I was taught the world was only a few thousand years old...

So, things have been kinda busy with the kittens all over the house-- we have ten, after all, that we're socialising and fattening up so they're ready to be spayed or neutered and adopted out. School is also out for the summer, so my entire schedule has flipped around.

But I've been thinking a lot about creationism, as well as some of the crazier fundie stuff I was taught as a kid and young teen. One blog I follow, which I've shared before Leaving Fundamentalism does an awesome job of discussing the ACE curriculum and the dangers it poses to the ability to actually think! I'd have to agree, as I went to a school for two years (the second of which I finished in Germany home-schooling myself with the Paces) in an ACE school. The mind-numbing course work wasn't even the worst of it.

What I have noticed a lot of lately is creationism in the news and media. Now, depending on where you go in the blogosphere and online you'll always have creationism on your radar-- if you're like me and flutter around the Atheist/Agnostic stuff mixed in with Education, Science and Reproductive Freedom/Feminism then it's around A Lot! See, most of your people against all those things are young earth creationists, ultraconservative, dominionists, and anti-women, anti-choicers.... or some combination thereof.

This has gotten me thinking, yet again, about my own upbringing, and the crazy shit I was taught in school and in our home-schooling curriculum, especially about science. I was taught that the world was only a few thousand years old... after, of course I learned evolution, and then "creationistic evolution" and well, it's pretty damned weird and overly complicated, so I supposed I ought to start at the beginning.

I went to public school from Kindergarten until Christmas break in third grade. For some reason that I still haven't figured out, my mother decided to home-school us. We used A Beka curriculum, which is horrible stuff. I mean FUCKING awful! It's not as bad as ACE, because it's not generic "do it yourself" stuff, but A Beka taught me all sorts of weird shit, like Catholics coming to the New World were led by genocidal priests, but Protestant missionaries protected the indigenous peoples... I also learned that the US government's treatment of the American Indians, as well as Canada's and Australia's treatments of their First Nations people was godly... that means the governments were right to rape, pillage, kill, murder, genocide, eradicate cultures, kidnap children and force people off their land... because gawd. I could go on, but remembering that stuff hurts my head, and makes me sick. Luckily it didnt' stick, because my innate sense of empathy never got killed off by christianity. For too many students learning from these slanted, bigoted texts, they never have empathy to begin with.

Anyway, science. I love science, and always did. I'd watch Bill Nye, and anything on what was then a proto-Discovery Channel. If it was on, and it was science, I loved it. Used to devour anything about dinosaurs, animals, you name it. I remember borrowing a book from the school library, in the 3rd grade, and this might be part of the reason my mother pulled us out of school, that explained evolution of the dinosaurs in easy to understand language. It talked about how the large beasts grew, and then some cataclysmic thing happened, and only the small mammals survived, evolving into us! How amazing!!

I took it home and shared it with my sister and brother-- my brother's five years younger than I, and even at 3 he loved dinos, so I thought it would be a cool thing to share, right? I mean, kids can be assholes, but often we do nice things to our siblings. My mother got this weird look on her face, but never said anything to me. I took the book back, and then not too long later we were working our way through these weird A Beka books. One of which was some bizzaro world science.

One of the first things I learned in elementary school, was that evolution as I learned it in 2nd and 3rd grade, "change over time" was incomplete. OK, cool, complete it for me, right? Turns out, Gawd started the Big Bang, like flicking a shooter marble into a pile and starting the game. Huh, isn't that interesting. So, the before time and space was God. Weird. But, I left it, completed the home work, and went on.

It wasn't until middle school probably eighth grade before I heard of what's now called ID (intelligent design). You have to remember I'd been taught that god, Jehovah Himself, started the Big Bang, and then let things go. Then suddenly I was told that evolution was guided by this god, like a fucking r/c car!

It made no sense to me. But, that's what the "right" answers were, so that's what I wrote. Creationistic Evolution is what they called it... and the evolution part stopped after dinos, and before any hominids... that was when Genesis started, and I guess god got tired of waiting for us to get there through evolutionary processes, and just made the dirt-dude and rib-girl. Weird, yes, very very weird, but Okay, if that's what they wanted. I still read books and watched science shows, but I noticed my mother getting weirder and weirder about evolutionary science, about anything that didn't fit her interpretation of the Bible.

She didn't go full of creationist until I was in the 8th grade. We'd moved to Germany, and I finished up those dreadful Paces. We started going to a new church that ran a school, and that fall, I'd start there as a Freshman. This was one of the fundie churches she'd fallen in love with, and so I wasn't too surprised to see science get the "gawd did it" treatment. I'd already been slightly brainwashed, and wasn't quite to the "WTF is this shit" stage, so I shrugged and thought maybe god did do it, but I wanted to know how! That was one step that led me, ultimately, away from religion all together, and into atheism.

