(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education VIII: Two Salty Tales of Ocean Origins

My conservative Christian former best friend used to say that too much prayer rots the brain. Earth Science 4th Edition provides clear evidence of this right from the blurb at the start of the “Oceans and Seas” chapter. They begin talking about desalination by saying wow, there’s more people on Earth than ever! Yay! “God didn’t place a limit on how many people should inhabit the earth.”

I really wish the Bible had a verse placing strict limits on the total population, and ordering dominionists like the BJU believers to adhere to a strict “One child, no conversion, no evangelizing, and for My sake put a condom on that thing!” policy. Because it seems they believe that God wants as many people stuffed onto the planet as possible, limited resources be damned. They acknowledge the fact that a huge population makes things like having enough drinking water for everyone a serious issue. But they pretend that’s all fine, since we invented desalinization plants. Breed away! God placed no limits on population, so let’s have humans stacked a dozen deep over every square inch of the planet! Fuck logic and sense, yo!

Image is a photo of the Duggar family showing 18 kids surrounding Mom, who is holding a baby. Caption says, "Be fruitful and multiply. You're doing it right!"

Fools like this are why I’m one of those atheists who thinks we really need, as a species, to do away with the idea of holy books* all together. We can’t be trusted with it.

Dominion is a strong theme at the beginning of this chapter. “Oceans for Man’s Use” is the very first section. After giving us lots of facts about the oceans, like their size and how they help regulate the earth’s temperature, and how most of our oxygen “comes from photosynthetic organisms living in” them, they tell us it’s important to exercise dominion over them.

Oy. These people are massive control freaks. Instead of caring for or partnering with things, they want to exercise jackbooted thuggery over it all. In a “good and wise” manner, they hasten to assure us. Considering they think it’s a bonza idea to fill Earth with people until there’s no room for anything else, I’m not believing they’re qualified to judge what’s good or wise.

And they’re encouraging students to pursue careers in oceanography in order to exercise said dominion.

Their description of what oceanographers are includes engineers. NOAA, on the other hand, is under the impression that oceanographers are scientists. I know engineering comes under STEM, but let’s get real folks: I’m pretty sure the BJU folks are including marine engineering under oceanography because there’s faint hope for a faithful creationist BJU grad to get a job as an honest scientist. But you can design useful boats and things even if you think the book of Genesis is a science treatise.

Next, we’re told about ocean basins. They’re very excited that oceanographers say that technically there’s only one ocean, since all oceans are connected. A little text box to the side informs us that Genesis 1: 9-10 totally called it, yo. Yes, very wow – aside from the fact it also implies there should be only one continent. Much impressive.

Another text box attempts to define parts of an ocean. A public school sixth-grader could probably do better than “Bays are generally smaller than gulfs.”

Image is of a squinting white kitten with its mouth open is a sort of grimace. Caption reads, "You hurt my brain."

Let me just take a moment to remind you that this is an 8th grade textbook. Supposedly.

The patented BJU “both sides” method of playing old-earthers against young-earthers comes next, as they tell us what everybody thinks was the “Origin of the Oceans.” I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn they don’t really know what scientists think. “Old-earth geologists believe,” we’re told, that the oceans may have even formed “right after [Earth] condensed from the solar nebula.” Ha ha ha no. Earth at birth was too bloody hot for oceans, folks. Whether our oceans formed from water already present within the rocks, or whether it was delivered later by comets, we can be pretty confident based on the evidence we have that Earth didn’t have oceans until it was around 300 million years old at the earliest. I’ve never, in all my copious science reading, seen a geologist claim oceans were fully formed from the start.

For some reason, probably due to obstinate ignorance, they believe we secular scientists think that “the current Atlantic, India, and Arctic Ocean basins began forming 300 million years ago.”

Image is a gif of a running octopus. Caption is flashing NOPE.

How they can fuck that up, and yet understand that we know the “Pacific Ocean basin is all that remains from an earlier global sea called Panthalassa,” is beyond me. This info isn’t obscure, and yet they apparently couldn’t peek at Wikipedia or Britannica to get the appropriate ages. Three hundred million years ago, Pangea was just formed: there was only one continent and one ocean, and it would stay that way for nearly 100 million years. The Atlantic and it’s companion Arctic are 180 million years old. The Indian is around 125 million years old, although its history is a bit complex. Really not hard to get right – unless you’re a creationist, in which case the facts mean bupkiss to you.

Of course, the BJU writers have their own history of the earth’s oceans, pulled in part from Genesis, with the rest extracted from their asses – which sure as shit ain’t Biblical:

Young-earth geologists believe that the earth began as a water planet. God created what was probably a single supercontinent on the second day of Creation (Gen. 1: 9-10) around 7000 years ago. That supercontinent was wrenched apart during a one-year flood and its catastrophic aftermath around 5500 years ago. The shapes and sizes of the present-day ocean basins are the result of that single event in Earth’s history.

Fine, creationists. That’s your story, you feel free to stick to it despite the endless lines of evidence that say the old-earth geologists are right. But answer me a few things, here:

1. Why didn’t God bother to mention dates when he was dictating Genesis? He could have said, “I told Noah to build the Ark cuz I was pissed at people. That was 1428 After Creation. Can you believe it took that incompetent ass nearly eighty years to finish it and get it stocked? Sheesh. Anyway, I was finally able to start the Flood and the mass murder in 1504. Good times!”

Instead, we get people at Answers in Genesis making all sorts of assumptions and tables trying to figure out how long it took Noah to build the Ark, and none of you can seem to agree on just when all of this happened – despite the fact you claim to have an omniscient and infallible eyewitness!

2. Ya’ll claim there was some super-accelerated, wild-n-crazy tectonic movement going on during the Flood years. Why didn’t god say so? I’ve read Genesis 6, 7, and 8 in both the KJV and NRSV, and I can’t find a single hint all this was going on. God couldn’t fit a line in about a supercontinent breaking up? At least suggest something more than just a flood (and genocide, not to mention ecocide) was going on? Noah didn’t notice anything different about the topography? Really?

3. If the animals all come from one continent, and there were now several when they got off the boat, how’d they know which continents belonged to whom? How’d the ones who were now supposed to live on other continents like North and South America and Australia get there? Do you think they swam entire oceans? Even the sloths?

4. Did you calculate the amount of heat that would’ve been released by all that tectonic activity? All that mountain building, volcanic eruptions, ocean crust formation, subduction? Tell me, how do you think a bunch of critters, eight humans, and a wooden boat survive without boiling or bursting into flames?

5. Why did God find it necessary to make every single bit of evidence – from the ages of the ocean crust, to continental sutures where bits of Pangea came together, to the distribution of rock layers and fossils, to evidence of even older supercontinents that existed long before Pangea, to the age of asteroids, even to the cosmic microwave background – match an old earth/ancient universe interpretation, rather than making a young earth an inescapable conclusion?

I have plenty more questions, but I’ll let ya’ll ponder those for a bit. Good luck with ’em.

Image is a flat earth in space. Caption says, "Biblical literalism: getting science wrong for over 2,800 years!"

*Not the books themselves, mind. Just the idea that they’re sacred messages direct from god or gods, infallible and so forth.

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(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education VIII: Two Salty Tales of Ocean Origins