Answers in Genesis President and CEO Ken Ham has announced that the "historic" construction of a life-size 510-foot-long Noah's Ark in Williamstown, Kentucky, called the Ark Encounter, has now been opened to the public.
"Visitors will have the thrill of witnessing firsthand the historic construction of Noah's Ark, being built according to the biblical proportions described in Scripture. Our guests will safely observe the Ark from a viewing spot just outside the actual hard-hat area. It will be their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see an Ark being built, which will become the largest timber-frame building in the world," Ham said in a statement.
AiG said that large cranes are ready to lift wooden beams and place them onto the Ark's foundation piers in the next step of the construction, which is scheduled to be completed by 2016. Visitors who purchase tickets to see the Ark will be able to watch construction crews assemble the support towers during the month of June.
The ambitious project allows people to donate money through the official website, with $19.7 million collected out of a $29.5 million goal.
There has been some controversy surrounding the Ark Encounter, with AiG filing a lawsuit against Kentucky's decision denying it the chance to participate in the tax rebate program, after the state imposed conditions such as prohibiting religious preference in hiring workers for the project.
"The state's new conditions are clearly illegal. We can cite both federal and state laws that permit religious preference in hiring, like the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That's why atheist groups can and do discriminate in their hiring," Ham said back in December.
The latest update from AiG notes that the federal lawsuit is still in the courts. The group insisted that state officials have denied its application for the incentive program because of the Ark project's religious message, and because AiG uses religious preference when hiring staff.
Ham has also hit back against critics who've asked why the money for the project isn't being used to help poor people instead.
"Nearly every time I post an update on the exciting Ark Encounter project, there seem to be those habitual complainers who claim the money should be spent on the poor instead and not be 'wasted' this way," Ham said back in May.
"The Ark project (like the Creation Museum) will be a professional, powerful, and gracious way to present the truth of God's Word and the Gospel. Sadly, even some people claiming to be Christians complain about the Ark project and [say] that the money should be given to the poor instead. Such people either don't understand or don't seem to care about the millions who will be reached with the most important food in the universe — the spiritual food of the saving Gospel — the very message that their eternal life depends on," he added.