Tag Archives: Fundamentalism

The Real Reason Why Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter is Failing

sylia

Sylia Gray

I want to explain to Ken Ham my opinion of why I think his Noah’s Ark park is failing. I don’t expect Ham to read this but I’m going to jot it all down here as a blog post anyway.

 

The BIG reason why I think his “Ark Encounter” theme park is failing is not because of the atheists, believe me! I think it’s the market forces that are working against him. I don’t think he understands his target audience well enough. I understand that the park is for Christians, but I think his biggest agenda is to reach out non-Christians too (winning souls for JEEESUSSSS!).

 

Now here’s the thing, the majority of Americans are Christians. But I think the ones who buy into Ken Ham’s snake oil are just the fundamentalist types and their numbers have shrunk, and continue to shrink, though they remain a vocal minority. I think the rest of the Christian population (the majority) are just “cultural Christians” – generally secular-minded people who only attend church casually and don’t take their faith seriously but identify as Christian simply because that’s the culture they grew up in. Now, why would those cultural Christians be interested in hearing the Christian message at some Bible-based theme park? I think many of those cultural Christians find sermons to be boring but just go to church anyway as an excuse to get off work and have fellowship with people in their community. And there is no doubt that there are some cultural Christians out there who don’t find sermons to be boring at all but find comfort and solace because a lot of people need someplace to escape from their troubles. But why would they need spend hundreds of hard-earned dollars just to go to some Bible theme park in the middle of nowhere for all of that? The reason why people go to theme parks is to be entertained and have fun with friends and family, not to be preached to. If they want to hear a sermon or engage in whatever religious activity, they don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to go to some Bible based theme park, they can just go to church on Sundays for free. Churches are not that hard to find in America! Why would they need to go some half-baked Bible theme park that looks like big old boat landlocked in the middle of nowhere that is supposed to be full of (not even live) animals with the only live animals being in petting zoos? Even my local zoo is far more impressive than that!

 

Also, millennials… More and more young people are losing interest in religion for variety of reasons and I think one of the main reasons (as a millennial myself) is because it’s hard to find any meaning that is relevant to us today in 2017 from some bronze age holy books. How could we be blamed for that? And many of us have smartphones so we have a whole world of information – the entire Internet – literally in our pockets so we can verify information coming from holy books and religious authorities (and many of those authorities – including Ken Ham – have a piss poor track record on relaying accurate information).
So in conclusion… the reason why I think Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter theme park is failing miserably is not because atheists are giving it a bad rap, even though it’s well deserved because Ken Ham is a liar and a fraud. I think it’s because most people are seeing through his bullshit. They are not stupid to buy Ham’s snake oil. The park is just a money making scheme for Ham and a rip-off to visitors. And if I remember correctly, even in the Bible itself (John 2:13-16), Jesus condemned corrupt religious people for using religion as a profit making scheme. So isn’t it ironic how Ham’s own holy book is admonishing readers to avoid people like himself? He’s using his Christian faith as an excuse to create a theme park that is a money making scheme, and he lied to the taxpayers who unwittingly funded the construction of this park (which is illegal for the state government to allow – not the taxpayers’ fault). And he made a broken promise to the people of the towns nearby by failing to bring economic prosperity to them through tourism as he promised. It never was going to happen and probably never will. Because when demographic trends show that religion is declining, religious theme parks may lose their market appeal so they won’t be marketable. Atheists don’t need to give the Ark Encounter a bad rap to make it fail. I think the free market is taking care of that for them on its own.

If You’re a Fundamentalist Christian, then Why Did You Vote?

Jeremiah Traeger

Jeremiah Traeger

Just so the readers know, I’m not ready to stop making political posts. They’ll be religion and skepticism related for sure, and I’m definitely going to make non-political posts in the future. But ever since the nation I lived in decided that a nationalistic pomegranate who doesn’t think climate change exists would be a good thing to decide supreme court justices that could affect the rest of my life, I’ve been a bit miffed.

One of the causes of our pumpkin-in-chief, of course, is the white evangelical vote. Exit poll data showed that 81% of white evangelical/born-again voters cast a vote for him. It’s easy to point and laugh at how he obviously doesn’t belong in that camp, since he’s divorced four times and can’t even read a Bible correctly. But it’s shouldn’t be surprising, as on his campaign trail, he claimed to represent their interests. He promised bigly that he would support the repeal of the Johnson Amendment and that he would overturn Roe v. Wade (somehow). He promised to choose a supreme court justice like Scalia, who ruled in favor of evangelical interests in a thoroughly activist manner. No politician is perfect, so they decided that they might as well pick the candidate that would give them a favorable outcome.

