Ken Ham’s Answers for Ark Scoffers

As you can imagine, there’s been a lot of criticism of the Ark Encounter project, a religious theme park under construction in northern Kentucky, promoted by Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

Ol’ Hambo has just posted Answers for the Ark Scoffers. He says, with bold font added by us:

Now that the construction of the life-size Noah’s Ark (the first phase of the Ark Encounter project) is well under way, I thought it time to respond to the non-Christian (and even Christian) scoffers and critics.It seems to me that these days the fruit of Internet is a cesspool of nastiness, immorality, name-calling, ignorance, anti-Christian propaganda, stupidity, illogical statements, fallacies, and foolishness. … Let me deal with just some of what the scoffers and critics claim.

The “fruit of internet” is also a cesspool of creationism, but you know that. Hambo then gives us a list of 15 different claims his critics are making, and he responds to each. To keep this manageable, we’ll list his claims — most of them — with a very brief excerpt from his responses. Here we go:

Claim 1. There is no way anyone could build a wooden ship the size of the Ark so it would actually float!

Hambo’s response: His Ark is 510 feet long, and there are records of wooden ships of comparable size. But according to Wikipedia’s List of longest wooden ships — the largest wooden ship ever built had a “total length” of 137 metres (449 ft), with a “length on deck” of 107 m (351 ft). “The 30 m (98 ft)-difference is due to her extremely long jib boom of 30 m (98 ft) its out-board length being 27 m (89 ft).”

Claim 2: You shouldn’t be pouring all that concrete, as Noah didn’t use it.

Hambo’s response:

Well, besides the fact that we really don’t know all that Noah did or didn’t do or use, Answers in Genesis is building this life-size Ark as a themed attraction that will see around two million visitors a year! To prepare for these visitors, we have to provide restrooms, food service, elevators, handicap accessibility, stairs, fire escape routes, and much more in the Ark.

Great answer! How do you know Noah didn’t use concrete? Were you there? Here’s more:

Claim 3: With the number of trees you chopped down to build this wooden structure, you are helping destroy the environment.

Hambo’s response is that he’s a great environmentalist.

Some of these are boring, so we’ll skip around to get the good ones — well, the better ones:

Claim 5: You should only have one person building the Ark, as only one person, Noah, built it.

Hambo’s response:

Actually, the Bible doesn’t say how many people built the Ark. … Just as we have done today to build the Ark, it is very possible Noah hired workers to help him construct the Ark (even though they may have scoffed at Noah as they worked).

Yeah! Were you there? The list continues:

Claim 7: But why are you using tools and cranes and other technology to build the Ark? Noah didn’t have such technology!

Hambo’s response:

I’ve realized that even many Christians (most of them unwittingly) have adopted an evolutionary view of man’s intelligence and achievements over the millennia. Many people today believe that ancient man slowly went from making “primitive” items (e.g., stone tools) to working with bronze and iron. But the evidence researchers have collected from around the globe refutes this false evolutionary view of human history. Humans have been highly intelligent from the beginning and could quickly gain knowledge to create sophisticated technology. … Who knows what remarkable things were created by geniuses when Noah was building the great Ark?

That’s another “Where you there?” response. Moving along:

Claim 14: You are charging an admission fee to visit the Ark to make a lot of money.

Hambo’s response:

Any major facility costs a lot of money not only to build, but also to maintain and staff. Just the operating and maintenance costs alone for the Ark will be enormous. … But, the entrance fee will be nothing like that to get into Disney World, Universal Studios, or many other theme parks.

Yeah. Besides, why bother with Disney World when you can visit Hambo’s world? And here’s the last:

Claim 15: Now you’re trying to make a buck out of charging people to view the Ark’s construction.

