Some atheist groups actively pump up the publicity on AIG. I have heard comments like “AIG is atheism greatest friend”. For example here is one of our nationwide TV commercials that really is to promote science education:
@Patrick, I have often wondered if Ken Ham would have successfully funded the Ark Encounter if not for massive publicity from atheist groups et al concerning the Bill Nye debate. From what I could see at the time, Ken Ham was having difficulty getting enough cash on hand to start Ark Encounter construction until the media coverage of the debate (which came about due to the controversy going viral) motivated donors. I had the impression that his junk bonds weren’t selling at all until the Nye-Ham debate.
Now you know I saw you on the Ark riding a dinosaur with Ken Ham. Patrick, didn’t you write the Wisdom of Solomon? I know you did. Ken Ham told me before the continents drift take place.
A good point, Allen. I’m getting the impression the the New Atheists have done much to get thinking people to realise the shortcomings of materialism, and less reflective people just to throw in their lot with anyone who is attacked by them because that means they can’t be all bad!
The bonds were not selling prior to the Nye-Ham debate. So yes, it was the NYe-Ham debate that energized folks to go out and buy “junk bonds for Jesus” This is the world we live in now - alternative facts. Yes Nye was suckered in. That is why most atheist groups will not debate a YEC.
It wasn’t me. I refuse to pay the entrance fee to Ark Encounter. Ken Ham encourages atheist to come as long as we pay the entrance and parking fee. He will even give us the group rate to come. And we can wear any T-shirts we want like - Unabashed Atheist. Our speech will not be limited. We can ridicule, mock, blaspheme all we want. We can’t use vulgar language, but tattoo’s ear hoops and gay couples are allowed to hold hands (but no sex on premise allowed).
For now we only go to protest on government land on the circle on the exit of the interstate that the Federal and State Governments built to Ark Encounter. We chose not to give Ken Ham any money via entrance fee.
Right now we are suiting CBS. CBS owns the billboards along the highway coming into Ark Encounter. They are high tech electronic billboards that play videos. FFRF and other atheist groups wanted to purchase time on those billboards to get our message out. CBS said it was too divisive and inflammatory to put on so near the Ark Encounter. We are suing. This is an up hill lawsuit as it is not government who is saying no but a US news media giant with a lot of lawyers.
Nye benefited as well. My observations are that atheists most frequently draw attention by constantly setting up the YEC/global flood position as the position of Christianity/Scripture. It gives them a chance to beat up on what I consider to be a strawman. They ‘run up the score’ attacking the weakest positions which can be taken about the scripture and evade debate on the more challenging views. Do Christian apologists do the same to atheist positions from time to time? Sure. Nobody’s perfect, some are just forgiven.
Many have urged me to visit the Ark Encounter but I too can’t bring myself to support them financially in that way (by paying for an admission ticket.) Also, I’m not convinced that I would learn anything from a personal visit which I can’t learn from AIG’s website and various tour videos of the exhibits. (I can even study online the exhibit captions and the large sign-boards. Even the video which welcomes visitors while they are standing in line can be viewed online—although it is also sold on DVD. Frankly, I first viewed the video in a context where I assumed it was a parody meant to lampoon Ham’s ark. No, it turned out to be for real. I still can’t quite grasp what AIG is trying to accomplish by doing the video as they did. )
About the only advantage I can see from a personal visit would be inspecting the backside of the ark-shaped building where it looks far less like an ark. [By the way, I’m not implying that even the other side of that building necessarily looks all that much like what the Bible describes. That’s another topic for another time.]
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
I refuse to pay the entrance fee to Ark Encounter. Ken Ham encourages atheist to come as long as we pay the entrance and parking fee.
Many have urged me to visit the Ark Encounter but I too can’t bring myself to support them financially in that way.
I have similar reservations, but curiosity typically gets the better of me. I paid to visit the Creation Museum, and I have plenty of books in my library by people who do not deserve my financial support.
Now that I know about the huge number of free passes to the Ark Encounter, I think I’ll hold out for one before visiting.
I can certainly understand that! Among the reasons I’d probably enjoy visiting the Ark Encounter is just observing how various visitors react to what they are seeing. I would also like to interact with them in a friendly way, asking visitors how they feel about various of AIG’s “unusual” explanations for various scientific evidence. Unfortunately, I’ve heard from a number of people that doing so can get one a stern reprimand from Ark Encounter staff and even get once “bounced without a refund” for “disturbing people”. (Some visitors have told me that they can’t recall visiting any other museum or “information attraction” like the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum where visitors were so closely scrutinized and their comments monitored so vigorously. I have no means to assess the accuracy of that opinion but after so many such statements, I strongly wonder.)
