Why The Ark Encounter Matters

ark-encounter-1The Ark Encounter was amazing. And this is saying something.

I often tend to shy away from historical conjecture. I am not a huge fan of most historical films because producers, directors, and scriptwriters frequently insert historical anachronism into the heart of the story. Perhaps the most famous example of such a blunder is Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. At the very crux of the plot, Brutus hears a clock chiming in the background. The Romans had no Big Ben towering offer their market squares.

Picture2When people encounter such errors, they are often worse for the wear. Occasionally people assume the historical liberties taken by movies such as the 300 are fact. As a result, they are prone to drawing false conclusions about the ancient world which is also the world of the Bible. When these conclusions filter into sermons and Bible studies, the credibility of the Bible takes a hit because the speaker has mixed error with truth.

But the Ark Encounter is not a deviation from the true history. Rather, it is an exercise in experimental archaeology placed within the trappings of a colorful museum. As such, it is worth a visit. 

But it is not the first ancient boat to be created in recent times. In 1987, experimental archaeology made some noise with the creation of another boat. That year, Greece launched the Olympias, a replica fifth century BC trireme. As the 70-ton boat sailed around Euripe’s shores, historians gained insights into ancient naval tactics. This group of sailors was not alone. Experimental archaeologists have been testing everything from the levy systems needed to quarry stone to steam powered cannons. In ever instance, these archaeologists have used ancient texts as a guide for recreating items from the ancient world. They have then gone on to use their creations to gain insights into the how ancient world operated.


The Ark Encounter is another such grand archaeological endeavor. But instead of seeking to better understand the ancient secular world, Ken Ham and his team attempted to shed light on the history of the Bible. Ken Ham designed the Ark Encounter according to the text of Genesis. Then, he went on to replicate cages, water filtration systems, and many other things to help Christians understand how Noah and his family could have carried out God’s commands. By recreating the Ark, Ken Ham and his team have discovered that Noah could have cared for the hundreds of animals on the Ark by storing 1.5 years worth of food in 15,000 storage containers. Ken Ham and his Answer in Genesis cohorts have not placed modern thinking back into the Bible. They have faithfully tried to recreate the world of Noah by studying the text and time of the Scriptures.

(For more informationon this topic visit the Ark Encounter or grab a copy of A Flood of Evidence.)

Ken Ham and the team at Answers In Genesis has accomplished their task with excellence. The Ark is filled with models, lifelike animals, and, and interactive video presentations that bring the ancient world of the Bible to life. They have turned experimental archaeology into a gorgeous museum that engages all of its visitors from the moment they arrive until the hop on a bus to leave.

ark 3Admittedly, the Ark Encounter will not save anyone. The giant landlocked boat will also probably not convince many skeptics to embrace Genesis as fact. Bill Nigh is still not a fan. 

At the end of the day, Ken Ham’s ideas and experiments are not definitive. As he likes to say, “Where you there?” The answer for him and us is, “No.” Like the experimental archaeologists before him, Ken Ham cannot be a hundred percent certain that his explanations perfectly match history.  Consequently,  those who want to disavow the Bible will be able to find escape holes when they visit the Ark Encounter. They will be able to justify their unbelief.

And, they must find such justifications. The Ark Encounter is not just an archaeological experiment. It is a theological statement. If God truly closed the door of the Ark, then there is only one way to heaven, Jesus Christ. To affirm the Ark as history, one is not just denying a belief in the eternal dirt ball of evolution. They are denying the idea of their autonomy. To affirm the Ark, one must embrace the God of the Ark. As in Noah’s day, this is a hard pill for men and women to swallow.

But that same pill is medicine for the believer. In a world where Christianity is constantly maligned, Christians will find the 510 foot Ark replica to be beautiful solace of truth.

If you haven’t gone, I encourage you to go. The door to this Ark is open. Are you ready to go in?

Sinking The Ark Matters

Sinking the Ark MattersUnderstandably, there has been a lot of hoopla around the Noah movie. Not only did the movie touch the usual Hollywood crowd, it also managed to stir up the increasingly silent evangelical right. Now, you can’t go on Facebook or anywhere on the web without seeing someone talking about Noah.  I too am guilty of adding to people’s frustrations. Now being exhausted with the conversation, many Christians and generally moral people have begun trying to quiet the crowds desperate to sink Russell Crowe’s ark by saying, “You see tons of sexually sinful films, I think Noah is the least of your problems” or “It’s Hollywood; they never get the Bible right.”

But Noah is different than all of those sex and violence filled films. Movies such as Kill Bill and Friends With Benefits portray a worldview dynamically opposed to the God of the Bible. They invite their viewers to either directly or indirectly participate in the sins of murder and fornication. As believers, we shouldn’t be allowing these stories to darken our imaginations. (Focus on The Family’s app/webpage “Plugged In is great resource if you are unsure about whether or not to watch a film.)  But for all of their problems, these movies in no way claim to represent God.

Noah does! Director and co-creator of the film, Darren Aronofsky told the Atlantic that

“It’s just important that you don’t contradict any of it [the Genesis Account] and that you study each word, and study each sentence, and try to use and extract as much juice out of that to be inspired to turn it into a vision that represents the spirit of it all. That’s the goal.”

Despite Aronofsky’s words, Noah is not just another film such as The Ten Commandments or The Prince of Egypt employing historical fiction to help move the story along. Aronofsky did much more than give a voiceless Noah a few lines to say. The director radically recast the story of redemption into a narrative about the evils of urbanization. Believing that each generation has the freedom to manipulate the “myth and legend,” that is Genesis, to fit the stories of their times, Aronofsky claims his rewritten story is accurate representation of the Old Testament. He firmly holds the Bible to be, “a living breathing document.” The end result is a film showing Lamech being murdered, Noah trying to slaughter babies, and many other things that never appear in the Genesis 5-7. Thus, Aronofsky happily scuttled the biblical story of the Noah, replacing it with a modern man’s spiritual musing. And, he calls it truth.

Because our God, the evil of sin, and the beauty of salvation have been radically redefined in a film claiming to represent the Bible, Christians have cause to express concern.  Following Paul’s encouragement to Timothy, believers should stand against those who advocate false religious ideas based on “myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than stewardship from God that is by faith” (I Tim. 1:4). As Christians, our goal is not to set the world aright or to radically define what does or what does not constitutes a good film.  Rather, we should be graciously defending the character of the one true God who mercifully saves sinners like you and me.