Everything That’s Wrong with the Ark Encounter in 6 Points.


The Ark Encounter.

What’s the Ark Encounter?

The Ark Encounter is an alleged Bible based theme park located in Kentucky, America. It is a product of the Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham; Ham is also the founder of the Creation Museum (the sister of the Ark Encounter). Basically the Ark Encounter is an enormous wooden ship (built according to the dimensions of the ark recorded in the biblical Genesis account) that is intended to be both a museum and a monument. Many Christians, it seems, are on the same boat with Ham on this one as they are praising it to be the latest and greatest biblical attraction.

What floats Ham’s boat is that his, and his colleagues, preferred exegetical method is to take some of the Bible narratives absolutely literally, as if they read as strictly scientific and historical accounts. What this has led them to is the belief that the universe was created by God in six 24-hour periods and that the Earth is just some 6000 to 10 000 years old. Ham and his followers are what are known as Young Earth Creationists (YEC). The YEC also disputes any evidence for evolution and an old Earth/universe.

Ham claims that the Ark Encounter is a “family-oriented, historically authentic, and environmentally friendly” attraction (1). If he is successful it will “equip visitors to understand the reality of the events that are recorded in the book of Genesis.” A walk through the ark will, in no unclear way, show visitors that Ham believes there was a real global flood, that Noah and his family really did build a ship of the same size and dimensions as written in Genesis 6, that all of the animals brought by God to Noah did fit inside the Ark, including the dinosaurs, and that God saved Noah and his family and the animals on the Ark.

What’s Good About It?

Since this article takes a critical view of the Ark Encounter, I also wish to give some credit where I think it is due. In short the actual monument looks awesome. It is splendidly detailed, and it attempts to bring an ancient biblical story out from the Bible and into the world. The ship is jam packed with life-size dinosaurs and creative little biblical scenes. Since the Genesis account says very little about what happened on the ark it required Ham to take some artistic license. Add into the equation a petting zoo, shops and restaurants, and we have something quite fun and entertaining. I might be a little biased here since I am a huge fan of the Jurassic Park series. Who doesn’t want to wrestle a velociraptor on a big boat?

However, with that out of the way we shall consider some critiques.


Apparently Noah, or someone, was making shields, or barrels, on the ark?

1. The Monumental Waste of Money.

Ham believes that the Ark Encounter will get people to consider the value of scripture. For example, he claims that “some of the aggressive secularists try to shut down people talking about the Bible… So for us it’s ‘How can we get a message out there about the Bible?'” Thus to avoid a sinking ship he believes that constructing a massive 100 million dollar structure will plug the hole.

But that’s a lot of money. Andy Walton, writing for Christian Today, brings us to biblical New Testament roots arguing that “Getting out the message about the Bible is a laudable aim. But Jesus managed it without so much as a roof over his head. Paul managed it while he was being beaten with rods, stones, shipwrecked and much more besides” (2). He also urges us to realize that “ St Francis did it in poverty. Martin Luther did it with a piece of paper. Jonathan Edwards did it with barnstorming sermons. Corrie Ten Boom did it until she was thrown into a prison camp by the Nazis. Pope Francis does it with humility… None of them seemed to need a 100 million dollar boat to get people talking about the Bible.”

I also wonder what Ham believes Jesus would think about all this? Essentially spending such a lump sum on a structure deprives putting food into the stomachs of the poverty-stricken, forwarding the church’s effort of sending missionaries into the world, building houses and providing basic needs for so many. Instead, we have a 100 million dollar museum with a petting zoo and a couple of shops to show for 100 million dollars. Tyler Francke is quite scathing, “As a Christian, this kind of absurd, profligate waste (by an organization that purports to serve Christ, no less) absolutely disgusts me” (3).

What is more valuable to Jesus? A single human being or a big wooden ship? Since Jesus had himself pinned to a cross for the salvation of humans, I’d say humans. Instead, what we have with the Ark Encounter is very much a monument of YEC arrogance that is made to be confrontational and up in the face of the American public. That is a bad thing to do. It will only further polarize more people, harm the gospel’s vitality, and force people to choose science over salvation (more on this in a moment). At the end of the day it will only be successful in affirming the beliefs that YECs already have. Francke bitingly concludes, “I’m sure that the children starving to death in Sudan and Chad and Ecuador and many, many other places, will find great comfort in the fact that a ludicrously expensive wooden ship (that can’t even float) is materializing somewhere on the other side of the world.”


