Is Rebuilding Noah's Ark A Waste Of Money?

Whenever the young earth creationists of Answers in Genesis are mentioned these days, especially the organization's front-man, Ken Ham, it is quite easy to find a mud slinging event somewhere nearby. In fact, many so-called Christians have treated Ken Ham in quite un-Christian ways. While I definitely do not agree with everything Ken Ham says and while I purposefully distance myself from many of the interpretive moves that AIG espouses, I also purposefully distance myself from those who go out of their way to beat him down. As a resident of Kentucky and as someone who visited the AIG campus both prior to its opening and even afterwards, I can say that many of the rumors about the creation museum and its founder are slanted, biased and/or often unfounded.

So, it really is no surprise to me that with the announcement of Ham's latest project, the arrogance and pseudo-piety of many so-called Christians has once again surfaced. This new project titled "The Ark Encounter" is supposed to be a theme park / petting zoo based on the story of Noah's Ark. The Ark itself will be life-size (meeting the biblical dimensions) and many of the animals will, of course, be real (in addition to models). Interestingly, this Ark, as of now, is probably going to be built in my small hometown, Grant County, Kentucky. In some ways, I feel like this gives me a way to address the matter from a different angle.

As someone who grew up in this quite rural area--I can remember when the entire city had one stoplight!!!--I am very familiar with its people, culture and struggles. I know of this place's problems and am more than familiar with its lack of opportunity. I know the people of the trailer-parks and low-income houses. I know the people who have sold and done drugs and I know the people who have been spoiled by wealthy families. I know of the rigid conservatism that many practice and the hatred towards Christianity that many hold. When I was in high school, I had two friends who were locked up for burning down several churches! I know this place.

Because I know this place and because I know these people, I think I can speak more pointedly and accurately about the issue than many others. One of the major critiques that I want to address therefore, is the challenge from folks that this is a waste of money. Indeed, many have suggested that this money could go to help the poor or to fight poverty or to some other similar social justice activity or event. Such remarks are often only proof that within that person there is an inward Judas at work, not a Holy Spirit with real, sincere concern! But the truth is, this new theme park will, before it is ever completed, when it is completed and long after it is completed, fight poverty.

Indeed, it will pay thousands of construction workers who will build it, neighboring restaurants and hotels, etc. In turn, this will provide jobs for many locals. It will also stimulate the economy not only in KY but in Grant County also. Once it is completed, it will bring in millions of visitors every year. This will help keep jobs secured. In the long-run, many people will have stable incomes, lives, homes, etc. This job is, in many ways, a social justice project. No, it is not a temporary handout. No, it is not a donation. What it is, however, is a job creator, economy booster and discussion starter.

If "The Ark Encounter" can deliver what it promises in terms of jobs and economic boosts, then I am all for it. There is not going to be a form that one must assent to before entering, which says that they must agree with Answers in Genesis before they leave. No, folks are still welcome to disagree with AIG's views afterwards. However, if this theme park can bring the Bible directly into contact with our modern lives, can help its stories come to life, can get people thinking and talking about the Bible and can advance outreach, then it is a good thing. I find it such a shame that being only a stone's throw away from the Ohio River, which houses gambling boats, that many Christians would be fine with those types of theme parks / events and then turn around and be highly critical of this one. Whereas gambling boats tend to rip people off and destroy lives, this one seeks to do quite the opposite. Anyway, I think that on many levels, this project is a good idea.

For those living in Kentucky and especially Grant County, this could be a great economic reviver. So, if you are a Christian, before you go slinging mud, I would highly encourage you to watch the press conference below (in 3 parts) and to make an informed judgment based on what I've said above and what is said in those videos. If you have any thoughts, comments or ideas, please, feel free to get the discussion going here on Pisteuomen.

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