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December 2nd, 2010
06:18 PM ET

My take: Where's the outrage over Noah's Ark park?

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

A four-minute video that includes an eleven-second depiction of a crucifix crawling with ants has been removed from the “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, but it is still stirring up controversy in Washington, DC.

First, incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) blasted the National Portrait Gallery for its “obvious attempt to offend Christians during the Christmas season,” while the incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republicans threatened to scrutinize Smithsonian funding next year.

Then Martin Sullivan, who directs the National Portrait Gallery, said “it was not the museum’s intention to offend” but pulled the video anyway, which prompted the liberal group, People for the American Way, to accuse Republican critics of the exhibit of censorship: “This new GOP leadership wants a government that stays out of people’s lives when it comes to health care and unemployment benefits, but they show no scruples about using government power to censor the free expression of those they disagree with.”

I write not to raise First Amendment questions about elected officials transforming themselves into self-appointed curators, but to ask whether these officials are really concerned (as they claim) about the use of taxpayer funds to weigh on matters of the spirit.

In a press release yesterday, Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky announced that his state had entered into a deal with the folks behind the Creation Museum to break ground for Ark Encounter, a $150 million theme park complete with “a full-scale model of Noah’s Ark.”

Rather than speaking of his state's support of this group’s creationist agenda, Gov. Beshear spoke of employing 900 workers and drawing 1.6 million visitors a year. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, however, the tax breaks offered by the state to Ark Encounter, as the theme park is being called, “could surpass $37 million.”

The entire exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery (of which the brief clip by the late artist David Wojnarowicz was a small part), cost, by contrast, $750,000, and all of that from private donations.

So my question to Representatives Boehner and Cantor, and to Glenn Beck and others who are working themselves up into a lather over this supposed attack on Christianity, is this: Are you equally outraged over millions in tax breaks to a group promoting fundamentalism? 

Would you be outraged at all if the clip in question concerned not an "antsy Christ" but an "antsy Buddha" or an "antsy Christopher Hitchens"? And how loud would the outrage be in Washington if Kentucky's governor was offering millions in tax incentives to a Hare Krishna theme park? Or a Disney Land of Atheism?

Beyond these questions of basic fairness, I have a more practical question, this time for Belief Blog readers: Would you pay good money to see a 500-foot-long replica of Noah's Ark?

I hate to sound like one of Noah's scoffers in Genesis, but the last time I was at the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, it wasn't exactly crowded. And that Bible theme park is in Orlando, Florida, not Grant County, Kentucky.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Art • Bible • Church and state • Culture wars • Fundamentalism • Opinion • United States

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soundoff (974 Responses)
  1. Ronnie

    It might be a cool sci-fi amusement park !

    December 2, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
    • NL

      Kinda like how a creationist museum is a tribute to the Flintstones?

      December 2, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @NL

      LOL...!!!! Again, bro... with the funnies. 🙂

      Another gem.

      Peace...

      December 3, 2010 at 12:58 am |
  2. Alienative

    Stephen: You are an idiot.

    December 2, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
    • JPC

      Wow, how insightful.

      With impeccable reasoning like that I think we can all agree that you win the debate.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
    • asrael

      "Idiot" always a winning argument...

      December 2, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
  3. Steve

    Great article! The Christian right talks about how much they value basic principles such as freedom of speech and religion yet time and time again they demonstate that they only value such principles for themselves and those whose views match their own.

    December 2, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
    • aUtheistIC

      Steve...The first two lines of your statement is common to both Believers and Non-Believers but you had just completely turned things upside down in the third and the last line.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:40 pm |
    • David

      @Steve What a ridiculously narrow view. Every single group does exactly this. You simply single out the "Christian right" because it's your perceived foe. The "atheist left", "atheist right", and "Christian left" do it too. Moving on...

      December 3, 2010 at 3:37 am |
    • Frogist

      @Steve: I would say the current group of GOPers and their supporters who follow Boehner like sheep do this. What's worse is that they call themselves and their tea party "libertarian". But you are absolutely right in that the Christian right only uses the phrase "freedom of speech" to oppress and denigrate other religions, and "freedom of religion" to proselytize their own.

      December 3, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  4. MS

    Think of all the people that will be throwing their hard earned money at this.

    I went into the wrong business. I need to go into religion. it has a much bigger profit margin

    December 2, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
    • JT

      I would fleece ignorant deluded Christians too but unfortunately I have a conscience. It's like shooting fish in a barrel.

      December 3, 2010 at 12:22 am |
    • David

      Yeah, best go make some boorish, insulting low-brow comedy show or make a talk show and rant about Christians, Bush and Fox news. And let the atheist fanboys roll in.

      December 3, 2010 at 3:36 am |
    • A Guy Who Reads History

      I tried. Atheists don't spend very much money 😦

      December 5, 2010 at 9:30 am |
  5. LouWho

    The mosquito is proof that there is no god. You betcha !

    December 2, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
  6. Lisa

    If these people were real Christians, they'd spend the $150 million plus the $37 million in tax breaks on the truly needy. Alas, this is just another project of greed wrapped in "religious" cloth.

    December 2, 2010 at 11:23 pm |
    • Tony Rodolakis

      Who am I to judge you? I am nothing but a sinner who does nothing but sin all of the time. So, who am I to judge you? I would much rather swallow my own pride than point the finger at my brother and say, "Ah, you have pride, swallow that junk or else it will swallow you." I would much rather take out the log in my own eye than look for a speck in my brother's eye. I am the first of sinners when it comes to sinners and the last of the last when it comes to the righteous. "Why?" Their are no righteous people. Jesus is, was, and will always be the only righteous one that ever walked on this planet. Get to know him. He loves you more than he loves his very own self. God will always love you more than God loves God. Now what if anything could ever possibly be better than that?

