“Righteous:” Noah’s Ark’s Funding Woes

131204 Creation DinosaurThe Noah’s Ark Amusement Park plan may collapse by February because of funding woes.

A Kentucky theme park to be built around a full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark may sink unless investors purchase about $29 million in unrated municipal bonds by Feb. 6.

The northern Kentucky city of Williamstown in December issued taxable debt for affiliates of Answers in Genesis, a Christian nonprofit, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Even though $26.5 million of securities have been sold, the project needs to sell at least $55 million in total to avoid triggering a redemption of all the bonds, Ken Ham, the nonprofit’s president, said in an e-mail to supporters yesterday. Without the proceeds, construction funding will fall short, he said.

“We still need those Ark supporters who weren’t able to purchase the Ark bonds at closing to prayerfully consider participating in a secondary bond delivery at the level they had indicated to us,” Ham said. “Will you please step out in faith with us?”

Proceeds are intended to help build a 510-foot (155.4-meter, or 300 cubit) wooden ship, the centerpiece of a planned biblical theme park called Ark Encounter.

I find the possibility that Noah’s Ark may go unfunded remarkable, given one of my favorite details from the affiliated Creation Museum.

As the picture above shows, the Creation people believe the dinosaurs marched onto the Ark along with all the other 2-by-2s. Somehow, that helps them prove the dinosaurs were killed in the Flood rather than killed off by natural selection or a meteor or climate change.*

But once you’ve got dinosaurs (and giraffes) on the Ark, you create another problem: the Ark must be veryvery big. I forget how big they said it was, but it was veryvery big (510 feet? That wouldn’t fit dinosaurs!).

131204 Creation Workers 1

And that creates another problem.

How did Noah and his family build such a veryvery big Ark by themselves?

One exhibit provides some possible answers, but doesn’t claim to know. God gave advance warning to Noah, you see, so maybe he and his sons really did build such a veryvery big Ark by themselves.

With ingenuity and very thorough planning, it is conceivable that Noah and his family could have built the ark without any help.

The exhibit went to the trouble of inventing another possible solution, complete with mannequins depicting it: labor.

On the other hand, his family did not have to build the ark alone. After centuries of righteous living, Noah may have been wealthy enough to hire shipbuilders. Paid workers may have been his audience, while Noah, a “preacher of righteousness,” warned them of the coming judgment. [my emphasis]

The Creation people didn’t consider another likely solution, if Noah had help, which is that he had slaves. Perhaps they didn’t consider it because it would conflict with another explanation the Museum offers, that only a distorted view of the Bible would justify slavery (implying too that the many societies that enslaved in the name of Christianity have nothing to do with the nice Creation people).

But even if Noah actually paid his workers, it seems, he would have been the kind of boss who lets his employees slave over building a veryvery big Ark for months and years, but then leaves them to die in a massive Flood right after they’ve built it.

You know? A “righteous” employer.

The other thing we learn from this exhibit, of course, is that righteous people get the money they need to build their Arks.

*No, I don’t understand how the Flood killed off the dinosaurs if they got on the Ark, as depicted in one of the dioramas at the museum prepping for the Ark Park. If they got on the Ark, wouldn’t they still be running around? Maybe Noah’s family ate them?

49 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    You’re braver than I am, Marcy. Or maybe just more polite.

    There’s no way I could have toured the Creation Museum without laughing and probably offending the docents, ticket-takers, and other righteous employees, to say nothing of the other visitors.

    But back to Noah’s Ark, Inc.

    I’m a bit surprised about the whole charging of interest. Leviticus is pretty clear (25:37): “You shall not lend them your money at interest”

    Why is this righteous employer tempting the faithful to sin?

  2. masaccio says:

    The phrasing of the plea is odd:

    We still need those Ark supporters who weren’t able to purchase the Ark bonds at closing to prayerfully consider participating in a secondary bond delivery at the level they had indicated to us,” Ham said.

    The term “secondary offering” usually means that someone bought the original bonds and is now re-offering them at some price, not necessarily at the initial offering price. Are some people getting a better deal?

  3. emptywheel says:

    @Peterr: Cliff Schecter was a far bigger risk of rudeness than I. I was quietly making smut jokes under my breath.

    They depict Adam schmoozing up to a Ewe before Eve came along. I think they may have gotten the original sin wrong after all.

