Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter tax incentives in jeopardy over hiring discrimination

Oct 7, 2014

By Dan Arel

According to an article published today in the Courier Journal, Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter may be losing its recent 18 million dollar tax incentive due to the discriminatory hiring practices that were uncovered and highlighted right here.

“The Commonwealth doesn’t believe that Ark Encounter, LLC will be complying with state and Federal law in its hiring practices,” Bob Stewart, secretary of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, said in an Aug. 27 letter to an Ark Encounter attorney.

Stewart said the hiring practices of the park raised “serious concerns” over the requirement for potential employees to sign a “statement of faith” in order to even apply for a position.

“Therefore, we are not prepared to move forward with consideration of the application for final approval without the assurance of Ark Encounter, LLC that it will not discriminate in any way on the basis of religion in hiring,” Stewart wrote.

James Parsons, the Ark Encounters lawyer replied stating the same thing Ken Ham tried to tell me when I called him out for these claims on a radio interview in August. The image below shows the parks employment requirements and a series of tweets.


 

Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.

40 comments on “Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter tax incentives in jeopardy over hiring discrimination

  • @link – CAD Technician Designer Ark Encounter

    Our purpose through the Ark Encounter, is to serve and glorify the Lord with our God given talents with the goal of edifying believers and evangelizing the lost.

    It would appear that in CAD design science, actually works – even for the brainless at AIG!!!
    Praise de Lawwd! Who would have thunk it?
    What happened to “faith” as a design methodology??? ?
    Hammy could find that hidden modern engineering could actually work in faking a fairy-tale Ark which would otherwise fall apart if designed using mythological pseudo-science !!
    (What on Earth did Gilgamesh do without CAD technicians to arrange the reeds?)
    http://blog.britishmuseum.org/2014/01/24/was-the-ark-round-a-babylonian-description-discovered/

    Stewart said the hiring practices of the park raised “serious concerns” over the requirement for potential employees to sign a “statement of faith” in order to even apply for a position.

    Hammy is playing with his old dishonest semantic shifty shuffles and sleight of hand!
    Nothing new there!
    In the US, he might be able to find a faith-addled judge to give him the taxpayers’ money!



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  • @OP – According to an article published today in the Courier Journal, Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter may be losing its recent 18 million dollar tax incentive due to the discriminatory hiring practices that were uncovered and highlighted right here.

    Who knows? Ham could persevere with his attempts, and join that other owner of a YEC Dinosaur park – the fake “Doctor” Kent Hovind!!

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Kent_Hovind

    Kent Hovind (or, to use his correct academic title, Mr. Kent Hovind) is an Independent Baptist young Earth creationist and convicted felon from Pensacola, Florida. He promoted young Earth creationism and dominionist views in lectures and videos sold through his Creation Science Evangelism organization, and started Dinosaur Adventure Land, a small amusement park in his backyard.

    In November 2006, he was convicted on a variety of tax-related charges, and received a 10-year sentence. Hovind is scheduled for release in summer 2015 [1] but faces further criminal charges before then.

    It’s a fundamentalist Xtian thing – with their “superior” morality, and “superior” faith-interpretations of scientific and state laws!



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  • I watched the channel 4 programme of the reconstruction of the scale model which leaked, but the original smaller river-boats on which the story was based, would probably have been more competently built by people familiar with the construction techniques of those times.

    Is this the REAL Noah’s Ark? Scaled-down replica based on 4000-year-old Babylonian tablet’s instructions is rebuilt by hand

    Model is based on a blueprint drawn up in ancient Babylon 4,000 years ago
    Vessel is coracle-like and around a fifth of the size described on the tablet
    It was constructed using traditional techniques and material in India
    Irving Finkel of The British Museum said the scaled-down version of the ark is just large enough to accommodate a few pairs of ‘well behaved animals’
    He doubts the full-size version would have been sea worthy
    Replica developed leaks, but Dr Finkel said the Babylonian’s design was not to blame, saying the ark could have ‘floated to New York’ given the chance

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2753211/Noah-s-Ark-revealed-Scaled-replica-based-4000-year-old-tablet-s-instructions-build-hand-India.html#ixzz3FY4b8Bsb



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  • In other setbacks he has also been overlooked again in the recent round of Nobel prizes recognising significant contributions to science. Despite indirectly assisting to communicate the nature of science via many books about the demarcation of pseudoscience, or the pathology of religion. Many such books employ illustrative references to Ken Ham’s life work.



