Episode 122: A Deluge of Stupidity

Noahs_ArkKen Ham is trying to raise 24 million dollars to build a life size replica of Noah’s Ark for the Ark Encounter theme park and zoo. Ham hopes that the park will convince people that Noah really could have fit two of each of the worlds animals on a 450 foot wooden boat. While apologists like the Creation Research Institute’s John Woodmorappe argue it could have been feasible for Noah to build an ark, investors are not as confident in Ham’s Ark project. Which is why the young earth creationist organization Answers in Genesis has been actively seeking public funding for the project,in the form of tax subsidies and public works projects for the park. But should tax payer dollars really be used to push a religious fantasy? For this episode we will plunge into the tale of Noah’s Ark and note the absurd consequences of reading this myth literally. Also for this episode we begin a multi-part “God Thinks Like You” mini-series examining the hidden influences behind how religious believers and skeptics make moral choices.

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Episode Links:

Should Quebec ban the scarf?

Ark Encounter trying to use public funds because their fundraising efforts have been a disaster

AU on Ark Encounter

How the animals fit in the Ark. 

Shitlist: Humanist leader resigns

Stranger Than Fiction: Jihadis accidentally behead wrong guy


  1. LongStrider says

    Here is my question…if Noah was 600 years old, how many great, great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,great,grand children did he have and what happened to them? Also, as we age our nose gets larger and longer, so Noah’s nose must have been dragging on the ground. And, his prostrate would be so large he would be sitting on it, which leads to the question how did he relieve himself?

  2. kenjacobs says

    The World Wildlife Fund people must have a laugh about this. Breeding populations so small that every single species on the critically endangered species list?

  3. kenjacobs says

    On the Quebec/religious symbols issue, the party in power is known as the “Parti Quebecois” a nationlist party with the eventual aim of separating from the rest of Canada via referendum. Although they lean democratic, secular and liberal on most issues, they have for years exhibited some strong fascist tendencies on issues of language and culture. That is the reason they rather cynically allow Christian crosses except for “larger-than-average crucifixes” as something that is traditional in french Canadian culture.

    They were equally as petty in their commercial sign law (enacted many years ago) which stipulates that french language must be at least twice as prominent as other languages on any sign, notably english signage which is common around Montreal. So they’d have the “language police” going about measuring the commercial lettering of commercial establishments (strip clubs, retail chains) to make sure the french version had big enough letters.

    Below is a report from the National Post:

    The Office last month began mailing warnings to dozens of companies that have not co-operated with its push to have stores with trademarked English names add generic French terms to their signs. For example, Second Cup has added “les cafés” before its name and the eyewear chain New Look added “lunetterie.”

  4. Muz says

    On the non-prophets show last week they were talking about the Canadian thing. Someone close to the situation (geographically at least) wrote in and said it was basically bollocks, similar to one of those bills put forward in conservative US states that’s doomed to fail or legally irrelevant but makes a bit of song and dance about a pet issue.

  5. depsilor says

    Two things First, Jeremy mentioned that he doesn’t agree with everything that FFRF does. I listen to their radio program and there are some things that they do that could be considered nitpicking, but I agree with their general approach. I would like to hear for Jeremy what he doesn’t agree with, specifically, not because I want to defend FFRF, but because I value Jeremy’s opinions and maybe there is something I have missed.

    Second, I am having a hRd time getting RDs episodes. iTunes doesn’t have all of them, or when I try to play them they seem to dissapear. The same thing happens with stitcher. What is going on?

  6. Maurice says

    Excellent podcast. As always, I enjoy the well considered comments by the podcasters on the range of topics presented.

    With reference to Quebec’s secular charter… I oppose this legislation on the grounds that it is an unnecessary government intrusion on personal choice. Education and discussion should be the methods used to try and move towards a more secular, democratic society.

    That being said, I would point out that currently Quebec civil servants are already prohibited from some kinds of expression on the job. For instance, they cannot wear overtly political logos or other paraphenalia (as I suspect is the case in the rest of Canada and the U.S.), so one is entitled to ask why religious symbolism should be afforded special status here. It seems somewhat arbitrary to me that some people argue the wearing of a crucifix or hijabs for civil servants should be protected under freedom of expression, but not political symbols.

