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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. Nonimus

    Stephen,
    I don't normally agree with your articles, but this one is excellent!
    Great job and keep it up.

    December 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  2. A

    @David Johnson =

    I said: "There are many who believe the Holocaust didn't happen, even though there are plenty accounts of the horror survivors experiences. But I guess you can't believe everything you read, huh? I wonder if a thousand years from now those who were in the actual camps will be called "myths." A

    "If we allow it, the death camps could be called myths. The South is trying to rewrite history now, claiming slavery was a very small part of why the Civil War was fought."Johnson

    If we rewrite it? That was my point. There will always be two sides to any argument. The case that it existed will always be there but the opposite will be there as well. Which one will people choose to believe? And why would one side be more wrong than the other in a 1000 years considering there will be evidence on both sides that support their claims?

    "Rewriting history is dangerous. It makes us miss lessons we should learn. It allows us to make the same mistakes twice."Johnson

    And it allows those who refuse to believe one side believe the other...who will know they are right in cases such as these? Both will have "facts" on their side, both will have "evidence" on their side. Yet one side will "seem" way more believable and be easer to believe. This is my orginal opinion – I choose to err on the side of a greater God creating me than a few silly scientic theories that have been proven and disproven over the years. I choose to believe in the one constant theory that has yet to be disproven 🙂

    December 3, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
  3. Kim

    It is so obvious most of you not only have God issues, but Daddy/church issues. Your woundings stick out with so much intellectualism it would be comical if not so sad. The wisdom of this world is foolishness to God, so all your vain arguments and speculations don't hold a candle to the Truth. There is no sense and I mean no SENSE in arguing. If you don't have a revelation or relationship with the Creator, you can only form your own flawed opinion with no absolutes. That makes for a sad existence, never being sure of where you came from, what your purpose is or where you're going. The one that comes to God must believe that he IS and that he is a Rewarder (not punisher) of those that diligently seek Him. Check out Neuro-scientist Dr. Caroline Leaf (www.drleaf.com) if you really want some scientific reality. I've been where you are and i feel for you, I really do.

    December 3, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
    • NL

      Kim-
      Does your trusted medical doctor sound like the village idiot? Do you vote for political representatives who sound like Homer Simpson? Does your Neuro-scientist friend speak in all caps. Look a little closer into those around you and you might just find that you really do value wisdom and intellect, at least when it suits you.

      December 3, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
    • civilioutside

      Except... I'm not sad. I have no qualms about the fact that I have no external purpose, nor does the idea that some unknowable superpowerful being might have a purpose for me appeal or resonate with me in any way. I'm not especially frightened by a lack of absolutes or the idea that humanity may just be the only ones responsible for their own behavior and meaning.

      December 3, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
    • Know What

      Kim,

      It seems as if you are the one with "God"/Daddy and wound issues. You can only treat your wounds and allay your fears by relying on an imaginary super-hero, instead of being an adult who takes responsibility for his/her own actions.

      "If you don't have a revelation or relationship with the Creator..."

      Well, I guess that this "God" is not an equal-opportunity revealer then. Y'all say that you only get these revelations if you already believe. What about Saul of Tarsus, who got knocked off his camel? What about Thomas, who got to do some really gross, gory things? This "God" if it is all-knowing, as is claimed, knows *exactly* what it would take to convince me of its existence - it does not do it.

      You are talking to yourself. If it gives you comfort, so be it; but please do not claim that it is truth (capital 't' notwithstanding).

      December 3, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
    • asrael

      I just talked with God, and She says that the smugness demonstrated by Kim and countless others is a never-ending concern...

      December 3, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
    • A

      "Well, I guess that this "God" is not an equal-opportunity revealer then. Y'all say that you only get these revelations if you already believe. What about Saul of Tarsus, who got knocked off his camel? What about Thomas, who got to do some really gross, gory things? This "God" if it is all-knowing, as is claimed, knows *exactly* what it would take to convince me of its existence – it does not do it. "knowwhat"

      He has done plenty to convince you He exists. You just choose to deny anything He says as fact. Why do you suppose He needs to chase you down in order to make you believe in Him? Does He need you? Does He need anything you can give Him? Why do you think so highly of yourself that in this case He should do something to convince you, instead of you just saying "maybe" and asking Him with an honest heart to show you. You really might be surprised.

      December 3, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
    • civiloutside

      "asking Him with an honest heart to show you."

      You know very well that this amounts to saying "If you already believe, then you'll believe."

      It may seem arrogant to you when one of us asks why, if god exists, he hasn't bothered to prove it to us. But then believers keep coming on here and claiming that they "know" he exists because they have been given personal and undeniable revelations. So it hardly seems unreasonable for the atheist to ask why these people rated their own personal revelations when we did not. Your answer is "because god doesn't owe you," mine is "because god doesn't exist to give me a revelation."

