I admit that I couldn’t watch the entire debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham. I tried, but as soon as Ham started talking about how evolution is based on belief because we can’t actually see it, I had to stop. How The Science Guy had the patience to explain fossil evidence and space science, I’ll never know. One of the bits I missed, but read about later, is Nye’s explanation of how the story of Noah Ark couldn’t be literally true, regardless of how realistic the upcoming movie may be. Even though Nye has generally been hailed as the victor in the debate (perhaps a bit of a foregone conclusion for most GFR readers), the debate itself has been a boon to Ham, particularly when it comes to the Noah’s Ark theme park he’s building.
The theme park, Ark Encounter, had been foundering due to lack of funding, but at the last minute received a bond offering a whopping $62 million, enough to bring the project to fruition. Ham calls the funding a miracle and gives thanks to God for the funding. He says, “But in God’s timing, not ours—and although the bond registration had already closed before February 4 and no more bonds could be purchased—the high-profile debate prompted some people who had registered for the bonds to make sure they followed through with submitting the necessary and sometimes complicated paperwork.”
Ham will direct the building of a 510-foot-long ark with three decks in Williamstown, Kentucky, about 40 miles from Cincinnati. He believes the Ark will become the largest all-wood structure in the country. There are also plans for a petting zoo, naturally. Construction will likely begin this year, and the park could be open to visitors as early as 2016. Those particularly keen on the Ark can purchase lifetime passes to the park.
Ham also works with the Creation Museum located only 7 miles from Cincinnati, and apparently donations and visitors to that museum have also increased since the debate. The museum “brings the pages of the Bible to Life” and features Adam and Eve in the Garden, as well as an exhibit which features dinosaurs alongside early humans.
Interestingly, the museum also has a planetarium that shows films about Comet ISON and the cosmos. I wonder how these films explain the formation of our universe. I’m guessing the Big Bang isn’t particularly popular there, although the show is probably more widely accepted than the theory.
Some people are saying “I told you so” to Nye. The general consensus was that he couldn’t win the debate, or that even if he did make the more compelling arguments, it wouldn’t matter. Scientist and author Jerry Coyne predicted that Nye’s participation in the debate would undercut his life-long mission to promote science literacy. Looks like he wasn’t wrong.
Despite Ham’s literal interpretations of the Bible, the site makes a point to mention that the Ark will be constructed by many people, rather than a single man who happens to be hundreds of years old. In answering questions about the nuts and bolts of the project, Ham and the official spokespeople for the park admit that many people “want to ridicule rather than investigate.” I guess that means we have to go to Kentucky and cough up $30 before scoffing, or converting.