Remember, It’s Not Just An Ark!

Yes, Kentucky is planning on spending too much money on a creationist theme park. But I had forgotten–it is much more than just a replica ark! They are also planning on other themed rides and exhibits, and what says “family fun” more than the ten plagues of Exodus?

Step right up and buy your tickets,
While you wait for Noah’s flood;
Buckle up and watch your hands now
As the water turns to blood!
It’s the first of ten to visit,
Killing all the little fish;
Take a sniff—the smell’s authentic
Cos we know that’s what you’d wish!

With the fish all dead and dying
In the rivers, lakes, and bogs,
Time to move on to the second—
It’s the plague of raining frogs!
As they splatter all around you,
Watch your children’s pure delight;
Cos the Bible is our blueprint
And we try to do it right.

Now the trolley turns a corner
And you’re thinking “this is nice”
Cos you know what’s coming third in line—
A plague of gnats or lice!
Deeply hidden in your follicles,
The eggs begin to hatch,
And it’s family fun for everyone,
So everybody scratch!

If you haven’t read your Bible
Then the next room’s a surprise
When you’re driven to distraction
By the swarm of beasts and flies!
It’s an accurate portrayal
So your skin will puff and bleed,
But you’re here to see the Bible
And we give you what you need!

In the next room, watch the animals
All stricken with disease!
You want to see the pestilence,
And we just want to please!
Ahead of you, a plaintive moo
Betrays a dying calf—
Your children see its painful sores
And laugh, and laugh, and laugh!

Moving on, we see the dreadful price
Exacted for your sin,
As boils erupt, unhealable,
On every inch of skin;
It’s painful, itching, oozing,
With an odor of decay—
Cos we chose the right bacteria;
You’d want it just that way.

We are sticking to the Bible
To the very last detail
So we use no safety helmets
As you meet the plague of hail
You’ll be battered and bombarded,
You’ll be broken, bleeding, bruised,
But you’ll truly feel the wrath of God
With methods that He used!

For the next, a plague of locusts,
Wreaking havoc on your crops;
Here we focus on your hunger
And the dust that never stops.
It makes every breath an effort
So the kids will think it’s fun,
As it raises their awareness
Of the things that God has done.

Up ahead, a plague of darkness,
As the world dissolves from sight
It’s a darkness that is palpable
Beyond a lack of light
You can feel it like a blanket,
Like a blindfold, or a hood;
It’s a terrifying notice
And it tells you God is good.

But of course, we’ve saved the best for last,
The tenth, the plague of death,
Where the dead, decaying babies
You will smell with every breath.
There are corpses, corpses, everywhere!
It’s every firstborn son!
And so you see, we guarantee
It’s wholesome family fun!

Wait, you say–no sentient being would ever consider making a tourist attraction out of the 10 plagues of Exodus! Well, you are mostly right. No sentient being would do it. But it appears that the creationist don’t-think-tank planning Ken Ham’s biblical theme park are planning it:

So, not so much “Six Flags” (for non-USA–that’s an amusement park) as “Ten Plagues”. Fun.

Let’s All Help Out Ken Ham!

There’s the fall, and the plagues, and there’s Babel
And there’s Adam, and Eve, Cain, and Abel,
In Kentucky, the ark
Makes a marvelous park…
If the government’s wholly unstable

Kentucky is poised to give $18 million in new tax breaks (pending approval from the legislature) to the Ark project at Ken Ham’s creation museum. The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Board has apparently decided that the state will make more money fleecing believers than it will lose by frightening off those who don’t believe The Flintstones was a documentary. NPR reports:

Kentucky has approved $18 million in new tax breaks for a controversial Christian theme park that is to feature a 510-foot-long replica of Noah’s Ark.

Maryanne Zeleznik of member station WVXU in Cincinnati reports that the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Board voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the incentives for the Ark Encounter, to be built in Williamstown. The legislature must still OK the plan.

