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September 13, 2015 · 07:26

The Creation Museum

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April 13, 2014 · 10:03

Lock and Load for the Lord

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ADAM WEINSTEINGUNS GUNS GUNS – From “The Gawker”
Kentucky Baptists Sponsor Gun Giveaways For New Converts to Jesus
As it was written, so shall it be. And Christ did write that thing about a well-regulated militia and bearing arms and, well, load me, Jesus, into the high-caliber rifle chamber of everlasting life!

Via USA Today:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In an effort its spokesman has described as “outreach to rednecks,” the Kentucky Baptist Convention is leading “Second Amendment Celebrations,” where churches around the state give away guns as door prizes to lure in the unchurched in hopes of converting them to Christ.

As many as 1,000 people are expected at the next one, on Thursday at Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah, where they will be given a free steak dinner and the chance to win one of 25 handguns, long guns and shotguns.
Warning: Baptists are dunkers, true to their name, so make sure your new gun is good and oiled up. I’m assuming they’re baptizing the long guns, too, because who wants to be naked and unarmed in Heaven? There’s real mother-of-pearl in those gates, man. Plus, you can’t believe who they’re letting in these days.

The promotions are run by Chuck McAlister, “an ex-pastor, master storyteller and former Outdoor Channel hunting show host” who says thousands of bubbas show up to the revivals, and some even take the plunge to salvation.

In an article titled “God, guns and good ol’ boys,” Roger Alford, the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s communication director, described McAlister’s work as “outreach to rednecks.”

McAlister, an avid hunter who owns more than 30 firearms, describes it as “affinity evangelism,” in which preachers reach out to potential converts based on their common interest in a sport or hobby…

“You have to know the hook that will attract people, and hunting is huge in Kentucky,” he said. “So we get in there and burp and scratch and talk about the right to bear arms and that stuff.”

There are some self-styled Jesus freaks who think boomsticks undermine His message of loving neighbors and all the little creatures and whatever. But good fundamentalists know everything in the Bible is literal, not metaphorical, and Jesus did literally tell his followers to take up swords, by which of course he literally meant AR-15s! Also, gun control is the debbil, as this righteous sermon makes clear:

Wearing a camouflage shirt and frayed cap, McAlister ambled onto the stage, where he was surrounded by stuffed game and firearms.

“How many of y’all own guns?” he asked in his South Carolina accent. “Lemme see a show of hands.”

“That is awesome,” he said, as the hands went up. “We’ve got an army right here!”

McAlister sought appealed to their love of hunting and enmity toward gun control. For 30 minutes, he mentioned nothing about God or Jesus…

…”It’s not the gun, it’s the man behind the gun,” he said, “and criminals don’t care about a bunch of rules.”
“We have found that the number of unchurched men who will show up will be in direct proportion to the number of guns you give away,” McAlister tells the paper. As Jesus taught: Blessed are the armed, because you can pry the earth from their cold, dead hands. Maybe that was Moses. Either way. Lock and load for the Lord!

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By Mary Wisniewski

HEBRON, Ky., May 31 (Reuters) – The Biblical account of Noah and his Ark poses a lot of questions, even for believers like the creators of the controversial Creation Museum in Kentucky.

What is “gopher wood”? How did Noah fit all those animals on the boat? And how did he stand the smell?

In an office park in Hebron, Kentucky, the designers of the proposed “Ark Encounter” theme park are trying to answer questions like these in order to build faith in the Bible’s literal accuracy. The project has run into delays because of lack of financing, which could cost it millions in potential tax breaks. Despite the uncertainty, a recent Reuters preview of the project showed that plans for the ark are continuing.

“We’re basically presenting what the Bible has to say and showing how plausible it was,” said Patrick Marsh, design director for the park, which will feature a 500-foot-long wooden ark and other Old Testament attractions, including a Tower of Babel and a “Ten Plagues” ride. “This was a real piece of history – not just a story, not just a legend.”

The project is currently in the design phase. Not enough private donations have come in to start construction, and building permits will not be ready until November, according to Ark Encounter co-founder and Senior Vice President Michael Zovath.

The project has $12.3 million in hand and $12.7 million more in committed donations; it needs $23 million more to start building the ark alone. Zovath does not know when that will happen.

Like Noah before the Flood, the builders are in a bit of a time crunch, since Kentucky tourism tax incentives for the project are set to expire in May 2014.

The longer it takes to start building the $150 million park, originally planned to open in spring 2014, the less the project stands to gain from the rebates, which allow it to receive up to 25 percent of project costs over 10 years from sales taxes generated by the business.

Zovath said the project may refile for the incentives, which critics argue are a violation of the constitutional divide between church and state. If the rebates applied to the full project cost, they could amount to $37.5 million.

