Fundamentalist Christian Textbook Uses Nessie To Disprove Evolution

Just when you think you’ve heard it all.

I want everyone reading this to take a moment to compose yourself.  This is going to be an extremely serious discussion topic.  Because the Fundamentalists have seized the Loch Ness Monster.

We’re all familiar with this photo of Nessie, right?

Here she is in all of her glory.  Totally not fake.  Totally not a piece of plastic wood attached to a toy submarine. Sure, some people think that the confession was falsified.  Because it’s much more likely that there is a giant monster in a lake that no one can seem to get a decent picture of than someone pulling a prank that got completely out of hand.  That’s just classic Occam’s Razor.  Regardless, there is very, very, very little independently verifiable evidence to support the existence of Nessie.  And as good little skeptics, we love independently verifiable evidence, don’t we?

So sure, it’s pretty darn unlikely that there is a monster living in Loch Ness.

But Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) doesn’t let a little thing like “no good evidence” stop them!  ACE is a fundamentalist Christian curriculum used in private and home schools.  And (surprise!) they are a bit dubious about evolution.

Read with me this excerpt from their “biology” textbook:

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.

So when scientists all agree that the most likely and widely supported explanation for the diversity of life on Earth is evolution by natural selection, the fundies are all “AHHH! Conspiracy!  You are repressing my ability to pray with all of your science mumbo jumbo!”… but when a couple of people wander off the beaten path and hypothesize that maybe it’s not outside of the realm of possibilities that some kind of water-dwelling creature could be residing in Loch Ness, they just jump all over that.

So, in and of itself, it is weird that this textbook is discussing the Loch Ness Monster. It is infinitely weirder that they think that this disproves evolution.

Jonny Scaramanga is a graduate of the ACE program, and apparently it didn’t do an adequate job of scrambling his brains, because he is now fighting against ACE.  

He says that Nessie is, to them:

…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… One of these texts from Bob Jones University Press claims that dinosaurs were fire-breathing dragons. It has little to do with science as we currently understand. It’s more like medieval scholasticism

Oh yeah, and also they have been cleared to to receive state voucher money transferred from public schools.  As Scaramanga says:  “There’s a lot of public funding going to private schools, probably around 200,000 pupils are receiving this education.”

So we’re paying for this.

Which is by no means a violation of the Constitution or super-nauseating…

About Jessica Bluemke

Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a BA in Literature. She currently works as a writer and resides on the North side of Chicago.

  • http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/ Garren

    Super-nauseating, yes. A Constitutional violation, no.

    http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/2012/04/widmar-v-vincent.html

    • Heidi

       Your link is about student led, non-taxpayer-funded activity groups at universities. How is that relevant to taxpayer-funded religious education?

      • http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/ Garren

        Good question! It concerned the use of public university property and the general student activities fee. The arguments against letting religious groups participate are similar to the arguments against letting religious schools participate in a voucher program. If the Supreme Court ever rules specifically on that question, there’s no doubt they’ll cite Widmar v. Vincent and little reason to think they’d consider such vouchers facially unconstitutional.

        I’m a proud member of the ACLU, but this is one point where I think they’re on the wrong side of religious freedom. I know it’s easy to want to shut out religious participation in secular programs because religious folks have abused their privilege for so long, but remember that things like religious clubs in high schools also opened the way for the Secular Student Alliance.

        (Of course there are other very valid concerns about vouchers that have nothing to do with the First Amendment. I don’t know if I would support them overall.)

        • http://twitter.com/KevinSagui Kevin Sagui

          There’s a massive difference between government money funding a religious student group and government money being diverted from public schools to fund this kind of bullshit indoctrination.  Personally, I don’t necessarily have a problem with voucher programs.  They should absolutely be usable to allow children to escape districts that are failing them for other districts, and I believe they should also be redeemable at private schools, secular and religious.  But in turn, schools need to be required to teach state-sanctioned curriculum, especially in science, history and health,  if they want to be eligible to redeem vouchers.  And that needs to be ironclad, one-strike-and-you’re-out.

  • 0xabad1dea

    I guess this is where you go when Bob Jones and Pensacola (Abeka) textbooks are just too liberal. 

