Now, a $100-million-dollar partner project has just opened. Situated some miles from the museum is a full-size replica of Noah’s Ark, complete with Noah and many animals. The dimensions, 300 x 50 x 30 cubits - corresponding to a length of 510 ft - are from the Old Testament; it was to be made from gopher wood, waterproofed inside and out with pitch. Other than provision for a door and a window there were virtually no other building instructions. In the absence of gopher wood, the Kentucky Ark is made of Radiata pine from New Zealand and there is no evidence of pitch. Pictures on the internet reveal an impressive structure vaguely reminiscent of an ancient Greek trireme albeit very much larger.
The whole undertaking is, of course, relentlessly Christian, and potential employees are required to sign an undertaking ‘disavowing same-sex marriage and pre-marital sex’. The account of the Flood and Noah is from Genesis, but since Jesus refers several times in the Gospels to both, they are firmly integrated into Christian tradition.
So what is wrong with any of this? America supports the principle of freedom of worship; if a Christian organization wishes to set up a theme park, why should anyone object? The Guardian reports that the project will be visited by 1.4 million people in the first year, spending money in the local hotels, restaurants and other nearby attractions; eventually the ‘Commonwealth of Kentucky’ will be better off to the tune of $4bn. Surely, winners all round?
Here’s the problem: the whole show is presented as fact. Both museum and ark have plenty of dinosaurs on show together with models of Noah and other Old Testament worthies looking like they were taken straight out of Hollywood. There are detailed explanations showing how geologists and palaeontologists have got their dating completely wrong. Children, young and old, like dinosaurs and Hollywood blockbusters, and may well pay attention. The whole process is insidious; it all looks so credible (Prepare to believe) that visitors are likely to be brainwashed into thinking it is all true. Can we run the modern world on the childish fiction that it was all created just 6,000 years ago? How can we address the major issues of the day – global warming, disease resistance to antibiotics, food production, energy production etc. – with a philosophy that rejects the findings of virtually all of modern science?
If this ‘attraction’ had been built in Disney World or Las Vegas it would be regarded by its visitors as a charming fairy story, a perfect entertainment for the whole family. As it stands, it has a good chance of subverting many people into belief in a mythical world that just does not exist.