    Finally, commenter KenJacobs characterizes the Parti Québecois as demonstrating “strong fascists tendencies” when it comes to language and culture in Québec. I think some context would be appropriate here, given the long history of anglophone oppression in that province, as well as the geographic reality that 7 million francophones are surrounded by a huge anglophone North American community. I have little doubt the Parti Québecois does sometimes pander to some cultural and linguistic chauvinism, just as American politicians do when they wax poetic about American ‘exceptionalism’, but calling that strongly fascistic seems somewhat of an overstatement.

    Anyway, loved the podcast, and I’m glad Luke is back! Keep up the good work.

  7. RIch says

    P1: If the Christian God exists, then Reasonable Doubts is the unique best possible podcast.
    P2: If Reasonable Doubts is the unique BPP, then the Christian God would allow me to download it from Itunes.
    P3: I can’t download Reasonable Doubts from Itunes.
    -Therefore, the Christian God, as so defined, does not exist.

  8. kenjacobs says


    I agree that I may have overstated as it came out, though I made an attempt to be careful when I used the softening word “tendencies” and only referring to cultural issues.

    I understand Quebecois grievances as most in my circle of friends in Montreal were french canadian yet all spoke english and in most cases preferred english or did not speak french at all. My own mother happened to be french canadian, fully bilingual, and yet — my own french is not very good–we all spoke english at home.

    So I get it.

    However, I don’t agree with trying to reverse years of discrimination by introducing heavy-handed legislation that is blatantly discriminatory itself, such as the bill 101 language laws. As part of the native english speaking population of Quebec (not to mention officially bilingual Canada) at the time, we felt absolutely bullied, while most of us with strong roots there were sympathetic to the cause of quebecois culture. To say the least, the PQ were acting in a manner as if sovereign separation from Canada had already happened.

  9. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @depsilor #7:

    I am having a hard time getting RDs episodes. iTunes doesn’t have all of them, or when I try to play them they seem to disappear.

    What happens if you click an episode in the iTunes webpage for this podcast?
    That seems to list them all at least.

    I did a fancy JSON query to eyeball metadata the iTunes server uses to describe podcasts and didn’t see any obvious descrepancies. So it should be correctly pointing iTunes clients to the feed alright.

    Checking the feed itself…

    feedvalidator.org found a few things to complain about.

  10. Muz says

    On the subject of the ark again; I know it’s all completely ridiculous, but I wonder if anyone’s run the numbers on the suggestion that dried meat could be used to save on space in the craft itself.

    Obviously you don’t really know where to start on how many meat eaters were supposedly aboard. But even with a few carnivores it seems you’re up for football field sized arrays of drying frames working for weeks on end. All the local timber is going into the ark itself so you’re in trouble setting that up for one thing (although I suppose small off cuts would exist). Also forget about salting or smoking it, if that were the local method.
    The other locals aren’t mad (in the new movie) because Noah was a heretic or whatever but because he took all the damn goats!

  11. Francois Jean says

    I live i Montreal, Quebec.There’s a lot of things to say about the “charter of values” and it’s a bit more complicated than you presented it. First of, I don’t think you can equate the charter with Law 101 which legislate the language used in work place and on display in public places. The “parti Quebecois” is not by any mean a fascist party, however it’s a coalition of left wing and right wing nationalist. The “charter of values” is to be seen as a move from the right wing nationalists to try to reach a specific segment of the population. For a while, the “parti Quebecois” was trying to bring a cultural and citizen nationalism, but they switched to an ethnic nationalism.
    I personally think that some parts of the “charter of values” are good. For instance, I find it ok to say that a judge or a cop should display no religious signs, because they have a position of authority and they are the legal arm of the state. However, I think it’s going too far when they prohibit women in hospitals and kindergarten to wear veil or other religious sign. While I think burka should be ban of society, I don’t think we should legislate on veil because it’s discriminatory mostly for women.
    Anyway, there’s much more to say about this law, but I think it’s mostly motivated by racists reasons.

  12. says

    To understand Quebec’s secular charter (or values charter) it is necessary to understand some background information:

    1. French-Canadians were seen as an undesirable group by the English-Canadian majority from most of our history together. Anti-French laws were passed in almost every English-speaking province at one time or other. The goal was to contain and assimilate French-Canadians and the result was to keep them in the lowest rungs of the economic ladder. English-Canada only started to clean up its act as a reaction to the rise of Quebec nationalism in the 1960s.

