City Wants To Tax Ken Ham’s Ticket Sales

We were informed about this by one of our clandestine operatives, code-named Blue Grass. It’s in the Lexington Herald-Leader of Lexington, Kentucky, the second-largest city in the state, and they have a comments section. Their headline is Ark Encounter owners ‘blindsided’ by new tax that could raise ticket prices. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The proprietors of a gigantic wooden Noah’s Ark in Williamstown are steamed about a new “safety assessment” tax that will collect 50 cents for every admission ticket sold, according to the Grant County News.

They’re talking about Ark Encounter, the bizarre, land-locked “replica” of Noah’s Ark, the biblical tourist attraction run by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia. The Lexington Herald-Leader continues:

Ark Encounter spokesman Mike Zovath told the newspaper that Ark officials will now have to consider raising ticket prices, which are $40 for adults and $28 for children.

Gasp — this is an outrage! How can the city tax Hambo’s ticket sales? He’s the world’s holiest man, who knows more about religion and science than everyone else, and he’s accustomed to receiving benefits from governments, not paying for them. As we reported in Kentucky Newspaper Turns Against Hambo’s Ark:

The city of Williamstown agreed to a 75 percent break on property taxes for 30 years and a $62 million bond issue. The Grant County Industrial Development Authority gave the park $200,000 plus 100 acres of land at a reduced price. The state has promised $11 million in road improvements for the park’s benefit.

After all that generosity, now the city is trying to extract money from Hambo. We’re shocked — shocked! Let’s read some more about this tax situation:

“I can understand … how they decided to justify the tax, but the lack of transparency between the city council and mayor and the Ark Encounter is what’s really disturbing,” Zovath told the Grant County News. “We’ve been trying to work with the city and work with the mayor to do everything we can to help improve Williamstown, and to get blindsided like this was really a surprise.”

They were blindsided! How could the city do this to Hambo? Hey — savor the way the newspaper’s next paragraph is worded. We’ll put the fun phrases in bold font:

The $100 million theme park opened last July with what creators say is a life-size depiction of the boat that Noah and his family would have traveled on during a biblical flood, including dinosaurs they claim existed at the same time. Ark officials have predicted attendance of 600,000 visitors in the first year.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Then the newspaper says:

Williamstown Mayor Rick Skinner said the fee will help upgrade the city’s emergency equipment, which might need to be used at Ark Encounter, or the other businesses affected by the tax, the Williamstown Family Fun Park.

Why would Hambo’s operation ever need emergency equipment? With all the holiness surrounding the place, there should never be any problems there. The city should pay Hambo fifty cents for every person who buys a ticket to visit the ark.

The newspaper’s last paragraph is also a zinger:

Grant County is facing a severe budget crisis, partly caused by issues at the county jail, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Although the state, county and city governments put together a generous package of incentives for Ark Encounter, it’s not clear how much revenue the attraction is bringing to Williamstown.

Jail problems? Nonsense! With all the goodness overflowing from Hambo’s divinely inspired tourist attraction, they shouldn’t even need a jail. This is a ridiculous situation! What Hambo ought to do is pack up and float his ark to a more congenial location.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Creationist Wisdom #762: In the Beginning

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Cornwall Standard Freeholder of Cornwall, Ontario. It’s titled It is finished. The newspaper has no comments section.

Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. His first name is Brian. His full name is the same name as that of a British author, but it’s probably not the same man. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

I couldn’t let Ken MacLennan’s letter pass without challenge. His alternate facts would be worthy of Donald Trump himself.

Brian is talking about the last of several letters at this link: Letters to the editor, April 8, 2017 . It says:

The Catholic Church is to be congratulated for being proactive in accepting the big bang theory for the evolution of the universe – the church has its own science observatory – and the evolution of man primarily by the carbon atom created by the supernovae of massive stars. The church has also been honest in acknowledging that Genesis was not science, and that the Bible is the words of men 2,000 years ago.


If the church also accepts my recommendation to provide a new theology worshipping those great thinkers that created the technology and understanding of the modern world, the church would become more relevant to believers. The offerings would continue to flow.