      December 3, 2010 at 2:02 am |
    • Bioartchick

      @ Tony- What could be better? Health care for everyone, a shot at an education, a job and food on the table. Faith is the last thing on the list of necessities.

      December 4, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
  7. M.C.D.

    Since when does Christ play second fiddle to Buddha or Christopher Hitchens? Wake up people.

    December 2, 2010 at 11:23 pm |
    • Zeus

      umm put Buddha & Christ in a ring, and Buddha wins by 2nd round TKO. Christopher Hitchens, i'm not so sure about.

      December 3, 2010 at 4:42 am |
  8. Brett

    This park offends me. Can we please have it removed?

    December 2, 2010 at 11:23 pm |
  9. 3rdMLNM

    Jesus kept his promise and has already come back again
    in the beginning of this Third and Last Day (=Millennium)

    (John 6/27-40)

    together with Moses, David, and Muhammad.

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com

    December 2, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
    • Reality

      John 6: 22-50 is a single attestation found no where else in the scriptural or non-scriptual docu-ments therefore making it historically unreliable as is most of John's gospel.

      e.g. http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?ti-tle=353_Bread_of_Life

      December 3, 2010 at 12:16 am |
  10. MelM

    Hmmm. No kids on the ark? I guess they were all unrighteous and had to be destroyed.

    December 2, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
    • asrael

      Well, there were the members of Noah's family on board. As with the Garden of Eden, the genetic fallout must have been quite something to behold...

      December 2, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
  11. riverrunner

    People that believe Noah's ark is for real are either A. dumb, B. ignorant, C. gullible, or D. all of the above. I was once B and C but now can think rationally.

    December 2, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      My neighbor recently told his 6 year son that Santa wasn't real, it took a week to convince this kid, now imagine how long it will take a 50 year old that believed in Santa all of their life. This issue is made far worst if their friends and family believed in Santa too.

      December 2, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
    • M.C.D.

      Actually much easier to believe than amoebas turning into people don't you think?

      December 2, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
    • riverrunner

      @mcd

      no

      December 2, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
    • aUtheistIC

      And now you become D...CONGRATULATIONS!!!! CHEEERRRSSSS!!!!

      December 2, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
    • Q

      We can actually see all the necessary mechanistic components required of "amoebas to man", e.g. how mutation and selection produce novel functionality in organisms. We also have a fossil record which shows a very ordered progression from simple to more complex organisms. We've witnessed new species evolve in the lab and in the wild. We can see how simple mutations radically alter developmental patterns. We have a concordant correlation between genetic distances and organism diversity. In other words, there is a broad base of physical evidence indicating biological evolution.

      No one has ever observed anything remotely supportive of a jolly fat man who lives at the north pole, has an army of elves building everything from ragdolls to xboxes, flies around the world in one night in a reindeer sleigh, poofs in and out of homes leaving presents and consumes a billion calories worth of milk and cookies. Plausible only if think you don't.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:47 pm |
    • PaleBlue

      At least amoebas and people are real...

      December 2, 2010 at 11:48 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @ Q

      Well Said...

      Peace...

      December 3, 2010 at 12:55 am |
    • Rusty G

      What an utterly bizarre thing to say.

      Clearly, some legends are complete fabrications, and others are accounts of true events wrapped in hyperbole and exaggeration. Perhaps others are true. The fact that you so blithely assume you can differentiate between these without evidence is actually evidence itself of something else entirely: that you are the dumb, ignorant and gullible one.

      The geologic history of Earth is strewn with example of mass extinction events and various classes of disasters. What if "Noah's Ark" is an allegory to the survival of life through one of these mass extinction events – the evolution of mammals, for example, whose size relative to the dominant creatures of the time allowed them to do so. Maybe this is Noah's Ark?

      And maybe there's more literal truth – perhaps there was a great flood in a certain, highly populated part of the world at some point in human development. If a small portion of that population survived by constructing a boat and lasting out the storm – with as many animals as they could find, is it inconceivable that a legend would arise out of that event? And if so, is it so damning that the story is surrounded by hyperbole? Isn't there still value in the legend?

      Get over yourself and quit being so dogmatic about your rejection of all aspects of religion. It makes you look, well, dumb, ignorant and gullible.

      December 3, 2010 at 7:12 am |
    • NL

      Rusty G-
      Hey, if you want to call the ark story an allegory, a legend, or anything but literal truth you will have no problems from most skeptics whatsoever. I, for one, will gladly accept the possibility that all ancient great flood stories are legendary retellings of actual events minus, of course, any reference to the supernatural.

      Sounds like we both share a common rejection of dogmatic, 100% literal acceptance of the Noah story, or are you actually in this camp?

      December 3, 2010 at 11:01 am |
    • civilioutside

      Although, really, I'd object to the teaching of the Noah's Ark story as allegory, either, because it promotes the idea that natural disasters are punishments from god for our misbehavior. A view that is not only false, but potentially dangerous in that it encourages the idea that victims of such disasters "had it coming."

      December 3, 2010 at 11:21 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Actually, the native people of the Great Lakes area have a flood story a lot like Noah. Look up Nanabozho on the net.

      December 4, 2010 at 9:15 pm |
  12. JohnQuest

    I should have thought of it, I could have retired from all the cash that will roll in once it is opened. I know I should have studied religion a bit more closely (oh, I did that's why I am a non believer).

    December 2, 2010 at 9:41 pm |
    • David

      derp

      December 3, 2010 at 3:34 am |
    • LiberateUs

      I'm sure you follow the pedophile Richard Dawkins amd his crazy cult of extremists.

