Tower of Babel, Education Center, Planned Near Kentucky’s Ark Encounter

During the height of the 2020 COVID pandemic, we decided to travel from Texas to D.C. as a personal quest to celebrate American freedom, heritage and healthy living.

Among the highlights was a day visit to the Ark Encounter in northern Kentucky. It was awesome.

Jack & Dodie Dennis at Ark Encounter

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Now we learn that the organization behind the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum (nearby) is moving forward with plans to build a Tower of Babel AND expand their faith-based school for kids ages 5-17.

Answers in Genesis recently purchased the former Toyota North American engineering and manufacturing headquarters in Northern Kentucky for more than $31 million. 

The 205,000-square-foot facility will house 450-500 K-12 students as well as be the location for the general staff of Answers in Genesis and their Answers.TV streaming service.

“The purchase of this building will save the ministry many tens of millions of dollars for several planned future projects and allow them to be implemented much more quickly, instead of years down the road,” CEO Ken Ham said in a press release. “Overall, this facility will provide a home for Answers Academy without having to build a major school complex.”

Tower of Babel diorama at Ark

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Earlier this year, the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum welcomed its 10 millionth guest. 
 
“As Answers in Genesis continues to grow in many of its outreaches, including welcoming large crowds at our two attractions, the ministry will have an even larger economic impact on the region,” Ham said. 

🔹The Ark Encounter opened in 2016 in Williamstown, Kentucky, and was built according to the instructions God gave Noah in Genesis 6.

🔹The 10-story-high vessel features larger-than-life exhibits that bring museum visitors face to face with the story of biblical proportions. 

“We all know that God’s the Great Designer. He’s the Great Engineer,” said Patrick Kanewske, the attraction’s media and ministry relations director. “It’s the perfect dimensions for seaworthiness, weight distribution, smoothness of ride.”

While Dodie and I were there in 2020, it was even more special to learn the Ark Encounter was named the “Best Religious Museum” by USA Today.

The Ark’s sister institution, the Creation Museum also finished second that year in the national poll of museums selected by a panel of top travel experts.

A few weeks ago, the ministry organization announced new plans to build a replica of the ancient Tower of Babel adjacent to the Ark.

“The Bible provides us with the true history of humanity. What people classify today as racial differences are rightly explained by the Babel event. Noah’s descendants scattered from Babel in family groups and settled new lands. Separated from one another, the various groups began to express distinct traits. No group is more “evolved” than any other.”

“We will proclaim the only solution to racism and every other sin that besets mankind: the gospel of Jesus Christ,” the statement continued. 

Noah’s descendants scattered from Babel in family groups and settled new lands. Separated from one another, the various groups began to express distinct traits.

“No group is more ‘evolved’ than any other,” their literature states. “Some people may have achieved greater advancements in agriculture, industry, or technology due to having a greater number of skilled trades people when the language division occurred, but this does not mean they are ‘more human’ than others. Instead, all people today descended from Noah and are members of the one human race (we’re all of ‘one blood,’ per Acts 17:26).”

“All people are descendants of Adam, and we are all made in God’s image. Our true problem is sin, which includes prejudice and racism, and the solution is the same for all of us—the gospel of Jesus Christ. Ironically, critical race theory is also the exact opposite of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that people would be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin,” the Answers in Genesis website notes. 

The ministry says the goal of the Tower of Babel project is to confront racist, ethnocentric philosophies with the truth of humanity’s origins according to God’s Word, 

“Most importantly, we will proclaim the only solution to racism and every other sin that besets mankind: the gospel of Jesus Christ,” the Answers in Genesis website states. 

The project is expected to take about three years to complete and will be located near the Ark Encounter. 

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Ideas to Do With Your Special Someone

Who knew 2020 would be so limiting and stressful? From toilet paper shortages to wearing masks, our world definitely changed.

However, we decided to make the best of it–as much as we could. Defying the newscasts, Dodie and I even went on a 15-state (plus Washington D.C.) road tour for 32 days in June and July.

Don’t let all this negative news get you down! Love your family and friends. Do something fun.

For today  or this weekend, pick just one!

Bike Ride       

Bowling          

Go to the Zoo    

Cook Together          

Split a Milkshake       

Plan a Road Trip

Pick out Each Other’s Outfits    

Son Brady joined us at SeaWorld.2020.

Go to the Gym            

Aquarium       

Go Tanning    

Match Socks Together          

Take a Nap    

Have a Movie Marathon. (themes: comedy, select movie star, love, drama, horror, classics, sci-fi, etc.) We watch very little TV, but when we do we make it fun with popcorn, etc.

Recently we watched episodes of The Chosen series, Lonesome Dove and even the second season of the 1969s television series Lost In Space.

There’s a big difference in watching the space ones as a man in my 60s vs. the boy I was in the 1960s.

Kiss in the Rain         

Plant a Garden           

Kiss Underwater    

See a Play at a Local Theater           

Paint a Room in Your House       

Shopping        

Buy Matching Bracelets          

Pigeon Forge in July 2020

Ride on a Ferris wheel          

Watch Fireworks    

July 4th Washington D.C.

Scrabble         

Make Breakfast         

Road Trip          

Ride Rails

Write Each Other Letters    

Go to a Vineyard       

Classy Date   

Get Concert Tickets

Eat Ice Cream    

Walk               

Mini Golfing               

Beach             

Kiss at Midnight        

Go Running    

Play the Wii    

Laser Tag

Paint War    

Play Tennis                

Make a Couple’s Video         

Count Stars

Couple’s Scrapbook. Here’s an idea. We have pictures of us how we were in the 1960s.

