They wouldn’t have this bathroom problem if only god would kill the evil people

The NY Times has an article on Ken Ham’s Ark. It always bugs me how the NYT blurs everything down to a bland grey smear (except for the conservatives on the op-ed page, who are encouraged to be stupid), but it’s got a few choice bits served up in their usual neutral, flavorless sauce.

You have to remember that Young Earth Creationism is a freakishly bizarre and recent sect of Christianity — it goes against the grain of the broader beliefs of most Christian denominations, but has grown into de facto popularity because its proponents are really good at claiming that they are the True Bible Believers. Their great trick was to subvert the naive proposition held by most Christian groups that the Bible is a good book, true in every word, by actually pointing to what’s written and saying that you have to believe this sentence fragment literally in order to be Christian. Those of us who actually think about what it says and compare it to the real world become atheists; those who don’t think much at all about science shrug their shoulders and decide they must believe the Earth is only 6000 years old, and no way was my grandpa an ape.

Young earth creationism gained currency only about 60 years ago, and has remained a marginal creed within Christianity. Even many Bible-believers and evangelicals accept the science showing that the universe is billions of years old — some reasoning that each of the six “days” of creation in the Book of Genesis may have lasted millions of years, not 24 hours. And of course, many Christians accept evolution.

Another important thing to remember, besides the fringey nature of the belief, is that their primary message is one of hate. God hates certain behaviors, so it was perfectly all right for God to murder millions of people to eliminate their degeneracy. Ken Ham avoids the spittle-flecking of Pastor Steven L. Anderson, but it’s fundamentally the same story: gays and atheists and women who control their own reproduction are abominations who will be eliminated soon. By god. Not by people, they’re always quick to say, god will judge…and by the way, they’ve judged too, and are quite sure their god will agree with them on who deserves to die.

The ark is also intended to serve as a vivid warning that, according to the Bible, God sent a flood in Noah’s time to wipe out a depraved people, and God will deliver a fiery end to those who reject the Bible and accept modern-day evils like abortion, atheism and same-sex marriage. We’re becoming more like the days of Noah in that we see increasing secularization in the culture, Mr. Ham said.

Oh, a fiery end. It’s always fun to read about people who think we ought to be set on fire.

They also have a creepy version of Biblical racism — the Hamite theory is alive and well in Kentucky — and again, they’ve got to emphasize the evil morally decadent society that is righteously wiped out.

Drawings of Noah and his seven family members hung on a wall. Their skin is “middle brown” and their faces are a blend of racial features because, as the only survivors of the biblical flood, all the races and ethnicities on earth would have descended from these eight people, Mr. Chaffey said. But in some of the displays in the warehouse, there were indications of the ministry’s dark vision of humanity. An artist, Stephanie Fazekas, stood at a computer drawing figurines of women in togas. They were prostitutes for a diorama portraying the morally decadent society that the Bible says was wiped out in a flood.

Also, reality is like a lawn full of rakes that keep thwacking them in the face. This is supposed to be a life-sized version of the giant boat that housed thousands of animals for a year, during the most ferocious, world-wrecking storm of all time. But they have to keep scaling back their plans.

They were originally going to have a live animal zoo on the ark. Then they admitted that there were relatively few species represented on the ark, because (they don’t use this word) evolution, which allows varieties to rapidly diversify. And then, well, look what this gigantic building will house:

And there will be only about 30 pairs of stuffed animals on the Ark Encounter because there just isn’t enough space. We have to have dozens and dozens of bathrooms for visitors. Noah didn’t have to have that, Mr. Chaffey said.

Only 30 pairs of animals? Because bathrooms? It’s true, Noah didn’t have thousands of visitors trooping through his big boat, because his god killed them all in the story, but he did have a gigantic waste disposal problem that Ken Ham’s sanitized and simplified display avoids by using stuffed animals.

Mediocre.

What was horribly tragic?

Christy Sheats posted this on her facebook page last March.

It would be horribly tragic if my ability to protect myself or my family were to be taken away, but that’s exactly what Democrats are determined to do by banning semi-automatic handguns.

You know exactly where this is going, right? Sheats is dead, shot by the police after she refused to drop that handgun, after she’d used it to murder her 17 and 22 year old daughters.

I think the tragedy is that no one took her guns away before she killed two people with them.

Also for sale by Ray Comfort

A fake million dollar bill!

fakemilliondollarbill

Here is the blurb for this piece of crap:

HERE IS THE MILLION-DOLLAR QUESTION: Will you go to Heaven when you die? Here’s a quick test: Have you ever lied, stolen, or used God’s name in vain? Jesus said, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” If you have done these things, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart, and the Bible warns that one day God will punish you in a terrible place called Hell. But God is not willing that any should perish. Sinners broke God’s Law and Jesus paid their fine. This means that God can legally dismiss their case: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Then Jesus rose from the dead, defeating death. Today, repent and trust Jesus, and God will give you eternal life as a free gift. Then read the Bible daily and obey it. God will never fail you.

