The Fundamentalists’ Science Class: Putting the Moron in Oxymoron

superintendent_chalmers_on_god_by_fiskefyren-d6niqe2Religion-based science classes sound like something you might find in rural Saudi Arabia or Pakistan…or North Carolina, U.S.A.

Public schools in Rowan County, NC have gotten help from Pastor Doug Hefner in teaching elementary school kids that the Earth was created in seven days and that the Bible has predicted scientific breakthoughs.

If only the Bible had included instructions on how to construct a simple microscope or even hinted at a non-geocentric universe! Instead the Bible has given us these scientifically dubious gems:

The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and put in his field, which is smaller than all seeds. —Matthew 13:31

People do set high expectations on their Messiah of choice, but Jesus would be the first to admit that he was a carpenter and was not speaking as an expert in botany.

In this zoology lesson we learn that when goats mate in front of striped tree bark, they have spotted offspring:

Jacob placed the striped branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, they mated in front of the branches, and they bore young that were streaked, or speckled, or spotted. —Genesis 30:37-39

What should you do when you are bitten by a venomous snake? Consult the Bible:

And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he was made well. —Numbers 21:9

Now about those seven days of creation, is anybody else bothered that God created all those sun-dependent plants a day before he made the sun?

The earth brought forth grass, herbs yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with its seed in it, after their kind, and God saw that it was good. There was evening, and there was morning, a third day.

God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He also made the stars. There was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day. —Genesis 1:12-13,16,19

And lastly (though there are plenty more examples I’ll save for another time) here’s one Bible quote that has actually killed people, many of them being defenseless children who receive inadequate medical care from Bible-deluded parents who probably meant well:

And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick.
—James 5:15

Pastor Doug proudly defends his Bible-based science class as being scientifically valid by declaring, “I think this program dates back to the 60s.” Sadly, he is absolutely correct that he is teaching the youth of North Carolina science from the 60s. But not from the 1960s. From the 60s.

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

The 500-Year-Old Ceiling That Still Brings Down the House!

Michelangelo’s fresco on the Sistine Chapel ceiling turns 500 years old today! (10/31/2012) The Renaissance artist realized long ago, that the best way to make sure your painting does not get taken off the wall is to make sure your painting IS the wall.

People have praised his upside-down artistic achievement for most of these five centuries—though I believe it was El Greco who saw the ceiling and basically said, “Yeah, I coulda done better.” So instead of addressing the artistic achievement of the ceiling, I thought I’d reveal a few of its most endearing oddities and the corresponding Bible quotes.

This first scene I’ve chosen shows an unflattering angle of God as he creates a fairly un-majestic bush, recalling this Bible verse:

And again the Lord said, “Behold there is a place near me, and thou shalt stand upon the rock. And when my glory shall pass by, I will set thee in a hole of the rock, and protect thee with my right hand, till I pass. And I will take away my hand, and thou shalt see my back parts, but my face thou canst not see.” —Exodus 33:20-23

The next image is one you don’t see often in religious paintings: Noah as an old naked, drunk. Not to say that Michelangelo was plagiarizing himself, but it’s basically the “Creation of Adam” composition but with the Adam/Noah figure too wasted to point back to the finger that’s pointing at him. But hey, it’s a big ceiling; all those little kids touring the Vatican would hardly even notice the passed out 600-year-old man exposing himself, right?

He drank some wine, got drunk, and lay naked inside his tent. —Genesis 9:21

We also have Moses’ cure for those who were dying from being bitten by the fiery serpents that God was sending down to them. All you had to do back in those days was look at the brass serpent Moses put on top of a pole, and you would not die. I don’t know if this cure still works. Next time you’re bitten by a snake, you may want to ask to your doctor if Brass Serpent Beholding is right for you.

And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he was made well. —Numbers 21:9

One of the many prophets that Michelangelo painted was Ezekiel. The Book of Ezekiel has this underpreached treasure:

Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and ye shall know that I am the Lord. —Ezekiel 13:21

as well as this one:

And he said to me, “This is the house of the kitchens wherein the ministers of the house of the Lord shall boil the victims of the people.” —Ezekiel 46:24

 

And finally, this lovely scene of Judith, who, after beheading Holofernes, needed to stash the head somewhere!

And she struck twice upon his neck, and cut off his head, and took off his canopy from the pillars, and rolled away his headless body. And after a while she went out, and delivered the head of Holofernes to her maid, and bade her put it into her wallet. —Judith 13:10-11

So congratulations Michelangelo for having created such a lasting work of art, that still amazes to this day. 500 years is a very long time indeed. How long, you ask? 500 years is exactly the amount of time it took until Noah was finally able to father his three sons.

After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth. —Genesis 5:32

I can only hope my paintings are still around in 500 years, but with medical advances and clean living, I’m quite confident that I will still be around fathering children to populate my space ark.

 Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.