Yes, Ken Ham warns visitors that they can talk among themselves in their respective groups but they can’t poll, question, harass other individuals or groups. So as a group of atheists we are welcomed but can’t go around to other groups and even talk with them beyond “where are you from”?
Patrick, I find it interesting that Ken Ham recommends and even outright teaches young people to go into Natural History Museums and other venues and to directly challenge docents who are explaining paleontology and evolutionary biology exhibits by retorting, “Were you there?” I consider that far more disruptive and disrespectful than asking fellow visitors at the Ark Encounter “What do you think of this exhibit?” or “Do you think Noah solved the sanitation problems on the ark with the solution proposed in this diagram?”
I wonder if any natural history museums have ejected any Young Earth Creationists for talking with other visitor groups about the exhibits. My guess would be that they have not unless they were obnoxiously disruptive or multiple people were annoyed and reported a problem.
The contrast is an interesting one. (Needless to say, the “Were you there?” encouragement of disruption and disrespect by children bothers me on many levels for multiple reasons!)
Perhaps your FFRF friends would have some knowledge on this topic.
(I wonder what Ken Ham would say if a prominent atheist started teaching young children to visit churches and Sunday Schools and to interrupt the sermons and lessons by blurting out, “Were you there?”)
@Patrick , all you have to do is keep a camera rolling while you ask the parking attendant why you have to pay money to learn more about Jesus, the ark, and Christianity in general, and if they refuse to let you in for free, boy, do you have a super duper hitchslap video on your hands. I’ll even loan you my camera. Cheers!
If I was the parking attendant, I would simply reply:
(1) “Hey, I just work here.”
(2) “You can learn about Jesus, the ark, and Christianity in general for free by visiting the Answers in Genesis website.”
On the Internet, you don’t even need a place to park.
(I think we have different ideas about what constitutes a “Hitchslap.” Meanwhile, I disagree with Ken Ham concerning a great many things—but I actually agree with his right to charge admission if that’s what AIG wants to do. I object to how they spent $100 million dollars, but I don’t see any reason why someone who creates a tourist attraction shouldn’t charge admission. Meanwhile, I refuse to pay that admission but don’t expect to be allowed in for free.)
Some atheist groups have start doing “archaeological tours of churches”. Taking middle school and high school “nones” children on tours of grand cathedrals to study the architecture and the ancient mysticism of how the places were designed to keep the mythology going to naive people. It treats the buildings and places of worship like you would approach say the Pantheon in Rome - from an ancient time when people believed in Zeus and Apollo. We really are in the post-Christian era in this country and in Europe and Australia.
I agree that Ham has the right to make money charging admission to see his Ark. It is a for profit company. What I don’t agree with is the government entanglement involved.- Federal and State Highway funds to build exits on Interstate Highways to make it easier to get to Ark Encounter. Sales Tax rebates on every ticket sold. Local property tax waivers. Special 2% tax on Ark Encounter employees for working there while having to sign a ludicrous statement of faith. The local people are getting hosed and they don’t know it or are okay with it because “it is for Jesus”.
I share such concerns.
And many of the same people who support all of those subsidies for the Ark Encounter would probably feel differently if their taxes were helping Scientology or Wicca.
Considering that such funds basically go wherever the traffic happens to be, I find it harder to complain about that.
Those have become so common for many kinds of “investments” in countless cities and regions—and yet most every academic study has shown that they don’t prove advantageous for the communities involved. It is a travesty that localities “bid” for some company like Google or Amazon or Factory X to locate in their town—and it never produces the economic activity they wanted.
I had the impression that lots of the locals are quite unhappy about the whole thing. I think they know they got hosed. As is typical, it did little to nothing for local business activity.
I would think that they would also be furious at Ark Encounter for trying to evade covering the very real costs of the town sending EMTs on a constant basis.
Given that there is absolutely no traffic in that part of Kentucky. Ten miles between exits. The Federal Transportation Department built it assuming Ken Ham attendance number BEFORE the Ark was opened. They could have waited until after it was opened to see if there was a traffic problem. Which now we know never occurred. Contrast that with New Jersey with an exit every mile and traffic bumper to bumper on twelve lane highways.
Williamstown is never going to be an Orlando.
The local people are irate as to what has happened. It costs the town millions in EMT, Fire and Police services a year. They imposed a 50 cent local ticket tax and Ken Ham tried to wiggle out of it claiming “a religious exemption” like a church. That ran a foul of state tourist funding for secular attractions so Ken Ham had to pay the EMT fee. That is how we get real attendance number through a FOIA request to Williamstown who is very happy to tell the world how unhappy they are with Ark Encounter.
Considering that around 850,000 visitors take those highways to get to the Ark Encounter, I wouldn’t call that “absolutely no traffic”. At an average of 2300+ people per day, that’s hundreds of vehicles.