For a while it looked like he was going to have trouble getting it built, but last week Ken Ham did it – he opened his latest Bible-themed exhibit (his first was the Creation Museum) in Williamstown, Kentucky. It’s a life-size version of Noah’s Ark from the Biblical myth. The official website tells all comers:
Ark Encounter features a full-size Noah’s Ark, built according to the dimensions given in the Bible. Spanning 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high, this modern engineering marvel amazes visitors young and old. Ark Encounter is situated in the beautiful Williamstown, Kentucky, halfway between Cincinnati and Lexington on I-75. From the moment you turn the corner and the towering Ark comes into view, to the friendly animals in the zoo, to the jaw-dropping exhibits inside the Ark, you’ll experience the pages of the Bible like never before.
There have been several controversies in the building of the “replica” Ark. Despite being an attraction promoting religion, the project has received $US18 million in state funding in clear violation of the first amendment of the US constitution. According to the Progressive Secular Humanist blog:
Kentucky taxpayers will be forced to subsidize an evolution-denying, Creationist theme park being built by Christian fundamentalists hoping to indoctrinate children with ignorant, discredited religious superstitions.
According to reports, a state board has quietly approved tax incentives worth $18 million for Ken Ham’s controversial Noah’s Ark theme park due to open this summer.
Lexington Herald Leader reports the tax break was initially approved in 2014, but was later canceled after tourism officials learned that the theme park would hire only Christians.
However, Ark Encounter officials sued the state in federal court, saying the state’s decision to withhold the tax break violated its free speech, and in an inexplicable and disappointing decision, they won.
In addition to only hiring Christians, those Christians have to hold certain beliefs, and unmarried employees are required to sign a chastity pledge. The Progressive Secular Humanist blog reports:
Fox13Now reports that all prospective employees for Ken Ham’s new Ark Encounter theme park must sign a statement promising not to engage in premarital sex.
According to reports, all Ark Encounter employees are required to sign a statement of faith, disavowing homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and premarital sex.
In addition, employees must affirm that they believe in Biblical creationism, and reject accepted scientific accounts on the age and origin of Earth and its inhabitants.
Ark Encounter employees are expected to believe that God created the Earth in six days and six nights, and that dinosaurs, along with tigers and camels and other animals, roamed the Earth alongside Adam and Eve. In addition, they must reject the overwhelming scientific evidence that the Earth is 4.5 billion years-old and that fossilized dinosaur bones date back roughly 65 million years.
Via the Advocate, this is an excerpt from the Statement of Faith that employees are required to sign:
The only legitimate marriage sanctioned by God is the joining of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other, and has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. Any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography, or any attempt to change one’s gender, or disagreement with one’s biological gender, is sinful and offensive to God.
Just including bestiality and incest in that list of supposed sexual immorality shows what kind of people these are.
There’s no attempt to hide the conservative Christian ethos of the operation, which I suppose is honest at least. A job advertisement for the park read:
Our work at Ark Encounter is not just a job, it is also a ministry. Our purpose through the Ark Encounter is to serve and glorify the Lord with our God-given talents with the goal of edifying believers and evangelizing the lost.
In response to this blatant ignorance,discrimination and bigotry, the Tri-State Freethinkers ran a pretty aggressive (though accurate) billboard campaign against the park.
Answers in Genesis, the organization behind the Ark Encounter, produced this laughable attempt to counter the atheist campaign:
I don’t have much to say to their arguments. I suppose they think they’re being clever, though the words “Lyin’ for Jesus” come to mind.
I would like to know how their Statement of Faith works though. Does Ken Ham line up his single employees each morning and question them about their sexual behaviour since leaving work the day before? How far does sexual contact have to go before it’s considered immoral by Ken Ham? How does he know whether they’re telling the truth? How much does he enjoy the questioning? Are his employees allowed to attend the same-sex weddings of their friends or family members, or have same-sex couples in their homes? What happens if the unmarried child of an employee becomes a parent? Does the employee have to either disavow their child or lose their job? Are On the Origin of Species or Why Evolution is True considered subversive or forbidden books? If you read them and realize the theory of evolution is true, do you have to resign?
The Bible says, “After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.” (Genesis 5:32 NIV) By the time he started building the Ark, his three sons were married and old enough to help in the task. There is no indication how long it took to build the Ark, but it does say he was 600 years, two months, and seventeen days old when the rains that caused the supposed worldwide flood began. (Genesis 7:11 NIV) So being generous we’re talking seventy years, during which time they still had to house, feed, and clothe themselves and earn the huge amount it must have cost to pay for it all. Where did all the money come from? Apparently the sons didn’t have any children during this time either. (Perhaps they were just too tired for sex.)
