27 August 2005

More on the California creationist lawsuit

In a post earlier today, I noted that a group of creationists are suing the University of California system in order to force UC to accept several of their classes that are currently not considered adequate. One of the courses in question is biology. As I already pointed out, UC is not discriminating against Christians by refusing to accept the class; it is simply living up to its responsibility to ensure that applicants are adequately prepared for university study. Nevertheless, I was curious as to what about these particular biology classes was so poor as to attract attention.

The LA Times reported that:
According to the lawsuit, UC's board of admissions also advised the school that it would not approve biology and science courses that relied primarily on textbooks published by Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Books, two Christian publishers.
Now, given what I've heard about Bob Jones University, I figured that any biology text that they produce would be unlike any I'd read before. So I trotted on over to the Bob Jones University Press website to see what I could find. Looking over their list of books for "conventional schools", I found a textbook for a 10th grade biology class. The price is a bit high for me, given the quality, so I didn't order it. However, the website has a nice "see the inside of this book" feature that gives access to the frontmatter, preface, introduction, and a sample chapter. After looking at it, I think I understand why UC has problems with it.

From the Introduction:
Biology for Christian Schools is a textbook for Bible-believing high-school students. Those who do not believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God will find many points in this book puzzling. This book was not written for them.
That's funny. There I was thinking that science is a universal concept, open to anyone who is willing to study the natural world. I had no idea that there are things in science that can only be understood if you believe what these folks do.

The people who prepared this book have tried consistently to put the Word of God first and science second...If...at any point God's Word is not put first, the authors apologize.
Let's see. What we have here is a "science" textbook, written by people who have made a conscious effort to put science second. Wow. What possible reason could the University of California have for being concerned about the quality of classes using this book?

The same encyclopedia article may state that the grasshopper evolved 300 million years ago. You may find a description of some insect that the grasshopper supposedly evolved from and a description of the insects that scientists say evolved from the grasshopper. You may even find a "scientific" explanation of the biblical locust (grasshopper) plague in Egypt. These statements are conclusions based on "supposed science." If the conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong, no matter how many scientific facts may appear to back them.
It's nice to see how willing they are to keep an open mind about things.

Believe it or not, the book actually seems to get worse. The sample chapter provided on the website is Chapter One: The Science of Life and the God of Life. Page nine is a box that is labeled as one of the book's "Facets of Biology". The title of this particular facet is: "How God Communicates with Man". In it, we find:
Was Joseph Smith's [founder of the Mormons -tqa] revalation from God? Based on Scripture, one must say no! The apostle Paul says that if anyone (including Paul himself or even an angel) comes and preaches any other gospel, he is to be accursed (Gal 1:8).

If you want to know what this has to do with science, or why it appears in a science book, you'll have to ask someone else, because I've got no clue. It must be one of those aspects of science that perplexes those who lack the BJU-approved beliefs.

There's another Facet later in the chapter, dealing with spontaneous generation. It spans three pages, and concludes with this creationist gem:
After Pasteur's swan-necked flask experiment and thousands of other experiments supporting biogenesis, do people today still believe in spontaneous generation? Yes. Anyone who believes in evolution believes that spontaneous generation has occurred. ... If they can create life, they think they can support their belief in life's beginning without God.
This chapter of the text also has some material that discusses evolution:
The idea that life comes from similar life is important. God created humans and all of the other kinds of organisms with the ability to reproduce after their own kind (Gen. 1:12, 21, 25, 28); therefore, humans reproduce humans, oak trees reproduce oak trees, and cats reproduce cats. The idea of all life forms descending from a common ancestor cell that originated from non-living chemicals is absurd.

Right. It's completely absurd to believe that humans have descended from chemicals through a long line of ancestors. It's much more reasonable to believe that humans came directly from dirt which is made from...

Looking at just the available samples from this text, I'm not surprised that UC declines to accept courses using it as the primary material as valid. I am surprised that there are apparently some schools that do.

By the way, the examples that I've quoted are by no means a comprehensive listing of everything that's wrong with the material I read. They are simply a few of the more egregious examples illustrating the comprehensively unscientific nature of this book. A thorough examination would have taken far more time than I have, and would simply have depressed me further.
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