    2. Before the 1960s French-Canadian society was dominated by the Catholic church. A big part of what is called Quebec’s Quiet Revolution was the secularization of Quebec society. The separation of church and state is seen as very important to Quebecers.

    3. With the rise of Quebec nationalism in the 1960s came the demand that Canada recognize its bi-national nature and to recognize Quebec as the home of this other nation in Canada. Canada responded by ignoring that demand and adopting a policy of multiculturalism that celebrates the cultural diversity of immigration instead.

    4. Canadian multiculturalism imagines a society as a mosaic of cultures but ignores the reality that there is a culture and language that dominates this continent. It’s the American culture and the English language. Expecting Quebecers to accept to be a simple tile in the mosaic is asking them to accept the demise of their culture. But this brand of Multiculturalism along with the 1982 constitution was imposed on Quebec without its consent so there is often a desire to challenge multiculturalism in Quebec which English-Canadians cynically portray as racism.

    Quebec does practice language protectionism (Law 101) which attempts to counter-balance the power of attraction of English and allow a viable French-speaking society to exist on this continent. After all, French-speakers represent only 2% of the population of North-America. English-Canadians routinely indulge in the most absurd levels of hysterics over these laws which often end in the obligatory comparison to Nazi Germany. It’s the equivalent of Whites in the US denouncing Affirmative Action for Blacks as the oppression of the White race.

    All that said, Bill 60 is flawed. I don’t think it has anything to do with racism. I think it is a cynical ploy by the parti Quebecois to steal votes away from the right-wing CAQ party. In any case, multiculturalism is often nothing more than religious accommodationism. It seems to give religion a higher priority to other considerations. Employers often impose dress codes on their employees and civil servants in Quebec and Canada are banned from displaying overt politically partisan symbols. So why is religion taboo? There are Muslims, Jews and Sikhs, etc who do not wear any religious symbols. Why should exceptions be made for those who insist that they must wear these things? I think it’s a valid question that shouldn’t be dismissed as racism even though I think Quebec’s Charter does go too far… I think this article is covers it pretty well

  13. Francois Jean says

    Whole I agree with veritas6:Yjusticia for the most part, there IS a part of racism with this charter. Some have called it “catholaïcité” which mean Catholic secularism because it doesn’t solve many problems, like the fact that in some town hall meetings, the mayor is praying, or the fact that the government is still financing private religious schools. They were also reluctant to get rid of the crucifix at the parliament. This charter is focusing only on minorities, especially the muslims because they are the one who are the most concerned. If you except some jewish doctors or teachers, the only public employees sporting religious signs are women muslims. And you have to see what is happening right now against veiled women. It’s almost a witch hunt. This law triggered racist comments and acts in a usually really tolerant province.

  14. weatherwax says

    I can’t help suspecting that the Al Qaeda militants took advantage of an opportunity to eliminate the leader of a rival revolutionary group, and came up with the “oopsie” excuse when it got out.

  15. weatherwax says

    Muz #13: One of the explanations I heard, and I don’t remember who made it, is that god restored all the carnivores to herbivory. See, all animals were herbivores before the fall, so it was easy for god to make them back into herbivores for the duration of the flood.

    Of course this doesn’t answer the question of how to store all the grass/ grains/ etc.

  16. kenjacobs says

    All this technical debunking of a deluge myth is all in good fun, but it reminds me of debunking pro wrestling by analyzing the various moves they perform in the ring as fake, when the whole spectacle is just so obviously insane.

  17. James S says

    “Larger than average crucifix” sounds like a crude attempt to disguise blatantly racist legislation. When is necessary, and I mean from a practical perspective e.g. photo identification purposes, it seems uncontroversial to ask a woman to remove her a vale, scarf, hijab, berka or whatever (couldn’t another woman take the photo behind closed doors?). However, I don’t see how it could be considered appropriate for a society that espouses religious freedom, which I’m fairly certain the Canadian Charter does, to limit how a person ornaments or clothes themselves in or ordnance with their particular set of beliefs. And if it is decided that limits will be placed in the interest of secularism then all religious symbols should be banned from the public square and not just the ones that make people uncomfortable.

    “Although the government wants to limit the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols by government employees, it says the crucifix on the wall in the Quebec national assembly can stay, because it is part of Quebec’s heritage.”

    The full article is here:

    Boo Quebec. Boo. Racism masquerading as secularism is secularism canneries.

