As the one-year anniversary of the Noah’s Ark Encounter theme park draws near, critics of the park clammer that it has failed to attract crowds and the taxpayer money used to finance the project was ill-spent. Its founder, Ken Ham, has struck back against the allegations, accusing the media of an anti-religious bias and “hating God”.
The park, located in Grant, Kentucky, required five and a half years of planning and construction and over $100 million to complete. At the heart of the project was an ark built to Biblical proportions, constructed entirely of wood. Public funding and tax incentives were granted since the project was supposed to bring tourist dollars to the area.
The park, as its Biblical centerpiece suggests, is not merely a money-making venture. It is an offshoot of Answers in Genesis (AiG), a ministry founded by Ham. In essence, the park is a large-scale, 800-acre, lesson in Young Earth Creationism, the belief that the universe, Earth, and all life on Earth were created by direct acts of God less than 10,000 years ago, precisely as the Bible describes.
At the park’s first birthday, an estimated 1.4 million visitors will have climbed the ark’s gangway. Critics say this is not nearly enough to justify the public expenditure.The Lexington Herald-Leader, Kentucky’s second-largest paper, published an article quoting local businessmen and politicians claiming they have not benefitted from the park.
Ham claimed that the article was part of a larger media bias, and that “secular groups have been misleading people concerning the Ark project”.
“Nowadays, it seems very few reporters in the secular media actually want to report facts regarding what they cover as news,” he wrote. “When it comes to reporting on theologically conservative Christians like those of us at AiG, whose ideology they strongly oppose, many writers have an agenda to undermine Christianity as they file their stories.”
Ham responded directly to the article, stating that many of the quotes from local business owners were inaccurate or taken out of context. He went back and spoke to the locals who were quoted, and several confirmed that they had been misquoted. He also cited municipal sources that were not included, sources that would have supported his claim that the park has indeed helped the local economy significantly.
In Ham’s published response, the local politicians confirmed that the information cited in the newspaper’s article was inaccurate. Ham also contested the figures citing that tax incentives and public funds were indeed used for the project.
As Ham suggests, criticism of his venture in some media has taken on an insulting anti-religious form.
PZ Myers, a biologist and science blogger, visited the Ark Encounter lasted week and posted a scathing review on his blog titled, “Wood, Plus Animal Noises”. It became clear that he was not just reviewing the venue. His comments were more a reflection of his attitude towards religion and, specifically, Ham’s beliefs in creationism.
Good sized crowd. Lots of kids. Poor kids. Just want to take ’em aside & explain that this is all one big lie.
— PZ Myers (@pzmyers) June 16, 2017
In a video, Ham responded to Myers’ criticism by saying that Myers “hates Christians and hates God.”