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  • I think in hard time like this we should consider the wisdom of our lord jesus h christ:

    “Render unto Ceasar… motherfucker” (yes, he talks like Samuel L Jackson in my head)

    I’m sure $18M is a small price for the sake of doing gods important work



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  • SaganTheCat Oct 9, 2014 at 7:57 am

    I’m sure $18M is a small price for the sake of doing gods important work

    Hammy’s problem is that he is borrowing the money to build a “Nutter Arkyology Park”, from “faithful investors”, who are supposed to get their money back from the gate-money paid by visitors after it opens!

    If the project goes down the pan, and there is no gate money, they will discover their “investments” are not underwritten by AIG, but are unsecured high-risk loans which could be total losses!
    (Ah! The benefits of “faith-thinking”)
    In most countries owed tax makes the first claim on the assets of any company which goes bust! (What’s the value of a fake Ark at auction?)

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/11/ark_encounter_finances_obamacare_sank_ken_ham_s_creationist_theme_park.html

    In an executive summary sent to its supporters, Answers in Genesis makes the bonds sound like a decent investment. The group is offering bonds with 7-, 11-, and 15-year maturities, at yields between 5 and 6 percent. A 7-year bond starts at $250,000, while an 11-year bond begins at $50,000.

    Tempting as those rates may seem, there’s a small catch. As Answers in Genesis readily admits, the bonds “are not expected to have any substantial secondary market” and are “not an obligation of AiG.” Somewhat alarmingly, the bonds are unrated, an indication that they’re extremely risky—and almost impossible to resell. High risk, higher yield: These, in essence, are creationist junk bonds.

    I asked Jie Yang, a professor of finance at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, for his opinions of the bonds.

    “I would agree that these bonds are very high risk,” he told me. In addition to their lack of rating and a secondary market, the bonds are callable, meaning Answers in Genesis can collect on the bond at any point before it has matured. (The buyer has no such privilege.) Moreover, the bonds are secured only by the revenues and assets of the Ark Encounter project, not by Answers in Genesis itself.

    “Should the project be unsuccessful,” Yang notes, “AiG holds no responsibility in meeting the interest payments of these bonds and the bonds may default.” If the project falls through, in other words, investors won’t just lose their interest payments: They’ll lose their entire investment.

    Even if scores of naive congregations pool their money to support the project, Ham’s uncompromisingly grandiose vision seems to be careening toward failure.



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  • 13
    Aber ration says:

    Hasn’t Disney already set any precedents on theme parks? Do you have to sign a declaration saying you believe the mouse is real before working there? If not why not?



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  • I call on all Satanists to go apply for a job at Hams nutter museum. Maybe the same thing that happened with Hobby Lobby will happen here.

    I wonder if they also deny their employees abortion or contraception health insurance.

    Why can’t people see that religion is just a huge scam ?!!!



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  • GFZ Oct 9, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    I wonder if they also deny their employees abortion or contraception health insurance.

    The do!
    That is one of their key issues. See my earlier link to slate.com for details.



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  • On behalf of all sensible Australians I would like to apologise for the moral and intellectual disaster that is Ken Ham. I am sure the reason he left our fair land is because he could not find enough people stupid enough or christian enough to listen to his creationist nonsense for more than three minutes. We are, I am very pleased to say, largely a secular nation. We have no Bible Belt. I am sorry that Ham has found a large following in the US. It is good news that at least Kentucky taxation officials are on to him. I suspect that his creationist theme park is actually an embarrassment to the majority of Americans. We do actually have some smart people in our country. (I apologise also for Mel Gibson, probably a buddy of Ken’s).



