Thursday, July 20, 2017

Taxes, Taxes, and Less Taxes . . . Or Will Kentucky Let Kennie Get Away With It?

Many years ago, at least in New York State, when you sold a car, you had to pay sales tax on the amount of the sale.  What happened over time was that sales not involving a dealer, often within families, was selling a car for $1.00 from one owner to the next.  The sales tax was just a few pennies on vehicles valued in the hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.  Of course eventually the lawmakers caught on and changed the rules.  You can still sell your car for $1, but when the new owner registers it, there's more paperwork involved and they will end up with a sales tax bill based on the book value of the vehicle, not the sale price.

Little kennie ham is trying a similar thing and I do so hope the people of Grant County KY won't let him get away with it.  In an effort to avoid paying a tax that will be used to improve emergency services, he's sold the land the Ark Park sits on to himself.  Yes, his for-profit business sold the land to one of his non-profit ministries, land valued at $48 million dollars, for $10.  Not $10 million, $10.00.  It's his latest tactic to avoid paying taxes.

His for-profit business is still running things, he's just trying to skate out of that emergency services tax.  Look, Kentucky, if you enjoy being screwed over, then just lay there and take it.  You want some sort of theocracy, well look carefully because you seem to be getting one, one that will pick your pocket with one hand while the other holds out a pan expecting donations.  Little kennie says something and the appearance is you run to serve him.  Aren't you getting tired of letting him make a mockery of you and your State?

Local officials are also worried that he will be able to use this dodge to get out of any and all taxes.  Look at the impact that will have on the local communities, particularly schools.  So kennie lies to you with promises of economic windfalls and jobs, takes millions in incentives and other benefits . . . and when you try and shore up your emergency services -- which, by the way, service kennie's ark park as well . . . he tries and end run to con his way out of that.

The fix is simple, give kennie his religious exemption from that tax and at the same exact time pull any and all local, county, and state incentives.  At the same time, send him a tax bill for the purchase of the land . . . not on the purchase price, but on the actual value.  If we can do it for cars, we sure as hell can do it for multi-million dollar pieces of property.

If that doesn't work, then I think we should all move to Kentucky, open our own ministry -- with a congregation of one.  Then sign over all property -- including any external paychecks -- to that ministry and avoid paying any kind of taxes.  We can demand all sorts of State and Local services without paying a pretty penny . . . and if anyone complains, slap them with a religious discrimination lawsuit!  After all, didn't John Oliver demonstrate how easy that can be?


Monday, July 17, 2017

'Weeding Out' Does Not Mean Actual Weeds -- Unless You Work For the Discovery Institute

As usual, the Discovery Institute can't seem to keep their stories straight.  Check out: "On Controversial Science, Skepticism Is Now “Social Deviance,” Skeptics Are “Weeds”"  That isn't what the 'offending' article said, but it did say we need to 'weed out' people who would fill roles in the wrong way.  Here's the quote the DI used:
"Requiring [mandatory evolution training] it though would, for one, provide teachers “with more confidence to teach evolution forthrightly,” they write, “even in communities where public opinion is sympathetic to creationism”; and two, it would help weed out creationists who want to teach high school biology by either converting them or encouraging them to “pursue other careers.”"
The DI's talking head, davey 'klingy' klinghoffer, responds with:
"Look, I wouldn’t want my kids taught creationism either, but the idea of casting human beings as “weeds” has an unhappy history."
Where does the first quote cast anyone as a weed?  The phrase 'weed out' does not do that!  It's an expression, and if klingy was being honest he would recognize it as such.  Weeding out, as defined by Merriam-Webster is:
": to remove (people or things that are not wanted) from a group.  'They will review the applications to weed out the less qualified candidates.' "
I 'weed out' things all the time.
  • Not too long ago it was a set of resumes, weeding out the ones who didn't have the required qualifications.  Sounds unfair, but when you have 100 resumes for 1 position, and most do not have any of the mandatory qualifications, you have to have some way of filtering through them because 100 interviews would be unwieldy.  Plus, why would you interview someone without a single qualification for a job?
  • I also 'weeded out' companies several years ago when I was looking for a new job.  Does that mean the other companies who made me an offer were weeds?  No, just not the best fit for me at that time.  Now the ones who didn't make me an offer . . . oh never mind :-), just teasing.
  •  In addition I 'weeded out' software application frameworks when we were looking for one for a new application.  There are plenty of frameworks, but only a few were serious contenders.  How much time were we supposed to waste on frameworks that can't possibly meet our needs?
Somehow I managed to do all that 'weeding out' without characterizing a single person, company, or product as a 'weed' -- something apparently beyond klingy's abilities.  So if I was looking for someone who could differentiate between an expression and a literal label, I guess I could weed out klingy!

Back to the example actually mentioned in the first quote and not klingy trying to drag us into the weeds of obfuscation, is the very idea of a Creationist teaching biology.  It's probably a bad idea if, and only if, the teacher would insist on teaching religion instead of actual biology.  Being a Creationist doesn't make you unable to do a job, but refusing to actually do the job certainly makes you unwilling to do the job and you should be held accountable -- as Abraham, Coppedge, and Freshwater, among others, found out.

Just because the article used the term 'weeding out' doesn't mean people who are skeptical of evolution are weeds.  The DI even had to stretch the story by a quote from 1924 to try and make their case.  As usual, they are quote-mining a dead horse.  There have been a number of 'weed' quotes attributed to Margaret Sanger, and according to Snopes.com, nearly all of them are crap.  They found that she may have used the term, but metaphorically, not literally.  I noticed he didn't complain that Sanger may have called American Youth 'flowers'?  Yes, Sanger was a controversial figure in her day, even today.  But this little maybe 'quote' is just another tactic, trying to tie actual science to someone controversial.  You might have noticed that klingy also brought in the Nazi's  . . . again.  Don't they get tired of this sort of nonsense?  Anyone else want to hazard a guess why no one takes klingy, or the Discovery Institute, seriously?  One reason might be writings like this.

But, as usual, the DI misses the point and tried to spin it into something it's not.  Skepticism and Denial-ism are two separate things.  People who are skeptical question, consider, and usually think about the subject at hand.  Deniers deny, regardless of the evidence in front of them.

A couple of year back, we discussed 'skepticism' before in "Skeptics vs Deniers, is there a difference?" in response to the NY Times article where they stopped using the term 'climate skeptic' and started using 'climate deniers' and we determined there is a difference, and it's not a subtle one.  A skeptic will be convinced when faced with the actual evidence of whatever they are skeptical about.  A denier will never be convinced, no matter what evidence is placed before them and if they have to go look for themselves, you know they will rarely make the effort.  It's easier to deny than face the possibility you are wrong.  You see it in anti-vaxxers, climate change deniers, and most certainly in evolution deniers.

For example, I was skeptical that 'sushi' will be something good to eat, until I actually tried a pretty wide variety of sushi -- Thanks Cathy -- and came to the conclusion I didn't like it.  The vinegar-tasting rice needed something to cut that taste, plus the texture of most raw seafood wasn't to my liking.  While the California Roll wasn't bad, if we go to any restaurants that offer sushi, I make sure it has a wider menu than just sushi or sashimi.  I was a skeptic, now I am simply not a fan.  Denial-ism doesn't work that way.

