Bat Shit Crazy

Ninth of a series

creationism-genocideandincestpark

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

A new display going into the creationist Noah’s Ark attraction in Kentucky shows what appears to be gladiator-style fights involving humans, giants and a dinosaur.

Ken Ham, founder of the group that runs the attraction, tweeted images of the new diorama on Thursday.

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.

Unbelievable!

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.

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The Good Book

CRW_5405

This came up on a “liberal” news source just recently:

Monoclonal antibody

Monoclonal antibodies (mAb or moAb) are monospecific antibodies that are the same because they are made by identical immune cells that are all clones of a unique parent cell, in contrast to polyclonal antibodies which are made from several different immune cells. Monoclonal antibodies have monovalent affinity, in that they bind to the same epitope.

Given almost any substance, it is possible to produce monoclonal antibodies that specifically bind to that substance; they can then serve to detect or purify that substance. This has become an important tool in biochemistry, molecular biology and medicine. When used as medications, the non-proprietary drug name ends in -mab (see “Nomenclature of monoclonal antibodies“), and many immunotherapy specialists use the word mab anacronymically.

What happened earlier this year was that there was a new, and also the most severe, outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.

An epidemic of the Ebola virus disease is ongoing in several West African countries. The outbreak first began in Guinea in March 2014. Since its initial outbreak, the virus has spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. The outbreak is the most severe of its kind in recorded history in regard to both the number of human cases and fatalities. A total of 1711 suspected cases with 932 deaths have been reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) as of 4 August 2014, of which 1070 cases and 603 deaths have been laboratory confirmed to be Ebola.

[Some links deleted]

One American traveling in the region became infected and died. Two Americans working to treat patients and to contain the epidemic became infected. These may have gotten a reprieve:

An experimental serum given to Christian aid workers infected with the deadly Ebola virus was manufactured by a San Diego pharmaceutical firm using plants, the company and U.S. health authorities disclosed Monday.

As Dr. Kent Brantly fights for his life in a special containment unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, and missionary Nancy Writebol prepares to be evacuated from Liberia on Tuesday, details began to emerge about a mysterious treatment they were given shortly after they became infected.

On “liberal left leaning” CNN this morning a scientist explained the concept behind monoclonal antibodies. I don’t have that interview, but I do have this from Wikipedia:

Monoclonal antibodies are typically made by fusing myeloma cells with the spleen cells from a mouse that has been immunized with the desired antigen. However, recent advances have allowed the use of rabbit B-cells to form a rabbit hybridoma. Polyethylene glycol is used to fuse adjacent plasma membranes, but the success rate is low so a selective medium in which only fused cells can grow is used. This is possible because myeloma cells have lost the ability to synthesize hypoxanthine-guanine-phosphoribosyl transferase (HGPRT), an enzyme necessary for the salvage synthesis of nucleic acids. The absence of HGPRT is not a problem for these cells unless the de novo purine synthesis pathway is also disrupted. By exposing cells to aminopterin (a folic acid analogue, which inhibits dihydrofolate reductase, DHFR), they are unable to use the de novo pathway and become fully auxotrophic for nucleic acids requiring supplementation to survive.

[Some links deleted]

The antibodies bind to features on the virus that facilitate the virus’ entry into a living cell. This blocks the virus from entering the cell. A virus cannot reproduce itself. It uses the cell’s replication mechanism to make new copies of itself.

The particular mAB used to treat the American patients was, in fact, produced inside a tobacco plant. The plant was immersed in water loaded with the virus, causing the virus to infect the plant. The plant then produced the antibodies, which were extracted from the tobacco leaves.

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.

Apparently that only works so far. I notice a number of things not included in the Bible:

  • The Earth goes around the Sun.
  • The Moon goes around the Earth.
  • The Earth is round.
  • Other continents exist on the opposite side of the Earth, and they host advanced civilizations.
  • Water is composed of oxygen and hyrdogen.
  • The square root of 2 is an irrational number.

I have a copy of the Bible, and I keep it on a book shelf in my computer room, between a book on numerical recipes and one on network programming. If I need some basic stuff, I look to the left. If I need something advanced I look to the right. The other book is there for contrast.