HEBRON, Ky. –- The Creation Museum, located in Hebron, Kentucky, has been educating visitors on the plausibility of Biblical Creationism since 2007. Now, the 70,000 square foot facility is trying to expand to open “Ark Encounter,” a creationist theme park that will feature a “full-size” Noah’s Ark and Tower of Babel replica. Original estimates had the project taking “about seven days,” according to design director Patrick Marsh, but a plague of logistical complications and lack of funding has the project mired in the design phase, with some doubting the possibility of it being completed at all.
The Ark is meant to be the centerpiece of the theme park, and will be seaworthy as well as big enough to carry two of every species, including dinosaurs, in order to prove the plausibility of the Bible story. However, it is proving more difficult to build than the park’s directors believed.
One of the problems, Marsh explained, is that the Bible says Noah made the ark out of gopher wood. “Now we don’t know what ‘gopher wood’ actually is,” said Marsh, “if it’s an extinct type of lumber or if it was a clever way of storing the gophers, but we’re going to interpret it as both.” The modern ark is to be made of a mix of different types of wood, one of several concessions that may have to be made in order to prove the viability of doing the same thing over 5000 years earlier.
Another is the Tower of Babel, which directors are hesitant to build “as high as it was in real life,” out of fear that such a structure would once again cause God to “confound their speech,” and “scatter them across the world.”
“The thing is, Noah had a great source of funding in God.” Said Marsh. The park today has about $12.3 million in donations in hand, and another $12.7 million pledged, but it will take another $23 million to even begin construction on the ark, and the park itself will be at least $150 million.
To further complicate things, a number of tax incentives for the project are set to expire in 2014, in a Great Flood of lost funding. The tax incentives are controversial in the first place, as many groups believe they violate the separation of church and state, since the educational value of the museum is in dispute.
“I know it seems like we have some advantages,” conceded Marsh, “with access to the most modern building and fundraising techniques that weren’t available in the distant past. But here’s the thing – experience is a factor. And Noah was 900 years old when he did it.”