Update: About the title: In ancient times when mapmakers didn’t know what lay beyond the edges of explored territory they would often print “Here be monsters” or “Here be dragons” or some variation of the same on the charts. The voyage of HMS Beagle, among many other voyages of discovery, was an effort to fill in those gaps. There were no monsters, only ignorance. There were those who cowered from the unknown, preferring to make up myth instead of seeking out the truth, and there were those who had the courage to go look for themselves.
Today, there are those, like the so-called educators described in the article below, who would erase that hard won awareness and replace it with Here Be Monsters. These people are fearful idiots. - Jim
In 1831, Charles Darwin set sail on the HMS Beagle.
Beagle’s voyage of discovery lasted nearly five years and visited many wondrous places.
Along the way Darwin formulated the genesis (sorry) of ideas that would eventually become the scientific theory of natural selection – i.e. Evolution.
Now, generally, Americans have some vague idea that Beagle visited some weird place somewhere and there were some weird birds or weird monkeys or some such weird stuff there which caused Darwin to swear unholy allegiance to Satan. More astute Americans might even be able to identify Darwin’s epiphany as having its origins (sorry) on the fabled Galapagos Islands – though the vast majority of those same Americans couldn’t find the Galapagos on a map if they were given unlimited access to an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of GPS enabled smart-phones surfing Google Earth with an infinite amount of bandwidth, but I digress. Be that as it may, Darwin spent some time there in that strange place studying rocks and birds and giant tortoises among other things.
I can understand Darwin's fascination. I've sailed to the Galapagos myself – though at the time I was studying the evolving (sorry) tactics of local cocaine smugglers and not the weird fauna which so captivated Darwin. The islands are strange and mysterious and exotic, the kind of place you’d expect to find a fifty foot tall ape who digs hot blonds and likes to climb skyscrapers, but I digress yet again.
Since Darwin’s landmark voyage and his theories have been almost completely edited out of modern American schoolbooks, it's not surprising that many Americans don’t realize that the Galapagos Islands weren’t the only place Darwin visited. In fact, Beagle circumnavigated the world on a voyage of scientific discovery like a 19th Century version of the starship Enterprise (except Darwin didn’t lose his shirt and get laid in every port, so far as we know, though he’d probably be more popular today if he had). The ship set sail from Plymouth on December 27, 1831, under command of Captain Robert FitzRoy and voyaged first to the Azores and Cape Verde Islands, then to the east coast of South America down to the Falklands and through Tierra Del Fuego via the Straits of Magellan. From there, the Beagle sailed north up South America’s west coast to the Galapagos. Then she turned west and made sail for Tahiti. The ship visited a number of atolls, New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania, more atolls, islands, and reefs, and then crossed the Indian Ocean to South Africa. The Beagle then sailed northwest to Ascension Island and across the South Atlantic back to Brazil. Finally, she set course north towards the Azores once again and then on home to England, reaching Cornwall on October, 2, 1836.
You’ll note that although Beagle visited many lands she didn’t make a port-o-call in Scotland.
Yes, Jim, we see that, I hear you say in that puzzled yet curious tone you use when you’re wondering what the hell I’m going to do next and if it will involve the adorable human-like shenanigans of monkeys. The ship didn’t visit Scotland. It also didn’t visit the forests of America’s Pacific Northwest or Canada’s Lake Okanagan or the goatherds of Central America or the snowy peaks of the Himalayas or the mysterious and unknown Skull Island. Is this significant?
Of course. And, really when have I ever mentioned the irrelevant for no reason other than my own amusement? OK, that’s a trick question but I think I’ve made my point here.
Now, Darwin’s role as the Beagle’s naturalist made him famous in scientific circles. He was always a workaholic, but after the voyage he became even more driven. Not long after the ship returned to England, Darwin was nearly incapacitated by stress and overwork and as a result he was repeatedly ordered by his doctors to take periodic rest breaks in the quiet countryside, which he did, sort of – predictably, most of his rest breaks turned into working vacations.
One of those breaks, a “geologizing” trip in the summer of 1838, was to Scotland.
Yes, Scotland again (at this point, in your head, you should be hearing the music that heralds ominous foreshadowing).
