Building has commenced to construct a true-to-live Noah's Ark on 800 acres of park in northern Kentucky, reports have said.
Spearheaded by Answers in Genesis ministries, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament, the ark is planned to stand 500 feet long, 80 feet wide and 45 feet tall and will be the centerpiece of a faith-themed, theme park called Ark Encounter.
Project manager Mike Zovath says the ark and theme park are being built in order solidify the authority of the Bible.
“The message here is, God’s word is true,” he said. “There’s a lot of doubt: ‘Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?’ Those are questions people all over the country ask.”
Answers in Genesis are also the group behind the Creation Museum, a controversial public attraction, which goes against the grain of conventional science museums and presents the Bible as a historical timeline, beginning 6,000 years ago.
Instead of attempting to discredit evolution and promote creationism, the theme park aims to allow visitors to experience the ark and the time in which it was constructed.
“When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed,” Zovath said.
Among many attractions, the park will feature a replica of the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village as can be found in the Old Testament.
In May, Ark Encounter LLC announced that they had raised $3 million towards the construction of the ark and theme park. Donations are still being accepted and anyone wanting to participate can donate $100 for a peg, $1,000 for a plank, or $5,000 for a beam toward construction of the ark.
Answers in Genesis projects that the park, estimated to open in April 2014, will be a great source of revenue for the state of Kentucky, creating 900 jobs and bringing $119 million into the state over the course of 10 years, according to a study done by Hunden Strategic Partners. The park is estimated to attract 1.2 million visitors in the first year alone.
However, those opposed to the ark and park believe it is simply a ploy to trick people into believing in creationism.
“Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that’s not so,” said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be “so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you’re ready to believe anything.”