      December 3, 2010 at 7:39 am |
    • HotAirAce

      @LiberateUs

      Care to provide some references to support your claim that Richard Dawkins is a pedophile? This is a serious question as I do not want to continue sending money to a person/organization that tolerates such behaviour, just as I do not give money to religious bodes that have been *factually* shown to tolerate such behaviour. Please help me be conistent.

      December 3, 2010 at 11:01 am |
    • Frogist

      @Liberate Us: Now who's the one being rude?

      December 3, 2010 at 11:09 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Perhaps this video is the basis of LiberateIUs's claim: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xbp3af_richard-dawkins-admits-to-child-mol_fun.

      December 3, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
    • NL

      HotAirAce-
      Scary thing is, some people really would consider that video proof. ;-(

      December 3, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @NL

      I did have concerns that that would be the case, but the pictures are so outrageous and the audio splicing is so bad, I figured that any thinking person would be able to determine that the video is "not true." And the "fun" at the end of the URL should be a hint too. Anyway, I hope all will get a laugh from it.

      December 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
    • NL

      HotAirAce-
      You, my friend, have far too much confidence in people. 😉

      December 3, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
  13. TheRationale

    I cringe not at the people who'd be interested in seeing this thing, but at those who think it's a true tale. I cringe when I come across such astronomical levels of self-induced ignorance.

    December 2, 2010 at 8:48 pm |
    • riverrunner

      Like

      December 2, 2010 at 9:43 pm |
    • David

      Define "true tale". Did Noah exist and build a large vessel for a flood? Quite possibly. Did he even take on a boatload of animals? Maybe. Two of every terrestrial animal species on the planet? Not likely.

      December 3, 2010 at 3:32 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Do you suppose there were llamas and Galapagos tortoises and kangaroos and polar bears in the Holy Land when Noah built this ark?

      December 4, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
    • So Sad

      @david Do a little research please. The flood myth existed long before the tale of Noah and his ark. Even the Greeks had their version, with Zeus bringing a flood to punish all of humanity.

      So to claim that it was some sort of likely historical event is an unreasonable assumption. To assume the world was covered in water at such a depth as is depicted, is also a physical impossiblity.

      December 4, 2010 at 9:34 pm |
    • Bioartchick

      Whats even funnier is to think about how all those animals on that giant boat never ate each other... never passed diseases to one another, never had any babies, never flew away... how herbivores survived... whether or not insects were fair game as cargo...

      The logistics of actually creating a replica (especially since there are no blue prints, and only artistic interpretations) bring to light many questions that speak to the unlikelihood of the myth. If the project does come to fruition, I believe this would be the only reason I would have any interest in taking a look at it.

      December 4, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
    • Rich

      The Christian theme park is being built by the same people who depict cavemen riding dinosaurs with saddles. Accuracy of fact is not even a remote concern. It's willingly avoided.

      December 5, 2010 at 1:54 am |
  14. Keith

    Hey Stephen, Are you aware that Ground Zero mosque developer has a applied for a $5 million federal grant? I didn't seem to notice you complaining about that. And I notice you failed to mention a dead mohammed covered with ants. What's the matter, are you afraid of the religion of peace? Afraid of a little fatwah? What with the rosy picture you and your cohorts paint of islam, you certainly should be able to show mohammed being trampled by pigs? No? Just as I thought, you are a gutless coward who actually knows the truth about islam but will continue to defend it because you are afraid of it and it is anti-Christian.

    December 2, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
    • Luke

      I love your "ground zero mosque" BS banter, Keith. I just happen to work in the World Trade Center and ate lunch next door to the proposed site this afternoon, at an Amish Market. Next door is an Equinox fitness center and around the corner are two Strip Clubs. The center, you degrade and think you know so much about, is the equivalent of a YMCA or JCC. These types of centers are eligible under Tax Law of these United States to see federal grants. All centers like this in NYC get support from the Federal Government and we do not discriminate.

      Because of people like you, there are armed police officers in front of the building 24/7 protecting the developers instead of fighting crime in the city, which ironically enough, has risen sharply in the last year, with gun related deaths spiking tremendously. Instead of getting guns off of the Streets, these officers have to park themselves in front of a retired Burlington Coat Factory. Thanks for being you and making my nights out with my wife that much more dangerous.

      December 2, 2010 at 9:19 pm |
    • asrael

      Thanks to Keith for raising the intellectual content of the exchange; particularly fond of "gutless coward" as a convincing
      argument...

      December 2, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
    • Yeah

      Keith,

      Ok. Islam is a nonsensical belief too. So there...

      December 2, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
    • Keith

      Luke, You have no idea who I am. FYI, my guns are defensive in nature. You are naive, sir. You can line up and sign a dhimmi for these throat-cutters if you want. I won't be so spineless. BLT anyone?

      December 3, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
    • nOT Trash

      "my guns are defensive in nature"

      As opposed to WHAT? Jeesh.

      December 4, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
    • The Beaver

      You, sir, are a tool. I would prefer to throw in a few more edgy 'choice words,' but I'll contain myself.

      There is no Ground Zero Mosque. It is, by far, one of the greatest LIES Fox News has convinced the American public to believe in years, almost as outlandish as Obama and his '$200 million a day' stay in India. The mosque is not, and never was, going to be built directly on Ground Zero, but two blocks down at an abandoned Burlington Coat Factory. Even then, it's not even a mosque by definition, but a community center open to the public, complete with a basketball court.

      Now please, go spread your misinformed, worthless opinion somewhere else.

      December 5, 2010 at 1:03 am |
    • Morame

      I fully support Keith. With all this PC B$ these days, it's OK to offend Christians but not muslims. And the shabby little cowards here attacking Chris for his good point should probably get their facts straight and learn more about the ideology called islam before they are posting such ridiculous statements here.