A denier, most likely, wouldn't have given sushi a try -- even if they had, they would come out of the place not being skeptical, but actively not wanting other people to have a chance to even try it.  A denier wants to make the decision for everyone!  Look at anti-vaxxers whose refusal to allow their kids to be vaccinated while ignoring the risk to hurting other children!  Evidence of the success of vaccinations means nothing to a vaccination denier.

Referring to a denier as a 'social deviant', especially within the context the term was used is entirely appropriate.  It takes an Intelligent Design proponent to cast such aspersions as comparing them to prostitute and other criminals.  But let's look at the whole Wikipedia quote:
"Social deviants"—prostitutes, vagrants, alcoholics, drug addicts, open dissidents, pacifists, draft resisters and common criminals—were also imprisoned in concentration camps. The common criminals frequently became Kapos, inmate guards of fellow prisoners."
Did klingy forget to mention this quote was at the very end of the Wikipedia page on Holocaust Victims?  Of course not, that wouldn't play well.  This example of 'social deviants' is not a denier of scientific consensus, but anyone the Nazi's didn't like as an afterthought more than anyone else.  Only an intelligent design proponent would try and equate this to science denial.

Look at the Discovery Institute, they have gone well past the idea of skepticism, they are active science deniers of the highest order.  Not only do they deny the evidence supporting real science, but they keep trying to pretend they are scientists and want to insert their religious beliefs into the science classroom.  Failing that, their most current tactic is to offer political protection to teachers who do manage to teach their religious beliefs instead of the actual science they are supposed to be teaching.  The DI is not just skeptical of evolution, they deny it over and over again while trying to hide their religious agenda.

Why is this important?  Simple, skepticism can be addressed by actually examining the evidence.  Once you face the evidence, further refusals put you in denial, and denial-ism is dangerous.  Not only are deniers of science seeking political protection for their own views, their views can cause actual harm.  The most common example are the anti-vaxxers.  Evidence, again, shows over and over again that failing to have your children vaccinated results in increasing cases of preventable diseases -- occurring not just in the un-vaccinated children, but the vaccinated who interact with them.  Vaccinated children are less likely to develop the disease, but vaccination is not immunity.

One of my favorite bloggers, and biology teachers, Allison Campbell, wrote up this just recently: "1896, and the consequences of refusing the smallpox vaccine".  It's a prime example of dealing with skeptics, deniers won't change their mind, even if they bother to read it.  They already have all the answers they need, regardless of the human consequences.  Like all deniers, the DI doesn't care about the human consequences, as long as their religion wins the day.

Denials of evolution impact the environment, medicines, and medical treatments -- all well supported by the science of evolution!  Climate denial has resulted in a significant delay of examining possible methods for dealing with a potentially catastrophic problem -- one supported by all the evidence, unless your research is funding by an oil company.  Tobacco deniers caused million of dollars in medical costs, not to mention deaths, due to denying the dangers of tobacco for decades.  Gasoline lead-additive deniers also cost countless dollars in medical costs and deaths, even if we didn't call them deniers over the 40 year fight to get the lead out!  Science denial kills real people, not nearly as much as religion has over the centuries, but that's another discussion the DI keeps trying to avoid.

Skepticism is a rational response to validate the information before adopting it, but once you have been presented with the information, you are no longer a skeptic if you continue to argue against it, you are a denier, and your actions end up affecting much more than yourself.  Education is the key to dealing with skeptics, I'm not sure what the best way to deal with deniers may be, but, if history is any example, eventually deniers as a group discover how wrong they have been.  Oh, there will always be a few whining that cigarettes aren't harmful and lead in gasoline doesn't hurt anyone, but, for the most part, they get relegated to the crackpot status, like flat-earthers.  One day we will be able to look back and laugh even harder at folks like klingy.  In the meantime, I'll just laugh my normal laugh when I see he's made another post trying to muddy the waters.

BTW, klingy, 'muddy the waters' is another expression, you might look it up.  I haven't actually been casting dirt in water and stirring it up.  

Saturday, July 15, 2017

We Will Continue To Speak the Truth about Intelligent Design!

The Discovery Institute's (DI) Evolution 'news' and Views site has a new post, it's from davey 'klingy' klinghoffer and it sounds as if he's pissed!  "Say What You Want About Intelligent Design"  Davey is repeating a common theme, he doesn't like what people say about Intelligent Design (ID).  Poor davey!

"Literally, say whatever the hell you want. You can say things that are true. Or you can say things that are false. Either is fine, but with most mainstream media outlets, false is likely preferable.Writing at the slick science magazine Nautilus, Brian Gallagher demonstrates yet again that there is no accountability when criticizing ID is on the agenda. He tries to draw a line connecting last month’s story about Turkey eliminating evolution from 9th grade science class, with “fundamentalist” Christianity, with creationism, with intelligent design, and with academic freedom legislation."
I haven't yet read the article that offended davey so deeply, I will, but for now I wanted to focus in on his complaints.  One of the things we have discussed often is how the DI doesn't like you much unless you agree completely with their agenda and parrot their own words often.  For example, they don't like Wikipedia much because Wikipedia insists on not allowing them to define Intelligent Design as science.  They don't like the United Methodist Church because they refused to give into the DI's demand for a propaganda table at the UMC's general meeting.  They didn't like the "March for Science" because they didn't invite the DI, and when they tried to invite themselves, the March for Science folks reminded the DI that they were not a scientific organization.  I don't think they like the Vatican very much because they didn't get invited to a Vatican-sponsored conference on Darwin back in 2009.  The basic bottom line seems to be either you are on their side, or you are the enemy.  Well I guess they found another enemy.

So is Nature reporting things that are not true?  I don't believe so.  The moniker of 'false news' has become very popular lately, but just declaring, or insinuating, something is false news doesn't mean it actually is false.  Just read most of a certain hamster-haired serial misogynist and liar's tweets about all news organizations except for the extreme right and you will understand that calling something 'false news' really means they wrote something you didn't like -- not that their news is actually false!

One of davey's whine is how ID is defined, but the definition keeps changing, as noted in "Surprise! The definition of ID has 'evolved'"  It seems that one of the tactics that the DI uses is to complain about how ID is characterized -- even though they have yet to establish a formal definition and explanation of ID.  It's like they refuse to allow themselves to be pinned down, and therefore can complain about someone anytime they say something that isn't immediately supportive and positive.

Do you think a line can be drawn between Turkey dropping Evolution from their school curriculum and the activities of fundamentalist Christians, what I usually call Evangelical Christians, who are trying to do the exact same thing?  Of course you can!  Religious groups in Turkey are doing what people like kennie ham, Texas' Don McLeroy, Ohio's Deborah Owens Fink, and South Carolina's Kristin Maguire would love to do -- remake the entire school curriculum, from pre-school through college, in the conservative Christian image -- regardless of your actual religious beliefs, or lack of them.  Destroy science, history, and any subject that fails to put their version of God as the correct answer to any and all questions.  You can agree or disagree, but when you look at the facts of the actions these folks -- and others -- have taken, that is exactly what they want.

OK, so we have two points, can we extend that line to Creationism?  I believe so.