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  • On behalf of all sensible Australians I would like to apologize for the moral and intellectual disaster that is Ken Ham.

    I would like to second the motion. As a fellow Australia, I too would like to see Ham’s visa revoked and have him deported back to Australia, where he will be ignored, apart from half a dozen family relatives that will make up his Australian church. That Ham is able to generate a following in the USA, is a comment on the theocratic nature of the American state.

    When I toured the US recently, I had to go about with a paper bag over my head through shame. When asked where I was from, a claimed to be from Austria, and that it is spelt Australia in the German script. There’s a wonderful sign in Austrian tourist shops. It says, “There are no kangaroo’s in Austria.” They got sick of American’s asking where are all the kangaroos.



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  • Here’s the real irony. If you apply for a job through them you are provided that typical, “Our hiring processes will not discriminate against…”

    If you go deeper in the application process you’re faced with questions like these:

    How old would you estimate the earth to be?
    What is your belief/conviction about the flood of Noah’s day?
    What is your belief about dinosaurs?
    Please provide your Salvation testimony:
    Please provide your Creation belief statement:
    Please write the confirmation of your agreement with the AiG Statement of Faith:
    What is the name of the church you attend?
    What denomination is the church?
    How long have you been attending this church?

    I don’t understand how those questions pertain to the job unless it’s going to be discriminating against their initial policy. I can only see this turning out bad for Ham.



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  • Bob Stewart: Ham Sandwich, You are facing a hiring discrimination lawsuit ! I have ENOUGH evidence for this.
    Officer: OK, Ham bone, Put your hand out. This cuff suit you well! Kent Hovind need a little friend like you.
    Ham: WERE YOU THERE ? HOW DO YOU KNOW? You were NOT there when I was hiring a stuff !
    !



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  • The vitriol in the comments is surprising. Ad hominem attacks aplenty but substantive arguments less-so. I would have expected far better logic from those who associate themselves with Dr. Dawkins.



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  • Irving Oct 10, 2014 at 11:42 am

    The vitriol in the comments is surprising. Ad hominem attacks aplenty but

    When dealing with someone with a long record of delusional and dishonest misrepresentations of science, as Ham has, mockery is probably the the best course!

    substantive arguments less-so.

    Really? I thought my detailed links were quite explicit. Which parts do you find inaccurate or not understand?

    The concept of someone who scores 0% for science and 0% for history, trying to run and educational museum, would be laughable if faith-fools were not subjecting children to his nonsense!!



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  • This is not an Ad Hominem attack. Were one to denounce Ham’s standards of personal hygiene, for example, thereby diverting the arguement to a personal irrelevancy, it could be taken as an Ad Hominem attack. I think your own understanding of logic may be flawed. The attacks on Ham refer to specific issues, that go to the heart of the discussion.

    Also, in case it is misinterpreted, I have no knowledge or reason to comment on Ham’s habits of personal hygiene, merely an hypothetical example.

    Finally, I join all the other Australians here in apologizing for the export of this scam artist, which he surely is. While I can accept that he actually believes, through habitual repetition, that he really does believe the rubbish he spruiks, the hard truth is that he is way too clever to a:/ Deep down believe in what he says he does, and b:/ is thoroughly aware that there is “Lots of good eating on them poorly educated wannabe believers,” a market he knows full well does not exist in Australia, despite the earnest efforts of our present appalling leadership to permit such to establish itself.



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  • JC Sheepdog Oct 10, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Finally, I join all the other Australians here in apologizing for the export of this scam artist,

    The terms of the junk bonds have “scam artist” written all over them!

    To expand on my earlier comment and link:-

    If Ark adventure goes bust, it will default on the “investors” interest payments AND they will also lose their capital investment, which is locked in for years even if they spot warning signs of collapse.

