Some creationists—religious fundamentalists who believe God created distinct species of plants and animals and who challenge evolutionary theory—are touting belief in the Loch Ness Monster. The fabled cryptid is even showing up in creationist “science” courses, according to an article in London’s The Guardian , July 31, 2009. (I received a copy of the article from my friend Fred Donnelly—University of New Brunswick Saint John—who came across it while attending a conference in England.) As it happens, the evangelical course that teaches Nessie as a scientific fact is endorsed by a UK government agency.
The Guardian quoted from one textbook ( Biology 1099 , Accelerated Christian Education, 1995). It asks pupils: “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.
“Could a fish have developed into a dinosaur? As astonishing as it may seem, many evolutionists theorize that fish evolved into amphibians and amphibians into reptiles. This gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis.
“No transitional fossils have been or ever will discovered because God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals. Any similarities that exist among them are due to the fact that one Master Craftsmen [ sic ] fashioned them all.”
The ignorance shown here is astonishing. In fact, numerous examples of transitional forms have come to light since Darwin published his On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life in 1859. (For a discussion see Michael Shermer, How to Debate a Creationist , 2nd ed., Skeptics Society, 2004, 12.)
As to the Loch Ness “plesiosaur,” no photographic, sonar, or eyewitness evidence for the creature is convincing. Eyewitnesses can easily mistake for a lake monster such deceptive look-alikes as otters swimming in a line. As well, the famous 1934 “Nessie” photo was a hoax, and the 1972 sonar evidence was discredited by an expert review. Indeed, in 2003 a BBC-sponsored team searched the entire loch with sonar and found no leviathan. (See Ronald Binns, The Loch Ness Mystery Solved , Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1984. See also Benjamin Radford and Joe Nickell, Lake Monster Mysteries , Lexington, Ky.: University of Press of Kentucky, 2006.) So much for creationist “science.”