  4. Peterr says:

    @masaccio: I read that, and focused on the guilt aspect. “You told us you would lend us X, and you haven’t come through yet. Now, dear brothers and sisters, is the time to live up to your word.”

    It sounds like some folks said “sure, we’ll invest” but then the economy tanked and they backed out. Now Ark, Inc. is offering them a second opportunity to meet their obligation. And from their POV, it is a definite obligation. “You promised you would do this, we took you at your word and started building, and you backed out. We’re not bitter, but we reallyreally need your money now.”

  5. emptywheel says:

    @Peterr: I especially love that the head Ark Guy’s name is Ham. It’s a testament to my focus on labor that I didn’t make a pun out of that, especially since I raised the Creation Museum’s quiet disavowal of most slavery-endorsing Christian history.

  6. P J Evans says:

    Fred at Slacktivist raised the other problem with the ark: cleaning up after all the animals. The elephants alone would have been a large problem.

  7. P J Evans says:

    I dunno. Couldn’t find the post with the crappy search engine Patheos uses, but he was pointing out that if you’re going to take the story literally, you have to account for that part of it. And the feeding.

  8. scribe says:

    Seems to me I remember that back in the 80s there was some guy in Newark, NJ building an Ark in his back yard and the vacant lot next door. He was convinced Newark would soon be flooded when God showed up to clean up the mess the un-devout had made of things, omitting the part of the Bible in which God promised “no more floods”. (Always amusingly curious the way the Devout omit those parts that don’t fit their particular delusion, but I digress.)

    Anyway, like that guy out in Watts who built those towers out of scrap, the Newark guy collected junk wood and metal and worked on a pretty regular basis building his Ark. Just a little bit every day, weather, junk supply, and other work permitting. It got pretty far along I recall – took up most of one or two vacant lots and got to be pretty tall, too – until the local authorities decided he was violating the zoning code and the building code and maybe the fire code and it was time for the Ark to go. At the time, a friend related how Newark’s city government had a whole department devoted to demolition and removal of vacant buildings. (This friend related that, every now and again, the city was sued for the occasional oopsie, where they knocked down the wrong, taxes-paid, occupied and maintained, building. But I digress again.)

    And, one day, after appropriate neighborhood tumult and news coverage, the demo department showed up and removed the Ark.

    Flood never came, neither.

    But, beyond being an amusing piece of history, it shows that someone not reliant upon governmental support, let alone funding, bonds or guarantees, can get stuff done long before the guys who do rely upon it. That Newark guy just went out and built his Ark – no bonds, no funding appeals, no promises made and broken, no nothing. These Kentucky folks got taken in by banksters and pols and, well, you see no Ark.

  9. TheraP says:

    “After centuries of righteous living, Noah may have been wealthy enough…” EW quotes above.

    Yes, righteous living is responsible for wealth! (Ergo… poverty is your own fault?) A theme park to teach economics!

    What an explanation for how Noah could afford (probable slave) labor to build a reallyreally big ARK. (After all, I think Leviticus allows for enslavement, so long as your slaves come from nearby peoples. And surely a righteous man would have been successful in battle too – thereby taking captives for slaves, you’d think.) Inequality explained!

    More chuckles, please!

  10. Jessica says:

    “After centuries of righteous living, Noah may have been wealthy enough to hire shipbuilders.”

    Well, goddamnit! That’s my problem! I’m not living righteously enough to be rich! Wait, isn’t God not supposed to be a respecter of persons – or maybe that doesn’t cover capitalism. :’D

  11. emptywheel says:

    @TheraP: Yup, those are several of the reasons this “Labor” rationale has stuck with me more than even Adam and his Ewe girlfriend or the salacious pineapple licking dinosaur.

  12. Peterr says:

    @emptywheel: Salacious?

    Maybe what’s needed is a “Song of Solomon Museum.” Of course, it would be an “adults only” kind of place, what with language like this . . .

    Your eyes are doves behind your veil.
    Your hair is like a flock of goats, moving down the slopes of Gilead.
    Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes that have come up from the washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them is bereaved.
    Your lips are like a crimson thread, and your mouth is lovely.
    Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil.
    Your neck is like the tower of David, built in courses; on it hang a thousand bucklers, all of them shields of warriors.
    Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that feed among the lilies.

    Breasts!?!? Oh my . . .

    Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, I will hasten to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense. You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.