So… on the one hand, people still have time to contact the Kentucky legislature and warn them off… but assuming that the KTDFB know what they are doing, maybe the best thing for Kentucky is to help them advertise the upcoming attraction. Ad copy doesn’t come cheap, and their current ads, well… So I’ve decided to help them, with some old stuff I had laying around.

First, for the Ark itself:

Our day at the park
Having fun on the ark
Will begin as we stroll up the ramp
With the mammals and dino’s
And strange hellifino’s
And all of it, gaudy and camp

There are creatures in twos
Like the grandest of zoos
Some in cages for people to see
Some are plastic, of course,
Like the odd “Jesus horse”
You can ride on (just children!) for free

With the tour guide explaining
It soon will start raining—
It’s best that we get through the doors
And with thunder and lightning
More piped-in than frightening
The skies open up, and it pours

It isn’t surprising
The water starts rising
With rivers obscuring the ground
We’re on board! We’re the winners!
We laugh at the sinners
Outside, who are there to be drowned.

Some electrical junction
Is bound to malfunction;
The waters continue to rise—
Now it’s panic and screaming
(Please tell me we’re dreaming!)
On board, we can hear all the cries

Now the water is rushing,
The pipes are still gushing,
We realize, we’re really afloat!
Like the Genesis story
We share in the glory
And ride in the biblical boat

Though it’s ill-built and creaky,
Substantially leaky,
We ought to be fine for a while
And although we’re all stuck
We rejoice in our luck
And we look at each other and smile.

Soon the still-rising tides
Means the screaming subsides
From the folks who did not get on board
And we know that God willed
That these people be killed
So we all praise the works of Our Lord

As the day turns to night
With no rescue in sight
Our exhaustion will drive us to sleep
Though the children are wary
Cos darkness is scary
And the lions are eating the sheep

So we all sleep in shifts
As our giant bed drifts
And there’s still not a star in the sky
Soon the sun will arrive
And we’re mostly alive
And if not, then God wants us to die.

At the whim of the weather
We huddle together
As carnivores roam through the decks
And we learned within hours
The stench overpowers—
Of feces, of death, and of sex

When the rain finally ceases
We pick up the pieces
And head to the top deck, for sun,
Where the clean-smelling breezes
Sweep by (thank you Jesus!)
And we kneel down and pray, every one!

As we float, we survey
The remains of the day
From our vantage above, on the ark
Where our neighbors and friends
Met their untimely ends
With the visitors there at the park

And we bow heads, and praise
God’s mysterious ways—
Our friends’ bodies have now begun bloating
And as plump as you please
They rise up through the seas
All disfigured and blue, they are floating

All the husbands and wives,
Little children whose lives
Were destroyed by their callous Creator
While we’re safe on the ark
Cos we chose to embark
A bit sooner, and not a bit later

There was water to drink
But it’s starting to stink
And starvation’s its own form of hell
But the hunger and thirst
Isn’t even the worst—
More than that, is the horrible smell

The miasma which flows
Though you cover your nose
Overwhelms you, and just never ends
And the worst of it all
This olfactory pall
Is the smell of our neighbors and friends

We float day after day
As around us, decay
And disease take a toll on our minds;
And our bodies grow weak
As around us, unspeak-
able horrors are all that one finds

In the decks down below
Where we never dare go
There is carnage like never before;
Most the mammals are gone
But the beetles live on
As they feast on the filth and the gore

There are maggots and flies
Which is no great surprise
In the dung and the foul, rancid meat
But up top, it is grim
Cos the pickings are slim
And there’s nothing for humans to eat

If we haven’t quite died
When the waters subside
We’ll praise God, and we won’t think to sue
Sure, it’s horribly cruel
But we learned, at home school
That what’s right is what Yahweh would do

Ken Ham Clearly Doesn’t Believe (I Hope)

So I was just out walking the cuttledogs, and it occurred to me that the whole notion of a Noah’s Ark Theme Park showed either an incredible lack of belief on the part of the planners, or a psychopathic lack of empathy.