Who have been ardent supporters of their religion being the basis for education in this country?  Who have been arguing against any subject, particularly evolution, that they claim undermines their religious beliefs?  If you look at folks like McLeroy, Owens Fink, and Maguire you will find they are Creationists.  They were pushing for the addition of Creationism for years and only switched to ID as a tactic.  It's not just them, it was the school board in Dover PA which lead to the Kitzmiller et al v. Dover School Board trial which was so devastating to the ID movement.  It was groups that led up to many, if not all, of the lawsuits that results in religion being removed from the science classroom, at least in public schools.  'Creationist' is the modern term, but there have been other names for them.  What it boils down to is the actions, and their actions are to impose their religious beliefs on any and all students regardless of whether those beliefs are shared or even if those beliefs mean anything.  Think I am stretching here, well then tell me how science works when all you have to rely on is your religious beliefs?  How many diseases have been cured, how many scientific breakthroughs have been accomplished through religious beliefs?  Doesn't look like any of them, does it?

So we've stretched a line from Turkey through Fundamentalist Christianity to Creationism, next stop Intelligent Design. Anyone remember this post: "Does Anyone Actually Believe the Discovery Institute when They say They are not Advocating Teaching Intelligent Design?".  How about a few highlights:
  • A 'Teacher Training Program' as part of the DI's 'Publicity and Opinion-making' phase. ( (Wedge Strategy Document, Phase II, page 6)" 
  • "We will also pursue possible legal assistance in response to resistance to the integration of design theory in public school science curricula. (Wedge Strategy Document, Phase III, page 7)" 
  • "The Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center . . . to promoting intelligent design theory . . . among students, educators, . . . and anyone else interested.
  • Our primary focus is to help students form "IDEA Clubs" on university and high school campuses to expand the dialogue over intelligent design" (IDEA Club Website
  • In Texas where they were 'advising' the Creationist head of the state school board on public school curricula and textbooks. 
  • To their own website with: 
Yes, we can connect all of this into one long line and ending at their current activities, what they like to call their Academic Freedom bills, bills which have absolutely nothing to do with academic freedom.  Here is how those bills are described in Wikipedia:
"A number of anti-evolution bills have been introduced in the United States Congress and State legislatures since 2001. Purporting to support academic freedom, supporters have contended that teachers, students, and college professors face intimidation and retaliation when discussing scientific criticisms of evolution, and therefore require protection. Critics of the legislation have pointed out that there are no credible scientific critiques of evolution. An investigation in Florida of the allegations of intimidation and retaliation found no evidence that it had occurred."
Anti-evolution, purported to support academic freedom, asking for protection against actions that have never happened.  Just another tactic of deceit from the DI.  Look at each and evey action they claim is a form of intimidation and you will find a teacher failing to do their job.  Look for yourself, but avoid the DI's propaganda machine.  The ones they mention most often are:
  • Crocker's contract was up and she was not re-hired partly because she was failing to teach the subject she was hired to teach -- science. 
  • Gonzalez was not given tenure because he failed in his responsibilities as a professor with graduate students after 7 years in the job. Seven years and only one completed graduate student and hardly any research funding. Very poor showing for a tenure seeking professor! But he was not fired. 
  • Sternberg was the already outgoing editor of a minor biological journal who, on his way out the door, violated the journals review procedure to publish one of his friend's ID paper, and now he works for that same friend at the DI. 
  • Freshwater was fired for a number of things including failing to do his job, lying to investigators, trying to get his students to lie for him, and burning crosses into kids arms. He tried to take his case all the way to the US Supreme Court, after failing at all the other levels. It didn't work. 
  • Coppedge was simply downsized and tried to turn it into a religious discrimination suit and failed. Of course he looked pretty bad when all the evidence showed that he was a poor employee (there were complaints), liked to preach his religion to his co-workers (there were more complaints), and refused to keep his skills current.
It is not intimidation to hold people accountable for the job they were hired to do!  Those so-called 'academic freedom' bills are designed to not allow schools to hold them accountable.  Imagine a school who cannot fire a teacher who was hired to teach biology and is found to be teaching religion instead?  Such bills will prevent schools from taking action . . . we have real problems in our education system, protecting those failing to perform is not going to help!

One last quote from davey:
"He repeats the myth about ID as “rebranded” creationism. Hardly. One is an inference from science, the other from the Bible. That’s a big difference. One regards the great age of the Earth, reckoned in billions of years, with equanimity and is open to the idea of common descent. The other doesn’t and isn’t."
Here is where davey plays a little redefinition with Creationism.  He tends to forget that not all Creationists are what are called Young Earth Creationists (YEC), but that's one of his criteria trying to convince people that ID isn't Creationism.  But the age of the Earth and common descent are not the common theme that connects Creationism, regardless of what specific strain you might follow.  Here's a common definition:
"Creationism is the religious belief that the universe and life originated "from specific acts of divine creation," as opposed to the scientific conclusion that they came about through natural processes." (Wikipedia: Creationism)
Anything in there on common descent or the age of the Earth?  Nope!  There are many varieties of Creationism, but they all share this belief that everything originated through the actions of a deity and not natural processes.  For comparison, ID proponents claim that:
"certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." (Wikipedia: Intelligent Design)
Notice anything similar?  Without offering any evidence, they make a claim that natural processes couldn't be responsible.  The only difference is that they hide their references to a deity.  This is a tactic, and their own guiding document, the Wedge Document, also called the Wedge Strategy.  It's the game plan used by ID proponents and it specifically calls for:
"To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God"
That's in the opening paragraph.  So while ID proponents like to hide their allegiance to a deity, they don't hide it very well.  So in reality, it's not Brian Gallagher who is repeating a myth about ID being 'rebranded Creationism', but davey himself that is telling the myth, the myth that ID is not the same thing as Creationism!

So just looking at davey's whine doesn't seem to much  any sense.  It's just the usual vitriol aimed at something who calls them, not only like they see them, but like they are.  Nature and Brian Gallagher are simply telling the truth, but it's a truth that the DI has been trying to hide for years.

Friday, July 14, 2017

You Cannot Have It Both Ways!

Either you are a religious ministry, or you are a for-profit business, you cannot be both.

As we have discussed before, little kennie ham, the purveyor of the ark park, creation pseudo-museum, and Answer in Genesis ministries, is whining about a $0.50 tax on his ark park tickets, a tax that will be used to upgrade Grant County emergency services -- services he may one day need, if he hasn't used them already.  We are talking police, fire, an ambulance services . . ..  He's asked for, and so far been refused, a religious exemption from the tax.  He's hinting at a lawsuit.

Since the whole purpose of the ark park is religious, I agree he should be exempt from the tax . . . . however . . . and you just knew there was going to be a however.

However, his ark park does a 60% rebate on sales tax collected from the ark park among other incentives -- incentives for being a for-profit business . . . incentives not available to non-profit religious ministries.  The sales tax rebate was applied for and approved because the ark park is a for-profit business.  If it's just the ticket prices, and with each ticket costing $40, that's means the 6% sales tax collect for each ticket is $2.40.  Since the unofficial reports put little kennie's ark park drawing in just under 1 million visitors in it's first year, that means he's collected just under $2.4 million dollars in sales tax.  His 60% rebate will net him $1.44 million dollars of that.  That's just on ticket prices.  If it's also on all the food and novelty items sold, that number could be considerable higher.