  18. Bob Whiteman says

    kenjacobs, it’s worse than that. Every creature would be extinct in the wild, as every single animal is now in captivity.

  19. Bob Whiteman says

    I’m so happy to have Luke back! I love RD, and I get a thrill when my podcast app plays the opening tones of a new episode. I enjoy every segment of the show. But in hindsight it’s the psychology of religion and morality that has most changed my perception of the people around me. More, Luke, more! I’m really looking forward to the next few episodes!

  20. says

    This ark stuff.! My (limited) understanding is that this myth was around before the invention of the Jewish Religion and it was adapted by the Jews and put in their book. Which explains why other tribes and religious groups from this area have this myth too. This was apparently verified by a pre Jewish written source. As I have learned not to believe anything I’m told I wonder if anyone can verify the above ‘fact’ that I came across about 25 years ago. I’m sure the Rosetta Stone was mentioned too

  21. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Graham Scott #25:

    My (limited) understanding is that this myth was around before the invention of the Jewish Religion

    Article: Wikipedia – Flood Myth

    The myths linked above are dated variously to around the 17th century BCE.

    I’m sure the Rosetta Stone was mentioned too

    The Rosetta Stone was a decree by King Ptolemy V in 196 BCE, proclaiming how great he was, and detailing how he should be worshipped for being the Savior of Egypt.

    sacred-texts.com has a summary of its content, wherein the ‘beneficent acts’ section mentions a flood: “in the eighth year of his reign, the Nile rose to a great height and flooded all the plains, he undertook, at great expense, the task of damming it in and directing the overflow of its waters into proper channels, to the great gain and benefit of the agricultural classes.”
    The Book of Genesis is generally considered to have been written in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE.

  22. says

    So, yeah, the proposal is pretty bigoted. Even outside the fact that no head covering is permissible as an indication of faith but some other signs are permissible is pretty clearly indicative of some bullshit going on, a secular government doesn’t require a secular populace, which is good because no country anywhere has such a thing. If you hire and (fat chance) elect the best people available to do the job, it doesn’t matter. As much as I may personally chafe against religion and the like, it doesn’t make a difference which forms I have to fill out, so someone with a yarmulke, turban, hijab, or Quaker cap could hand me the form, and I’d still have to sign my name in the same spot.

    I find the argument that mere exposure to openly religious people is upsetting to be absurd. They exist. Now, if they decided to tell me all about how they have the one true religion*, then there’s an issue, because 1)they’re currently acting as an agent of the government and should not proselytize and 2)at that point, they’re not actually doing their job.

    *Yes, it would seem unlikely to ever be so overt, but in any event point 2 holds.

    Probably Unnecessary Disclaimer: I am a US citizen.

  23. Scott says

    Ian Plimer an Australian geologist has already debunked Noah’s Ark in his book Telling Lies for God.

  24. Scott says

    I tried to buy a million beams for the new Noah’s ark ,AiG website came up with an error message”it appears we have sprung a leak… Come back later”hahahahah

  25. andrewviceroy says

    “Can someone post the links to the studies from the “God Thinks Like You” segment?”

    I second this!

  26. nedd says

    I’m so happy you guys introduced me to the movie Four Lions. It was absolutely hilarious. “Your wife is being disrespectful” :)

  27. TGKero says

    About the Quebec headscarf issue. Hi, Canadian listener, here. There are a few contextual issues you must know in order to understand this strange legislation.
    1. Quebec is historically overwhelmingly Catholic, although younger people tend to be less so. Also, immigrants are less likely to be Catholic.
    2. Many Quebecers do not view themselves as Canadian, but see themselves as a sovereign nation that has been subjugated by Anglo-Canadians. This is historically fairly true.
    3. Many of the above Quebecers want to separate from Canada. In fact, the province is governed by the Parti Quebecquois, an openly separatist party.
    4. Separatists have held three provincial referenda to separate from Canada. The last one, held in the mid nineties was narrowly defeated by 2%. The defeat was blamed on the growing number of immigrants.

    Here is the crux of the issue. This legislation is not taken seriously by the majority of Canadians. It is a racist legislation that is meant to antagonise Quebecers who are not part of the Old Guard. It is entirely geared toward protecting Quebec’s “unique culture”. Similarly, Quebec has draconian protectionist language laws, in which no public sign may ever be in any language other than French.