      December 3, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
  4. Steve M

    Seems that evangelicals now agree that evangelism (for example, tele-evangelism) is a business. They should get the same benefits, and follow the same rules, as any other business. I only object when they hide behind "religion" to avoid the responsibilities of other business people, like paying taxes.

    December 3, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
  5. Zeflik

    As a fan of a good comedy and cabaret, I promise to visit the Creation Museum at the first opportunity, especially, when the Noah's Ark, or rather its replica is ready for vistors. As for the author's dismay over the Conservatives' interfering into what people can and cannot view, I am suprised only that he is surprised. The Conservative creed demands that the government stays away from the economy and puts its nose everywhere else – be it an art gallery or somebody's bedroom

    December 3, 2010 at 12:12 pm |
  6. Jimmy Stewart

    I would add, what do you mean by "fundamentalism."? Are you somehow implying that Christianity is comparable to Islamic Fundamentalism?? Don't be ridiculous.

    December 3, 2010 at 11:54 am |
    • NL

      No, just that radical, right-wing, conservative Christianity resembles radical, right-wing, conservative Islam.

      Don't feel bad, because moderate, liberal Christianity equally resembles moderate, liberal Islam. So don't think of the capitalized words are the problem, it's just the adjectives that are, OK?

      December 3, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
  7. Jimmy Stewart

    Stephen,

    I find it interesting that these type of projects only become an issue when times are tough economically. While I don't think this money (tax break) is a guaranteed thing, I believe there should be a basic freedom of religion perspective for all religions. I don't see what is so bad about this plan. Christianity is the biggest religion in America and The Creation Museum has shown that they have plenty of desirous visitors who visit each year. This will definitely help the economy by the tax revenue that will be generated by all the visitors. I don't see where your comparison holds up about Glenn Beck, Boehner should be concerned about this because what if other religions like Buddhism, Hare Krishna wanted to build something. That would be fine for them too because we live in a country where we have freedom of religion. The only problem is that those other religions don't have the same numbers of followers in America and that's why you don't see them doing many of the same things. So, lighten up and realize that we still live in a country of religious freedom. Just remember you don't have all the facts as to why AIG is building this park, so why not give them the benefit of the doubt. Not any more in America, it's attack Christianity all the time and anywhere. Wake up America this is nothing more that an attack on religious freedom. If there is a change in the law for tax breaks, then true Christians will abide by that law and we realize that this is a privilege and not a right to have these tax breaks.

    December 3, 2010 at 11:50 am |
  8. DataJack

    A then said "And what happened to the apes who didn't change? Were they just happy being apes and chose to not "evolve?" I love the "consistancy" in the evolution argument...'

    Again, a gross misunderstanding of evolution. No organism "changes" into another. Organisms reproduce, and their offspring are slightly different then they are. This is a fact.

    And concerning your obvious ignorance of the word theory:
    in Science, facts are observations;
    Theories are explanations of observations.
    Theories never "become" facts (or laws).

    You can "choose to believe" you were created, but your parents know otherwise. You are a product of evolution, because you are not identical to your parents, and if you ever breed, your children will not be identical to you.

    December 3, 2010 at 11:00 am |
    • A

      A then said "And what happened to the apes who didn't change? Were they just happy being apes and chose to not "evolve?" I love the "consistancy" in the evolution argument...'

      "Again, a gross misunderstanding of evolution. No organism "changes" into another. Organisms reproduce, and their offspring are slightly different then they are. This is a fact."

      You seem to have missed the actual point. I was LAUGHING at the fact that there are beliefs that we evolved from apes. Perhaps you missed the sarcasm of my post...

      "And concerning your obvious ignorance of the word theory:
      in Science, facts are observations;
      Theories are explanations of observations.
      Theories never "become" facts (or laws)."

      Theories can be disproven and pushed aside for new theories, which was my point.

      You can "choose to believe" you were created, but your parents know otherwise. You are a product of evolution, because you are not identical to your parents, and if you ever breed, your children will not be identical to you.

      This does not have anything to do with what I have been saying. However, my children are still human beings. They will never be anything BUT human beings. They can (and do) have different color eyes than mine. They can have different heights. They can have different weights. Yet they are still biologically the same as me, with the same type of DNA as I have. That biology is what proves they are related to me. And the biology of proving humans are related to other species is not wrong as well. However there are distinct differences in the DNA, which proves we are who we are and because DNA is not supposed to undergo any major change it's pretty safe to say my lineage will always be human. lol There is nothing coincidental or accidental about the way DNA was created – it is perfect in it's creation. What is your argument on how we were created? What do you suppose could create such a thing?

      December 3, 2010 at 11:33 am |
    • DataJack

      A – now I am confused. You understand how scientific theories work, but don't accept one of the most supported theories (evolution) ever?

      All organisms ever "born" are the same species as their parents and their offspring. However, organisms can (and often are) a different species that their great-great-great-...-great grand-parents/children. In fact, if you understood biology, you would realize this is not only possible, but inevitable for isolated populations, because inheritable changes must occur.