Take a Picture Kissing    

Put Together a Puzzle           

Sing a Song Really Loud       

Read a Book Together          

Order Chinese Food              

Slow Dance    

Watch a Sunset          

Build a Blanket Fort              

Share Popcorn at the Movies    

YOGA              

San Antonio College Planetarium

Visit Planetarium

Get a Pedicure    

Make Chalupas Together

Silently Stare at Each Other for One Minute Without Cracking a Smile

One of You Draw a Picture. The Other Color It.

Visit a Museum.

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Noah Musical Gives Renewed Sense of Hope

Travel Log: July 2020. Our 22nd day.

Thanks to our parents, my favorite Biblical stories are likely the same as many others. I loved when my father would read about Noah’s Ark, David and Goliath, and Daniel in the Lions Den.

Before I was old enough to read, I recall drawing and coloring a picture of animals on Noah’s Ark in Vacation Bible School.

With cousins Patti, Carolyn, Gayle and Dennis Sanders, along with friends Sue and Johnny Standridge, we were proud to have our art work displayed in the South San Antonio church in the summer of 1961.

Cousins Jackie Dennis & Patti Sanders, 1961

I never really questioned the validity of the stories. Even when a 1974 socialogy professor at Southwest Texas State University tried his best to make fun of Christian students for believing, did I have doubts. I just walked out of the class and never returned. Dropped it (So did several others).

Many things about college broadened my ideologies and “expanded my horizons.” I even naively voted for Jimmy Carter, but only the first time. Even after interviewing the President at the Alamo a few days before the 1980 election, I didn’t vote to reelect him.

Photo of President Jimmy Carter taken by Jack Dennis after interview at Alamo.

Thankfully, I didn’t naively fall for most of the indoctrination attempts, even back in 70s. Even those I did were quickly dissolved when I became a parent and more productive taxpayer.

With a natural skepticism for politicians, lobbyists, liberal education agendas and society experimenters, I didn’t succumb…or doubt the story of Noah’s Ark. 

Sure, I had the common questions on how it was practically possible. Could the ark really fit that many animals? Could it float with that much weight? I’ve read many of the debates, theories and accounts on the subject.

Our recent visit to the Ark Encounter in Kentucky put many questions to rest, but opened up new ones: dinosaurs? animal waste? insects?

It was another serendipitous moment driving into Branson, Missouri two days later and seeing a “NOAH-The Musical” billboard sign of it playing at the Sight and Sound Theater there. We signed up for tickets.

Never in my dreams could I have imagined how this could be turned into a great play.

I’ve seen Broadway productions in New York of Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys, Wicked, and Mama Mia.

Living above the Majestic Theater in San Antonio, I saw (and wrote about many) practically every performance played there for five years. 

Let me tell you, dear friends, “NOAH-The Musical” is spectacular. It’s very informative and the “WOW” factor of the production is the best I’ve experienced anywhere.

The sets are incredible, and worth the price of seeing alone. The engineering, artistry, and time that went into creating them is truly astounding.

The fortunate aspect of the play is that the singing and acting talent is a must see complement to the total production. We were fortunate to have second row seats on the center aisle (front row empty for social distancing). The up-close perspective of the actors, emotion on their faces and the quirky little things that the animals do are fantastic. Many of the animals passed by us to enter the stage from a mechanical ramp at center stage. It’s like having our own personal experience, way beyond any theater. At one point, after intermission, the stage opens up on both sides to further captivate the audience. 

Dodie loved watching the live pigs, goats, sheep, donkey, horses, camels and dogs go by. There were also doves that flew overhead on several occasions.

From the moment you drive into the parking lot, Sight and Sound is impressive. The building is large with several shining domes and beautiful landscaping that includes a large statue of a lion and lamb.

The lobby is equally lovely with decor that brings you back to Biblical times. Besides the box office, there are concession stands that offer a small, but tasty assortment of reasonably priced foods.

Ushers are helpful and anticipatory. They offered booster seats for children, pushed wheelchairs, and checked for special needs.

It’s a state-of-the-art 2000-seat, 339,000 square foot theater and has become a favored destination of Branson audiences. The shows produced by Sight & Sound feature a professional cast of more than 50, elaborate sets towering up to 40 feet high, hundreds of costumes, and trained animals. Wonderful special effects permeate the shows and include set pieces that rise up through the stage floor, 3D video imaging, pyrotechnics and artistic lighting effects including lasers.

It feels like a cast of hundreds, and looks like it as well when the stage is full. There’s everything from singing to dancing to rhythmic gymnastics, live animals, animatronic elephants, penguins, giraffes and Galapagos turtles. It’s masterfully produced at four levels high, complete with animals, baskets, food storage, and everything so many other conceivable needs for the Ark’s voyage.

Noah, is on stage for almost the entire show, and is in most musical numbers, as well as racing throughout the Ark, up and down ladders, and makes the feat look simple. 

“NOAH’ is more than the story of an ark filled with animals. This is the epic tale of how one man faced a monumental decision that led to a seemingly impossible task and a world changed forever,” said Sight & Sound Chief Creative Officer Josh Enck. “It’s been nine years since audiences enjoyed ‘NOAH’ in Branson and 25 years since its debut performance. Now, a new generation of families can enjoy this story as they’ve never experienced it before.”

Noah is such an extraordinary story. It is truly one of hope and the faithfulness of God’s promises. We left the theater with a renewed sense of inspiration and hope.

Noah’s Ark in Kentucky

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! 

Before the Great Flood.

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.

Animatronic Noah actually answers questions asked of him by visitors.

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.

Arc Encounter. July 7, 2020

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.”