Or Truth in Children’s Books but not in Advertising.
As opening day (July 7th) approaches, Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis ratchet up the advertising for their life-sized construction of Ken Ham’s construal of Noah’s Ark. Yet, as blogger and biologist Joel Duff noted on his blog Naturalis Historia, the billboards are somewhat misleading as to what you will see in Ken Ham’s Ark.
The billboards depict familiar animals. The animals that you and your family can go to see at your local zoo. However, on Ken Ham’s Ark, you will only find fantastic creatures that are the imaginary constructions of Ken Ham’s creature shop.
That’s right. Apart from a petting zoo, the creatures in Ken Ham’s Ark will be totally fantastic. That is the creatures are entirely made up. Ken Ham’s Workshop has more in common with Jim Henson’s Workshop than it does with a Natural History Museum. The big difference is that Jim Henson was in on the joke. Ken Ham is completely serious.
Rather than the animals depicted on the billboard, Ham’s Ark will be filled with the “kinds” of animals that he and his creative team imagine existed around 2000 BC. Rejecting the older Young Earth Creationist teaching regarding fixity of species, Ken Ham and AIG believe in the fixity of kinds. There are a dinosaur kind, feline kind, canine kind, fish kind, etc. In scientific parlance, what AIG refers to as a kind is akin to what actual biologists refer to as Family. To explain the diversity of species, Ken Ham’s Creation Model imagines an excelarated period of evolution which I have referred to elsewhere as Supra-Natural Selection. (That’s right. AIG teaches evolution. They just don’t like to use that word.)
Joel Duff’s Critique and Ham’s Vigorous Reply
Now, to those unfamiliar with Answers in Genesis or with a superficial understanding of their teachings and practices, Duff’s critique may seem petty like noting that the discrepancies between the Big Mac in the billboard and the Big Mac on my tray. And, in a volley of tweets (clearly Dr. Duff touched a nerve), Ken Ham made just this kind of argument. He strongly suggested that Duff had misunderstood the genre (or the nature) of advertising. And indeed, coming from almost anyone else, this response would carry weight. Yet, from Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, it further reveals their double-standard.
Answers in Genesis Critique of Children’s Picture Books!
In an earlier post, I commented on Answers in Genesis writer and Ham’s son-in-law Bodie Hodge’s article on the “misrepresentation” of Noah’s Ark in illustrations found in children’s books. Among the pictorial problems are:
- The animals are smiling.
- They never include dinosaurs.
- Contemporary animals (or “modern variations“) are depicted rather than the extinct “kinds” from which living species are derived.
See Bodie Hodge’s “15 Illustration Problems“
So, on the one hand, AIG functions as the thought police for Christians. Arguing that our children’s literature should better conform to Ken Ham’s interpretation and the imaginative work of Answers in Genesis. For AIG, such illustrations are already adopting a “secularist” perspective and leading our children to the slippery slope to atheism. (For the same reason, I suggest banning slides in playgrounds as they suggest to children that slippery slopes are fun. Maybe we could place portraits of hell or actually put live coals at the bottom to better ground our children in reality.)
On the other hand, when it comes to AIG’s own billboards, they are simply conforming to the billboard genre and the understood rules of advertising. But from whence do the rules for advertising come? Why does AIG not practice what they preach in all venues? If Ken Ham and the folks at AIG are experts in any field, then it is the production of propaganda.
So, the very thing that they find so problematic in children’s books can be found in their own billboards. One wonders what effect depicting the unsubstantiated, unfossilized, imaginary kinds sticking their heads out of Noah’s Ark alongside a baby Brontosaurus would have on people’s perception of AIG, Ken Ham, and his theme parks.
Is it possible that they realized that their target market would see them for what they really are? A relatively small group of people whose peculiar beliefs and practices are excessively and disproportionately focussed on a particular interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis and questions about the age of the cosmos as derived from the writings of modern Young Earth Creationists such as Henry Morris.
Indeed, those groups who are attempting to create counter propaganda to place on billboards may want to consider simply depicting the “kinds” of creatures that one will find on Ken Ham’s Ark.
See Joel Anderson’s “Billboard Wars” post at Resurrecting Orthodoxy
Get a Big Bang for your Buck — Go to the Zoo!
While I am not sure, I suspect than not only will a trip to your local zoo be less expensive than a trip to the Ark Encounter or Creation Museum but the animals at the zoo have the value-added features of being alive and of actually existing both in the past and present. A trip to Ken Ham’s themed spectacles with its fantastic bestiary will educate you in the peculiar beliefs of Answers in Genesis while a trip to the zoo or a natural history museum will offer an opportunity to be educated about actual flora and fauna and contemporary scientific theories. Moreover, most zoos have shared memberships with other zoos. For instance, our membership at the Waco Zoo (which is an awesome zoo for a city of this size) gets us into the Houston zoo and many others for free. When we were in California, we happened upon an aquarium that was in this partnership. Think about it. See living animals that the Creator God actually created rather than fictional animals that are the product of the imagination of Ken Ham and his special effects team, Industrial “Let there Be Light” and Magic.
Ken Ham a real Pinnochio Story
Like Geppetto, Ken Ham wants his Ark Encounter and Creation Museum to be real. One day, the Creation Museum will become a real museum. It will be a museum about Young Earth Creationism itself. If it does not fall into ruin, it will be a monument to the fact that even in the 21st century many Americans believed the cosmos was around seven thousand years old. It will be Ken Ham’s Ozymandias.