      December 5, 2010 at 3:38 am |
    • Keith

      Hey Beaver, The landing gear from one of the planes hit the Burlington Coat Factory building.......If that's not ZERO, what is it? .09, .10, 2.0???????? Are you really that stupid?

      December 5, 2010 at 6:51 am |
    • Keith

      As for you Luke, you know, the more I think about it, you're probably one of those who oppose the death penalty and are in favor of slapping criminals on the wrist and letting them go, yes? So don't blame me for the streets being unsafe for you and your wife. Ever heard of Bernie Goetz? But then again, you're probably anti-gun, too. Maybe you can use REALLY harsh language against any would-be attackers.

      December 5, 2010 at 7:05 am |
    • Frogist

      @Keith: Bernie Goetz, the one who shot 4 unarmed black teenagers with an illegal weapon endangering a subway train full of people? He had so much integrity and sureness of his right to kill as he pleased he fled the scene of the crime. The vigilante criminal? That Bernie Goetz? I sure hope you don't live anywhere near me, Keith. I wouldn't want anyone I care about being subject to your "defensive nature". Luke was right. It's people like you who are making this country a farce of the place it's supposed to be.

      December 6, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  15. JT

    Are they going to create an exhibit of a talking snake telling Eve to eat fruit from a tree that will damn all of mankind? What about an exhibit showing Satan planting millions of fossils in the ground to fool scientists into falsely believing the Earth is more than 6000 years old?

    December 2, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
    • NL

      How about an exhibit showing God placing individual photons throughout the universe just to give the impression of light traveling from distant stars so as to fool astronomers into thinking that the universe is more than 6000 years old?

      December 2, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
    • Jason

      @NL In that case, science museums might as well put in exhibits showing how all matter, energy and laws governing the universe and its existence spontaneously arose out of nothing. If you're going to joke about unreasonable things, might as well be fair, eh? Mhm.

      December 3, 2010 at 3:52 am |
    • NL

      Jason-
      Seems like you are mocking science by continuing with the argument that scientists believe everything just arose spontaneously out of nothing. Stephen Hawking actually said

      "The universe began with the Big Bang, which simply followed the inevitable law of physics. Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.The universe didn't need a God to begin; it was quite capable of launching its existence on its own,"

      As I stated in my post to Isaac up above ex nihilo is a Christian concept, used to describe how God created everything out of ABSOLUTELY nothing. Hawking is arguing that gravity was at play and with that nature just took it's course.

      December 3, 2010 at 9:44 am |
    • Frogist

      @JT: You jest, but they already do. the Creation "museum" has an exhibit of the garden of Eden replete with dinos for Adam and Eve to ride on. And an exhibit featuring two "scientists" who interpret fossils they find.

      @Jason: Actually there are already museums that explain things like matter, energy and the big bang as far as it is established science. Since the theory of everything has not been confirmed and certain particles for that theory to be guaranteed are being researched now, no museum currently presents that as fact but instead scientific theory. That is the difference between a legitimate museum and the farce that is the Creation musem which chooses to present "facts" that they don't even try to prove.

      December 3, 2010 at 10:47 am |
    • Tom

      Wow! Just think – a big bang explosion occurred 15 billion years ago, and out of all that chaos, my laptop computer eventually comes into existence. Evolution is incredible!!

      December 4, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
    • John

      @ Jason

      How is that any worse than believing 1) a god appears magically out of nowhere and 2) magically creates everything?

      Sounds like religion has twice the problem that science does.

      And why do you think the Greeks worshipped an ancient sun god? Because they didn't know why the sun rose and set in the sky everyday. Do you think a solitary tribe in the middle of nowhere would worship a rain god if they knew anything about climates, weather, and precipitation? What will happen to your belief in God (or that that of your Christian descendants) when science definitively figures out the origin of our universe? Simply put, ALL major religions in the world today are based on the idea of some god who created our universe, because we are currently not aware of how our universe came to be.

      Science has a great track record of figuring things out. Notice how, as science has made new discoveries, old religions have phased out, and new ones have been created to explain another mystery, only to be destined to the same fate (abolishment). Any normal, intelligent person can see this trend, and logically predict the same end to Christianity, Islam, the Mormon faith, etc as science continues to progress.

      December 4, 2010 at 11:09 pm |
    • BP

      "The universe didn't need a God to begin; it was quite capable of launching its existence on its own. Hawking is arguing that gravity was at play and with that nature just took it's course."

      NL – and who created "nature" and the laws of physics that enabled the big bang? Hey, I believe in evolution and I'm not into organized religion; but who's to say what is absolute proof? Not you, not me, not Hawking. Closing your mind to the possibility of "god" is just as ignorant as believing god directly created Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.

      December 7, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  16. jeff

    As long as the tax breaks for this organization are consistent with the size of tax breaks for organizations that create similar numbers of jobs, there should be no issue. In Alabama, huge tax breaks were given to Mercedes Benz to get them to build a plant between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. Should we be okay with that, or upset that large breaks are going to a foreign company building a car the average person in Alabama can't afford? As long as the rules are applied consistently, I don't see the issue – with the Ark or with Mercedes.

    grace and peace,

    -jeff

    December 2, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
    • Andrew

      Is Mercedes Benz a religiousness affiliated company promoting religious ideology with taxpayer money?

      If yes, then we should complain, as that's a violation of the const-tution, if not, then your analogy is entirely false. It's really not that difficult to grasp, Mercedes is a car company, not a religiously motivated theme park that promotes religious ideology. There's a specific clause in the const-tution that prohibits the government from promoting religious agendas, there's no such car company analog.

      Really CNN, your filter is so touchy you cannot say "const-tution"? How difficult is it to have a whitespace checker, I mean, honestly? That code shouldn't take more than a day to implement sitewise if you had some even reasonably well designed code.

