Why Would Anyone Build an Ark?

Noah's Ark (by Edward Hicks, 1846)

Noah’s Ark (by Edward Hicks, 1846)

You’re all aware of Ark Encounter, the project planned by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG) and for the mind-boggling Creation Museum.

Various commentators, including your humble Curmudgeon, have been writing about Hambo’s Ark, with due attention to the bond issue, the tax incentives, the various church and state entanglements, and the overall absurdity of a theme park designed to attract the most ignorant segment of the population. But we’ve started to wonder about something else. Aside from tourism and its expected profits — regarding which we have no objections — we’ve been asking ourselves: Why Noah’s Ark?

Of all the possible religious symbols in our culture, the Ark seems to be among the least significant. If you were to ask a sample of religious folk about scriptural tales that symbolize or are important to their faith, some might mention the original sin of Adam & Eve, or maybe the crossing of the Red Sea, or the miracle represented by a manger scene, or the Crucifixion — but our guess is that virtually no one would list the Flood and Noah’s Ark among the first things that come to mind. Yet ol’ Hambo is building an Ark. Why?

The Flood is among the least believable miracles in the bible. In our unique terminology — see The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Miracles — it’s a Category Two miracle, one which is easily refuted because it’s contradicted by verifiable geological and biological evidence.

In discussing why ol’ Hambo and AIG are building an Ark, we want to be very careful. We’re not accusing Hambo of anything. His motives are his own, and we don’t know what’s going on in his mind. He has often said that the purpose of his Ark is evangelistic; it will enable him to reach millions of souls. Okay. That’s what he says. As we all know, Hambo is a holy man, motivated solely by holy thoughts. So even though he’s not using his own funds for the project, we accept that his motivation is holy.

But what if such a project were to be undertaken by someone with lesser motives? We’ve been speculating about what those motives might be, and this little essay is the result. However, we want no ambiguity on this point: we’re not talking about Hambo’s motives. Those are undoubtedly noble.

One advantage of something like the Ark project is that it’s a huge construction job. Anyone can build a manger or put a cross on a hill, but building an Ark is a big deal. Why is size an advantage? Surely we don’t need to spell it out for you, but we will.

Every corrupt politician knows that one of the best ways to squeeze some illegal gain out of his position is to control the spending of government funds. Almost every day, a brief glance at the headlines reveals some of the ways a politician can get money for himself out of a public spending project. Contractors, suppliers, consultants, and labor unions are always grateful for government jobs, and in the political realm they know they have to — cough, cough — show their gratitude.

But please, dear reader, we want no misunderstanding here, so again we say — with emphasis! — that ol’ Hambo would never consider such behavior. Why? Because Hambo is a holy man, an honorable man. His motives are pure, and corruption is impossible where he’s involved. Of that you may be certain. Those who contribute to Hambo’s Ark may be confident that all is well.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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28 responses to “Why Would Anyone Build an Ark?

  1. I have just read the Curmudgeon’s honest and considered account of Ham’s important educational effort nd I have a comment to make: HA!

  2. …an honorable man. As was Brutus, an honorable man.

  3. Of course, Hambone’s Ark is a much bigger, much more conspicuous symbol than any mere cross—more like the 98-foot-tall (plus foundation) Christ the Redeemer statue that looms over Rio de Janeiro, only tackier.

  4. Why not build a replica of the Jerusalem Temple, either Solomon’s or Herod’s? Jesus preached in the latter.

    Of course, gilded panels would replace real gold, or the replicas would be prohibitively expensive.

    Unlike the very sketchy description of the ark, Solomon’s temple is described in considerable detail in the Bible. Jewish historian Josephus provides details on Herod’s temple (destroyed by the Romans in CE 70).

    Also, these structures are uncontroversially historical, not mythological like the ark. They should also be interesting from Christian perspective, since the New Testament book of Hebrews sets out how the temple service supposedly foreshadowed the atoning work of Jesus.

    A Temple Replica would make a far better addition in the secondary phases of Ham’s Ark Park than what the Hamites are actually planning — i,e “the Tower of Babel”, “a Pre-Flood Village” and what have you. Such structures, only alluded to in the Bible and never really described, would have to be designed out of thin air. The supposed reconstructions can have no claim to “accuracy” even if you do take the Bible entirely literaly.