But that's not all his for-profit park received (from: What Ken Ham Isn’t Telling You About Ark Encounter Funding):

  • The majority of Ark Encounter is being funded by an interest-free Taxed Incremental Funding grant from the City of Williamstown, Kentucky. On November 1, 2012, a Memorandum of Agreement (begins on page 55) approving $62 million in funding for Ark Encounter, LLC was signed by officials of Williamstown and the County of Grant.  
    • It said that, over a 30-year period, 75% of Ark Encounter’s real estate taxes would go toward repayment of the interest-free TIF. 
    • So instead of that money going to the city (and the citizens), it’ll be used to repay those bonds.
    • You can view the bond issued by The City of Williamstown to Ark Encounter here and here.
  • All employees working within the TIF district (that is, Ark Encounter) will pay a 2% job assessment fee on gross wages. In other words, $2 out of every pre-tax $100 dollars you make will go directly to paying off the for-profit Noah’s Ark attraction.
  • According to Section VIII of the Memorandum of Agreement, in addition to the $62 million, the city and county agreed to other incentives (courtesy of local taxpayers):
    • $175,000 would be given to Ark Encounter to reimburse the amount they felt the property was overvalued.
    • $19,000 would go to Ark Encounter’s real estate agent, representing 2% of the total purchase price of the land.
    • 98 acres of Grant County land would be sold to Ark Encounter for $1 (yes, one dollar).
So, in my opinion, grant kennie his exemption for the emergency services tax, but pull any and all public support for his ministry, including the sales tax rebate.  It's a simple issue, either the ark park is a religious ministry and deserves the exemption or it is a for-profit business and deserves the various incentives.

If little kennie wants to keep all those other incentives and tax breaks, then he should also stop discriminating from local citizens when it comes to hiring.  He promised thousands of jobs, and while he has added several hundred, they only go to people who believe the same foolishness as little kennie.  That's called discrimination and should not be allowed by a public for-profit business who is receiving state and local incentives!

So little kennie 'Marie Antoinette' ham, you cannot have it both ways.  Are you a for profit business or are you a non-profit ministry?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Occam's Razor Meet the Incredible Contortions of the Theistic Mind

Granville Sewell, a semi-regular contributor to the Discovery Institute's Evolution 'news' and Views (EnV) site has this little gem: "The Biggest Theological Objection to Design", it's a long read and follows a pretty winding road.  The bottom line is yet another rationalization as to the existence of evil in the world.

One of the many arguments against a deity, or maybe I should say one of the religious arguments against a deity, can be summed up in one line "Why do bad things happen to good people".  It's an argument that gets addresses pretty regularly because nothing strains a theistic belief like a catastrophe.  Be it a serious illness, a death of a loved on, or some other crisis that a theist believes should not befall them because, after all, they have been doing all the theistic-ally-correct things.  They believe, donate to their church, pray regularly, praise their version of a deity, try and bring in converts . . . you know, usual stuff theists do.  So why do bad things happen to those 'good' people?

A corollary is something we've discussed a number of times, why aren't all theists wealthy?  I mean with all the people who contribute to prosperity gospel evangelists and their billion dollar lifestyle, and get promises of wealth and financial security in return.  Why aren't all of those prayers answered?  See a trend here?

Here is where Granville's post starts getting crazy.  First off, the title, is this question really biggest theological challenge to Design?  There I have to disagree, I think it's the biggest question about religion, not just a design argument. . . since Granville claims ID is science:

"So while ID really is science, not theology,"
I do have to ask, if Intelligent Design (ID) is science, why does a theological challenge matter?  Look at history.  Theological challenges to real science are normally ignored, even the Creationism attacking Evolution was pretty much ignored until it started impacting actual science education.  Why does Granville need to address a theological challenge to something he claims is science? Unless when he says 'design', he's not talking about ID?

Granville uses the term 'design', not 'Intelligent Design', so I  wasn't sure if he's really making some sort of demarcation, but since his also says 
" . . . the absurdity of the Darwinist attempt to explain away the obvious design in Nature . . ."
I have to assume he is talking ID, particular since this line is the common fallback position of ID 'theorists'.  So that being settled, when Granville says 'design' he's talking about ID and all the baggage ID brings with it . . . especially it's religion -- so maybe Granville isn't being totally honest about ID being science?

I do find it hard to believe that this is the biggest theological challenge to ID because most theists do not subscribe to ID.  There are many reasons they haven't drank the DI's kool-aid, one of the ones I hear most often is the DI's own efforts to divorce their ID argument from their religious beliefs.  Many of the believers in ID frequently wink-and-nod when anyone claims ID is science, they know better.  After all, even with a couple of decades plus of effort, the DI has never been able to hide their religious beliefs -- books and articles are either self-published or religious imprints, meetings and conferences are at religious schools and churches, or hosted by campus ministries . . . We've talked many times about how hard it is for the DI to divorce itself from its religion, impossible as of yet.  To perform such an exorcism, they would have to produce some actual science, maybe that's what Granville is going to do?

But since he thinks this religious argument is so important, let's take a peek:
"A wonderful little article in UpReach (Nov.-Dec. 1984). by Batsell Barrett Baxter, entitled “Is God Really Good?” contains some insights into the “problem of pain,” as C.S. Lewis calls it, which I have found very useful. I will follow Baxter’s outline in presenting my own thoughts on this question, and I would like to begin with his conclusion: “As I have faced the tragedy of evil in our world and have tried to analyze its origin, I have come to the conclusion that it was an inevitable accompaniment of our greatest blessings and benefits.” "
So . . . bad things happen as an accompaniment to our greatest blessings and benefits?  So in other words we deserve the bad things that happen because without them we could never understand, or appreciate, the good?  That makes very little sense.  I love my wife, but to understand or appreciate, I have to hate others or have others hate me?  If that were true, then wouldn't the bad things be proportional to the good?  Wouldn't it also make sense that the bad things wouldn't happen to a child because a child has little appreciation for the good?  It doesn't add up, but adding up isn't Granville's desire, rationalization is.  Look at the wording:
"The laws of Nature which God has made work together to create a magnificent world of mountains and rivers, jungles and waterfalls, oceans and forests, animals and plants. The basic laws of physics are cleverly designed to create conditions on Earth suitable for human life and human development. "
He's making an argument that hinges of the laws of nature and the laws of physics being a product of the actions of a deity.  Without that, his whole premise falls apart.  Does he offer any support for that statement?  Nothing but the ordinary ID wishful thinking.  He presents it as if it is a foregone conclusion -- but it only is to someone who already shares his belief set.  It's not a valid conclusion because the theists accept it on faith, no support needed.  Everyone else look for the support and finds nothing.  It's like he's building a pyramidal house of cards, only upside down the everything rests on two cards. But there's nothing under those two cards, it's all belief, faith, acceptance without support.  How can he really believe that ID is science when the rest of his post deals with nothing but religion?

