Ark Encounter Protest Contained the Predictably Unexpected

I’m currently on an airplane flying out of Cincinnati/Kentucky that contains roughly 50 people, one of which is a popular atheist blogger over at Patheos. By my count, that’s one too many atheist bloggers on a flight this small. So a safe landing would prove that God does not exist, since for a brief moment, he had us right where he wanted us. And if the big man does take us down, I would like to go down in history as the person who proved the existence of a deity.

All kidding aside, yesterday’s protest at the Ark Encounter was a smashing success. About 100 demonstrators joined the Tri-State Freethinkers in their effort to raise awareness of the several unethical, if not illegal, practices of Answers in Genesis, Ken Ham, and his irrational display of complete scientific ignorance being sold to adults and children lacking critical thinking skills at 40 bucks a head.

Image credit: FOX19 News, Cincinnati

Image credit: FOX19 News, Cincinnati

I expected press to stop by the protest to see what was going on, but holy shit. There were media outlets interviewing protest leaders and protestors for several hours. When I arrived around 9:30 AM, I wanted to make a point to check in with and say hi to Jim Helton, head of Tri-State Freethinkers, since we hadn’t yet met in person — only talked on the phone a few times in prep for the event. That didn’t happen until after noon I think, since he was giving back-to-back interviews the whole morning. Crazy. I gave a couple interviews, but have no idea if they made it to air or print. Along with the press, there were a few documentary crews in attendance. I did an interview with one of them as well. Overall, the sheer volume of coverage for a hundred members of the least trusted demographic in America was incredible and unexpected.

And of course, the creationists showed up to antagonize us. Ken Ham sent Ark Encounter interns. Eric Hovind brought his crew of minions from his creationism ministry whose sole purpose was to engage us in debates disguised as “conversations.” In their trademark passive aggressive ways, they attempted to start debates by walking up to random people saying, “I’m just trying to learn about why you’re here,” followed by typical apologist rhetoric. After educating one about why creationism isn’t taught in public schools, I decided I was done talking to them since I could feel the blood pumping through my forehead. I was there to protest, not debate irrational lunatics.

And in the ultimate passive aggressive maneuver, Hovind and his soldiers of ignorance tried to treat protestors to lunch by having a crap-ton of intolerance sandwiches from Chik-Fil-A delivered. From what I could tell, no one took the bait. In fact, protestors started chanting something about not eating their hateful chicken or something like that. It was hilariously great. I sure hope the leftover sandwiches went to the needy (because Jesus) but something tells me they’re in a garbage can somewhere in Kentucky.

The evening event was a success as well, with several activists, including yours truly, sharing stories of successes in the movement and calling the attendees to action. It was motivating and inspiring, making it really difficult to check my office email and go back to real life, catching up on the career that actually pays the bills.

As with most secular events and conferences I attend, it’s hard to leave. Being surrounded by like-minded people who share the same goals is something I only encounter a few times a year, and it’s euphoric. Experiencing two awesome events in consecutive months (Reason Rally in June) is really kicking my ass into gear.

As for my part in this event, you can hear my talk on Dogma Debate, and I plan to share video of it if and when TSF makes it available. I’m also thinking of posting the transcript in a later post.

I’ll leave you with this. If you have interest in attending a secular conference or event, but you’re feeling timid about it or don’t have anyone to go with, just go. The events I’ve attended since becoming active in the secular movement are the most welcoming and inclusive experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve made new friends at every event I’ve been to, and although I’m relatively new on the scene, I feel like I’ve known some of these people forever.


  1. johnlynch says

    I was having a talk with a person on Facebook who claimed the global, l flood actually happened. He was not claiming a god ordered flood, but a scientific explanation.
    I copied some of it to post here. I left Facebook when the news about the Dallas shooting came on TV.
    Here is what I copied from our brief conversation. I am not a scientist, so II did not want to make an ass of myself talking about his hypothesis as follows

    We now know because we ourselves are just right there, that DNA at the molecular level would have been the method used by a life from more developed than ourselves. So the big flood for sure happened during human’s time here.

