Paper No. 285-2
Presentation Time: 8:30 AM
THE ARK ENCOUNTER: A NEW OBSTACLE TO SCIENTIFIC UNDERSTANDING FOR THE RELIGIOUS PUBLIC IN NORTHERN KENTUCKY (Invited Presentation)
The Ark Encounter, a $101 million Christian-themed park in Williamstown, Kentucky opened to 6000 visitors on July 7, 2016. The attraction features a 155-meter long wooden reconstruction of Noah’s Ark based partly on a literal interpretation of the flood narrative found in Genesis 6-9 and partly on pure speculation. Throughout its many exhibits, the attraction promotes young-earth creationist ideas touching on various aspects of stratigraphy, paleontology, structural geology, climatology, biology, genetics, anthropology, mythology, and theology, several of which will be discussed and examined in this talk. Alternate interpretations of the biblical text which account for its historical and cultural context as a document written in the ancient Middle East are noticeably absent, and additional biblical and scientific data which are inconsistent with a universal flood model are largely ignored. The prospect of combating pseudoscientific misinformation on this scale, entrenched as it is within communities of deeply-held religious belief, is daunting. We believe that presentations of the scientific evidence alone, while important and necessary, are unlikely to affect such a change, especially if the evidence is presented in a way that is perceived as openly hostile to persons of faith.