No, Ken Ham, Ark Encounter Will Not Be Good for the Economy

Here’s Bill Nye the other day, referring to “Ark Encounter,” the Noah’s Ark theme park:

Reached by phone Thursday, Nye said he was disappointed the project would go forward and said he hoped it “goes out of business.”

“If he builds that ark, it’s my strong opinion, it’s bad for the commonwealth of Kentucky and bad for scientists based in Kentucky and bad for the U.S.,” Nye said. “And I’m not joking, bad for the world.”

Nye said he was “heartbroken and sickened for the Commonwealth of Kentucky” after learning that the project would move forward. He said the ark would eventually draw more attention to the beliefs of Ham’s ministry, which preaches that the Bible’s creation story is a true account, and as a result, “voters and taxpayers in Kentucky will eventually see that this is not in their best interest.”

And here’s Creationist Ken Ham yesterday, missing the mark as usual:

So, Bill Nye apparently does not care whether the economy of Kentucky is helped by millions and millions of tourism dollars flowing into the state — plus seeing the creation of thousands of new jobs at the Ark Encounter and in the region (in hotels, restaurants, and other businesses in the area.) It is sad that Mr. Nye would rather have thousands of people go without jobs and see economic growth halted in the region (and the state as a whole) because as one who rejects God and His Word, he is intolerant of Christians! He wants us to “go out of business.” Yes, very sad.

That’s such a ludicrous argument. Even if we grant that Ark Encounter will function as intended, bringing in money that wasn’t there before, it’s short-sighted thinking. (Which, let’s face it, is to be expected from someone who thinks the universe is only 6,000 years old.)

Bill Nye knows that if you really care about the economy, then you have to get kids interested in actual science. The kind of science that’ll push them to innovate and explore. The kind of science that takes some investment now but will reap incredible dividends in the future. The kind of science that Ham suppresses by pushing a false version of reality in his entertainment complexes.

Neil deGrasse Tyson wrote about science as an economic powerhouse in 2012:

In a rousing speech to the National Academy of Sciences in 2009 to alert scientists of the coming benefits from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the president noted that the Apollo program “produced technologies that have improved kidney dialysis and water purification systems; sensors to test for hazardous gases; energy-saving building materials; and fire-resistant fabrics used by firefighters and soldiers. And more broadly, the enormous investment of that era — in science and technology, in education and research funding — produced a great outpouring of curiosity and creativity, the benefits of which have been incalculable.” He could have added much more to that list of revolutionary spinoff technologies, including digital imaging, implantable pacemakers, collision-avoidance systems on aircraft, precision LASIK eye surgery, and global positioning satellites.

Even in troubled economic times, the United States is a sufficiently wealthy nation to embrace an investment in its own future in a way that would drive the economy, the country’s collective ambitions, and, above all, the dreams of coming generations. Imagine the excitement when NASA, bolstered by a fully funded long-term plan, starts to select the first astronauts to walk on Mars. Right now, those science-savvy future explorers are in middle school. As they become celebrities whom others seek to emulate, the United States will once again witness how space ambitions can shape the destiny of nations.

He’s absolutely right. If you want to help the economy, don’t invest in biblical fantasies. Invest in (real) museums and planetariums and aquariums, giving children reason to think critically and dream big so that they’ll enter fields that require further exploration and create the technologies necessary to drive the economic engine well into the future.

No one in the modern era has ever or will ever become a scientific pioneer by accepting the Bible as literally true. It’s a dead-end for your imagination and a non-starter for research.

The jobs and money that may be produced by Ham’s fake Ark won’t hold a candle to what could be made if those same children who eventually visit it were given a healthy dose of scientific reality instead.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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