Mar 19, 2009

Oops, Fossils Aren't Real

I had a very miserable day at work today. The major incident of the day I won't be talking about in detail here, but I had my first ever disagreeable interaction with a skool.

The second incident as though adding insult to injury was my having to deal with a big C creationist staff member during lunch time.

The encounter was triggered by my use of Traumador in my classroom, and Ms. C (not their name at all, but rather denoting their BS Creationist beliefs) taking exception to that. She was borderline harassing me about my endorsing such "controversial" material as Dinosaurs to children... funny enough afterwards I found 4 skool owned books on the subject in my classroom alone!...

Due to the fact I'm a substitute teacher I play nice no matter where I go and what happens to me. My employment depends on not rocking the boat at all. So I somehow (and could probably claim admirably) kept my mouth shut, and yet pretended I gave a rats @$$ about what she told me. The whole tell the Penguins from Madagascar's quote "Smile and [nod], boys, smile and [nod]" ran through my head.

The reason for the post though, was her statement that "They [Dinosaurs] weren't even real you know."

That has to be my favourite creationist 'fact'. Though I didn't delve into it today with her, for a number of reasons, it dredged up many memories of my past encounters with Big C's at the museum.

There are 2 variants of the creationist denial of fossils. Which in itself I think speaks to the stupidity I've dealt with.

The majority of creationists have had to concede that fossils are real, and incidentally present a big "problem" to their beliefs (in that they are totally WRONG!). Yet emphasising how not connected into reality creationism really is, some in the creationist movement have decided, rather than try to sidestep and blur the issue of fossils, they're just going to deny they exist. Which indicates how "real" their view point on the origin of things really is. When they have to pretend whole aspects of the world around them don't exist simply so that they can keep pretending their ancient fiction is real...

Anyways 2 variant versions of why fossils aren't real...

1. Evil Scientists and the Evolutionary Conspiracy...

This is my favourite of the two, and it is the easiest to show the stupidity behind it.

It goes like this, apparently "scientists" starting with Darwin (even though fossils have been recorded from as far back as the Greeks! but that is besides the point... for some reason) decided to start a clandestine conspiracy and "create" evidence for his new super villianistic scheme called "evolution"... for some reason... Meaning all the fossil evidence from around the world was in fact created by this cabal of evil academics to support the nefarious plot of "evolution"... for some reason... and yet no not single member of this secret society has ever broken ranks to warn the witless public at large of this diabolical ruse... again for some reason.

In other words palaeontologists and geologists make fossils, hide them, and than pretend to find them...

Like I said, this is a terrifically hilarious idea, and worthy of a whole TV franchise. It is also very complementary at the same time, and gives earth science people a LOT of credit.

Afterall we scientists (I'm lumping myself in here as I've worked behind the scenes in one of the fortresses of evil... errr Palaeontology) are able to produce STUPID amounts of fossils every year. Not only that but we do them all custom with an incredibly diverse variety, composition, and geographic distribution. At the same time no one notices or works at our mass production facilities... MAAAAAHAHAHAH

We therefore must be economic geniuses. As we not only acquire all the materials needed to manufacture the fossils, but we also have an incredible logistics system to distribute the fossils to the remote locations we want them to be, and place them through totally undetectable means (the fact fossils are often found far from "witnesses" is proof of this conspiracy you see according to Big C's).

Not only that but we are incredibly good actors, able to legitimately pass off our own creations as things we happened to find!

We are the most united organization in the history of the world, making the conspiracies of the X-Files look like mere childs play. In the one and half centuries of the plot, not one member of our circle has defected and told the world of our mass deception. We also have been able to plant our creations around the world unnoticed, not only to be found by ourselves but naive citizens.

Best of all we do it for no reason other than it is something to do... I have yet to see world domination in the grasp of Palaeontology... or have I said to much...

I'm not kidding sadly. I've personally had a young teenage evangelical try to persuade me of this "truth"... mental note to self, she still knows too much...