Hambo’s response:

We have received thousands of requests from supporters to view the Ark’s construction. We understand this is such a unique opportunity for them, and we really want people to be able to witness the building of this incredible project. So, we had to create a new parking lot, a viewing cabin, and an observation deck. We also need to have a staff member and public safety officer on the premises to make this possible, and it all costs money. Since we cannot take from the funds donated for the Ark’s construction, the low fee we are charging per vehicle to visit the site will help offset the costs involved.

So there you are. All the scoffers’ objections have been answered. Well, he didn’t mention his litigation against Kentucky to get millions in sales tax rebates, but we assume that’s because none of his critics have mentioned it. There couldn’t be any objections that Hambo chose not to disclose, because Hambo is an honorable man!

We had to leave out a lot of material, so click over there to see the whole list and Hambo’s complete responses. You’ll be convinced that Hambo is doing the very best he can.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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22 responses to “Ken Ham’s Answers for Ark Scoffers

  1. ” Humans have been highly intelligent from the beginning and could quickly gain knowledge to create sophisticated technology. … Who knows what remarkable things were created by geniuses when Noah was building the great Ark?

    Yeah scoffers. How do you know that Noah didn’t use his army of A.I. equipped Vibranium super robots who would use their super strength and super intelligence to nano-contruct the Ark?

  2. Humans have been highly intelligent from the beginning

    Well, Hambo is right about that. Since the emergence of Homo sapiens sapiens about 200,000 years ago, there is no evidence that humans have become smarter.

    Who knows what remarkable things were created by geniuses when Noah was building the great Ark?

    No, we can know quite a bit about that. Technology builds on existing technology. Compare what we could do in 1900 to what we can do today. While there can be rapid advancements, it has to rest on previous technology. We could not have gone to the moon until we had, first the steam engine, then the internal combustion engine and then the power grid, to name just a few.

    Hambo’s own site puts Noah and the flood at about 2,300–3,300 years before Christ or 4,300-5,300 years ago. The Bronze Age in the Middle East began, at the earliest, around 3,300 years ago … or a 1,000 years after the Flood. So all the millions of board feet of (magically strong) “gopher wood” would have had to have been cut down, stripped of bark, cut into planks, trimmed and joined using stone tools. It would be like Henry V of England suddenly building a Saturn V rocket.

    Now I expect that Hambo would counter that the Tower of Babel brought down civilizations with steel tools and concrete and all sorts of other technology … but funny we don’t find any trace of such civilizations!

    But, of course, we weren’t there …

  3. Dave Luckett

    John, I don’t know where you got your dates from, but the Bronze Age in the ME was starting about 3000 BCE, or 5000 years ago. Ham’s dating for the Flood is about then, or a little later. You can concede Noah bronze tools, even bronze ties and fastenings. Doesn’t matter.

    As has been very well explained elsewhere, the practical limit for any seaworthy vessel with a hull built of wooden planks is about half the size of the Ark. Bigger than that, and the stresses caused by the leverage of the greater hull length in any sort of ordinary sea cause rapid, catastrophic structural failure, on the strength of materials alone. The largest seagoing vessels built from wood (with iron and steel strapping and steam pumps, yet) were unseaworthy, although built by nineteenth and early twentieth-century shipwrights working with centuries of know-how, the best timbers, and steel tools. If it could be done, they’d have done it. It can’t be done.

    The largest wooden-hulled vessel ever verifiably built, the six-masted schooner Wyoming, foundered with all hands in a moderate storm after a fraught career of fourteen years when her steam pumps could not keep pace with the leaks caused by the working of her hull in fairly heavy seas. She was not quite two thirds the deck length of the Ark, and far less capacious.

    The impossibility of building a wooden vessel the size of the Ark and having it float for more than a couple of hours is one of the four or five heads of impossibility attached to the Flood myth. That alone alone requires a series of uncovenanted miracles. Of course, Ham simply says that the miracles occurred, although they are not individually recorded in scripture. They happened because Ham says they happened. Ham’s an authoritarian, like his followers, and authority is all the reason authoritarians need.