I mean, it’s a theme park. Think Disney. But it’s built around the greatest (by percentage, at least, if not in real numbers) genocide in history (assuming, for the time being, that the planners actually believe the Noah story). Men, women, children, toddlers, babies… dogs, cats, horses, cows… bunnies, slow lorises, baby hedgehogs… all of them, bloated, stinking corpses. Family fun for everyone! (seriously, click the link–this is what the flood ride would be, were it true to the bible)

One simply cannot have a realistic picture of what the flood allegedly entailed, and believe it appropriate for a family theme park. Ham either does not believe, or lacks any shred of empathy whatsoever.

It gets worse. Remember, the ark was the centerpiece of the park, but was by no means the whole thing. There would be rides. Remember, one of the rides (I shit you not) was (again, think Disney, but on acid) a “Ten Plagues Of Egypt” theme ride! Family fun, with blisters and boils, locusts and lice, blood and death! (Again, click the link for one of my favorites–no one who believed the story would ever suggest it as a theme park ride!)

Imagine a much smaller genocide, with a much smaller fraction of the world’s population put to slaughter. Can you imagine a family-friendly Holocaust theme park? Hop on the trains, kiddies? It sickened me to write that last sentence, and yet I wrote the verses at the two links above–what’s the difference?

The difference is, I believe (I was going to write “I know”, but I’ll settle for the weaker “I believe”) that the bible’s account is false. It’s fiction. It didn’t happen. There were no real victims (well… belief in “the curse of Ham” was not victimless), so I can write about bloated bodies and plagues of locusts. It’s simple–I don’t believe. The only ones who could treat such a genocide lightly are those who don’t believe. Those for whom the flood, and the ten plagues, are nothing more than a chance to fleece those who do believe.

.

.

.

I do wonder, though, who would invest, and who would want such a thing built. Is everyone so mercenary? Are there any true believers who think the Ark Park is appropriate? And why?

Because. Just Because.

The American Dialect Society, which does this sort of thing, has voted that the 2013 Word of the Year is “Because”. Because reasons:

Presiding at the Jan. 3 voting session were ADS Executive Secretary Allan Metcalf of MacMurray College, and Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society and executive producer of Vocabulary.com and the Visual Thesaurus. Zimmer is also the language columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

“This past year, the very old word because exploded with new grammatical possibilities in informal online use,” Zimmer said. “No longer does because have to be followed by of or a full clause. Now one often sees tersely worded rationales like ‘because science’ or ‘because reasons.’ You might not go to a party ‘because tired.’ As one supporter put it, because should be Word of the Year ‘because useful!’”

“Because” was a runaway winner, which I think is wonderful, given that its competition included “twerk” and “selfie”.

The announcement is actually a pretty neat read, with the top five vote-getters in the “Word of the Year” category, but also “Most Useful”, “Most Creative”, “Most Unnecessary”, “Most Outrageous”, “Most Euphemistic”, “Most Likely To Succeed”, “Least Likely To Succeed”, and “Most Productive”. For people who have a fondness for words, it’s great fun.

Besides, I have a fond place in my hearts for “Because”.

Because

I’ve examined evolution, and I think I understand
Though the evidence is shaky, still I think the theory’s grand
But it’s only just a theory, so it’s only just a start
And an open-minded person should try picking it apart.
No belief without a reason! Give me proof of what you claim!
And the more I look, the more I see the evidence is lame!
When considering a tangled bank, I choose to see God’s Laws
And the reason I believe it? Just because.

Charles Darwin drew a picture of an ever-branching tree
From the earliest of creatures all the way to you and me
Other limbs produced the fishes, beetles, lizards, monkeys, ants,
Paramecia, bacteria, creationists and plants;
He supported it with evidence of every kind he could
Which I’ve critically examined, as a thinking person should;
Now I know that he’s mistaken in the picture that he draws
And the reason I believe it? Just because.

If you analyze it critically, as science says we must
You’ll find laws of physics broken, so the theory is a bust:
The second thermo-something law is busted into pieces
By the fact that evolution means that entropy decreases!
And random changes couldn’t make the creatures that we find,
So the evidence is clear, that we cannot be un-designed!
With castles out of playing-cards and armies made of straws
There’s the reason I believe it: Just because.