It came up enough at the museum that the staff rewrote the song Three Blind Mice to go

Make, Hide, Find

Make, Hide, Find

We make the fossils,

We hide the fossils,

We find the fossils
Make, Hide, Find
Make, Hide, Find

So as proof that this isn't true, I'll tell you theory number 2. The proof being if this conspiracy was as capable as the story goes they'd have killed me by now for saying this much!

2. The Devil's Creations

This story goes in an effort to trick us humans off the true path of gOD that sneaky Satan went and planted fossils all around creation.

Now this is about as easy to discuss or debate as the existence of gOD. Is your imaginary friend real or not? Only in this case is your imaginary enemy real or not...

Well here is the reasons I think creationists should avoid this one.

First of all its not in your great touted "one true book". No where in the bible is there mention of Satan making fossils (or mention of fossils at all funny enough...). So immediately your claim that the bible is THE literal truth is looking kinda in trouble, as a very KEY event is missing. What else is maybe missing from the book?

The chapters about evolution before Genesis? That disclaimer at the front warning this book is fictional and resemblances between real people and events inside a merely coincidental?!?

However the kicker of this whole Devil made fossils argument, is it suddenly upgrades Satan from a mere second stringer gOD (oh sorry fallen angel) to a full on powerful gOD like the big G himself. Now Satan has the power to create stuff just like gOD did, a Genesis 2 as it were.

Now correct me if I'm wrong... If Satan can create stuff just like gOD, would that mean there isn't one true god, but in fact 2 of them. Now as Satan's creation of fossils would have to presumably be AFTER gOD created the world, as otherwise Genesis is wrong anyway and Satan is actually the world's creator, would that not make Satan more powerful than gOD? Afterall gOD creating the world is dandy and fine, but kinda easy as there was nothing there. Won't it take the real power in the universe to go and amend that creation after the fact?

So yes Satan would be trying to lead me "astray" from gOD, but isn't he doing me a favour? Afterall gOD only created the world... he has no say on it now (otherwise why not remove the confusing fossils?!?). So Satan is the guy holding all the cosmic cards, and we should really be sucking up to him shouldn't we?

Kinda makes you think doesn't it.

In either case I like these theories as it means I don't have to even pretend creationists have a point. They're just talking out their @$$es. Which in fairness they're only one stepped removed from when they acknowledge fossils exist.


Glendon Mellow said...

Holy crow. Where to begin.

I can't believe you had to put up with a Creationist school teacher not in the U.S.. How horrible. I'd feel like I couldn't trust any of their other judgments around children based on that alone.

It must have been hard to be quiet. I can't imagine your self-restraint in that instance.
It's said (but understandable) that you had to be.

Can you speak to the principal? Was it a religious school?

Denying the existence of dinosaurs is being forcibly blind to the point of dangerous stupidity.

Michael Hoskin said...

Reminds me of a recent Colbert quote: "Those of us who don't believe in science are beset by forces we don't understand: acceleration, momentum, gravity..."

Did you hear about the phony tiny feathered dinosaur fossils that were just made up and classified after lying around unidentified for more than 20 years?

Though in all seriousness, science has committed some faux pas in the past by falsifying their findings, notably with Piltdown Man. Those incidents don't help the collective reputation.

Raptor Lewis said...

You brought up some VERY good points here, but remember that NOT all Creationists are like that. My Mom is a HUGE exception to that. And, I'm a Christian too, so please watch what you say about Creationists. I am a Darwinian as well.

Raptor Lewis said...

I hope you don't think I Don't care. I AM sorry that you had a miserable day, that sucks and it happens. I'm also glad that you bit your tongue.

BTW- I feel sorry for that lady (or anyone like that for that matter). Having a "closed" mind can keep you from getting the most out of this world.

Glendon Mellow said...

Raptor, I'm going to politely disagree with you there. I'm not glad Craig bit his tongue. I'm furious he had to. I understand why he did (the man's gotta eat) but it is outrageous he had to.