      December 2, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
    • aUtheistIc

      I don't think that the Ark and the Benz of Jeff's statement falls into the category of an analogy. For me it was just a simple comparison of two things not two things referring other to two things, as you could see the "Ark" was mentioned in the statement.

      The fact is religion is separated with the state that's why religious like charitable & non-profit corporation were having huge tax discounts if not exempted. Thus, government funds "must" not be used in anything whatsoever with regards to religious affairs.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:10 am |
    • sqeptiq

      I thought we believed in capitalism. Why should taxpayer money be going to ANY private business. I thought capitalism was based on the free market idea of survival only of fiscally healthy business.

      December 4, 2010 at 8:44 pm |
    • Anonamoose

      republicans cry Capitalism because that's their religion, they wail about Chrsitianity because that's the opiate that their masses use–gotta keep them on the drug or they won't get any votes at all!

      December 4, 2010 at 9:21 pm |
    • Rover

      Andrew, have you forgotten Janis Joplin singing Oh Lord wont ya buy me a Mercedes Benz...

      December 4, 2010 at 10:28 pm |
    • wkdkween

      I have to agree with you Jeff, they give tax breaks to all sorts of companies, why not a theme park? I wonder who did the market analysis. I don't know too many people who would frequent a place like that, mostly fundamentlists. I woud hope that there isn't enough of them to make it a success, but I'm probably wrong.

      December 5, 2010 at 9:24 am |
    • BP

      1) There's already a noah's ark water park. There is no religious overtone there.
      2) The ark is a fairy tale that most people are aware of. Maybe we should call for defunding disneyland exemptions, too?? Sorceror Mickey is obviously a pagan/wiccan, right? Let's all get our panties in a bunch!

      December 7, 2010 at 10:54 am |
    • Steve

      The reason for the tax breaks is the creating of jobs and therefor more tax income. This has nothing to do with their message or lack of a message. It is trading a tax break for future income to the area. It is a win for both. The National Potrait Gallery gives nothing financially back and is supported by the government and as they say private donations. If the private donator's did not like the exhibits then they would stop funding them. If the public which owns the government does not like the exhibits them they quit funding them. And by the way I think they should be totally cut off and then when they decide to create 900+ jobs they to will get a tax break, not a subsidy to support them.

      December 7, 2010 at 11:16 am |
  17. JT

    This story is from The Onion, correct?

    December 2, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
    • Luke

      Nope! But it certainly reads like one.

      December 2, 2010 at 9:20 pm |
  18. Peace2All

    @Stephen Prothero

    *Spot on* ... preacher man...!

    Peace...

    December 2, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
  19. Michael

    He who takes the King's coin is the King's man. If the public is going to fund 'art' like this, the public has a right to say what is, and is not, acceptable. If that reality is an anathema to the artist–if he or she simply can't bear that sort of intrusion–they should not seek public funding to display their work. There may be people who think pictures of two male brothers making out is art. No one is telling them that they can't view such things, nor is anyone telling the artists they cannot create such things. What is being said is that, if you are going to use public funds to finance art, the public has a say in it. Don't like it? Go pay for viewings in private galleries. No one is stopping you. Perhaps, in the name of Art, artists could present masterpieces like these–Ellen Degeneres grabbing her breast! Look out, Picasso!– for free. It really would be a public service.

    December 2, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
    • Andrew

      From the article you apparently did not read.
      "The entire exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery (of which the brief clip by the late artist David Wojnarowicz was a small part), cost, by contrast, $750,000, and all of that from private donations."

      By contrast, this ark, a purely religious venture, is getting taxpayer money. Oh, and art galleries are allowed to hold controversial works, that's the point of art. El Entierro del Conde Orgaz is a work of art, religious or not, so why would a work that depicts jesus negatively be prohibited? Are you promoting a double standard here?

      December 2, 2010 at 7:21 pm |
    • Molly

      If the museum as a whole accepts any money from that government, then the privately funded exhibits benefits from it.

      It is so easy to go after christians, so easy. Lets get a picture of Mohammed with ants crawling all over it. Oh wait, artist in this country have the size of balls of an ant. They would never dare.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Michael: You seem to have missed the point. The mission of the Smithsonian is "the increase and diffusion of knowledge". It receives funding towards that mission. And it is doing precisely that through challenging exhibits like these. Because you personally do not comprehend that goal, does not make it irrelevant or unworthy of funding.
      BTW You might want to do a bit of art history research yourself. Picasso, Monet, even the great Van Gogh were all met with the same scorn you are heaping upon the artists in the Hide/Seek exhibit.

      @Molly: All of your statement only speaks of a persecution complex and a bias against muslims... there are no other principles involved in what you said.

      December 3, 2010 at 10:37 am |
    • John Richardson

      @Michael and Molly – I myself don't consider the withholding of public funds for art "censorship" and am sick and tired of people saying that it is. It's nothing of the sort. But that's not the point of the article. It's about the governmental support for this utterly offensive ark theme park.

      December 4, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
    • amanofmanyfaucets

      If you have objections to the representation of your deity, then get all your christian iconography out of my museums. Oh and by the way, the article was not specifically about this issue if you paid any attention. The primary issue was the use of government funds, endorsements, support etc. to build a religious based theme park. You and those like you are an assault on the freedom of us all including your own deluded selves. You are attempting to set a dangerous precedent. I doubt that you will ever understand that the separation of church and state protects everyone, even self righteous fools like yourself.

      December 5, 2010 at 12:35 am |
    • tony

      The God of Jesus, if "he" ever existed, seems like a kind person. The god of the old testament seems vile and mostly only has powers over weather. (e.g. exodus) The god of republican politicians, if he were to exist, would have to be red with a pointy tail. Obviously they don't expect to be spending all eternity with the poor souls of their millions of victims, or they would be more concerned about them.