Of course, there is the usual argument of blaming the people themselves, the 'free will' argument.  It seems to be a common fallback.  Granville sums up that part of his post with this:
"Again we conclude that evil and unhappiness are the inevitable by-products of one of our most priceless blessings: our human free will."
Yes, 'free will' and like his natural world argument he starts from the premise that this is something granted by a deity.  But this doesn't explain many of the causes of unhappiness or the things we characterize as 'evil'.  Yes, much of our unhappiness can be traced to decisions made by other people -- the bully, the abusive parent, the drunk driver . . . but who decides a mother of two will get cancer; metal fatigue causes a car wreck; tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes cause so much devastation and loss of life; or winds bringing down a plane full of people?  How does human free will fit those catastrophic scenarios?  I know, people like little kennie ham (owner of three Kentucky ministries) say that all disease and bad things are due to human failings and sin, particularly where a certain apple is involved.  But, once again, we are down to Granville's religious belief, not science, not design, but belief.  Is it reasonable  to believe my transgression against some religious rule brought about cancer in a women half-a-world away?

You can read the whole post, after all you have free will , but you will more than likely find what I found.  Granville arguing in favor of his religious beliefs.  Without those beliefs, his arguments, even the ones he quoted from others, fall meaningless to the ground.  It feels more like he's looking an excuse to justify the bad things and use them to rationalize his religious beliefs.

When the only tool in your toolbox is Rationalization, then that's what you tend to do.  I think I mentioned this story once before in an older post, but it bears repeating:
A man was sitting in his easy chair watching a baseball game. It was the bottom of the ninth, two outs, based loaded, and his team was down. Visually he was pretty much an Archie Bunker type. In fact you could easily picture Archie Bunker doing exactly this.

The announcer names the next batter, an African-American player and the man is livid. He goes on to proclaim the game to be over and how the next batter is a choker and can't handle the pressure of playing baseball all because of his race. . . you can easily picture this little bout of verbal diarrhea.

On the first swing of the bat the baseball the player hits it out of the park and wins the game.
The man now proclaims that the man was super-strong from all those years in the jungle.
Think about the mental gyrations that man had to go through, all to protect his prejudice in his own mind.  Granville reminds me of that story as well.  When there's no rational support, make some up . . . it's certainly easier than having to consider maybe your religious beliefs aren't all you want them to be.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

"It's Not My Fault" . . . The Gospel According to Little Kennie Ham

A few weeks ago little kennie ham, the purveyor of the Ark Park, Creation pseudo-museum, and Answers in Genesis ministries, was blaming atheists, particularly the 'secularists' for the failure of the ark park to bring his promises of economic success to Grant County, Ky.  You can read his post, "The Secularist Media War Against the Ark Continues", here is his opening paragraph:
"Recently, a number of articles in the mainstream media, on blogs, and on well-known secularist group websites have attempted to spread propaganda to brainwash the public into thinking our Ark Encounter attraction is a dismal failure. Sadly, they are influencing business investors and others in such a negative way that they may prevent Grant County, Kentucky, from achieving the economic recovery that its officials and residents have been seeking."
Little kennie, as usual, mis-represented things.  The secular media has not been reporting that his ark park is a dismal failure . . . what they have been reporting is his ark park has not been seen the promised economic success for the area surrounding his park, most notably Grant County, Ky.  Believe me, I would love to be able to report his ark park is a dismal failure . . . and educationally it certainly is . . . but apparently it has been bringing people into the area, apparently just people unwilling to spend much outside the ark park.  Little kennie promised economic benefits for the local area, but so far those promises have been unrealized.  So, as you can see by the above quote, kennie blamed Atheists.  But kennie is now casting the blame wider than just the secular media and atheist groups.

In a recent opinion piece by kennie, published by Cincinnati.com,  "Ham: Restaurants, hotels needed for Ark crowds" he has a new target to blame:
"For 2017–2018, Answers in Genesis (owner of both attractions) confidently predicts that the Ark will have even greater attendance than our excellent first year – provided, that is, we see more entrepreneurs building additional hotels to accommodate our visitors."
So let me get this straight.  The local area around the ark is complaining that the ark isn't bringing in the business they were promised.  First, kennie blames the 'secular' media for reporting about what the ark is (a ministry) and the ever shifting claims of attendance (both before and after the park opened), and the lack of financial benefit to the surrounding area.  Now he's blaming the local community for not building enough stuff to bring in people.  And, if you read this the way I have, if the local community doesn't do more, the ark park won't bring in even more people and it will be the fault of the local communities.  Doesn't that seem a bit off to you?

Most attractions see a drop-off in attendance following an opening period.  Most parks plan for such things because estimates forecast this drop pretty accurately -- it's based on experience, well most estimates except for kennie's. He's now predicting an increase . . . but he built himself a ready excuse and will heap even more blame on the local communities.  So when the usual drop-off in visitors starts happening, he already has a victim to blame.  Anyone else see something wrong here?

Let's look back for a bit.  Anyone been to Disneyland?  The one in California.  The first time I saw it in daylight, I was surprised how crowded everything was around it.  Hotels, restaurants, and even housing, sprang up right up against the property line of the park itself.   Now, the question . . . were those facilities there before the park?  No!  The area was mostly groves and farmland before the park, they sprang up in response to the park attendance.  Note the words 'in response'!

It's not those facilities that brought in the visitors, but the attractions.  But that's not how kennie sees it.  If the local area fails to provide more facilities, the ark park won't bring in the business.  However, that's not how it works, kennie.  You bring in the people and the response will be more and more facilities.  What you should be doing . . . and I feel really strange for saying it . . . is trying to attract more visitors.  Instead, you are whining about atheists and blaming the local community for not building facilities that may never get used.  Not a very effective way to attract visitors.

Real attractions are not one-hit wonders.  If you want staying power, you have to continually add and update your offerings.  But I can see kennie building another ark, maybe captained by Noah's little brother, Brian?  Sounds implausible, but if there is a line in the Bible kennie could use to represent the possibility of ark II, you know he will -- no matter how convoluted the connection might be.  After all, look what he did to the defenseless Bible with his pseudo-museum.

Little kennie might have learned that from the declining attendance to his pseudo-museum.  What I find funny is how quickly kennie re-writes recent history.  He said:
"Interestingly, a state-commissioned study predicted that if the Ark Encounter were a themed attraction featuring our creationist beliefs (and it does), it would draw 325,000 visitors the first year. The Ark reached that figure in less than three months."
However, that's not exactly a lie, but it's not the whole story either.  Several years before the ark park was built, a separate study was done and made the estimate kennie quoted.  But kennie's own estimates were over 2.2 million a year -- which was later changed to 2.2 million visitors in the first year, which was later changed again to between 1.4 to 2.2 million in the first year.

He's coming up on his first anniversary and apparently thinks he'll hit 1 million sometime in July.  Of course, we have no firm figures, kennie isn't saying anything officially -- wonder why?  He like to wave that alternative report around for a couple of reasons.  I think he's hoping you will forget the 2.2 million visitors a years estimate -- and also because beating that several year-old estimate certainly sounds better than having to say he failed to reach 50% of his own estimate, or that he failed to reach his lower revised estimate, or admit that he has failed on his promises (jobs and economic success) to the local community!

In other words, kennie isn't being overly honest.  But what can you expect after he reneged on his promise to comply with hiring laws and now discriminates against people who don't share his narrow religious view in making hiring decisions . . . which means the majority of the people who live around the park cannot work at the park.  His little ark park ministry has also failed to have the several thousand job openings that he said it would as well.  But since he screwed them out of jobs, it seems only fitting that he blames them for his failure to deliver on any of his promises.