      "Species" is just an artificial category system we have created in order to group things together.

      We know we can create new species by breeding, we have done it many times over thousands of years with livestock.

      A grey wolf is not a dog, but a chihuahua is. So is a German Shepherd. But a dingo isn't. Why? Because we made dogs, from domesticated grey wolves.

      December 3, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
    • A

      A – now I am confused. You understand how scientific theories work, but don't accept one of the most supported theories (evolution) ever?"Johnson

      I don't support the theory that human beings were created by ANYTHING other than God, our creator. I support the fact that people adapt to surroundings but I do not support the fact that we will EVER evolve into anything other than human, which is what we were created as.

      "All organisms ever "born" are the same species as their parents and their offspring. However, organisms can (and often are) a different species that their great-great-great-...-great grand-parents/children. In fact, if you understood biology, you would realize this is not only possible, but inevitable for isolated populations, because inheritable changes must occur."Johnson

      Humans will never be another "species" by a natural occuring change. I completely understand biology. I understand how the pigment in ones skin can darken or lighten based on a change in location. I understand how DNA can be changed when a virus enters the body, and how this mutated DNA can also be passed on. That is completely different than what was ORIGINALLY created in perfection. Unfortunately, DNA that is mutated often has fatal results...which if you are familiar with any sort of Biology probably know, correct?

      "Species" is just an artificial category system we have created in order to group things together."Johson

      Wow. I had no idea. 😉

      "We know we can create new species by breeding, we have done it many times over thousands of years with livestock. A grey wolf is not a dog, but a chihuahua is. So is a German Shepherd. But a dingo isn't. Why? Because we made dogs, from domesticated grey wolves."Johnson

      ANYTIME you change the DNA of someting you are mutating the DNA. However, in regards to your own argument this is NOT evolution. It's not the natural changing of biology based on necessity to survive. It's as artificial as the term "species" is...

      December 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
    • Know What

      @A,

      You also don't seem to have any comprehension of TIME. Do you know how long a million years is? Do you know how long a billion years is?

      And you don't seem to understand the smallness of the changes which have occurred during this HUGE amount of time. Teeny, tiny, itty-bitty, minute, minuscule, sub-microscopic, infinitesimal changes have happened to DNA and its sequences (caused by viruses, sunspots, radiation, or many, many more reasons) and are passed along (and change again and again and again) over a long, long, LONG time.

      December 3, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
    • DataJack

      A – You actually don't know biology very well, if you don't understand, and reject, one of its most important central principles.

      Evolution consists of several different observations:
      1) Resources for survival are scarce
      2) Offspring can differ from their parents, due to genetic mutations
      3) Some of the differences can allow an organism to compete for resources better
      4) Those differences can be passed on to their offspring
      All of these are undeniable facts. They can be measured and/or replicated.

      People who don't accept these as facts don't understand biology.

      People who do accept these as facts, but trot out the "variation within kind" canard, are introducing some artificial barrier to genetic change that has no basis in science. They are basically saying, "a organism can differ from its base blueprint, but only by so much, and no more". The problem is there is no base blueprint. Mutations don't make organisms different from their species (or "kind"), they make them different from their parents.

      Once you understand this, you will see there is no limit on the amount of change that can occur over enough generations.

      December 3, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
    • A

      @ Know What =

      @A,

      "You also don't seem to have any comprehension of TIME. Do you know how long a million years is? Do you know how long a billion years is? And you don't seem to understand the smallness of the changes which have occurred during this HUGE amount of time. Teeny, tiny, itty-bitty, minute, minuscule, sub-microscopic, infinitesimal changes have happened to DNA and its sequences (caused by viruses, sunspots, radiation, or many, many more reasons) and are passed along (and change again and again and again) over a long, long, LONG time."know what

      I would love to know what I'm not understanding? Are you proposing that humans have been on this earth for millions, even billions, of years??? lol

      December 3, 2010 at 7:05 pm |
    • A

      @DataJack =

      "You actually don't know biology very well, if you don't understand, and reject, one of its most important central principles."datajack

      It is your OPINION that evolution is a central pincipal to biology. Many scientists reject it as well.

      Evolution consists of several different observations:
      1) Resources for survival are scarce
      2) Offspring can differ from their parents, due to genetic mutations
      3) Some of the differences can allow an organism to compete for resources better
      4) Those differences can be passed on to their offspring
      All of these are undeniable facts. They can be measured and/or replicated.

      All of the above can be and have been refuted. A mutation, again, is not a favorable outcome to the changing of DNA. And as for your saying DNA can be changed from a parent – absolutely false. The DNA can be rearanged but it can't be CHANGED.

