It’s Wednesday. What’s bat shit crazy today? How about that weird theme park in Kentucky. Start with the story by Ed Mazza in The Huffington Post:
Creationist Ken Ham’s Giant ‘Noah’s Ark’ To Feature Dinosaurs vs. Giants Diorama
If there is a reason to reject religion, this is one of them. Ham’s Answers in Genesis is described by Wikipedia as a parachurch organization promoting pseudo science:
Answers in Genesis (AiG) is a fundamentalist Christian apologeticsparachurch organization. It advocates a literal or historical-grammatical interpretation of the Book of Genesis, with a particular focus on a pseudoscientificyoung Earth creationism which rejects any results of scientific investigation which do not conform to their literal interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative. The organization sees evolution as incompatible with scripture and believes anything other than the young earth view is a compromise on biblical inerrancy.
AiG began as the Creation Science Foundation in 1980, following the merger of two Australian creationist groups. Its name changed to Answers in Genesis in 1994, when Ken Ham founded the organization’s United States branch. In 2006 the branches in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa split from the US and UK to form Creation Ministries International. In 2007, AiG opened the Creation Museum, a facility that promotes young Earth creationism, and in 2016 the organization opened the Ark Encounter, a Noah’s Ark themed amusement park. AiG also publishes websites, magazines, and journals.
Readers of this blog have previously been exposed to creationist Ken Ham:
If you’re like me, you are by now saying, “This is really neat stuff.” Also, if you’re like me by now you’re saying, “How come none of this is mentioned in the Bible?” Creationists (and many devout Christians) tell me I should look for answers in the Bible. I have seen statements in the past that the Bible is the only book we need. I have heard that all usable knowledge comes from the Bible. Creationist Ken Ham comes close to this:
And I do believe there can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel. You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation. One day, the whole universe will be judged by fire, and there will be a new heavens and earth. God’s Son stepped into history to be Jesus Christ, the “Godman,” to be our relative, and to be the perfect sacrifice for sin—the Savior of mankind.
That said… I spill a lot of ink making fun of religion and those who buy into it. The fact is, religion is one of those human foibles that has lasted throughout history. There doesn’t seem to have been any time and in any culture where belief in the unbelievable has not been rampant. The young-Earth creationists, as epitomized by Ken Ham and AiG is one more, albeit egregious, example.
Back when I lived in Dallas I attended the creationists’ meetings and got to know people like Don Patton, leader of a local group. One thing that kept coming out was that many have religious conviction so based on the Bible that the Bible must be literally true to validate their lives. Despite protestations of some religious people, a literal take on the Bible is that the Earth and everything else turned 6000 years old back in 1997. It was a date easily marked, and I observed the exact date with a small celebration with friends. It was also my birthday.
The age of the Earth is critical to this brand of creationism, and to validate this, dinosaurs and humans must have co-existed. At this point religious faith runs head on into a considerable body of fact, making religion and science mutually exclusive. All evidence indicates the last of the dinosaurs left their fossils about 65 million years ago. Then the dinosaurs vanished forever from this planet. The oldest fossils considered to be from direct human ancestors are in the order of three million years old. This leaves a sizable interval when neither dinosaurs nor humans existed, making the story of Ken Ham’s diorama the height of absurdity. Bat shit crazy.
The story behind Ham’s Ark Encounter theme park involves more than private religious faith. It involves other people’s money:
A state agency remade by Gov. Matt Bevin last week has approved $18 million in tax breaks to a Grant County amusement park that will feature a “life-size” Noah’s Ark.
The $92 million Ark Encounter project, owned by the same company as the Creation Museum in Petersburg, is scheduled to open July 7.
The tax break initially was approved by the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority in 2014 under Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration, but it was later canceled after tourism officials learned that the theme park would hire only Christians. Bob Stewart, then secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, said the U.S. Constitution prohibited the state from assisting a religious endeavor.
Ark Encounter officials sued the state in federal court, saying the state’s decision to withhold the tax break violated its free speech. In January, U.S. District Judge Greg Van Tatenhove ruled that the theme park was eligible to receive the tax incentive, which has neutral requirements that can be met by religious and secular groups alike. Gov. Matt Bevin said the state would not appeal the decision.
Most interesting. A theme park, which is little more than an edifice to proselytize for a religious sect is given public money in the form of a tax incentive. Make one thing clear: the state of Kentucky is not just giving the theme park a pass on paying certain taxes. This is tax money raised from other sources. Dan Phelps, known to us when he lived in Texas and was a member of The North Texas Skeptics, was also interviewed:
Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, has said previously the project will hire only Christians but won’t discriminate among denominations.
“It is extremely unfortunate that the state is giving tax incentives to an organization that will discriminate against Kentucky citizens,” said Daniel Phelps, head of the Kentucky Paleontological Society and a longtime critic of the project.
In particular, note what Ken Ham has said. Jews and Muslims need not apply. I’m guessing this goes for atheists, as well. Somewhere the meaning of the Establishment Clause has been lost.
And this is just bat shit crazy.