    In the remote possibility that the park turns out to be wonderfully profitable, the “call” provision on the bonds, means Ham can give them their money back whenever he likes, stop paying the high interest rates, and pocket the profits!
    If his second scam works he will also operate a “for profit subsidiary” project, tax-free, from non-profit AIG, while other people take all the risks!



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  • 28
    Katy Cordeth says:

    This is not an Ad Hominem attack. Were one to denounce Ham’s standards of personal hygiene, for example, thereby diverting the argument to a personal irrelevancy, it could be taken as an Ad Hominem attack. I think your own understanding of logic may be flawed. The attacks on Ham refer to specific issues, that go to the heart of the discussion.

    What about all the nicknames, do these go to the heart of the discussion? Hammy, the Hamster, Ham Sandwich, Hambone etc. What’s the point in mocking the one thing Ken Ham has no control over, his own surname? People lose all credibility as far as I’m concerned when they resort to infantile insults such as these. When I’m reading through the comments section of a website and come across one containg the word Obummer, or libtard, or Dumbocrat, or Dawky-poo, you know what, I skip it. This person’s views hold no interest for me. He or she instantly loses my respect.

    Satire is an amazingly useful tool, but it’s a scalpel not a cudgel. If you don’t know how to wield it effectively, leave it alone. If I were Ken Ham or Kent Hovind, I would relish the sort of things said about me that tell how stupid I must be to believe the things I do without saying why my beliefs are stupid; I’d go all tingly whenever a new variation of my surname was debuted. I would compile these comments and stick them on my website, as this one does in its The Good, the Bad and the Ugly section, to show that the evidence atheists have against creationism is so thin they must resort to puerile insults rather than supply substantive counterarguments.



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  • 30
    Katy Cordeth says:

    Tone argument, from RationalWiki: [emphasis mine]

    The tone argument is to dismiss an opponent’s argument based on its presentation: typically perceived crassness, hysteria or anger. It is an ad hominem attack, used as a derailment, silencing tactic or by a concern troll.

    There’s more, which I haven’t read, but from what I gather a tone troll is someone who attacks another’s style of arguing in order to discredit the argument that person is presenting.

    I agree with the argument but take issue with the way some of its supporters present it. If I’m a troll, therefore, I don’t think I can be this particular breed of troll.

    I must be the unfortunate type which when drawing attention to others’ use of ad-hominems is itself unjustly accused of the same offense.

    Sadly, this subspecies tends to be afflicted with an acute sense of irony, which makes its existence at times painful, surrounded as it is by its less self-aware brethren.



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  • Hmmmm, interesting. Substantive argument is cool, yeah, a lot better than ad hominem attack or whatever u call it, nobody disagrees with that. But when debating people like Ken Ham, using substantive arguments is just like playing chess with a pigeon. Well look at what happened to Bill Nye when he was debating Ken Ham.
    See no evidence, hear no evidence, or even distort what you said about science and mispresent it to other folks, just cover the ear and shout i’m right you’re wrong, I mean, seriously ,what do you expect? Do substantive and logical arguments really gonna work? I’m pretty sure that’s why Mr Dawkins never bothers to deal with creationists like Ham(precisely all the creationists).
    When debating Ken Ham , it is very likely that mockery or even ad hominem attack comes out in the end, people DO lose their temper, forgive me for saying this is human nature and correct me if i’m wrong, inevitably happens(Of course you can blame people for this, human nature does’t mean unblamable), especially when your argument is simply ignored .
    I think somehow Alan4discussion got a point, perhaps mockery is the best way, or just keep quiet. No need to waste your time and your brain on the people who are almost immune to substantive arguments, save it for a logical person.



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  • Yue Oct 10, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    I think somehow Alan4discussion got a point, perhaps mockery is the best way, or just keep quiet. No need to waste your time and your brain on the people who are almost immune to substantive arguments, save it for a logical person.

