Noah: Man of Destiny

My latest novel gives a unique perspective on Noah and expands the backstory shown at the Ark Encounter.

My latest novel offers a unique look on Noah and expands the backstory at the Ark Encounter.

I’m very excited to announce the publication of my latest novel, Noah: Man of Destiny, the first book in the Remnant Trilogy. Noah is an engaging coming-of-age adventure about one of the Bible’s most popular figures, but it is much more than just another novel. In fact, our main goal in writing the book was to help people learn how to discern between fact and fiction, between what is biblical and what is tradition that has been added to the Noah account over the centuries.

The book gives readers a new perspective on Noah while immersing them into the fascinating world that existed before the Flood—a time when people lived over 900 years and many, if not all, of the types of animals that are now extinct were still around.

In this blog post I’ll answer a handful of questions about the novel.

What is the plot?

I don’t want to give away too many details, so I’ll keep this answer short. The first book in the series is about Noah’s first few years after becoming an adult. He has an adventurous spirit and a desire to hone his woodworking skills rather than remain on the family farm. Leaving behind the fairly innocent surroundings of his childhood, Noah sets out to become a shipwright’s apprentice. This course of action brings him face-to-face with a world full of wonders and new dangers, including vicious beasts, slave traders, and a new belief system sweeping the earth that distorts and subverts biblical history. There’s also some romance, as he meets his future bride along the way, but his faithfulness to her and to his Creator face some intense challenges.

How can a novel help people discern between fact and fiction?

We included 40 pages of nonfiction at the end of the book to address questions that may arise. Some of these are apologetic in nature. That is, they provide answers to questions about the truth of Scripture.

Numerous questions and answers focus on ideas that many people have about Noah and the pre-Flood world that just aren’t found in Scripture. What we wanted to do was to break many of these stereotypes in order to help readers realize that these notions are not in the Bible. It isn’t that they are necessarily wrong, but we need to be able to discern between what the Bible actually states and what ideas people have added over the years.

I’ve read several books about Noah, and while there are some excellent reads, most of them cast Noah in the same light with a similar background. For example, I can count at least five books I’ve read where pre-Flood Noah is portrayed as a man who owns or works on a vineyard and he tends to like his wine a little too much. Obviously, this idea comes from the fact that Noah planted a vineyard after the Flood and became drunk. But the Bible doesn’t tell us his occupation prior to the Flood, and it specifically mentions that he began to be a man of the soil after the Flood (so he probably was not one prior to it). I think it makes far more sense to picture him as a skilled shipbuilder. God often calls those who have already been equipped for the task at hand.

Are you concerned that your artistic license may be seen as adding to Scripture?

There is always a possibility that some readers will latch on to certain notions, and if they aren’t careful, they may end up thinking the ideas come from Scripture. As I mentioned above, we want to help people learn how to avoid this practice. But let’s face it, we all use artistic license every time we read the Bible. When you think about David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, or Noah and the Ark, what images come to mind? What hairstyles do you give them? What do their clothes look like? We automatically fill in details to flesh out the text. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but we need to be sure to discern between Scripture and our artistic license.

I believe there are two important points to make about using artistic license. First, I think you need to be up front about the fact that you are employing it. We included an introduction in the novel that mentions this and explains that the back of the book includes a nonfiction section. The second key is to make sure that you do not introduce any ideas that contradict the Bible.

How did the story come about?

One of my responsibilities for the Ark Encounter was to develop a backstory for Noah that would explain how he may have acquired the skills  that allowed him to build the Ark. This storyline helped us keep our presentation of Noah consistent throughout the Ark, and it formed the basis of our Who Was Noah exhibit on the second deck.

After sharing the backstory with others, several of them suggested that I turn it into a novel. So I started brainstorming with my wife, and we soon developed a plot that would both entertain and educate readers. When the time came to start writing, I asked a good friend and coworker, K. Marie Adams, if she would be interested in coauthoring with me. I had read some of her unpublished writing and thought our styles would be complementary. She happily agreed so we spent the next month or so developing a tentative yet detailed outline of every chapter in the series. Then we started writing.

