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.


Comments

Guiding Atheists on a Tour of the Ark — 69 Comments

  1. Hi, Tim.

    A great article on a special event. I totally agree with you that all people are made in the image of God and should be shown due respect. But I do disagree that Christ died for all people. All people groups, yes. But inside those people groups, Christ died for all who would place their trust in Him and not for those who reject Him.

    God bless you, and keep up the good work.

    • Hi Michaela,
      Thanks for reading and for the encouraging words. It’s nice to know that even though we disagree on the extent of the atonement, we can still serve the Lord together and speak well of one another. Also, your email address shows that you are a kiwi. Go the All Blacks! I just watched their rout of Samoa last night. Great stuff.
      God bless!

      • Amen, brother, on our differences and our unity in serving Christ together. Yes, I felt a little sorry for the Samoans. They are a great team, and the captain showed such humility in defeat at his interview after the game.

        All Blacks vs Lions on Saturday (our time). Bring it on. Always a special event when we can beat the English…lol.

        In Him.

        • I felt a little sorry for the Samoans too, but you’re right about their captain. Also, they played great for the first 25–30 minutes, but then the All Blacks skill, depth, and fitness was too much for them. Looking forward to the Lions series. It will be my first time watching that. God bless!

  2. Pingback: Witnessing to Protesters Outside the Ark Encounter | Grace Notes

  3. Tim,
    I appreciated reading this article because I just returned from a family vacation in Florida where we visited a couple of state parks and took tours. Of course there were a couple of comments made by the tour guides at each park related to the earth being millions of years old, man having inhabited the area we were touring for the past 10k years, etc. On the drive home I was talking with my wife about how I wish there was an alternative monologue for these tour guides which is based on biblical teaching. I always have to shake my head when I hear these “facts” regurgitated by the tour guides and something deep inside me wants to refute them, but I do not always have the answer handy and I do not want to come across as snarky, but simply wanting to offer a different view.
    Do you have any advice? Where can I go for creation-based answers before I visit these types of parks? What can I do to affect change in the theories presented on these tours, which are paid for with my tax dollars?
    I appreciate any wisdom you have on this issue.
    Thanks,
    Duke

  4. Tim

    I would be grateful if you would back up your claim – not with a YEC article but with peer reviewed findings – that dozens of snow/ice layers have been observed to be deposited in Greenland in a single year (and not even in the places where ice core data are obtained).

    There has also never been any recent ice age glaciation that was accompanied by warmer than normal polar sea temperatures. And real ice ages tend to produce less precipitation in the arctic (and Antarctica), not more. Also there is no ice age in Genesis – absolutely none.

    Simply saying an explanation concerning kangaroos is not preposterous does not make it not preposterous, sorry. For one thing the continents were in their present positions 4,500 years ago.

    My bias is simply in favour of facts – and against highly imaginary apologetics scams.

    I trust you will view that BCSE link I tried to post and see all the scientific questions that Answers in Genesis have dodged.

    Ashley

    • Ashley,
      I don’t need a peer-reviewed journal article to know that ice layers can be deposited faster than once per year. It is blatantly obvious when you look at pictures of the Lost Squadron recovery mission. The bore holes display scores of layers—many more than 50.
      Again, simply stating there hasn’t been any recent ice age glaciation doesn’t prove your point. We are talking about two different models of the past here. Mine is consistent with what Scripture says, and you cite the ever-changing views of people today who attempt to make sense of the past by studying things in the present.
      I didn’t say that I proved post-Flood kangaroo migration by my explanation. I gave you what is called a model. It’s what people in science do. They make predictions and build models and then test them. So far your only tactic in arguing your point is to say that my view is ridiculous and yours is right. You make dogmatic assertions without backing them up and then accuse me of not backing up my claims.
      I didn’t say that Genesis mentioned an ice age. I said that my view is consistent with biblical parameters. Genesis does talk about the area around the Jordan being a well-watered plain, which it would have been during the Ice Age, but it certainly wasn’t that way by the time of David. So my view is consistent with what Genesis says, and our view of the Ice Age is a model built on what we believe would have happened as a result of the Flood.
      You won’t change my mind, and I doubt that I will change your view. So what is your goal in harassing me and other young-earth creationists the way you do? It is not my plan to spend all my free time responding to your challenges, especially if you are going to start posting comments in an online forum accusing me of fraudulent behavior because I didn’t respond to you as quickly as you would like. I told you before that it may take several days to several weeks, and in less than a week, you posted your whiny complaint about your comment not being approved yet on my page. Well, it is on there now. However, if you respond and simply claim that I’m wrong and then try to get me to address all sorts of complaints and arguments, you can forget it. I’ve got better things to do with my time, and I’m not going to “reinvent the wheel” since most, if not all, of these have been addressed elsewhere. If you want to be heard so badly, then start your own blog and get your own audience.
      For those readers who think I’m being too aggressive here, you should know that since Ashley left his comment five days ago, he has since posted seven comments on my Facebook author page beginning the next day. After his second comment I told him that I would get to it in turn (I’m actually jumping ahead of many others right now to address it), and that it may take several days to several weeks before I get to it. He has also posted to an online forum accusing me of fraudulent behavior for not approving his comment yet. He also has posted a list of websites and blogs operated by young-earth creationists that have banned or blocked him. I’m sure I’ll be added to it soon, if I haven’t already been. He has repeatedly spammed me and many of my colleagues. So Ashley, unless you have something meaningful to add here, I will not be approving anymore of your comments, and I don’t care if you add me to your forum of people who have blocked you. If you want to engage in a serious discussion at some point, then I’d be happy to do that when I have time. You don’t seem to understand the busyness of some people’s schedules, so as I told you before on Facebook, you’ll need to exercise some patience.

