The Ark Encounter, the life-sized Noah's Ark theme-park attraction, held its official ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday in Grant County, Kentucky, ahead of its grand opening on Thursday, July 7th, gathering a crowd of 7,000 to witness the historic event.
Ken Ham, president and CEO of Answers in Genesis and The Creation Museum, told The Christian Post:
"In a world that is becoming increasingly secularized and biased, it's time for Christians to do something of this size and this magnitude."
He told CP that the Ark stands as a reminder.
"To remind the coming generations of the truth of God's word. It's our way of presenting the truth of God's Word to the world," Ham said.
The hour-long event, which was live-streamed and hosted on the Ark Encounter YouTube channel, featured live musical performances, prayers, and Bible readings, along with Williamstown mayor Richard Skinner cutting the ribbon at the end.
"In a professional way we figured out what the city could do, what the county could do, and what the Ark could do. And from that professionalism became a mutual respect that I have for the Ark Encounter and for what they stand," Skinner said about the joint efforts that went into building the theme park.
"We support the Ark Encounter, we support the mission, and we are proud to have the Ark Encounter as our home," he added.
Mark Looy, VP of Outreach and Co-Founder of Answers in Genesis, kicked off proceedings at the ceremony by introducing the crowd to the Ark, which spans 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high.
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"You are a beautiful sight this morning, 7,000 of you. There's one sight that equals this, you're looking at it. A life-sized Noah's Ark," Looy said.
Jenean Hampton, the Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky, also spoke at the ceremony, and said:
"We are so blessed that this great, great attraction was built here in Kentucky, it's just an honor to have this here. We hope to see millions visit Kentucky, to visit the Ark Encounter over the next few years. I can't wait to see the inside," she added, calling it "absolutely beyond imagination."
Ham, who led the crowd in several moments of reflection and prayer, turned directly to God in his speech and said:
"Lord, this is a reminder for the people of the world, for the coming generations. Let them not forget the wondrous works that you have done. Who you are, and what you've done for each of us. There is our reminder to the world," he said, pointing to the Ark.
With the Ark set to open to the public on on the seventh day of the seventh month, Ham explained that there is a Biblical meaning behind the chosen date. He told the crowd that Genesis 7:7 reads "And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the Ark," which inspired the date of the opening.
In his comments to CP, Ham reflected that there is a rising trend of secularism in America, but people from all over the world have heard of Noah's Ark.
"I believe you're going to find all sorts of people from all walks of life with all sorts of religious backgrounds who are going to come here and even if they don't share our biblical view, they can't help but be impressed by the structure, craftsmanship and by the attention to detail of world class exhibits inside. And who knows? Maybe they'll be challenged to even talk about the Bible as we do," he continued.
As for the question of whether or not the Ark actually floats, the AiG President said that it does not need to float, since in the Bible God declared that there will never be another global flood.
"The Ark was designed as a ship and built as a building. It was designed as a ship, a true timber frame structure, and we did a lot of research on ancient ships to design it. But it was built as a building to code," Ham explained.
In a previous interview with CP, Ham noted that Bill Nye "The Science Guy," his 2014 evolution-creationism debate foe, is considering Ham's offer to tour the Ark Encounter.
"Yes, we have had a response back from him. I believe he is considering coming out here," Ham explained. "We've had a positive response in that regard, so we'll just have to see what happens."
The Ark Encounter website includes information about the various exhibits and the other attractions connected with the Ark, including the Zip Lines and Ararat Ridge Zoo.