    The difference between the ludicrous posturings of a professional comedian like John Cleese and those of Ken Ham, is that John Cleese knows he is just acting to amuse an audience laughing at human stupidity, whereas Ham expects to be taken seriously!

    To those not affected by the de-educational damage he causes, Ham’s stupidity, is similarly comical, but his underlying mischief making is serious, and damaging to gullible vulnerable people.



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  • Devil’s advocate here. Let us suppose an organization plans to build a museum of natural science. Said organization advertises for employees. One could reasonably expect questions like “Do you believe that evolution by natural selection is the best explanation for the origin of species?” to be part of the selection process. I see no difference here.

    (Note that I’m not in any way defending Mr Ham’s wakko ideas, just the precept of fair play).



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  • john.wb Oct 12, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Devil’s advocate here. Let us suppose an organization plans to build a museum of natural astronomy.
    Said organization advertises for employees. One could reasonably expect questions like “Do you believe that the Earth is a planetary globe (not flat!)?” to be part of the selection process. I see no difference here.

    Spot the false equivalence!

    (Note that I’m not in any way defending Mr Ham’s wakko ideas, just the precept of fair play).

    There is no “equality” between competent and incompetent views, or between honest and dishonest claims, when assessing job capabilities.
    The problems arise from Ham’s dishonesty in trying to pretend he runs a science museum to inform the public!

    In terms of science, the incompetence and dishonesty of Hamster chronology and Hovindian fissicks or “logic” , is too laughable to take seriously!



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  • Irving:

    The vitriol in the comments is surprising.

    Really ? When talking about the views of a man, Ken Ham, who publicly admitted that no amount of evidence would ever change his mind about the Bible, someone like me, has no respect for him, as a person, nor as a preacher.

    The “tone police” really aren’t needed when a person incriminates him/herself.



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  • This excercised me for a while.

    Your scalpel argument makes sense when tackling the subtle and too clever by half evil of a William Lane Craig when he opens the door to the moral rightness of Godly genocide carried out by his human hit squad on earth. He has tricky shit followers that need to be handled like the liquid nitroglycerine they are. You ony need one or two in government to precipitate some disastrous righteous anger on an unsuspecting heathen nation.

    With Ken Ham any arguments to his followers will be discounted. No offense but these people know what they know. It is the seed you might plant in their kids’ heads that might do some good. These smart alecs thought him simply laughable they may notice…Kids notice things; their dads arguing with the computer screen; parents tutting in the kitchen. They mightn’t let on. They know how to get along with their folks, but they see stuff that come the great post pubertal rewiring to define yourself, it might be brought out and reviewed.

    Ham or hammy as “An untalented actor who acts as if he or she is a great one.” is a reasonable satyric tag for an intellectual duffer of a showman out to gull his punters.



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  • Mr DArcy Oct 12, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Really ? When talking about the views of a man, Ken Ham, who publicly admitted that no amount of evidence would ever change his mind

    Ham’s position is easy to understand.
    He has a delusional fixation on YEC, so will stick false and misleading labels on his “exhibits”!

    He will also hold up any examples of contrived, dishonest, or incompetent attempts at science and say, “Look at this example of YEC dates! – See it disproves all the thousands of evidenced scientific claims of reputable scientists and historians!”

    “See! You can’t DISprove our claims, because we have not told you about checks we should have carried out on our experiments, but which we incompetently or wilfully omitted!”

    (“All the physics of radioisotope dating in the world is proved wrong, by Hammy’s clowns having a lab USE radiometric dating to test a recently contaminated ancient wood sample, and finding recent carbon that soaked into it from the organic rich ground-water!! “)

    And the gullibles wonder why real scientists laugh at them!!!



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  • phil rimmer Oct 12, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    With Ken Ham any arguments to his followers will be discounted.

    Ham or hammy as “An untalented actor who acts as if he or she is a great one.” is a reasonable satyric tag for an intellectual duffer of a showman out to gull his punters.

