6 Ways a Creationist Textbook Sabotaged Science
Not believing in science is like not being sexually attracted to the sun: It's not applicable, it doesn't care, and it still works to make your modern life possible, whether you like it or not.
No matter how romantic sunsets are. Or how euphemistically you say "fusion."
Unfortunately, some people think there's a war between scientific equipment and invisible spirits, and instead of inventing the Ghostbusters, they declared war on understanding itself. The Internet recently shared this page from a science textbook:
Making the Insane Clown Posse look like electromagnetic masterminds.
Obviously that's too stupid to be real, but publishing such things anyway is Bob Jones University's entire deal. They're a private Christian university and press, and that page is from their Christian home schooling book Science 4. It's a stupider attack on the future than How to Hide Land Mines in Time Capsules for Dummies, and even more damaging for the target market. Gary Busey's science textbook was better. I found a copy of Science 4 with the teacher's study guide, and America, when you notice your students starting to misspell IQ tests, now you'll know who to blame.
In the Beginning, There Was the Wrong
The first three paragraphs are a passage from Genesis, a misrepresentation of science, and "If nobody was around to see the moon made, how can they know?" It's a worse scientific introduction than throwing a lab rat skull at someone and chanting. Their entire definition of science is "information gained by using our senses," so if you've ever smelled a fart, well done on being a Bob Jones Certified Science-Doer.
"If we both noticed it, then by the smelt/dealt conjecture, we must have quantum entangled colons!"
Science is the systematic study of the world through observation and experiment. It's not "looking at things that aren't invisible and deciding they're less important than things that are." Unlike this book. The first chapter's core lesson is how lucky students are to be able to read the Bible for answers instead of trying to think and figure things out. I honestly can't mock that sentence any harder than it does itself. You couldn't damage their education harder without starting a Skull-Conkers league, though I'd suggest that teaching 8-year-olds "A big boy did it and disappeared" as a universal answer may cause future parenting problems.
This first chapter describes how three theories of the moon's formation are wrong, which is pretty easy when you don't include the fourth one that's probably right. They instruct parents to mock the theory of it condensing from dust by throwing baby powder in the air and asking the kid to notice how it doesn't condense into tiny planets. Note: Someone home schooling with this book definitely has baby powder around despite their child being 8. They're either pumping out religious reinforcements to help win the world's highest-stakes fan-fiction competition or keeping their precious angel safe and protected forever. That poor kid won't ever know there's such a thing as non-immaculate conception.
"Mom, I know you said not to talk to strangers, but there's a guy with a cool scythe here
who says I'm sleeping over at his place tonight!"
They mock condensation as utterly impossible, despite that being exactly how the sun, Earth, all the planets, basically everything except the moon actually formed. It takes some balls to look at the sun and say, "Nope," but looking directly at the sun is about this chapter's mental level. Well done on disproving the sky by throwing powder in the air, Christian wizards!
"They're just jealous. They know I'm a better god in like a thousand other religions."
They rubbish the break-away theory of the moon spinning off the Earth by having the parent feed the kid with bits of bread. Note: Any textbook modeling your child as a duckling is either an incredibly advanced biomorphic text or patronizing garbage. No comment on which is more likely in this context. Zeus turned into birds and things all the time.
"And I put out, unlike that surprisingly frigid sun."
Then they throw around facts about density and minerals, and if you think they explained what any of those words are first, well done on being much better at science textbooks than Bob Jones University. They think science is just a bunch of complicated words used to confuse people and they're trying to copy the strategy.
They mock the capture theory of a passing planetoid getting caught in Earth's gravitational field, neatly ignoring the impact theory where another planetoid slammed into Earth to create the moon in the most awesome origin story ever. No wonder they didn't want to include that: It kicks the shit out of someone reading from a checklist for six days.
But the most literally lunatic lesson comes at the end of the chapter, where they reveal the moon's true purpose: to warn us when God decides to murder everyone on Earth. "These verses tell us that God will use special signs, such as the darkening of the sun and moon, to signal the end of this age." This is in chapter one! They teach the kid that the moon and night shall go dark before Judgment Day. They do this without teaching the kid about the phases of the moon or eclipses. This book is responsible for more spiritually urinated bed sheets than tantric sex.
"Damn, I know you just broke up with Sun, but don't bring me into your kinky night fetishes."
On the upside, it's good early training that regular biblical end-of-the-world scares are bullshit.
Oh man, we have to show this page again. This page that was used to educate real children for years.
If the image looks blank, it's because your computer's electrons refused to carry it.
"We know it makes light bulbs shine and irons heat up," as if those were all naturally occurring objects and one day somebody just decided to trying sticking them into those weird holes (also the biblical invention of sex). I know they like the idea of a young Earth created with all the incredibly sophisticated systems already set up, but I didn't think that extended to hair dryers.