My issue with the ark park has little to do with attendance or even money.  My issue is that it is a ministry . . . it's not any of the other things he keep trying to claim it is . . . it was not intended as a tourist attraction, an educational attraction, nor an entertainment attraction -- it's a ministry!  He's used those other terms now and again when marketing his ministry, especially when he wanted state aid in building this particular monument to his ego.  It's a ministry and it will only appeal to a small part of the world's population.  Once they've seen it, repeat business will be very limited . . . as kennie found with his pseudo-museum.  Adding zip lines isn't going to be a great help, they weren't when he added them to his pseudo-museum.  Seriously who is going to visit the ark, and pay $40 per person, to go zip lining?

No, attendance will most likely go down, and kennie is just lining up others to blame.  After all, it's not his fault that he over-promised and failed to deliver, is it?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Dogs and Wolves are Similar and Different . . . So?

Enough picking on little kennie ham and his less-than-stellar ark park (for now).  What has the Discovery Institute (DI) been up to lately.  The DI claims Dogs are not an example of evolution at all . . . but de-evolution, or as they put it:

"the “evolution” of dogs from wolves “represents no increase in [biological] information but rather a decrease or loss of function on the genetic and anatomical levels” "
This is briefly described in "No, Your Dog Is Not a Barking Exemplar of Macroevolution".  Well, aside from the obvious information argument, which they have failed to support with anything resembling evidence -- and the whole nonsense about 'macro-evolution', we've also addressed this foolish idea of decreasing or losing genetic or anatomical levels.

Here is what they are up to . . . if they can convince you that this unexplained concept of 'information' increases or decreases has any validity, then you are more likely to buy into their arguments about evolution.  But wouldn't it be prudent of them to define this concept of 'information', and frame it on how they apply it?  But they never do.  So let's briefly look at what they have said here.  In my opinion it's making an apple to orangutan comparison and trying to sell it to you.

When comparing wolves and dogs, the DI used two arguments, one they are claiming there is no increase in biological information.  The second they are claiming a decrease, or loss, of function on a genetic and anatomical level.  Here's the kicker, are they really making a point?  Let's look at this . . . are wolves and dogs different?  Yes!  I think we can all agree with that.  Now . . . if they are different, doesn't that mean there are differences in biological 'information'?  I'm not talking increases or decreases, just differences.  Next step, by what standard to we classify increases or decreases in biological 'information'?

Ah, there's the rub.  There is no 'level' of biological information.  There is no way to measure such a change without some sort of scale, and science hasn't developed one . . . the DI sure as hell hasn't either.  This idea of increases and decreases in biological 'information' is an imaginary one folks like the DI use to sound all scientific, but first they have to support it, which they never do.

As for the 'idea' that dogs have lost anything, have they?  Dogs are different from wolves, that's the best they seem to have.  They are raised in a different environment and we have been selecting certain traits for centuries.  Is it a loss or just a change?  The DI is always trying to quantify things are positive or negative, but that's nothing but unsupported opinion.

If you read the post, you know one of their 'key' pieces of evidence was this:
"One problem with this, among others, is that the virtue we value most in our dogs – the ability to form relationships with humans – appears to be no product of their evolution. At least it did not evolve from scratch. Dogs have it, but so, in their way, do wolves."
OK, DI, two things, you say 'in their way' -- which tells me while dogs and wolves share a similar ability, it is not identical.  Not identical means it's changed . . . how did this change occur?  Could it be from the selective breeding humans have been doing for generations?  Since the characteristics are not identical, there is a difference that is expressed functional and also genetically.  Again, the opinion of it being a gain or a loss is subjective to your point of view.  The evolutionary key is the change.

Second question for the DI, is didn't you simply just sidestep the real question.  After all -- where did wolves get their ability to form bonds?  You know, that ability that has been changed in modern dogs through selective breeding, or as Darwin called it 'Artificial Selection'?  So claiming there isn't any 'information' increase or decrease is immaterial because not only hasn't the DI explained their concept of 'information' and they have yet to apply it except in the most sweeping of generalizations.

So DI, there is the challenge, explain information and how you categorized the information content of wolves and applied it to dogs.  Measure it, I dare you!  Then let real scientists see not only your conclusions, but your methodology.  Yea, I know, you have never had anything that could be objectively referred to as a methodology, but if you want to be taken for anything but a religious ministry, you might get one.

You are going to have to do better than this vague 'information' argument and get down to some specifics.  What information, how was it quantified, by what process, under what conditions . . . there's a long list.  You might look up 'scientific methodology' and start studying up.

Friday, June 30, 2017

And There is Still Nothing Religious about Intelligent Design

I decided to quit numbering these, because there have been too many posts exploring the religious nature of the Discovery Institute (DI) and Intelligent Design (ID).  Instead of numbering, I am simply going to continue reminding folks about the those religious underpinnings.

This time around the DI is hawking someone else's book.  Little davey 'klingy' klinghoffer wrote this post: "Scott Turner’s Purpose and Desire — An Important New Voice in the Evolution Debate".  Before getting into the post, I was wondering who Scott Turner is and whether or not he is actually a 'new voice' in the cultural debate between religion and science.

So, I hit my usual sources and found that while Scott might be new to klingy, he's not new to this debate. Like klingy, Wikipedia also mentioned Scott's last book "The Tinkerer's Accomplice, How Design Emerges from Life Itself" and the Harvard University Press Catalog says a few interesting things:

"Physiologist Scott Turner argues eloquently and convincingly that the apparent design we see in the living world only makes sense when we add to Darwin’s towering achievement the dimension that much modern molecular biology has left on the gene-splicing floor: the dynamic interaction between living organisms and their environment. Only when we add environmental physiology to natural selection can we begin to understand the beautiful fit between the form life takes and how life works."
It also mentioned something klingy seemed to ignore, Scott's last book was in 2010.  Now I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound very new to me.  But that's only one issue with the above quote.  I have to ask, how did Darwin, and subsequent researchers, left 'the dynamic interaction between living organisms and their environment' on the cutting room floor?  Doesn't the very idea of Natural Selection get driven by how an allele affects the survival/reproductive opportunity within the environment?  How environmental changes affect evolution within a population?  The environment is, and always has been, a key factor in the study of evolution.

Here is where I start to suspect Scott's leanings.  By wording it this way, he seems to think there has to be a guide, a map, an . . . dare I say it . . . an intelligence, behind it all.  Instead of the environment causing natural selection, there is some sort of symbiosis between the environment and the population that drives evolution.  Ah, yes, from Scott's Wikipedia page we can see he is a proponent of the Gaia Hypothesis, something not very well supported by science.

OK, let see what klingy has to say.  He starts off with this little tarnished gem:
"The crisis of evolutionary biology is spoken of openly here and by scientists who are professed advocates of intelligent design."
'Crisis'? Really?  I understanding klingy wishing it was a crisis, but he's overstating things by a ton.  We don't have a crisis because within evolutionary biology, this barely a blip on the screen.  The debate is cultural, not scientific.  For years science pretty much ignored it until groups like the DI started threatening science education with their marketing and politicking.  If you remember the landmark lawsuits (Kitzmiller v Dover Area School DistrictSelman v. Cobb County School DistrictEdwards v. AguillardMcLean v. ArkansasLemon v. KurtzmanScopes Trial) were all focused on education, not science.  What does that tell you?  It tells me that we aren't talking about a crisis here.