In ninth and tenth grades the science texts books taught that Genesis was a literal fucking account of the creation of the universe. We didn't have Ken Hamm or Ray Comfort at the time, but if they'd been known, I'm sure I'd have had to sit through some dreadful "Answers in Genesis" drivel, or listen to Comfort's "the banana is perfectly created to fit the human hand" and "the eyeball is too complex to just have happened!" shit. Thank science for small favours! I did, however, have to study Genesis and Job as if they were appendices to my science texts.

Genesis taught us the order that god made shit, right? The plants before the sun, and there's water in the "firmament" of the sky, and that everything came out of the ground like fungi... you know, that shit. We weren't allowed to ask how long were the days, or if god could have evolved things. Nope, it all happened instantly, and Adam and Eve probably used dinosaurs as pack animals.

Job taught us that humans lived with dinosaurs, see. If you look there's behemoth and Leviathan in there-- which we know to refer to large beasts, right? This was self-evident to the bible-beating god-botherers who taught me: this must be brontosaurus (yes, this is before he was demoted back to apatosaurus, I graduated in 95, remember?) or T-Rex, or something BIIIIIG!

Again, God did it, and we can't ask how... because you can't question god.

No, of course nothing made sense, and I was confused as hell. I thought for several years that maybe I just couldn't "do" science. Maybe, like chemistry and algebra*, I just couldn't wrap my head around understanding how it worked. Maybe I'd be endlessly fascinated by science, but never really get it.

Now, because of my time in school, my age and my mother's fundamentalism, I was uniquely situated to see how christianity-- of the mainline protestant turned evangelical stripe-- changed over from "sure evolution, whatever" to "God did it!!!eleventy one!" It sounds really confused and random, and to be honest, it really was. What I'd been told was the truth, Truth!! was suddenly not quite right, or utterly wrong, and so I had to start over.

No wonder evangelicals barely know biology, let alone geology and not even getting into any other science. If it was so hard for me to wrap my head around cosmology as I tried to relearn it over and over, I am sure that it's much harder for people who learned your basic "Jesus did it" in the 50's and now they're being confronted with the truth, Truth!!, that evolution did it, in changes over time, over 13.8 billion years.

And it's no wonder the religious right doesn't want kids to be educated... might prove them wrong, again and again and again. Look at Kitzmiller v. Dover for a great example of how they're trying like motherfuckers to bring ID into schools, and lying through their teeth about what it is, and how it works.  There's a really good documentary that NOVA did for PBS about it, if you have Netflix, you can get the DVD. Anyway, the stuff they cover, the actual things that the ID people want to teach kids, yeah, I was taught all that.

I was taught that humans co-existed with dinosaurs.
I was taught that Neanderthals were "regular humans, probably sick with rickets".
I was taught that Australopithecus was merely some extinct ape or family of apes.
I was taught that any of our early hominid ancestors were either ill humans-- always with some vitamin deficiency that made them all "weird and deformed" or were just apes. Never, never, never were we related to them!

I was even taught something that's still hilarious to me, to this day; I'm not able to remember it exactly, so bear with me as I paraphrase:
Mules are the most closely related to humans when it comes to breast milk proteins.
Chickens are the most closely related to humans when it comes to keratin proteins.
But, the blood proteins we humans have, as most closely related to the butter bean, or all other plants and animals. So, "if you have butter beans in your cupboard, they just might evolve into a human!"

Yes, I was taught that butter beans had the same exact proteins as human blood, and could probably substitute or something. Isn't that one of the stupidest things?!

And we believed it! It was one of those "silly evolutionists, they believe chimps are related to us, but we know better, God is so awesome he showed them, look at these unassuming little beans!"

How embarrassing.

How many kids still believe that?

I know if I can break out, they can too, and they'll have an easier time of it, thanks to YouTube, the internet at large and everyone else that constantly lampoon Hamm, Comfort and everyone else who claims such stupid shit about the creation of everything.

Now, if we can just do something about these state Boards of Education and their own creationist agenda... but that's for activism, and not talking.

*Chemistry I just can't do, to this day. I mean that I can do the experimentation, and I understand molecules and all that. I just can't write you the proofs... As for algebra, I had an absolutely amazing professor in college, and because of her, I love algebra and calc now. But, I needed someone who was comfortable and loved the stuff to teach me, rather than someone who was "just following the book". Now, like her, I can hear the music in higher mathematics, where as before I was only comfortable with basic maths.


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