Jurassic Ark

LEXINGTON, KY—For the last several years, creation science mogul Ken Ham has been building Ark Encounter, a theme park of biblical proportions. Now, Ark Encounter’s wildly-successful launch has deluged the Australian entrepreneur with capital to fund his biggest dream yet: a zoo modeled on the Garden of Eden.

Ham is assembling a “crack team” of genetic scientists, who will use research methods and data drawn directly from the scientific accounts found in the first eleven chapters of the book of Genesis. “It makes total sense when you consider that the author of all Creation is also the author of Genesis one through eleven,” Ham explained. “We just need to crack the code.”

The goal of the project will be to reconstruct the DNA of animal species as they existed at the time of their creation, with the hope to “resurrect” many of these species using state-of-the-art cloning technology.

These biblical beasts are hoped to become the centerpiece of a new theme park, which Ham says will be called the Gen2 Zoo, from Genesis 2 in which Adam names all the animals. Given the unprecedented scope of the project, the park is not projected to open before 2030.

Ham emphasized that while he hopes to resurrect many extinct dinosaur species, he does not envision a “Hollywood disaster movie scenario, although that would be great for business.” Dinosaurs, he explained, “mostly ranged [in size] from chickens to sheep. And don’t forget that they were all vegetarians.”

But while man may soon once again walk with dinosaurs, don’t expect to see genetic clones of Adam and Eve in the Gen2 Zoo. Ham and his team strictly refuse, for reasons of principle, to build on the findings of the Human Genome Project. “The human genome today is exactly what it was at Creation,” Ham averred. “Scripture assures us of this. Not to mention, it’s wrong to play God with human life.”

Ham reportedly abandoned plans to widen the project’s scope to all of the original plant species of the world, after it was pointed out to him that while it might be possible to recreate the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Tree of Life is presently located in heaven according to Revelation 2:7, and everyone knows that it is impossible for something to be physically present in heaven and on earth at the same time.

In related news, science entertainers Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson have announced plans to partner with Donald Trump to build a huge tower reaching unto the heavens.

Featured image: “Tree of Life” by Flickr user gammaman

Belief in Russia

Last week at Juicy Ecumenism, Metropolitan Jonah,  the former primate of the Orthodox Church in America, rejoiced that Russia has risen from the grave of secularism:

Churches and houses, businesses and stores, even government buildings and public squares proclaim the Paschal joy of Christ’s Resurrection. Festal processions of tens of thousands of people, led by hundreds of vested clergy, wind through the streets of Moscow, Red Square and the Kremlin, singing the Paschal hymns, as all the bells in all the churches and bell towers, from the Kremlin to the countryside, toll in joy.

This was unimaginable thirty years ago. It is still unimaginable to many in the West, and outrageously politically incorrect. Who could permit the faithful Christians to process from their churches, some at the heart of the center of the government buildings, with Christ is Risen! hung on the Capitol, the Supreme Court and the White House? It might offend someone! Choirs of students gathering in the quads and halls of the State Universities to sing the Paschal hymns and shout Christ is Risen! Call the Police! The CIA! The NSA… [sic] Homeland Security!

What has arisen in Russia, Jonah says, is not just a restored Orthodox faith, but a distinctly Christian national outlook and mission. Continue reading Belief in Russia

Exceptionalism Symposium: The elusive American mission

The idea of a “divine mission” excites adherents and worries skeptics, and, like any religious belief, becomes more controversial the more people understand it to be other than a mere private conviction. In the recent inaugural issue of the journal American Political Thought, James Ceaser examines a uniquely American species of political thought which is, if not explicitly religious in all its manifestations, is at least tinctured with religious excitement. The idea of “American exceptionalism” has agitated American political discourse on the left and right–but unlike other American ideals, it appeared only recently and is very difficult to define.

One way to describe American exceptionalism is to observe the many ways in which the United States differs from other nations in its origins, institutions, and national character. It is, arguably, unique  among liberal democracies in that it was actually self-consciously founded as a new political entity where none had existed before, at least on the national level. Most revolutions change regimes but retain old geographies and ethnic identities; America assumed its geography and national identity gradually and subsequent to its founding. America is both more liberal and more conservative than other Western nations. Its institutions more perfectly reflect a purely liberal republican structure, retaining no vestigial monarchy, hereditary ranks, or established church. At the same time it is among the most religious of Western republics and the most suspicious of socialism. Capitalism finds the fewest restraints in the United States–although we also have the world’s highest corporate income tax. These are only a few of the objective measures by which America is an exception among world powers. Continue reading Exceptionalism Symposium: The elusive American mission

Exceptionalism Symposium: Religion holds a central place

James Ceaser tries to flex some historical muscle in “The Origins and Character of American Exceptionalism.” Like most modern scholars, he goes about as an intellectual iconoclast, assailing the solely religious roots of American exceptionalism. Only a shrewd or sarcastic mind can write, “A few in the realist camp lament this result, regarding it as a loss for America and for the world, but many applaud it, although usually concealing their glee beneath a veil of detached analysis. Realism is a cover for ‘triumphalist declinism’: blessed is the nation that is declining, it shall disinherit the earth.”  Nevertheless, I still think he is wrong when he tries to downplay the study of religion in the exceptionalism debate (despite his many qualifiers). I grant that Hegel, Darwin, Descartes, Bacon, and Schleiermacher have all had their day in court, providing the European seeds to yield the fruits of Bancroft, Strong, Paine, Jefferson, and the Social Gospel in American soil. As a conservative and orthodox Christian, I rather like how he delineates traditional Christianity from the religious movements that encouraged American exceptionalism (especially since the former existed a good 1600 years before the latter). I agree that nonreligious elements contributed to the formation of the concept in question.

Ceaser does have vision. He foresees the question of exceptionalism as an expansive field of inquiry. I think the rate of articles addressing the subject will increase in the coming days as historians, theorists, and political thinkers wrestle over American identity and its meaning for policy. I agree with him that students of the past must explore all avenues, not simply religion, when researching exceptionalism. Nevertheless, I think the issue finds roots in matters theological, not simply scientific, historical, and philosophical. Continue reading Exceptionalism Symposium: Religion holds a central place