Answers in Genesis is seeking to raise $24.5 million in order to build a life size replica of Noah’s Ark and they need your help. Sponsor a peg for $100, a plank for $1,000, or a beam for $5,000. To date, $2,182,550 have been donated to the cause: that is 437 beams, 2183 beams, or 4,365 pegs. They have a ways to go but you can help them get there. Consider with me, however, if the world really needs a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark and whether Answers and Genesis can possibly do justice to the world-wide flood that it represents.
Through the construction of a massive full-scale Noah’s Ark, the Ark Encounter will present America and other nations with a reminder about the Bible’s account of the Ark.
Many of the same talented team members that built the successful, high-tech Creation Museum are returning for the Ark Encounter. This new project is positioned to become an attraction that will capture the world’s attention.
The entire Ark Encounter project is slated to cost $150 million. The project will also include a Walled City, the Tower of Babel, a first-century Middle Eastern village, a journey in history from Abraham to the parting of the Red Sea, a walk-through aviary, a large petting zoo.” The $24.5 million being raised by Answers in Genesis will go toward building the ark itself. The amount of money that Answers in Genesis is looking to raise begs the question: is this a good use of our resources? Do Christians need a historically themed park? Is it going to change the way people think about the flood narrative? How will it depict this most terrifying event? Will it do justice to what it depicts?
Here is my issue with Ark Encounter: I don’t think any life-size replica is going to help anyone stomach this most difficult of biblical stories. If there is any Christian story people like to scoff at, it is the flood narrative. Those outside the Christian fold look at such a project and wonder why Christians would spend so much money on something like this, and sadly I have to admit that they have a point.
It is important to note that this is not a church project but a business venture. It is quite possible that Ark Encounter will turn a profit–and thus the $150 million is an investment that is expected to pay dividends. So, despite the fact that it seems like an inordinate amount of money to spend on a Christian-themed park, who I am to say whether its a waste of money? And perhaps they really will “capture the world’s attention.” I would certainly find it interesting to see. So despite the fact that I think there are probably better uses of my money, I say let them build their Ark!
But can Answers in Genesis’ depiction possibly do justice to the flood narrative? I have no doubt that they can build an accurate replica, but the more important question is whether they will accurately convey what the ark represents.
I am one of those nutty Christians who believe in a literal flood and a literal ark. I think it was awful. Its not particularly “family friendly.” All but 8 people on the face of the earth drown (Gen. 6:17). It was a sober act of judgment on man whose wickedness ”was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). No felt board or life-size replica can accurately convey its horrors, like the millions of children who drown in its waters. This isn’t a story from which one can easily transition into playing with animals in a petting Zoo. It is horrifying. Its a story that should make us weep.
I recognize it to be one of the most difficult stories in the Bible to stomach. However, I believe perhaps even more strangely that a Jewish man from Nazareth predicted his own death and resurrection. I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God and he came to earth to give his life as a ransom for many and on the third day after his death, he rose from the grave, conquering sin and death. The apostle Paul said, “if Christ has not been raised then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). I recognize that many find such faith irrational and I understand that. But everything hangs on the resurrection of Christ. Without going into a detailed defense, I will simply say that I find the evidence for it overwhelming. I believe in the resurrection of Christ and because I can stomach that, the miraculous and terrible event that was the Flood is something that I accept by faith as well.
Someone will surely say, “isn’t Ark Encounter worth it if one person’s life is changed because of this?” There are a myriad of ways that one person’s life could be changed and that doesn’t necessitate the building of a $150 million dollar amusement park. Of course we could argue all day about the best use of our money, but if you really want to see someone’s life changed, why not invest in someone you know? Start praying for a friend, serve them and lovingly share with them of the hope offered them in Christ. Loving God and loving people are strange enough to get the worlds attention. We don’t have to build multi-million dollar structures that represent the most terrifying thing the Lord has and will ever do this side of eternity. Perhaps it will turn a profit; they have research that says it will. But can they possibly convey the flood’s horrors? Will they? Should they?
The world will know that we are Christ’s disciples by our love. Not our multi-million dollar theme parks (John 13:35).