Talk about confrontational…

2. The Really, Really Bad Science.

Philosophically I clearly wouldn’t see eye-to-eye with Bill Nye. Nye is a naturalist, I am not. But I do agree with the observations he makes following his tour of the Ark Encounter. Nye said that “on the third deck (of the ark), every single science exhibit is absolutely wrong. Not just misleading, but wrong” (4). However, he doesn’t stop there recounting that it is “much more troubling or disturbing than I thought it would be.”

I agree with Nye especially on this point because “You have hundreds of school kids there who have already been indoctrinated and who have been brainwashed.” Nye takes issue with the YEC belief saying that it “is the absolutely wrong idea that the Earth is 6,000 years old…” Walton agrees saying that “The worst part is the vast, vast majority of scientists disagree with what’s being presented at the park – this makes the project look naïve at best; wasteful, deceitful and dishonest at worst.”

Walton’s clearly not wrong as no scientist in any field, anywhere in the world, agrees with what is being presented by Ham and his Ark Encounter museum. No professional expert in geology, stratigraphy, geophysics, physics, paleontology, biology, anthropology, and archaeology believes that the Earth is just 6000 years old, that dinosaurs lived alongside man, and that there was a global flood. Nearly no scientist agrees with the anti-evolution polemic being presented in the museum.


Ham (right) sharing the gospel message and trying to convert Nye in the Ark Encounter.

3. The Credibility of the Gospel.

What ends up happening here is that Ham poses a dilemma for spiritual seekers as well as Christians: either one chooses to believe what Ham does (the YEC will then allege that this is the only faithful interpretation of scripture) or modern science. It is thus not difficult to realize that most people are not going to choose absurd religious beliefs held by certain Christians due to their theological interpretation of the Bible. This is a recipe for disaster and, in all certainty, goes to account for the mass exodus of young Christians leaving the church. Mark Woods realizes this, he explains that “I have to regard as his theological error has led to such a massive waste of Kingdom resources that it can’t be described as anything other than tragic. It’s not just the money, though $100 million could do untold good if it were applied to evangelism or poverty relief or development. It’s the intellectual investment so many good people have put into defending the indefensible. It’s the damage to the credibility of the gospel among people who know the world is nearly 14 billion years old, not 6,000, and won’t take Jesus seriously if they think they have to believe otherwise” (8).

4. A Monument to Celebrating Genocide.

Again, Ham harms genuine seekers by putting them in the firing line of historical scholarship. I’ve read quite a number of scholars concerning biblical interpretation, especially when it comes to the Exodus and the Genesis Flood. No historian, alongside just about every scientist in the world, believes that there was a global flood. This would include the vast majority of Christian biblical scholars I have interacted with. Peter Enns, a renowned biblical Christian scholar, believes that “the flood story, though rooted in history, is dressed up in mythic clothes from head to toe” (5). The consensus view is that the biblical flood story has its origins in older Mesopotamia myths that were likely themselves triggered by a localized flood event. The point is that the author used this fact to his advantage. His theological motif was to prove that his god, Yahweh, was superior over the gods of the other nations. Yahweh was so in control of nature, his creation, that he can obliterate every living being on his Earth, as well as restore order, in no time. Key to this narrative is the seriousness of sin, God’s heartache over his human creatures that choose to sin, and that God, being righteous, judges that sin. The inspired theology behind the story is rich, but it is not based on a historical event. The late Christian scholar James Barr explains that scholars realize “Such material [is not considered] to be historical or scientific: it belongs to legend… It belongs to mythology, or to the psychology of ancient peoples, or to literary symbolism, but it certainly is not historical or scientific chronology” (6).

Let us hook this in a bit. What is the implication? The implication is that God did not, in absolute genocidal fashion, kill every single human being, and every single animal, (outside of the ark) on the Earth. This is because the account is not constructed upon a historical event. So to ask the question of its historicity concerning the flood misses the point of its message as well as its place in the Bible. But this considered, many Christians do actually believe in a global flood and obviously Ham would be one of them. If this is true then Ham has essentially set up a monument celebrating divine mass genocide. Alexis Misra therefore rightly poses a question, “If evangelicals believe this is a true story and that millions perished in the cruelest way, why is there rejoicing and not sorrow? Why is it treated as a tourist attraction rather than a memorial?” (7).

