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. …
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.
And it wasn’t just Nessie. We heard stories of dinosaur sightings in the Congo and the Amazon. And then there was that whale carcass pulled from the water in Japan a few years ago that initially looked like a dead pleiosaur rather than simply a very rotted whale. We grabbed onto those stories and put credit by them. There were still dinosaurs in the world.
Now you may think this was sort of an odd thing to believe. How did this fit with everything else, you ask? Nicely, actually.
See, we believed that every species living or extinct today was represented on the Ark, including dinosaurs. Then, after the flood there was a (short) ice age. It lasted about two hundred years. During this period many species, including most of the dinosaurs, went extinct. After all, the climate changed after the flood (including the makeup of the air itself), the vegetation, the temperature, etc., and this meant that many species of dinosaurs simply weren’t equipped to survive. But some did.
You know the story of St. George and the dragon? Well, we were taught that these stories of dragons were based on a simple reality – even during the Middle Ages humans still fought the occasional left over dinosaur. So all those dragon stories? Yeah, those were about humans fighting dinosaurs. And like I said – the Amazon, the Congo, Loch Ness – we believed that some of those dinosaurs still existed.
Why, you ask? Well, it’s important to remember that we saw this as a strike against evolution. After all, dinosaurs were supposed to have died out millions of years ago, at least if the theory of evolution has it right. Therefore if we found a dinosaur alive today, we believed, an actual real dinosaur, that would thus prove evolution wrong and prove that the earth was young.
The Friendly Atheist may be surprised, but I’m not. Growing up, the idea that dinosaurs lived alongside human beings was as normal as apple pie. (And yes, through the use of vouchers, the ACE curriculum he quotes from is now being paid for with taxpayer dollars in some states.)