      "People who don't accept these as facts don't understand biology." datajack

      "People who do accept these as facts, but trot out the "variation within kind" canard, are introducing some artificial barrier to genetic change that has no basis in science. They are basically saying, "a organism can differ from its base blueprint, but only by so much, and no more". The problem is there is no base blueprint. Mutations don't make organisms different from their species (or "kind"), they make them different from their parents." datajack

      Once you understand this, you will see there is no limit on the amount of change that can occur over enough generations.datajack

      Honestly, you seem to have ZERO grasp of biological changes and DNA...you might want to check your "facts" with a non-biased book or website. lol

      December 3, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
  9. civilioutside

    As I understand it, the artist who created the controversial video with the image of ants on a crucifix (only one of many images in the video) created the artwork in the course of working through his anguish over the death of his lover. Not a big surprise that part of that anguish entailed railing against god for a bit. He was expressing rage and grief, not setting out to offend religious folks. Context is important, people.

    December 3, 2010 at 10:39 am |
  10. liz48

    Men believed at one time the earth was flat and persecuted those who believed it was a globe! Every major religion will tell you that every human being is a spirit who has an independent mind and lives in a physical body. So it would be smart to begin to investigate beyond what your five senses tell you and scientific observation, which cannot go beyond learning from past experience. Scientific conclusions are necessarily limited by past knowledge.

    What if you are dying and realize you missed out because of your belief that the earth is flat:)...

    I place before you life and death; choose life (but you can do as you want and choose death). My people suffer for ignorance or lack of knowledge. (The Bible)

    December 3, 2010 at 10:23 am |
    • David Johnson

      @liz48

      What on earth, are you talking about?

      Curious in Arizona

      December 3, 2010 at 11:13 am |
    • HotAirAce

      @David Johnson

      Let me translate:

      – you can choose life (live in the modern world) or death (live according some dead dude's halucinations)
      – many people beleive that the bible (and other books of tribal myths) are true, demonstrating their ignorance and lack of knowledge

      Any questions?

      December 3, 2010 at 11:21 am |
    • David Johnson

      @HotAirAce

      No, your explanation, explained it all. Thank you.

      umm... No, nevermind.

      Cheers!

      December 3, 2010 at 11:41 am |
  11. JustThinking

    I find all the comments very interesting but I have another take/question on this article. Why can't the Christian's express outrage on the "art" crucifix and ants and request it be removed? The Muslims have us so scared that all comics that have an image of Muhammed or reference him are not allowed in the main stream media. So is freedom of speech only allowed for certain religious groups not all?

    December 3, 2010 at 10:02 am |
    • liz48

      Sadly Christianity is associated with a lack of discipline and zeal...Islam has both; whether we agree with it or not. The depravity in Christianity, if one reads the Bible (as opposed to believing what a denomination tells you), is not the will of The Father.

      December 3, 2010 at 10:29 am |
    • NL

      liz48-
      Christianity had lots of discipline and zeal in the old days, like during the Crusades and the Inquisition, sadly.

      December 3, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
    • NL

      JustThinking-
      If you feel so strongly about the need to put more Muhammad to art, then I believe you are indeed free to do so, yourself, personally. Seems to me that the people who want to see more Muhammad in art all must not be artists themselves. Now, I find that very interesting.

      December 3, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
    • Frogist

      @NL: No they're not artists themselves. If they were I doubt they would be good ones, since they can't seem to handle criticism very well. And from this debacle with the Smithsonian, they don't seem to understand the nature or purpose of art either.

      December 6, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
  12. Frogist

    It is hypocrisy obviously. These GOPers care nothing about money going to religious causes so long as it's their religion. They would have loved an "antsy Buddha" or antsy Shiva. Nobody would have made a peep. But since it's their religion, they fly off the handle. Where are their cries for free speech now that are always so prevalent when they talk about Mohammed cartoons? The funniest part is NONE of them have actually watched the video in its entirety or in context of the show. The show is about gender ident!ty and the AIDS crisis at its height. If they had bothered to actually see it they might find other themes that have nothing to do with a negative depiction of their god. They might find that the suffering of people struck with HIV can be compared/contrasted with the suffering Christ experienced. They might find comparisons of being ostracized and burdened. But they skip over that because they are uncomfortable with how a description of the piece sounds? Ridiculous.
    It's true that if they so cared about the separation of church and state, they would so swiftly attack support of the Creation Musem's Ark project. But they don't. And that's the clearest indication of where their interpretation of the const!tution lies: "Who cares what's in the const!tution, as long as I can use it to my advantage." Libertarians they are not. Opportunists, absolutely.
    The first people to be silenced in any oppressive society is the artist because they are the ones on the front lines of free speech. If you don't want any opposition, attack those whose job it is to provide free speech whether they are opposed to you or not. And so many times the arts have no established govt protection or representation. We have to rely on private individuals to protect art and that's a tentative thing at best. Art can show us what we want to see as well as an alternative to our point of view. That is the power of art. The fact that they have seen hate but not compassion is quite probably a reflection of the beholder.