She goes on, explaining that “The staggering death toll that occurred according to the Bible’s [flood] was enough to make me a certified skeptic… so surely, hardcore inerrant-Bible-believing evangelicals would be doubly sickened by it, no? No. They’re not – quite the opposite, in fact. They have built a “world-class” (their words, not mine) attraction out of it… In the Bible, God obliterated humanity, and that should be a heart-wrenching realization for evangelicals. It was a far greater horror than that committed by even Adolf Hitler, and building a monument commemorating this atrocity is like modern-day Germany proudly displaying a gas chamber.” I fail to fault Misra’s thoughts.


I’m guessing that’s a raptor?

5. It’s a False Picture of Christianity.

YECs like Ham tend to believe that their way of seeing the Bible, Christianity, the flood and science is the only true way. To be a faithful Christian you have to believe as they do. However, this black and white way of seeing things is a problem since, as Walton explains, “Many Americans don’t fall easily into either camp. Many Christians won’t. They may have diverse opinions on sexual ethics, on life issues, on evolution, on hell, on what role government should play in society, on healthcare, and indeed on science.” But this is nowhere hinted at by Ham.

This is the definition of fundamentalist intolerance meted out not only against other Christians but the world at large. According to Ham if you doubt his way of seeing Genesis then you are doubting the Bible, and if you doubt the Bible you’re doubting God. However, in response to this I wish to leave with readers that Christianity has a rich history full of diverse interpretations of how to interpret certain passages, and how to interpret disciplines like science, history and the rest. We have theistic evolutionists, Old Earth Creationists, Young Earth Creationists, and all in between. We don’t need to accept Ham’s narrow criterion for judging what constitutes a faithful Christian. In saying this I am not at all advocating, or supporting, interpretations that are clearly heretical. What I am saying is that trying to box Christians into an us-versus-them way of seeing things is a false representation of Christianity.

6. Ham and his Ark Encounter’s Double Standard.

In point 2 we touched on some of the views of Bill Nye. Obviously Ham would disagree with him, in fact, Ham says that “Bill Nye doesn’t want parents to be allowed to teach their children about God. He wants to brainwash kids, to indoctrinate them, in his naturalistic (atheistic) religion of meaninglessness and hopelessness.”

The obvious point here being is that this is exactly what Ken Ham is doing. Through the museum he is making it his goal to indoctrinate and brainwash kids into believing things about the world that are clearly false. The theory of the mind philosopher calls this a false belief. When such overwhelming evidence is stacked against a belief, and when unanimous professional consensus, in just about every domain of expertise, rejects a certain belief, then that belief is rendered a false belief. In other words, that belief does not correspond to reality. However, what we have with the Ark Encounter is the promotion of false beliefs, beliefs that only Ham and the YEC believe in.

I won’t argue that Nye does not have a naturalistic bias, he does, but Ham is clearly holding to a double standard by accusing Nye of things that Ham is doing himself. And just to note the obvious, naturalism is not a religion…


According to the Ark Encounter only the biblical (in other words, the YEC interpretation of “biblical”) and secular views exist. Those evil secularists!


1. Woods, M. 2016. Ken Ham’s Noah’s Ark: Evangelistic supertool or colossal waste of money? Available.

2. Walton, A. 2016 A waste of 100 million dollars: Why the Noah’s Ark replica in Kentucky should never have happened. Available.

3. Francke, T. 2014. What Ken Ham’s ‘Ark Encounter’ money could buy instead. Available.

4. Arel, D. 2016. Bill Nye on the Ark Encounter: ‘every single science exhibit is absolutely wrong.’ Available.

5. Enns, P. 2014. The Bible Tells Me So. p. 152 (Scribd ebook format).

6. Barr, J. 1987. Biblical Chronology, Fact or Fiction? Available.

7. Misra, A. 2016. A Close Encounter of the Ark Kind. Available.

8. Woods, M. 2016. Ibid.

13 responses to “Everything That’s Wrong with the Ark Encounter in 6 Points.

  1. This appreciation is really really disapoinment, True based on Bible -Christian will not give the major credit to scientific world, even when it is so so uncertainly and always go wrong about its theories, science is a good tool when is used to try understand our world but not to make doctrine or trying to frame the allmighty God in our poor and little comprehension, How could you say that flood was just a mesopotamian myth when Jesus himself pointed the flood as a real event and compares with his real second coming? How can you seed these kind of ideas on Christian people?, just why we don`t know the flood mechanisms or a scientific religion claims based on its prejudiced-remarks that it never be existed it doesn´t they have the truth, if you want to look like a “modern” and “progressive” Christian you can be so, but Bible is not a Myths and legend Book, you can put your faith where you want to put, but remember Bible is the living word of God, and it says many things that we can not to reconcile in our minds as Everlasting Life, Resurrection, Universal Kingdom, Angels, Demons, Miracles, and all kind of things that we cannot prove through our scientific methods, the human knowledge is very limited, but we are proud and we aim to understand everything, I remember the words of Jesus when said:

    Mat 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
    Mat 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

    God may help you to get the truly Christian faith back again, only based on The Living Word of God. No matter what people says.

