Dino poop and the age of the Earth

The Holyrood Dinosaur, John Mason MSP, has pooped again. Last month he told us that science can’t disprove the theory that the Earth was created in six days. He’s quite right, of course; according to his chosen standards, no one can ever disprove anything. This month, however, he is busy telling us what is or is not important for schools to teach. His exact words, according to the Sunday Herald, were

… you can argue science is all about theories, but there is enough to teach in science without having to go into how old the earth might or might not be.

Good idea. Let’s just take out of the science syllabus everything that requires having to go into how old the Earth might or might not be. Goodbye to:

Everything to do with the Big Bang, the initial formation of hydrogen and helium, the formation of gas clouds, gravitational collapse, and the conversion of hydrogen to helium within stars

Red giants, supernovas, and the formation of the heavy elements (“heavy” in this context means anything heavier than helium)

The formation of the Sun, then the Earth, then the Moon, in that order (sorry, Genesis 1:1 – 18), from the collapsing and sorting of the material in the planetary nebula

Radioactive dating, and how we know the radiometric clock runs true

The whole of geology, including plate tectonics, mountain forming, the time needed to form and erode sediments. And while we’re at it, the whole of geography, geochemistry, mineralogy, and the science of looking for fossil fuel deposits and other useful materials, like building stones and metal ore

The entire fossil record. After all, it is full of missing links, and the more fossils you find, the more missing links there must be in between them

Human palaeontology and archaeology. These tell us that our ancestors split off from the ancestors of other kinds of ape some 5 million years ago, and that the Egyptians were in the middle of building the Great Pyramid when Noah’s Flood is supposed to have happened (funny that the work doesn’t seem to have been interrupted)

Anything whatsoever to do with ev*l*t**n. After all, ev*l*t**n takes a very long time, and we can’t prove that there was so much time available because we can’t prove that the Earth was not made in six days.

Dino poop. Together with the formation of petrified wood, coal, oil, and natural gas (did I mention them already?), the much-misdescribed mineralised blood vessels of dinosaurs, all other minerals formed by displacement or metamorphosis, and anything else that takes a really long time

So what should we teach instead? Luckily, John Mason has already given us the answer:

… some people believe that God created the world in six days, some people believe that God created the world over a longer period of time and some people believe that the world came about without anyone creating it; considers that none of these positions can be proved or disproved by science and all are valid beliefs for people to hold, and further considers that children in Scotland’s schools should be aware of all of these different belief systems.

So this is what we should make children in Scotland’s schools aware of, in the time freed up by the above deletions.

Analysing a dinosaur’s poop gives valuable information about its diet. And in the case of the Holyrood Dinosaur, confirmation that the diet is dangerously lacking in science, logic, common-sense, or anything else even vaguely connected with reality.

Deselection, anyone?

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 February 8, 2015, in Creationism, Education, Geology, Humans, Politics, Religion, Scotland and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. And while Masonosaurus is at it, let him prepare a syllibus for a philosophy course that would explore all of the worlds’s creation myths, so as not to take up scienceinstruction time.

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  2. Thats the thing. I think if people like Mason were given a history of science – a lesson on epistemology if you will there is good chance he would recant his idiotic notions.

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  1. Pingback: Creationist Battle in the Scottish Parliament | The Sensuous Curmudgeon

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