I know you have some family members who are creationists, Raptor. However intelligent someone like this teacher is, or people in our own lives, sometimes ignorance about science is inexcusable to the point of being a danger.

Right now here in Canada, our appointed science minister was asked "do you believe in evolution?" He responded evasively, saying his religion was irrelevant.

Evolution is not religion! He has since confirmed he does believe in evolution, but then gave this weird definition of Lamarckian evolution involving shoes.

This guy is a political appointee, and he doesn't get the basics.

This is why creationism needs to be fought at every turn. What would his scientific advice be if a a major bio-threat occurred?

To get back to Craig's dilemma, we also don't need people who don't believe in dinosaurs teaching in schools. Period.

Raptor Lewis said...

Glendon- I will have to say I believe your being a little harsh. You bring up some valid points, but that sounds a little like discrimination in my ears. To contradict (though, not completely) your last sentence, I believe teachers who don't believe in dinosaurs should NOT teach Biology. They can teach English and other fields, but Know what I mean?

Prehistoric Insanity said...


Glendon is the one discrimaniting is he?

That is a very interesting take on what he said. In his example of the science advisor it is clearly Glendon and the Canadian public who are the victims of that politicans discriminating view on science, not whoever you seem to think Glendon's picking on.

In my experience it is Creationists who are discriminator!

Take the above case of the Creationist who was harassing me this week!

I didn't know this woman, nor had she once spoken to me before she tore into me and my 'beliefs'.

I was trying to quietly mind my own business and eat my lunch, and she took it upon herself to target me and bully me about her world view. Despite the fact I had not once stated I was interested or that I wanted my world view challenged.

Her words "those who believe in evolution are evil" sounds a little like discrimination to me. Especially given that she had labelled me as "evil" without my having done anything, other than clearly had an interest in Dinosaurs.

The like response for me or another atheist would be to go out of our way, into her church, and tell her I think her religion is wrong and evil (which to be honest I believe, but I have her deeds to back up this accusation. Unlike hers about me. I did nothing to her...)

As for people like her being a teacher. No Raptor, I do NOT know what you mean!

She shouldn't, and to be technical, can NOT be good teacher! Of anything. Biology, English, or even Religion!

Teaching isn't about facts. It is about thinking. A good teacher gets their students to think about things they're not comfortable with or have never even considered before.

Someone as closed minded and in denial of the world around them as her doesn't know a thing about thinking. She has a preset view of reality and tries to force everything into it, which means she ignores or misses entire aspects of the world around her in the process.

I on the other have no entrenched filter, and rather am being bombarded by reality around me often so hard it spins me upside down at times. It can be freigthening and upseting at times, but at the same time I'm a better person for it.

Sure I walk into walls along the way, but at least I'm walking. She's stuck standing still in a prepetual game of make belief letting the wonder that is reality pass her by.

Not something I'm too keen on future generations doing. I'd rather them walking around blind, than standing still PRETENDING to see it all!

Kate said...

Raptor Lewis - in the Southern Hemisphere, we are generally lucky enough to live in a predominately secular society.

There is NEVER a place for religion in a government school, and never should there be. In this end of the world, we pride ourselves on being multicultural and accepting of all beliefs. So, I don't think that creationism has any place in school, when such strong views could easily be found abhorrent by anyone who has different beliefs. When I went to school, having the creation myth taught as the truth would be considered disgusting, and when I spent any time learning religion, we learnt the beliefs of many major relgions in the world without bias. I may or may not have been taught by a christian teacher I don't know, and that is precisely the way it should be.

I should also point out that I went to a church school, and yet, religion was never taught in an overbearing way. Calling someone evil because they believe differently to you is never appropriate, and certainly would come down on the harsh side of things in my opinion. This is the main problem, when people who follow science can not show their interests without being shot down as evil by those who think their belief in their idea of god makes them superior.

Glendon Mellow said...

