The latest ark news from Kentucky

There is some faint concern from the Kentucky governor that the Ark theme park will discriminate in hiring — I doubt that it will become a major sticking point. But still, it’s true, they will be selective in their hiring based on religious belief. They say that isn’t true, but one thing we know about creationists is that they lie.

“There will be positions that will require Bible knowledge because…we have certain things in there that are requiring biblical knowledge,” he explains. “That doesn’t mean, though, if you don’t have that you can’t work over in the restaurant or some other part of the facility.”

Oh. Since atheists tend to know more about religion and the Bible than Christians, can we expect a larger proportion of them to show up in those jobs requiring biblical knowledge? No. Because they have a requirement that people sign a testimonial of their faith, which means they’re actually going to discriminate on the basis of whether you agree with them or not.

Liars. Like I said.

There’s also an interesting op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (something intelligent on the WSJ opinion page? Amazing in itself) that waffles unfortunately over the conflict with the principle of separation of church and state that giving privileges to the Hamites brings about — there really is a problem here, it’s just that the professional liars of creationism have gotten very good about making excuses for themselves. But what I agree with is the recognition that modern creationists are a bit cleverer and better at exploiting the modern world than many give them credit for.

What is more interesting about Ark Encounter is what it tells us about the paradoxes of American evangelicalism, a non-worldly belief system with a restlessly entrepreneurial and commercial spirit. The term “fundamentalism” generally denotes a comprehensively anti-modern movement. But this is only partly true. Far from being a counter to modernity, American fundamentalism often embraces it with far greater enthusiasm and finesse than its mainline competition.

Look at the effectiveness with which conservative evangelicalism has made use of television, radio and the Internet. Or consider the eagerness of “creationism” to claim the mantle of science, which is quite a different matter from rejecting modernity altogether. In commercial enterprises like the Christian music industry, or Ark Encounter, the packaging of products is the same as it is in the most successful secular businesses; only the content is different. Evangelicals assume that all such modern techniques can be redeemed through certain proper uses. The medium, in this view, is not the message.

That’s the striking thing about the Creation “Museum”: it is not a reverent place. It does not exhibit any of the serious religious solemnity of the so-called sacred: it is a place dedicated to making money, and to aping the trappings (but not the substance!) of modern science. It’s as if a church opened a gift shop, and the shop was so successful that it grew and grew, and people stopped coming for the church and instead came for the sales, and eventually the church part was quietly demolished and nobody noticed.

When you go through it, too, the way it slickly copies the façade of a real museum — a rather cheesy and commercialized children’s museum — is weird and disturbing. They will put on a display of some detail of the construction of the ark, for instance, and present it as a real museum would a collection of ancient tools, but it’s all fake, completely made up, a model of an imaginary effort. As the op-ed states, this is a capitalist enterprise that has fully embraced modern packaging and marketing.

I suggest a compromise. If the state wants to recognize the Ark Encounter as a commercial effort to bring money into the state, fine; but then Answers in Genesis should be stripped of its tax exempt status and recognized as a beard for a profit-making enterprise. Alternatively, if they get to keep their status as a church-like entity, yank any attempt by the state to prop up their shell game with government support.

And anyone ought to recognize their phony legal games as a sham. They’ve set up multiple entities, some that are claiming religious status, others that are the admitted for-profit commercial arm, but all of them are funneling money in to support the promotion of a religion.