  5. Hi Tim, I think this is great and absolutely love that you were able to interact with the atheists the way you did.
    I have a question I have pondered for years and wonder if you could shed some light on it for me.
    It seems that “many people” become atheists after having attended bible school. I’ve heard this said often and have a cousin who is very proud of his atheism… he actually also refers to himself as an anti-atheist.
    If there is truth to this, do you know why this happens?

    • Hi Lorna,
      There are definitely some people who become atheists or agnostics after attending Christian schools or colleges. I know some of them, and as much as it hurts to think about, some of them are former students of mine. I’ve often thought about this subject, and I think there are several reasons why it happens, so let me explain a couple of them.
      1) Some of the people grow up in church and are sent to Christian schools and/or Bible college. They have never really been outside of the church, so to speak. They carry their parents’ faith and have never really made it their own. Sure, they believed Christianity was true, but eventually they encountered challenges to it that they weren’t prepared to deal with. These could be in the form of academic challenges, and they simply were not prepared to address them. But more often than that, I think the challenges come from peer pressure and moral issues. They begin to allow ungodly influences in their lives and flirt with temptation and sin. Before long, they become ensnared in worldly activities and their minds gradually turn against the beliefs they were raised with. Ultimately, it becomes a heart issue before it is an intellectual issue. Then once they embrace the agnosticism or atheism, they claim or think that it was an intellectual issue all along.
      2) I think there are some kids raised in Christian homes who have been taught an unrealistic and inaccurate view of the Christian faith. Oftentimes, this is related to a doctrine like biblical inerrancy. They are taught that a particular Bible version is without error or that every question can be easily answered. But the doctrine of inerrancy applies to the original manuscripts, and not to all the copies and versions we have. It’s pretty easy to locate errors in the various translations or places where they contradict another translation. So to get them to question and/or reject their childhood faith may only take one visit to a skeptic’s website, a class with a skeptical professor, or even a class with a solid Bible teacher who properly explains inerrancy.
      I hope this helps.

      • I went from a public school in a small rural town to a christian university – I was so excited at the opportunity to get a degree in a christian environment and with a biblical foundation. It was extremely disheartening to witness the apathy from a good number of students that attended christian schools and came from “strong” churches.

        God led me into full-time service as a christian school teacher. This is what I witnessed through the years … there is so much emphasis on rules and requirements-not changing the heart and developing a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading to develop your own belief of what is pleasing to God. There is no emphasis on developing bible study skills and spending time nourishing a relationship with God. Rules only produce…
        Rebellion
        Gives you a false sense of security in your salvation
        Makes salvation works, not grace based
        Develops a critical and judgmental spirit
        Divides the christian body
        I have seen students turn from God, but I hold to God’s promise in Isaiah 55:11…”So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Just as Tim welcomed the protesters, we need to pray and let God’s love shine through us.

          • Tim, are you saying there is not an English version of the Bible that is without error? God promised to preserve his Word! Since English is the most spoken language in the world, either as someone’s first or second language, I’m confident that God provided us with an inerrant copy of the Bible in English (KJV). The KJV was translated from the original manuscripts unlike the modern perversions which use codex vaticanus and Sinaiaticus which were dug up in the 1800’s. I also noticed my comments from 7/29/16 are still awaiting moderation even though the two comments above dated 8/1 and 8/2/16 have made it to the board..

          • The KJV was not translated from the original manuscripts—no English Bible was. It was translated from the best copies available to the translators at the time. We don’t have any of the original manuscripts. Nowhere in Scripture does God promise us that He will provide the world with an infallible translation of His Word. While the KJV is a wonderful translation, it is not free from error as many believe. For example, in Hebrews 1:6 it states, “And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, ‘And let all the angels of God worship him.'” The problem for the KJV (and some other translations) is that this verse is quoting from the Old Testament, but in those translations that rely solely on the Masoretic Text for the OT, this verse does not appear in the OT. The author of Hebrews is quoting Deuteronomy 32:43 as it appears in either the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Septuagint.
            The Lord has used the KJV and other translations to change the lives of millions, but it doesn’t mean all of these translations are perfect in matching the original. In fact, this is an unrealistic ideal since languages do not have a perfect 1:1 correspondence, so an English word or phrase may not perfectly capture the full meaning of the original. A variety of strong translations is beneficial because we can see some of the nuances found in the original languages.
            Since 1611, we have discovered thousands of fragments and copies, particularly of the NT, that are very helpful in determining what the original text stated. I think it is quite instructive to read what the KJV translators thought of their task and the role of other translations: http://georgehguthrie.com/new-blog/2016/7/5/what-the-kjv-translators-thought-about-other-translations

  6. Toured the Ark July 6th. Magnificent. Can’t wait for more animatronics! How about an iMax theater alternating between the Mount St. Helen’s volcanic eruption and the Grand Canyon videos showing supposed “billion-year-old geologic formations” forming in just hours or days?

