Ken Ham and I have one thing in common, we both love dinosaurs. That is where our similarities end. I think dinos are awesome creatures that tell the ever-expanding tale of what life on this tiny planet was like before a devastating asteroid hit the ground 3.26 billion years ago. Ken Ham loves dinos because they makes him money. Lots of money.
For those that do not know him, Ham is the leader of a group that created the Creationist Museum in Kentucky which features biblical figures living with dinosaurs. He boldly takes on the questions that have haunted man since the Old Testament was written: Did the Tyrannosaurus eat cantaloupe? * How did Noah fit 2 Brontosaurs on the Ark?** What happened to these dinosaurs after the flood? ***
I laugh freely at this guy because he is ludicrous. He recently stated that NASA should stop looking for life in other planets because Jesus came to save humans, not Martians. Why try to find life that his ilk can’t convert? I chuckled merrily away but it is dark humor.
Why would Ken Ham care about aliens? Aliens are not mentioned in Genesis. To Ham, this means that they do not exist. A rational person would point out that platypuses, mangoes and the American continents are not mentioned in Genesis, yet they exist. Rational people should not have conversations with Ham. It will only lead to bitterness.
The Creationist Museum is huge money maker. According to stats collected by the Heritage Baptist Church, “The total income for the museum in 2012 was $21,611,152.00 with product sales of $10,508,617.00.” This church also calls out Ham for mutilating scripture verses to justify his dinosaur obsession.
The dinos are a major part of this draw. Kids love them, home school parents consider them a part of their science curriculum and even non-Christian patrons are willing to shell out the $30 price of admission to pose dinotopia-style on the backs of scaled down triceratops models. It is plugged as an educational field trip even though kids could learn more from the back of a bottle of Flintstone vitamins than from a walk through Ham’s halls of prehistoric drivel.
Ham picks and chooses verses that he considers worthy of taking literally, all the while admitting that human memory is faulty and should be questioned. Ham only seems to allow questioning when it supports his theory that dragons are just another word for dinosaurs. He even has a name for his combination of theme park advertising and loosely based creationism: Historical Science.
Earlier in 2014, Bill Nye agreed to debate Ham on creationism. As much as I admire Nye, he should not have been in the room with that charlatan. Ham is not a theologian. He does not represent science or religion. He represents the money changers in the temple. Even Disneyland has a firmer nod towards science than the Creationist Museum.
You may think that I am being unduly cruel to poor Ken Ham. Isn’t narcissism a form of mental illness? Have I no compassion? Keep in mind that Ham is a rich man who has made his millions on the hard earned dime of trusting Americans. This is pure exploitation. His success in making wild, theologically unsound theories into media blitzes has inspired other more frightening “religious” figures.
These con artists are using the Bible as a screen to hide their ball and shell game. According to CNN, Harold Camping, the founder of the 2011 End of the World scam funded by Family Radio.com, netted $72 million in donations alone. Although Phelps, the leader of the notorious gay military funeral bashing and holocaust museum protesting Westboro Church, was not put together enough to wrangle a millionaire’s income from his exploits; his harvest was attention. His tiny, hole-in-the-wall church got global attention for embarrassing Christians and fellow Americans just by being mouthy bigots.
Ham didn’t invent the religious wack job extortion game. Jim and Tammy Baker put together their Heritage USA theme park with similar ideals. 6 million God fearing Christians opened up their wallets and turned PTL into a multimillion dollar industry almost over night. One sex scandal and a 1988 Federal Grand Jury conviction (8 counts of mail fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy) later, Heritage USA is now a ghost town serving only to to remind Americans that those that combine religion with circus-style capitalism are hiding something ugly. Let’s hope that this is a lesson that Americans are willing to learn.
Answer key (I am not making this up, by the way.):
*Yep. Cantaloupe. This is from an actual quote. **According to Ham, God put teenaged dinosaurs on the ark because they are smaller so they fit better. ***Ken Ham doesn’t know. It isn’t in the Bible so maybe they are still around, you know, like the Loch Ness Monster.