So for seventy-odd years the four of them worked on this huge boat (perhaps it was the women who earned all the money and if so, why don’t they get some credit?), as well as taking time out to preach to all and sundry what was coming. But how many people could they have reached? Surely most of the world wasn’t warned by Noah and therefore they weren’t even given the chance to change their ways.
Then God gave Noah seven days warning before the rains actually started to collect all the animals (Genesis 7:4 NIV). He was somewhere in the Middle East, but still he managed to get those flightless kiwis from New Zealand and kangaroos from Australia on board along with all the other animals from across the world in that time, as well as collect a year’s worth of provisions for them all. And just how did he keep the food edible? As for the animals who didn’t make the cut, they’d never been given a choice – they were going to drown in terror.
Perhaps this is what happened to the dinosaurs, though apparently there are small ones on display at the Ark Encounter.
The size of the Ark has given rise to a few questions. I’ve no idea how accurate the figures in these memes are, but the idea that the Ark could have housed and fed all the animals for a year is patently ridiculous.
And don’t you just wish Noah had thought of this:
But there’s a more fundamental question here. Christians believe God gave us all free will. Then he killed everyone for using it. (There’s actually no such thing as free will as science has shown us, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.)
And it’s not as if we’re talking about a fit of pique by God. The build went on for years during which time He could have changed his mind. In the Bible it says that Noah told people they had to change their ways, but that was hardly an effective strategy. You’ve got one very elderly man (the Bible says God made the average life span 120 years at this time – Genesis 6:3 NIV) telling the locals they need to change their ways while he builds a ridiculously large boat for his family and all the animals in the world. I think they can be forgiven for thinking Noah’s deluded.
God makes no effort to get the message to those people who live anywhere on the planet except Noah’s neighbourhood, and picks as his messenger an apparently eccentric drunk. This is not a being who seems to really want people to change their ways, but one who’s looking for an excuse to torture and murder them all. He wasn’t going to be quietly putting everyone into a sleep from which they would never wake up after all. No, they were going to suffer.
Though apparently some of the animals had their bit of fun with Noah:
Other times it didn’t go quite to plan:
What kind of being does that make God? This is the sort of thing that makes me say that even if God were proven to be real, I wouldn’t worship him. He simply doesn’t deserve it if this is His reaction to things not going his way.
But the story doesn’t end there. When Noah, his family, and the animals finally got off the boat, a sacrifice was required.
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. (Genesis 8:20 NIV)
It seems several of those birds and animals had been stuffed in a cage on a boat for a year just so they could be used for a sacrifice. Now you know why God directed Noah to collect seven of the “clean” animals but only two of the others. I would have thought mass murder followed by a nightmare cruise was enough of a sacrifice for anyone. But no, God needed more.
Oh yes, and that’s why we have rainbows too. Not sure how they explained the presence of rainbows before the Ark parked up on Mt Ararat as we know from science that rainbows have been with us as long as we’ve had a planet. But it does make it obvious that despite what we’re told, the Bible wasn’t written at the time of the events it’s relating, even if they had happened, which they didn’t. Because unless this God-being magicked away the water after the flood, someone really needs to explain what happened to it all.
Then, of course, everyone had to get on with repopulating the planet again via God’s favourite method, rampant incest. As the Ark Encounter website states:
Noah’s wife is one of the more overlooked characters of the Bible, considering every one of us contains some of her DNA! Come meet her at the Ark and step into her shoes to find out what we really know about her.
Anyway, the story gets very troubling after the Ark episode is over and Noah and his family get on with their lives. They establish a vineyard and winery, which is always a good career choice for an alcoholic. Then one day Noah gets absolutely blotto, which for some reason leads him to go to his tent, take his clothes off, and take a snooze. His son Ham finds him like that and laughs and tells his brothers. As you would. Shem and Japeth scuttle off and find a cloak to cover him, which they inexplicably manage by walking backwards so they can’t see him.
When Noah wakes up he somehow knows what Ham has done – we aren’t told how – and this leads Noah to curse all Canaanites to be slaves forever. Talk about an over-reaction! For this minor transgression, all of a people are condemned to servitude for all time. And Christians later manage to interpret this as meaning that Ham was black and therefore black people were meant by God to be slaves. Is this really a God or a religion that deserves followers? Anyway here’s the Brick Bible on the tale:
There’s hope for the future though, and maybe this is why so many young people in particular are becoming atheists:
Now that deserves a rainbow! And maybe that’s why the Ark Encounter doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of visitors.
Update: My In box just received a whole new batch of excellent Noah Myth cartoons. In honour of the opening of Ark Encounter, Pliny the Inbetween has posted a collection of all the related pics from over the years at the Evolving Perspectives website. I recommend you go visit them.
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