Numerous skeptical and atheistic bloggers have lambasted the governor because the content of the proposed theme park is going to portray the biblical account of the Ark and the Flood (Genesis 6–9) as historically accurate. Many have also falsely accused the new venture as a violation of the alleged separation clause since the state of Kentucky offers tax incentives for tourist attractions, and they don’t believe a religiously themed attraction should qualify.
While there have been plenty of misrepresentations of the facts and some outlandish claims, for the most part, the media coverage has been relatively fair, including a nearly full-page spread in the New York Times today. Yet, even the balanced reports have often distorted one important detail.
The Ark Encounter is not going to be an amusement park as has been reported by many. It is a theme park based on the biblical account of Noah’s Ark and the Flood found in the early chapters of Genesis. It will also include the Tower of Babel, a walled city, a first-century village, a petting zoo, wildlife shows, and much more. One of the goals of this park is to show the world the trustworthiness of the Bible in these areas.
Essentially, the Ark Encounter is designed to be a muse-ment park. The word muse means to think deeply about something. Developers of this theme park want attendees to think deeply about what they will witness while at the park. There will certainly be some entertaining aspects to the park and visitors should enjoy their time, but this will not be the focus.
By contrast, the word amuse literally means to not think deeply about something or that one’s attention is diverted. The purpose of an amusement park is to entertain so the attendee does not have to think deeply about important issues. So to call the Ark Encounter an amusement park is to completely misrepresent the purpose of the place.
While many of the reporters have probably innocently made this mistake in their reporting, many who are vehemently opposed to its construction have deliberately misled their audience. Undoubtedly, these same folks will continue to launch their attacks and mock the biblical account of the Flood and the Ark, but this is what we can expect from a world that loves darkness rather than light.
I hope the opening of this muse-ment park, currently slated for early 2014, will be a profitable venture for the state of Kentucky and for investors in the project. But more importantly, I pray the Ark Encounter will engage the hearts and minds of all who visit and cause them to think deeply (muse) about the real message of the Ark and the Flood: God’s grace and mercy in the midst of much-deserved judgment.