Now, with Darwin and his evolution clearly in the tank
There is only one alternative, if I am to be frank;
That’s the theory found in Genesis, the Holy Word of God,
And with natural selection out, creation gets the nod.
But we can’t be disrespectful to our deeply held belief,
So our critical examination, this time, must be brief
There’s no clothing on this emperor, not even filmy gauze—
But the reason I believe it? Just because.

Sure, the logic may be iffy, and the evidence is slim—
Who created the creator? And then, who created him?
Why the Genesis creation? Why not something else instead?
Can we guarantee the story is exactly what God said?
Is it literal or metaphor, or maybe outright fiction?
What’s the proper course of action when we find a contradiction?
I’m ignoring any nagging doubt within me where it gnaws
And the reason I believe it? Just because.

If I’m right, I go to heaven, which I’d really like to do
But I’ll go to hell for sure if I suspect that it’s untrue
It’s a simple little wager, there’s no reason to think twice:
You get punished if you’re naughty, you get presents if you’re nice
From the guy who watches all of us, from there behind his beard
(And who cares if it’s millennia since last time he appeared?)
And so, even if it’s really just a grown-up’s Santa Claus
Well, the reason I believe it? Just because.

Lubbock Is Flat. Earth Is Not.

In Texas, a creationist once took a look around
And he noticed that the world he saw was flat
When you live your life in Lubbock, there are no hills to be found,
And it’s Lubbock the creationist was at.

And he looked around the grasslands, just as far as he could see,
To the distant shapes of longhorn cattle ranging
And since none of them bore puppies, it’s as plain as it could be
Evolution was a farce, and life unchanging

So he tried to share his wisdom, cos the state could ill afford
Teaching kids the world is different than it looks
Now he acts as an advisor to the education board
Giving input when they choose their science books.

If it’s good enough for Lubbock, then it’s good enough for all
And the world is flat, unchanging, young, and hot—
It’s ironic that a Texan would be prone to thinking small
But the truth is, Lubbock’s flat; the earth is not.

So I got sent a link today to the Texas Freedom Network’s campaign to get the Texas School Board to listen to the facts. They also have a petition…

Lubbock is flat. Earth is not. Will Texas textbooks teach the difference?

Me, I just like the prairie dog.

Ken Ham’s Good Advice For Atheists

No argument is needed,
Just a simple, silent chorus;
Ken Ham, in shilling “Answers”
Made the atheist case for us.

No message on our billboard—
We can simply leave it blank—
And we still come off the winners,
And we’ve got Ken Ham to thank!

Ham considers it a triumph—
They’ve increased their views by half!
… And he doesn’t seem to notice
That they’ve all dropped by to laugh.

Ken Ham has some good advice for atheists. Mind you, like everything else he sees, he interprets it incorrectly, but once you translate it, it’s surprisingly sound.

I would like to give the American Atheists a free marketing idea.  This idea will help them get across their ultimate message of what life and the universe are all about.  I suggest they put up the following billboard:

atheist-billboard

Yes, the board really says it all.  A blank board presents the ultimate message of atheists in regard to the question of the purpose and meaning of life and the universe.  Now, as I say this “tongue in cheek,” it still makes the point about what atheism is all about.

He even suggests putting this blank billboard next to his own Answers In Genesis billboards, to immediately juxtapose the two messages.

It’s brilliant. The more people–believer and atheist–who visit Answers in Genesis, the more people will understand. No one need make any argument at all; the “own goal” scored by AiG is enough–time to simply drop the mic and leave the stage (sorry to mix metaphors).

I know my own personal experience is bound to be biased, but I have never met an atheist who was not at least passingly familiar with AiG, and I have only met one Christian who had heard of it before I called it to their attention. All the Christians I have shown it to (plus the one who knew of it beforehand) were shocked and a bit embarrassed that such a backward place exists. So… you go, Ken! Spread the word! As per your own advice, the more you say, the less we have to!

