Noah's Ark Re-creation Opens In Kentucky
Over the protests of skeptics, the full scale recreation of Noah’s Ark opened on schedule last Thursday near Williamstown, Kentucky, south of Cincinnati. The owners of the massive $100 million attraction expect up to two million visitors annually.
It is an amazing sight. The Ark is eight stories high and one-and-a-half football fields long. Amish craftsmen installed the huge timbers that hold the ship together says Mark Looy, co-founder of the group Answers in Genesis.
“The Amish are just so well known for their ability to work with wood and these people take a pride in their work, they’re not prideful people, but they want to do their work to the glory of God,” Looy says.
That’s also the intent of Answers In Genesis, the Christian organization that built Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum both south of Cincinnati. Looy says the Ark is first and foremost an evangelistic tool.
“We’re all about evangelism here, we don’t hide the fact that we’re Christians. We’re not here just to prove there was a Noah’s Ark and flood, we’re here to point them to Christ who is our modern day Ark of Salvation,” Looy says.
Since the Bible only gives the barest details about the ark, Looy says designers took creative license in their interpretations. The Ark’s interior has three decks; each filled with elaborately crafted displays and exhibits. The bottom deck is loaded with wooden cages that hold life-like animals. On the next deck are additional exhibits and displays – and a very large door.
“We’re on the second deck of the ark and the Bible teaches that there was a door on the side of the ark and this is what you’re looking at right now. And this is the door that Noah would have entered with the animals, but we’ll also use that door to talk about Christ being the door of salvation,” Looy says.
On the top deck, more elaborate displays depict life aboard the ark. Sculpted figures representing Noah and his family are so life-like, you often have to look twice. Disney or Universal could not have done better, Looy says.
“We are on the third deck of the ark and these are the living quarters for Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives. And you can see the attention to detail here is astounding,” Looy says.
But critics of Ark Encounter abound. The Tri-State Freethinkers is one such group. President Jim Helton derides Answers In Genesis for its “creationist” world-view.
“They are actually telling people that evolution is not true. They say that the earth is only 6,000 years old. They’re telling people that the Grand Canyon was formed in 40 days and 40 nights instead of millions of years,” Helton says.
A portion of the money to build the $100 million Ark came from bonds. The state of Kentucky has awarded up to $18 million in tax breaks. That, says the Freethinkers president Jim Helton should not be happening.
“It is not a tourist attraction it is a church. It’s a $100 million church. And they have the right to build that but it should by no means be funded with public money,” Helton says.
So many people are expected to tour Ark Encounter that it’s open until midnight for its first 40 days and 40 nights.