Over a week ago, articles began appearing in various news sources about how a Christian school textbook is teaching that dinosaurs are still alive today. This particular textbook mentions “Nessie,” the alleged Loch Ness monster of Scotland, claiming it is a plesiosaur alive today. (The word dinosaur only refers to a particular group of land animals, so a plesiosaur is not technically a dinosaur at all.) The Washington Post quoted the textbook on Nessie:
“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.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/loch-ness-monster-real-in-biology-textbook/2012/06/26/gJQAPhwr4V_blog.html)
As I wrote on Facebook last week, there is no textbook, whether Christian or secular, that is perfect! But what’s more is that the secular world has often put forth numerous scientifically untenable theories. Some examples follow:
- Aliens seeded life on earth (known as directed panspermia). Francis Crick, a codiscoverer of the structure of DNA, promoted this idea.
- Birds are essentially modern, short-tailed feathered dinosaurs.
- Life arose from non-life. (This goes against what biologists call the Law of Biogenesis, which says that living things can only come from other living things.)
- Humans evolved from an ape-like ancestor (which really means humans are just apes).
- Aliens from outer space built the pyramids.
And the list goes on! Many secular science textbooks still teach outdated and debunked ideas like the supposed “horse evolution” series or the idea that archaeopteryx is a transitional form between birds and reptiles—both of these claims are now rejected by many secularists. (See, for example, Dr. Georgia Purdom’s discussion of reasons why some Korean textbook publishers are opting to finally remove the iconic horse evolution series from their books.)
But instead of examining these issues, the news outlets make a big news item of one particular statement in a Christian school textbook about the supposed Loch Ness monster. And, actually, it is a comment that AiG would not make for a number of reasons. One of our News to Note columns explains some of our reasoning:
The existence of modern-day plesiosaurs, presumably hiding in such places as the ocean deep and even Loch Ness, is sometimes discussed in creationist circles. A living plesiosaur would certainly be a surprise to secular science, which considers them to have gone extinctwith the dinosaurs (although plesiosaurs were not actually dinosaurs, but aquatic reptiles). A carcass reeled in by the Japanese fishing trawler Zuiyo-maru in 1977 was for years the object of plesiosaur-centric speculation, but the carcass was in all likelihood the remains of a basking shark (based on detailed analysis). For these reasons, we recommend against creationists using the story as evidence for extant plesiosaurs. (http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2007/10/13/news-to-note-10132007 )
For those reasons, we would advise the textbook’s comment be deleted (though the text’s statement itself is tentative nonetheless).
Scientists over the years have found animals and plants living on earth that were previously not known to live in our present world (“living fossils,” they are often called, in that they seem unchanged despite millions of years). There are many reports of mysterious creatures in various lakes (like the Loch Ness monster) and other places—there is always the possibility there could be a creature somewhere out there that has not yet been documented living in our world today. So there are times one can speculate on possibilities, but such speculation of course should not be used as confirming evidence—it is just that, speculation.
However, the news media acts as though the comment in this textbook is a devastating blow to students’ educations. One report out of Australia quoted Professor MacDonald, the director of Victoria University’s Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching, who criticized homeschooling families using this textbook:
“My concern as always is giving kids a fair chance and it’s such a difficult issue. Parents want to bring kids up according to their beliefs… but do the kids ever get a chance to make a real decision? … The school system at least exposes kids to greater variety.Schooling forces you to confront a greater variety of ideas and people. Is that good for society?” (http://www.news.com.au/national/home-fooled-the-loch-ness-monster-is-real/story-e6frfkvr-1226411722331)
That’s an interesting statement considering that—much like in America—the public education system in Australia has pretty much thrown out creationism and teaches only evolutionary ideas (although we at AiG do not advocate government-mandated teaching of creation in schools).
Secularists can often say outlandish or wrong things—and get away with it. For instance, noted evolutionist Richard Dawkins admitted in an interview with Ben Stein that life could have been “seeded” on earth by aliens. And yet Christians are highly scrutinized in this very secular world.
This scrutiny is one reason why AiG employs scientists, plus people with theological qualifications, and other specialists (and why we have a long list of qualified and experienced people as consultants). These people help us maintain the highest of standards in regard to the content we produce. (That does not mean we won’t make mistakes, as we are fallible human beings—but we do have a number of levels of checks and balances to do our best in producing accurate, God-honoring resources).
Regardless of the way we are treated by secularists, we always should do our best to maintain the highest of standards in regard to what we communicate to people. And, above all, we must be prepared to give a defense of the faith by answering questions, to share the gospel, and to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)—all founded on the authority of the Word of the Creator God.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
(Steve Golden assisted in the writing of this blog post.)