How did you depict the pre-Flood world?

Noah’s world is fairly lush, but unlike many pre-Flood novels, it does not have a uniform climate—we do not hold to the canopy model as some creationists do. We know that people at the time of the Flood were exceedingly wicked, but we have reason to believe that things were different during Noah’s early years. Genesis 4:26 tells us that after the birth of Seth’s son, Enosh, men began to call on the name of the Lord. Given the 900-plus year lifespans, Enosh’s generation could have still been around during Noah’s youth and may have exerted a godly influence that would diminish as their generation passed on. In our novel, Noah will encounter a city under the influence of a godly elder, and he will also come across a city eager to rebel against the old ways.

What can readers expect in books two and three?

In book two, Noah: Man of Resolve, readers will see the world plunge headlong into darkness. Expect more adventure, plenty of surprises, some tragedy, and an epic showdown between Noah and the leaders of the perverse religion spreading around the globe. We hope to have the second book out before summer 2017 and book three a year later. For book three, Noah: Man of God, readers will have to wait and see, but I don’t think it will be much of a spoiler to mention that it will include a certain large boat.

Is your novel the official Ark Encounter backstory for Noah?

Many of the things Noah says at the Ark Encounter come from my latest novel, Noah: Man of Destiny and its forthcoming sequels.

Many of the things the animatronic Noah says at the Ark Encounter come from my latest novel, Noah: Man of Destiny, and its forthcoming sequels.

Not exactly. It is an expansion on the Ark Encounter’s official backstory as displayed in the exhibits at the Ark. But since I was responsible for the content of those exhibits, this book is as close as someone can get to an official Ark Encounter story.

One unique feature of the book is that we were able to intertwine the novel with several exhibits on the Ark. Certain items described in the book can be seen on the Ark, and some of the things said by the Ark’s animatronic Noah come directly from our story. We’ve included a section called “Encounter This” at the end of the book to let readers know which items can be seen and where they are located.

Where can I get a copy of Noah: Man of Destiny?

You can order a copy from my online store. It is also available from booksellers everywhere, including Answers in Genesis, Amazon (print or Kindle) and New Leaf Press. If you get a copy and enjoy it, would you kindly consider leaving a positive review on Amazon?

Guiding Atheists on a Tour of the Ark

This picture was taken as I explained to the atheist group our approach to counting the number of animals required on the Ark, and how we very likely overestimated the number.

This picture was taken as I explained to the atheist group our approach to counting the number of animals required on the Ark and how we very likely overestimated the number.

The opening day of the Ark Encounter turned out to be far more memorable for me than I ever imagined. Some atheists planned to protest this exciting event at a nearby interstate off-ramp. I ended up having the distinct privilege of giving a group of about 20 of these atheists and agnostics a tour of the full-size Ark reconstruction in Williamstown, Kentucky.

As the content manager for this incredible attraction, I had been looking forward to July 7 for a long time because I wanted to see how people responded to the various exhibits. I also looked forward to getting some time off—in the days and nights leading up to opening, our team put in many long hours, and I was even hanging signs in the ticket booths until nearly 11:00 PM on July 6. I did not plan on returning to the site the next day, however, Eric Hovind asked me if I would be willing to deliver some food to the atheist protest. I agreed to do that, have a few conversations, and answer some questions for a little bit before heading home, but things turned out far better than I had planned.

There may have been about 70 protesters at the event, and based on my observations and conversations, I estimate that about half of them were friendly and open to discussing our differences in a civil manner while the other half seemed to be more interested in ridiculing the beliefs of Christians and spreading false information about the Kentucky Tourism Development Act.