    Would be interested in your take on the theory which physicist Gerald L. Schroeder, PhD, MIT, presents in “The Six Days of Genesis” (Chapter 4 of “The Science of God”; Free Press A division of Simon & Shuster, 1997) wherein he uses Einstein’s Theory of Relativity of time to equate 16 billion years of observed physical data to 6 days of creation via the Bernouli spiral curve (think “conch shell”). I’m not a scientist, but the concept that the Bible understood and presented a “God’s eye view” of creation long before any human had conceived of time being “relative” intrigues me. His theory, if true, banishes the seeming conflict between young earth-old earth: given the relativity of time, says he, it’s both, six 24-hour days in one part of the universe could equal 16 billion years in another part–something only God could have known when Genesis was written. Thoughts?

    • Susan,
      The IMAX would be amazing, but they are quite expensive. I am not too familiar with Schroeder’s work, but I’ve read some others who have promoted some sort of time dilation view to address the concept of an old universe. Russell Humphreys wrote Starlight and Time back in the 1990s, but I think he has since changed his view. This “white hole cosmology” had six normal-length days passing on earth while billions of years passed in distant areas of the universe. It’s a strange concept, and rather hard to wrap one’s mind around it, but I don’t think it is even necessary. The Creation Week was filled with miraculous events, so when God created the sun, moon, and stars on Day Four, I don’t think it was hard for Him to make sure the light of the stars (at least many of them) reached earth by Day Six when man was created. There are several theories attempting to explain this, and I’m all for people trying to figure it out, but I think the easiest explanation is probably the best one. He did it miraculously. On Day Three, God caused the earth to bring forth grass, trees, and other plants. These plants grew and matured that very day because God miraculously created them to do so. I think something similar may have happened with the stars and their light.
      Thanks for reading!

  7. The debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham has EVERYTHING to do with you leading a tour of the Ark attraction because it demonstrated (once again) that the entire Ark story is fiction. And that is proved once again by the grasping at ridiculous theories with no evidence, like this mythical land bridge between Turkey (where Mount Ararat is) to Australia. And again, no fossils of kangaroos (or koalas, wallabies, etc.) have been found anywhere else on the planet other than Australia. If they had lived other places and been killed by predators, there would be evidence. If you want real science as to the history of the earth (in this particular case North America), then watch this show I am linking below. It has REAL science and REAL evidence of the history of our planet, and not some Bronze Age fiction recorded in an ancient text where they believed the “4 elements” to be earth, air, fire and water.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/making-north-america.html

    • Jeffrey,
      Again, bringing up the Nye/Ham debate had nothing to do with my post, and the debate certainly didn’t demonstrate that the “entire Ark story is fiction.” It’s quite sad that you think it did. Bill Nye did not bring up any issue regarding the Flood or Ark during that debate that cannot be easily addressed. He did mislead the audience on several occasions in attempts to make points, and he continued to bring up the Flood and the Ark even though that wasn’t the stated point of the debate.
      It’s funny that you accuse me of “grasping at ridiculous theories with no evidence.” Why is that funny? Have you ever seen non-living matter give rise to life all on its own? Of course not. Have you ever observed one kind of animal turn into another kind of animal? Of course not. Have you ever observed a mutation add new genetic information that could turn one kind of creature into another kind? Of course not. No one has observed any of these things because they have never occurred. Do you have any solid evidence for these things? Based on evolutionary and/or old-universe assumptions, you have interpretations of evidence that lead you to think the evidence supports your view. But that same evidence can be understood from a creationist perspective, and I would argue that it makes much more sense from my starting point.
      The Bible does not say the Ark landed on Mt. Ararat, but on the mountains of Ararat. I do not believe in any mythical land bridge, but I can see that if the ocean levels were dropped by just a couple hundred feet (as would happen during the Ice Age that resulted from the Flood) that land bridges would be exposed to nearly every place on the globe. Assuming the same (or very similar) topography as today’s world, there would be a very narrow strip of water that would need to be crossed to reach Australia. But those areas have almost certainly changed in that time period, so there is a very real possibility that Australia was connected by land to Southeast Asia in the first few centuries after the Flood.
      Sorry, but if a kangaroo, koala, or wallaby was killed by a predator it would be extremely difficult for it to leave evidence for us today. Do you truly believe that’s how fossils are formed? In fact, that process would all but guarantee that a fossil would not form. That’s what “REAL science and REAL evidence” shows us. Organisms do not fossilize when killed and eaten by predators unless that predator is quickly buried prior to digesting its prey.
      Your chronological snobbery against the Bible is another logical fallacy. Even if the people who wrote Scripture believed the four elements were earth, air, fire, and water (although there is no evidence that they believed this), it still would not prove that they could not accurately record what happened in the past. But go ahead and denigrate our forefathers if you wish. It won’t change the fact that the Bible records the true history of our planet and warns us about the coming judgment. Your mockery of these things perfectly fits what Peter wrote about in 2 Peter 3. Scoffers would come who hold to a philosophy that says all things continue as they were since the beginning (sounds like uniformitarianism to me), and they would walk according to their own lusts and mock the ideas of Creation, the Flood, and the coming judgment. I pray that you’ll come to know Jesus Christ, the risen Lord and Savior, before it is too late.