Raptor, yeah I do know what you mean. I disagree in this specific example though.

If a teacher refuses to believe 2+2=4 because their beliefs tell them it is not true, I would argue that it calls into question their intelligence on other issues. If such a fundamental piece of basic knowledge is missing -not believing in dinosaurs for example- how could I trust their views on Shakespeare? How could I trust their view of history?

It is not discrimination to hire the best person for the job. This teacher clearly isn't the best person for the job if she believes dinosaurs are made up. Perhaps if she is actually up-to-standard in all other areas, a simple course in the history of biodiversity would set her straight.

The same goes for my example of the Canadian science and technology minister. If his beliefs contradict that of the duties he has been given, he should resign. What if we have a finance minister who is unclear on the definition of capitalism?

We should be worried about people whose lack of belief in dinosaurs and evolution interferes with their jobs especially when the jobs are so directly related. Teaching the young and running the country are 2 jobs that deserve better than creationists.

Raptor Lewis said...

Craig- I understand that view from reading about your experiences. I was not trying to point fingers, but, simply, lacked a better term.

I wasn't justifying her behavior. That wasn't fair, I know. I just wish some people (you, in particular) wouldn't lower themselves to that level. I feel that you were right to keep your mouth shut because, in my opinion, your job wasn't worth that harrassment.

You're also VERY right about the job of a teacher. There are kids at my school who, simply, refuse to think. They ask questions that they can easily answer with a small amount of thinking. If it makes you feel any better, President Obama is doing his part to spread the concept of thinking and open-minds here in the U.S. He has appointed scientists in his "cabinet"...not just any scientist. They are experts in their respective fields.

I'm also glad you took the time to consider my thoughts. I feel great knowing that you and I have reached an understanding. We are...I don't know...friends, I guess. Anywho, Hope your days go better after this.

Prehistoric Insanity said...


Lowering myself to their level. I think you are mistaken.

If anything I'm trying to rise to the challenge. Which is something I think you should very much want to do to!

For someone who loves Dinosaurs and wishes to be a palaeontologist you're missing a key threat of Creationism. If these people get their way, you won't be able to study Dinosaurs when you grow up!

They'd cut funding and support for museums (which have enough trouble paying for science at the moment as is!), they'd deny evolution being taught to kids in skool (meaning future kids won't get to enjoy Dinos and fossils like you or me do today), and would set us back to standards and understanding of more harsh and primitive times.

These people aren't willing to play nice the way your advocating, and let us non-creationists think Dinosaurs and everything else evolved. They are committed to forcing their incorrect and make belief view of the world on all of us.

I am not talking about Christianity in general mind. I'm talking about a literal interpretation of the bible creation myths. One that states the earth is 6000 years old, and that everything was created as it is and hasn't changed.

If you don't believe me on the damage these people can do, look to your own last comment.

Yes, Obama is trying to fix things, but he won't have had to if a religious zealout (and suspected creationist) like Bush not damaged America's scientific foundations in the first place.

You and your country man have done many remarkable things in the fields of science, and led the world for decades in discovery and achievement in most scientific field. Creationism makes a mockery of America's scientific prestiage, and has been eating away at its base for a few years now sadly.

This is largly because no one is willing to challenge them (or as you would put it lower to their level), and thus you're losing that edge to other places where this kind of nonsense is not tolerated by the public at large.

In the field of Palaeontology there are now almost as many foriegn scientists doing breaking research on American Dinosaurs as your own Palaeontologists. The reason being other countries are willing to fund palaeontology.
You guys on the other hand at the federal level were more keen to fund churches and religious institutions (many pushing or supporting causes that are counter productive to science).

My point is this. To think ignoring creationists will make them go away is very dangerous. Especially to a career in Palaeontology in America (the largest centre for Creationism in the Western World).

What terrorifies me the most is when descent people such as ourselves fear to act for what is right, because we have been convinced that all points of view, no matter how WRONG they are, are equal. They are not, and should not be. If you are wrong you are wrong.

