In today’s airing of “The 700 Club”— a live television program that airs weekdays before a studio audience from The Christian Broadcasting Network’s (CBN) broadcast facilities in Virginia Beach, Virginia—Pat Robertson failed miserably in his attempt to answer a viewer’s rational question.
The question asked:
“While I understand the reason God told King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:3 to slay the Amalekites, how do you explain it to those who see it the same as the Quran teaching to “behead in the battlefield?”
Without realizing it, Robertson explained the similarities and struggled to distinguish a single difference between passages on killing and genocide in the Bible and the Quran. Pat cited Biblical references, which strengthened the parallel between the two religious texts; he even portrayed the genocidal context from the Biblical passage to be more extreme than those found in the Quran.
Here’s the video:
I went to an Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) school from the age of 11 to 14, and I can think of many reasons why this kind of education is a poor preparation for university. I spent half of every school day alone in a cubicle, working silently though PACEs (Packets of Accelerated Christian Education) – workbooks that incorporate religious instruction into every academic subject, for example teaching that evolution is a hoax.
These bastions of fundamentalism have been operating in Britain since the early 1980s. In 2010 the BBC reported that there were 60 in the UK.
In 2012 I began a PhD studying ACE, and discovered that little had changed since I left in 1999. I have campaigned against ACE, with some success. The shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has described its stance on homosexuality as “dangerous” and “backwards”; the Advertising Standards Authority ruled last month that some ACE schools were mis-selling their qualifications; and the press finally noticed they were teaching that wives must submit to their husbands.
In all of this, however, little attention has been paid to the pseudoscience that ACE passes off as education. PACEs sometimes get basic science wrong, but more importantly they demonstrate that ACE can’t tell the difference between science and nonsense obscured with long words. For example, ACE’s Science 1087(aimed at students in year 9) suggests it might be possible to generate electricity from snow:Scientists have known for years that snowflakes are shaped in six-sided, or hexagonal, patterns. But why is this? Some scientists have theorised that the electrons within a water molecule follow three orbital paths that are positioned at 60° angles to one another. Since a circle contains 360°, this electronic relationship causes the water molecule to have six ‘spokes’ radiating from a hub (the nucleus). When water vapour freezes in the air, many water molecules link up to form the distinctive six-sided snowflakes and the hexagonal pattern is quite evident.Snowflakes also contain small air pockets between their spokes. These air pockets have a higher oxygen content than does normal air. Magnetism has a stronger attraction for oxygen than for other gases. Consequently, some scientists have concluded that a relationship exists between a snowflake’s attraction to oxygen and magnetism’s attraction to oxygen.Job 38:22, 23 states, ‘Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?’ Considering this scripture, some scientists believe that a tremendous power resides untapped within the water molecules from which snowflakes and hailstones are made.How can this scripture, along with these observations about snowflakes, show us a physical truth? Scientists at Virginia Tech have produced electricity more efficiently from permanent magnets, which have their lines of force related to each other at sixty-degree angles, than from previous methods of extracting electricity from magnetism. Other research along this line may reveal a way to tap electric current directly from snow, eliminating the need for costly, heavy, and complex equipment now needed to generate electricity.My scientific knowledge isn’t superb – not helped by three years of ACE – so I asked Professor Paul Braterman, a chemist at Glasgow University and a committee member of the anti-creationist British Centre for Science Education, what he thought. “Bullshit on stilts” came his reply, in a brusque email pointing out that snow has no magnetic properties. The prospect of generating free electricity from snow, he added, “bears no relationship to reality”.