    The cudgel of mockery is much more appropriate for an irrational idiot, who ignores all rational arguments and evidence, and just keeps popping up with his contrived and dishonest assertive nonsense.

    Whac-A-Mole, would seem to be the best strategy for putting down a dishonest showmen who just keeps popping up in his fantasy fairground to prey on the gullible!



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  • 39
    Katy Cordeth says:

    Hmmmm, interesting. Substantive argument is cool, yeah, a lot better than ad hominem attack or whatever u call it, nobody disagrees with that. But when debating people like Ken Ham, using substantive arguments is just like playing chess with a pigeon. Well look at what happened to Bill Nye when he was debating Ken Ham. See no evidence, hear no evidence, or even distort what you said about science and mispresent it to other folks, just cover the ear and shout i’m right you’re wrong, I mean, seriously, what do you expect?

    Of course no amount of logic will change the opinions of people like Ken Ham and Kent Hovind. For them there will always be another turtle below the one logic and facts have just argued out of existence. These guys’ diehard fans and those religionists for whom the expression terminally dim is apposite are unlikely to have their mind altered either. But they aren’t the ones New Atheism need be concerned with. When Bill Nye took on Ken Ham, the science guy’s target audience was, presumably, the undecideds; those who believe the universe is only a few thousand years old not because they’re stupid but because of pressure to conform to community mores and because they simply haven’t studied the evidence, perhaps because it was never presented to them in school and bookstores in their town carrying Origin of Species were picketed.

    I haven’t studied the evidence either. I wouldn’t know where to begin. And I suspect the majority of those like me who believe implicitly that we inhabit a cosmos nearly fourteen billion years old are the same. We place our trust in the scientific method because its precepts, including things like peer review, are the polar opposite of faith-based systems of thinking.

    This polar opposition is important. If the biblical account of events were not quite so stupid as it plainly is and these people didn’t persist in their view that the first man was molded out of clay and his wife was made from his rib and two of every animal on Earth were crammed onto a single boat and a guy was able to make five thousand presumably very thinly sliced fish sandwiches for attendees at one of his pre-microphone technology gigs who wanted feeding but lacked the wit or foresight to bring along a packed lunch for themselves, but just recognized and acknowledged that all this stuff was understood to be apocryphal even back when it was written, it’s doubtful so many of us would have been moved to embrace the other, more rational-sounding arguments coming from deGrasse Tyson, Dawkins, Cox, Nye and other pop-culture rationalists.

    The movement should be looking to create more default atheists, those who are on the fence and whose natural intelligence whispers at them that what they’re being told about dinosaurs and humans living together can’t be true, can it? And where did Cain and Abel’s wives come from exactly? And all those animals on the one boat, surely that’s not right.

    There’s a story told by… I think it was Kurt Vonnegut but it may have been Ray Bradbury, I’m not sure. He’s a young guy, anyway… possibly Harlan Ellison now I think about it… and about to give a lecture to a roomful of people on some dry topic… could’ve been Robert Heinlein; it’s not important, will you just let me tell the thing… and he’s super-nervous about the prospect. An older, more experienced speaker reassures him by saying “They don’t really care what you have to say, they just want to know if you are an honest person.”

    Seems a bit of a backhanded reassurance if you ask me, but sufficient for Kurt/Ray/Harlan/Robert to take as a life lesson. Those such as myself unschooled in the sciences may not know one end of a large hadron collider from the other (ha, it doesn’t have an end, it’s a circle) or how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall, but evolution has furnished us as it has everyone with a fully functioning bullsh#t detector. It’s not always switched on, but it’s there. Those in attendance at the Nye/Ham debate desperate not to have the house of cards on which American supremacy depends shift even a micron lest if topple, God starts preferring Muslims over them, and gets the Angel of Gay to do His bidding…

    “About midnight I will go throughout America. Every firstborn in America will go gay, from the firstborn son of Ailes, who sits on the throne of Vulpes ‡, to the firstborn of the valley girl, who is at her iPad, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well, they will go super-gay you can be sure of that. There will be loud wailing throughout America—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again, until the lube manufacturers get their act together and meet this sudden surge in demand.”