SPECULATING ON THE ARK SPECS

Ark Encounter is a project of Answers in Genesis, the ministry founded by creationism proponent Ken Ham. The ministry built the Creation Museum in nearby Petersburg.

The museum, which has been harshly criticized by educators and scientists, argues that the earth is around 6,000 years old and was created by God in six 24-hour days with dinosaurs existing at the same time as humans. It rejects the theory of evolution and explains phenomena like the Grand Canyon as a consequence of the Flood.

Attendance at the Creation Museum has declined since it attracted 400,000 visitors in the first year after its 2007 opening, said Zovath. He attributes this to the poor economy and believes some visitors may be delaying their visits until the ark exhibit opens.

The Biblical account of the ark does not provide much detail on how it was made, so the designers have had to speculate.

The Bible calls for gopher wood, for instance, although it is unclear if this is a now-extinct type of wood or if the term refers to the way the wood was cut, said Marsh, who has done work for Universal Studios. Ark Encounter will go with a mix of woods.

Another big question is how Noah got mating pairs of all the animals of the earth, including dinosaurs, onto a boat half the length of a cruise ship.

Scientists have cataloged 1.3 million species of animals, but Ark Encounter protagonists figure Noah could have brought on just 1,000 to 2,000 pairs to represent every animal “kind,” as the Bible puts it.

“If you start with a wolf, you can basically generate all of these dog-like kinds,” said Marsh. As for large animals like dinosaurs, Marsh said Noah could have brought them on as eggs or juveniles, to save room.

Though the park is meant to teach that the Noah story is true, it is also for profit, and Marsh takes inspiration from secular theme parks. In the exhibit depicting the wicked pre-Flood society that God wanted to destroy, for example, Marsh plans a pagan temple with pagan ceremonies done in a “Disneyesque” way.

“You want everyone to have fun and buy souvenirs and have a good time, but you also want to tell everybody how terrible everything (was),” Marsh said.

He also plans exhibits within the three-level ark on how animal waste could have been taken away by mechanical devices and how fresh air could have been brought in.

CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATION?

Explanations about the origins of the earth from Answers in Genesis are contrary to scientific consensus, which says that the planet formed about 4.5 billion years ago.

The Creation Museum was condemned by the National Center for Science Education, which said that students who accept material presented at the museum as valid are “unlikely to succeed in science courses at the college level.”

Many Biblical scholars interpret the Creation and Flood stories as poetic myths and not history.

About one out of three Americans accepts the Bible literally, a percentage that has declined over time, according to a 2011 Gallup poll. Nevertheless, creationism has in recent years re-entered public debate over how to teach science in schools.

Marsh said that while you can be a Christian without believing in creationism, you are on a “slippery slope.”

“So many people have gotten hooked with the concept of evolution that it really makes their faith very delicate,” he said.

Barry Lynn, a United Church of Christ minister who heads Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the planned park promotes “junk science.”

“You don’t pay for the ministry of people out of the taxpayer’s collected dollars,” said Lynn, who said his group will consider a lawsuit if the tax breaks for the ark ever kick in.

Zovath argues that the tax breaks do not violate the Constitution, since the state is not giving the park money up-front, but is only returning some of the tourism money the park will bring to the state.

“If somebody wants to come into Kentucky and build a Harry Potter park and teach all the fun things about witchcraft, nobody would say a word about it – they’d just think it was so cool,” Zovath said. “But if we want to come in … and build a Biblical theme park, everybody goes crazy.” (Editing by Arlene Getz and Prudence Crowther)

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When Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth: 3 (article in the New York Times)

Mark Lyons for The New York Times

A DIFFERENT VIEWPOINT Peter Dodson, left, of the University of Pennsylvania, Michael Foote of the University of Chicago and Jon Todd of the Museum of Natural History in London watching a video at the Creation Museum.

PETERSBURG, Ky. — Tamaki Sato was confused by the dinosaur exhibit. The placards described the various dinosaurs as originating from different geological periods — the stegosaurus from the Upper Jurassic, the heterodontosaurus from the Lower Jurassic, the velociraptor from the Upper Cretaceous — yet in each case, the date of demise was the same: around 2348 B.C.

 “I was just curious why,” said Dr. Sato, a professor of geology from Tokyo Gakugei University in Japan.

For paleontologists like Dr. Sato, layers of bedrock represent an accumulation over hundreds of millions of years, and the Lower Jurassic is much older than the Upper Cretaceous.

But here in the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky, Earth and the universe are just over 6,000 years old, created in six days by God. The museum preaches, “Same facts, different conclusions” and is unequivocal in viewing palaeontological and geological data in light of a literal reading of the Bible.

