Fact: The Earth is billions of years old. Response: WERE YOU THERE?

Snopes tackles the worst science quiz ever. Is it real? Probably. No wonder science is no fun for these kids.

Remains to be seen

Circulating on the internet are these images of a supposed 4th grade science quiz from a religious-based school in South Carolina. It appears to be true.

Creationism is the disorder of the day. Dinosaurs lived with man, the earth is young, the ark was a real thing, dinosaurs were sheep-sized and God did it. The end.

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Religious or not, to teach this as “science” is unconscionable. When parents deem that faith in one book is more important than learning about the world, the kids are doomed. Here is more on this story.

Dad Mad at School for Teaching Young Earth Creationism as ‘Science’ | Gawker

The unidentified dad tells Snopes that he was unaware his daughter was being taught fake science until she suddenly blurted out “were you there?” in response to a radio ad for an educational exhibit that started out by saying dinosaurs roamed the earth 65 million years ago.

The anonymous father insists the school, which is located “north of Greer” is great for “reading, writing, and math,” but not so much for science, as it turns out.

And Neurologica blog has a commentary on this:

For me this raises and interesting issue – can private schools teach anything they like? I understand parental freedom to teach their children their own beliefs and culture without government interference. That is an important part of freedom of religion. Here is my problem – parents are required by law to provide an education for their children. If they do not avail themselves of the public school system then they have to demonstrate that they are providing a suitable alternative (home schooling or a private school).

Here is a huge back door for teaching creationism – each state has their own criteria for private schools. Accreditation does not seem to be required. In any case, accrediting agencies are all private, and there are Christian accrediting organizations, all with little government oversight or guidelines.

Science is not trivial. If the school fails at science THIS dramatically (giving wrong information is worse than giving no information), how good they are with other subjects hardly makes up for it. The father reported to Snopes that the child will not attend this school next year. Some debriefing is in order for the kid, I think.

As an aside, how do you respond to the shallow and ignorant trope that Creationists use: “Were you there?” This is used by Creationist Ken Ham as if to say we must have first-hand observation of everything for it to be true. Were you there, Ken, when God created the earth? It’s a dumb question. And easy to throw it back on him.

We have converging lines of evidence from many different sciences that point to evolution as the explanation for life on earth and that the dinosaurs lived for a LONG time in many diverse forms and then went extinct. (Along with lots of other animals.) That’s BETTER than lame eyewitness testimony. Yet, if you go there, they will respond with “the Bible is inerrant word of God”. God doesn’t lie. Then, why did he plant all these fossils this way to make them look old? And, who created God? This is pointless.

I won’t get into a religious debate here but religion is not science and does not help us know about the natural world. The Bible is a crap textbook on nature. Belief is not scientific and does not belong in a science class.

25 CREATIONISTS’ ARGUMENTS & 25 EVOLUTIONISTS’ ANSWERS By Michael Shermer, Geological Society of America – Evolution and Creationism .

  23 comments for “Fact: The Earth is billions of years old. Response: WERE YOU THERE?

  1. RDW
    April 26, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    I’d read something via Richard Dawkins about these types of school texts. It’s hard to see how even the most strident religionist can cast aside so much good sense as the theory of evolution or the theory of the big bang holds. Frankly, those theories are much more impressive, more “miraculous”, as it were, than anything they can dig out of their holy books. It’s sad that people can convince themselves that they are doing good by prompting young, impressionable minds to become filled with delusions. It’s difficult enough to reach maturity even with a firm hold on reality. Confound things with make-believe presented as fact, and a young person might not ever reach their full mental potential.

  2. Bob
    April 26, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    You fail to realize, Sharon, that it does not matter that Ken Ham was not there because God was and the bible is an eyewitness account by the Lord Almighty Him-(and not Her-)self. You are welcome to consider yourself corrected.

  3. Chris Howard
    April 26, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    Me: “Yes, I was there… and it wasn’t pretty!”

    Creationists: “Don’t be rediculous.”

    Me: “Funny. I’ve been asking you all to do the same thing for years, now.”

    I guess it’s “selective” faith?

  4. April 26, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    Neurologica blog: “I understand parental freedom to teach their children their own beliefs and culture without government interference. That is an important part of freedom of religion.”

    But that is not the only important part. Another equally important part of freedom of religion is that children also have the right to religious freedom, which necessarily includes the right to freedom from religion. This sets up a conflict of rights, which in my opinion must be decided in favor of children. Protecting a child’s right to religious freedom protects their rights as an adult. see my blog article where I expound on this argument a bit more:

    Respecting a Child’s Point of View
    http://chainthedogma.blogspot.ca/2011/12/respecting-childs-point-of-view.html

    I think one of the main reasons the U.S. is the only country in the world (Somalia is a failed state) not to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child is because of the parental rights issue. As a result of that, you get these situations where religious parents so thoroughly indoctrinate their children with religious dogma that the rights of those children, and the adults they will become, are denied and violated before they even understand that they have the inherent right to be from religion.

  5. Brian
    April 26, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    This is why the first voice you will here coming from the surface of Mars will be speaking Chinese.

  6. Eve
    April 26, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    They’re not just getting science wrong; they’re making a mockery of history as well. Oh, also the Bible. That thing about eating plants isn’t in the Bible. It’s just some nonsense creationists made up.

  7. Graham
    April 26, 2013 at 10:52 PM
  8. Phil
    April 26, 2013 at 10:54 PM

    The reply were you there is infantile. You weren’t there when your parents were born but there’s good evidence that they were, in fact, born and not grown in a farm. Also kids are not stupid. When I was told Noah’s ark stories I knew it was a story, how did koalas swim back to Australia when no one in the Middle East even knew the place existed and koalas don’t swim? Such is the mind of a seven year old.