The thing is, why do they care about that particular favorable outcome?

To Biblical literalists, the aim of the game is to become saved and end up going to Heaven. With any fundamentalist you run into, the only requirement for getting into Heaven is accepting Jesus Christ as your lord and savior.* It doesn’t matter how many women you keep in their place in the home. It doesn’t matter how many Ten Commandments monuments you get at courthouses around the nation. It doesn’t matter how many guns are legalized or how much you can lower taxes or how many queers you discriminate against. As long as you can ascend to Heaven.

Atheist activists are well aware that with the presence of an eternal afterlife, any life on Earth is meaningless. Sure, you still have to get saved, but once you’re in, you’re in. It doesn’t matter how you compare your time on Earth if there’s an infinity after that. It’s completely negligible. Therefore, all your time on Earth better damn well be focused on getting into Heaven, otherwise you’re not taking your faith seriously enough.

time-on-earth

[Image: Equation, showing that a ratio of time during time on Earth to eternal life is completely negligible]

On a related note, does anyone know somebody who can whip me and nail me to a cross? Sure, it’ll suck, but I hear doing so allows you to be the king of the universe for all eternity. So a small investment of a weekend of torture gives me infinite gain.

The point is, according to the fundamentalist worldview, no form of political activism actually matters. In fact, they may be hurting the cause of winning more souls for Jesus. If they subscribe to the idea that all aborted fetuses go to Heaven, then trying to reduce abortions simply increases the chance that some people will go to Hell. Furthermore, a significant portion of nones left the religion they were born into because they viewed organized religion as harmful. By making the world a demonstrably worse place by legislating against queers, trans folk, and women, they are playing a hand in driving people away from eternal paradise. Of course, apparently Jesus gets the credit when someone gets saved but when someone walks away from their faith it’s their individual free will.

Contrast that with me. I’m almost twenty-five years old. Statistically I have about two-thirds of my life to live out. And since I don’t have a reason to believe there’s an afterlife, my best guess is that’s all I have.

A supreme court appointment could last thirty years, and by the looks of it they’re either supremely activist judges or severely unqualified. This is the next third of my life. If Trump gets to pick three during his first term, then around half of my remaining lifetime will have a wing of the government that thinks it’s ok for companies to deny women’s healthcare, or thinks that corporations should have the same rights as people. When my trans friends want equal access to society, the court is far more likely to accept that they deserve it.

Furthermore, with a Republican-majority congress and a leader of the EPA who is currently suing the EPA, any hope of meaningful action on climate change is incredibly bleak. We are at a point in time where we’re already pumping so much carbon dioxide into the air that we are reaching tipping points where temperature increase is inevitable. Do I want to have children if they’re going to live to see the last days of humanity?

This is not trivial. This gets down to the core of my moral behavior. As a humanist, I have no reason to think that I will have anything other than my current life I am experiencing. This also goes for everyone else. What matters is here and now. There’s no Heaven I can help someone get to, but while we are here I can try and make their life better. If I can make them laugh, or if I can teach them something new, or if I can simply make them feel loved now, then that is what matters. I see no externally-imposed purpose on my life, so I don’t have to waste time in prayer. Instead, I can define my own purpose, and I can choose to spend time during my only life making the lives of others better. Even if I can improve someone else’s brief experience in the universe for one second, then I have fulfilled my purpose. Every heartbeat is precious, and I choose not to waste mine.

The Christian pre-afterlife, comparatively, is nothing. Yet here they are, imposing their non-evidence-based values on the lives on every single American. I feel like my existence has been hijacked by people who couldn’t care less about it. They have held my life at gunpoint, all for something that is Biblically meaningless. Find me the verse that says people need to vote. Find me the verse that tells us which bathroom we must use. Find me the Bible verse that condemns abortion. I submit that you will find nothing.

What’s even more frustrating is that Christianity used to be an entirely apolitical position. It wasn’t until Jerry Falwell and other conservatives began pressing their Moral Majority movement to get Christians actively involved in the political process. If only that were true now.

I feel at the very least, if the fundamentalists can’t be bothered to critically examine their beliefs, they should at least leave us alone to have our brief time in the sun while they prepare for their eternal salvation. Apparently, that is too much to ask.

 


*If other Christians think that works are required, that’s fine. I don’t write to debate theologies and belief systems I think are complete bullshit. But we can’t deny that most evangelicals accept that only way into Heaven is through Jesus.

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