I was thinking of a way to lead into the last post I’d be doing about Damian Thompson’s book and today I’m given a very nice lead-in, thanks to the Daily Telegraph:
“What we have witnessed in Western societies since the end of the Second World War is the development of mass education on a scale unprecedented in human history – resulting in economic growth, scientific and technological advances, and the cultural and social enrichment of billions of people’s lives,” he said.
“However, every human endeavor has a dark side, due to original sin and concupiscence. In the case of education, we can see its distortion through the widespread dissemination of radical scepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism.
“Taken together, these intellectual trends have resulted in a fragmented society that marginalizes God, with many people mistakenly thinking they can live happy and productive lives without him.
“It shouldn’t surprise us that the shadows cast by the distortion of education, and corresponding societal changes, have also touched members of the Church. As Pope Benedict XVI puts it, even in the Church we find hedonism, selfishness and egocentric behavior.”
Here we have a church leader who is pretty much declaring that education is evil (or at least under suspicion) because the more one knows, the more one might turn the mind and body from God and influence others to do the same.
Okay, so what “knowledge” is acceptable? Creationism sure seems to be, at least among the fundamentalist Christians sects. I cannot wrap my head around the reason why anyone would believe it, but they do.
Thompson mentions Ken Ham and his Creation Museum, particularly Alec Russell’s impressions of it. Russell is a journalist for the Daily Telegraph and interviewed Mr. Ham prior to the museum’s opening.
“So dinosaurs came into being only 6,000 years ago?” I ask. Oh yes, he says. And, what is more, they survived Noah’s flood and continued to roam the Earth until quite recently.
“In fact, if we move on to our bookstore, you will see that it has a dragon theme,” he says. “There are dragon legends across Europe, all over the world. Why? Because they have a basis in truth, a basis in real animals. So, even though the word dinosaur wasn’t coined until 1841, we would say that before that time, it’s very possible that what people today call dinosaurs were known as dragons.”
You read that correctly. Dragons were dinosaurs. And when asked how Noah could have gotten dinosaurs on the ark, Ham declared that Noah took baby ones.
Oh, yes. How obvious.
This 6000 year old earth theory should be laughed out of the arenas where rational people meet but it’s a belief that is supported so strongly that many schools across the United States have faced pressure to add Intelligent Design to their science classes as an “alternative theory.” In some cases they want it to replace evolution entirely.
Texas recently voted on members for their Board of Education and many of them are Creationism supporters. Sensuous Curmudgeon has an extensive list of other such instances of Creationism and science in the news.
What’s particularly disturbing is the way it’s marketed to kids, like this Kids4Truth website. There’s not a lick of truth about the world in it. Thompson also mentions CreationWiki as a source for Young Earth Creationists who want their science from a different perspective. He points to their article on Mount St. Helens where the author writes,
Perhaps the most remarkable catastrophic events to have occurred at Mt. St. Helens was the rapid erosion that was accomplished by mudflows, landslides, and waves of water. On March 19, 1982 a small eruption melted the snow that had accumulated in the crater over the winter, and a resulting hot mud flow carved a system of canyons up to 140 feet deep and 17 miles long in a single day. … The small creek that now flows through the bottom would appear to have carved this canyon over a great length of time, but this unique event has demonstrated that rapid catastrophic processes were instead responsible. The Grand Canyon in Arizona has also been claimed for some time to have been carved gradually by the Colorado River, but it is now becoming clear this American icon is as well the result of catastrophic erosion.
Clear to Y.E.C supporters, anyway, like Dr. Steve Austin, who Thompson writes is the “chairman of the department of geology at the Institute for Creation Research Graduate School.” (p.38) Critics point out that he has yet to provide any peer-reviewed research to back any of his lava flow findings. Professional geologists denounce his research.
Thompson also adds several pages about Muslim creationists who support Intelligent Design and encourage their students to push Darwinist ideology out of the classrooms as well. It’s a particular concern at the university level where fears of insulting their faith get in the way of providing adequate education for everyone. Many creationist books and documentaries are produced by a man (or several) going by the name of Harun Yahya (A.K.A Adnan Oktar) and published through his Foundation for Scientific Research. The BAV, its acronym in Turkish, published an 800 page Atlas of Creation and in it Darwinism is hotly contested as a viable theory.
Oktar’s popularity is the reason Richard Dawkins’ website was recently banned in Turkey after Dawkins wrote a scathing article declaring it to be worse than rubbish. The comparisons of fossils to living organisms turned out to be filled with flaws that Dawkins easily recognized, as would any zoologist who can tell the difference between crinoids and sabellids. For the ordinary, less scholarly reader like myself, I’ll have to take his word for it. What really amazed Dawkins, though, was something even I might have noticed if I’d been looking at the book. He included the offending photo with this to say about it:
By now, we have come to expect something pretty good when we look at the photograph of the modern animal. What will the modern ‘caddis fly’ be? A minnow, perhaps? A garden slug? A king prawn? No, in a way is better than any of these: A fishing lure, complete with prominent steel hook!
I am at a loss to reconcile the expensive and glossy production values of this book with the “breathtaking inanity” of the content . Is it really inanity, or is it just plain laziness — or perhaps cynical awareness of the ignorance and stupidity of the target audience — mostly Muslim creationists
And, it also turns out that Oktar stole that particular photo from a fly fishing how-to website.
Sounds like the book is jam packed with real science. The science of hook, line, and sinker.
It’s remarkable how a brain can rationalize the ludicrous, frankly. Why would anyone believe this stuff?