CINCINNATI – A Kentucky-based Christian organization has officially broken ground on a life-sized Noah’s Ark project that is expected to become a major tourist attraction and evangelistic outreach.
Answers in Genesis (AiG) is an international ministry committed to proclaiming and defending the historicity and reliability of the Bible. In 2010, AiG unveiled plans to build a 510-foot long ark in northern Kentucky, just southwest of Cincinnati, Ohio. The project, named the Ark Encounter, will follow the proportions and description of Noah’s Ark in Genesis.
Following months of fundraising and preparation, AiG President Ken Ham announced last week that construction crews have finally begun to prepare the site where the ark will be constructed. According to a recent statement from AiG, the excavation and construction phase is now underway.
“Obtaining the final federal permit and receiving preliminary approval by the state to receive a possible refund of sales tax collected at the Ark when it opens were the final two hurdles before excavation and construction could begin,” Ham explained in the statement. “It’s thrilling to see dozers, scrapers, tractors, and compactors arriving at the Ark property.”
Although the Ark Encounter excavation work just started a few days ago, Ham said important behind-the-scenes work has been going on for months.
“While waiting for the necessary approvals to arrive,” he said, “a tremendous amount of work had been going on behind the scenes: securing several permits from state and local agencies; completing complex architectural and engineering work; designing the world-class exhibits; letting bids and signing contracts; clearing trees, and many other tasks that the average person would not know of.”
Fundraising for the Ark Encounter spiked earlier this year following the historic creation/evolution debate between Ham and Bill Nye “the Science Guy.” According to AiG, the publicity generated from the debate led to a noticeable increase in donations toward the ark project.
Ham believes the Ark Encounter, once completed, will be a significant source of jobs, tourism, and revenue for the local area—much like the nearby Creation Museum.
“A huge project like this will create thousands of jobs directly and indirectly and bring millions of dollars into the state treasury,” Ham noted. “Already our Creation Museum in Petersburg has brought hundreds of millions of dollars into the regional economy as it has drawn well over two million visitors. This year, guests have continued to pour in to the museum, and on some days attendance records have been set.”
Many evolutionists have expressed displeasure over the Ark Encounter, which is scheduled to open in mid-2016.
“What a waste of time, money and energy,” one commenter glumly wrote.
Nevertheless, AiG believes the ark project will be a major evangelistic tool.
“A major reason for rebuilding the ark today is to proclaim the message of salvation—that just as Noah and his family had to go through the doorway to be saved, we also need to go through a doorway,” Ham explains on the Ark Encounter website. “The Lord Jesus is our door—the only way to be saved.”