    December 3, 2010 at 9:59 am |
    • Frogist

      BTW Yes, I would pay money to go see a giant ark structure as much as I'd pay money to see a two-headed snake or the world's largest ball of yarn. It's an oddity and we all love those. Unfortunately, I fear I might never see it because the museum apparently requires you to sign a gag order of sorts when you visit them which asks that you do not express any opinions they do not like, repectfully or no, whilst on their premises. They make you censor your free speech when you enter. How much of a museum is that really?

      I would spend money to visit the Smithsonian to see the Hide/Seek exhibit... alas, I won't be able to see it in its entirety because of someone's need to censor things they have chosen not to try to understand.

      December 3, 2010 at 10:12 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Frogist

      I foretold of all these things when the Christian Right puppets, the Republicans, won in November.

      Christianity will be be the state religion. Watch and see what happens to gay rights and a mother's right to choose!

      It is an evil time.

      Cheers!

      December 3, 2010 at 11:06 am |
    • Frogist

      @David Johnson: So you did! You are a true prophet! I'd sacrifice a goat to you but I hear you prefer kittens.

      December 3, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
    • NL

      David-
      Wow! You sound almost ... biblical! What's the saying, "Like a prophet of old"?

      December 3, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
    • NL

      Keith
      "Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, Or loose the belt of Orion?" Job 38:31.

      Couldn't the author simply be referring to the fact that we can't move the stars around in their constellations? Remember, people at that time believed that the stars were holes in the firmament, and the firmament was like a giant roof over the world, made of one piece of material. If you have a roof with holes in it can you move the holes? Why do you assume that he meant gravity?

      December 5, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  13. Cassandra

    it pains me to say this because i agree with the sentiment that republicans spend a lot of time in our business while telling us they are they party of staying out of our business BUT . . . to the best of my knowledge the antsy crucifix was given direct revenue and was not producing any fiscal benefit for anyone; from what you've described this wooden waste of space will be provided indirect revenue while providing a (albeit brief) fiscal benefit for the community.

    but please – someone give me another way to look at it . ..

    December 3, 2010 at 9:49 am |
    • Frogist

      @Cassandra: Money is not everything. It should not be the way we define our country. Besides the fact that the Smithsonian provides jobs for many more people than this museum will, it also provides knowledge and encourages discussion regardless of viewpoint. Personally, I'd love it if the money for the ark could go to some art appreciation courses for the masses.

      December 3, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
  14. Rick

    Who cares about the religious aspects of this park, will it not create jobs? As to Tax breaks if it is not built there would be no taxes paid anyway and no jobs.

    December 3, 2010 at 9:37 am |
    • NL

      They could spend the money hiring people to work like the Hebrew slaves building a pyramid, I suppose, but I wouldn't want to work under 'authentic' conditions, would you?

      December 3, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  15. A

    @DataJack= I'm going to go out on a limb here and "guess" that M.C.D was being sarcastic. And their comment was no more ridiculous than to ascertain that human beings come from apes.

    I love being able to say I was created much more carefully than those who come from apes, with a much greater purpose than being an "ape" who has adapted to their surroundings 🙂 And what happened to the apes who didn't change? Were they just happy being apes and chose to not "evolve?" I love the "consistancy" in the evolution argument...

    December 3, 2010 at 9:31 am |
    • David Johnson

      @A

      Man didn't "come from apes". We evolved from a common ancestor. Consider branches on a tree. Consider a "Y" the left center post of the Y would be the common ancestor. The left side post would be man. The right side would be apes.

      The apes did not become humans.

      If evolution is not true, then why are there tons of transitional fossils? Did god keep making organisms until He got it right?

      http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCIQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.talkorigins.org%2Ffaqs%2Ffaq-transitional.html&ei=9wX5TKvaMoK4sQP5l6WIAw&usg=AFQjCNGPGdozCEk75QjWVS-ySuuQrQHoSg

      You don’t even need to go to a natural history museum or library to see evidence for evolution; our own bodies have many signs of our evolutionary heritage:

      When we get goose bumps, our bodies are trying to keep warm by raising hairs that are no longer dense enough to help.

      The muscles that allow us to wiggle our ears are of no use for us, but they did help some distant ancestors.

      Humans also have many other useless, vestigial organs such as nip_ples and mammary glands on males (like all mammals) and the tailbone, which is just a holdover from when our primate ancestors actually had tails millions of years ago.

      Many other species also have obvious useless, vestigial organs:
      • Flightless birds such as kiwis and ostriches have vestigial wings.
      • Some whales still have vestigial legs and pelvic bones, as noted above.
      • Some fish which live in caves are blind but still have vestigial eyes.
      • Dandelions reproduce without fertilization and basically clone themselves; altho they have the proper organs necessary for $exual reproduction, they do not use them.

      Intelligent Design completely fails to explain these vestigial organs on embryos, adults, and plants — which are obviously suboptimal. The Theory of Evolution explains them perfectly.

