Wall Street Journal Mocks Ark Encounter

The Wall Street Journal has sometimes published creationist columns, but now they have an article that is likely to upset Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo). He’s the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed not only for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG), but also for building an exact replica of Noah’s Ark.

The Journal‘s headline is A Full-Scale Ark, Adrift on a Flood of Speculation. This is their sub-title: “In Kentucky, a replica of Noah’s Ark offers unconvincing theories to support a literal reading of the Bible.” They have a comments section, with over 200 comments so far.

The article isn’t a hard-core attack, but it’s obviously not an enthusiastic description of ol’ Hambo’s Ark Encounter. It doesn’t say anything we don’t already know, but we like the author’s skepticism. His name is Edward Rothstein, described as “the Journal’s Critic at Large.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Landlocked in the Kentucky hills, just outside of Williamstown (population, less than 4,000) and 40 miles from Cincinnati, is a 10-story-high, 510-foot-long wooden ship. … It is meant to overwhelm, and at first it does, not least because of what it is supposed to be: a “life size replica” of the Ark Noah built to survive the Flood. Its dimensions are biblical (300 cubits long as specified in Genesis, with a cubit guessed to be 20.4 inches), and its ambitions — and expense — epic. The Ark’s creators, the Christian ministry Answers in Genesis, raised the $102 million in construction costs from private sources and with a bond issue from Williamstown. Admission prices are steep — $40/adult $28/child and $10 to park — as are expectations.

That’s a fair beginning. Now we’ll skip to the fun stuff:

This Ark is unnerving because of the particular nature of its convictions, which are more extensively expounded at the same ministry’s Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., about 40 miles away. That museum is dedicated to the proposition that God created the universe 6,000 years ago in six 24-hour days, and that the earth is not, as current science has it, some 4.5 billion years old. With verve and nerve, it stands the classic Natural History Museum on its head, displaying fossils and geological displays only to insist that the universe is scarcely older than the pyramids. The Ark goes a step further. It is a “historically accurate” rendering of literal belief. Wall panels address “skeptics” who might think it impossible that the eight members of Noah’s family could have preserved the world’s animal life on such a boat for a year. The Ark is out to convince you otherwise without recourse to miracles.

No problem for Hambo’s legion of drooling believers. They’re already convinced. Let’s read on:

How, for example, could so much animal waste have been disposed of? An animated display shows it might have been “placed into wheelbarrows and moved to a vertical conveyer system powered by an animal on a treadmill that would dump the waste into the sea.”

That’s a system we haven’t heard about before. But the wheelbarrow had to be loaded. We wonder who was assigned to that task? A better solution was provided by us in Waste Disposal on Noah’s Ark — Solved! The Journal continues:

But steam-punk-style sci-fi speculation and “Flintstones”-type mechanisms are almost completely unrelated to the Ark we walk through. No processes are shown. Plausibility is not proved, let alone truth. There are also only 265 cages, not the thousands required. And there is not a single live animal (a few are at an outdoor “petting zoo”).

We’re getting the impression that the author isn’t impressed. Here’s more:

Leaps of faith are still more difficult because of the ministry’s view that the Earth is just 6,000 years old. Some animal models are dinosaurs of varied provenance. After the ark landed at Ararat, we are told, such creatures dispersed across the planet and then — in a millennium or two — evolved into those we see around us. Evolution took place; it just happened very very quickly — as did the shaping of the Grand Canyon by the Flood. We are presented geological phenomena supposedly supporting such ideas but not enough information to grapple with the arguments.

Information? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! All you need is faith. Moving along:

The Ark’s fanciful aspects also draw us far from the biblical text. … [S]ince Genesis tells us little about Noah and his sons and nothing about their wives, “artistic license” is invoked. One son, Shem, we learn, has a natural ability to deal with animals, “just like his mother.” Ham’s wife, Kezia, “enjoys dressing up and looking her best.” Noah’s family sets up the Ark the way the Swiss Family Robinson does its tree house.

Very biblical. Another excerpt:

What are nonbelievers to make of this? At the Creation Museum — which is far more coherent — one response from critics has been outrage at the teaching of conceptual, factual and political delusions. But outrage can become unthinking itself. And despite contradictions and inconsistencies, there is something intriguing there, something that could lead us to think about differences between belief and knowledge, about the self-skepticism of science, and about what aspects of the world we take on faith.

We doubt that Hambo’s fans will have such thoughts. And now we come to the end:

[T]he Ark story is not a simple tale of sin and salvation, but a complex tale of human mortality and human primacy, issues that soon lead to the hubris of the Tower of Babel, as men seek to re-establish their own permanence and prominence. There’s something hubristic about the Ark Encounter as well. But while seeming to enlarge its subject, it ends up shrinking it instead.

Can Hambo ignore this article in the Journal? We hope not. His furious posts are wonderful entertainment.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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17 responses to “Wall Street Journal Mocks Ark Encounter

  1. ” “… Artistic licence” is evoked…”. The damn thing relies on artistic licence 100%.

  2. michaelfugate

    Does AiG actually have an “artistic license” and, if so, who issued it?

  3. Who issued the license? Why the Intelligent Designer, of course!

  4. I don’t want to complain about such a good job, but to call the thing a “ship” or a “boat” is a misnomer.

  5. michaelfugate

    Best to call it a crock….

  6. It would be far more realistic to have it floating in a large pool and with live animals cared for by a stone-age family. It’s an encounter with myth, certainly not a replica.

  7. The Orchardist

    I read the comments on the article and felt for the poor suffering fellow arguing with a lady. That poor man. He tried so hard to be civil but she kept throwing utter nonsense at him in such a smug manner that you could see he must have been pulling his hair out.

  8. @Scientist
    Agreed.
    That a dedicated person, with $100 million, and modern technology, would not even attempt a thing more like an Ark than this … that tells us something about the impossibility.

  9. Good ol’ Hambone, peddling a myth cribbed from the Sumerians and possibly others.

  10. Considering it is in the WSJ I’m surprised there is no mention of what a terrible business venture the Ark Encounter is. There are hints I suppose, mentioning that it was paid for with bonds, but as a money maker it stinks.

  11. Charles Deetz ;)

    Has anyone at AIG or at the Ark addressed getting drinking water to so many animals? Without the animals spilling bowls (or waves)? And before they had invented hoses. Sorry for thinking about reality for a minute, Hambo.

  12. michaelfugate

    Ham and thinking – two things not likely to occur together.

  13. Perhaps Ham will blow his trumpet and the Wall Street Journa) will come tumbling down?

    But from Ham’s perspective, there is no such thing as bad press. He thrives on whatever attention he can get.

  14. michaelfugate

    @TomS
    …and Ham’s excuse for not building a “real” ark – human technology was better 4000 years ago. Invoking miracles would make more sense.

  15. @michaelfugate
    I am willing to grant him that excuse, or any excuse,for not being able to build a real Ark.
    But what is the point of building something at all? Isn’t it apt to be an idol, something which distracts from what was real? It would leave kids with false ideas about what the Bible says. Imagine the Sunday School teacher who says about Noah’s Ark what the bible says, and the kid says, “No, teacher, I saw the Ark Encounter, and it wasn’t like that.”

  16. michaelfugate

    But if Ham had faith the size of a mustard seed he could move mountains – seems like it would take less to build a boat that floats…