      December 5, 2010 at 1:32 am |
  20. NL

    I'd pay good money to see them build it, then load it with the correct number of animals from every species, and then see if they can survive floating out in the ocean for seven months without any outside rations, or aid. They could make a reality show of it, call it Survivor Noah.

    December 2, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @NL

      LOL... 🙂

      Very funny my friend...!

      Peace...

      December 2, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
    • NL

      Peace-
      I wasn't being entirely funny. I really would like to see people build a scale model, with authentic materials, load it with the weight (not the actual, for obvious safety reasons) of the required number of animals, people, and provisions, launch it into the ocean and see what happens.

      I'm use to shows on NOVA where they try building something from the past, like a trebuchet, and see how well it works. Of course we don't have any Gopher wood anymore. Likely Noah chopped it all down for the ark. An environmental shame, but God was planning on destroying everything anyway. Still, that stuff must have had remarkable buoyancy, something on the scale of being able to float a M1 tank with just a cork-sized plug of the stuff. Maybe some day the real thing might be discovered (not holding breath) and we could put a sample to the test, eh?

      December 2, 2010 at 7:33 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Now that was funny, Thanks NL you are provided my chuckles for today.

      December 2, 2010 at 9:37 pm |
    • asrael

      Not to mention all those carnivores, insects, bacteria (waste products), etc., being ever so gracious and willing to put aside their individual mandates for the greater good of the hoped-for success of the voyage...

      December 2, 2010 at 11:07 pm |
    • DaDoc540

      Perhaps the Mythbusters could devote a multi-part episode on this and other scientifically testable religious myths, such as the presence of secret passageways at the Vatican (without being intrusive), like in da Vinci Code.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:44 pm |
    • McJesus

      They also need to clearly explain what they did with all the water-borne life. Freshwater fish cannot survive in salt water. Salt water fish cannot survive in fresh water. Few species can survive in both. If the Earth flooded completely.. all bodies of freshwater would have been inundated with water from the oceans. The oceans would have become diluted/brackish as a result of all the rains. So... was there a massive aquarium in the ark to house every water based species too?

      Oh. The author of the Bible didn't think of that little detail. Eh?

      December 3, 2010 at 12:04 am |
    • adibese

      Lol. well considering the story was stolen from the Egyptian stories relating to the Nile flooding, I doubt we'd have to worry about Fresh/ Salt water fish mixing, etc.

      December 3, 2010 at 12:28 am |
    • Peace2All

      @NL

      Yes, I love those shows too. However, got to still give you 'props' on the ti-tle... "Survivor Noah" 🙂 Love it...!

      "Maybe some day the real thing might be discovered (not holding breath) and we could put a sample to the test, eh?"

      With you on that brother... that would be amazing to witness.

      Again, like your thinking...

      Peace...

      December 3, 2010 at 12:49 am |
    • rgb

      I absolutely agree. And I'd like to see them collect all of those species in the first place, dodging T Rex's and giant crocodilians, crossing oceans filled with animals like Kronosaurus and Megalodon. And after the "Flood simulation", I'd like to see them put all of the species back, each in precisely the right ecological niche, and have all of those ecologies survive.

      rgb

      December 3, 2010 at 7:05 am |
    • NL

      Well, if it has taxpayer money going into it then I wonder if they would be willing to lay aside an alcove to the Rabbinic and Muslim renditions of the flood and Noah? Maybe another area to the many other great flood stories from religion and mythology, like Manu in Hinduism, Gilgamesh, and Atlantis.

      How about a center where science can weigh in as to how the whole thing might have been accomplished, how all the animals from the far reaches of the globe all walked to the Middle East and back again after the flood receded, how this wooden structure actually supported all that weight, how a flood could possible turn earth into Waterworld, ... I would even be willing to have that center named "How Big A Miracle Are We Talking About!" if they want to keep it completely within the religious theme.

      December 3, 2010 at 8:26 am |
    • Wzrd1

      NL, it would be simple enough to provide a literal biblical flood. While it wouldn't cover ALL of the Earth, it would cover a sufficient amount for primitive man to think it was.
      Consider several facts. The ice age had a GREAT deal of water locked up as ice. There IS evidence of massive flooding around the end of the ice age, but other than for the Colorado river, no evidence on WHAT caused it, other than a possible rapid melt of the glaciers around the end of the ice age.
      One of two possible events would cause massive vaporization of large amounts of ice. An impact event MIGHT cause a massive evaporation, but it would be over an extremely limited area, as there are no large impact craters left in evidence of an impact.
      More likely would be a volcanic event, such as the Yellowstone caldera, which would have immediately vaporized around 20 miles of water when the caldera vented. The surrounding area's albedo would changed, secondary to the dust, causing further melting. The event would be global in nature, though the most destructive part would be on the North American continent.
      OK, not the most likely notion, but one silly thing I tossed together in about a minute.

      As for the ark, I'd love to see them build it, cypress wood was one suggestion, due to the similarity to the Hebrew word gophar, so let's suggest that.
      I'd love to see them use, at best, bronze age technology to build it. And I'd pay REAL money to see them try to make the thing float.
      Then, after they recover it from the bottom, set it where people can see EXACTLY how small 515 (approximately) really is.

      Unless the ark was really a TARDIS and bigger inside than out... 😉

      December 4, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Let's not forget the dinosaurs.You have to make room for them.

      December 4, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
    • Anonamoose

      and hire 8 Christians to physically move the tons of animal crap from the bottom deck to the rail!

      December 4, 2010 at 9:16 pm |
    • So Sad

      It's like people building a park for Santa and his sleigh – though with some sort of intention of presenting it as history.