Brian is outraged, and he explains why:

The great men of science, who he suggests we worship, used science only to describe the world we see around us. Their science has nothing to say about how anything got here. Newton described gravity. The fact he found gravity to be rationally intelligible strengthened his belief there was an intelligence causing it.

Aha! Newton thought gravity was evidence of intelligent design. But Newton isn’t Brian’s only authority: He tells us:

In the last 50 years or so, scientific knowledge has grown greatly. Rather than replacing God, science has shown there must be an intelligent force behind the world we see.

Yes — everything is evidence of intelligent design. Brian is just getting started: He gives us more evidence:

We now know there are dozens of physical constants in science that have been exquisitely fine-tuned to allow the universe and life to exist.

The universe is fine tuned! That means there’s a Fine Tuner! And here’s more:

Arno Penzas [sic], who made the brilliant discovery of the cosmic background microwave radiation, says: “astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with a very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the right conditions to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say “supernatural”) plan.”

We found that Penzias quote at a couple of creationist websites. Brian continues:

Darwin thought the simplest form of life was blob of protoplasm with a simple nucleus. That was his starting point for evolution. We now know the simplest bacteria is a microminiaturized factory with thousands of molecular machines made up of 100 thousand million atoms — far more complex than any machine made by man. There is no natural theory as to how the first life started. Darwinian evolution has no starting point.

Darwin had no starting point, but Brian does! Let’s read on:

In the beginning, God. All things have been made through him. God sent his son to pay the sin-debt of fallen men and women. … Even Richard Dawkins, atheist-in-chief, agrees there is no ancient historian who doubts the existence of Jesus Christ. Everything that is was made by him.

Wowie — even Dawkins agrees with Brian. The letter ends with a thrilling climax:

At Easter we remember his victory over death. It is finished. Look to the cross. Look and live.

Well, dear reader, if that didn’t persuade you, then nothing will.

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Discoveroids Praise the Texas Science Standards

As we reported in Texas Science Standards Are Now Revised, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) revised its standards for the state’s high school science curriculum. The Discovery Institute had been furiously lobbying to retain the creationist nonsense that they got inserted into the Texas science standards back in 2009 — see Texas Science Chainsaw Massacre: It’s Over.

The new standards made some trivial changes, which some regarded as a victory, but we didn’t see it like that. We said:

This represents a “victory” in the sense that the creationists on the SBOE budged a little bit. The standards are improved, but still sleazy. A creationist teacher can still go wild while teaching evolution. We expect an interesting response from the Discoveroids.

The Discoveroids’ reaction has just been posted at their creationist blog: Despite Reports to the Contrary, Texas Preserves Language Calling for Critical Analysis of Evolution. It has no author’s by-line. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

On Friday, the Texas State Board of Education adopted streamlined science standards that preserve language calling for critical analysis of evolution. You wouldn’t know that fact from media coverage of the vote. A number of media outlets wrongly reported that the Board had dropped requirements for evolution to be critically examined in the classroom.

They quote Sarah Chaffee, Program Officer in Education and Public Policy at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture (“Savvy Sarah” to us), who remarked:

This vote marked an important achievement for Texans. The Board of Education decided to retain the requirement that students “analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations” in biology study. They also retained the call for critical inquiry on such topics as the origin of DNA — life’s code — the intricacies of the cell, natural selection, and other subjects relating to biodiversity and evolution. This ignites wonder, learning, and the excitement about objective investigation that is a hallmark of outstanding science education.

Most of the Discoveroid post gives the text of the new standards. You can click over there to read that if you like, but here’s what they say about it:

This language authorizes teachers to present mainstream scientific evidence both for and against [Huh?] evolutionary theory.

Isn’t that wonderful? Although there may have been some subtle changes the Discoveroids didn’t like, they appear pleased that they’ve preserved most of what they achieved back in 2009. The kiddies in Texas can continue to learn the evidence against evolution, which those wicked Darwinists have tried to keep hidden.

The bottom line is this: Texas is a creationist state, and their education officials generally do what the Discoveroids want them to do. Yes, the standards may not be quite as bad as they were, but they’re still bad — and the Discoveroids are delighted.

