Thursday, October 20, 2016

Review of the Ark Encounter

I just visited the Ark Encounter in Kentucky.

I have several reactions to it. My feelings vary along the continuum between "excellent" to "needs improvement."

The theme park designers were meticulous about demonstrating that the ark was sufficiently large to house all the living creatures that needed saving (including dinosaurs) for the necessary length of time they were to be housed (about a year? Genesis 8). They are on their way to abundantly making the point; but they are not quite there yet.

On the outside, it was interesting to appreciate the Biblical size of the ark. My thoughts on the matter were, "Yes, this boat is big enough to carry of a LOT of animals. It is also believable that a small number of fellows could build it if they had a hundred years." (I don't know how long it took those four guys to build it; but they did have a lot of time). I noticed that this re-creation of the Biblical ark has a keel. "Ark" just means "box;" so we might imagine the ark should have had square ends. For structure, it probably had at least rounded ends. Very likely, the reason the book of Genesis calls this boat an "ark" is so that it can be liturgically linked to the "ark" of the covenant that had its place in the tabernacle (Exodus 26:34) and whose purpose was to save mankind, and to carry mankind through judgment to covenant.

I will not quibble about the shape of the ark's bow.

The inside of this ark features (correctly) three decks. Once I had made my way to the second deck, I was thinking, "This ark can certainly accommodate six decks in the same vertical space." But there may have been logistical issues with available air, and, quite frankly, three decks was sufficient to house all the animals and eight people.

The Ark Encounter featured only a few animal cages. Obviously, there was room for many-many more animals; but this place is a museum and there needs to be a way for a lot of museum visitors to go around and see everything. That means wide walkways that are wheelchair accessible. The real ark functioned more like a cargo ship. The Ark Encounter curators want to show that the Biblical ark account is logistically believable. It would be impractical to be overly realistic in a museum setting.

What few animals they featured in the Ark Encounter demonstrated that it was sufficient to get the necessary genetic information through the flood to afford the wide variety of animal life we see on this side of the flood. They also demonstrated that land dinosaurs could have been brought through the Genesis flood on the ark. My favorite exhibit was the Tyrannosaur Kind cage. The information plaque on the cage very briefly explained a few things about the Tyrannosaur kind and noted that many adult tyrannosaurs were nine feet long from tail-tip to snout. I have done my own research on tyrannosaurs and have learned that most tyrannosaurs were about that size. When standing as tall as they could stand, they were about six feet tall. The point is, it is completely reasonable to believe that those six-foot-tall tyrannosaurs carried sufficient genetic information to eventually result in the few quite large Tyrannosauruses Rex that have been discovered.

This museum is far from complete. The Ark Encounter people need to think of ways to portray how the inside of that Genesis ark probably looked without totally crowding out the museum visitors.

The animal exhibits feature animal sculptures of meticulous artwork. It is commendable that the Ark Encounter people went to so much trouble to put together such life-like animal sculptures. On the other hand, the animal sculptures are positioned in (yes, believable) cages that make viewing the animals unfulfilling. You cannot see the animals very well. The Ark Encounter people need to find some way to better display the artwork while still portraying how they might have been housed on the Genesis ark.

Along the walls are little theme based educational mini-museums where visitors can learn about related topics such as the origin of the ice age, the history of the world before the flood, different memories of the flood in other world cultures and how they compare with the Genesis account, etc. etc. etc. Those little side-museums were insufficiently spacious for me. I don't like going into small crowd-filled rooms. All of the information featured in the little mini-museums is available from books and videos published by Answers in Genesis.

Some of the themes are a little preachy and are presented from a Calvinist perspective. Adam and Eve ate the fruit > total depravity > Cain kills Abel > great wickedness of mankind > flood. It's all Adam's fault. I don't see why that perspective is necessary. Whatever.

The price to get in is pretty stunning. The park is still in development. They probably need the money.

They are putting together a theme zoo that promises to be quite interesting when it is ready.

Oh, and the air conditioning is not strong enough to keep that big ark building cool. If they had piped in a bunch of humid manure smell I would have thought it was a planned part of the experience.
posted from Bloggeroid

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