(Tier 1) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXXIX: Wherein We’re Zapped by Creationist Crap

Fucking magnets, how do creationists think they work? We’re about to find out! Join me as we embark upon Science of the Physical Creation’s Chapter 15: Electrostatics and Magnetism. Hoo-boy!

They begin with a quote about Thor God:

Job 37:3: He directeth… his lightning unto the ends of the earth.

In context, the meaning is rather different. It’s not just lightning that God is directing: it’s his voice. This is Elihu telling Job how awesome and powerful God is, after God has completely fucked up Job’s life over a bet with Satan. For shame, SPC authors, muddying the clear meaning of God’s Word!

The SPC writers introduce the chapter’s subject matter by talking a bit about electrostatic phenomena like lightning and St. Elmo’s Fire. As always, I about choke myself to death laughing when creationists bring up superstition: it’s pretty rich to hear them spout off about how other people are just sooo superstitious, and immediately follow up with something like this:

Recently, however, God has allowed mankind to begin to unravel the mysteries of static electricity and magnetism.

Image shows a seal on a beach rolled on its side with one flipper up in the air, mouth open and eyes squeezed closed. Caption says, ROFLMAO
Yep. God was just keeping us ignorant for thousands and thousands of years until one day he decided,”Oh, what the hay. I’ll stop fucking with them and let them figure it out on their own. Well, some of them. I still need a bunch of ignorant jackasses around to let my creationists think they’re superior.” And thus Insane Clown Posse was born.

They go on to offer a hum-drum explanation of electric charge, how atoms become positively or negatively charged, and how static electricity works. I get the sense they don’t understand exactly how it functions: they don’t seem to understand why one object might lose electrons and another gain them after they’re rubbed together. The way they describe it makes it sound like you can generate static charges by rubbing any two objects together, which I can handily disprove by vigorously rubbing my middle finger on one of their glossy pages. No charge.

Image shows my hand, holding a pen between thumb and index finger, middle finger extended and rubbing a page of the textbook that is propped against my knees.

What? I had my pen in my hand. That’s why I used my middle finger. Any opinion it seems to express on the quality of this book is just a happy accident.

Their explanation of how Ben Franklin named the charges (and sorta got them backwards) is fun and engaging, and makes it easy to remember that a negative charge is an excess of electrons. Franklin thought the positive charge was an excess of the “electric fluid,” but since it’s electrons that are the fluid and they have a negative charge, it ended up all backwards.

We’ll proceed past the page on electrostatic laws that merely discusses charges, force, and Coulomb’s law. It’s all very basic and nothing you wouldn’t expect to find in a secular source. And the top of the next page, where there’s a chart comparing the inverse square laws of electric, magnetic, and gravitational force is fine. But don’t despair! For they verily wallop us over the head with creationist crapola when discussing inverse square laws in the text:

When scientists examine nature, they are impressed with its lawfulness, which we know to be a reflection of the rationality of nature’s creator.

Woah, Nellie! You mean the rationality of the dude who drowned nearly every critter he created cuz he had a mad at some folks? The rationality of the guy who prolonged the torture and agony of two nations of people because he wanted to show off how massive a dick he was? The dude who burned two boys to death for making a mistake with incense? The rationality you speak of is not in evidence with this deity. And I haven’t even brought up the design flaws with reproduction and giraffes’ necks yet. Y’all got two problems: you haven’t even proven the existence of God, #1, and #2, the God you claim to follow is demonstrably irrational.

God’s rationality is reflected in the many inverse square laws which define or describe various relationships in nature. For example, the intensity of light is inversely related to the square of the distance between an observer and the source of light…. The equations for strength of a magnetic force and an electrostatic force are almost identical.

Why? Why is that “rational”? It’s consistent, I grant you, but that doesn’t mean it’s rational. Your assertion is unproven. Again.

We do not know why God chose to establish certain relationships on an inverse square basis; but because He did so, we are able to explain and understand much about the universe than might otherwise prove confusing. Each time scientists discover an inverse square relationship (or some other mathematical relationship) in nature, they are, in effect, “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.”

If God is so damned rational, his reasons for establishing the laws he did should be evident after a little investigation. We should be able to follow his thought process. Howevs, we can’t. That’s probably because the jerk is a myth, not an actual being.

So that was pretty spectacular. It’s like they’ve been building up all this creationist crap charge over the whole chapter and then discharged it all at once. We’ll see if they manage to build up another one in the next section.

(Tier 1) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXXIX: Wherein We’re Zapped by Creationist Crap
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One thought on “(Tier 1) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXXIX: Wherein We’re Zapped by Creationist Crap

  1. 1

    I’m familair with the mathematics behind a lot of physical stuff, and that includes why inverse-square force laws. As it turns out, they are related to the geometry of space-time the way that intensity fall-off is for a point source.

    For D space dimensions, the forces and the fall-offs go as 1/r^(D-1) for distance r. That’s a constant for 1 space dimension, 1/r for 2 space dimensions, 1/r^2 for 3 space dimensions, 1/r^3 for 4 space dimensions, etc. But one can create the effect of fewer space dimensions by using a rod or a sheet as a source.

    It must be noted that having 3 space dimensions is very convenient for us, because it allows a lot of complexity to exist that would have a hard time existing in 2 or 1 space dimensions. However, with 4 space dimensions, the orbits of planets and the like would be borderline stable, and for 5 or more, they would be unstable — an object either does a flyby or else falls in. So we live in a convenient sort of universe for us.

    Another convenient feature is the number of time dimensions. There is only one, and it fixes the direction of time. In more than one time dimension, an object might go in circles relative to them. So our Universe avoids a certain sort of weirdness.

    Creationists would say “Aha! Fine tuning!” But there is much of our Universe that is not very suited for us. We don’t live in a “terrarium Universe”, but one that’s mostly very hostile to us. Even much of our homeworld’s surface has hostile features. The oceans are undrinkably salty, part of the land surface are very cold or very dry, etc. So our Universe is borderline habitable.

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