    But yes, I can testify first-hand that Bob Jones/Pensacola advocate the conjecture (I do not think they claim that it is NECESSARILY true, just that it seems highly probable, explaining modern myths and some puzzling statements in the Bible) that dinosaurs were firebreathers. I remember watching a video with some nice, cheap Power Rangers-grade special effects about it. 

  • Marguerite

    Hee, I just saw this and was about to fire off an indignant email to Hemant. Glad I checked here first.

    The mind boggles at this, not merely because they’re teaching creationism, but because they’re attempting to refute evolution in such an incredibly stupid way. What’s next, claiming that Bigfoot is one of the giants referred to in the Bible? They don’t do themselves any favors with this sort of thing. Some of the ID folks have managed to successfully confuse a lot of Americans and convince them there’s a “controversy” about evolution, but claiming Nessie is a still-extant plesiosaur just makes even the less well informed among us point and laugh. 

    Though I must reluctantly admit they may have a valid argument here. The Loch Ness Monster does indeed exist. I’ve seen her with my own two eyes… at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA. She doesn’t bear much resemblance to a plesiosaur, though.

    • Brad K.

      Hey, there now!!!!  Oden slayed all the ice giants!!!  Do you see any around????  That’s how I know the Norse legends are real!!!  All hail Oden!!

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Hey! Didn’t you ever hear of a spoiler warning? I never heard about any confession, and now you’ve dashed my belief in a Scottish dinosaur. What’s next? Are you going to say that crop circles aren’t created by aliens?

    A little warning next time, please!

    • Mike

      How do I break this gently…

  • Rich Lane

    When debating the horrors of the school voucher system, THIS is now my go-to example of why I will never support them.

  • http://skepticalimerick.blogspot.com/ Rich Stage

    It’s great to say that you’re teachin’.
    Make sure you aren’t overreachin’.
    ‘Cause if your lesson’s
    the ‘truth’ of Nessie
    then those aren’t facts: You’re just preachin’.

  • Bob Becker

    I don’t suppose it’s necessay to add that the Louisiana law permitting stste fiunding for fundie schools that use this book was championed by GOP governor Bobby Jindall ( Catholic convert) and the GOP religious right controlled leguslature? No, I guess not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/don.gwinn Don Gwinn

    Marguerite:

    “The mind boggles at this, not merely because they’re teaching
    creationism, but because they’re attempting to refute evolution in such
    an incredibly stupid way. What’s next, claiming that Bigfoot is one of
    the giants referred to in the Bible? ”

    Too late.  That particular argument has already occurred to some true believers out there.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

    I was actually taught something like this. I was taught that if the Loch Ness monster existed, it was likely a plesiosaurus. After all, water-dwelling dinosaurs would have been able to survive the flood. I was taught that the leviathan was another sea creature which may have survived.
    And Marguerite is right. I actually was taught that if bigfoot was real, it was probably one of the nephilim mentioned in the Bible.

    It’s funny because I’ll forget about all the stupid stuff I used to believe and then something like this will come up and it’s like “Wow, I remember being that brainwashed!”

    • Marguerite

      “And Marguerite is right. I actually was taught that if bigfoot was real, it was probably one of the nephilim mentioned in the Bible.”

      It’s sad when my sense of sarcasm can’t even keep up with the absurdities people manage to believe (and worse yet, to teach children).

  • Njrod88

    “medieval scholasticism”?  He obviously isn’t familiar with the method.

  • http://www.deadlywind.com/ Paintball Barrel

    the constitutional question is why i am forced to pay for anyone’s education at all. no public eduction, no voucher problems. Bam.

    • Coyotenose

       The Constitutional question is also why other are forced to pay for your roads, for your fire department, for your police, for your air force, for your food to be inspected…

  • Skjaere

    Well, that makes sense, in a way. Nessie totally belongs to the Christians. The first recorded sighting was by St Columba in the 6th century.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jared-Elick/100000649334420 Jared Elick

    I used a Christian Science textbook as a child that said that exact thing, and never thought about that until just now. It does seem pretty ridiculous.