  4. Charles Deetz ;)

    So if you were going to talk about amazing unexplained ancient construction techniques that could involve cranes, what example would you naturally cite to support your case? The Pyramids of Egypt, of course. But Hammy can’t do that without risk of comparing the time-frame of the the Pyramids with Noah and his flood. And bonus, all those potential workers Noah had, could have been, like in Egypt … slaves.

  5. Dave Luckett

    Ah, the pyramids.

    There is no doubt that they were built with the resources available to the King of Egypt in about 2400 BCE, and for the next two centuries. (The Great Pyramid was only the first of the three at Giza. Of course it had predecessors, too.)

    Those resources included the means to feed a permanent on-site workforce of twenty thousand. But that’s just the tip of the pyramid, so to speak.

    Every account of how the pyramids were built brings in new considerations for labour. More and more labourers and artesans are needed for every successive part of the supply chain. It now appears that Khufu built an entire river port near Giza, with a population in the tens of thousands simply to unload the stone for his great house of life, and another on the Red Sea to handle the copper for the tools he needed, which was brought from a truly industrial copper-mining and smelting operation in Sinai, a waterless desert where another large population had to be maintained. Quarry labourers to cut the stone must have themselves been in the thousands, before we consider the transport and then the site labour required.

    The most recent proposal I have seen is that the pyramids were not built of squared blocks – that’s just the outside shell. The interior was rubble infill, rising with the outer courses. That is, the blocks were squared off on site, and the up to 70% wastage used to fill in the core. The labour requirements were still huge. Egypt is thought to have had a population of about three million at the time, and the pyramid project actually provides a cross-check of the population figures projected from estimated food production. It required a labour force on that scale: most of the population would have spent part of the year working, supplying or transporting goods for it.

    Three million people built the pyramids, really. But this was no more than a couple of centuries after a Flood that was supposed to kill all bar eight.

    You do the math.

  6. The best solution for Ham is that Noah is Magneto and there are iron filings in the wood beams of the Ark and Jesus is Wolverine. How else would he survive the cross?

  7. Claim 1. There is no way anyone could build a wooden ship the size of the Ark so it would actually float!

    Hambo’s response: His Ark is 510 feet long, and there are records of wooden ships of comparable size.

    But none of them were stuffed with animals of every “kind” and, presumably, the food and other supplies to take care of them.(Let’s not even think about waste disposal!)

    Well, besides the fact that we really don’t know all that Noah did or didn’t do or use, Answers in Genesis is building this life-size Ark as a themed attraction that will see around two million visitors a year! To prepare for these visitors, we have to provide restrooms, food service, elevators, handicap accessibility, stairs, fire escape routes, and much more in the Ark.

    Then how can Ham claim to be building an accurate replica? Face it, creation believers: he’s building an imaginary version of an imaginary ship.

    Humans have been highly intelligent from the beginning and could quickly gain knowledge to create sophisticated technology. … Who knows what remarkable things were created by geniuses when Noah was building the great Ark?

    And who knows what remarkable things weren’t?

    The greatest genius in the world, dropped into a Bronze Age milieu, couldn’t manufacture “sophisticated technology” there. And if hordes of ancient “geniuses” were whipping up technological marvels, why is there no sign of them (other than the Ark itself, if we momentarily assume its reality) even in the Bible? Remember, the Scriptures are supposed to be an accurate record.

  8. @Eric Lipps
    Then how can Ham claim to be building an accurate replica? Face it, creation believers: he’s building an imaginary version of an imaginary ship.
    He’s telling us that he doesn’t have an idea of how to make a replica of the Ark, and he’s not trying to do that. He’s not trying to house a representative sample of animals. He’s not trying to float it. What is the point of the Ark, other than those two features?

  9. After reading Ham’s description of what he is building, I’m even less impressed than I was before. I had an idea that he was at least trying to build a mostly wooden structure, but apparently it will be little more than a modern building with a wood facade. He’s making no attempt whatsoever to build a biblical ark.

