Young Earth Creationist books handed out in a Scottish state school; worse and worse!

(All the more reason, my Sottish friends, to  write to your MSPs; see here)

I reviewed these books earlier. Diogenes, an expert on creationist quackery, has drawn my attention to a couple of further detailed absurdities.

Truth to Tell contains the usual attack on Haeckel, with the usual claim that this invalidates all the developmental evidence we now have for evolution, some 130 years later. As Diogenes surmised (see his comments on the earlier post), this is accompanied by a completely meaningless image meant to represent a human foetus. The accompanying text makes clear the real agenda: “A human embryo starts as a human, ends as a human, and is a human the entire time.” The figure (click for full scale view), and accompanying text, speaks for itself:


The reference to human footprints in coal, pp l03 – 104, doesn’t even get the dates of the Carboniferous right:

 “As an example, according to evolutionists, the coal in the Upper Carboniferous layer is supposed to be 250 million years old. Humans did not evolve, according to this theory, until about 3 million years ago. Yet we have found human footprints in coal layers that are supposed to be 250 million years old.”

 As Diogenes reminds us, the Carboniferous ended 299 million years ago. The number 250 million, the claim that the impressions are human footprints, and the description of 250 million years ago as Carboniferous, probably come via John C. Whitcomb and Henry Morris, The Genesis Flood, p. 172. The footprints, if such they be, were described in a 1940 Scientific American article, which concluded, however, that they were probably carvings, or, if not, footprints of some as yet unrecognized species, see here for more details. However, that article did contain the rhetorical hypothetical

 “If man, or even his ape ancestor’s early mammalian ancestor, existed as far back as the Carboniferous Period in any shape, then the whole science of geology is so completely wrong that all the geologists will resign their jobs and take up truck driving.”

 Of course, that was meant to be a reductio ad absurdum, but Creationists have no sense of irony, and this is the kind of thing they really jump on. Indeed, Apologetics Press, publishers of the books in question, quote-mines the article in a separate posting here, with fanciful chalked in foot shapes.

Truth be Told continues:

 “How could the coal layers be 250 million years old, if the humans who made tracks in them did not evolve until 247 million years after coal formed? The truth is, neither humans nor coal are millions of years old. After the Flood, Noah or his descendants could have left their footprints in the coal while it was just beginning to form a few thousand years ago. In summary, coal forms when plants are buried very quickly.The upright trees in coal prove this [there are other references to polystrate fossils, of course.]Scientists are now able to form coal in the laboratory in only a few months, so we know it does not take millions of years to form. Furthermore, things like human footprints show that the coal is not millions of years old.”

No references anywhere in the book, but there is a true/false question in the Chapter Review, “Human footprints have been found in coal that evolutionists date to be 250 million years old.” Guess what the answer is supposed to be.

A detailed analysis of all the errors would require a book as long as the original, so I’ll leave it there.

About Paul Braterman

Science writer, former chemistry professor; committee member British Centre for Science Education; board member and science adviser Scottish Secular Society; former member editorial board, Origins of Life, and associate, NASA Astrobiology Insitute; first popsci book, From Stars to Stalagmites 2012

Posted on November 3, 2013, in Creationism, Education, Humans, Politics, Religion, Scotland and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thanks for this scan and the additional details, it’s great.

    As I commented before, TalkOrigins reproduced some more images of the Kentucky “footprints”:

    I think you’re right that the authors copied the “250 million years old” figure from “The Genesis Flood”, although that document from Apologetics Press that you linked to has a fuller quote than Morris’, so they could have gotten it directly from “Scientific American” 1940. Maybe. At any rate, their dating for the Upper Carboniferous is off by 49 million years (a small error by creationist standards) and derived from a source that is 73, that’s seventy-three, years old.

    I’ve been trying to hunt down that 1940 edition of “Scientific American” to look at the original, and I’ve not had any luck.

    As I commented before, the tracks from Berea, Kentucky, are mentioned by the important creationist A. E. Wilder-Smith’s book “Man’s Origin, Man’s Destiny.” For the sake of completeness, and anyone who studies this kind of thing, I’ll copy in Wilder-Smith’s version.

    Wilder-Smith: “V. Human Tracks in the Carboniferous

    As already mentioned (see pp. 139-142), human tracks have been found in Carboniferous formations. W. G. Burroughs, Professor of Geology at Berea College, Kentucky, chose the name Phenanthropus mirabilis for the creatures which left these tracks.

    The tracks are in formations considered to be Upper Carboniferous (250 million years old) and show five toes and an arch which is unquestionably human.

    The tracks are 9 1/2 inches long and 4.1 inches broad at the heel. The width at the forward end of the track, by the toes, was 6 inches. The being that left the tracks was a biped that walked uprightly like a human.1 Well-known authorities such as Professor C. W. Gilmore of the Smithsonian Institution collaborated in working out this problem, which therefore guarantees considerable reliability. Antiquities published photographs of the tracks and said that similar ones had been found in Carboniferous formations in Pennsylvania and Missouri. The Missouri tracks look exceedingly human and resemble those of Southeast Asian aborigines.” [A. E. Wilder-Smith, “Man’s Origin, Man’s Destiny” (1968), p. 300]


    • Thanks. That “250 million years = Carboniferous” is a useful cladistic marker. I think Glasgow Uni has Scientific American 1940, so I’ll see if it dates back to then. Another marker – the reference to coal. Morris, p 173, refers to imrints having been made in soft mud.


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