OK, next up, klingy says:
"The latest biologist to come out swinging at Darwinism, Turner is not an ID proponent. He teaches at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry."
However, is Scott a biologist?  His own website says:
"I am a physiologist by training, but with a deep interest in the interface of physiology with evolution, ecology and adaptation." (SUNY: Bio)
I am not knocking Scott, I just wish klingy would stop mis-representing people. By referring to Scott as a biologist, you assume a much stronger background in biology.  Physiology is a branch of biology, but it's only a small part.  Here is the definition of Physiology:
"the branch of biology dealing with the functions and activities of living organisms and  their parts, including all physical and chemical processes." (dictionary.com)
Now contrast it with the definition of biology from the same source:
"the science of life or living matter in all its forms and phenomena, especially with reference to origin, growth, reproduction, structure,and behavior." (dictionary.com)
See some significant differences, don't you?  When you look at Scott's curricula vitae, you can call him Dr. Turner, he is a Doctor of Philosophy. not biology . . . but klingy calls him a biologist.  What I wish he would do is his homework and honestly represent folks!  This is a habit of the DI, do you remember some of the other times they mis-represented the facts:
So we know klingy is using one of the comment tactics of the DI -- the misrepresentation of the facts . . . or as I was taught to call it -- lying, even lying by omission is still lying.  Next klingy quotes the preface of Scott's book -- and it shows Scott is making the same mistake that the rest of the ID proponents do.  Here, read this:
"Instead of a frank acknowledgment of purposefulness, intentionality, intelligence, and design, we refer to “apparent” design, “apparent” intentionality, “apparent” intelligence."
Now, has anyone -- anywhere -- in the past 150+ years provided any actual scientific evidence for purposefulness, intentionality, intelligence, or design?  Without such evidence, all you have is the appearance of those things.  Science is all about accuracy and when all you have is the appearance, you do not make frank acknowledgements!

The whole modern intelligent design movement started with the assumption that the appearance of design was the same as the actuality of design.  This assumption is used to not only in an effort to tear down actual science, but to push a religious agenda that is not shared by the majority of the world.  But since that movement started, no one had offered anything other than conjecture and wishful thinking to support that assumption.  Scott appears to be making that same assumption.  That might work well for philosophy, but when it comes to hard sciences, like biology, assumptions do not cut it.

So, what do we have . . . is someone who is not new to the cultural debate, whose credentials are mis-represented by the DI and someone who shares the same assumption that the appearance is the same as the fact.  So nothing new at all, just another one who drank the kool-aid and ignored the lack of substance.  I may read his book, but only if it shows up in the religious section of the local library.  

Oh yea, did I forget to mention Scott's new book is being published by Harper-One -- which, as we have pointed out before, is the religious imprint of Harper-Collins.  So if I see the book, it will most likely be in the religious section of the library or bookstore.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Talk about Quick Change . . . it's a Ministry . . . No, It's a For-Profit Tourist Attraction . . . no, it's a Ministry . . .

Let's review a bit of history, the Ark Park, officially 'Ark Encounters, LLC', is a for-profit corporation.  This allowed them to push for public tax breaks and funding requests, which they received mostly because of Republican politicians.

So, when it comes to hiring practices, this for-profit business is being allowed to discriminate and hire based on religious beliefs.  If it wasn't for those pandering politicians, this would have ended their public tax breaks and funding.  If you don't think that was one of the reasons for the for-profit LLC, this is from the Ark Encounters own Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page . . . or it used to be.  For some reason lots of it is missing from the current FAQ.  But there is this website, the Wayback Machine.  It archives many webpages and it just so happens to have saved the originals from the Ark sites.  Here is a quote:

"The for-profit LLC structure also allows the Ark Encounter to be eligible for various economic development incentives that would not have been available with a non-profit structure."
Interesting, one of the reasons for going this route was specifically for those tax breaks and other incentives.

However the local community, specifically Grant County, Ky, is in the middle of a serious financial crisis and the hopes that all the visitors to the ark park would bail them out has not materialized.  So the county took steps and imposed a $0.50 tax on entertainment tickets -- called a 'safety tax' -- on on attractions like the ark park.  The purpose of this tax is for emergency services -- you know the kind services that might be needed if lightening does to kennie's ark what it did to Big-Butter Jesus in 2010.

Little kennie ham whined about that already -- we mentioned it in "Greedy Shepherd Annoyed that the Sheared Sheep are Making Noise".  Well now we know their more formal response.  Apparently little kennie and company are requesting an exemption from the entertainment tax on the grounds that they are a ministry.  The Grant County News reported it: "Ark Encounter requests safety fee exemption".
"Skinner and the other councilmembers voiced their disagreement with the exemption request; with councilman Kim Crupper noting that the Ark Encounter operates on a for-profit status. City Attorney Jeff Shipp added that the organization’s corporate filings in Missouri indicate that they are a for-profit corporation. "
To back that up, here are another two quotes from the 'Wayback Machine'.  As usual, I underlined the most interesting bits:
"Why is the project so big, and why is a for-profit LLC going to own the Ark Encounter? 
Because feasibility studies revealed that the Ark would attract 1.6 million guests in the first year, the project needed to be much more than just the Ark alone to handle the anticipated crowds. Accordingly, eight additional biblically themed attractions were included in the Ark Encounter complex to accommodate all of the expected guests.Due to the size of the Ark Encounter project, a for-profit LLC structure was selected to be able to help raise the approximately $150 million necessary to build it ($125 million of that total will come through investments). We also desired to avoid financing the project through debt. In addition, this large amount of funding would not have been probable solely through donations. The for-profit LLC structure allows for the primary funding to come from private equity investment, while at the same time ensuring that the control of the content, design, and operations of the Ark Encounter will be led by Crosswater Canyon, a wholly owned subsidiary of Answers in Genesis. . . ."
"Is this a non-profit endeavor? 
In a sense, the Ark Encounter is both a for-profit and not-for-profit endeavor. The Ark Encounter is a for-profit operation but is managed by a non-profit subsidiary ministry of Answers in Genesis. The LLC and its members will be responsible for all of the normal taxes required for pass-through business entities."
The good news, at least for now, is the county is standing their ground and reminding kennie that the ark park is not officially a ministry, but a for-profit corporation and therefore plans to reject the requested exemption.  Hopefully they will stick to their guns.  While kennie's legal beagle agreed it is a for-profit company, he said that if the exemption is not approved that the ark park is "considering their options".  In some ways I hope they push it to the courts.

I know, I know the odds of Kentucky actually enforcing its own laws on kennie and his ark park are slim, but there is always a chance the people of Kentucky might get a break and realize that not only is the park a ministry, but the tax breaks and other funding help they received should never have happened, especially in the light of them being a for-profit business.  So if the ruling is it IS a ministry, pull the state and county support -- including going back and getting fair value for the things already given based on the for-profit status.  If it is ruled a for-profit business, demand kennie comply with state and federal hiring practices and insure  . . . as originally agreed . . . that the park pays its normal taxes, which would include this 'safety tax'.