In all aspects of our society: law, commerce, and education if you are right you are right, and if you are wrong you are wrong. Why is it with belief this is not the case as well?

So please think about that, and not think of it lowering a level taking on Creationists. Rather you are rising to the challenge. The challenge of saving Palaeontology and Dinosaurs, which you love so much!!!

Raptor Lewis said...

I beg to differ! I'm well aware of the rising power of Creationists. The only thing I meant by that statement is I sensed your emotions were really going and I was afraid in an effort to do us all good, you might've made a rash decision, though I know you don't intend to. I'm doing my part to but, my point originally was that you were mentioning ALL "Creationists" which is incorrect. The majority of them possibly behave in that manner. Thank you for your effort to put things in perspective, but I'm afraid I AM aware. I'm merely trying to keep the situation from being a "powder keg." I'm just keeping reason and calm feelings into the challenge to prevent this from escalating into something worse.

Here's a good example of what I'm trying to prevent (though not exactly):
In the early 19th century to the mid 19th century, here in the U.S., slavery was a MAJOR issue here and business as the Southern plantation owner's wanted their family and slave(s)to be able to move and keep their business. To do this a number of legislation were passed that if one of our territories became a state, for every "free" state there was supposed to be a "slave" state ("free states" were supposed be states where slavery was banned and "slave" states were states where....I think you get the picture). However, tensions were runnig extremely high in Legislation so much that violent fights broke out between Congressman. One congressman, sadly, beat another with a cane.

Abolitionists in the Northern U.S. were doing all they can in their part of the Union. Such distrust among both sides has led to the Southern consideration of Succession (which is illegal, as far as I know, though is debatable). When the Presidential election of 1860 with Abraham Lincoln ( who shares the same birthday as Darwin), came around with Lincoln the 16th president, the nation had succeeded from the Union. This was from a fear that he would abolish slavery as his first act as president. Then, in 1861, the newly formed Confederacy attacks Fort Sumter and starts the American Civil War.

As you can see from the above example, that is what can potentially happen if emotions run strong. I just don't want another war, because I hate bloodshed and violence when it's unnecessary.

I DO love Dinosaurs and Science Soooo much!!! I AM afraid that your correct that Science is in danger!! I have been taking action however, if you noticed my posts on Evolution on my blog. Have I ever posted about Jesus? No. That's because I promote science more than than blind faith. As Glendon said in his first comment, ignorance and denial of reality can be a dangerous thing. I feel the same way, the only thing I'm doing is trying to keep things from escalating. But, trust me I DO fight!!! The Truth Shall Triumph!!!

Marek said...

I understand that you want to avoid too much anger building up Raptor, but think again about the example of the Civil war.

What would have happened if the Civil war had not been fought? Would the slaves have been freed? Probably not, because a war was probably required to force the end of slavery.

Which is worse, a brutal war, or Southern slavery, one of the most brutal forced-labour systems ever created? And not only was slavery brutal, it was morally wrong.

I personally believe that some things are worth fighting for. If a war was required to end slavery, then so be it. Slavery was an outrage, and at some point, good people need to take a stand against something that is just WRONG, no matter what the cost.

I'm not saying I support a war to end creationism. But I AM saying that I'm willing to work hard against it in every way I can, because some things are WORTH fighting for, and the truth (evolution) is one of those things.

Dinorider d'Andoandor said...

eww! I don't have your patient! I can't avoid being ironic when talking about certain stuff.

I live in the southern hemisphere. My country, Peru, is officially secular, however it respects the (catholic) church and so on. Public schools teach christian religion though.... Ok almost every public school teaches courses on the catholic faith. However I've never heard things like these around here. When a school student and/or his/her parents doesn't want to take the religion courses he/she is free to take that decission.

I cant't believe that "educated" people still deny the existence of dinosaurs/fossils in the 21st century! The worst thing is that she was insulting to you!

grrrr! you are really patient, Craig!