      If some god designed us and all life, he/she/it certainly didn't do a perfect job. Stephen J. Gould stated it well; “Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution — paths that a sensible God would never tread but that a natural process, constrained by history, follows perforce.”

      All organisms on this planet are products of evolution.

      Love and Prayers!

      December 3, 2010 at 10:05 am |
    • A

      @DavidJohnson = Of course we did not evolve from Apes. That was my point...

      However, there are many different "theories" of evolution and you simply stated one of them. Unfortunately, as well written (or copied & pasted) as it was it simply means there is an opposite opinion. Gotta love "theory" 🙂

      That's why I choose to believe the God who created all living things. I choose not to believe the big bang brought about living organisms who just magically appeared on the earth and knew how to "be," and then evolved into the beings we are now. Because as fun as it sounds it's simply unrealistic. Why haven't we evolved in last thousand years? Are we finally perfect??? lol

      December 3, 2010 at 10:18 am |
    • David Johnson

      @A

      Can you give me any evidence that your god exists?

      December 3, 2010 at 10:40 am |
    • David Johnson

      @A

      Humans are still evolving. See the results of a study below:

      Time Magazine Friday, Oct. 23, 2009:
      A team of scientists led by Yale University evolutionary biologist Stephen Stearns suggests that if the natural selection of fitter traits is no longer driven by survival, perhaps it owes to differences in women's fertility. "Variations in reproductive success still exist among humans, and therefore some traits related to fertility continue to be shaped by natural selection," Stearns says. That is, women who have more children are more likely to pass on certain traits to their progeny.

      ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2009)
      Taking advantage of data collected as part of a 60-year study of more than 2000 North American women in the Framingham Heart Study, the researchers analyzed a handful of traits important to human health. By measuring the effects of these traits on the number of children the women had over their lifetime, the researchers were able to estimate the strength of selection and make short-term predictions about how each trait might evolve in the future. After adjusting for factors such as education and smoking, their models predict that the descendents of these women will be slightly shorter and heavier, will have lower blood pressure and cholesterol, will have their first child at a younger age, and will reach menopause later in life.

      "The take-home message is that humans are currently evolving," said Stearns. "Natural selection is still operating."

      December 3, 2010 at 10:50 am |
    • David Johnson

      @A

      Your god, is a bad designer. The design flaws below, are easily explainable by natural selection. But hard to explain when you are talking about a perfect, all powerful, all knowing, all benevolent god. LOL

      If it turns out that there is a God, I don't think that he's evil. But the worst that you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever. – Woody Allen

      When we study the retina at the back of the eye, we can see that the cell layers are backwards. Light has to travel thru seven layers of cells before reaching the light sensing cells. Then the signals go back thru these layers to the nerves on the inside surface. In addition, the blood vessels are on the inside surface and further block the light. A truly intelligent designer could have done better than the human eye. Actually, evolution did a better job with the eyes of birds (which have no blood vessels in the retina) and the octopus and squid (which have the light sensing cells on the surface).
      In fact, vision is so useful for survival that eyes have evolved independently at least twenty separate times, with at least a dozen different designs.

      Humans and other animals have many more examples of sub-optimal or bad design. Here are a few:

      One of the worst designs in mammals is the nerve for the larynx, called the recurrent laryngeal nerve. It is much longer than it needs to be — going from the brain into the chest, around the aorta, and back up to the larynx. In humans it's about three feet too long, but in giraffes it's about fifteen feet longer than needed.

      The human pelvis slopes forward, which was useful for our knuckle-walking ancestors. The only reason that we can walk upright is because we have an incredible sharp bend at the base of our spines (which is the source for so much low back pain).

      Our abdominal organs are even suspended from the spine, which is just a vestigial holdover from when the spine was actually above them.

      The human baby's skull is too big, such that many women painfully die in childbirth if they don't get modern medicine

      December 3, 2010 at 10:57 am |
    • civilioutside

      The toughest thing about arguing evolutionary theory on these boards seems to be that so many creationists are coming from the position of "I don't believe (insert false claim or total misunderstanding about what evolutionary theory says), therefore evolution must be false."

      So, to address a few points that A has grotesquely wrong in their understanding of evolution. Organisms do not "choose" to evolve. There is no goal or endpoint of evolution. There are only responses to changes in environment – if an adaptation is successful, then it will propogate into future generations because the organisms that possess it survive and reproduce better. If it's unsuccessful, then it dies out.

      Humans have not evolved significantly in the last few thousand years because 1) no mutations have cropped up that proved to be a decisive survival advantage, 2) a few thousand years is actually a relatively short evolutionary timeframe for organisms with our lifespan, and 3) we have developed the capability to adapt the environment to ourselves rather than the other way around. But even with that said, there actually have been a few changes in the human makeup, they're just comparatively minor.

      December 3, 2010 at 11:03 am |
    • David Johnson

      @A

      You said: "That's why I choose to believe the God who created all living things. I choose not to believe the big bang brought about living organisms who just magically appeared on the earth and knew how to "be," and then evolved into the beings we are now."

