Although it didn't get any mainstream press attention, a major leak occurred at the North Pole this week. A secret memo from Santa to his head elf was released and it has great consequences for both Australia and the United States. Additionally, the memo reflects a major change in policy for Santa. Apparently he's made the decision, even though he's not announced it, to move to a relative scale for measuring degrees of naughty and nice.
Unbeknownst to the individuals involved, some rewards will now be made as a result of a direct competition. So, it's no longer good enough to be nice – you have to be nicer than your competition – even if you have no idea who your competition is. Similarly, you might get by being naughty if others are naughtier. The memo indicated that Santa thinks that moving in this direction makes a great deal of sense because it will permit natural selection to determine his distribution decisions.
While this aspect of Santa's new policy is likely to be used broadly, the real blockbuster news is how Santa has decided to deal with Australia and the United States. Simply put, he's opted to make Ken Ham, the head of the creationist organization Answers in Genesis, the "reward" for the naughtier of the two countries.
So, if the United States is naughtier, Ken Ham remains where he is in Kentucky. The Creation Museum-cum-theme-park will also remain there and continued progress will be made on his newest tourist trap, Noah's Ark. If, however, Australia out-performs the United States in the naughty department, Ken Ham will be shipped back to his country of birth.
The stakes are, in fact, quite large because Ken Ham comes with a great deal of baggage. In addition to the Christmas Ham, significant strife among religions will be delivered. Fingers will be pointed and anyone not accepting one specific interpretation of one particular version of the Christian Bible will be deemed an infidel and condemned to hell. Non-Christians and pseudo-Christians, that is, those Christians who believe anything even slightly different from Ham's fundamentalist beliefs, will be ridiculed and blamed for all of the countries failings.
How bad can it get? Well, just this year, an organization in the United States that sponsors home schooling conventions particularly aimed at fundamentalist Christian parents who want to ensure that their kids are educated appropriately, banned Ken Ham from their conventions claiming; "Our Board believes Ken's comments to be unnecessary, ungodly, and mean-spirited statements that are divisive at best and defamatory at worst." Read the statement of faith of the group that banned Ham and you'll see that he must be perceived as bizarrely extreme to be censored by a group this extreme!
Santa's gift doesn't stop there. Irrationality and simplistic answers will also be delivered. People far and wide will wake up on Christmas morning and learn that lawlessness, homosexuality, Nazism, racism, drug use, abortion, social Darwinism and almost anything else you could imagine are all the result of a belief in evolution.
And there's more. School systems will be treated to full frontal assaults for teaching the scientific theories that scientists find most enlightening. The result will be a culture war of massive proportions that will convince most teachers simply to ignore meaningful science lessons entirely.
Students will fail to understand how to place ideas on the continuum running from science through non-science to nonsense and scientific iliteracy will spread as virulently as a mutant strain of the flu virus. Large portions of the population will mistake the Flintstones for history and believe that humans and dinosaurs happily coexisted, just as Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis teach.
Santa will also deliver one more item paired with the Ham to the naughtier country. He will ensure the collapse of their biotechnology industry, many medical advances, most agricultural improvements, and every other business sector that relies on the basic concepts of evolution. It's possible that the country's scientific infrastructure, including the number of peer-reviewed research papers, scientific patents and winners of Nobel science prizes, will decline as a result of the destruction of public school science education.
Since virtually all of this has happened or is in the process of happening in the United States since Ken Ham emigrated from Australia, there are many in the States who would do anything they could to make Australia appear far naughtier. Having Santa remove Ham and Answers in Genesis from North America and returning him to his country of birth might well spark a scientific enlightenment in a country that used to value science.
There is evidence that Santa has already been playing with the concept of spreading Ham's view of the world back to Australia and that he is enjoying the results. At least that's the report I've received from my contacts among the elves when I asked about the current situation with the teaching of creationism in Queensland. While they wouldn't directly admit that the current controversy means that Santa has decided that Ham will be returning home, they did say that occasionally Santa does need to do some preliminary work to ensure that his gifts are well received. They also reminded me that creationism's last big advance in Queensland was in the 1980s when Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen was premier. A number of them smiled slyly and asked if I knew when Ham left Australia.
All I can say to my Australian friends is you better watch out, you better not cry, Santa Claus is coming to town. And, if I have any say in the matter, he'll be bringing you a rancid ham with all the trimmings.