Many of these folks have been misled to believe that the state of Kentucky had contributed millions of dollars to the construction of the Ark. In reality, not a single dollar of Kentucky tax money has gone to the Ark Encounter. The sales tax rebate at the heart of some of the controversy allows the Ark Encounter to receive 25% of the sales tax it collects from guests over the next ten years at the property up to a set amount, if the park meets certain benchmarks.

This photo shows part of our Q&A session on the third floor. I would love to have several hours of Q&A with a group like this someday.

This photo shows part of our Q&A session on the third floor. I would love to have several hours of Q&A with a group like this someday.

Arrangements were made to take a group of the protesters on a tour of the Ark, and I was asked to lead them. Apart from one person who was a bit snarky for much of the tour, the group was respectful and seemed to enjoy their time on the Ark. They asked several questions along the way, and even agreed to a ten-minute Q&A session once we reached the third deck. The highlight for me was the opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death, burial, and Resurrection. Some people in the group needed to leave following that session while others stuck around to walk through other exhibits and ask more questions.

I think it is safe to say that the Ark team successfully anticipated every question they asked since we had already written signage addressing every issue they raised. Here is a sampling of the questions they posed along with a brief answer and the place on the Ark where the answer can be found.

  • Where did Noah keep the termites? Noah probably did not need to bring insects on the Ark, but even if he did there would have been plenty of room for them, and he could have provided wood for the little pests to chew on so that they would not eat through the Ark’s hull. (A sign about whether insects were required has been printed for the First Floor Animal Kinds area. A similar question has been asked about woodpeckers, and we have discussed including a woodpecker exhibit down the road.)
  • How did all the animals get to Noah? God brought them to him (Genesis 6:20). We believe there was one continent prior to the Flood, so they did not need to cross oceans to get to the Ark. (The single continent is discussed in the Flood Geology and we have made plans to include a sign specifically dealing with this question.)
  • How did they remove all the waste and get fresh water? The Ark shows a variety of systems based on common-sense methods for feeding and caring for large numbers of animals. (The Animal Care exhibit addresses these and many other issues.)
  • How was there enough water to cover Mt. Everest? I think I heard this question more than any other yesterday. The question assumes Mt. Everest existed at the time of the Flood. We would say that Mt. Everest was formed as a result of catastrophic plate tectonic activity during the year of the Flood. (This mountain-building process during the Flood is described in Flood Geology.)
  • Did Noah bring unicorns on the Ark? Yes, and we have already printed signs to help people understand this issue. No, Noah did not bring a white horse-like animal with a single horn protruding from its head, but he did bring two representatives of the rhinoceros kind, which is almost certainly the creature referred to in some older English Bibles that use the word unicorn.
  • How could Noah build something so large? Noah may have had plenty of help in building the Ark, and he may have already been a skilled shipwright when God told him to build the Ark. When we look at some of the incredible structures built in the centuries that followed the Flood, such as the Great Pyramid, we understand that our ancient ancestors were quite capable of building amazing structures, even after the “technological resets” of the Flood and Babel. (The Ancient Man exhibit addresses these issues in more detail.)

I truly enjoyed my time with this group of atheists and agnostics, and I believe most of them enjoyed the tour. Many of them thanked me for taking time with them, and a handful thanked me for treating them with respect. I was told that most Christians they had encountered had been rude and arrogant. I have witnessed Christians act this way toward atheists. Even at the protest there was a man who apparently thought he was fulfilling the Great Commission by shouting back at the more boisterous protesters.

It saddens me that some Christians act as if atheists and agnostics need to be shouted down and called names. Jesus commanded us to love one another (John 13:34), love our neighbor (Matthew 22:39), and love our enemies (Luke 6:27). If we truly desire to reach the lost with the soul-saving gospel message, we need to care about them and treat them with dignity. They are made in the image of God, and Jesus shed His blood on the Cross for them.

I am grateful for the opportunity to meet these people yesterday, and my prayer is that God would use the things they learned on the tour to soften their hearts so that they would ultimately come to trust in the Creator whose existence they currently deny.