Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XX: Wherein Creationists Misrepresent Secular Scientists for Jesus!

Oh, joy! After a fallacy-filled introduction featuring a two-faced jackass, Earth Science 4th Edition is gonna teach us all “geology.” After they’re done with us, we’ll be able to “explain the dangers of viewing the history of the earth as very old and as the product of natural processes.” We’ll also be equipped to “exercise dominion on God’s specially created earth.” And wow, look at this… interesting… history of geology right here:

People have been studying the earth for a long time, probably since right after the Creation and Fall (see Gen. 4:22).

O-kaaaay… so do tell us how a verse about a woman having a son who was good at making metal stuff proves people studied the earth in a systematic fashion.

After the Genesis Flood, people needed geology to identify new sources of metals and building materials.

Oh, yes. Creation myths are great science texts. Such proof. Much evidence.

They also seem to think there was no geology in Medieval Europe, as Renaissance folks had to discover that science from other people’s writings. So I guess that means they didn’t need any building materials, then?

Image shows facade of St. Giles' Cathedral, a large, gray-brown stone cathedral with many spires, arches, and buttresses.
St. Giles’ Cathedral, built in the late 14th century – positively medieval! Image courtesy Carlos Delgado (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Oh, my.

Well, but surely nobody in the Middle Ages was in the market for metal.

Image is a medieval painting of a crowned king with a huge sword and a kneeling knight in full plate armor.
David I of Scotland knighting a squire, 12th Century. Public domain image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Deary me. It appears they were. And they found new mines. Without geology, one assumes, as per ES4‘s completely accurate history, which sez people needed geology to find the stuff.

Biblical history was no problemo for the Renaissance scientists, we’re assured, because they were Bible-believin’ and totes thought the rocks they saw formed in the Flood (except for that weirdo da Vinci, but what do actual geniuses know?). And they would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for that meddling Hutton and his gang.

A very strict definition of uniformitarianism is given: they say it’s “the belief that earth-forming processes are natural, have always been the same, and have always happened at the same gradual rate.” I will now take your bets as to whether they ever clarify that the modern definition of uniformitarianism includes periodic catastrophes. Anyone? Hello?

They do a  coconut shy when it comes to Lyell and Darwin. Lyell’s statement that “The present is the key to the past” influenced Darwin, and he “extended these ideas to the origin of life.” Ha ha ha no. Darwin was starting in medias res, as any good storyteller does: he was talking about the origin of species. Says so right in his book title, dunnit? Evolution deals with life that’s already there and reproducing. It ain’t abiogenesis.

These Christianists are tricksy.

Unsurprisingly, the ES4 authors are not impressed with deep time, and even less impressed with the reasonable Christians who decided it was maybe time to reinterpret certain assumptions and possibly give God a bit more time to work with. And oh, gosh, “the old-earth gradualistic view had to be modified to include” the evidence when we realized plate tectonics is a thing. I think they mean that flexibility to be an indictment. Nevermind that their young-earth views are constantly being modified. That’s completely different. Shut up, it just is.

You can see the relief sweat and excited stiffies when they pounce upon Morris and Whitcomb’s terrible little tome The Genesis Flood. It was just as revolutionary as Lyell’s book! Really! Cuz it “encouraged people to reexamine the scientific data from a Christian worldview.” Yes, it certainly did. Strangely enough, only fundies are impressed by it. Well, in the real world. But in the fundie-world of ES4, reality is quite different.

Image is a drawing of Batman sipping from a cup of coffee, then doing a spit-take. Caption says, Caution: Spit-take ahead.

They say, “Bible-believing geologists and even secular scientists have shown that the scientific evidence actually fit the Bible’s story of a young Creation and the Flood better than the old-earth view.”

Told ya to put your drinks down first.

I’ve only got two questions for the ES4 folk on this:

  1. Who are these secular scientists?
  2. Why is Andrew Snelling not referring to this young-earth stuff in his mainstream geology papers? I mean, if even secular scientists have strong evidence for a reeely young earth, surely he’s got the super-amazing proof that will revolutionize the science. And yet, he’s on about millions and billions of years… why is that, then?

