Ark Encounter

By Jameywiki (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The life-size Noah’s Ark is being built by Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis and will open next July.

Costing some $92 million, construction began in February 2014 after Answers in Jesus, a Christian ministry came up with the idea and floated $60 million worth of bonds in 2013. The remaining came from private donors and sponsors, which include the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby. The Green family identifies itself as a Christian employer and has its own plans for a Bible-themed museum in Washington, D.C., which is slated to open in 2017.

The dimensions of the Ark are given explicitly in the Bible, specifically in Chapter 6 of Genesis, where God commanded Noah to build an ark that would be 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits in height. But there are several versions of the cubit, which is calculated as the length of a forearm from the tip of the middle finger to the bottom of the elbow, and different races having people of different statures and physical sizes makes it impossible to standardize the measurement. Answers in Genesis decided to go for the Egyptian cubit, and their ark will be 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and 50 feet tall.

It is not just a wooden structure, though. There will be animal stalls, stuffed animals in them and even an animatronic 'Noah' that answers questions about how they lived. Ken Ham, who established Answers in Genesis way back in 1994, said that people would come expecting the quality of Universal Studios and they wouldn't be disappointed. The state of Kentucky originally granted an $18 million tax waiver, but withdrew it after fears that the project would discriminate between Christians and non-Christians in hiring later. Ken Ham terms it unfounded, as they haven't even formulated an HR policy in the first place. Answers in Genesis has taken the matter to court, and a verdict is awaited.

Ham, who once engaged in a creationism vs. evolution debate with Bill Nye 'The Science Guy', remains optimistic. He expects 1.2-1.8 million visitors and Answers in Genesis is already paying to widen the highway. Tickets will be priced at $28 for children, $40 for adults and $31 for seniors. There is also a parking charge of $10 and for now, Ham only worries about a huge crowd converging on the venue, leading to traffic jams.

The ark is scheduled to open to the public on July 7, 2016. The 7/7 date is intentional, chosen to coincide with Genesis 7:7, which is as follows:

He and his wife, and his sons and their wives, went into the boat to escape the flood.

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