      If you study ancient history, you'll see that the flood mythology LONG predates the tale in the bible. It's clearly a myth, a parable, a morality tale. And yet people are so idiotic that they actually want to think that some guy built an ark and floated around while the entire world was flooded.

      I guess they probably believe the reports of NORAD too when they see Santa and his sleigh flying.

      December 4, 2010 at 9:27 pm |
    • Avatar74

      If a Christ covered in ants offends you, then talk about it... don't censor it. That's the point of a democracy with freedom of expression. Having different points of view is what people in free countries do. Can't handle living in a country with other view points than yours? Move to Iran.

      December 4, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
    • Bioartchick

      @ LutheranPastor– just because your holy book says that there will be people who voice their skepticism (which is only rational), doesn't make those who question wrong. Those who claim their ideas are immune from criticism are orders of magnitude worse. Literal belief in your scripture prevents exercise of free will, and denies the ability to think that your creator gave you. Where is your humanity?

      You can do better.

      December 4, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Let's not forget issues of severe genetic bottle necking if all species were down to one male and one female specimen, or even a handful of each, especially if the event is supposed to be as recent as the fundies think the flood took place. The ark myth is in some ways even more ridiculous than the creation myth in Genesis. The creation myth at least had the good sense to invoke ultimately supernatural origins. The flood myth tries mightily but fails hilariously to provide a physical explanation for species survival after a global flood.

      December 4, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
    • I'm just saying...

      There were 2 groups of animals referenced in the Noah's ark story. There was one pair of every unclean kind of critter, seven pairs (total of 14) of every clean kind. This is most likely the food source for many critters on the ark. ( must say, I would have probably been happier if only one mosquito was on the ark.)

      Some Biblical scholars believe gopher wood is actually acacia wood. Acacia wood dries red and was used in building the Ark of the Covenant. There is some symbolism evidenced in that design and use of materials.

      December 4, 2010 at 10:51 pm |
    • karan

      Evan almighty was on today and I watched like 10 minutes of it, and that was exactly what I was thinking. what about all the tropical animals and animals accustomed to different climates and environments.

      December 4, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
    • Alan

      One other "minor" detail left out of the arc story is what happens to all the plants in the world? Did they go around and collect seeds from every plant and fungus? That's quite the accomplishment since we are still identifying plants after decades of people cataloging them. Has anybody ever calculated the volume of water required to cover the earth enough so there would be no land? I bet it falls way short of all the water currently on the earth. If so, where did it come from and where did it go? Can you imagine the energy it would take to launch that much water into space at escape velocity? Where did that energy come from?

      December 4, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
    • Mike

      @Lutheran – Wicked generation? Wasn't that generation over 2000 years ago? Nearly 200 generations have passed. How about you study some history and try and tell the world that at one point "it was better." You are an idiot who influences people. If I prayed, I would pray for those under your "wing."

      December 4, 2010 at 11:45 pm |
    • Mike

      @Alan. True, true. And it would definitely take divine intervention to place all of those plants into respectable environments to grow. And the animals. I'm pretty sure they landed in one place. A place that could not EVER offer the resources to cater to all of the plants and animals of the world. I don't believe such a place exists on earth. Perhaps the moon, or heaven?

      December 4, 2010 at 11:49 pm |
    • goat

      2 of every species... hmm

      who did their offspring mate with?

      Bible has heavy tones of incest...

      December 5, 2010 at 12:12 am |
    • bob

      Christians don't even bother wondering how Noah got kangaroos, so I don't think the size of the ark will cross their minds and deter them either. If they did answer the "kangaroo" or "size" questions, they will explain it in a way that cannot be proven. They might claim the continents were still joined 4,000 years ago, or say "god has his ways", which is unsatisfactory to anyone with an ounce of objectivity.

      December 5, 2010 at 12:29 am |
    • ratpacker04

      Lutheran Pastor: Your arrogance and absolutism are why I am a FORMER Lutheran. Try sprinkling a little reason, logic, and science onto your immature belief system.

      December 5, 2010 at 12:42 am |
    • Nick

      Yea "Props comical NL!", "way to go witty NL!", "here's to NL's M1 tank comment!", "give it up for whimsical, M1 tank comparison, fact debunking NL!", "nice milking of a noah reality show NL! woop woop! lols and lmaos!". I forgot a smiley but you get the point. Poing being, faith will always be criticized by science. It's funny tho..... Remember this for all you liberals, including NL reading this.... People mock christianity, it's like a given. I mean to even read an article by this stephen guy expecting christians to feel bad for getting one way of their own and not feeling bad for all other religions is ludicrous. BEcause christians are hated everywhere. But point being... for all liberals.. make M1 tank comments, make travel distance jokes, mock God basically.... but when you suffer, or your loved one is *scientifically* terminally ill, someone you'd give your life for, it's at this time that people turn to something that they had previously mocked when it was convenient to mock something that was empirically "dumb" or "impossible". So while everyone laughs at NL as the comic of the century and NL jokes like he's the next stephen colbert. Just remember this.... M1 tanks, reality shows and shipwood durability are convenient for a good laugh but when things are bad, remember where you're going to go..... "lolz NL!"

      December 5, 2010 at 12:50 am |
    • trainwreck

      considering the massive amount of species and the size of the ark,it would be impossible, OR the species around now would have to be EVOLVED from the ones on the Ark...in seriousness there is evidence of a large local flood around the appropriate timeframe not the whole earth (a flood of 40 days and 40 nights covering the entire landmass also being pretty much impossible unless there was a LOT more water then)

      December 5, 2010 at 12:57 am |
    • bob

      Nick, why do you assume people that do not share your religion are "liberals"? You know only one of their view points, and it's not even a political one.