    A Temple Replica could have real educational value for people interested in Biblical/Jewish history, which is more than one can say about an oversized barn looking very vaguely like a ship.

  5. ” … our the replicas” — OR!

    O great heavenly Voice … etc, etc.

    [*Voice from above*] I stretched forth my mighty hand, and all is as it should be.

  6. SC: “Yet ol’ Hambo is building an Ark. Why? The Flood is among the least believable miracles in the bible.”

    Good point about how it costs much more (of other people’s money)than a cross, manger, etc. But I bet that Ham would still go with the Ark, even if a cross or manger cost as much or more. Why? Because he’s obsessed with evolution, or more accurately with the “Darwinism” caricature that he shares with the DI, as much as he despises them. He knows that New Testament (NT) stuff is not inconsistent with evolution, and that millions who believe a literal virgin birth and resurrection, also believe 100% of evolution, the theory as well as the ~4 billion years of common descent. But he also knows well that most people who deny evolution think that Genesis is “the” alternative “theory.” Such people – and I mean the rank and file, not activists, are usually completely unaware of the mutually contradictory literal interpretations.

    So why is a NT guy more obsessed with evolution than with Jesus Christ Himself? As you know, it’s all about how acceptance of “Darwinism” is, in their paranoid little minds, the root of all evil.

  7. But, but … but anyone building an ark would hire only good, Christian contractors, and certainly no true Christian would even think of showing his or her gratitude in this manner. Would they????

  8. Oh Great Hand, please add a handful of question marks at the end of my post (thus: “Would they????”) so that no one misses my cynical point.

    Thank you!

    [*Voice from above*] Your modest request is granted.

  9. Charles Deetz ;)

    The real failure is in making it a venture, not a tribute to god. The venture muddies the water about intentions, as well as lowers the sacredness of the structure. Cathedrals create awe and last hundreds of years. This ark park will most certainly suffer a demise within years of its completion.

  10. Mike Elzinga

    Was that spelled correctly?

    I was thinking Ham had the holeyest of reasons.

  11. the overall absurdity of a theme park designed to attract the most ignorant segment of the population

    Surely you jest.

    Anyway, I’m sure that you are familiar with the hypothesis that successful religions contain something impossible to believe because that is a sure way of distinguishing a true believer. One who is only pretending to belong will find it difficult to go along with an absurdity.

  12. @TomS: You wouldn’t be thinking of things like virgin birth, resurrection from death, walking on water, turning water to wine and so forth, would you?

  13. Why Noah’s Ark? “Cause the Bible tells them so.

  14. Almost unspoken by AiG is the unspeakable horror of the deaths of millions of men, women, children (including the unborn), and animals of every sort just to satisfy Hambo’s god’s bloodlust. It’s a good thing for us that Hambo’s god is merely a figment of the fevered imaginations of the most, as our Curmudgeon observes, ignorant segment of our population.

    Hambo’s “Ark Encounter” should be more properly referred to as his “Genocide Jamboree.” Maybe some of the other commenters here could coin a better description?

  15. It’s like going to the zoo, but without the inconvenient references to evolution! Of course, he’s not going to have a pond showing innocent animals drowning is he? No, there will be petting and displays teaching kids that all those animals were made “in kind” or whatever by the same creator that made them in his own image, which is sinful and deserves to go to Hell… or something

  16. waldteufel says:

    Hambo’s “Ark Encounter” should be more properly referred to as his “Genocide Jamboree.” Maybe some of the other commenters here could coin a better description?

    The Deluge of Doom.

  17. He’s building an Ark, rather than a replica of some New Testament event or site, because he’s all about Genesis. Remember, all the answers are in Genesis.

    That said, a Sodom and Gomorrah themed park would be much more, ah, entertaining. Actors portraying Lot, his salty wife and his daughters would be there to demonstrate biblical values. Others in period costumes, or sans costumes, would provide atmosphere. Like Disneyland, the evening could end with an amazing fireworks display.

    It would surely beat staring at a wooden boat.