  8. It would be interesting to ask atheists to tell you about the God they don’t believe in and then see if you don’t believe in that God either. Often times people have a distorted picture of God and do not understand the truth about who God is. That can be true of Christians as well as non Christians. Our family has discovered that once we came to understand the truth about God as revealed in Jesus, that he is a God of love always, not a dictator God, we find ourselves being changed from the inside out. We see people in a completely different light and find ourselves being much more kind and tolerant of everyone. When we see the universe through a natural law concept ( design law, the law of love being how the universe was designed to operate) not imposed rules as man made laws, all of life and scripture makes so much more sense.

    I will look forward to seeing the ark one day.

  9. Hello, I noticed that my comment of [July 10, 2016 at 9:24 am] appears not to have been posted but is still awaiting moderation…?

    Was it not acceptable on this particular blog?

    • Hi Michael,
      Thanks for the reminder. It got lost in the shuffle of everything else. I saw your comment right before heading into church last week, but forgot about it afterward. It is now posted. I’ll allow posts that do not agree with my position if they remain civil (as you did) and are not vulgar. Sometimes I wait to accept them until I have time to write a response.

  10. Isn’t it so wonderful how God’s works in people’s lives. Some of those protestors may have Godly parents or grandparents praying for them or perhaps a co-worker. I am just amazed at how you handled the situation and believe God was giving wisdom thru it all. I will pray that he will work in the hearts of those who heard the gospel and saw the ark.

    When we are faithful to God’s leading he is also faithful in providing us ways to give him glory. The ark is amazing and I hope to someday see it.

  11. Mr. Chaffey,
    Thank you for your loving efforts to reach those protesting the Ark. You provided all of us a great example of how to treat others who do not believe as we believe. Thank you for sharing your story. I so appreciated reading it. I will be praying for you and others who are making a difference at the Ark and the Creation Museum.
    Billie

  12. I’ve become increasingly troubled with A.I.G./Creation Museum/Ark Encounter’s compromise in many area’s of scripture. First of all the gospel is simply the good news that the Lord Jesus Christ died fo our sins, was buried in the tomb, and bodily rose from the grave. Salvation is simply believing on the Lord Jesus Christ plus nothing else (reference the entire book of John, Acts 16:30-31, Romans 1:16,6:23,10:9-13, Ephesians 2:8-9, and many other area’s in the KJV bible). Adding the Ray Comfort/Eric Hovind version that you have to turn from all your sins to be saved is both false and impossible. Not only does A.I.G. cater to these two guys but they also cater to the many denominations that teach a works salvation as long as they support creationism. To then entertain these 21 reprobates (read Romans 1) is just icing on the cake. $1000 of free passes/food to these vile haters of my Lord Jesus Christ is beyond absurd. Since you guys have money to spare I would like a refund for my Ark encounter membership. You can contact me at my email address. Thanks!

