Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Breaking news: The Loch Ness Monster disproves evolution!

Will Rogers once said, "If you find you've dug yourself into a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging."

This is a lesson that has apparently yet to sink in for some young-earth creationists who decided to get together and write a science textbook -- an endeavor that, in so many ways, resembles a bunch of ten-year-olds trying to stage a Broadway musical in their back yard.  (Source)

This particular crew turned out a book called Biology for Accelerated Christian Education, Incorporated, and (of course) the book harps continuously on the ideas that evolution is a great big lie, and that the Earth is only six thousand years old.  The consensus of thousands of trained research scientists is irrelevant in the face of the revealed truth of Genesis; in fact, there are hints of a huge anti-Christian conspiracy, funded by the secular left and (once again, of course) backed by Satan himself.  So far, all of this is fairly yawn-inducing, but for two things.

One of them is the new twist of using the Loch Ness Monster to disprove evolution.

I couldn't possibly make anything this bizarre up.  Here's the relevant passage, which I present here verbatim:
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.
In another lesson, the writers mention that a Japanese whaling vessel "caught what appears to be a small aquatic dinosaur."

So, what we have here is one mythological view of the world being used to prove another mythological view of the world, which would be funny except for the second thing: ACE-sponsored textbooks, including this one, are being used in some charter schools in Louisiana, which means that government-funded vouchers are being used to pay for this curriculum, and to teach it to children -- if you can call this teaching.  There you have it, folks: your tax dollars at work.

One thing that I was unclear on, however, was how Nessie (if she does exist) bears any kind of relevance to the truth of young-earth creationism.  Suppose dinosaurs did survive until the modern era; why does that mean that evolution is false?  Here's how it's explained by Jonny Scaramanga, an anti-fundamentalist activist who was subjected to an ACE curriculum as a child but fortunately came out with enough of his brain intact to be able to escape: "The 'Nessie claim' is presented as evidence that evolution couldn't have happened. The reason for that is they're saying if Noah's flood only happened 4000 years ago, which they believe literally happened, then possibly a sea monster survived.  If it was millions of years ago then that would be ridiculous. That's their logic. It's a common thing among creationists to believe in sea monsters."

Unsurprising, given what else they believe.  But as tortuous logic goes, this one beats anything else I've heard.  Having dug themselves into one hole -- abandoning the principles of scientific induction in favor of a Bronze-Age mythology for which there is absolutely no scientific evidence whatsoever -- they continued to dig until they reached the further substratum of cryptozoology.  The horrifying thing is the number of people who are happily willing to join them in the pit, the government officials who are eager to fund the digging process -- and the thousands of children who are being dragged down there involuntarily in the name of "choice in education."

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