Over at Pharyngula, it was noted that there was to be a Creationist Science Fair. In the comments, I offered one suggestion that students could do for an experiment, which I’ll touch on here in a bit. But one experiment does not a science fair make. Since, in their web site, they claim to, unlike other educators, “teach the scientific method”, I thought it might be nice to offer a list of experiments to help them out. I have not heard of any creation scientists doing any experiments after all, so this may be a way to prod them a bit. One of the first experiments we here about, of course is in Genesis 30 (the one I commented on). From the Skeptics Annotated Bible we read:
30:35 And he removed that day the he goats that were ringstraked and spotted, and all the she goats that were speckled and spotted, and every one that had some white in it, and all the brown among the sheep, and gave them into the hand of his sons.
30:36 And he set three days’ journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks.
30:37 And Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the hazel and chesnut tree; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods. (30:37-39)
30:38 And he set the rods which he had pilled before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink.
30:39 And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted.
This is just begging for the experiment to be done. After all, one aspect of the scientific method (which they claim to be the only ones teaching) is reproducibility. As I noted in the comments earlier, the Bible does not give us the distribution or standard deviations of speckled or spotted cattle, so there is a chance to add to data to help our understanding of how viewing striped poles while conceiving effects heritable traits. Is this how zebras are made? I wonder if you could make striped people?
Now, the leg count experiment. From Leviticus:
Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;
11:22 Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.
11:23 But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.
So, collect insects, at least 100 or so, but 1000 would be a better test. They should be different types of insects, of course and scientifically classified as such. They could include such animals as flies, butterflies, moths, bees, a praying mantis, etc. Count the legs on each. Compute standard deviations and graph the results. Compare with the biblical claim of 4 legs to verify it.
This next experiment I call The Koala Bear March, is a little less doable, and I’m not so sure it would work, let alone that it would be instructional for students. But, if successful, it could remove one of the many many problems with the whole global flood. This is to reproduce and verify immigration patterns in the immediate post global Deluge period. Take one female and one male koala bear. Start them off near the top of Mt. Ararat and observe how they make their way from a mountain in Turkey to Australia. Since all vegetation had been killed in the flood and there are now no indigenous populations of eucalyptus trees between Turkey and Australia, it is likely that was no food for the koalas during this immigration. Of course, this would be an expensive undertaking, but I’m sure that funding could be found and the results put into a documentary form for the science fair project. There could even be a publication in there.
So, that is all I can think of at the moment (perhaps something to verify a hare chewing the cud?). It certainly isn’t easy to find experiments based on Bible stories as much of them were one shot deals. Feel free to come up with a few. But I did find another site with 4 suggested creationist experiments. Let’s have a quick look.
For the first experiment, the student blows air over a feather to see an uplift. This is to demonstrate how birds can fly. What is their conclusion?
You now have a working model of how a feather aids flight. When the air moves over the feather, in the normal position, it will lift upward.
The instructions to form a bird’s feather are found in their DNA. This information is different from genetic information which forms fingernails on people or scales on snakes. Feathers are extremely complex. For a great Science project research and discuss the extreme complexity of the feather’s structure, various types of fliers (birds, insects, mammals, reptiles); the DNA Code Barrier; and the mathematical impossibility of these different kinds of flying motions “evolving” by random chance.
Talk about intelligent design!!
Wow. So from the fact that feathers help a bird to fly, we conclude that there is a mathematical impossibility that it could have evolved by random chance. Wonderful. How one gets from feather aerodynamics to calculating mathematical probabilities in evolution (pure random chance is, of course, not the claim made in evolutionary theory) is not quite clearly spelled out, but I’m sure they did their homework on it. I wonder if they’ll mention that velociraptors had feathers?
Next, we dissolve an egg shell so that we have a “live model”, if you will, of a cell. O.K. I’m not sure what actual knowledge or aspect of the application of the scientific method this demonstrates, but sure. Since they are the only ones teaching the scientific method, I’m sure they got that thought out.
The third experiment is to create fossils, just how they were made in the flood. Wrong conclusions as well, but I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to explore.
The last experiment is pretty good, but could have been better. They freeze water and have it bust through a container to show volume expansion. It could have been better. Hypothesize that ice is less dense to explain the fact that it floats in water. Less dense means more volume for the same mass, by definition of density. So, design an experiment to test this. Design the experiment to actually measure by how much the water expands. Of course, then they ruin it. Instead of having kids wonder, research and explore how water got those properties (perhaps by suggesting further experiments. I guess it sort of depends on the grade level here I guess. But one could dig into the molecular structure at an advanced level), they invoke design. See, water expands when it freezes and that is necessary for life. Of course, that’s why it was designed that way by a designer. Clear as water. Well, mud anyway.
Now, of course, we can point and laugh at the creationist antics and silliness. But this is the type of standards we will eventually sink to if intelligent design/creationism is wedged into schools via so-called “academic freedom” bills, which incidentally seem to always single out evolution as one of the “controversial” subjects. The real victims here are the children. I’m sure there will be some who pull themselves up out of the mire of dogmatic and muddled thinking. But the potential of many more bright minds stands to be squandered, their potential opportunities to contribute to scientific progress gone.
Gone with the wind like that impossible feather.