Ken Ham, Creation Museum founder, has had plans in the works for years to build a Noah’s Ark theme park in Williamstown, Kentucky. It was not until the evolution debate that he engaged in with “Science Guy” Bill Nye on Feb. 4 that he gained enough attention to raise the money needed to move forward with the project. An astounding five million people tuned into the Ham vs. Nye debate, according to Fox News.
According to an Associated Press release, plans to build a 510-foot replica of Noah’s Ark had been delayed, but the project is now made possible thanks to a $62 million municipal bond, as well as private contributions. The money came rolling in after the great evolution debate. Ham’s Answers in Genesis ministry got a lot of attention during the debate, in which he used the Bible to explain the origin of life. Ham said the evolution debate with Nye encouraged supporters to get involved with the $73 million ark replica project.
Nye, who inadvertently contributed to the completion of Ham’s project, is opposed to the idea of building the ark in Kentucky. During the debate, he argued evolution from a scientific perspective. He said that not only is the biblical theme park and the ark bad for scientists and Kentucky, but it is “bad for the world.”
The idea for the theme park, centered around the life-size Noah’s Ark replica, was first proposed in 2010. There have been a number of setbacks since then, which have prevented its completion. In 2012, a $43 million tax break was proposed by Gov. Steve Beshear. Despite delays along the way, Ham expects the park to open in the summer of 2016.
The three-tiered boat will feature animatronic animals and would be the focal point of an 800-acre Ark Encounter park. The biblical theme park would also include rides, a pre-flood section, live animal shows and a special-effects theater. Sections will include The Walled City, Tower of Babel, Journey Through Biblical History, First Century Village, Noah’s Animals, Aviary and Children’s Area. Though it is not expected to have the excitement of a Disney theme park, it will provide a unique and interesting way to present the belief that creation of life is based on the Bible. Along with restaurants and hotels, the park is expected to draw over one million visitors per year.
The debate continues, as opponents say that Ham’s literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis is incorrect and that the park would only spread false information to the public. It also spurs on the debate over the separation of church and state. Ham’s Creation Museum, despite causing just as much criticism, has exceeded its goals for annual visitors since it opened in May of 2007.
Supporters claim that the Ark Experience will bring thousands of visitors to the area and will boost the economy. Meanwhile, progress is finally being made on the development of the park. Permits have been filed and Ham expects to break ground in May, thanks to the money drawn in by the widely viewed evolution debate with Nye.
By Tracy Rose