      December 5, 2010 at 1:03 am |
    • mmi16

      Sounds like a plan!

      December 5, 2010 at 1:17 am |
    • DoubleWW

      Actually, it WAS funny. Especially the idea for a TV program. I can visualize the carnivores eyeing the camera crews hungrily after the fresh meat supply ran out...

      December 5, 2010 at 1:40 am |
    • sandy

      I love the exchange on this issue but the real, very sad issue is that the Republicans speak out of both sides of their face. They have made the past 2 years hell for We The People and yet they puff up their chests and continue to play the "good ole boys" game. They don't govern, they politic. We The People are in for some sad days ahead.

      December 5, 2010 at 2:56 am |
    • Eric

      If humans and animals began to reproduce with only Noah's family and two of each animal for a base, the limited gene pool and inbreeding would have caused such birth defects and mutations that none of these living things would likely exist today. Also, if the story is true, everyone should be of whatever race Noah was, which they clearly are not.

      December 5, 2010 at 3:50 am |
    • Sharon

      Can i tell you how sick I am of the constant mocking? I know, I know, that's the way our society is these days. Christian values are derided, and the accounts in the Bible are a joke...well I happen to believe them. I believe in miracles, believe in the God of the Bible, and believe that every account in the Bible is true – including Noah's ark. And you can call me narrowminded, deceived, or whatever your heart desires. I have had far too many prayers answered, and experienced far too many miracles in my own life to believe differently.

      December 5, 2010 at 4:25 am |
    • Forrest

      Actually, the fable states the ark floated around for over a full year... and the waters exceeded the highest mountain tops. Noah was 600 when he entered and 601 when he left. The entire account would have happened approximately 4,360 years ago.. When the total of 8 people left the ark, Noah lived another 300 years so his funeral would have been 4,060 years ago.

      Perhaps this father of all mankind, Noah could be given a world recognized funeral and prove DNA is just a myth which proves the entire account nonsense.

      Then they can build a language birth center because the tower of babel would have happened much later than the Noah & the Ark fable. This Tower of Babel of course is how all languages came to be! Less than 3,500 years ago WOW!

      December 5, 2010 at 7:17 am |
    • @MSSHSHH

      This would be especially interesting if it could be done with dinosaurs, since they do in fact intend to put models of dinosaurs in their ark since they obviously lived in the time of Noah ark because the world was new then and they couldn't possibly have lived millions of years ago.

      I wish this was a joke.

      December 5, 2010 at 7:39 am |
    • Sharon Alderton

      No, I'm not sure it could float without God's intervention, but absolutely I believe it did happen. I approve the government censoring that ant covered cross, and I would also support the withholding of taxpayers money for an Islamic or Moslem theme park, and here is why: The founding fathers came to this country and established our government under the the authority of God and the Lorsdhip of Jesus Christ. Read any of their recorded meetings, and while you're at it, notice that all meetings began with prayer to God in the name of Jesus Christ. God loves the Islam and Moslem believers the same as me, but He wants us all to know the truth as revealed in the Holy Bible.

      December 5, 2010 at 7:52 am |
    • Johnny Ola

      Excellent idea! I would really like to see that. Here in Maryland, there's this pastor who has a shell of an Ark and there is a sign saying "Noah's Ark Being Built Here". He's been building it for at least 20 years and spent a lot of the congregation's money on it. Ridiculous.

      December 5, 2010 at 8:14 am |
    • Aaron Davis

      Wow-reminds me of so many of my liberal teachers-quick to attack Conservative Christians, can't tell me when and who disproved the Bible and does not offer me any better hope for the issue of death. Faith based programs give money to more than just Christians without violating the Establishment clause. Man, I used to believe idiots like this before I got educated.

      December 5, 2010 at 8:43 am |
    • Aaron

      So many anti-Christs around these days. Well, Christ will come back and maybe soon. You will go with the Lord or stay here depending on the choice you make. God is love and gives all free will. When you face Christ in judgment having rejected him all your Noah's Arc skepticism will not matter. If you do get left behind though you'll want to open up the Bible to the Book of Revelation and see the what you will be in for. P.S. You do not want to take a mark #666. Soberly, yes IT IS OR MAY BE the end of the world.

      December 5, 2010 at 9:08 am |
    • ratpacker04

      When it comes right down to it, religions are all about who has the best imaginary friend, so what's all the fuss?

      December 5, 2010 at 4:31 pm |
    • Equality

      Hey Stephen,

      If you haven't known, the government already pumps in billions of dollars in the public schools to promote atheism. Where is your outrage over that?

      Remove the blinders from your eyes. Don't be such a hypocrite.

      December 7, 2010 at 3:04 am |
    • Marc

      Brilliant sir. Brilliant..

      December 7, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
    • Jeremy

      I am not big into religion, but I am not big into criticizing people's religion. Just from this comment and the repsonses that revel is making fun of other people's religions disturb me.
      Many people who claim to be open minded are just the opposite. I am guessing the repsonse to this will be something similiar to "they did it first", even though it may be phrased in a more mature way. Well, my resposne to that is part of being open minded and accepting people who they are and not making fun of them for their beliefs.

      December 9, 2010 at 9:20 am |
    • civilioutside

      Equality evidently confuses "not allowing public schools to promote religious views either for or against," for "promoting atheism in public schools." Public schools are simply not allowed to take a position on which, if any, gods their students should be worshipping. That is very different from telling their students that they should not believe in gods.

      December 9, 2010 at 10:39 am |
    • rumplesnitz

      Um, actually that's a great idea... and having lived on an LST with 800 men for six months at a shot – I don't think it would be difficult at all if the producers actually wanted the experiment to work...

      December 25, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.