Darwin was so, so close, but unfortunately for The Truth he confined his trip to Glen Roy, an area of the Scottish Highlands, and mostly spent his time studying rocks. And it was here that Darwin made his “Gigantic Blunder,” speculating that the strange geologic formations in the area (known as the Parallel Roads) were formed by receding oceans (instead of ice damming during the last glacial period).
That wasn’t the only gigantic blunder Darwin made.
See, if he had only ventured a bit further afield, his Origin of the Species would have looked far, far different.
Yes, if Darwin had but visited Loch Ness, all would have become clear and his entire contribution to science could have been summed up in a single hyperlink to the Book of Genesis.
You see, deep beneath the cold wine-dark waters of the loch lurks irrefutable proof that not only was Darwin nuts, but that all of modern science is wrong as well.
"Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the 'Loch Ness Monster' in Scotland? 'Nessie' for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur."
A plesiosaur, a toothy long-necked aquatic dinosaur that scientists say died out sixty-five million years ago – give or take a year or so – that plesiosaur?
Yes, that plesiosaur. Alive. And living in Scotland.
Obviously if dinosaurs live among us, not only evolution but pretty much all of science must be wrong, including science’s assessment regarding the age of the earth. Obviously, obviously, existence of the Loch Ness Monster proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that Noah built an Ark and survived the Great Deluge and that he carried two (or five, or seven, or maybe it was fourteen) of each animal – including dinosaurs (the Bible isn’t clear, but presumably Noah kept the plesiosaurs in a giant Zip-lock bag during the voyage like when you bring goldfish home from the store).
Nessie the Scottish Plesiosaur proves that Young Earth Creationists are right! Paleontology is a crock, evolution is bunk, the Earth is six thousand years old, snakes talk, trees walk, and living dinosaurs prowl the dark corners of our world pretending to be mythical creatures hidden by the vast global conspiracy of science.
I know what you’re thinking: when you phrase it like that, Jim, it all makes perfect sense!
Yes, I know. It’s a gift. From the Unicorn.
The quote above is from the actual no foolin’ science class curriculum taught to kids at Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, Louisiana. Yes, that’s correct, the “school,” which is taxpayer funded (or soon will be, thanks to Governor Bobby Jindal’s efforts to bolster Louisiana’s reputation as a science and education powerhouse) and uses the fundamentalist Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) Curriculum, teaches its students that the Loch Ness monster is not only real but actually disproves the theory of evolution. The ACE curriculum claims to teach students how “to see life from God’s point of view” which is a neat trick given that even the best of America’s institutions of higher learning such as MIT and Harvard can’t grant degrees in omniscience. One presumes that ACE graduates are automatic shoe-in’s for both Glenn Beck University and a lifetime membership in the GOP. ACE also offers students a “Biblically based curriculum infused with Godly character,” which frankly scares the shit out of me given God’s track record in the character department and the fact that the ACE website also offers a course in “Sharpening Your Axe.”
No, I’m not, in actual point of fact, shitting you.
This so-called school, one of many in The
Birdbrain Pelican State, also uses “bible-based math books” and substitutes creationism for actual biology and science texts. The school uses an “earth science” textbook that explains what God made on each of the six days of creation. According to the pastor-principal, the school tries to “stay away from all those things that might confuse our children” – you know, like an actual education – because the offspring of creationists, delivered via stork no doubt and having not evolved along along with the rest of us, are morons.
Folks, we’re never going to get anywhere if you keep interrupting. What is it now?
Oh, yes, that. Look, bible-math is like word problems. Let me give you an example: If Joseph starts his own ministry which he then expands into a multi-billion dollar faith-healin’ salvation-sellin’ EVILolution-denyin’ Reality TV show that is broadcast on three cable channels and carried by one hundred and forty three radios stations in twenty-seven different countries, how much can he expect to clear tax-free off the top if he tells everybody that the world is going to end? For extra credit: After he become famous and buys his own senator, when Father Joe gets caught snorting cocaine out of Rentboy’s shaved bellybutton how many liberal homosexuals will he have to condemn to hell before God forgives his transgression? (The answer is: OMG! Nazis, Nazis everywhere!).
Now using the Loch Ness monster to prove creationism opens the door to some other interesting scientific proofs.
Yes, I’m talking about using a myth to “prove” another myth. So?