This is kennie being kennie.  'I'm a ministry, protect me . . . no, wait, I'm a for-profit business, give me tax breaks . . .'  He wants tax breaks and funding of a for-profit business, but he wants the legal protections for a religious non-profit that allow him to discriminate in his hiring practices -- after promising not to do so and avoid paying taxes -- even taxes designed to fund services he may need.  He seems to switch coats as it pleases him, and he looks nothing like Marie Antoinette.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Interesting Post That Will Raise Kennie Ham's Blood Pressure to Biblical Levels

This post "Ark park’s cubit sticks holy relics for gullible of today" asks a question, just what value do places like the Ark Park and the Creation pseudo-museum have in today's society?  It's an Op-Ed piece from the Lexington Herald Leader.  I think there are a couple of answers, but one of them is certainly the primary driving force.  So let's examine it a bit.


Who are the people who go to these sort of places?  I think you can group them into a few categories.

First of all you have the Hamians, they already believe in what little kennie ham is selling.  Those people do not need his monument to his own ego to believe. They are already sold and probably already contribute to the coffers of kennie's ministries, and did so well before the ark park was opened.  This is probably the only group that would plan a vacation around visiting.  This is more than likely the hard-core and largest group of the visitors.

The second group I would have to call Believers, but non-Hamians.  These might be the curious, who do not share kennie's entire belief set, but wanted to see what all the fuss is about.  They probably are mostly Creationists of one stripe or another, just not as hard-core as little kennie.  They probably wouldn't plan a vacation with the express purpose of visiting one of his ego-monuments, but if nearby will probably stop in.

The third group are the Non-Believers.  This group would include the atheists, agnostics, scientists, and those simply curious.  This would be like myself when I visited the Creation pseudo-museum back in 2009 or Bill Nye when he visited the ark park.  This is probably the smallest group to shell out money to kennie, and the group mostly entertained at the ridiculousness of his ego monuments.

So, in reality, the first group, the Hamians, don't need kennie's ministries to believe the hard-line evangelical message kennie sells.  The second group probably will see some things that align with their religious beliefs, but aren't going to climb on board kennie's train.  The third group most certainly won't start to share kennie's belief set.  They are the one's who are snickering at the obvious miscues and pointing out the error in kennie's pseudo-science.

So if the ministries aren't there to change people's minds, what's left?  The post makes it pretty clear, the objective is said to be a ministry, but the actual one is to make money.  Believers are notorious for letting various denominations of money go to religious organizations, look at how many fall for prosperity gospels? Remember John Oliver's incredible take-down on those!
While there is a lot of similarities between prosperity evangelists and kennie, there is one difference.  Little kennie isn't promising to make you rich, he's the one making money here.

So with no clear religious purpose, what's left?  From the op-ed piece:
"If Jesus Christ returned tomorrow, where would he spend his time: helping the sick, dying and impoverished or rummaging through some money-grubbing tourist trap that cynically preys on people’s faith to make a profit?"
I don't think little kennie has seen the piece yet, in some ways he's like that certain hamster-haired serial lying misogynist -- and kennie, that's not a compliment.  You share similarities because you are also quite thin-skinned and always on the defensive.  He'll probably accuse the author of being an Atheist, even though the author self-identified as a devout Presbyterian.  You might also remember that if you aren't a believer in little kennie's narrow view of the universe, you really aren't much of anything else.  After all this is the guy hosting a 'World Religions Conference' in a few weeks for the express purpose (I added the underlining): 
Either you believe as kennie does, or your soul is lost, LOL!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Shock of Shocks, I Agree with Kennie Ham . . . sort of!

Little kennie ham, owner and operator of several ministries (The Creation pseudo-museum, The Ark Park, and Answers in Genesis) is on his horse again.  Here's the article if you care to get your shoes all muddy:

"Ken Ham Warns America is on 'Precipice of Catastrophic Change', 'God is Judging Us' (Exclusive)" (The Gospel Herald, 22 June 2017)
You don't actually have to read it if I say one word:  "homosexuality".  Yes, kennie is running around like Chicken Little:
"Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham has warned that America is on the "precipice of catastrophic change" and said that one sign God is "turning people over to their depraved minds" is the increase in homosexual behavior seen across the country."
OK, if you want to read his rant, please be my guest, but if you have a single open-minded thought, it might turn your stomach.

So how can I possibly be in any sort of agreement with this bigoted pseudo-Christian?  It's in the wording, yes, I think we do stand on a precipice of catastrophic change, but not for the same reason.  I think the hate, bigotry, and intolerance spouted by people like kennie are the cause.  One of the reasons I think kennie is being so vocal about his bigotry is the huge shot in the arm such attitudes received when that hamster-haired serial liar and misogynist was elected.  Suddenly being a bigot might be socially-acceptable in some groups.

One of my friends, who is against gay marriage, actually asked me how I could be for it, since I wasn't gay.  I told him that I'm not a woman either, so how come I don't think women should be barefoot and pregnant?  I'm not a minority, so how come I don't think minorities and immigrants are second class citizens? Discrimination is discrimination regardless of whether the target is wearing a dress, has a different ethnic background, believes a different religion, or has a different idea of 'family' than you!  You might wonder how I can call him a 'friend', but I believe in the right to believe as you wish, I just refuse to allow him to force his beliefs on me.  If you think I am trying to force my beliefs onto him, you are in error . . . remember, he asked.

Discrimination should not be tolerated in any form.  People, like little kennie, who make their living being hateful, intolerant, and discriminatory are the ones that should be convicted of aiding and abetting the incivility, and often violence, that is the result.  As I have said before, you have the right to live your life, but you do not have the right to force others to live as you do.  For example, a couple of years ago Campbell's Soup featured an ad with two men feeding soup to a boy using hilarious imitations of Darth Vader and Chewbacca.  It was funny, touching, and cute.  But since it featured two men, homophobic bigots assumed the two men were the boy's gay parents and tried to make a tempest over it.

Don't buy Campbell's Soup if you dislike they commercial, but you do not get to decide no one should buy Campbells!  But something similar happened recently when Cherrios aired a commercial featured an interracial family.  Again, a minor news flap because of racist bigots.  The Today article raised an interesting point:
"“I’m not surprised at the reaction, because social media is kind of the new Ku Klux Klan white hood,’’ TODAY’s Star Jones said Monday. “It allows you to be anonymous and to say the kinds of things that you would never say to a person to their face. "
Personally, I thought the ad was terrific!  I'm not sure what it says about me, but I hadn't noticed the family was interracial until reading one of the bigoted comments on Facebook which pointed it out.  What was even better was that Cherrios brought the family back for a Super Bowl ad!  Now that's an appropriate response to bigotry.

As you can see, I do have to agree with little kennie's phrase, just not his cause, we are facing a potential catastrophe, but kennie is one of the ones pushing us closer and closer to that disaster.  His use of religion to push an environment of fear, mistrust, division, and intolerance is driving us toward that catastrophe.  Of course if/when a catastrophe occurs, he'll be standing on the sidelines blaming it on everything but his own personal hatred and intolerance.  Yes, kennie will be one of the causes, but one he will never admit -- after all he thinks god is on his side.  Certainly not the god I was taught about in parochial school, but a version even few Christians seem to recognize.

There are times, like when I read posts like this I do hope there really is a god and one that lives up to all of the ideals so many religions claim.  That way bigots like kennie will get their just reward, and a real hot one at that.  But in the meantime, kennie will keep making a living preaching intolerance and pushing hatred, incapable of recognizing the damage he does.