Williamstown, Kentucky, is preparing for a flood of tourists this Summer season, following news that the city is constructing a full-sized version of Noah’s Ark.
This life-sized replica version of Noah’s Ark is set for its official unveiling on Thursday, July 7, per ABC News.
According to the legendary Biblical story, this massive boat was built by prophet Noah at the request of God in order for Noah to save himself, his family, and one pair of each animal on earth in order to save them from a great flood. The Genesis (5:32-10:5-8) passage reads as follows.
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
Of course, building a real life Noah’s Ark of such proportions is by no means as easy as reading a few passages.
“The message that we have – it’s making the Bible come alive, really. By building Noah’s Ark, we’re saying, “This really happened. this is plausible,” said Ken Ham, the ship’s builder and the founder of his own Answers in Genesis ministry to Nightline. Ham also noted that “it gets bigger and bigger [than expected]. When you get inside, it gets bigger again.”
Specifically, Ham’s version of the Noah’s Ark measures 510 feet (length) 85 feet (width), and 51 feet (height), and is expected to cost $100 million when all work is completed.
Of course, when accounting for the obvious inflation since Biblical times, Ham sees the Ark’s bloated cost as a necessary price to pay for attempting to bring history back to life.
“We have a lot of people who are not Christians who come [to Williamstown, Kentucky],” said Ham, who added that his new “Ark Encounter” exhibit is located just a couple of miles from his Creation Museum.
This museum, which ABC News notes attracts nearly 500,000 visitors each year, focuses on teaching Bible stories and creationism in a way that allows younger visitors to relate and thus better understand their concepts. For example, one display within the Creation Museium is an exhibit showing Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, situated next to a few dinosaurs eating fruit.
“[Visitors] appreciate the way [these displays] are presented,” Ham continued. “[The Noah’s Ark replica is] presented very tastefully. It’s educational.”
Ham’s projects, however, are not without their critics, among them various science institutions focused on promoting Evolution and similar doctrines.
Those critics see Ham’s museum more as a form of biblical propaganda.
“[Ham’s work is] very troubling,” said famed evolutionist and television persona Bill Nye, also to Nightline. “Allosauruses and humans did not live at the same time. Teaching the earth is 6,000 years old is completely wrong and inappropriate.”
In response, Ham, who received $18 million in tax benefits and tourism incentives to complete his Noah’s Ark and other projects after taking the state of Kentucky to court over its attempts to block such funding, responded:
Museums like the Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C., Smithsonian or Chicago Field Museum, mostly they teach that we supposedly evolved [from] apelike creatures. Why shouldn’t we be able to use the same technology and really challenge people to consider the Bible as the true history of the world?
For Ham, the issue of evolution versus biblical teachings is more one of open mindedness than it is an issue of 100% factual accuracy, which he believes can never be achieved. For this reason, Ham is requiring that all potential workers on his replica Noah’s Ark sign a statement of faith confirming their belief in creationism and other aspects of Genesis, such as the great flood, are historically accurate events. Among those workers to cite allegiance with this doctrine are the Noah’s Ark carpenters, including Amish workers, as well as the artists who assembled its pvarious exhibits.
According to Ham, this is required because “we are a Christian organization and we have a Christian message.”
The Noah’s Ark Encounter exhibit will cost $40 for adults and $28 for children.
“There’s a lot of people that scoff. We get a lot of attacks by some of the aggressive secularists. Sometimes I feel a bit like Noah,” concluded Ham, who believes it is within his right to create the display using public funds, as he has.
“Christians pay taxes in this world,” Ham smiled. “We live in this world. We’re not second-class citizens.”