  9. April 27, 2013 at 3:44 AM

    @Phil is correct, some children will realise that creation is a myth while others will not, education may not be able to change those others. Many evolutionists, including Richard Dawkins, get too worked up about this subject.

  10. April 27, 2013 at 6:18 AM

    As for the “were you there” question, every one of us can truthfully answer: “I am an eye-witness to the fact that the universe is, at the very least, 2.5 million years old.”

    How? On a starry night, just locate the slightly blurry point of light that is the Andromeda galaxy. We see it as it was 2.5 million years ago, since that is how long it has taken its light to reach us.

    With telescopes, we can locate still more remote galaxies, looking many billions of years back in time.

    The epic-scale ad hoc hypotheses Young Earth creationists have produced to deal with the “starlight problem” just show how far removed from true science their belief system really is.

  11. One Eyed Jack
    April 27, 2013 at 7:07 AM

    @Michael Greening

    “Phil is correct, some children will realise that creation is a myth while others will not, education may not be able to change those others. Many evolutionists, including Richard Dawkins, get too worked up about this subject”

    People shouldn’t get worked up about child abuse?

  12. One Eyed Jack
    April 27, 2013 at 7:09 AM

    @H.K.

    Standard creationist response: “God created the light already in flight.”

  13. Brian
    April 27, 2013 at 7:54 AM

    @ Bob:

    “You fail to realize, Sharon, that it does not matter that Ken Ham was not there because God was and the bible is an eyewitness account by the Lord Almighty Him-(and not Her-)self. You are welcome to consider yourself corrected.”

    First off… let us discuss the Bible- as it was collated at the council of Nicea so Palpa- I mean- Constatine could have one religion to rule them all- one religion to bind them (Why yes. I *do* like mixing genres). The books of the bible WERE PUT TO A VOTE as to what went in, and what went out. There were corrections, rewrites, you name it. An ‘eyewitness account’ it aint!

    Second- eyewitness account? Who was there to eyewitness it? Who wrote Genesis? And was the author there? Big, resounding “NO”. It was your supposed god, animals, plants, fish and birds. An eyewitness account is a non biased 3rd party who saw whatever and wrote about it. NO third party is mentioned, and someone writing about events centuries later- is NOT AN EYE WITNESS ACCOUNT.

    And, a bonus: The bible is so full of errors, inconsistencies, and just downright BS- there are whole websites that catalogue and categorize the numerous erroneous screw ups in that book. Not to mention the empty promises… but I digress.

  14. April 27, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    @Jack, there is no abuse, individual people’s lives change – some come to accept the idea of evolution while others do not. If you fully understand what Darwin & Wallace first proposed ( although Wallace lost the plot in old age), you should come to realise that you are not in charge of your own life or anyone else’s

  15. Harold Renshaw
    April 28, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    Both the true believer and the skeptic agree on one thing and they are both wrong. That thing is that the Bible is a book of science and fact. I think the Bible contains many books that are best looked at as their authors intended: THEY ARE PARABLES, fictional accounts designed to lead the hearers to deeper thoughts about life and their relationship to each other.

    You can throw out Uncle Remus tales because animals don’t talk, but you’d be missing the point. So, let’s quit being so damned literal!

  16. Eve
    April 28, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    @Brian

    First of all, I’m pretty sure Bob was being sarcastic. Secondly, there was no single meeting or council or get-together where the official New Testament was established. Its evolution was a gradual process. The First Council of Nicea didn’t discuss the biblical canon at all. That’s a common misconception.

    • Harold Renshaw
      April 28, 2013 at 6:05 PM

      I believe my point remains.

  17. Brian
    April 29, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    “I think the Bible contains many books that are best looked at as their authors intended: THEY ARE PARABLES, fictional accounts designed to lead the hearers to deeper thoughts about life and their relationship to each other.

    You can throw out Uncle Remus tales because animals don’t talk, but you’d be missing the point. So, let’s quit being so damned literal!”

    Well, Unca Remus isn’t used to control people in a religion (unless you make a pilgrimage to Splash Mountain). Brer Rabbit, Fox, and Bear arent used to take money from people, and give promises that cannot be kept at all. Unca Remus has not been used to kill people, bring on the Inquisition, retard medicine, science, and make thinking people look like demons or worse.

    The Bible is still fiction- but it has been made into a scary money making and political tool that has been around for centuries. Unca Remus is used for entertainment. Both equally fictional, but…

    • Harold Renshaw
      April 29, 2013 at 9:13 AM

      Right! I think you got the message I am trying to send. The Bible isn’t the enemy, it is, as you say, “a tool.” It can be used for good or for ill. The evil lies in the user of the tool, not in the tool, itself.

  18. Harold Renshaw
    April 30, 2013 at 9:41 AM

    It is impossible to read the mind of the parent who sent the child to that school. If it was a “Christian School,” perhaps the parent didn’t believe that Christian and Creationism were necessarily connected. They aren’t. Only a fraction of those who call themselves Christian are also Creationists.

    What is a “Christian School?” Is that phrase in the Bible? I don’t think so.

  19. Mr. Shreck
    May 1, 2013 at 8:02 AM

    “Unca Remus has not been used to kill people, bring on the Inquisition, retard medicine, science, and make thinking people look like demons or worse.”

    Perhaps not, but apparently he did something really bad because I can no longer buy a copy of Song of the South and Disney replaced him with an animatronic frog.

  20. May 1, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    So the US continues to decline year on year by every international poll measuring scientific understanding. The US now being 19th on the list of 35 ‘developed’ countries. The country is just starting to feel this ‘dumbing down’ of the intelligence of our kids.

    The religious right who are pushing the teaching of creationism in the context of science should be absolutely ashamed of the fact that they’re making our kids dumber.

    Dont teach in my class and I wont think in your church!

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