    …will not have had their BSDs activated, but the more intelligent among them will have felt it humming away in their tummies demanding to be turned on. It requires a lot of willpower to keep this detector unused. The religious right likes to promulgate the notion that it’s under attack from the forces of darkness, in the form of science, socialism and sexual equality, the three esses, all of which are targeting the blank-slate minds of their children, but it’s really they the grownups, allegedly secure in their faith, who feel threatened.

    Children aren’t the problem; kids believe most of what they’re told, and are actually bummed out when they discover dinosaurs and humans never coexisted and Hogwarts isn’t a real place. For an adult to continue believing the fairy tale takes effort because despite what we like to think, the fifth ape is not for the most part stupid, it’s actually super-smart. Had Sarah Palin been kidnapped at birth and hothoused in an environment of intellectualism rather than animal massacre, she might have become the next Einstein. I’m not sure I believe that, but Palin is an extreme example.

    Atheists are feared by the religious right not because they think us immoral, but because deep down they’re embarrassed at the stuff they profess to believe, the same way Scientologists are embarrassed by all the Xenu volcano stuff when it’s brought up. The very stupid probably do swallow everything they’re told, but the rest almost certainly don’t. Enter Ham and Hovind, to lend faux-scientific verisimilitude to biblical events and make the faithful feel less dumb about this stuff. If atheism is the specter at the feast, Ken and Kent are the aged and infirm waiting staff feebly trying to escort it to the exit.

    If as you say, debating Ken Ham is like playing a pigeon at chess, it is indeed a pointless endeavor, unless there is an audience present who can see this bird doesn’t have a clue what it’s doing. It’s certainly no excuse… Isaac Asimov, that was it!… for a competent player to start pecking away at the board. If Ham’s strategy at the debate with Bill Nye was essentially to cover his ears and shout “I’m right, you’re wrong,” the smart creationists in the audience will have seen this and taken it on board. I missed this event but I’m assuming Nye didn’t respond in kind to Mr Ham. The notion that if your opponent is deceptive or just plain clueless you don’t have the same responsibility to be smart you would if he were honest and informed seems nonsensical to me. This is called dumbing down, and it’s a lousy way to recruit clever people to your side.

    When debating Ken Ham, it is very likely that mockery or even ad hominem attack comes out in the end, people DO lose their temper, forgive me for saying this is human nature and correct me if i’m wrong, inevitably happens (Of course you can blame people for this, human nature does’t mean unblamable), especially when your argument is simply ignored.

    No one is arguing that people lose their temper sometimes. It isn’t inevitable in debates though. As I say, I haven’t seen the debate. Did Mr Nye lose his cool at all? I somehow doubt it.

    I think somehow Alan4discussion got a point, perhaps mockery is the best way, or just keep quiet. No need to waste your time and your brain on the people who are almost immune to substantive arguments, save it for a logical person.

    Mockery is an excellent way to proceed, I think I said that in my previous comment. It has to be competent mockery though. Our mutual friend mentioned John Cleese in support of his argument. It’s been a while since I saw Monty Python’s Life of Brian, but if memory serves it wasn’t just ninety minutes of the Python boys looking to camera saying:

    ‘Look, aren’t these people stooopid?? Look, look at them, the “faith-heads”, they’re morons!! We went to Cambridge which is why we’re so smart!!! These sheeple’s “faith-thinking” isn’t on a par with our own rationalism!! Judaism?? More like “I-don’t-know-how-to-think-ism!!!” Their “troooof” is nothing of the sort!!!!’

    Ad infinitum/nauseam.