  2. James, I like your blog and always like most of what you say but this article is weak and decrepit to say the least. $100 000 000 over and over and children in Sudan : you sound like an atheist philanthropist ad that is what they would say.

    Ham is spectacular and his rendition of the ark is fantastic and the fact that he goes against evolutionary teaching is stunning in its own right. YEC will never push away any potential Christian : it’s a topic everyone can deal with. Ham needs to be celebrated and money is artificial and we’ll spent on such an amazing monument. Well done Ken Ham, I salute him.

  3. Young-earth/old earth is fortunately not an issue believers need to divide over.
    However, it is certainly not true that “…no scientist in any field, anywhere in the world, agrees with what is being presented by Ham and his Ark Encounter museum. No professional expert in geology, stratigraphy, geophysics, physics, paleontology, biology, anthropology, and archaeology believes that the Earth is just 6000 years old, that dinosaurs lived alongside man, and that there was a global flood. Nearly no scientist agrees with the anti-evolution polemic being presented in the museum.” There are indeed scientists who can competently argue for a young earth.

  4. And by the way, naturalism is indeed not a religion like Christianity, but a blind belief as it excludes a priori the possibility of existence of God and in spite of all the evidence

  5. Jesus spoke about Noah and the worldwide flood – was He just a “misguided fundamentalist” too?

  6. This was a good post. Many cultures have some description of a Great Flood, and that alone should give us pause as to its actual occurrence. One could also argue that if multiple NON-Biblical cultures recorded a flood, then the entire human race – except Noah and his family – was not wiped out by it.

  7. So basically, “I’m against the plain literal interpretation of the Bible so I’m against the Ark”?

    For the cost, this was done by private donations, not just Ken Ham. Yeah, sure, poor kids and whatnot. You know what else Jesus said? The poor ye will have always. You don’t have the right to judge what we do with our own money that is clearly not a sin. And building an ark, however frivolous you think it is, is not a sin.

  8. The article’s “Five Points Against the Ark Encounter” are these:

    1. The Monumental Waste of Money.
    2. The Really, Really Bad Science.
    3. The Credibility of the Gospel.
    4. A Monument to Celebrating Genocide.
    5. It’s a False Picture of Christianity.
    And a bonus! 6. Ham and his Ark Encounter’s Double Standard.

    We’ve heard it before about the Ark Encounter, all I can say is, “What about all of the other expensive enterprises that are undergone in the world or even this country?” The author brings up quotes by other people that basically say, “As a Christian, I’m disgusted at this flagrant waste of money.” And then he brings Jesus into it by asking what He would think. There is actually quite a bit of emotional rhetoric, especially by the time people get to number 4.

    Here are my brief responses:

    1.Where does the Bible say that Christians cannot be entrepreneurs? There is the passage where Jesus tells the young ruler to sell everything he has and follow Him. (Matthew 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22) That, however, is not a call for all people who follow Jesus to sell all of their possessions and to become a hermit. For the rich young ruler, his possessions were a stumbling block, and Jesus knew that. Jesus deals with each of us according to our needs. As Paul says, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. (1 Timothy 6:10)

    Did the author stop to think that this Ark could be a source of income for missions work and jobs? He brings up the starving child in Sudan (much like atheists who bring up those poor natives who have not heard the gospel) and my response is, “What are you doing?” Yes, it is good to feed the poor. It is better to feed them spiritually. We should do both. A meal will buy them another day in this world. Introducing them to Christ will give them eternal life. Setting people free spiritually liberates them from the trials of this world.

    2.How is it bad science? Because it disagrees with modern secular scientists? (Shocker.) Putting aside, for a moment, the debate between Christians about the age of the earth, there are many scientists that say the world was created. Hugh Ross is a well known Old Earth Creationist and Scientist. Then there are the people at ICR, who are YEC scientists. Just because the science talked about regarding the Ark is not the mainstream, naturalistic, uniformitarian brand, does not make it false.