    • I agree with you that the gospel is the good news that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3–4), and that salvation is received through faith in Jesus Christ.
      I believe you are somewhat misrepresenting Ray Comfort and Eric Hovind. I have never heard either of them say that you must turn from all your sin to be saved. I agree with you that this would be impossible. They do say that a person needs to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ, which is not really different than what Jesus (Mark 1:15), Peter (Acts 3:19), or Paul (Acts 17:30, 26:20) preached when they told people to repent and believe the gospel.
      The point of contention here seems to center on what one means by “repent.” If the person means that one must turn from every sin and demonstrate it through holy living, essentially teaching a full-on Lordship salvation, then I cannot agree with them because this would teach that one must work to be saved, which is contrary to the gospel message. If by “repent” they mean that the person has a change of heart/mind toward God (they were opposed to Him and now turn to Him), that they are essentially changing allegiance from self to God, then I would agree with them. When a person believes the gospel (not just an intellectual acknowledgment that the message is true), that is, when they genuinely place their faith in Jesus Christ, there will be a changed heart, and that faith, if genuine, should show itself through good works, as James mentions. It’s not that one does good works to be saved, but they do good works because they have been saved.
      I think there is much confusion in the church over the concept of repentance. I also have reservations about the way the word is thrown around by some Christians. It is not wrong to encourage a sinner to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and repent of their sins, since we see that repeatedly in Scripture, but it is wrong to add the requirement of works to the gospel message, and I think some people are guilty of doing that by the way they preach repentance. I don’t believe Ray Comfort and Eric Hovind fall into that camp. But I have talked with Eric about the fine line (due to not carefully defining what it means to repent) between preaching genuine repentance and preaching what is essentially a message of works righteousness. Since I’ve written the content at the Ark Encounter, I can tell you that we do not add works to the gospel message.
      Regarding your final comment about membership: Eric Hovind’s ministry provided the food that day for the protesters, and I’m not at liberty to say who paid for the passes because they wish to remain anonymous, but I can tell you that the money did not come from any donation to the Ark Encounter. I was there on my day off, so I was not being paid to give the tour. And while the atheists and agnostics who toured the Ark with me that day do not believe the gospel, I find it hard to believe that a Christian would be opposed to having a fellow believer lead over 20 people through the Ark to answer their questions and share the gospel with them. This should be a cause for rejoicing rather than being upset about it. We should pray for them, that God would use the truths they heard that day to turn their hearts to Him.
      This is my private blog, and I am not the person to contact about memberships. I believe you would need to contact someone in the advancement department about that request.

  13. Go back and watch the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate. You did not address any of the questions Mr. Nye posed. For instance, kangaroos must certainly have been on the ark, right? Then why is there no evidence in the fossil record of them living anywhere except Australia? Because they evolved there, that’s why. You don’t have to jump through hoops, makeup facts or claim the vast majority of the scientific community is involved in some conspiracy theory. The explanation really is that simple.

    • I’m not sure what Bill Nye has to do with my post. He wasn’t part of the group that I led through the Ark, although he did visit the Ark the next day. And for the record, the Ark does address some of the questions Mr. Nye posed in the debate. Most notably, the Ice Age exhibit includes a diorama of the Lost Squadron along with a video showing Bill Nye and Ken Ham discussing the so-called annual layers in ice. We have witnessed hundreds of layers being formed in fewer than 50 years, so how could these possibly be annual layers?
      Regarding kangaroos and the Ark, the answer really is simple. Yes, they were on the Ark, and then after the Flood they migrated to Australia (and possibly other places but were killed off by predators). How did they get there? Most likely via land bridges that would have existed until the end of the Ice Age several centuries after the Flood. The reason we don’t find their fossils along the way is because animals do not usually fossilize when they die. Millions of buffalo used to roam the American West. Where are their fossils? You won’t find them because if an animal dies and is not quickly covered in the right materials (mud, cement, etc.) then it will decay and be picked apart by scavengers. It won’t become a fossils.
      So let’s say two representatives of the kangaroo kind leave the Ark and head toward Australia. They can travel quicker than most animals because they can carry their young. As the population grows and they continue toward Australia, some of them die off along the way. But since they are not rapidly buried, they are not preserved as fossils. Eventually, they reach Australia, and on rare occasions some of them get buried in local flooding or preserved some other way and fossilize. This doesn’t mean that they evolved in Australia. It simply means that up until this point, we have only found their fossils in Australia.
      For the record, I haven’t claimed that the vast majority of the scientific community is involved in some conspiracy theory.

      • I’m wondering if your ark exhibits cover the billions of freshwater and saltwater animals that would be killed by all water suddenly turning brackish and muddy — as well as the high pressure differences — as a result of a global flood?

        • Sam,
          The Ark does discuss the billions of creatures that were killed in the Flood. This is where the vast majority of our fossil record comes from, as explained in the Flood exhibit on the Ark’s third deck. But I think you were implying something else in your question: how did some marine creatures survive such conditions during the Flood? I’ll mention that to our team and see if we can get that added in the near future.

      • Your lost squadron claim is a scam. I can elaborate further but basically the planes crashed near the coast where precipitation is much greater than in central Greenland where the ice core data were obtained.

        And your claim about migrating kangaroos (less than 5,000 years ago) is beyond preposterous.

        Other readers may wish to note that Ken Ham and co have MANY questions about their claims (not the Bible but THEIR claims) that they REFUSE to address:
        [Link removed by admin, perhaps temporarily, for review purposes]