Again, this is a stock Comfortism. Every little thing that you feel guilty about is treated as a sign that you deserve to go to Hell. Did you take two mints after dinner at the restaurant, instead of just one? Did you accidentally break the handle off one of the teacups in Aunt Tillie’s favorite set? Did you get a glimpse of a naked breast as you were flipping through the cable channels? Then your loving god thinks you should be flayed while swimming in a lake of fire for eternity! Because he’s promising to torture you forever, you better get on your knees and love him right now. And also send Ray $7 for a piece of worthless paper, thank you very much.

It’s hard to believe that anyone falls for this illogical nonsense, but he includes a testimonial.

“I’d like to thank you for producing the million dollar tracts. Because of it, I got saved and I gave my life to Jesus Christ 8 years ago. I used to be an atheist and God brought me to my knees through your million dollar tract. I went from being an atheist to being on staff at a church, and now I evangelize regularly.” Peter G.

If you were persuaded by that bullshit, Peter G., you’ve got other issues.

It takes a fool to deny the obvious

Neil Shubin reports that Bible tracts have begun appearing in copies of his book, Your Inner Fish, in bookstores. He even has photographic evidence.

shubintract

This is remarkable news. We now know how bible tracts are made: they are degenerate forms descended from more complex and sophisticated texts, and they appear spontaneously when two pages, who love each other very much, are pressed together. They’re kind of like coke cans that way, arising without human intervention.

cokecan

Oh, except that you’d have to be an idiot to think that.

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Google is not a synonym for knowledge

So you want to be a science communicator. You need to read this article on becoming a science writer. Here’s a short list of tips:

  • Obtain the highest education possible and dismiss the notion to not pursue formal schooling and, instead, “learn on the job.” The latter is damaging advice, usually given by people without specialized education, or by those who benefit from your unpreparedness. If you actually get the job, you will always “learn the praxis” while on it. But you will never compensate, “on the job,” for the formal education you missed. Science, math and technology are not taught in the streets.
  • Read by far more topics than you can write about; develop a sense for science.
  • Travel internationally to scientific meetings and try to understand the cultural contexts in which science is done elsewhere; this could be difficult since we all see the planet through parochial preconceptions. However, modern science is done collaboratively and international partnerships are ubiquitous. Writing from home will keep your mind at home.
  • Write about science itself, rather than people in science. Do not celebritize individuals, but grant credit to all who deserve it.
  • Do not become enticed by the ivory-tower institutions as the sole source of science stories to report; that will turn you into a snob writer.
  • And remember that a good science tale should be good by itself, no matter its origin, but only a good story teller would make it shine.

I had some reservations about that first point — the amateur or citizen scientist can be a good contributor. But the good ones have a lot of discipline and drive and focus, and get a specialized education unconventionally, so it’s actually an important point.

What is a total disaster, though, are all the people who think they can master a subject via a combination of Google and Wikipedia. You absolutely can not. You can get quick bits of information, but you don’t acquire this abstract thing called knowledge: you need the depth you get from reading books and soaking in the details of the literature, so that you can make connections and grasp the broader context.

The rest is good advice. I’m putting this on my list of things to hand out to the students in my fall term writing course.

More for me, none for thee

Republican families also feel the sting of our economy.

The wife of Maine Gov. Paul LePage has taken on a summer waitressing job near their Boothbay home. And she’s saving up for a Toyota RAV4.

Good for her. It’ll also give her more independence, and especially when her husband loses his job in the next election, I hope, that’ll give them some income to fall back on.

But of course it’s being politicized by Governor LePage.

Ann LePage had kept quiet about the gig, but her husband told a crowd at a recent town hall that his wife took a job to “supplement” his lowest-in-the-nation $70,000 salary. This year, the Republican governor unsuccessfully proposed to more than double his successor’s salary to $150,000.

Hang on, there. His wife quietly took on a hard, low-paying job to be able to afford some luxuries, and the governor is braying about it to justify getting a raise?

Look, he’s getting paid more than I do. You want to justify getting paid more? Do it by citing the work you do and how you deserve it for that, not by whining about how poor you are, when you aren’t. This is especially ironic coming from a governor who just had a tantrum over foodstamps, trying to end them because people who are really poor use them to occasionally buy a Twinkie. I guess he doesn’t see how similar that situation is to a well-off middle class family wanting more money so they can buy a shiny SUV.

Maybe when LePage shows a little empathy for the people he’s supposed to govern, it would be time to consider rewarding him for a job well done. I can’t see giving a raise to one of the worst governors in the country.

Super-puberty is one of the worst things I can imagine

Superman-Alien

There’s a case for a queer Superboy, but I have a real problem imagining one. He’s an alien. If he has sex in the missionary position with a human female, he’s queer already. Every kind of sexual behavior he can carry out on Earth, as the lone representative of his species, is going to be odd compared to what would be his behavior on Krypton, and his fellow Kryptonians, if they existed, would consider it bestiality.

But OK, I’ll play along. I can imagine Superboy reaching a very different sort of puberty. Not a queer puberty, though — more of a conventional reproductive puberty with straight desires…for a Kryptonian.

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