    3.The strong YEC view is blamed for the credibility of the gospel being in decline, especially with young people. Yes, the truth is rather unpopular with them, especially when people are failing to teach them how to defend their faith, and when they do, it is usually with nothing more than a coloring book. Aside from the story of Noah itself, he is mentioned in the Bible multiple times: 1 Chronicles 1:4; Isaiah 54:9; Ezekiel 14:14, 20; Matthew 24:37-8; Luke 3:36, 17:26-7; Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5.

    Noah is regarded by multiple people, including our Lord and Savior Jesus Himself, as a real person, and the global flood as a real event. There is no getting around that for people who claim to be Christians and believe the Bible.

    4.I’m not sure what to say here, except to point out that, when it is God directly executing judgment, it is not genocide. People who claim that God is genocidal clearly do not understand who God is in the first place. If it is the job of the Creator of the universe to hold people accountable for their actions, how is that unjust slaying, even of a people group? The article even says that millions of people died, but where do they have evidence that millions of people were alive at that time? Logically, if one were to follow the timeline of the YEC account, millions of people were not even present. Consistency is important, something the article lacks. The article, in fact, goes on to emphatically claim that the flood was not a historical event, merely ‘rich theology’, and that claiming it is real is tantamount to God being Hitler. I already addressed that Jesus Himself mentioned the Flood and the Ark as historical, so, I really do not have much to add, other than to say that the author and other like-minded individuals have most likely read the child’s guide to arguing.

    5.He basically says that the Bible is a matter of interpretation and espousing a narrow, fundamentalist, intolerant view puts Christianity in a bad light, and falsely represents Christianity as a whole, all the while saying that they do not support interpretations that are ‘clearly heretical’. Sounds pretty divisive there, to me. You know who else was divisive? Jesus: (Matthew 7:16-20, 10:34, 25:31-46)

    6.He accuses Ken Ham of attempting to brainwash and indoctrinate children as he has accused Bill Nye of doing. He appeals to the majority as well as to authority, saying that because of ‘professional consensus’ and ‘overwhelming evidence’ that dismisses Ham’s claims, his beliefs are false.

    I will point out that we should not be afraid of dissenting views, and should represent the main theory as well as the main dissenting theories, and as far as I can tell, no where did Ken Ham claim to want to silence Bill Nye, as Bill Nye has called for of those who adhere to a creationist and Bible centered worldview. I am not trying to defend Ken Ham or YECs specifically, however, this article goes above and beyond in its rhetoric and appeals to everything but what God thinks, except for a brief mention of what Jesus may think, though, the Jesus the article writer has in mind does not sound like the Jesus of the Bible.

    In conclusion, I find the article to be an emotional piece that denies the Bible with an appeal to a very human-centered philosophy. It fails to really make any strong points, other than to repetitively state that events like the Exodus and Flood are myths and not historical or scientific chronology, and that it is mere interpretation. Not to mention the fact that if an actual Flood occurred, that would make God genocidal. If that is what people walk away from the Bible nowadays, I think this quote should just about sum things up:

    H. Richard Niebuhr summarized the liberal gospel: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”

    Read more: http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php

    Brother Paul speaks plainly:

    1 Thessalonians 2:4
    “Instead, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but rather God, who examines our hearts.”

    Jesus Christ even more so:

    Matthew 16:24
    [ Take Up Your Cross ] Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.

    Matthew 10:38
    And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.

  9. Does that mean God was lieing when he said he would not destroy all mankind with a flood again? If this was a regional flood we have regional floods now and so it make out God to be a liar and I hope you don’t want that.

  10. i don’t understand how you tell monumental waste of money and Jorge Mario Bergoglio or Vatican are not related, i believe only the car or the clothes he wears are more pricy than the whole ark

  11. The Mesopotamian literary precursors to the biblical Noah story, and its two main story lines, are well known. So are the many aspects of the received story that cannot withstand scientific scrutiny.
    Consequently, when faith fears facts, and opts for fiction, it risks looking foolish. Rather than demonstrating character, it invites caricature.
    What the Ark Encounter project wastes, though, is more precious than the $100,000,000 it claims to have spent, for Ark Encounter has missed a marvelous opportunity. It has chosen to comfort the choir, instead of informing, challenging and elevating them. Worse, it encourages them, rewards them, for keeping their eyes and ears shut and their minds closed. There may be short term financial gain in that, but not much future. What a pity. An Ark is a terrible thing to waste.
    For more, please see http://www.judaismandscience.com/an-ark-is-a-terrible-thing-to-waste/

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