I love "there are many ways to bring it forth," implying that electrical sockets contain inscriptions and pentagrams designed to invoke mysterious electrical spirits to power our mortal devices. It's a pretty high-stakes gambit to teach students that God doesn't want you to masturbate, but mysterious electro-spirits let you play Nintendo. I'd have been worshiping electricity faster than you can say "embarrassing burns."
Revenge of the Moon
Several chapters later, we get a second chapter on the moon with a completely different tone. Why, if I didn't know better, I'd say someone had found a book that already existed and then added bits to support their own beliefs. But suggesting that in a religious context would be insane.
"Exodus 21:7 tells us that buying someone's daughter as a slave is a much better investment."
This chapter doesn't present the moon as God's "CHECK ENGINE OF APOCALYPSE" light. Instead it's his nightlight to give nocturnal creatures the ability to see, otherwise they'd die. It's good to know that the divine plan extends to celestial mechanics but doesn't account for clouds. Bonus: Just after explaining the phases of the moon (only a hundred pages too late to prevent Judgment Day terror laundry), they remind kids that God will stop the moon in its tracks just to act as a genocidal spotlight.
"And the Lord did spake, 'Stop! Murdertime.'"
You might have noticed there were two separate chapters on the moon. The history of the moon is separated from its current structure by insects, electricity, plants, length, and digestion. If the moon hasn't recently been converted to eating insects and generating electricity, that's insane. You get the feeling that digestion turned up when it did because it was now lunchtime in the single day the author farted this out -- science! -- and they were hungry.
It looks like simple stupidity on the part of the author, but it's highly advanced stupidity designed to become part of the reader. It's genius(-preventing) brainwashing. They hammer the kids with random sets of terms to memorize, alternating any chapter that might suggest laws or a process with one that's just a list of long words. They don't even mention measurable quantities until the fifth chapter, and then they introduce it with a lumberjack apologizing to his bestial lover for a poor performance.
If you think they look worried now, wait till they read Exodus 22:19.
It's worth nothing that even a book based on magic spells violating the laws of thermodynamics admits that the imperial system is stupid and everyone should be using metric.
They only mention three equations in the entire book, but 32 Bible verses. Some pages are nothing but Bible verses. And two of those equations are for calculating area and volume. The third calculates the distance traveled by light in a minute, and therefore involves numbers so meaningless to fourth graders, they might as well have been mystic runes. The effect is to present equations as optional clusters of calculator fodder, as opposed to our most powerful tool for modeling reality. The only other person to use light speed calculations to screw so many people was Captain Kirk. A student given this book would think numbers were an advanced Bible indexing system with a few optional side effects.
Most religious folk are sensible: They use electricity, enjoy not dying of the plague, and are generally grateful to the modern world for giving them more time to pray in thanks instead of praying that the packs of howling wolves have lost the scent. But this book thinks there's a war between science and religion and is trying to sabotage science's supply lines. It isn't education, it's adware installed into a growing brain. Dropping this book on the child's head would involve just as many scientific concepts without nearly as much damage to their ability to understand them.
"Today he learned about collisions, momentum transfers, and acceleration due to gravity. I think it really made a mark."
Make no mistake: This book was written by people who think it's their sacred duty to trick 9-year-olds. It isn't designed to teach kids science, but to armor them against it. I would say "inoculate," but that's another thing home-schooled kids really aren't famous for getting. "Armored"'s crusading imagery is a much better analogy: clumsy, horrific, and rendered irrelevant by modern technology.
This is home schooling applied as intellectual child abuse: the awful idea that children should only have access to an acceptable subset of the ideas of the parent, a process that mathematically leads to idiocy in a few generations. They describe scientists as "evolutionists" even when they're talking about the moon, because they're more ridiculously obsessed with evolution than the X-Men's Mister Sinister. And their plans have less scientific foundation. This name is to balance them against "creationists," as if they were two gangs facing off like the Sharks and the Jets.
In that one is the result of millions of years of evolution, but doesn't know that, and the other
allows humanity to move faster than ever before.
Science doesn't give a damn about religions, because "damns" are not measurable units and therefore have no place in research. As soon as it's possible to detect damns, we'll quantize perdition and number all the levels of hell. Until then, science doesn't care. Scientists don't demand to run the Eucharist through a mass-spectrometer.
Recent editions of Science 4 have changed the electricity page, but this version was still being sold in 1995. To understand how quickly Bob Jones University adapts to new information, they were still threatening to expel students for interracial dating until the year 2000. But then, it's not like we could ever expect BJU to suck less.
Luke has a website, tumbles, and responds to every single tweet.
A much crazier book teaches you to Defend Yourself From Female Psychic Attack, while a much better one is The Greatest Self-Help Book Ever Written.
For more divine science combat, check out 7 Ridiculous Things People Believe About the God Particle, or behold more heavenly lights in 5 Awesome Stars You Won't Believe Science Class Left Out.