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A Lesson in Exotheology

There’s nothing new in The discovery of alien life may be close. How will religion survive it?, which appears in the UK’s Guardian, but it’s a good overview of the issues so it’s worthy of our attention. The article has already attracted over 1,100 comments.

It was written by Santhosh Mathew, about whom we’re told: “Santhosh Mathew is a math and physics professor at Regis College. He is also a freelance writer who tries to decode science for those with an aversion to it.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

About two decades ago, it was quite uncertain whether stars other than our own sun even hosted their own planets. However, according to Nasa, the latest count of confirmed exoplanets stands at around 3,500 – and at least six of them are potential Earths. This count will definitely go up and many researchers believe that the advancement of technology will enable humans to discover some form of life on another planet in the coming years.

We checked the NASA website at Planets Beyond Our Solar System. Their total is 3,475 extra-solar planets, of which 359 are are of terrestrial composition. They don’t say how many of those orbit within their star’s Goldilocks zone, or rather, the Circumstellar habitable zone. The last time we discussed this subject — see NASA’s Tally of Extra-Solar Planets — it was about 4%, which suggests that we’ve found at least a dozen worlds that are potentially Earth-like. Okay, back to the Guardian:

Understandably, these discoveries will kindle questions about Earth’s place in the universe. Moreover, contact with intelligent life elsewhere in the universe will present theological and philosophical conundrums that many religions will find deeply challenging. This is especially true for Christianity, which primarily focuses on humankind – and teaches us that God created man in his own image, and all other animals and plants were created for mankind.

The mainline denominations will be able to deal with it. They’ve all adjusted, albeit with some reluctance, to the continuing discoveries of science. It’s the creationist denominations that will in trouble. Santhosh Mathew says:

The core question would be, does God’s creation extend beyond a single planet? If so, would the inhabitants of those planets believe in the same gods as humans do? How could the creator of the universe deny the inhabitants of those worlds a chance to redeem their sins? Does that mean that God incarnated as Jesus in those worlds contrary to Bible teachings that say that the redemption in Christ was a unique event meant for humans on Earth?

Difficult questions — for those who worry about such things. Santhosh Mathew tells us:

You could make a very strong case for institutional religions surviving the discovery of alien planets and the ensuing tussle with exotheology – a term that describes theological issues as related to extraterrestrial intelligence.

Hey — we learned a new word! Moving along:

These institutions have always shown an amazing ability to remain relevant. Whenever they encounter a new paradigm shift, they come up with interpretations from scriptures that justify their own existence.

It’s fun to watch them squirm as they do it, however. The article continues:

For traditional religions and religious institutions, the desire to expand their material wealth and power has often take precedence over the spreading of theological doctrines. This has often led to a culture of exploitation, of both people and the planet. This perhaps explain why the Copernican revolution or Darwinism didn’t displace the religious order in a significant way in the past. The religious elite on Earth will derive the courage and determination to pursue their goals from this material world even if they are convinced of the existence of multiple universes that operate under different laws of physics.

Santhosh Mathew seems to have a cynical view of things, but it may be accurate. Let’s read on:

The triumph of these institutions is analogous to the audacity of organisms when facing challenges in nature. Religious institutions possess impressive survival skills, greater than individual human abilities. They also have their origins in personal and emotional needs – and for many, they will continue to offer those requirements.

Here’s the final paragraph:

So, how could we resolve the theory of many worlds and their many gods? We can be certain that earthly religions will not accommodate the alien gods. Perhaps we should turn to the astronomer Carl Sagan, who wrote in Cosmos: “Meanwhile, elsewhere there are an infinite number of other universes each with its own God dreaming the cosmic dream. It is said that men may not be the dreams of the Gods, but rather that the Gods are the dreams of men.”

So there you are — at least that’s Santhosh Mathew’s view of things. We think he’s right, religion will survive. But we’re more interested in those sects with views like ol’ Hambo’s — the ones that deny reality and insist on a literal interpretation of scripture (except for undeniably impossible things like flat-Earth). Will they survive? In due course, we’ll learn the answer.

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