The Atlantic Vists the Creation Museum
The Atlantic magazine sent a correspondent to Boone County to visit the Creation Museum to get a closer look at the plans for the Ark-themed amusement park planned for Grant County:
With a small team of designers and builders, they’re preparing to construct a colossal wooden ark per the directives presented in the Bible and in accordance with what they refer to as the “sound established nautical engineering practices” of Noah’s time. When completed, their 510-foot-long ark—the centerpiece of a biblical theme park to be called Ark Encounter—will take up about one and a half football fields.
The two men work out of a warehouse-like space in an anonymous industrial complex in Hebron, Kentucky. When I visited this fall, I was shown a few scale models of their ark, which, compared with the delightful wooden boat pictured in many a children’s book, is a terrifying-looking thing: it has no portholes or open decks, and except for a single door that God is supposed to have slammed behind Noah (“And Jehovah shut him in”) and some very narrow openings for light and ventilation, the vessel is sealed off in a way that suggests a giant floating coffin.
It turns out that erecting a massive ark based on a few lines of ancient verse raises some practical quandaries. Gopher wood, for example, is not a kind of wood recognized by modern arborists. Likewise, a cubit, the unit of measurement employed by God in Genesis, is not a standardized metric, although many people believe it refers to the length of a man’s forearm, from his elbow to the tip of his middle finger. Then there are the countless mysteries (scatological, sociological) about the interior, where Noah, his seven family members, and his herd of animals (“Of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort”) are said to have spent a year and six days.
Ark Encounter—which is to sit on an 800-acre plot of land in Williamstown, about 40 miles south of Cincinnati—will be filled with actors and animals (some real, some mechanical) and will also feature a Tower of Babel, a walled city, an aviary, a “first-century village,” and something called a “Journey Through Biblical History,” involving a boat ride down the Nile. Like all Kentucky tourist attractions, Ark Encounter is eligible for generous state tax incentives—in this case, controversially, up to $43 million over 10 years. The park also has the unequivocal support of Kentucky’s Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, who likes to boast that the complex could produce up to 900 jobs.
My questions about other specifics were met with a quick, relentless defense. How did eight people feed and clean up after several thousand wild animals? Conveyor belts. How did Noah pack enough food for everyone? He pelletized it. What kept all the animals from eating each other? The hand of God.
“We don’t want anyone to think we’re just making things up,” said Marsh, who is Ark Encounter’s design director.
Meanwhile, it is noted that the planned Ark for Kentucky is not the only one in the world that would be built to scale:
Just as the first storms of winter roll in, Dutchman Johan Huibers has finished his 20-year quest to build a full-scale, functioning model of Noah’s Ark — an undertaking of, well, biblical proportions.
Huibers, a Christian, used books 6-9 of Genesis as his inspiration, following the instructions God gives Noah down to the last cubit.
Translating to modern measurements, Huibers came up with a vessel that works out to a whopping 427 feet (130 metres) long, 95 feet (29 metres) across and 75 feet (23 metres) high. Perhaps not big enough to fit every species on Earth, two by two, as described in the Bible, but plenty of space, for instance, for a pair elephants to dance a tango.
For Huibers, a builder by trade, it all began with a nightmare he had in 1992, when the low-lying Netherlands was flooded, as it has been many times throughout its history.
PHOTO: Rendering of proposed "Ark Park" in Williamstown