A recent article on the BBC’s website caught my attention. Apparently, the US Creationist ministry Answers in Genesis has built a full size replica of Noah’s Ark based on the biblical dimensions of “300 cubits, by 50 cubits, by 30 cubits” where one cubit is approximately half a yard (or just under half a metre). The Ark Encounter, as it’s called, is billed as a museum, stands in its own theme park in Williamstown in Kentucky, and is populated by life-sized models of various animals, including dinosaurs. The Ark is part of Answers in Genesis’s controversial Creation Museum, 45 miles away, aimed at promoting the creationist views of evolution—more on that in a minute. The cost of this project is stated to be around $100M (circa £77M, €92M). One hundred million US dollars coming from donations, junk bonds and tax breaks! That’s what caught my attention.
I first came across the Creationists while researching my book on religion back in 2011. Creationists are a weird group. They believe in the literal truth of the Bible, particularly the book of Genesis, and that the age of the Earth is somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 years. The Answers in Genesis argument for this is to trace the lineage of Adam, supposedly the first man on Earth, through to Abraham (roughly 2,000 years forward if you count up all the begats in Genesis) and then on through to modern times (roughly another 4,000 years of begetting). Hence, 6,000 years since Day 5 of the Creation (when Adam was created) which, in turn, is only five days away from Day 1 (when God created the Heaven and Earth). And there you have it—irrefutable, watertight, and absolute bunkum. The first assumption is that each of God’s six days of creation was 24 hours long, just like ours. The second assumption is that Adam was created within a 24-hour cycle—pouf, “Hello, I’m Adam”. The third assumption is that the genealogy described in the Bible (described as the work of sand-strewn men and women who thought the earth was flat and for whom a wheelbarrow would have been a breath-taking example of emerging technology.’ Sam Harris, The End of Faith, p.45) is correct. The fourth assumption is that the earth was created by a god rather than, say, by “collisions of disc-shaped clouds of material”. The fifth assumption is that Darwin’s theory of evolution is a load of hooey. (Go say that to Richard Dawkins!) The sixth assumption… Need I go on? Best scientific estimates of the true age of the earth based on radiometric dating (isotopic half-life) techniques place its origins some 4.54 billion years ago, not 6,000.
Fortunately, Creationism is on the decline but still $100M was wasted on a monument to a religious fairy story. It beggars belief that a church such as Answers in Genesis would do this when the money could have been used to much better effect elsewhere.
Some people are gullible but believers in creationism (and scientology) are extremely gullible.