At the end of this post, some of you may be wondering what all this has do with my promise to explain what I think is going on in the story of Noah and the Flood. Yet, I ask your patience and refer you back to my insistence that context literary, canonical and historical is of utmost importance when it comes to interpreting Genesis 6-9. (Previous Post)
Given the amount of posts that I have devoted to a critique and satire of the teaching of Ken Ham and his organization Answers in Genesis, I think it is about time that I presented my own views of this well known but often poorly understood narrative. (See Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis Posts)
Ken Ham’s Ark has three decks which are divided thematically pre-flood, during the flood, and post-flood.
Photo Op to Photo Shop
Immediately before entering the Ark, a photographer directs the visitor to stand in front of a blue screen for a photo. In the gift shop, you can purchase a photo of yourself with Ark Encounter themed images in the background. Of course, Joel and I purchased our photos for posterity’s sake. Now, even in this first week, the Ark was not terribly busy. Had it been busier, I wondered at the logistics of stopping people for photos. This process seemed to have the potential for being a log jam in the future. A “gopher wood” log jam, of course.
Boarding the Ark
As I boarded the Ark, a virtual jungle of animal sounds filled the atmosphere. I found myself surrounded by small wooden cages stacked floor to ceiling. The calls and whistles of various birds, the chattering of small rodents, the yowling of cats, and even the hiss of snakes could be heard coming from the small cages. Cool!, I thought.
Ham has stated that he wanted the Ark Encounter to be something akin to an exhibit that you might find at Disney or Universal. In this initial moment, I was reminded of the awesome transformation of sunny California afternoon to cool New Orleans evening on the Pirates of the Carribean ride at Disneyland. So far, Ken, not bad.
Each cage had a clay feeder and water trough which would have been easily accessible to Noah and his family. The cages are spaced apart in such a way that feces can be gathered easily. However, the cages were designed so that the visitor cannot see into them. The sounds suggest the presence of many small “animal kinds” that Ham posits were on Noah’s Ark.
Okay, I thought, that’s not a bad way to save some money and still get a number of animals on the Ark. It was a cool effect and I was ready for more. Keep in mind, as much as I am critical of Answers in Genesis, I was truly hoping that the exhibit itself would be like a ride at Disneyland maybe more Pirates than Star Wars but I wanted it to be genuinely entertaining. After all, Joel and I spent real money to see this thing. Yet, I came away disappointed because there were far fewer animals on Ham’s Ark than I anticipated and none of them were animatronic but that’s another deck.
Wooden cages with wooden feeders and clay watering devices. The cages are designed so that you can’t see into them. It gives the illusion of many animals.
Like the small cages, the visitor will see pots lined floor to ceiling along the walls. These represent the food for the animals. Remember, they need a year’s supply of food for everything from rabbit-kind to velociraptor-kind. Wait, I guess they can feed the rabbit kittens to the velociraptor pups.
The Pre-Flood Story
On the lower deck, through a series of visuals mostly consisting of posters (often tedious to read), the visitor is told Ken Ham’s version of the biblical narrative from Creation to the Flood. It is a truncated version of Ham’s Creation Museum.
I say Ken Ham’s version for as much as he claims to be offering a plain reading of the text his version includes many details that are not found in the text and, in my view, distort and distract from the meaning of the text. For instance, Ham’s version includes dinosaurs.
I did not expect dinosaurs to play as large a role in Ham’s narrative as they do but there are dinosaurs around every corner. For instance, one will find dinosaurs in every portrayal of the paradisal Garden. But turn the corner and in illustrating the violence of humankind before the flood, Ham depicts human beings slaughtering triceratops for their horns much like modern humans slaughter rhinoceroses. In Ham’s theory, it is human activity of this type and post-diluvial environmental factors (like the one ice age) that wiped out the dinosaurs.
I am truly baffled that Ham’s view of the dinosaurs is not enough to cause even some of the more credulous Christians to question Answers in Genesis’s ability to interpret historical data let alone be trusted to interpret scripture for them.
Disgruntled Workers and Religious Fanatics
There were very few animatronic displays far fewer than I would have imagined. In one of the displays, Noah’s hired workers (another eisegetical moment) are complaining about the work and describe Noah as a religious fanatic.
Like the whole AIG narrative, this scene is more modern than ancient. If Noah was a historical figure and truly a monotheist and who in accordance with the later Mosaic law had no image of his deity among polytheists who worshipped images, then it is more likely that his contemporaries would have accused him of atheism and not being devoted enough to the gods. If there was a great flood coming, then maybe it was because Noah and his family had ticked off the gods by not worshipping them properly (see Job’s friends). As the other extant flood narratives suggest, it did not take much to annoy a god to the point of mass extermination. In one narrative, human beings are just to noisy and the gods can’t sleep. Anyway, his contemporaries would not scoff at the idea of a god causing a natural disaster. Rather, they would ask which god and likely try to appease them all just in case.
Yet, despite Ham’s claims to the contrary, he and the folks at AIG are not interested in historical accuracy but in the us vs. them narrative of the culture war. So, Noah begins to look a lot like Ken Ham and Noah’s critics begin to sound a great deal like the New Atheists (and frankly like anyone who is critical of AIG teaching). The fate of these scoffers is as follows.
Now, I will say that I enjoyed the detailed miniatures more than anything else in the exhibit. There is something about looking at a scale model world and a scale model Ark that is fascinating like a good detailed model train set. So, to end on a positive note, here are some of the images from the lower deck.
“Beware the Jabberwock my son. . . ” from “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll
It turns out that the animal kinds at the Ark Encounter aren’t entirely fantastic after all as I have previously posted and continued to assume even after my visit to the Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter.
