First up from the God Machine this week is an unexpected, on-air pronouncement about one of the better known Biblical stories in the Abrahamic tradition.
As part of the network's coverage of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Fox News' Bill Hemmer acknowledged what many have come to believe: it may be a long while before we know with any confidence what happened to this plane. What make Hemmer's comments noteworthy, however, was his point of historic comparison.
"So, what, it took us what 100 years to find the Titanic? It took us 2,000 years to find Noah's Ark. Do we ever find Flight 370?"
It's true that it took about 73 years to find the Titanic. And it's true Flight 370 is elusive. But it was Hemmer's Ark assertion that clearly stood out as interesting.
Let's put aside whether or not someone believes the Ark story is intended to be metaphorical or literal. Let's also sidestep the question of whether it's plausible for a small family to build a 300-cubit boat -- on short notice -- that held a male and a female of every species on the planet.
Let's instead consider whether or not people actually "found" Noah's Ark roughly 2,000 years after it allegedly survived a great flood -- because that would be quite a discovery, indeed.
Though many have looked for the Ark over the centuries, Joe Coscarelli noted that Hemmer was likely referring to Evangelical Christian explorers, who claimed to have uncovered evidence of the boat's existence. But those claims were soon debunked -- and were even rejected as a hoax by Fox News.
To date, there's no evidence Noah's Ark ever existed, and there's nothing to suggest it's ever been "found."
Also from the God Machine this week:
* No good can come of this: "The Creationist group Answers In Genesis, which was already incensed about Neil deGrasse Tyson's revival of Cosmos, is now complaining that the show lacks scientific balance because it fails to provide airtime for evolution deniers."
* Interesting legal dispute in Louisiana: "A Buddhist student and his family won a settlement last week against a Louisiana school district where the student's religion was ridiculed in class as 'stupid,' the teacher taught that evolution is 'impossible,' and that the bible is '100 percent true.'"
* Speaking of Louisiana, a state lawmaker wants to make the Christian Bible the "official state book." The bill to make the designation is still pending in committee (thanks to Rob Boston for the heads-up).
* I'm amazed this fight is still ongoing in Murfreesboro: "Plaintiffs opposed to the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro graveyard approval seek a court order 'to halt the construction and improvement of the cemetery'" (thanks to reader R.P. for the tip).
* And Ralph Reed is doing his part to keep the religious right's sense of victimhood alive, arguing this week, "I think, unfortunately, bigotry against evangelical Christians is the last acceptable form of bigotry in the country."