    I think we would have some respect for his attempt if he were to make an actual wooden ark and float it alongside a pier somewhere. Just floating the thing would be an achievement of sorts. Ham’s ark, on the other hand, is a pretend ship just like his creation museum is a pretend museum. It’s of no value whatsoever in convincing anyone that the ark myth is true.

  10. anevilmeme

    The reason for Ham’s personal war against reality is pretty simple, he’s not worshiping his God; instead he’s worshiping the bible. Hence whatever insanity is in the bible Hammy has to defend no matter how farcical his defense becomes.

  11. Amusingly enough, AiG features an article about “worshiping the Bible” today; they obviously deny that this is what they are doing (or if they are doing it, it is okay to do it): https://answersingenesis.org/the-word-of-god/idolatry-of-the-bible/

  12. John P notes: “Since the emergence of Homo sapiens sapiens about 200,000 years ago, there is no evidence that humans have become smarter.”
    I’d say that Ol’ Hambo is a fine piece of evidence that humans haven’t become smarter indeed.

  13. TomS wrote: He’s telling us that he doesn’t have an idea of how to make a replica of the Ark, and he’s not trying to do that.

    Indeed. I’ve often wondered what some of his meetings with architects and contractors are like. After all, Ham is used to getting his way and to demanding that his people around him agree with him on everything. Yet, this project inevitably forces Ham and his subjects to–at least now and then–deal with the realities of physics. (Fortunately for Ham, by leaving out the animals, he can at least continue to ignore many of the biological realities.) I’ve wondered if a few years from now we will be watching Youtube interviews with former Hamites who were part of the Ark Park design stage, each explaining how the scientific critiques of “ark science” and even “flood geology” finally sunk in once they had to implement Ham’s vision in the real world. (Of course, the actual reason for their suddenly “getting it” will be that big egos, big money, and big time ministry politics will eventually produce winners and losers within the organization–and the disgruntled will go public with whatever they’ve got and/or can concoct. Count on it.)

    Ham is certainly correct about the many modern day constraints and obstacles which safety regulations will impose upon him. I can imagine that once Ham leaves the room, the design consultants et al look at each other and say, “This is nuts. The end result is going to be nothing like Ham is imagining–and nowhere close to the Bible’s description.”

    We all know that the best, most experienced architects and engineers won’t want to be associated with the project and most others know that trying to please a big ego client with unrealistic explanations multiplies the risks, especially in the religious non-profit arena where a single scandal can stop cash flow within hours. Consider some of the recent scandals surrounding various public figures (and families), especially the Christian “celebrities” who draw the attention of story-hungry investigative reporters. Imagine the media storm if some former employee or associate dropped a bomb about AIG funds paid out as “hush money” to multiple extortionists or that paychecks to “phantom employees” were diverting ministry donations into the hands of a few insiders. Any project requiring junk bond financing at such an early stage is already doomed. I’d want all hard cash in advance before working for such a client.

  14. People are paying to view the construction? Mind boggling.

    But, maybe that is how Noah funded his project. After all, if they had ingenious engineering solutions, they must have also had ingenious fund-raising schemes.

  15. About the Bible as an idol.
    An idol is a construction of humans. And when someone makes up something about, for example, how “kinds” are unchanging, and says that that is an infallible truth, something which is important to salvation, and that it is the word of God – is that not attributing divine properties to a human construct? For the Bible tells us nothing about “kinds” (we do not even have enough information about the noun MIN=”kind” to be sure that it has any referent).

  16. Considering the huge price tag of the project, the sure-to-balloon cost overruns, and the enormous maintenance and operational costs of whatever the result, the tourist attraction’s mediocre location makes it unsustainable. (That is already the case with the Creation Museum but Ham will continue to cover that from donations and mail-order revenue.)

