Science and Other Drugs

….maybe a little less wrong….

Jack Chick tackles nuclear physics

I consider it a Great American Pastime to leisurely scroll through the delightful nuggets of wisdom that are Chick Tracts. With titles like A Demon’s Nightmare, Holy Joe, Back From The Dead?, and Camel’s In The Tent, it’s hard to find a more startlingly brilliant collection of superstition, misinformation, racial prejudice, illogicality, misanthropy, and outright fiction….unless, of course, you go digging through Kent Hovind’s stuff.

So yes, I’ll confess it: I love reading Chick Tracts. It’s incredibly entertaining to see just how ridiculous fundamentalism can get. Granted, Chick largely represents Independent Fundamental Baptists, which are a fringe group at best (though admittedly more common than snake handlers). “And such were some of you….”

One of the more famous titles is Big Daddy, a thrilling exposé on the problems with biology, geology, chemistry, cosmology, and the scientific method in general. “A professor thought we came from monkeys, until a student proved evolution was a lie. Humorous, yet powerful! Students love it.”

It features a stereotypically clean-cut white Christian male student (complete with pressed white shirt)….

Clearly a formerly homeschooled middle class Republican. Just look at how perfectly parted his hair is!

….who convinces his hideously ugly biology professor…

Arguably the best evidence for common descent is this fellow’s similarity to the ape behind him.

….that evolution is “full of holes”, then leads his mixed-race class….

In which we learn that other races are more gullible….and that SECULAR people commonly celebrate belief in evolution by chanting with both hands raised.

….to repentance and KJV faith (which somehow transforms them into a mostly Caucasian group):

Seriously. The girl with glasses used to have dark hair. It’s a miracle!

Yes, I changed the speech bubbles….most of them, at least. Guilty as charged.

The majority of this cartoon simply parrots the typical strawmen arguments and unfounded claims in most 90s-era home school science textbooks. Hoaxed missing links, non-vestigial organs, Haeckel’s embryos, and polystrate fossils are all centrally featured; this stuff is straight out of Hovind. In fact, several pages actually cite Hovind directly. I wonder if this will be updated to direct readers to the Federal Correctional Institution in New Hampshire now that Dr. Dino has taken up extended residence there?

If anything, this “tract” is a good primer on what to expect from home schooled students who haven’t been exposed to anything but a caricature of evolution. And at first, I thought that was all it was.

Then I got to the end, where I was abruptly shocked beyond all belief.

What. The. Heck.

Denying common descent is one thing. But saying the nuclear strong force is a “made-up dream” to “explain away truth”? Let’s lay aside the fact that this has absolutely nothing to do with evolution. I’ve got one question: What does Jack Chick think nuclear bombs are?

Apparently, all the atomic nuclei in the universe are held together by Jesus. All the time. Except, you know, plutonium and uranium, because they’re heavy, and Jesus’s hands get tired, and he sometimes lets them fall apart, and that’s why we have radioactive decay. And the more we push into one place, the heavier it gets, and that’s why a bunch of them can fall apart at the same time and make nuclear bombs.

Like I said, it’s one thing to question common descent. I get it. It all happened A Long Time Ago and it Kind Of Sounds Funny and the PhD scientists at Answers in Genesis seem to make some Good Arguments. Ultimately, we can’t ever go back and see common descent for ourselves, so it’s easy to argue that there will always be room to question.

But asserting that the nuclear strong force doesn’t exist? That’s an open, unambiguous God-of-the-Gaps argument, on a level with thunder coming from Thor’s Hammer. “We don’t know what holds atoms together, and we never ever will, therefore it must be God.”

You know what? Fine. We had Intelligent Design and Intelligent Falling; why not have Intelligent Nuking? Teach the controversy. That’s what I always say.

“Kids, some scientists believe that atoms are held together by the exchange of gauge bosons as described by the Standard Model and confirmed by particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider. But other scientists believe that an Intelligent Force—maybe God, maybe something else—keeps nuclei from flying apart. Radioactivity and nuclear explosions happen because of quantum tunneling….or because the Intelligent Force gets tired of holding together certain atoms.”

“Thanks, Jesus! We couldn’t have done it without you!”

Wait, that’s the Chinese thermonuclear test? Dammit, why is Jesus helping them? Aren’t they all communists?

13 responses to “Jack Chick tackles nuclear physics

  1. john zande 2013/05/15 at 17:19

    Bravo, PeW! Brilliant post, had me giggling from beginning to end!

      • john zande 2013/05/15 at 17:52

        Mission Accomplished. You know, as an ex-home-schooled-fundie you should articulate some thoughts and submit them to the NYT’s Op Ed section. You have a degree of authority on the subject that warrants attention. Submission link below

      • john zande 2013/05/16 at 09:15

        “Leaving Fundamentalism: a personal account of the road to reason”

        I’m still baffled as to why you’re still a theist, but a lot of good can be achieved in coaxing people away from the religious extremes that exist in the US today. Seriously, your country is becoming the laughing stock of the advanced world. Something has to change, and i think you can have a hand to play in that.

      • physicsandwhiskey 2013/05/16 at 11:17

        Hmm, interesting. I like it.

        I wonder…should I write it anonymously, as P&W, or as myself? Will the NYT accept anonymous op-ed?

        I’m pleased every time you say my theism baffles you, haha. It gives me hope.

        But yeah, I think I’ll do it.

      • john zande 2013/05/16 at 11:56

        Write it under a pseudonym if you like, but I can’t see any reason for being ashamed of finding reason. I’m not kidding about how the rest of world views the creationism nonsense going on there, and the science-denying Republicans presently in control of the Houses Science Committee.

        Let me know if I can help you out.

        Your theism baffles me because you have to work so bloody hard finding and defending excuses to believe in it.

  2. violetwisp 2013/05/15 at 17:21

    I didn’t really understand most of that, but I do like the idea of Jesus holding atoms together. How old were you when you started worrying about what you were being taught and how did you know?

    • physicsandwhiskey 2013/05/15 at 17:48

      There’s no controversy about gluons; we’ve directly observed them. Plus, it’s patently ridiculous; if Jesus was holding atoms together, we couldn’t very well build nuclear bombs. Unless, of course, Jesus just happens to let go whenever we smash a sufficient number of plutonium or uranium atoms together.

      I recognized the idiocy of Chick Tracts pretty early, though the cartoons were cool when I was still just 8 or 9.

      I started questioning the fundamentalist narrative when I realized the Secular Agenda was a myth. Fundamentalism depends on the belief that everyone outside its borders is actively trying to oppose everything fundamentalism stands for. I eventually realized that the rest of the world comprised people just living their own lives without any active antagonism for me. And so I turned critical thinking (something I’d been taught in fundamentalism) back on my own beliefs.

  3. Jim 2013/05/15 at 18:30

    Chick tracts are a riot! How would you like to have busybody Bob Williams as a neighbor?

  4. missyjbetts 2013/05/16 at 08:59

    This is both hilarious and scary at the same time. I only hope that the poor kiddos reading and “learning” this crap will one day use their critical thinking abilities as well!

  5. forgedimagination 2013/05/16 at 12:06

    Nuclear bombs are just like Pharaoh’s magicians turning stuff into snakes. Obvs.

    /insert eye roll

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