It occurs to me that there is one further possible interpretation of the two juxtaposed billboards. A similar, but not quite identical, interpretation would be that the appropriate response to AiG is stunned speechlessness. Ham’s own post illustrates it, so in the manner of A Good Cartoon, I give you:

Answers in Genesis cartoon by Dan Lietha


Bob the atheist is utterly gobsmacked, stunned into silence by the thought that any sentient being would think of the AiG billboard as persuasive. A Good Cartoon.

Oh, Texas! Don’t Ever… Evolve.

The bible is my textbook;
It’s the only one I need
It’s got all the information
That a person ought to read
Any open-minded scientist
Would certainly concede
It’s a better book than Darwin’s is, by far!

It’s the universe’s history—
All several thousand years—
And it shows how evolution’s
Not as strong as it appears
(Cos it’s atheistic scientists
Just covering their fears);
God created things exactly as they are

So it’s time to put the bible
Into all our Texas schools!
It’s against the constitution,
But they always say, of rules,
That they’re there for us to break them,
So watch out, you godless fools
We will have our way, through providence divine!

Yes, we’ll earn our reputation
As a stubborn, backward state
Though it’s really not the people,
It’s the board that guards the gate
So the people watch in horror
As creationists debate…
See, it’s what you call intelligent design.

Context here or here.

Related Post: The Bible As Textbook

Well, Dammit.

I had quite a different post ready to share with you today.

You see, I had very recently googled “cuttlefish” (yes, ego-surfing. Sue me.) and found that, miracle of miracles, I was listed ahead of Answers in Genesis. (For context, see this early post where I first noticed how high AiG is on the list of results for “cuttlefish”, and this later post checking up on the situation.) I was overjoyed; I never expected to overtake The Great Satan AiG, so I prepared a post in which I marveled at the exposure Freethought Blogs had given me, to be able to climb so high (actually, it’s not a matter of my blog being up there–it’s a matter of something, anything, pushing AiG out of the first page).

And I just double-checked. Cos, you know, it would be embarrassing to write the whole thing up and then be wrong.

Yeah, anyway, I wrote the whole thing up and I was wrong.

My most recent search (I re-did it twice) showed AiG comfortably ahead of me–I am on the first page, but just barely, and a creationist lying piece of shit… sorry, a site dedicated to bearing false witness… is ahead of me. And ahead of XKCD, for that matter.

It may be that the algorithms have locked in a lie. It may be that AiG has sufficient inertia on its side that it will continue to serve up disinformation until the heat death of the universe. But could you maybe do me a favor? First… could you do whatever internet search you do for “cuttlefish” and confirm or disconfirm my fears? And secondly… I know I have a lot of smart and savvy readers–is there anything that can be done?

Yes, I know this is a small and perhaps insignificant little battle. But damn, a creationist site on the first page of “cuttlefish”? I was so happy, thinking I had vanquished this dragon. But hey. Reality beats happy fantasy, and (well, dammit) AiG beats The Digital Cuttlefish.

*sigh*

If you’ve read this far, here’s the original verse (now over 5 years old!):

Similarity shows that a common designer
With similar blueprints and parts
Constructed the human and cuttlefish forms—
I swear by all three of your hearts.

The God who created the heavens and earth
And killed dinosaurs off in The Flood
Used the same old ideas again and again
You can tell by your copper-green blood.

But the clearest, most obvious clue to His Touch
Is the similar form to our eye
(They are really quite different, in various ways,
But if you won’t tell, neither will I).

Color-blind cuttlefish never see red
But they can see polarized light;
This common designer gets different effects
Out of human and cuttlefish sight.

Anatomically, too, these are two different eyes
They have retinas frontward-to-back,
And cuttlefish reshape the whole of their eye
Because shapeable lenses they lack.

The shape of the pupil allows them to see
To the front and the rear all at once
So similar, clearly, to what we can do—
If you dare disagree, you’re a dunce!

When Answers in Genesis says it’s design
And not just a matter of fitness
I know they’re not fibbing—right there, number nine—
Thou shalt not bear false witness.