      The Big Bang is a theory about how the universe was formed (cosmogony). It has nothing to do with how life started on this planet. That would be abiogenesis. Evolution explains the diversity of organisms on the planet.

      Believing in Creationism or Intelligent Design, is stupidity at its finest. There being a god, is no more likely than there being a Santa Claus.

      Love and Prayers!

      Cheers!

      December 3, 2010 at 11:38 am |
    • David Johnson

      @civilioutside

      You said: The toughest thing about arguing evolutionary theory on these boards seems to be that so many creationists are coming from the position of "I don't believe (insert false claim or total misunderstanding about what evolutionary theory says), therefore evolution must be false."

      Your statement is true of anything the fundies believe is written in the King James. They believe the King James is the inerrant word of their god. Even in spite of the obvious errors. LOL

      Because of this, some people have called the fundies non-thinking sheep. Not me. Some people.

      It is said, that the fundies, when confronted with evidence that their god or His word is not true, will place their hands over their ears and bleat until the evidence is withdrawn. I have seen this with my own eyes! It is a remarkable phenomena.

      You will never convince a brainwashed believer that he is delusional. Point out their delusions, so that onlookers who aren't yet "hooked" may avoid the silly.

      You did a great job on your answer to A.

      Cheers!

      December 3, 2010 at 11:55 am |
    • A

      @ciivilianoutside = "So, to address a few points that A has grotesquely wrong in their understanding of evolution. Organisms do not "choose" to evolve. There is no goal or endpoint of evolution. There are only responses to changes in environment – if an adaptation is successful, then it will propogate into future generations because the organisms that possess it survive and reproduce better. If it's unsuccessful, then it dies out."

      Again, someone has completely and grossly missed my sarcasm. Should I write after everything each seemingly unclear sarcastic comment? However, that does NOT discount the the fact that there are theories of evolution that say humans evolved from apes. Which I have said is flat out stupidity.

      That being said – human DNA does not change unless it is mutated by something foreign – i.e., cancer, viruses, etc.. Moms do not grow extra hands because we have more than one baby at a time (many evolutionists say that we adapt to our surroundings or like you said "die out", these same supporters of evolution prepose we "will" our DNA to change based on our environment). There are slight changes in our make-up based on our different strands of DNA but DNA is perfectly created, suited to the individual who posseses it. I don't believe humans will die out based on ANY evoluation theory because of the simple fact that humans were created to be superior. But based on evolution humans COULD die out if we fail to evolve to our surroundings correctly. BS.

      December 3, 2010 at 12:03 pm |
    • A

      @DavidJohnson = You said: "That's why I choose to believe the God who created all living things. I choose not to believe the big bang brought about living organisms who just magically appeared on the earth and knew how to "be," and then evolved into the beings we are now."

      "The Big Bang is a theory about how the universe was formed (cosmogony). It has nothing to do with how life started on this planet. That would be abiogenesis. Evolution explains the diversity of organisms on the planet."

      Please explain how organisms were created on the planet. I'm truly interested in learning what we began as 🙂

      "Believing in Creationism or Intelligent Design, is stupidity at its finest. There being a god, is no more likely than there being a Santa Claus."

      How were you created?

      "Love and Prayers!"

      Exactly who or what do you pray to?

      Cheers!

      December 3, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
    • A

      @David Johnson = You said: The toughest thing about arguing evolutionary theory on these boards seems to be that so many creationists are coming from the position of "I don't believe (insert false claim or total misunderstanding about what evolutionary theory says), therefore evolution must be false."

      "Your statement is true of anything the fundies believe is written in the King James. They believe the King James is the inerrant word of their god. Even in spite of the obvious errors. LOL"Johnson

      You keep using the word "Fundie" or "fundementalist. Do you believe that all religions share the same views? Are you calling me a fundie? Just curious as to what your religious views actually are...

      "Because of this, some people have called the fundies non-thinking sheep. Not me. Some people."Johnson

      What makes someone a non-thinking sheep? Someone who takes whatever opinion/theory they like at face value and touts it as the only truth? Hmmmmm.....

      "It is said, that the fundies, when confronted with evidence that their god or His word is not true, will place their hands over their ears and bleat until the evidence is withdrawn. I have seen this with my own eyes! It is a remarkable phenomena."Johnson

      What evidence have you SEEN or HEARD SPOKEN that proves there is no God? I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear about this 🙂

      "You will never convince a brainwashed believer that he is delusional. Point out their delusions, so that onlookers who aren't yet "hooked" may avoid the silly."Johnson

      What are brainwashed believers?

