A Lutheran pastor has claimed that Ken Ham's Ark Encounter theme park in Kentucky has distorted God's message about the rainbow in Genesis, though the Answers in Genesis CEO has fought back against the accusations.
The Rev. Mark Koonz, who pastors Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Walla Walla, Washington, wrote in an article for Union-Bulletin.com on Sunday that there is a notable problem with how some interpret Genesis 9 in the Bible, where God makes a covenant with Noah to never again use a flood to wipe out humanity, offering a rainbow as a sign.
"Some well-meaning interpreters, such as the late hydraulic engineer Henry Morris or other young-earth advocates such as Ken Ham, insist that Genesis 9 teaches there were no atmospheric conditions that could produce the visual appearance of a rainbow before Noah's flood. In short, this was the very first human sighting of a rainbow ever! These readers, I fear, are reading the wrong message out of the text, an error which it is not fair to blame on Moses," Koonz argued in his article.
"Such a reading distorts the message of Genesis. To straddle the story with alleged scientific statements is a modern error, not an ancient one," he added.
The pastor then goes on to explain how the Bible shows that God did not set His rainbow in the clouds for the very first time in history in Genesis 9.
"Rather God declared that every time humans see a rainbow henceforth they could be reassured there would not be another flood of annihilating proportion," he wrote.
Ham responded to the article in a Facebook post on Monday, explaining that he never made the claims Koonz believes he made.
"This Lutheran pastor is as accurate and as poor a researcher as most of the secular media and their fake news,' the Ark Encounter CEO and President wrote.
"His accusation regarding Answers in Genesis and the rainbow is simply not true — a search of the AiG website reveals many articles, such as the one linked to below."
A link to the AiG article in question, written by Dr. Tommy Mitchell in October 2010, shows that the ministry has indeed rejected interpretations that claim Genesis 9 was the first time a rainbow ever appeared, and that humankind never saw rain before the Flood.
"Didn't God specially create the never-before-seen rainbow as a sign of His promise? Not necessarily," Mitchell wrote at the time.
"In Genesis 9:13, God said, 'I do set my bow in the cloud,' and the fact that God does not imply that He had never set a rainbow in the clouds before but only that, from now on, the rainbow — appearing as it so often does as rain is ending — would henceforth have a special significance as a token (reminder 1) of God's promise to never again send a worldwide Flood."
Ham has meanwhile used rainbow colors to light up the Ark Encounter also as a means of challenging culture that embraces the rainbow as a LGBT symbol.
"The rainbow is a reminder God will never again judge the wickedness of man with a global Flood — next time the world will be judged by fire," Ham said in July 2017.
"The Ark is lit permanently at night with a rainbow to remind the world that God owns it and He decreed it's a sign of His covenant with man after the Flood — Christians need to take back the rainbow as we do at the Ark Encounter," he added.