In the creationist interpretation, the layers were laid down in one event — the worldwide flood when God wiped the land clean except for the creatures on Noah’s ark — and these dinosaurs died in 2348 B.C., the year of the flood.

“That’s one thing I learned,” Dr. Sato said.

The worlds of academic palaeontology and creationism rarely collide, but the former paid a visit to the latter last Wednesday. The University of Cincinnati was hosting the North American Palaeontological Convention, where scientists presented their latest research at the frontiers of the ancient past. In a break from the lectures, about 70 of the attendees boarded school buses for a field trip to the Creation Museum, on the other side of the Ohio River.

“I’m very curious and fascinated,” Stefan Bengtson, a professor of paleozoology at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, said before the visit, “because we have little of that kind of thing in Sweden.”

Arnold I. Miller, a professor of geology at the University of Cincinnati and head of the meeting’s organizing committee, suggested the trip. “Too often, academics tend to ignore what’s going on around them,” Dr. Miller said. “I feel at least it would be valuable for my colleagues to become aware not only of how creationists are portraying their own message, but how they’re portraying the palaeontological message and the evolutionary message.”

Since the museum opened two years ago, 750,000 people have passed through its doors, but this was the first large group of palaeontologists to drop by. The museum welcomed the atypical guests with the typical hospitality. “Praise God, we’re excited to have you here,” said Bonnie Mills, a guest service employee.

The scientists received the group admission rate, which included lunch.

Terry Mortenson, a lecturer and researcher for Answers in Genesis, the ministry that built and runs the Creation Museum, said he did not expect the visit to change many minds. “I’m sure for the most part they’ll be of a different view from what’s presented here,” Dr. Mortenson said. “We’ll just give the freedom to see what they want to see.”

Near the entrance to the exhibits is an animatronic display that includes a girl feeding a carrot to a squirrel as two dinosaurs stand nearby, a stark departure from natural history museums that say the first humans lived 65 million years after the last dinosaurs.

“I’m speechless,” said Derek E.G. Briggs, director of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale, who walked around with crossed arms and a grimace. “It’s rather scary.”

Dr. Mortenson and others at the museum say they look at the same rocks and fossils as the visiting scientists, but because of different starting assumptions they arrive at different answers. For example, they say the biblical flood set off huge turmoil inside the Earth that broke apart the continents and pushed them to their current locations, not that the continents have moved over a few billion years.

“Everyone has presuppositions what they will consider, what questions they will ask,” said Dr. Mortenson, who holds a doctorate in the history of geology from Coventry University in England. “The very first two rooms of our museum talk about this issue of starting points and assumptions. We will very strongly contest an evolutionist position that they are letting facts speak for themselves.”

The museum’s presentation appeals to visitors like Steven Leinberger and his wife, Deborah, who came with a group from the Church of the Lutheran Confession in Eau Claire, Wis. “This is what should be taught even in science,” Mr. Leinberger said.

The museum founders placed it in the Cincinnati area because it is within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the United States population. The area has also long attracted palaeontologists with some of the most fossil-laden rocks in North America, where it is easy along some roadsides to pick up fossils dated to be hundreds of millions of years old. The rocks are so well known that they are called the Cincinnatian Series, representing the stretch of time from 451 million to 443 million years ago.

Many of the palaeontologists thought the museum misrepresented and ridiculed them and their work and unfairly blamed them for the ills of society.

“I think they should rename the museum — not the Creation Museum, but the Confusion Museum,” said Lisa E. Park, a professor of palaeontology at the University of Akron.

“Unfortunately, they do it knowingly,” Dr. Park said. “I was dismayed. As a Christian, I was dismayed.”

Dr. Bengtson noted that to explain how the few species aboard the ark could have diversified to the multitude of animals alive today in only a few thousand years, the museum said simply, “God provided organisms with special tools to change rapidly.”

“Thus in one sentence they admit that evolution is real,” Dr. Bengtson said, “and that they have to invoke magic to explain how it works.”

But even some who disagree with the information and message concede that the museum has an obvious appeal. “I hate that it exists,” said Jason D. Rosenhouse, a mathematician at James Madison University in Virginia and a blogger on evolution issues, “but given that it exists, you can have a good time here. They put on a very good show if you can handle the suspension of disbelief.”

By the end of the visit, among the dinosaurs, Dr. Briggs seemed amused. “I like the fact the dinosaurs were in the ark,” he said. (About 50 kinds of dinosaurs were aboard Noah’s ark, the museum explains, but later went extinct for unknown reasons.)

The museum, he realized, probably changes few beliefs. “But you worry about the youngsters,” he said.

Dr. Sato likened the museum to an amusement park. “I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed Disneyland,” she said.

Did she enjoy Disneyland?

“Not very much,” she said.

The Creation Museum (www.creationmuseum.org)

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