Daily Archives: January 3, 2011

Did Noah Build A Road To His Ark? I Don’t Think So, Kentucky

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, the developers building the new Noah’s Ark museum in Kentucky are asking for the gummit to build ’em a road to the place. The State Transportation Cabinet, as they call it there, is officially stating that no commitments have been made, which I’m sure means, “The deal’s done and we’z gonna build that road before you ask about it again” or words to that effect.

This is not that unusual or abnormal, actually. State transportation departments normally make road improvements when new things are built. Why, in Kentucky, the state spent 45 million dollars on roads to support a race track ten years ago.

What is important here is that we recognize that when somebody does build a big-ass religious facility, be it a church or a creationism museum or just some whopping big cross that people come from miles to see or some quaint grotto with a tea shop, there is a public cost, and taxpayer money is used. Which I have no problem with because the tax revenues raised by new developments generally offsets the costs of improving infrastructure.

Or does it?

From the NCSE:

The news prompted a further editorial from the Louisville Courier-Journal (December 29, 2010), which previously (in, for example, its December 2, 2010, editorial) expressed serious concern about the state’s entanglement with the park. The new editorial complained, “Ark Encounter, the creationism theme park proposed for Northern Kentucky, looms as a more expensive proposition than state officials first suggested,” citing both the request to the Transportation Cabinet and the prospect that “sooner or later someone is likely to want help building hotels, restaurants and service stations for park visitors.”

The editorial also alluded to two ongoing controversies involving the park. First, the developers have applied for development incentives that would allow Ark Encounter to recoup 25 percent of its development costs by retaining the sales tax generated by the project. The estimated budget is 150 million dollars, so the incentives would amount to 37.5 million dollars over ten years. “[Governor] Beshear argued that the state would not be out any money if the park failed,” the editorial reported, adding parenthetically, “Actually, the state would be out taxes the park could collect before it went under, but who’s counting?”

Second, there is the question whether the park would be able to discriminate on the basis of religion in hiring if it receives the state incentives. Answers in Genesis already requires its employees to endorse its statement of faith. Governor Beshear told the Louisville Courier-Journal (December 9, 2010), “We’re going to require that anybody that we deal with is going to obey all of the laws on hiring and not discriminate on hiring.” The editorial commented, “In other words, if a gay Muslim with an advanced degree in evolutionary biology wants a top job at the park, he’ll be welcomed by the creationists with open arms. Right?”

Kentucky: Don’t be a stupid state.

Teachers: You can be punished if you teach evolution

The other day, a science teacher remarked that a student who had previously declared herself to be a creationist, and who’s parents had previously expressed concern over the teaching of evolution, was suddenly all talky-talky and engaging the teacher in more or less polite and friendly discussion about the topic, coming to visit the teacher outside of class and everything.

I thought at the time, “That’s unusual. But it does happen.”

What I wasn’t thinking is that a recent court decision supports the idea of a teacher who teaches evolution to christians, who does not cave when the christians complain about it, can be reassigned, fired, or otherwise be harassed and have the backing of the courts. I wonder. Was this student acting on instructions? Does the creationist community, and they do talk to each other, have a plan to try to trap a few science teachers, to get them fired, for not bowing to their religious demands? Probably not. Probably, I’m just being paranoid. But just in case, if you are a science teacher, you need to know that a federal court just decided that you can be punished if you teach evolution. At least in North Carolina.

Continue reading Teachers: You can be punished if you teach evolution

What is meant by “mosaic evolution” and other matters

A discussion of misconceptions in evolution … about missing links, or great chains of being, or teleology (the idea that evolution is goal-directed) has got to be the most fun you can have with your pants on. Pursuant to this, let’s sharpen and clarify our evolutionary theory mojo by considering the concept of “mosaic evolution” … what is it, and what isn’t it?

Of course, the concept of mosaic evolution, meant to clarify how evolution works, is often itself misunderstood. From Wikipedia:
Continue reading What is meant by “mosaic evolution” and other matters