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Fundamentalists Make Things Up and Call It Science

Fundamentalists Make Things Up and Call It Science

I went to Catholic school for grades 1-5. It’s one of the main reasons I’m an atheist/agnostic today. We had a religion class three days a week, sang religious songs in music class and went to church every day. But, to their credit, the religious aspect of the curriculum never bled into the academic aspects. (That didn’t happen until I switched to public school in sixth grade.) We did things that kids do in science class. We made papier-mâché planets. We had a science fair. We learned about atoms. Never once did anyone misrepresent or deny existing and accepted science. I didn’t realize how lucky I was.

Really, I shouldn’t consider myself lucky to have teachers that didn’t actively thwart the education system. However, it seems like more and more people are just making stuff up and teaching it to kids. Case in point: Christian fundamentalists are using Nessie to disprove evolution.

Yup. That Nessie. That most Scottish of cryptozoological creatures said to live in the murky depths of Loch Ness.

Stop laughing! This is serious!

It’s all about disproving evolution. You know, that totally uncontroversial theory that is woven into all biological specialties. The idea is that if they can prove that dinosaurs and humans lived together on Earth, then that means that the theory of evolution is fatally flawed. Or something. According to the Herald Scotland:

One ACE textbook – Biology 1099, Accelerated Christian Education Inc – reads: “Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.”

First, a plesiosaur is not a dinosaur. It was a gigantic aquatic reptile, which is not the same thing. Any science textbook worth its salt would make this distinction.

Second, no. There is no monster in Loch Ness. It was a hoax. All the evidence points to it being a hoax. Have you ever heard of Occam’s Razor? Basically it says that, among competing hypotheses, we should choose the one that makes the fewest number of assumptions. Now, think about Nessie. Either we can believe that a giant, Mesozoic, marine reptile lives in a lake in Scotland that has managed to stay hidden despite a whole bunch of people looking for it, or we can believe the far more reasonable explanation that what people see are picking up are rocks and logs and other detritus that is commonly found in lakes. The rational choice seems obvious.

I’m sure I don’t have to explain this to you. Because you are a reasonable person who lives in, you know, the real world. It’s really easy to laugh this off as a lunatic fringe. But it isn’t. It’s believed that crazy teachings like this is going on in 13 states, and children who are home-schooled often get this type of information. Not only that, but our tax dollars go to support this type of clap-trap in religious private schools.

This is dangerous. Not only does it make us a laughing-stock, but it makes us less economically competitive. We can’t graduate the next generation of scientists who are going to solve all the world’s ills who think the Earth is 6,000 years old. If public money is going to go to fund private religious schools, those schools need to impart accurate and up-to-date information to kids.

It drives me bananas to think that the joy and wonder of science is basically being stolen from children in these schools. By pushing an ideological agenda that ignores science and scientific progress, we are regressing to a pre-Enlightenment state where critical thinking is discouraged and blind faith is considered a virtue. All on the state’s dime.

Related posts:

Can a Creationist Be a Good Minister of Science?

2011: The Year of Creationism in Our Classrooms

Science Education Without God? Inconceivable!

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125 comments

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7:11AM PDT on Oct 4, 2012

The saddest thing about all of this is they truly feel that they are being rational. Some of them truly don't know any better. The ones who do are twisted, because they are purposely misleading people (kids who COULD bring something useful to the scientific arena). We are thwarting our chances with this medieval thinking. All we can do is teach kids the facts and do our best to undo this religious hog wash

11:57AM PDT on Aug 20, 2012

Creationaism is Relgious belief that looks for a scientific foundation. Science cannot prove creationism so it cannot be taught in public school since it is relgion.

10:22AM PDT on Aug 19, 2012

What about the notion of creationism? Was there incest for the next generation to occur? What about Carbon dating evidence of life more than 6K BC?

5:07PM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

First the idea of using Nessie to disprove evolution does not work for the fact there is no Nessie. So I have to agree with the writer of this article on that point.

Michael I have a B.A. in history University of Houston Clear Lake and an Associates in Sociology from San Jacinto Jr. College. I have also taken advance courses in a number of subjects. Yet I consider myself a Fundamentalist. But I have met many who are uneducated. I have also met many atheists who fit that same qualification. Have you ever heard of Dr. Ben Carson he is also a member of the Seventh day Adventist church
Now I used to work in a church school and we received no tax dollars. I know in some universities Such as Loma Linda University a Seventh day Adventist Medical University, here a number of PHD teach, all Seventh day Adventists, that students receive Grants so is that the tax money you are referring too.
I would like to point out that many animals and insects that supposedly came before dinosaurs and existed during the time they went extinct are still here. Any suggestion on why they still exist?

5:01PM PDT on Jul 27, 2012

I have NEVER met a self-proclaimed religious fundie that I found to be smart or educated.

4:16AM PDT on Jul 27, 2012

Proving the process of evolution doesn't mean there isn't a God, just that the creation came about gradually and in stages. Even the Genesis version talks about seven days (ie seven periods of time), and I believe that story to be taken as symbolic rather than literal.

7:29PM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

Mark-You are correct, when I was young I was fascinated with the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot and read everything I could about them. But the fact of the matter is their existance is just not supportable. However I enjoyed thinking they were real.

7:24PM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

I just noticed that I misphrased part of my point, about past vs present scientists. What I meant was that the scientists of old were relatively reasonable to make many of their assumptions, given their limitations, than modern scientists would be to make those same assumptions; while modern scientists can be quite confident in dismissing the likes of Nessie, given how much better informed we now are and how much fruitless effort has already gone into such investigations.
Also, I didn't mean for it to sound quite so mocking, but the idea does make me laugh.

7:15PM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

Haha! Howard E., are you kidding me on? THAT's compelling evidence? An extremely pixelated, grainy, black and white video from the 60's? That doesn't even merit curious investigation, let alone serious consideration. I'm glad to say it does in fact get a great deal more real than that.
I'd invite people to watch this video demonstrating the appalling evidence in question for Nessie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeDQwKxDPYs

I do get your point, that ideas shouldn't just be dismissed off-hand, but much has happened since the 1880's. Scientists back then were far more reasonable to assume the extinction of coelacanths, since their existence was very difficult to verify, than modern scientists who dismiss the likes of Nessie. For a start, so many people have searched over such a long time and found nothing, but for grainy pictures of vague shapes and weak eye-witness testimony. Given the remarkable technology available now, it's almost inconceivable that a whole population of plesiosaur-like animals could still go undetected. Then are a plethora of issues about their possible size, food sources, the climate, their relatively small environment, limited gene pool etc.
It's good to keep an open mind, but we need to keep common sense too.

(didn't mean to go quite so off on one, but Nessie is fun)

2:29PM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

Religious idiots will believe anything if it gives them that stupid, blissful feeling of not knowing anything

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