And before they howl that he has to cuz the mean ol’ secular publications won’t accept this super-amazing evidence which even secular geologists are finding, let me introduce J Harlan Bretz. He had evidence of a catastrophic flood. The geologic community said

Image shows a gray owl with huge yellow-green eyes staring at the viewer. Caption says, "No wai"

and J Harlan said

Image shows an enthusiastic-looking white owl with yellow eyes and red open mouth. Caption says, "Ya rly."

and further evidence was obtained, until even the most skeptical skeptics said

Image is a collage of owls in varying states of surprise and dignity. Captions say, "Most definitely," "Wow," Totally," Srsly," and "Indubitably."

and it became accepted science.

All it takes is clear and convincing evidence.

But creationist authors of ES4 don’t present such evidence. They can’t, as they haven’t got any. All they can do is snivel about “the atheistic mindset of most modern scientists,” and vow to “restore the biblical origins of geology – not to dwell on the unprovable origins of the earth, but to provide the tools needed for good and wise dominion,” instead of provide said evidence. Which totes exists! BIBLE!!!

One assumes that one of the tools they think they’re providing is the knowledge of how to locate petroleum. A petroleum geologist who used to be a creationist until he realized that creationist concepts can’t be used to find diddly squat because they are wrong has an essay touching on the subject. The upshot:

I took a poll of my ICR [Institution for Creation Research] graduate friends who have worked in the oil industry.  I asked them one question.

“From your oil industry experience, did any fact that you were taught at ICR, which challenged current geological thinking, turn out in the long run to be true? ,” [sic]

That is a very simple question.  One man, Steve Robertson, who worked for Shell grew real silent on the phone, sighed and softly said ‘No!’  A very close friend that I had hired at Arco, after hearing the question, exclaimed, “Wait a minute.  There has to be one!”  But he could not name one.  I can not name one.  No one else could either.

Very ouch. And any of the young folk who, after being taught from this book, go on to careers as industry geologists, will face the same harsh fact: there is no truth in what they are being taught.

From here, we get into Ken Ham territory, with the “operational” vs. “historical” science trope so dear to so many creationists who want their science and their Biblical literalism, too. It doesn’t work any better for them than it did for Ken when he got up in Bill Nye’s face with it. They’re helpless in the face of multiple lines of evidence converging on the same answer, or the explanatory power of a theory that has made sense of such disparate things as the Ring of Fire and the geologic quietude of the Atlantic coast, not to mention can say how those seashells got all up on mountaintops, without having to reel from one ridiculous and impossible scenario to another. The only way you can avoid the truth is to deliberately stop your ears and eyes.

All this book is doing is handing students ear plugs and blinkers, and when those aren’t adequate, they just flat-out lie:

Modern secular geologists call their approach to geology neocatastrophism, rather than uniformitarianism.

No. We don’t. Currently, it seems neocatastrophism is a term that might apply to astrobiologists trying to figure out why the cosmic neighborhood isn’t teeming with noisy neighbors. Geologists are happy to continue on with a uniformitarianism that knows that on the deep time scale, major events happen, and conditions can change drastically, but these are natural processes, most of them happening at relatively gradual rates. No god is required to explain the past.

And that’s exactly what’s got the creationists pants-pissing terrified.

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Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XX: Wherein Creationists Misrepresent Secular Scientists for Jesus!

4 thoughts on “Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XX: Wherein Creationists Misrepresent Secular Scientists for Jesus!

  1. 1

    Very few things get me crankier than creationistcritters lying in the name of Jesus. Other bad things happening in the world or my own life make me angry, sad, enraged, fiercely determined… but nothing produces downright pissy crankiness quite as fast as telling me the fundamentals of science, and especially my science of geology, are not true because they contradict some Bronze Age Sheepherder’s Guide to the Galaxy.

  2. 2

    What amazes me is how creationist always bring up the atheist or the secular. It’s not about believing in a god or not. It’s simply about science. If you wish to believe in a god, that’s fine, but a scientist cares about where the evidence takes him/her. Of course, since I’m not a scientist I could be talking outta my ass.

  3. 3

    I once walked from an interview with an oil firm looking for geology graduates over to a talk by Kent Hovind. I told the oil guy that an expert on Flood Geology was just across campus, figuring that he would have no agenda but getting the best geology for his petrodollar. He chuckled at my attempt at humor, and chucked my resume in the trash.

    Thanks for the reference to Glacial Lake Missoula, and the link to that flood site. I used to live in Missoula, and rafted the Clark Fork, even. Sadly, I knew nothing of that at the time. Good information about geology makes life better.

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