    Come with me from Lebanon, my bride; come with me from Lebanon.
    Depart from the peak of Amana, from the peak of Senir and Hermon, from the dens of lions, from the mountains of leopards.

    Come with me? Why, that sounds like eloping!

    You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride, you have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. How sweet is your love, my sister, my bride! how much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice! Your lips distill nectar, my bride; honey and milk are under your tongue; the scent of your garments is like the scent of Lebanon.

    A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a garden locked, a fountain sealed. Your channel is an orchard of pomegranates with all choicest fruits, henna with nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all chief spices–a garden fountain, a well of living water, and flowing streams from Lebanon. Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden that its fragrance may be wafted abroad. Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits.

    Ravished? Gardens? Lips? Blowing? Eating? Oh my . . .

    (At this point, the pearl-clutchers may be clutching their pearls rather firmly. But it’s the Bible, after all, so they can’t be upset with it — though it may confuse them mightily.)

    Yep. What’s needed is definitely a Song of Solomon Museum.

  13. guest says:

    Again with the two by two crap. Read the bible. Only the unclean animals came in pairs, the kosher animals came in sevens (2 males and 5 females). If you can’t hack the old testament, try reading Julian Barnes “History of the World in 10 1/2 chapters”. He does an hilarious skewering of the whole ark story and quite a few other religious farces. I don’t think he had dinosaurs on board, but when they got hungry, the leviathans became the first extinctions on board (the following extinctions occurred because everyone got tired of eating salted leviathan every day).

  14. Saul Tannenbaum says:

    Set for 2014 release is a Darren Aronofsky film “Noah”. The trailer makes it look like a disaster movie, and Aronofsky has described Noah as “the first environmentalist”. Apparently, there have been major disputes between Aronofsky and the studio about how to find a credible 3rd act that doesn’t alienate Christians: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/darren-aronofsky-paramount-spar-noah-648777

    I look forward to comparing Aronofsky’s solutions with that of the Creation Museum.

  15. john francis lee says:

    Hannah Arendt, quoted by Chris Hedges in Chapter Six, The War on Truth of his American Fascists : The Christian Right and the War on America

    Before they seize power and establish a world according to their doctrines, totalitarian movements conjure up a lying world of consistency which is more adequate to the needs of the human mind than reality itself; in which, through sheer imagination, uprooted masses can feel at home and are spared the never-ending shocks which real life and real experiences deal to human beings and their expectations. The force possessed by totalitarian propaganda – before the movements have the power to drop iron curtains to prevent anyone’s disturbing, by the slightest reality, the gruesome quiet of an entirely imaginary world – lies in its ability to shut the masses off from the real world.

    —Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

    It’s not a joke. The fact that the taxpayers of Kentucky have been stuck with responsibility for this totalitarian exercise is one more nail in our American coffin.

  16. emptywheel says:

    @guest: Actually did read History of the World, albeit years and years ago (almost certainly before Grad School, which started in 1995, which ruined me for fiction). A very fun book.

  17. Kip W says:

    The dinosaurs did the heavy lifting, and then Noah cleverly marched them up the gangplank and down a gangplank on the other side. They never suspected a thing, just stood there holding little pennants that said “Bon Voyage-ey” and waving while the surrounding plain filled up with water and the ark floated away.

    They should staff the place with people who’d be institutionalized otherwise. Call it Ark Ham Asylum.

  18. orionATL says:

    hollywood’s (and broadway’s, i would add) definition of creativity:

    “… The director is there to serve the studio and the audience, not veer off into directions that go against the core audience’s beliefs — at least if the goal is to get them to come to the theater.”

    mark joseph quoted in “the hollywood reporter”

    crib notes: it’s all about fleecing sheep.

  19. orionATL says:

    if the ark idea capsizes all need not be lost, financially speaking.

    from the accompanying picture it seems clear that the structure/ark would serve well as a parking garage – which is sorta what is was intended to be to begin with.

  20. Dan says:

    Everybody knows that the dinosaurs never got on the ark. They were off chasing those silly unicorns looking to get a quick snack.

  21. orionATL says:


    oh, THAT’S how noah did it:

    and the lord cameth upon noah

    who then exclaimeth:

    “honey, i just shrunk the animals!

    behold, now shall they all fit in.”

    and thus it came to pass…

  22. Wapiti says:

    I grew up in a religious household, but my parents were open-minded enough that they exposed us to other creation myths. One of the creation myths in the Pacific NW was of a tribe that traced its beginnings to two survivors of a flood. My parents used it in support of the Noah story.

