perspective I think. (See : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ln8UwPd1z20 from the 20 seconds mark onwards especially.)

    To say, nothing of why they think dogs and dolphins, elephants and orangutans and octopi and felines can’t also be considered “intelligent or spiritual” if not ‘human’ life too! Arrogance indeed!

    Well writ and noted Dana Hunter.

    ***

    ““Of the 10 million stars within 1,000 light years of earth, Rigel ranks as number 1, radiating more light than any other. Each minute it [Rigel] casts off more light than the Sun generates in a month.”
    – Ken Croswell, “The Blue Witch” p. 22 in ‘Sky &Telescope’ magazine May-June 2007.

  7. 16

    Excellent point. Still, the Sun isn’t out-of-the ordinary, certainly not one-of-a-kind. There’s got to be a better way to get that across without acting like most stars are yellow ones. Would “Average yellow star” work?

  8. 18

    If the earth was created just for us, then for what species were the other planets created?? If, for no one else, then why create them??
    If we have dominion over the earth, why is our species so weak in comparison to most others?? I will grant that our brains have evolved more (oops, did I say evolve, I meant were created, or intelligently designed….or some bullshit) however, without the ability to make and use weapons, we wouldn’t stand a chance of surviving against a large number of animal species on this planet. And don’t get me started on our inability to fight disease on our own

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