I only have one little, lingering doubt
Though I really, I promise, am trying—
If it’s perfectly clear they see common design
It’s even more clear that they’re lying.

To The Editor…

To the editors and readers:

I am writing to respond to a letter from December; one that clearly went beyond any measure of civility in how it framed its views, so I’m writing in rebuttal, so the citizens can choose.

Let me first list my credentials, and define my expertise, so you’ll know I’m not some moron who just wants to state his piece. I’m an engineer, designer, and a builder, you should know; it’s my aerospace technology that made our missiles go! When it comes to rocket science, all those people are my peers. And I’ve studied Holy Scripture, too, for over forty years.

In my personal opinion, see, the courts have got it wrong, and we should have taught creation in our high schools all along. Since it isn’t only Christians backing Genesis’ report, it’s not favoring religion, so it ought to please the court!

And I hardly dare to mention, but I will, cos I’ve resolved, that our modern science classes should not say that we’ve evolved! It’s a theory—just a a theory—and it’s quite a nasty job to imagine we’re descended from some ancient swampy blob! Now, I hear there’s tons of data, but I think the truth you’ll find is that evolution happens, but within a given kind; man has changed across millennia, in stature and in shape, but he’s never been a monkey, and he’s never been an ape!

There are sources that support me! There are books and books galore; you can find them by the dozen at your local Christian store! If you’re not the type for reading, why, they also come on tapes—you can listen while you’re driving, how we didn’t come from apes.

But enough of this digression; I’ll return now to my thread, to the letter from December, and the nasty things it said; it complained about the sneaking of religion into schools, which the author wrongly stated was against our nation’s rules. See, you simply can’t ignore it; you can’t do it; no one can, cos the science says religion is how everything began.

Sincerely…

Original letter here, at the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. I think I actually used to get that paper, once upon a time. On Sundays, anyway.

Or for you purists who like end-stopped lines…

To the editors and readers: I am writing to respond
To a letter from December; one that clearly went beyond
Any measure of civility in how it framed its views,
So I’m writing in rebuttal, so the citizens can choose.

Let me first list my credentials, and define my expertise,
So you’ll know I’m not some moron who just wants to state his piece;
I’m an engineer, designer, and a builder, you should know,
It’s my aerospace technology that made our missiles go
When it comes to rocket science, all those people are my peers.
And I’ve studied Holy Scripture, too, for over forty years.

In my personal opinion, see, the courts have got it wrong
And we should have taught creation in our high schools all along.
Since it isn’t only Christians backing Genesis’ report
It’s not favoring religion, so it ought to please the court!

And I hardly dare to mention, but I will, cos I’ve resolved,
That our modern science classes should not say that we’ve evolved!
It’s a theory—just a a theory—and it’s quite a nasty job
To imagine we’re descended from some ancient swampy blob!
Now, I hear there’s tons of data, but I think the truth you’ll find
Is that evolution happens, but within a given kind;
Man has changed across millennia, in stature and in shape,
But he’s never been a monkey, and he’s never been an ape!

There are sources that support me! There are books and books galore,
You can find them by the dozen at your local Christian store!
If you’re not the type for reading, why, they also come on tapes—
You can listen while you’re driving, how we didn’t come from apes.

But enough of this digression; I’ll return now to my thread,
To the letter from December, and the nasty things it said;
It complained about the sneaking of religion into schools
Which the author wrongly stated was against our nation’s rules.
See, you simply can’t ignore it; you can’t do it; no one can.
Cos the science says religion is how everything began.

Vestigial Brains?

Strange. While following the trail back from the Bananaman song, I stumbled across a comment from over on Pharyngula in 2009 that I don’t think I have ever posted up on my own place (got busy writing Bananaman and forgot all about it):

If we load up the creationists and put them on the moon,
Then I bet a million dollars (if I had the cash) that soon,
Through the pressures of selection, and the metabolic cost,
Given twenty generations, that their brains have all been lost.
And like eyeless fish, or wingless birds, these brainless fools survive,
Thanks to natural selection, as the dumbest fucks alive.