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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/05/20

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

Kentucky plans to grant tax incentives to a creationist theme park.
Meanwhile, Missouri's antievolution bill died in committee, NCSE is
offering a preview of Steve Jones's The Darwin Archipelago, and seats
are still available for NCSE's next trip down the Grand Canyon.


The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority voted unanimously
on May 19, 2011, to grant tax incentives to Ark Encounter, according
to the Associated Press (May 19, 2011). Ark Encounter is the proposed
creationist theme park in northern Kentucky. According to the
Louisville Courier-Journal (December 1, 2010), "Ark Encounter, which
will feature a 500-foot-long wooden replica of Noah's Ark containing
live animals such as juvenile giraffes, is projected to cost $150
million and create 900 jobs ... The park, to be located on 800 acres
in Grant County off Interstate 75, also will include a Walled City,
live animal shows, a replica of the Tower of Babel, a 500-seat
special-effects theater, an aviary and a first-century Middle Eastern
village." Collaborating on the project are Ark Encounter LLC and the
young-earth creationist ministry Answers in Genesis, which already
operates a Creation "Museum" in northern Kentucky.

The tax incentives will allow Ark Encounter to recoup 25 percent of
its development costs by retaining the sales tax generated by the
project. With the development costs of the park estimated at 150
million dollars, the incentives would amount to 37.5 million dollars
over ten years. Whether it is consistent with the federal and Kentucky
constitutions for the state to grant the incentives to the project is
still not clear; Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California,
Irvine, School of Law told The New York Times (December 5, 2010) that
"if it's the Bible's account of history that they’re presenting, then
the government is paying for the advancement of religion," while Bill
Sharp of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky told USA Today
(December 5, 2010), "Courts have found that giving such tax exemptions
on a nondiscriminatory basis does not violate the establishment
clause, even when the tax exemption goes to a religious purpose."

In a May 19, 2011, press release, the Reverend Barry Lynn, the
executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and
State, declared, "The state of Kentucky should not be promoting the
spread of fundamentalist Christianity or any other religious viewpoint
... Let these folks build their fundamentalist Disneyland without
government help." Lynn said that Americans United would investigate
whether the incentives violated the separation of church and state,
but argued that the state's funding of the project was bad policy in
any case. "[Governor] Beshear wants to launch this ark on a sea of tax
breaks -- money that will ultimately have to be made up by Kentucky
taxpayers," Lynn said. "This misguided project deserves to sink." He
added, "I feel sorry for the children of Kentucky. At a time when they
should be learning modern science, their public officials are
subsidizing fundamentalist religion."

For the Associated Press's story (via the Lexington Herald-Leader), visit: 

For the stories in The New York Times and USA Today, visit: 

For Americans United's press release, visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Kentucky, visit: 


When the Missouri General Assembly adjourned on May 13, 2011, House
Bill 195 died in the House Elementary and Secondary Education
Committee without receiving a hearing. If enacted, the bill would have
required state and local education administrators to "endeavor to
create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools
that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about
scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond
appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about
controversial issues, including biological and chemical evolution" and
to "endeavor to assist teachers to find more effective ways to present
the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies."

HB 195 was the second of the nine antievolution bills introduced in
seven states in 2011 so far. Of the remaining bills, Florida's SB
1854, Kentucky's HB 169, New Mexico's HB 302, and Oklahoma's SB 554
and HB 1551 are dead; Texas's HB 2454 is still in committee but is
expected to die when the legislature adjourns on May 30, 2011; and
Tennessee's HB 368 passed in the House of Representatives, but its
counterpart SB 893 is on hold until 2012. In the meantime, Louisiana's
Senate Bill 70, which if enacted would repeal the state's
antievolution bill enacted in 2008, is in the Senate Education
Committee -- currently chaired by Ben Nevers (D-District 12), who
shepherded the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act through the
state senate in 2008.

For the text of Missouri's House Bill 195, visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Missouri, visit: 


NCSE is pleased to offer a free preview of Steve Jones's The Darwin
Archipelago: The Naturalist's Career Beyond Origin of Species (Yale
University Press, 2011). The preview consists of the first two pages
of each of the nine chapters -- "The Queen's Orang-Utan," "The Green
Tyrannosaurs," "Shock and Awe," "The Triumph of the Well Bred," "The
Domestic Ape," "The Thinking Plant," "A Perfect Fowl," "Where the Bee
Sniffs," and "The Worms Crawl In" -- and thus conveys a sense of how
Jones approaches his task of exploring and updating the more obscure
works in Darwin's oeuvre, from The Various Contrivances by which
Orchids are Fertilised by Insects to The Formation of Vegetable Mould,
through the Action of Worms.

The publisher writes, "Charles Darwin is of course best known for The
Voyage of the Beagle and The Origin of Species. But he produced many
other books over his long career, exploring specific aspects of the
theory of evolution by natural selection in greater depth. The eminent
evolutionary biologist Steve Jones uses these lesser-known works as
springboards to examine how their essential ideas have generated whole
fields of modern biology. ... Through this delightful introduction to
Darwin's oeuvre, one begins to see Darwin's role in biology as
resembling Einstein's in physics: he didn't have one brilliant idea
but many and in fact made some seminal contribution to practically
every field of evolutionary study."

For the preview of The Darwin Archipelago (PDF), visit: 

For information about the book from its publisher, visit: 


Explore the Grand Canyon with Scott, Newton, and Gish! Seats are still
available for NCSE's next excursion to the Grand Canyon -- as featured
in The New York Times (October 6, 2005). From June 30 to July 8, 2011,
NCSE will again explore the wonders of creation and evolution on a
Grand Canyon river run conducted by NCSE's Genie Scott, NCSE's Steven
Newton, and paleontologist Alan ("Gish") Gishlick. Because this is an
NCSE trip, we offer more than just the typically grand float down the
Canyon, the spectacular scenery, fascinating natural history,
brilliant night skies, exciting rapids, delicious meals, and good
company. It is, in fact, a unique "two-model" raft trip, on which we
provide both the creationist view of the Grand Canyon (maybe not
entirely seriously) and the evolutionist view -- and let you make up
your own mind. To get a glimpse of the fun, watch the short videos
filmed during the 2009 trip, posted on NCSE's YouTube site. The cost
of the excursion is $2545; a deposit of $500 will hold your spot.
Seats are limited: call, write, or e-mail now.

For information about the trip, visit: 

For NCSE's report on the story in The New York Times, visit: 

For NCSE's YouTube site, visit: 

Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution education and threats to it.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x305
fax: 510-601-7204

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