        • Ashley,
          The lost squadron video at the Ark explains the issue you mention. The planes were landed (not crashed, the first one flipped because the landing gear caught, so the rest landed on their bellies) closer to the coast. And yes, the precipitation there is much higher today than it is in central Greenland where the cores are generally taken, as mentioned in the video at the exhibit. But there are at least two problems with your objections. First, it doesn’t change the fact that dozens of “annual layers/rings” can form in a year as observed in the areas that receive higher snowfall. So you must assume that for 110,000 years or so that the interior of Greenland only received enough snow for one layer to form per year. That leads to the second problem. If there was a worldwide Flood in Noah’s day (and there was), then the Ice Age caused by that Flood would have generated much more snowfall throughout the interior of Greenland in the first few centuries following the Flood due to the warmer ocean temps and cooler air temps over land. This is all explained in the exhibit, so my claims are hardly a scam. Your attempt to explain it away is simply an attempt to dodge the real issue: “annual” layers can form rapidly and therefore cannot be used to accurately determine the age of the ice sheets.
          Simply stating that my claim about migrating kangaroos is “beyond preposterous” does not make it so. It’s a perfectly reasonable explanation and consistent with biblical parameters, but it doesn’t fit within your millions of years paradigm so you think it is absurd. Your response tells more about your bias than anything else.
          I’ll look at your link and decide whether to include it later. Obviously, I don’t have time to address every claim made by anyone and everyone who posts a link in my comments section.

  14. This post is littered with words like ‘probably’, ‘may have’, ‘we believe’, ‘almost certainly’ and ‘could have’. You claim Genesis is the absolute final word of God, yet you can only offer speculation, assumptions and baseless theories to answer quite simple questions. Why call yourselves ‘Answers in Genesis’ when Genesis provides hardly any answers?

    • Dave,
      I don’t call myself Answers in Genesis, although I do work for AiG. This is my own personal blog. AiG does not claim that Genesis has the answer to every question. That’s an absurd notion. Apparently, you haven’t read much from scientific journals since they frequently include the same types of words and phrases (“may have,” “probably,” “we believe,” “could have,” etc.). That isn’t a sign of not having an answer; it’s an indication that the writer is careful in what they are expressing. Genesis gives us certain “big picture” concepts, but it doesn’t go into detail about every fine point that someone may be curious about. To answer very specific questions that are beyond the purview of the Genesis text, we can use the text as a guide to inform our answers and give plausible explanations that are consistent with Genesis. I would think you’d appreciate an honest appraisal of what Genesis does and does not express instead of just having me make things up and pretend as if it were authoritative.

      • Tim, I absolutely love the way you explain and debate intelligently. Much love to you and the AIG family. I will keep you all in my prayers and can not wait until I’m able to visit the ark in person. Ken Ham through his studies and faith has gotten me to dig deeper in my word and question the reliability of the scientific community. I’m excited to see the progression of what God has in store from these simple debates. Take Care!

    • But the Word of God does not get into the details of these very specific questions, so why wouldn’t the people answering use these qualifying words? If they did not, they would be anywhere from disingenuous to misleading. Further to that, any scientist that states a theory of what they believe their data shows, and what their interpretation of the data is, and uses anything other than these same qualifying terms, would be in violation of the very scientific method they should be operating under, correct?

  15. Outstanding! I will continue to be in prayer about these atheists as well as the Ark’s outreach! Thank you for spending time, being patient and giving scriptural answers for the questions that were asked. Seeds have been planted. God will give the increase! Blessings!

  16. Tim,I agree with your prayer and can’t help but believe that God will use your encounter with the atheists to soften their hearts towards Him

  17. Isn’t is amazing that God brought these people here at this specific time with just the right person there to talk with them, answering questions and presenting God’s Gospel of salvation. God is good.

  18. I loved reading your article, and I agree that it’s so important that we treat ALL people with kindness and respect. In fact, our pastor’s message today included this thought, as he reminded us of The Golden Rule. It costs us nothing to be kind and respectful to those we encounter in our daily lives. We look forward to visiting the ark and would like to bring our six grandchildren!

  19. Accepting Jesus Christ into my life was the best decision I’ve ever made 🙂 this exhibit is amazing!I can’t wait to visit.

  20. While certainly the Ark story appears to be a tall tale, the biggest problem I can see with it is that the causative character is Yahweh, who presumably can do exactly anything he desires.

    After creating all the animals, humans, etc. and having his humans go awry, the very best solution he can devise is to flood the whole place. Death by drowning is one of the more terrifying ways to die, and even if the purpose was to rid the world of evil doers and start over, it was one of the more sadistic methods he could have chosen. He was already performing a miracle by the flood itself, so he could have easily chosen a different miraculous method. A deep sleep followed by instantaneous brain infarction, for example. Anything more humane, with less pain and terror.

    In addition, the animals, who clearly had not participated in any putative “sin”, would have felt the pain and suffering of drowning as well. (The same applies to human infants, at least.) I don’t know how one can see this as anything other than gratuitous subjection to suffering: simply not necessary. There are much more humane ways of ending lives, both human and animal, but Yahweh purposely chose drowning. That means that he wanted the humans and animals not on the Ark to specifically suffer.

