Thursday, March 1, 2007

Lied to in High School

Memories of High School.

I went to three different high schools. One of them was a Summer school I attended to get ahead in some courses. Another was the public High School from which I graduated.

The third was Lutheran High School Westland. I refer to my time there as "My Two Years in Purgatory." I'm protestant, and as such don't even BELIEVE in purgatory, but I was there for two years.

I have a lot of stories about Westland. This is one of them:

Being raised in a Conservative Christian home has many side effects. One of them being that you're taught that Genesis is a literal account of how the Universe came into existence, and that Evolution is the Devil's work to devalue human life.

Now, my actual beliefs are ones which, how shall I put this, my mother would find blasphemous. In High School however, my critical thinking skills had been suppressed as behooves a Right Wing upbringing, and by gum, Genesis was literal dang it!

There Are a lot of apologetics in the Christian Community concerning "Creationism," many of them with a scientific foundation that would be viewed as fairly strong if evaluated by a truly objective reviewer.

None of these supportable views were presented to me. I had to hunt them down.

What I WAS given, instead of a real, intellectual discussion of the matter was a standard line about "Faith" and a handful of accounts that I will talk about below.

The first of these accounts was the claim that men have one less rib than women. This medical "Fact" supports the story in Genesis where God creates the first woman from one of Adam's ribs. This was presented as a solid, medical fact by my Sophomore year Biology teacher at Lutheran High School Westland.

The second "Fact" concerned "Joshua's Missing Day."

The links below give more detail on this Urban Legend, but I will thumbnail it here. In the Old Testament of what Christians call the Bible, God holds the Sun in place in the heavens while the Israelites are engaged in battle. The sun stays in it's place in the sky until the battle is won. The Urban Legend part comes from the claim that NASA has "proven" this to have actually happened after an analysis of astronomical data.

Here are the links:

This fanciful tale was presented in that same Lutheran High School Biology class as a scientific fact. A ditto sheet was passed around,a nd all the students were wowed like good little Sheeple. One girl even went on a tirade about how the suppression of this information was a conspiracy to hide the truth. She didn't use such complex a sentence to convey this thought, but that is the essence of what she said.

These slices of information were provided to the class as facts, and I didn't give much thought to the matter myself.

Some months later, I was reading a book by one of the "Creationist" writers. Part of the content was an argument that the geological record supported a Creationist view of the Earth's origins better than it did an Evolutionary model.

At one point in the book, the author went on a rant against those who refused to allow what he saw as a healthy debate between Creationism and Evolution, and instead relied upon "fallacies" to support their beliefs. He explicitly mentioned the two slices of data above, and spent a page and a half tearing into them and explaining how such "nonsense" damaged the arguments and reputations of those who were working towards a more scientific view of things.

"How can we tell others the truth if we are made to look ridiculous by the tales of others."

"Any pre-med student will laugh at the claim that men have one less rib than another."

I am paraphrasing the lines above, as it has been a good decade since I read the book in question.

Of course, the "Missing Day" nonsense is just as foolish. If there were indeed a missing day in the cosmos, it would NOT throw a computer into error. There is not set of indexes saying what was where when, only calculations based on present observation. If the day was missing, then it would either be swallowed in the margin of error for the computer's calculations, or throw off the estimates of where the planet Earth was in the distant past. The computer, nor anyone researching the matter, would have no way of knowing the difference.

Both tales are an insult to intelligence, and the fact that they are still taught as facts in some places are nothing short of a crime against education.

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