(Photo: Ark Encounter)
Noah may have taken 100 years to build the ark but investors of a new biblical theme park in northern Kentucky plan to replicate a full-scale model in under 36 months.
The completely wooden ark, which would measure 500 ft. across, 75 ft. wide and 45 ft. high, is slated to be unveiled in spring 2014 as one of the attractions of the proposed $150 million Ark Encounter theme park.
Developers of the project expect the venture to attract 1.6 million visitors in the first year and create about 900 jobs – music to Kentucky Governor Steve Bashear's ears.
"We are all very positive initially about this application. We don't really foresee any problems in getting it approved," said Bashear at a press conference on Wednesday announcing the venture.
"The law doesn't allow us to discriminate the subject matter of theme parks as long as it's legal and in good taste."
Ark Encounter, a limited liability company, has a contract for 800 acres of land in Williamstown in Grant County where the park will likely be built. Other than the ark, the amusement park will feature eight other attractions, including a 500-seat 5-D theater inside the Tower of Babel, a petting zoo, an aviary, and a model of what Jesus' hometown might have looked like.
Answers in Genesis, known for the popular Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., is partnering with Ark Encounter to raise the $24.5 million needed to build the life-size ark.People can participate by donating $100 for a peg, $1,000 for a plank, or $5,000 for a beam to construct the ark.
As of Thursday afternoon, the non-profit organization has raised about $114,000 – just one day since it launched the campaign for Noah's Ark.
Mark Looy, spokesman for Answers in Genesis and Creation Museum, told The Christian Post on Thursday that the ark will be a form of biblical "edutainment" that will help the ministry teach others about the history of the world according to the Bible.
"We are attempting to show our visitors that the accounts in the Bible about creation, the flood, the Tower of Babel and Christ coming to earth are historical accounts," said Looy, co-founder of Creation Museum, which depicts a literal six-day creation model of the earth, beginning about 6,000 years ago.
An education exhibit on "flood geology" will accompany the ark, according to Looy, who said he wouldn't be surprised if it even drew non-religious people who would visit out of curiosity.
"There are flood legends all over the globe," he said. "There is such a fascination with how a ship could have been built back then, whether they had the technology, or where did all the water come from to cover the globe."
Looy said AiG has several scientists with PhDs on staff that help ensure scientific accuracy of the group's undertakings.
"We are not anti-science at all. We are pro-science," he said.
The inside of the ark, according to Mike Zovath, Sr. VP of AiG and Ark Encounter Project, would contain live animals such as juvenile giraffes and show the feasibility of how Noah was able to take care of animals for an extended length of time.
Jeff Zweerink, research scholar at Reasons to Believe, said that while he appreciated the value of allowing people to see a visual scale of the ark, he disagreed with how the theme park would portray the timeline of the flood.
"When you look at the breadth of evangelical scholarship, that is just one viewpoint," Zweerink told The Christian Post on Thursday. "There are many different ways of how that actually played out."
He contends that the flood did not occur 5,000 years ago, as presented by Answers in Genesis, but instead 25,000-50,000 years ago. Also, he doesn't believe the flood was a global flood but one that was localized to the Mesopotamia region, one that was adequate to wipe out humanity but not large enough to leave a detectable geological structure like the Grand Canyon.
"Whether that flood was a global flood or a local flood that destroyed all of humanity that was alive at that time, both of those viewpoints fall within the boundaries of orthodox Christian viewpoint," Zweerink acknowledged.
Six out of 10 Americans said they would visit the replica of Noah's Ark if it were built, a feasibility study by America’s Research Group showed.
Team members that participated in building the Creation Museum will also be involved in the construction of the ark attraction.
Correction: Tuesday, December 7, 2010:
An article on Thursday, December 2, 2010, about a full-scale Noah's Ark planned for a theme park in Kentucky incorrectly reported that it took Noah 400 years to build the ark. Most scholars agree the ark took around 100 years to build.