Creator of life-size Noah's ark replica reveals why he built the biblical structure - and what he hopes it accomplishes

Posted July 21
Updated July 22

With the opening today of a new Christian theme park in Williamstown, Kentucky, individuals and families will be able to have a "life-sized Noah's ark experience."

So, what, exactly, will that look like?

The Ark Encounter includes a massive replica of Noah's ark as recounted in the Book of Genesis — a structure that is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and 51 feet tall, sitting on land nestled between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Lexington, Kentucky.

Inside, visitors will find more than 130 Bible-based exhibits aimed at helping the public better understand scripture and, specifically, the flood story, which has remained a fixture in theological discussions across the globe over the millennia.

Ken Ham, founder of the Ark Encounter as well as the Creation Museum and Answers in Genesis, lamented in an op-ed for Fox News published on Thursday that, despite what he deems to be archaeological evidence that backs the Bible, "society continues to deny the Bible’s historicity for what it is."

Listen to Ham discuss the Ark Encounter during an interview with The Church Boys podcast earlier this year.

Ham went on to call the Bible "the most comprehensive primary source historical document chronicling the ancient world," noting that his goal with the Ark Encounter is to inspire interest in and discussion around the scriptures.

"We should be moved to counter this trend of trying to debunk the Bible as the true word of God and historical account of his people, starting with its very first book, Genesis," Ham wrote. "This is one reason we’re building the Ark Encounter in Northern Kentucky."

In the end, he's hoping that the giant, life-sized ark will help remind citizens of God's involvement in the human experience, arguing that Noah's flood actually unfolded as documented in Genesis 6-9.

Ham continued, "We will powerfully show that, just as the account of Noah’s flood did actually happen, so did the rest of what we read in the scriptures — especially the gospel message preached by Christ in the New Testament."

Interestingly, this isn't the only Noah-inspired replica to emerge this year, with Dutch carpenter Johan Huibers upping the ante with a fully functional vessel that will set sail this summer from the Netherlands to Brazil.

Americans continue to hold the Bible in high esteem, with the American Bible Society's "State of the Bible survey, which is conducted annually by the Barna Group, finding that 80 percent believe the book is 'sacred literature.'"

But, to Ham's point, younger Americans are more skeptical of what's in the Bible, with a lower proportion — 71 percent — believing it to be sacred literature.

A similar dynamic unfolded when Barna asked if the Bible is sufficient for one to lead a meaningful life. While 65 percent of elders aged 70 and up agreed that it, indeed, is, only 27 percent of Millennials (aged 18 to 31) concurred.

The Pew Research Center also recently found an increase in the proportion of those Americans who are religiously unaffiliated. Known as the "nones," these individuals are atheist, agnostic — or unattached to a specific religious belief, though most "nones" tend to fall into the latter category.

While 3.1 percent self-described themselves as atheists and 4 percent as agnostics, 15.8 percent selected "nothing in particular."

Regardless, Pew found that the collective 23 percent found in 2014 was up from 16 percent in 2007. Likewise, the proportion of Christians fell from 78 percent to 71 percent during the same time period.

Ham's hope is that the Ark Encounter — which saw an estimated 8,000 people show up on Tuesday for the park's ribbon-cutting ceremony — will help inspire many of those individuals who have left faith behind to dive deeper into scripture.

It is important to note that Ham is a proponent of young earth creationism and believes that the universe is just 6,000 years old.

While the Huffington Post critiqued some of the displays within Ark Encounter — including elements that show dinosaurs caged aboard the vessel — as being "completely at odds with science," Ham has defended his stance over the years.

"The story we have all heard is that dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago and therefore weren’t around when Noah and company set sail on the Ark around 4,300 years ago," reads an explanation on Ham's Answers in Genesis website.

The text goes on to rebut this idea and claims that dinosaurs were represented on the ark.

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