      "You did a great job on your answer to A."Johnson

      LMAO...I'm not sure I agree 🙂

      December 3, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
    • civilioutside

      A: Maybe you should point out where you're being sarcastic, because it's fairly difficult to sort out at times which statements are sarcasm and which you truly believe. But if I understand your position after sorting through your posts sprinkled throughout this thread, what I come up with is this:

      1) You believe in so-called "microevolution" – adaptive variations within a species.
      2) You do not believe in "macroevolution" – the evolution of new species.
      3) DNA is perfect and unchanging unless acted on by outside forces.
      4) You believe that god created man to be superior to all other living things.
      5) You like the god theory because it never changes, whereas evolutionary theory has variations.

      1&2: Well, as some people have already pointed out, there is no arbitrary dividing line between micro- and macro- evolution. There is just evolution.
      3: DNA makes replication errors all the time. And even so, the outside forces you mention that could mutate it occur in nature all the time as well. By your own admission the mechanisms that create genetic variation are out there, yet for some reason you argue as if their existence has no actual implications for creating genetic variance. Furthermore, your statement somewhere that each individual's DNA is "perfectly suited to that individual" is putting the cart before the horse. A person's DNA isn't the way it is in order to suit the person, the person is the way they are because of the configuration of their DNA.
      4: This presupposes the existence of god in the first place, and is ultimately an expression of a reason to want it to be true (it does, after all, make one feel special to be "superior") without being a reason why it must be true.
      5: Again, a reason to want it to be true without being a reason it must be true. The only reason the god theory never changes is because it explains nothing while giving the appearance of being an answer. Literally anything can be answered by saying the words "because god made it that way," but that is a perfectly useless explanation.

      Interestingly, evolution can be true with or without god's existence. Creationism can only be true if god exists, but that is unprovable.

      December 3, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
    • Q

      "...human DNA does not change unless it is mutated by something foreign..." This is quite false. The enzymes which copy DNA do employ proofreading but they are not perfect, they "misread" the parent strand and can miss a base, insert a wrong base or insert extra bases. Every child bears unique mutations which are not present in their parents resulting from the DNA duplication errors during gamete production.

      December 4, 2010 at 5:14 am |
  16. Dillon

    Here's my outrage posted at Beliefnet: http://blog.beliefnet.com/activistfaith/2010/12/help-build-noahs-arkor-dont.html. You're not the only one thinking it.

    December 3, 2010 at 9:28 am |
  17. chez

    The real issue here is that it violates the Separation of Church and State period. It has nothing to do with whether or not it should be built or people want to see it or not. So now we're going from millionaire bailouts to religious theme park pre-bailouts.

    December 3, 2010 at 9:25 am |
  18. A

    @Ed = "LogicDude is illogical. Regardless of whether it is FEDERAL or STATE, they should not be endorsing one religion over any other and should not be funding this park. Period."

    Which religion is being endorsed here? lol

    December 3, 2010 at 9:24 am |
  19. A

    @Yepper = the Ark is a part of our history. It's not just a religious agenda.

    December 3, 2010 at 9:21 am |
    • rgb

      "A part of our history"? How can something that never happened be a part of history at all?

      rgb

      December 3, 2010 at 9:31 am |
    • The answer is 42

      @A – It's a story made up by a human. A STORY.

      December 3, 2010 at 9:39 am |
    • A

      @RGB = Do you pick and choose which history you books believe? There are many who believe the Holocaust didn't happen, even though there are plenty accounts of the horror survivors experiences. But I guess you can't believe everything you read, huh? I wonder if a thousand years from now those who were in the actual camps will be called "myths."

      December 3, 2010 at 10:09 am |
    • David Johnson

      @A

      You said: "There are many who believe the Holocaust didn't happen, even though there are plenty accounts of the horror survivors experiences. But I guess you can't believe everything you read, huh? I wonder if a thousand years from now those who were in the actual camps will be called "myths."

      If we allow it, the death camps could be called myths. The South is trying to rewrite history now, claiming slavery was a very small part of why the Civil War was fought.

      The Conservatives are rewriting the Texas school books to give the slant that pleases them.

      Rewriting history is dangerous. It makes us miss lessons we should learn. It allows us to make the same mistakes twice.

      Cheers!

      December 3, 2010 at 11:22 am |
    • HotAirAce

      @David Johnson

      Re: "Rewriting history is dangerous. It makes us miss lessons we should learn. It allows us to make the same mistakes twice." It also means that those doing the rewiting are probably telling more lies to support the lies of their book of silliness. One can only hope that eventually believers will truly seek the truth...

      December 3, 2010 at 11:26 am |
  20. DataJack

    M.C.D. said: "Actually much easier to believe than amoebas turning into people don't you think?"

    Yes, fortunately, no one, ever, anywhere, at any time, posited that "amoebas turned into people". The Scientific Theory of Evolution (that you think you are smugly insulting) doesn't propose that anything "turns into" anything else. Perhaps you should educate yourself instead of making a fool of yourself in public. Even if you hold a particular religious view, that doesn't mean you cannot (or should not) learn proper science.

    December 3, 2010 at 9:19 am |
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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.