Adventures in ACE XVIII: Creationist Nonsense of the Deep

Put on your wetsuits and grab your scuba gear, my darlings, cuz the creationists are about to shower us with ocean babble that just doesn’t hold water. Yep. We’ve reached ACE’s idea of oceanography. It’s sooo bad.

It starts with Ace not knowing why Earth is called The Blue Planet. The former bookseller in me can’t help but heave an exasperated sigh and say, “Cuz it’s this big and it’s blue.” (Industry in-joke, my darlings.)

You’ll be astonished to hear that the ACE writers are not, in fact, moon landing denialists, as Mr. Virtueson is happy to tell us that astronauts landed on the moon in 1969, looked at Earth, and saw lotsa blue. Because water. And that brings to mind some Bible verses, which he renders thusly:

“Psalm 104:1-6 states, ‘…O LORD my God, thou art very great… who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters…. Who laid the foundations of the earth…. Thou coveredest it with the deep as with a garment…”

When creationists use lots of ellipses, I tend to wonder what they’re hiding. In this case, it’s quite a bit of redundant crap that shows these verses should be taken metaphorically. It’s poetry, not a science lesson. But of course these dogma-dazzled drips can’t understand that.

Ace’s profound insight is that the Bible calls oceans the “deep” a lot, and wow, how deep are they? His dad tells us the Mariana Trench is super-dooper deep. Which, y’know, is great trivia and stuff, but does nothing to tell us about ocean depth in general. It’s helpfully illustrated with a drawing that is not at all to scale:

Image is a drawing showing Mount Everest vs. the Mariana Trench. It's not to scale.
Poorly-drawn diagram from ACE PACE 1087.

Dad babbles on a bit about how we used to measure water depth with ropes with knots in, but now we use sonar, and that’s it. Absolutely no further info on how deep the oceans are. We have learned nothing aside from the depth of one unusual spot. Now Ace is amazed that the seafloor isn’t flat, and they’re on about ocean floor topography. And here, my darlings, they pour the creationist crap on as thick as can be, without actually saying anything outright. It’s all in what they don’t say. They’re happy to talk about features, but not why those features are there. They mention that the Atlantic is smaller than the Pacific, but don’t say that’s because the Atlantic is (comparatively) young. They mention the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, but don’t say that mid-ocean ridges are found throughout the world, or why they’re there, or why the ridges have splits down their middles. They can’t tie everything together and explain how it got that way.

So what do they do instead? Bombard us with disparate facts (screwing up the continental rise in the process – it’s not a level area before the slope of the abyssal plain, folks. It is that slope). And then, having thrown a handful of oceanic trivia in the air, they get as far from science as they can and start proselytizing again. Ace sez the topography of the deep “could be a picture of sin:”

“Pastor Alltruth said the further a sinner gets from the values of the Word of God, the faster and deeper the effects of sin drag him down into the abyss of sin. Even though some people sin less than others, ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23).”

And Ace’s dad burbles that “Christ can put a stop to that downward slide” if the icky sinners ask him nicely, and “Isn’t God great to save us, since we can’t save ourselves?” This is more important than teaching earth science in an earth science booklet.

Image shows a cartoon sketch of the sea floor from the continental shelf to the abyssal plain. I've added a sketch of Jesus to the abyssal plain, cuz that's basically what this "textbook" is all about.
Diagram from ACE PACE 1087, with added Jesus.

This leads to one of the most tortured segues in the history of creationist textbooks:

“Dad, I’m glad that God’s Word can penetrate the depths of sin to reach the lowest sinner,” remarked Ace. “How far down does sunlight penetrate into the ocean?”

Oy. Ow.

We’re supposed to be talking about ocean layers in this section, but we get only one layer: the zone of light. Then they babble about how oxygen is mostly in the first 600 feet of water, which isn’t quite correct – certainly not for many areas. Then they sort of vaguely hint about other layers, but without giving them clear names or depths. They sound like people trying to remember what they were taught about oceans in elementary school and are marooned on Mars without an encyclopedia. “Ooo it is so deep, and dark, and cold… oh! And there’s these weird fish. And things. And strange plants!” None of the information given is processed systematically with proper terms.

Folks, I’ve got to break it to you: there are no plants in the abyss. But these ignoramuses think there are plants living off of chemosynthesis down there. They seriously do.

They have no idea what science is. They don’t even have a passing acquaintance with it. They can’t even get their trivia right. And they think they know everything because the Bible mentions a few things, sort of, if you squint and take everything out of context.


We’ll stop here before we drown in this crap. Next time, prepare to be buried under waves of inanity. Oh, joy.

Adventures in ACE XVIII: Creationist Nonsense of the Deep

22 thoughts on “Adventures in ACE XVIII: Creationist Nonsense of the Deep

  1. rq

    I’m so glad you included Jesus On the Abyssal Plain in this post. Brilliant. I think further posts all need some Jesus somewhere in the pictures, especially if he’s not to scale.
    (Had a nice picture of Jesus chemosynthesizing down there and having a difficult time of it, poor dear. God’s idea of a time-out sure does suck!)

  2. 6

    Um, no, we used to measure *sailing speed* using ropes with knots in.

    This guy’s long on virtue and remarkably short on basic, non-Jeebus facts.
    (not that mostly all facts aren’t non-Jeebus facts…)

  3. rq

    I have an idea for a series of paired paintings:
    Jesus on the Mount
    Jesus on the Mount (horse)

    Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
    Jesus at Olive Garden

    Jesus on the Abyssal Plain
    Jesus on a Plane

  4. rq

    There’s that old anecdote about why the ocean is salty. It usually involved sperm whales, but I think we can draw a different conclusion now.

  5. 18

    I was a used bookseller for 20 years and often heard that from nostalgia-touched idiots (sorry, customers). “I’m looking for a book I just loved as a child and it was blue but I don’t remember the author or the title or the plot or anything else — do you have it?”

  6. blf

    Whilst sounding lines don’t use knots, they traditionally use markers that can be read by feel(i.e., in the dark), so yes, in a sense, depth was measured by (loosely speaking) knotted ropes. Markers were placed every(?) fathom.

    You are, of course, correct — chip logs, which really did use knotted ropes, were traditionally used for measuring speed. The knots were something like every eight fathoms; the number of knots-in-the-rope every minute(?) is easily converted to the speed in knots.

  7. 20

    20,000-ft Jesus dwarfs puny 900-ft Jesus!

    Unrelatedly, the Challenger expedition of the 1870s was actually forced to rely on lines to perform the many soundings that they logged, inasmuch as reliable electronic sonar had yet to be invented.

    They also used instruments attached to those lines to take samples from the ocean floor, and make measurements of various physical phenomena.

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