A Christian education publisher based in Tennessee has removed references to the existence of the Loch Ness Monster from a biology textbook.
According to Scotland's Sunday Herald, Accelerated Christian Education, Inc. has opted to remove a statement from a textbook used in Europe and will likely do the same for American textbooks.
"Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the 'Loch Ness Monster' in Scotland?" reads the deleted passage. "'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."
Mark Looy, chief communications officer for the Young Earth Creationist organization Answers in Genesis, told The Christian Post that he approved of ACE's decision.
"There are just so many of these legends, like the dragon mentioned in Beowulf, the numerous accounts of St. George and the dragon, and so on, that they can't be dismissed," said Looy.
"However, because the Loch Ness monster is a questionable example to use, and also because the claim has become such a distraction, we agree that it is wise to delete Nessie's reference from a textbook that lists possible living monsters."
Looy also told CP that while sea monsters like plesiosaurs did exist at one time in history, "the survival of such a creature today in Scotland is very hard to believe."
"After multiple uses of sonar and other instruments, the hard observational evidence is just not there for Nessie's existence today. Any such creature in Loch Ness has likely died out," said Looy
While the announcement pertains to Europe, controversy over ACE's textbooks hit American shores last year when a Louisiana private school was found to be using the recently edited textbook.
Known as Biology 1099, it garnered criticism from the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State due to the school in question receiving taxpayer voucher dollars.
"Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, uses a 'science' book that contains some unusual ideas – one of them the assertion that dinosaurs might still be roaming our planet," wrote Rob Boston of Americans United on the group's blog.
"The publisher is popular among Christian fundamentalist educators and home-schoolers. This Fall, lots of other Louisiana youngsters might be learning that the Loch Ness Monster debunks evolution."
Church-state watchdog groups and anti-fundamentalist critics note with concern that the new Biology 1099 edition still argues that human beings and dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time.
Looy of Answers in Genesis told CP that there is much evidence from history that dinosaur-like creatures walked the earth the same time as human beings.
"Job describes a real creature, called Leviathan, that appears to have been a sea monster. In addition there are hundreds of dragon legends from around the world, including those of sea monsters and also creatures resembling dinosaurs, that can't be ignored," said Looy.
"There is ample circumstantial evidence for sea-dwelling monsters (as well as dinosaurs) living during the past 4,000 years that can be used instead in science textbooks."
In July 2003, a British Broadcasting Corporation team used 600 separate sonar beams and other navigation equipment on Loch Ness to search for the monster, but found no trace of any giant reptilian creature.
Accelerated Christian Education, Inc. of Madison, Tenn. did not return comment to The Christian Post by press time.