    If not for the ego factor and traditional thinking, Ham should think more broadly, prioritize his ultimate objectives, and consider a cost-return analysis of the various ways he can convince the general public to accept (or at least consider viable) “creation science” and his brand of Young Earth Creationism. I wonder if anyone has told him: “Investigate where Internet-based technology is headed and invest your money in intersecting with it 5 and 10 years out.” Wouldn’t both common sense and likely impact-per-dollar-spent point away from a perpetual budget-straining, brick and gopher wood tourist attraction and towards far more exciting technology reaching a far larger audience? For starters, how about something far more exciting and cutting-edge than AIG’s bland websites? And why not escape the constraints of physics and biology by leaving the real world entirely behind (while nevertheless appearing to deal with it) using virtual reality and the next wave of 3D realism?

    While the Internet remains the best way to reach the most eyeballs, Ham could, for example, invest in “technology-based tourist attractions”, using the IMAX theatre business model. Imagine airport concourse advertising and highway billboards inviting visitors to Branson (MO), Colorado Springs (CO), Dollywood, and other evangelical Christian regional Meccas as well as more traditional theme and amusement park destinations shouting “Live the Bible: Experience Ken Ham’s Noah’s Ark Encounter!” (Branson would be a good trial location. Link the attraction to a steady calendar of AIG “creation science” seminars and a steady stream of conference traffic–such as Christian Booksellers Convention and homeschooling conferences–and the cost-return comparison would blow any Ark Park out of the water.)

    Executed well, you’d even see some of the celebrities of the ID and YEC movements permanently move to such a place just as many music entertainers purchased homes in the Branson area so they no longer have to tour. (Their audiences come to them.) Add some real estate developers marketing “the ultimate Young Earth Creationist retirement community” and you’d have a fundamentalist Promised Land.

    Even if Ham spends the anticipated $150 million on an Ark Park where everything falls into place beyond his wildest expectations, once Christian vacationers within 1200 driving distance have visited, few will return. After perhaps five years or so, operational/maintenance costs will outstrip admission revenue. But imagine what $150 million invested in virtual reality 3D “tours” of Noah’s Ark: under construction, ark loading, the first day of rain, another routine day of ark life, and “rest at Ararat”. [I’ve got no beefs with the ancient text–but I have lots of complaints about “creation science” spin.]

  17. Professor Tertius complains: “Wouldn’t both common sense and likely impact-per-dollar-spent point away from a perpetual budget-straining, brick and gopher wood tourist attraction and towards far more exciting technology reaching a far larger audience?”

    For Hambo’s audience, and maybe also for Hambo himself, Noah’s Ark is exciting technology.

  18. Dave Luckett:

    Of course, you’re right. I was taking BCE dates and forgetting to add the ~2,000 years. My bad … shouldn’t post so soon after I wake up. As you note, it wouldn’t make any difference …

  19. Martin Schneider

    Claim #3 Wood Supply: Having to cut down a once proud ash tree in my backyard, killed by the emerald ash borer beetle, I understand the first part of the claim. However the second and most important part of the claim, “Much of the remaining timber came from renewable forests, which are carefully managed” needs much more substantiation. I spent a number of years in the paper industry and responded numerous times to customers who required proof that the paper they bought was sourced from certified sustainable woodlands.

    There are three widely recognized organizations that provide, with the proper documentation and audits, certifications of sustainable woodland sourcing: SFI (Sustainable Forest Initiative), FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). Stating that the lumber is coming from “renewable forests” doesn’t go anywhere near enough.

    I hope that AiG and the Ark Encounter understand that with the scrutiny that this project will continue to generate will source all of lumber from a certified sustainable wood source.

  20. Ham would do much more for humanity (and model Christian values) by using all that lumber and manpower building homes for the homeless rather than wasting it on a senseless ark project.

  21. Tom Rowland

    @rsg –
    Amen!!! (irony intended…)

  22. Isn’t there s Jack Chick comic that would teach you that no human effort will gain salvation, if you are not believers in the literal Bible?