    Notably, there was a somewhat similar issue about 15-20 years ago, in which members of the RCMP (who, by the way wear blue police uniforms, not red Dudley Do Right outfits) were not allowed to wear turbans. This issue was settled, and Seikh members are allowed to wear turbans.

    I hope this clarifies things, because, believe me, as Canadians we hold free speech as dear as Americans do.

  28. Rich says

    From Answers in Genesis webpage:
    Media Alert
    AiG President Ken Ham has just been invited to appear live Monday morning (Dec. 16) on the national TV program Fox and Friends.

    Drinking game anyone?

  29. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @TGKero #32:

    RCMP (who, by the way wear blue police uniforms, not red Dudley Do Right outfits)

    From Wikipedia…

    RCMP: their distinctive Red Serge, referred to as “Review Order” (of dress uniform), consisting of: high collared scarlet tunic
    The everyday uniform consists of a grey shirt with dark blue tie […], and a regular policeman’s style cap.
    Red Serge: The Red Serge is not worn as working dress when an officer is on normal duty, but is reserved for occasions such as civic ceremonies, musical rides, ceremonial parades, as a visual representative of the security force for government dignitaries, and during public relations-related special events such as school career days or guard duty at Parliament in Ottawa. Members also march in funerals for police officers wearing the traditional Red Serge.

  30. Ichthyic says

    Muz #13: One of the explanations I heard, and I don’t remember who made it, is that god restored all the carnivores to herbivory. See, all animals were herbivores before the fall, so it was easy for god to make them back into herbivores for the duration of the flood.

    surely then this god could have transmogrified them into breathing water and photosynthesizing for their food then.

    it’s fucking rabbit hole time.

    why do we give this crap any time at all I wonder? Sparkly vampires, even, are more plausible than this crap.

  31. Ichthyic says

    if people are interested in what is behind the “ark camp project”, they should not just look at what AIG is doing.

    look at what the local county and state representatives are doing in that area.

    are they using public money to fund road construction and improvements?

    then, as usual, there is the misuse of public funds to improve an area to make private real estate gains from.

    this is COMMON in many rural areas in the States, especially the South, and would not surprise me a bit to see it happening around this “project” as well.

  32. paul vinet says

    While the proposed law in Quebec seems iffy for a number of reasons, I personally am far more open to the possibility that a ban on the niqab is one of those very rare situations where a specific violation of personal rights is justified for the greater good. And just to be clear, it is a violation of personal rights.

    Allow me to give an admittedly more extreme analogy that I think illustrates the issue. What if, rather than completely covering their face, a given religion required all wives and daughters to have at least one (or two for more orthodox) black eyes whenever outside, delivered via punching from the husband/father they belong to. These women I’m sure would largely claim that wearing black eyes is an integral part of their identity as (blank)ian’s and that they absolutely want to be punched regularly by their fathers/husbands.

    Now granted, that is an example of coercion into consenting to physical abuse, whereas the niqab I’d argue is coersion into consent to emotional abuse, but I think the line exists somewhere along that continuum where the governments interest in a persons we’ll being outweighs their vocal assertions that they are consenting to abuse of their personhood. I don’t know if I 100% am sure that niqabs fall on the side that the government should intervene on, but I think it is a very real possibility that it qualifies.

    This all relates to the equating of culture and race as being one in the same and therefore both out of bounds for criticism. Culture is a set of ideas and beliefs being put into practice, and like all other ideas should not be exempt from criticism. Race is a definite unchangable characteristic someone is born with, making it despicable for someone to criticize. The two are not the same thing. Yes a favorite method of masking racism is to do a bait and switch trick facade of criticizing culture, but this is not the case most of the time. We as secular thought leaders need to be careful using blanket guidelines that protect shitty, harmful cultural ideas that should be criticized in the marketplace if ideas. Some atheists wear this badge of tolerance by calling racist the second other atheists criticize cultural ideas and practices, and effectively shelter abusive religious practices under the guise of noble tolerance. No ideas should be above question, and simply beginning the discussion shouldn’t be so taboo, even if we find in the end that these types of proposed laws are not justified.

  33. Dean Denby says

    The problems you guys seem to be having with iTunes streaming may not have anything to do with what you are doing and everything to do with Apples Podcast app. It is one of the most horrendous apps available through Apple and deserves to be taken out and shot. I recently bought a podcast app that seemed to solve all of the issues you guys mentioned. Of course at the moment this is only anecdotal. :)

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