  • http://twitter.com/UnderINK Ava Wilson

    Even if Nessie DID exist and WAS a plesiosaur, it doesn’t refute evolution. We found a fish (coelacanth) that was supposed to have been extinct for thousands or millions of years, and wasn’t. It would have literally no bearing on evolution at all, except a fascination with how it (like the coelacanth) could survive undetected for so long. That’s it.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    In the Q and A section at the end of my dinosaur presentations for kids and their parents, once in a while an adult will ask me if  the Loch Ness Monster could be a living plesiosaur. This is the gist of how I usually respond:

    “I’ve been to Loch Ness in Scotland. It’s a long, narrow, straight lake 23 miles long and only 1 mile wide. There is very little tree cover in the area, and there are no hidden coves. You can see most of the lake from almost any vantage point. Anything on the surface can be seen easily.

    Plesiosaurs had lungs; they breathed air. They had to stay on or near the surface most of the time, and could only stay underwater while holding their breath.

    So if you add these two things up, then if large air-breathing animals like plesiosaurs were living in Loch Ness, they would be seen many times every single day by thousands of people. They would not be mysterious legends. They would be just part of the daily scenery.  ‘Oh yeah, there’s another plesiosaur. Hand me that last peanut butter sandwich.’

    The economy of Scotland has been sluggish for generations. Many Scots struggle to make a living. One of the main sources of income is tourism. There are beautiful things to see there, but one way to encourage more tourism is to invent an exciting and mysterious thing to see, but one that people don’t expect to actually see, they just hope they might. So when they drive home without having seen it, they don’t come to the conclusion that it was never there, they just think that they were not lucky this time. It’s a clever psychological ploy to keep gullible people coming back again and again, and bringing their tourist money with them.”
    ____

    When I tell people this, the look on their faces says a great deal: It’s a look of clear comprehension mixed with disappointment. Generally, the truth is mundane, ordinary, and unremarkable, but we want it to be wonderous, mysterious, and romantic. Wonders, mysteries and romance do exist, but many, many adults are like children, who want those things constantly.

    • Michael King

      So well articulated Richard. It’s so true that people want to believe something that excites them even if it is totally absurd, rather than accept the boring truth.

    • Jaime

      Richard, when you explain the situation like that, it all makes perfect sense. No mysteries left. With all the newspaper articles reinforcing the Loch Ness fairytale, makes me wonder whether the newspaper heads are shamelessly printing anything for a buck or if they are seriously that lazy/stupid.

      • Spherical Basterd

        The boring truth about the magazine editors would be both, a buck and lazy/stupid.

    • Bergn

      So wanting something exciting and being disappointed makes you a child? Give me a break!

      • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

        I didn’t say that. It’s more the other way around. Being childish can make you want everything to be exciting, and make you more credulous, more willing to believe an exciting claim even though it has no supporting evidence.

  • Nwilkes15

    To quote Stuie from ‘Family Guy’. THIS IS WHY THE OTHER COUNTRIES ARE WINNING!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=736580345 Boris Nomæd Aranovič

    Here Be Dragons!

  • Tainda

    I laughed through this whole story until I got to ”
    Oh yeah, and also they have been cleared to to receive state voucher money transferred from public schools.”

    Then the smile went away.

    I’m so glad my parents didn’t send me to a religious school and let me form my own opinions.

  • The Other Weirdo

    I saw this on Yahoo!Answers yesterday, but I honestly thought it was just a joke. Too bad I was mistaken.

  • ch81602

    Here’s my take on this subject. http://dinoharpist.blogspot.com/2012/06/creationist-textbook-idiocy-nessie-is.html

    It’s mind boggling to know that there are people out there who still want to believe and teach that Nessie is real even in the face of all the facts that clearly disprove its existence.

  • Humanevet

    So, they take something whose existance can’t be proven to make a claim for creationism (which can’t be proven), by almighty God (whose existance must be accepted on faith).  Intelligent design?  Hmm, can’t be proven. Tea party. I rest my case.

  • Bill

    I went to one of these bonehead ACE schools in western Pennsylvania for four and a half years.  I spent all that time sitting in a cubicle, filling in workbooks and memorizing scripture, and was never assigned a single literary classic to read.

    This was a total waste of my intelligence during the most formative years of my life.  By the time I was 14, I was the class atheist.

  • amycas

    Is it weird that no matter how much of the science they get wrong, I’m still very annoyed that they think plesiosaurs were dinosaurs? Plesiosaurs were flippered marine reptiles form the mesozoic. They were not dinosaurs. Also, pterodactyls were also not dinosaurs. I’m sorry if I just quashed a bunch of people’s childhood fantasies about dinosaurs ;-) It had to be said.


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