    I recently came across a book about the Glacial Lake Missoula, where an ice dam blocked a river and the resulting lake covered about half of Montana. When the dam broke, the water (about half the volume of Lake Michigan) tore down the Columbia River. This happened multiple times during the last ice age and possible as late as 15,000 years ago. So it would have impacted the people along the river and it would be a start point for any survivors.

    The Noah myth might be based on similar floods from the last ice age; it might be an old story, older than 6000 years old.

  23. scribe says:

    @Wapiti: Some scientists/archaeologists have indicated that around or shortly after the end of the last glacial period, rising sea levels in the Mediterranean worked their way through and over the shallows in the Bosporus and Dardanelles (which had until then operated like a large dam) causing a huge flood which raised the level of the Black Sea, which had been a couple hundred feet lower than its present level. Apparently, there is some speculation – which may be backed with submersible exploration results – that people lived on the land inundated by that flood.

    And then there’s the record of the flood a couple thousand years after the “end” of the last glacial period emptying the periglacial lake that lay across Michigan, the UP and neighboring areas. This ran out through the French River in Ontario (on the eastern edge of Lake Huron between Sudbury and Barrie) down to the Ottawa River then out to the St. Lawrence. This flood is alleged to have induced a return to the glacial period by injecting such a large pulse of fresh water into the Atlantic that it interrupted the saline “conveyor” and led to a sudden cooling.

    And the great floods down the Columbia River at the end of the last Ice Age could only be appreciated once we were able to get pictures from space showing the post-flood landforms still subsisting thousands of years later on the plains of Washington state. When Norman MacLean wrote into his classic “A River Runs Through It” a description of the great gashes left in canyon walls by boulders carried out in those floods and about the floods themselves, the floods’ existence was still considered speculative at best.

    All of which points out that (a) our earth is far more dynamic than we give it credit for but only works on a time scale different from ours and (b) people weave into their legends and culture the stories of events to commemorate those events that changed their world.

  24. bloodypitchfork says:

    quote:”As the picture above shows, the Creation people believe the dinosaurs marched onto the Ark along with all the other 2-by-2s.”unquote

    Really. Dinosaurs. On the Ark. Damn, I should set up a shell game in the parking lot. With Snake Oil as side offering. Really. And here I thought Barnum was joking. Now where did I put all those titles to Moon property I found? I just knew they’d come in handy someday.

  25. posaune says:

    Great comment, scribe!

    It made me recall the year I graduated from architecture school, a freshly-minted M.Arch, desperate for a job in the post ’87 crash recession. Ack! NYC firms were toast, so I moved from Manhattan to Bay St. Louis, MS where my fiance was working (at Stennis). My very first interview was with a firm building casino’s. My question, after they reviewed my portfolio, was how exactly did they detail the structural design? (in house or not?) And as a followup, questions about the local building code requirements for steel vs. wood structures. I’m still amazed at the guy’s answer: “There aren’t any two-story buildings in this county, Honey. So this would be a new venture that we’re trying out ourselves.” Good God! Liability up the wazoo! In the end, most of the casino’s in MO and MS were “floating casinos, winning regulatory approval under the guise that they could “float past the Gulf” before any hurricanes.

  26. klynn says:

    1. I missed out on the trip big time.
    2. EW you didn’t buy your lifetime membership? Come on what’s $10,000 for endless visits?
    3. Sex sells
    4. Next to sex, dinos sell. After that, robots.
    5. If this gets funded, it is a sad day. There is a wonderful Christian missions organization in KY that could use all that funding. Appalachian Christian Ministries. I’ll post a link.
    6. This is a great post. Thanks EW.

  27. thatvisionthing says:

    h/t Song of Solomon, h/t Wapiti @30, h/t scribe @32

    Hey, does anyone here know a poem or a quote or essay or something where someone said the universe began not with light but with poetry? I’ve never been able to find it again.

  28. thatvisionthing says:


    The line

    is a fuse.

    The line burns to the end

    and explodes,

    and the town

    is blown sky-high

    in a strophe . . .

    The working class


    through my mouth,

    and we,


    are drivers of the pen.

    ~ Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky

    and it’s not even titled Big Bang

  29. thatvisionthing says:

    Is my last comment from yesterday stuck in moderation or is the URL fatal? I actually had those checks once.

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