It is so turned around these days.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"Change your tune about the dinosaurs, or don't blame me when you wake up in hell."

It confused me at first, but I think I understand now why my book on praying for powerful people targets Bill Nye of Bill Nye the Science Guy. It's because he talks to children about dinosaurs.
Fundamentalist Christian children's media is preoccupied with dinosaurs. The monstrous lizards and their fossilized remains represent a big black buzzing fly in the wholesome lemonade of creationism. If you lose a bright 5-year-old on the dinosaur issue--and what bright 5-year-old isn't mad for dinosaurs?--then you may lose him on the God thing too, or at least on the Holy Bible-as-perfect-truth thing. Then again, if you win the kid over on the dino stuff--and it's best to start this effort early, before a school trip to the Smithsonian saturates the kid's spongy brain with lies--then you've opened a hole in the fortress of his intellect wide enough to drive the Rapture through, or maybe even the theory that the Beast is somehow using grocery-store bar-code scanners to brand people with magnetic 666s.
As luck would have it, I finally persuade my daughter to join me in some Christian-TV viewing just as one of the ' dinosaur shows starts. Maisie loves ancient reptiles. She sits up straight, her right hand motionless in the popcorn bowl. For a 5-year-old, she's a prodigy on this subject, able to pronounce the word Cretaceous and hip to all the latest hunches and theories about the abrupt demise of pterosaur. She favors the killer-asteroid scenario but is open to extinction by natural climate change. I've taught her well.
But incorrectly, I learn. Through a combination of patronizing slapstick and earnest pronouncements from middle-aged male authority figures, the program proceeds to reeducate my daughter on the following points: (1) Dinosaurs are just 6,000 years old, since Earth itself is just 6,000 years old and both were breathed into being at the same time. (The figure is arrived at, it's explained, by adding the ages of all Adam's descendants down to Jesus and then tacking on the next 2,000 years.) (2) Dinosaurs and people once coexisted, as evidenced by biblical references to "Behemoth" and other massive beasts. (3) There were dinosaurs on Noah's Ark but, due to space limitations, only little ones, which accounts for the survival ofthe crocodile and the fading away of diplodocus. (4) The carbon-dating process is a farce. It just is. (5) Scientists who dispute these facts are really not scientists at all, since the definition of science is truth seeking and the whole of truth is in the Bible and either most of these eggheads haven't read the Bible or they have and they've consciously rejected it. (6) Science is really a religion, taking on faith what it purports to prove, while the Christian religion is really a science, which means that when you have a question about T-Rex you should visit your pastor, not the library. (Even better, avoid the library altogether--a kid can only get into trouble there.) I steal a quick look at Maisie's wondering face. She's buying this new line, I fear, and I don't blame her--the image of dinosaurs living next to people is a natural fantasy for kids. It makes for great cartoons. It also, if you truly believe in it and you share this belief with the wrong person, can keep you from ever getting into Harvard except on some special affirmative-action program for underprivileged Caucasian hillbillies. "We're turning this off," I tell Maisie. "Can I watch Rugrats?" "Only if you forget you ever saw this. By the way, the prayer for Bill Nye is as follows: " 'My modest little goal is to change the world,' says Nye. Pray that science education will engage both the imaginations and the spirits of students." That's code for this: I'm a forgiving person, you atheist bastard, so I'm giving you one last chance. Change your tune about the dinosaurs, or don't blame me when you wake up in hell.


At 1:49 PM, Blogger C. J. Summers said...

I would be interested to hear your comment on these posts after you've finished posting the series of articles.

At 5:06 PM, Blogger BJ Aberle said...

We have one day left. I will be out of town starting tomorrow and will not be back until Tuesday. I will try to get a summary post this weekend. I HAVE to go to Florida for hoo.

At 7:39 PM, Blogger C. J. Summers said...

Yeah, I really feel sorry for you. Jerk.


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