    Gravity from the moon would pull the seas right over land . Not hard to understand really . Just why do our poles shift and if it dose happen quickly as some believe how can we predict it . Because people’s before us have

    . Our earth has had its poles chance quit a few times, proof being trapped in soil samples and their magnetic alignment, so what kind of stuff happens when poles shift.

    Magnetic alignment in soil and ice samples, science doesn’t lie

    • says

      First, I’m not sure what the “more developed life form” means. Maybe the context of that is missing. Are you saying he said there was a global flood with no ark? That would have killed everyone, including all land plants and land animals. So a global flood with no ark would equal human extinction.

      His other comment about the moon’s gravity pulling the ocean over all of the land on earth seems nonsensical to me but I’m no expert either. In any case, his comment is very difficult to follow and lacks substance.

      • johnlynch says

        Thanks for your response. I could not follow his explanation about the moon’s gravity and had no rebuttal to offer due to my lack of scientific background. Do you know of someone who I could write for an opinion on this?

  2. inquisitiveraven says

    Okay, I’m not really an expert, but did this person specify magnetic poles or the poles as determined by the planet’s axis of rotation? They are not the same at all. I don’t know what the current science says, but I do remember a few years back that people were hypothesizing that the moon actually helps stabilize the axis of rotation. Apparently, the shifts in the axis of rotation are more predictable for earth than they are for other planets in the solar system, one of the more notable details being that the angle of the earth’s axis relative to the ecliptic doesn’t change significantly. The biggest shift is axial precession which can basically be described as the planet wobbling like a giant top, a cycle that takes about 26000 years to complete. Any other shifts in the axis of rotation are tiny by comparison. So, no pole reversals here, and nothing happening fast enough to cause global flooding.

    This bit though:

    Our earth has had its poles chance quit a few times, proof being trapped in soil samples and their magnetic alignment, so what kind of stuff happens when poles shift.

    implies magnetic pole shifts. The evidence for that is actually found in igneous rocks, and they need to be more or less undisturbed since they formed. The evidence of magnetic polar reversals in strips of rock parallel to the Mid-Atlantic ridge is what finally convinced geologists that continental drift is real. That should give you an idea of what kind of time scales we’re talking about here. New Agers and creationists always same to think that magnetic pole reversals are nigh instantaneous. Well, Christian creationist have to think that because of their compressed timeline. I have no idea what the New Agers’ excuse is. The fact is though, we are once again talking about a process that takes centuries if not millennia. Also, I can’t see how a change in the magnetic poles could possibly be related to a global flood. More on magnetic pole reversals here.

  3. mynax says

    He’s so confused that it’s hard to know where to start. A lot of it is verging on “not even wrong”.

  4. Golgafrinchan Captain says

    I know this post is a bit old so people might not see this, but…

    I’d recommend seeing if some local college/university has an introductory Earth Science class that you can audit (audit means you can attend the class but don’t take exams). Especially check if anyone offers a video section for the class.

    Carleton University (in Canada) has an amazing intro Earth Science class that is often taught by Professor Brian Cousens and there’s a video-on-demand section. I just have no idea how you’d go about auditing it (within or outside of Canada).

    If this is something you are at all curious about, an intro course will give you a broad base from which you can explore further.

    You’d learn a lot about the variius dating methods and how they overlap and intersect. Regarding pole shifts, I think you are thinking about the magnetic poles and it’s not exactly soil samples. In order to store a magnetic field, compounds which can store magnetic orientations have to be heated past the Curie Point (varies by compound, approx 900 deg Kelvin for iron oxide). When they cool, they store the orientaion of the Earth’s magnetic field at that time. Soils are useless for this because they move around. Volcanos and the ocean floor (at the point where continental plates separate and create new rock) are the best for this.

    Some volcanos are particularly useful because they add thin layers at fairly regular intervals. By dating each layer and checking the magnetic orientation, they can build a pretty continuous mapping of the location of the poles.

    If I was younger when I took that intro course there’s a good chance I would have gone into Earth Science. It’s pretty cool.

  5. Golgafrinchan Captain says

    Btw, my reply was to johnlynch.

    And I also wanted to add that anyone who is generally interested in science should buy the book: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (the new version with more pictures is worth the extra $). It’s an enjoyable read and very accessible, although it doesn’t go terribly in depth on any topic.

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