Answers in Genesis' Ark Park Finally Moving Forward Thanks in Part to Atheist Bill Nye the Science Guy
March 7, 2014
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20
For several years Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis, a ministry devoted to teaching Creationism, has been seeking tens of millions of dollars in funding in order to begin construction of a theme park centered around a life size version of Noah's Ark. The park is to be located in Northern Kentucky, just 40 miles south of Cincinnati, and not far from the ministry's already successful Creation Museum. Due to the large amount of money the ministry needed to begin construction as well as difficult economic conditions negatively impacting the ability of donors/investors to provide funding in recent years, construction of the "Ark Park" has been repeatedly delayed. The frustrations Answers in Genesis leaders must have felt were quickly swept away, however, after Ken Ham engaged well known atheist Bill Nye "the Science Guy" of PBS fame in a public debate which was purportedly seen by millions over the internet. While many opinions were expressed over who actually won the debate, one thing became clear very quickly - the publicity surrounding the debate coalesced interest in funding the "Ark Park" much better than any other fundraising effort the ministry had undertaken in previous years. While the ministry was still unable to sell the planned full allotment of $62 million in bonds, it was able to raise enough money to get the project's first phase started. The total cost of completing the park has previously been estimated at $150 million and it is currently estimated it will open in the summer of 2016. Having been privy to the original plans for the park, we are confident it will be a worthwhile and impressive attraction once it has been completed. The Creation Museum has attracted over 2 million visitors since its opening in 2007 and we would be shocked if the Ark Park does not quickly exceed those totals.
The financing efforts for the park have been complicated and plagued by criticism and setbacks. The town of Williamstown, KY issued taxable debt in December for taxable affiliates of Answers in Genesis. Still, the organization was short of its fundraising targets and all of the money raised up to this point would potentially have needed to be immediately returned if Answers in Genesis was not able to raise a minimum amount elsewhere. Clearly, the debate with Nye was a last-minute miracle for Answers in Genesis and occurred just when the ministry was out of ideas as how to proceed. While the ministry apparently now has enough to start the construction, it will need additional funding to complete the park. So Answers in Genesis may need further divine intervention in the future if donors/investors cannot be found. We suspect, however, that getting over this initial funding hump will help the ministry find the money it needs to complete the project. Once construction is underway, there is a better chance donors/investors will have the courage to step up and finish the job. The improving economy is not hurting the prospects for raising additional funds either. Anyone desiring to invest in the Ark Park bonds, however, should first consult with a financial advisor as the bonds are risky and it is important to understand all of the terms of the bond offering before investing.
Not surprisingly, Bill Nye expressed great disappointment his involvement in the debate had helped Answers in Genesis raise the needed funds to get started on construction. Onenewsnow.com reported Nye said he was "heartbroken and sickened" by the news. The Associated Press indicated Nye commented that he hoped the project failed. While he may be disappointed now, we trust Nye will ultimately see the sovereign Lord who used him to help fund the park is real and is worthy of his faith. Meanwhile, you might want to consider leaving room in your 2016 vacation schedule to visit what looks likely to be a very well done venue explaining the biblical story of the flood and its historical basis. Let's trust Nye will have come to faith in the Lord by the time the park is completed and is there to celebrate its opening.