@aigkenham & @ArkEncounter recently tweeted a link to a post about six furry animals that you will see aboard the Ark at the Ark Encounter. Indeed, I have seen them with my own eyes. Yet, I was disappointed that these creatures were not clearly labelled as to their “kind” and with an indication of what species “evolved” from them according to Answers in Genesis’s “Orchard of Life” hypothesis. Some of them are not difficult to guess. Any baraminologistician worth his online degree would be rightly shocked by the lack of labels. Still, during my visit, I saw nothing to dispel my assumption that the “AIG Fabricators” had invented creatures ex nihilo, as it were. Continue reading “RETRACTION Ark Animals are not Totally Fantastic: “AIG Fabricators” and Double Standards”→
Today, Joel Anderson and I visited Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter and Creation Museum. This post is simply a brief post to commemorate this momentous occasion. After writing about Answers in Genesis for the past year, Joel and I thought it would be kind of sort of fun to see the Ark for ourselves.
Of course, there were no real surprises at the Ark Encounter. Ken Ham and the folks at AIG have a limited number of points to make but I thought this spectacle would present this information in more detail and best light.
In the next few posts, I’ll walk you through what you’ll find as you go through Ken Ham’s exhibits.
The Ark itself is an impressive sight. Both Joel and I walked away feeling that if these were simply imaginative representations of biblical narratives, then much of what is portrayed in these exhibits would be of some value. However, every moment of these exhibits is geared toward the bizarre and frankly unbiblical claims of Ken Ham and his organization.
At least, Ken Ham points to the true origins of his teaching. In the portion of the Creation Museum dedicated to the history of the organization, Ken Ham tells how “God” in 1974 led him to Henry Morris’s book The Genesis Flood. In my view, The Genesis Flood is Ken Ham’s Book of Mormon or Course in Miracles or Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
One day, I might take the opportunity to visit the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City and I suspect I will feel the same as I did at Ken Ham’s exhibits, a curious outsider, interested in the history and influence of the organization but in fundamental disagreement with the unorthodox doctrines that arose in the nineteenth century. Ken Ham’s Young Earth Creationism is more akin to other nineteenth century new religious movements like The Church of the Latter Day Saints, Creation Science, and Jehovah’s Witnesses than it is to historical orthodox Christianity.
This post is a follow-up to my recent post Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter is Fantastic! In that post, I note the Double-Standard of Answers in Genesis when it comes to depicting the Ark. They chastise illustrators of books for children for their inaccuracies (as defined by AIG) but in their own advertising and practices they do not live up to their own standards.
A Tweet brought another Ken Ham approved message on the dangers that lurk between the covers and frequently on the covers of children’s books and Bibles. In a post on the ArkEncouter.com, Ham reveals that the Ark Encounter will dedicate a whole wall to “Fairy Tale Arks” and the 7Ds of Deception. Next thing you know, he will be insisting that David wasn’t really an Asparagus and Goliath was not a Giant Pickle.
Tantalizingly, Ken Ham only reveals three of the 7Ds of Deception in this post. I can’t wait to visit the Ark Encounter and find out the other four. At $40 a ticket, that’s only $10 per D. A bargain by any post-diluvian standard.
IP — Follow the link below to Joel Duff’s blog post at the end of this post. His recent post resonates with my recent post about Ken Ham’s Fantastic Voyage — Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter is Fantastic! In that post, I recommend going to the zoo instead.
Dr. Duff inspired me to actually compare prices of places that we might go instead of the Ark Encounter or the Creation Museum.
The first two theological questions that got me excited were the problem of evil and theological anthropology or what does it mean to be human in God’s cosmos. The question of what it means to be human led me to discover what was meant by the biblical phrase image of God. After all, canonically, this phrase and subsequent description of humankind’s role in God’s good creation are the first words that we read about human beings. So, for those of us who have read or attempt to read the Scriptures from Genesis through 2 Kings, this description of humankind shapes how we read all subsequent references to human beings. Yet, what did this phrase mean in its ancient context and what did the author of Genesis 1 mean by it when he used it to describe humankind, male and female. Continue reading “To Be God’s Image: Living Idols”→
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.
Now available at Amazon and your local Christian bookstore (hopefully).
I couldn’t put this book down — twice. I read Peter Enns’s The Sin of Certainty a few weeks ago with the intention of writing my review the next day. Of course, life does not always go according to plan. So, the other day, I picked the book up again just to look for some pithy quotes before I began writing but before I knew it I was back into this book in the way one normally gets engrossed in a good novel.
Peter Enns writes with an engaging style that makes the challenging ideas accessible to the average reader, even those who do not normally read non-fiction.
A Faith Journey:
I think what drew me into the argument of this book is the personal and autobiographical narrative that is woven throughout and gives shape to the text. In The Sin of Certainty, the reader is taken on a journey. The journey is from faith to faith.
That might not sound very exciting. If I begin to walk out my front door and my child asks me where I am going, then it might sound odd if I respond, “I’m going home.” Yet, Pilgrim’s Progess, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Hobbit or There and Back Again by Bilbo Baggins are all stories about leaving home and returning home.
Now, I am not suggesting that The Sin of Certainty is in the same league as these works. Still, I think that Enns tells a story that will be all too familiar to many North American Evangelical Christians. I say all too familiar because this book is for the secret and not so secret doubters that live among us and worship alongside us.
On the one hand, this book is for those who are either afraid to ask questions (or sometimes even have questions) for fear of being considered substandard Christians and those who wittingly or unwittingly asked questions that resulted in hurtful reactions and broken relationships. In telling his story and confronting what he calls “the sin of certainty”, Enns may be giving voice to many Christians who are afraid to ask questions, express doubt, and challenge presuppositions for fear of being censured, losing their jobs, losing their community, or, indeed, having their salvation questioned by other Christians.