Yesterday, as we drove through a torrential rain on Highway 74 north of Lexington, Dodie proclaimed, “If this keep up we’re going to need an ark.”
She was right, again! So we visited an ark.
The Ark Encounter features a spectacular reconstruction museum of Noah’s ark, built to biblical specs. At over 1.5 football fields long and reaching higher than a four-story house, the Ark is one of the largest timber-frame structures in the world.
It’s enormous size – 165,000 square thousand feet -allowed for comfortable social distancing.
We explored three decks of cutting-edge exhibits telling the strict biblical account of Noah’s Ark.
Because of the post pandemic opening, we were able to take advantage of a special senior deal that included a free meal at Emzara’s Restaurant that was absolutely delicious.
Their normal buffet service was suspended and converted to allow visitors to go through a cafeteria-style line. We chose pot roast, black-eyed peas, country style red potatoes, and vegetable medley, with salad, roll and German chocolate cake. We rated it 9.5 out of 10, it was that good!
Admission included the ark and all exhibits, the beautiful grounds, the Ararat Ridge Zoo and petting zoo area. A children’s play area was temporarily closed until social distancing restrictions are lifted.
We elected not to pay extra to experience riding a camel, hunt for fossils, soar down thousands of feet of zip lines, or testing our skills on a ropes course.
Their ark matches the full-size Noah’s Ark, built according to the dimensions given in the Bible. Spanning 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high.
Noah’s Ark had the same storage capacity as about 450 standard semi-trailers. A standard livestock trailer holds about 250 sheep, so the Ark had the capacity to hold at least 120,000 sheep.
It’s big enough that NASA could lay three space shuttles—nose to tail—on the Ark’s roof!
The roof of Noah’s Ark was more than 50 feet from the ground—higher than a modern four-story house. That’s plenty of space for three extra-tall inner decks as the Bible describes.
Few wooden ships have ever come close to the size of Noah’s Ark. One possible challenger is the Chinese treasure ships of Zheng He in the 1400s. An older contender is the ancient Greek trireme Tessaronteres. The Ark is near the maximum size known to be possible for a wooden vessel.
Over 3.1 million board feet of timber were used in the construction of the Ark. A board foot is 12 inches by 12 inches by 1 inch. In board feet (laid end to end) there is enough timber in the Ark construction to go from Williamstown, Kentucky to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; or San Antonio, Texas to Little Rock, Arkansas; or Las Vegas, Nevada to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The Ark Encounter is the brainchild of Ken Ham, the founder of Answers in Genesis, an online and publishing ministry with a strict creationist interpretation of the Bible. It took up to 700 craftsmen and construction workers to erect the $120 million venue that opened in 2016. They employee up to 900 employees at a time depending on seasonal business.
Hall says that the Bible is a historical narrative and that “the whole gospel message is found in Genesis.” He believes that dinosaurs prowled the planet alongside humans and that the biblical flood created the Grand Canyon.
He teaches that Noah labored over seven decades to construct his vessel and was over 600 years old when the storm surged.
As a science teacher in his native Australia, he’d “take students to museums and saw that all the museums were totally from an evolutionary perspective.”
He began researching the creationist view of science, and ultimately began lecturing on the subject and was invited to speak in America.
He gain much attention by beating television science star Bill Nye in two debates that some touted as a modern-day Scopes trial.
Ham says liberal universities, media and scholars have it wrong.
“Just because a majority believes in something doesn’t mean it’s right,” he said. “People love darkness rather than light. If a majority believes something, I’m naturally suspicious because of the sin nature of man.”
The Arc Encounter has several exhibit panels admitting they took “creative license” in developing backstories for Noah and his family. Noah’s daughters-in-law, unnamed in the Bible, are each assigned a different race to explain the varying physiognomy of the world’s inhabitants.
Dr. Andrew A. Snelling, a notable biblical geologist doesn’t expect to anyone to find Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat.
“Instead, it must have landed on another high mountain in the region at that time,” he wrote in 2017. The Bible “clearly says that the Ark landed on the ‘mountains of Ararat’ on the 150th day of the Flood (Genesis 8:4). By that stage, the waters had prevailed to cover the whole earth. The ocean waters did not retreat until after the Ark landed safely.”
“However, the volcano now called Mount Ararat did not grow until well after the ocean (Flood) waters had retreated,” he continued. “Furthermore, the lavas and ash layers of Mount Ararat date to the time of the post-Flood Ice Age. This is consistent with Mount Ararat being built after the Flood on top of a dry plateau. Mount Ararat is thus a post-Flood volcano, which continued to erupt, most recently less than 200 years ago.”
It’s last eruption was 1840.
“Does this shake my faith in God’s Word as a reliable account of the historic global Flood cataclysm? Absolutely not!”
“The Bible clearly states the ‘mountains of’ Ararat, not ‘Mount Ararat’ itself,” he wrote. “So I’m even more confident in its trustworthiness, not less so. Also, we should not need remnants of Noah’s Ark to justify or bolster our faith.”
Ark Encounter is situated in beautiful Grant County in Williamstown, Kentucky, halfway between Cincinnati and Lexington and right off I-75.
There was much to see and read during our 4 1/2 hour visit. Some notable bits offered include:
“Adam was only Noah’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandpa. In fact, Adam, since he lived to be 930, almost lived long enough to meet Noah. Adam was alive when Noah’s father was born, so it’s possible that they knew each other.”
“Longevity ran in Noah’s genes! Methuselah, his grandfather, lived 969 years. He may have been one of the last people to die before the Flood.”
“The Bible does not mention Noah’s wife by name so we cannot know for certain, but this has not stopped people from speculating. The most common name given to her is Naamah, which is taken from Genesis 4:22. This guess is reflected in some ancient books outside of the Bible. Another popular name found in ancient writings is Emzara.”