Rep. Paul Broun (R-Georgia) made headlines this weekend when a videotape shot Sept. 27 showed him claiming that evolution and the Big Bang were “lies straight from the pit of Hell.” While this may seem a standard issue belief for certain segments of the American population, this was especially distressing because Broun chairs the oversight and investigations panel of the House Committee on Science.
(Before readers start commenting and emailing about my alleged political bias because Broun is Republican, please note that I also criticized President Obama and Sen. Harry Reid, both Democrats, last month for their efforts to grant national status to a Nevada museum promoting Roswell UFO conspiracy theories.)
All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the big bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it's lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I've found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don't believe that the earth's but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That's what the Bible says.
Such claims were one of the first lines of attack against geological naturalism. When scientists first realized that stones are laid down in layers, implying an ancient earth, some of the most conservative clergy exploded in rage, seeking out Biblical reasons why geology must be a satanic science. The first line of attack was, almost literally, bullshit.
Specifically, Victorian clergy seized upon the fact that geologists had turned up ancient carnivores’ coprolites, fossilized pieces of excrement, complete with the teeth, claws, and scales of the animals thus consumed. This was, at first, a problem for the religious because the “archetype” theory suggested that fossils were plans, not living animals, and thus would not pass feces.
Thus, as related in Hugh Miller's Works: The Testimony of the Rocks, a mid-Victorian writer calling himself an “English clergyman” wrote in a widely-distributed pamphlet that the coprolites were not actual pieces of shit but rather shit-like rocks created specially by God in a fit of artistic whimsy!
We cannot, believe in such thing as coprolites. They are only a curious form of matter commanded by Him who has made the flower to assume all shapes as well as all hues. He who would not allow so much as a tool to be lifted up on the stones that composed his altar, would certainly not allow the work of animals to compose his creation, much less, then, their dung. The geological assertion that the Creator of this world formed it in some parts of coprolites savors very much of Satan or Beelzebub, the god of dung. Geologists could scarcely have made a more unfortunate self-refuting assertion than this.
Geologists of the nineteenth century batted away these silly claims and did yeoman’s work establishing the factual grounding for the age of the earth. And yet 150 years later, we’re still dealing with the same old bullshit.