    • Hi Michael,
      I can think of at least three reasons why the Flood was an appropriate response, but before listing those I need to point out that you seem to underestimate the wretchedness of sin, and particularly the extreme level of wickedness reached in the pre-Flood world. We see many places in Scripture where God withholds judgment for years, because He is giving the people every opportunity to turn to Him. One example is found in Genesis 15:13–16. God gives the land to Abram (Abraham) and his descendants, but He makes them wait for 400 years to take possession of it because “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Based on what we see elsewhere in Scripture and some of the statements in Genesis 6, We have every reason to believe that He waited quite a while before sending the Flood. But to answer your objection, let’s look at why a Flood makes more sense than your proposed alternative.
      First, the Flood would allow people a final chance to turn to Him. The repentant thief on the Cross had an opportunity at “the last minute” to place his faith in Christ and receive God’s forgiveness. With the Flood advancing, many people would have had a few moments in which they could have cried out to God asking for His forgiveness. I don’t know if any of them did, but your solution would not provide such an opportunity and would seal the eternal fate of all unbelievers. The advancing Flood would be a final warning to those who were about to die.
      Second, the Flood serves as a reminder to the coming generations that God judges sin. We see evidence of the Flood all over the world, reminding us of this catastrophe. Jesus used the Flood as a picture of His coming judgment. So the Flood not only serves as a vivid reminder that God judges sin, it also warns us that judgment is coming on this world again, so turn to God while you still have time.
      Third, the Flood left an indelible mark on the human history. This point is related to the previous one in that the Flood serves as a reminder of judgment. Over 200 cultures from around the globe tell of a devastating flood in the ancient past. There are far too many similarities among many of these to argue that they all are simply retellings of some local catastrophe in the region, and there are enough differences to show that they weren’t just repeating stories they heard from missionaries.
      At the protest on July 7, I had a few people tell me something very similar to your objection. They pretended to have some sort of moral objection to God judging the world with a Flood, and even talked about how many children might have been killed in the Flood. But ironically, two of these individuals were wearing shirts proclaiming that they supported Planned Parenthood, an organization that has murdered millions of babies and was caught on camera multiple times acknowledging the fact that they sell body parts of the infants they rip up. And I’m supposed to believe that these people have a moral objection to children dying in the Flood judgment? So God, the Creator of life, can’t judge a sinful world, but sinful people can kill millions of babies and that’s just fine. Talk about hypocrisy! (I’m not accusing you of this since I don’t know your stand on the subject.) God knows what the future held for those killed in the Flood. He knows what would have become of those children had they grown up in the most wicked civilization that has ever existed. The little children killed in the Flood are with Him eternally. Had they grown up in that world, there is very little chance they would have ended up believing in Him.
      Finally, many of the people who died (and probably many of the animals) likely did not suffer the pain and terror of drowning. With massive tidal surges and everything else going on during the Flood, many of them would have been knocked unconscious or killed instantly by the force of the waves.
      There is much more that could be said, but I’ll just repeat what I’ve said earlier. The Flood is a reminder that God has judged sin on a global scale in the past, and He will do it again, this time by fire. Turn to Him before it’s too late.

      • So a god who drowns every man, woman and child on earth except one family is somehow a story of love and redemption? In case you weren’t aware, drowning is a terrible, painful way to die and if you drowned a dog you could be prosecuted for animal cruelty. Si if this story were true, the one thing it would convince me of is that this god is evil by any definition of the term. ISIS has nothing on what you claim this god did in the name of religion. What a terrible story!

        • Who said the Flood was a story of love and redemption? The Flood account is about God’s righteous judgment on an exceedingly wicked world, and yet He demonstrated mercy on Noah’s family (and by extension, all of us) by sparing them and the animals. God is the Creator of life and He has the right to take life. All who sin against Him deserve death. The Flood serves as a warning to us of the coming judgment upon this world. Mankind continues to rebel against our Maker. We see atrocities around the world on a regular basis. At some point, God will put an end to this rebellion. Those who have trusted in His Son, Jesus Christ, will be saved, and those who reject Him will be judged eternally. You can continue to scoff at these things, but you are merely fulfilling the words written in 2 Peter 3. Turn to Christ before its too late.

          • Hi Tim, I discovered that Genesis clearly states the year of the flood as 1656AM. I think the most important fact which is overlooked, is that Jesus Christ was appointed as our Saviour before the foundation of the Earth was laid. There is always an opportunity and way of salvation, for the humble and repentant person. Psa 74:2; Mat 25:34&41; Joh 17:5&24; Act 4:28; Eph 1:4; Col 1:18-20; 2Ti 1:9; Heb 4:3; 1Pe 1:20; Rev 13:8. There are only two resurrections and mankind will be divided into two groups of people, as it was in Noah’s day – the saved and the lost. As the saved had to be in the Ark, we have to be in Christ to be saved.
            Keep up the good work with that wonderful exhibit.

          • Hi Jeffrey,
            Thanks for taking the time to read and leave an encouraging comment. I want to clarify a couple of things you wrote. First, your statement about the eight people on the Ark makes it sound as if you believe they were saved, not just from the Flood, but also eternally. The Bible doesn’t tell us that about all of them, even though I hope they were. Yes, they were spared from the physical destruction of the Flood, but outside of Noah, we don’t really know where they are spending eternity.
            Second, Genesis doesn’t actually state that the year of the Flood was 1656 years after creation. That figure is derived from the genealogy in Genesis 5, but you may need to add a few years to it. Notice the Bible says Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born, and that Seth was 105 when Enosh was born. The 1656 years essentially assumes each person in this list was born on their father’s birthday. If Adam was 130 years and 8 months, and if Seth was 105 years and 4 months, etc. then you could add about 5 years in these ten generations from Adam to Noah.