    Life of Brian succeeds because even though it’s addressing a subject more often than not characterized by stupidity—unthinking obedience to religious authority and the pathetic need for spiritual leadership—it does so in an extremely clever way. If you want to see a dumb, disingenuous movie about religion, there’s always Bill Maher’s Religulous. I suspect that even the deeply unfunny Maher would cringe at some of the feeble-ass attempts at wit directed toward faith communities on atheist websites. I think Cleese would go off and spend the rest of his life in a monastery. Jon Stewart is good not because he lowers himself to the same level as his Fox News/GOP targets, but because he doesn’t. His super-smart approach throws their stupidity into sharp relief.

    It probably isn’t even these people’s fault. Those without a sense of humor are usually the ones who think themselves wittiest of all. There’s a world of difference too between mocking religious precepts and human tendencies, and mocking people themselves, which I don’t think a lot of people get. When Dawkins says we must “mock them, ridicule them, in public, with contempt,” most self-aware atheists shudder and shake their head sadly that someone so smart could be so…not-smart. This approach is dumb for a number of reasons, which with your permission I shall delineate.

    1) First, and perhaps most importantly, it makes us look like dicks. Being right doesn’t give you license to behave despicably toward your fellow humans. Being atheist doesn’t automatically make you morally superior to those who are not. This is in fact just a reversal of the religious idea that faith is a requisite if one is to be moral. I have encountered atheists who think Muslim women who refuse to conform to western modes of dress should be deported out of the country in which they were born, and I’ve met Christians and religious Jews who would march alongside these women for their right to wear what they want and not have it dictated to them by government. You don’t believe in the authority of the Bible, fine. Doesn’t mean you get to replace it with an ill-thought out morality of your own which must by default be correct because you’re so super-smart. As comedian Marcus Brigstocke says in one of his sets, “Are you an atheist? Congratulations, so am I… You’re not cleverer than anyone else, so pack it in.”

    2) It makes us look like bullies. See nos. 1 and 4.

    3) It alienates people atheism needs on its side. The waverers, fence-sitters, the unsure making their first foray into the world of non-belief. I’ve been a member of this site for a while now and of all the comments I’ve read in that time, one in particular sticks in my mind. It was about two years ago on a thread about Islam and said simply, “If I was a Muslim I would feel really unwelcome here.” Just that. Eleven words which sum up everything wrong with Dawkins’ idea that insulting people is a way to win them to your side. Imagine you’re a young Christian girl having doubts about your faith. You come to the website of the world’s foremost atheist and find a bunch of comments laughing about how stupid your family and friends are. Your kith and kin are not Mormons, they’re morons, geddit? This person removed the second m. ‘Larious. You’re a clever kid, so not only are you offended that your family has been traduced, as opposed to the things they believe, which would have been fine, but it’s been done in such a feeble way that your intelligence is offended also. Perhaps these atheists are not the intellectual heavyweights you imagined.

    4) It attracts the wrong sort of people. Related to numbers 3 and… you know what, these are all pretty much interrelated. If you give your followers permission to ridicule people in public, you’re going to draw in some trolls. Bullying these days is no longer acceptable as the recreational activity of choice for the insecure. It’s a big no-no (thank you Demi Lovato and Jon Bon Jovi). Then along comes your man and says actually it’s fine to mock people, as long as you’re only mocking them for their religious faith. See a fifteen-year-old on the subway in a headscarf on her way to school, go ahead and verbally lay into her to your heart’s content. If you get any hassle from other commuters or transport cops, tell ’em it’s fine because religion is a choice and you’re only trying to advance the cause of secularism.

    How depressing is it that when searching for the Latinate designation for a fox, the first page of Google results consists entirely of references to Rupert Murdoch’s evil network and one actually has to type ‘fox animal‘ to locate the information being sought?



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  • 40
    Katy Cordeth says:

    …being sought

    That’s so redundant it makes me hate the entire comment. If the mods were to remove this post as they did my recent Doctor Who one, I wouldn’t object at all.

    As I didn’t then.

    I hope I’m accruing some brownie points here which can be offset against any future occurrences in which I might lose my temper.

    Smiley, perhaps winking, but good-natured anyway, Pac-Man face.



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