  18. My assumption would be that he is creating the ark as a business. Is this wrong? Of course not! He just shouldn’t be receiving a tax break due to his hiring practices and the religious nature of the park.

  19. The Flood myth embodies the most harmful theme permeating Genesis: god punishes whole populations that include some unspecified (but negotiable–see Gomorrah) proportion of sinners, not just the individual sinners. Therefore fundamentalist believers feel justified in trying to impose theocratic rule because they can think of no other way to keep society safe from wrathful calamities such as floods. Also earthquakes, tornadoes, drouths, plagues, foreign armies, and fiscal ruin.

    That assumption explains why they can maintain with a straight face that Hurricane Katrina, for example, represented their god’s judgement on sexual licentiousness in New Orleans even though it was working-class neighborhoods in low-lying areas that were devastated, whereas the epicenter of lewdness, the French Quarter, survived pretty well, comparatively speaking. It tells us why some of my Wisconsin neighbors fear that a few same-sex marriages performed in the state will call down a hail of brimstone or some such act of divine retribution against the whole jurisdiction.

    waldteufel’s term “Genocide Jamboree” is spot on. Although the cruelty of the Flood is downplayed in most accounts, including Ken Ham’s grotesque park, it remains a powerful subtext that helps shape the fundamentalists’ fanatical devotion to regulating everyone else’s behavior.

  20. Eddie Janssen

    In the Netherlands (the city of Dordrecht) someone already built an Ark.
    Go to http://www.arcofnoah.org/

  21. TomS: “Anyway, I’m sure that you are familiar with the hypothesis that successful religions contain something impossible to believe because that is a sure way of distinguishing a true believer.”

    That makes perfect sense, so that someone in the group can simply say “I take X on faith, despite any apparently contradictory evidence.” Maybe that’s how religions were originally intended, but something happened along the way, especially starting in the mid 20th century US (radical Islam is another story for another time) that, for some subsets, selling pseudoscience became much more important than teaching morals and values. While many simply “grew up” and accepted that God “did it” differently than their comfortable childhood stories, but that God still gave them the free will to do the right thing, others could not bear that thought. And here’s the most important part: Some could not bear it for themselves, but some just feared that others would not behave properly if they knew the truth.

    With paranoid salesmen like Ham, Discoveroids, etc., it’s all about what others must believe. As radically as Ham and Discoveroids differ on what others must believe (Ham insists on a young earth, D’s have no problem if others accept common descent), what is mandatory for both is that one rejects “Darwinism” – and nags as many others as possible to do likewise.

  22. The lesson of the ark is that God could easily kill every gosh-darned one of us with the flick of his finger (why he needed to use water rather than just stopping people’s hearts or creating a super Black Plague I don’t know). So, we had better behave or he could do it again. Oh, He promised not to do that again? Ah, then there is no lesson, no lesson at all.

  23. Hey, I just saw the Curmudgeonite Ad. Can we buy it! Will it turn us into a Curmudgeon? I hope it doesn’t taste like Vegemite. B Vitamins can’t be important enough to eat that stuff.

  24. @Steve Ruis
    Just as God could annihilate without the need for expedients like water, God could create without the need for dust.
    That also applies for Intelligent Designers. If they make use of design, that means that there are limits to their power.
    “Why resort to contrivance, where power is omnipotent? Contrivance, by its very definition and nature, is the refuge of imperfection. To have recourse to expedients, implies difficulty, impediment, restraint, defect of power.”

  25. Puh-lease. That’s what happens with all that free pot floating around. :-))

  26. Here, Here. I think you have hit the nail square on the head.

  27. @Steve Ruis:

    As I was reading your comment, when you got to “…creating a super Black..” the next word was on the next line. I had expected to see “Hole” but you wrote “Plague” instead. But that’s almost as complicated as a global flood. Why not just turn off the Universe, and any others that might exist?

    Maybe He did already, as Harold Camping predicted, and since then we’ve all been just dead spirits imagining all of this. ID “theory” can accommodate all the results of that too. 🙂

  28. Doctor Stochastic

    St. Louis built a bit stainless steel arc. Of course, they needed taxpayer funding unlike Noah who was able to float without a loan.