Look, it’s not like science, reasoned debate, or dazzling displays of logic are going to sway these chowderheads anyway. So, I say sure, let’s go all in and why the hell not?
That said, let’s check out some other elusive monsters, cryptids as they’re called, and see how they can be used to teach creation science.
We’ve already covered biology, how about World Religion Class?
Take the Pope Lick Monster for example…
Really? That’s how you’re going to be?
Sigh. Go on, get it out of your system, I’ll wait.
So, anyway, as I was saying, down in Kentucky they’ve got this thing called the Pope Lick Monster, part man, part goat, part sheep…
Stop giggling, it’s a real thing. Look, we’re doing science here and you’re distracting the others.
Anyway, most legends of the Pope Lick Monster describe it as a hybrid man/goat with a twisted body, furry legs, and alabaster skin with an prominent aquiline nose. The Pope Licker lures the unsuspecting to their doom by appearing to be someone they trust…
Not laughing now, are you, Smartass? Maybe there is something to this creationism stuff after all. If Darwin had spent time in Pope Lick, Kentucky he’d be singing a different tune (probably one involving banjos) – you spend a night in the woods there, trust me, you’re going to be praying to Jesus pretty goddamned quick.
There’s the Loveland Frog. A warty skinned humanoid with the leathery face of a toad. From Ohio. Coincidence? But, I digress.
The Loch Ness Monster as a basis for, well, I guess we can’t call it Evolutionary Biology can we? Creationary Biology then. So how about the Yeti for teaching the climatology portion of Earth Science? You know the Yeti, Meh-Teh, Migio, Mirka, Kang Admi, The Abominable Snowman, Big Frosty – sometimes goes by the name of Steve. Lives in Himalayan regions of Nepal and Tibet. Snowman. Lives in the cold. Look, heat rises doesn’t it? If global warming was true, how come there’s snow on top of mountains? Pretty obvious that the Yeti proves Al Gore is a minion of the Devil. Hey, don’t blame me, folks, blame science.
We’ve got Dinosaur Biology and Snowman Climatology. You’ve heard of Voodoo Economics? Right idea, wrong myth. Native Americans tell tales of the Wendigo, a creature who is the literal embodiment of gluttony, greed, and excess – think love child of Bernie Madoff and the Koch Brothers. Wendigos are never satisfied with sucking the life from just one person, they’re always searching for new investment opportunities. Ordinary people who give themselves over to greed and avarice can themselves turn into Wendigos. Is it just me, or are we looking at scientifically biblical justification for unfettered Wall Street capitalism right there?
Sex Education Class? Well, there’s the Fur Bearing Trout of Montana… Uh, you know, on second thought, never mind that one. That’s probably more of a Bible College level course.
Godless scientists say that Will-O-the-Wisps are nothing more than glowing swamp gas. Methane and phosgene gas from decaying plant matter bubbling up through water? Sure you can believe that, if you want to go to hell. Just like you can believe that Obama isn’t a Nazi Muslim Kenyan bent to the destruction of the United States using captured UFO technology from Area 51 piloted by Bigfoot, or you can avoid eternal damnation and acknowledge that Will-O-the-wisps are really angels sent by Jesus to show petroleum companies where to drill the fracking wells. Moses only saw a burning bush (and really, burning wood? Big Woop), we’ve got flaming water shooting out of our shower heads. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Darwin.
What’s left? Chupacabra International Relations? The Goat Sucker, the Chupacabra, a mangy diseased creature who haunts the Southwest, it comes from Latin America, it crosses the border at night and sucks the life from our very children. Jersey-Devil Genetics? Half man, half horse, half bat, half dragon, half devil and all bad (What? It’s bible math folks, try to keep up). Jersey-Dee is what you get when you mess with stem cells. How about Blair Witch Media Arts? Ogre P.E? Ogres eat kids, if they can catch them. Imagine an Ogre coaching your school’s Cross-Country program, those kids will run like hell – I smell championship! Meanwhile, down in the computer lab, we’ve got trolls…
Oh, right, I’m the one being silly here.
Maybe so, but I’m not the one setting my kids up for the Darwin Awards.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to stop by the enchanted wood and talk to my Leprechaun travel agent, I’m thinking about moving to the Galapagos Islands.
Or maybe Scotland.