  21. To become an atheist, mean you believe in God at one time, they basically are acknowledging God to be an atheist of God…He loves them, and wants them to know the truth. So excited to see it someday

    • Hi Ruth,
      Many atheists did believe in God at one point in their lives. A few of the gentlemen I spoke with on the tour or during the protest talked about believing in God when they were younger. And the more boisterous atheists out there sure do seem to think about God an awful lot while claiming they don’t believe in Him. I think that some of these people (the more boisterous ones) really do believe God exists and it scares them, so they try desperately to justify their lifestyle and professed beliefs, which explains why they spend so much time ridiculing Christian beliefs.
      Some Christians will claim that there is really no such thing as an atheist, but I’m not sure I agree. They base it on passages like Romans 1:18–20, which speaks of Gentiles who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, even though God has made Himself known to them through His creation. However, the next verse states, “Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21). Notice that the verb (“knew”) is past tense, and that their thoughts became futile, and their hearts were darkened. I think that some people reach a point where they truly are blinded to the truth of God’s existence that they really don’t believe He exists. My prayer is that they will come to know Him before it’s too late.

      • Hebrews 11:6 New International Version (NIV)

        6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

        New International Version (NIV)
        Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

  22. Tim, great explanation of the sales tax rebate the Ark will receive. So much confusion exists on that subject, some of which seems purposefully spread to antagonize the public.

  23. For some Christians like me, atheists and agnostics are tools of Satan. It is difficult for me not to be as rude or as kind as my antagonist. I wish I were stronger in this, each event has its own nature, I am too inconsistent. I pray the Lord will help me as I talk to groups about Christianity and the founding of the nation… can’t wait to see the Ark.

    • Hi Mark,
      It’s important not to lump all atheists and agnostics into the same group. Sure, they all reject the gospel message, but they do not all act the same way. As I mentioned in the post, those who were at the protest seemed to be 50/50 in terms of the ones who were respectful and willing to dialogue and those who were pretty boisterous and not interested in having civil discussions.
      Their minds are blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), and we need to do all we can to point them to the Savior.

      • What makes me sad is how so many would rather argue what they believe and ridicule our beliefs as fantasy, or not reality. And usually if they don’t SEE with their own eyes, then what we say or show them means nothing and it’s no proof to them. I don’t get it sometimes, we don’t bother them, why would THEY care what we believe?

      • 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 New International Version (NIV)

        Paul’s Use of His Freedom
        19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

        New International Version (NIV)
        Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

    • If your rudeness drives people away from seeing the supposed truth of Christianity, are *you* not a tool of Satan by your own logic?

      • 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

        4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

    • As an Agnostic Deist, who grew up in the church, I will tell you that it is Christians who don’t act like Christians who turn me off to the idea of a “loving God” more than anyone else. I respect anyone to have their own beliefs, even if I disagree with those beliefs. It’s interesting in my circles, at least, that it tends to be Christians who are the most unloving and intolerant. I saw this even when I was part of the “church”. As representatives of the God some say they love, it’s disheartening to observe.

      I don’t ask anyone to agree with my beliefs, because beliefs are personal things, however I do ask that I’m still respected as a person. I find that “Christians” have a more difficult time with that concept. :/

      • Hi Brandy,
        Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I have no doubts that you have encountered many Christians who don’t act the way the Bible instructs them to act. There are many people in the church who act in an unloving manner (even some who do it when they think they are being loving). And there are others who are wonderful people who still blow it occasionally. Christians are instructed to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), but we often fail miserably in this area. Granted, there are likely many who claim to be Christian who really are not Christians, and they end up giving Christians a bad name. But there are certainly many genuine Christians who have mistreated others and through their bad examples given people a poor image of what Jesus is like.
        Since you grew up in the church, you probably also encountered some people who were very loving and willing to help others and were excellent examples of what Jesus is like. If not, the church you grew up in must have been pretty lousy. I would encourage you to read this article I wrote about a year ago that discusses some of the points you mentioned. http://midwestapologetics.org/blog/?p=1434

  24. Thank you for your sacrifice of time, energy, and so much more in preparing for the Ark’s opening. Thank you also for this great post, including the admonition to treat athiests and agnostics with respect. The world needs more reminders to treat each other with respect and kindness, regardless of belief systems.

    • Colossians 3:12 New Living Translation (NLT)

      12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

      New Living Translation (NLT)
      Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

  25. So good to hear that your tour went well. I was thinking today about those folks that came to protest. Interesting how Biblical they were and they don’t know it.

    • Romans 1:25 New Living Translation (NLT)

      25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.

      New Living Translation (NLT)
      Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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