Ken Ham responds to critics

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Bert Perry's picture

The big problem with this is that the "Ark" is more or less an archiacally styled apartment building and proves nothing about whether the Genesis account could be true--well, at least not until the New Madrid fault moves and dumps her into the Ohio River ten miles away!  The thing is supported on concrete pilings every dozen feet or so, has modern steel fittings, and thus tells us nothing about whether a 450' long ship built with ancient building methods could have weathered the seas with a load of animals, food, and the like. 

If you want to show that such a ship is practical, you'd build it and put it on the ocean or at least one of the Great lakes.   My guess is that the real Ark was built in much the same way the middle ages Chinese treasure ships were built.  Other wooden ships of comparable size are listed here, and it's worth noting that most of them were not particularly seaworthy.   

And yes, favorable tax treatment is a subsidy in all but name.  We can argue about whether or not it's fair for AIG to take this, given that it's available to lots of others, but they're backing their bonds with tax credits.  It's a subsidy.  Why debate the obvious?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

Bert attacks AGI again. Why debate "the obvious"? BECAUSE secularists complain that this TIF financing is public financing of religion. DUH!

 

As for the Ark, I understand it to promote the idea of a young earth with how life on the Ark was, etc., rather than trying to build sea worthy version of the Ark.

 

 

Bert Perry's picture

Pointing out an attraction is rooted in the earth is an attack?  Sorry, Mark, but if iron is to sharpen iron, we need to be able to disagree without just doing this "my team or the enemy" nonsense.   Same thing about tax subsidies--whether it's money up front or backloaded as a tax cut, it's still something AIG gets that the rest of Kentucky does not.  We might quibble over the exact term, but "subsidy" works fine if we're not too persnickety.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

Anyone in Kentucky that plans to bring several million visitors and plans to make the local economy lots of money can apply for TIF.

What's your real beef with AIG?

I don't think you are "iron sharpening iron". I think you are stabbing anyone in the back that you don't agree with.

Jim's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

I don't think you are "iron sharpening iron". I think you are stabbing anyone in the back that you don't agree with.

Mod note: Stop it

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

1. The tax issue is an important one. What if the area Muslims want to build a full scale replica of Mecca or something and get the same tax deal? Perhaps the area papers would be all for it, but the "evangelicals" wouldn't. It becomes a religious liberty issue.

2. The apologetics issue. The whole idea of "proving the Bible true," as many tend to see this project (I don't know that AIG/K.Ham see it that way) suggests (a) that it needs to be proven true by some external truth standard (i.e. empirical evidence) and (b) that you can actually convince unregenerate minds by that route. So there's plenty to debate there. But as a tool for strengthening the faith of believers and getting some skeptics thinking twice--God does sometimes use this kind of "proof."

3. Apart from the issue as of models and exhibits as apologetics, what can a ship on the ground prove? Well, it's really not the seaworthiness of the structure that is the main problem with the "flood story" in the eyes of critics. It's one of the points sometimes made, but made along with many others. The biggest problem is the assumption of historical "nonliteralness" of the Bible as a starting point. For the most part, skeptics assume the Bible does not mean what it says and that the burden of proof lies on anyone who reads it like normal language. Couple that with a heart commitment to avoid faith in its claims and you see that a sea-born model would only be slightly more persuasive, if that.

Mark_Smith's picture

I see, me criticizing Bert = Bad. Bert criticizing AIG = Good.

 

Thank you, I understand.

 

The reason I complain is, historically, most posters at SI have criticized AIG. OK fine...buts let's not pretend you are "iron sharpening iron" when you criticizing AIG. They aren't even reading what you wrote! And very few people even post here anymore to argue against the cabal of like minded people that do post... 

Mark_Smith's picture

1. If a group of Muslims could convince a city or county that a life sized Mecca could generate enough revenue to warrant TIF financing, then it would be considered. What's the big deal?

2. AIG it seems to me that AIGs mission is not to "prove the Bible true" but to show ways that a literal interpretation of the Bible is consistent with science.

3. I don't get the criticism of the Ark museum by saying it isn't a real boat. Sure, some do criticize the sea worthiness, but that can be tested in a lab with mock-ups. You don't have to build the full boat.

Sure, you can be cynical and say all AIG is doing is trying to make money, but some people do want to have a "Christian" alternative to Disney World, etc. If you don't, then don't go. But why join in the cacophony criticizing your fellow brothers in Christ just because you don't like it?

 

Mark

Bert Perry's picture

...is really simple.  It shifts the burden for local government services from the new guys to the guys who have been paying their taxes for decades.  More or less, it's taxing the local barber and florist to pay for the new Wal-Mart--really taxing people to fund their competition.  It's done a lot, but just like stadium funding, it's obnoxious.

Regarding AIG, I appreciate their ministry, and Ham does the church a great service by pointing to how creation is a key issue in Scripture.  He is, more or less, re-awakening a consciousness of the significance of Biblical and systematic theology in a church all too often content to do a couple of proof-texts and call it a day.  However, if we are trying to demonstrate the plausibility of the Ark, building a retro apartment building simply doesn't make that case. 

And yes, if people will listen, that is iron sharpening iron--let us not forget that the process of sharpening a blade is abrasive and involves some friction.  In other words, it's not always pleasant, and definitely isn't what people always want to hear.  The quickest way to derail Ken Ham's ministry might not be from an adverse action, but rather by letting him get away with things that simply don't pass logical and theological muster.   Look at any number of former fundamental icons who fell into grievous sin and horrible theology when they "got too big for their britches" like Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

Really? You are sharpening Ken Ham's blade by posting on Sharper Iron?

 

When did Ken Ham say the purpose of the Ark Encounter is to justify that the Ark floated and was sea worthy? Maybe there is a display inside of it, I don't know, but the outside structure is a building. HENCE, it needs to follow civil construction code. Its ridiculous to come with a straw man attack against a building by berating it for not proving the sea-worthiness of a boat!

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, I've been around AIG for a while, and if you're going to argue that Ham is not trying to justify the possibility of Noah's Ark, I've got a nice bridge I'd be willing to sell to you cheap.  Sorry, but anyone who's familiar with AIG is going to find that contention laughable.  Plus, I happen to have visited a number of ships used as museums--the replica Mayflower, the Constitution, the Olympia, the Missouri, the Texas, the U-505, and others--and I guarantee you that it is possible to have something that floats acting as a museum, even one made out of wood.  

Sorry, but for $1000/square foot, Ham owes his supporters better.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Greg Long's picture

Bert, I don't think the point has ever been to build the Ark in order to prove that it would float. It's more about being able to experience the size of the ark by walking inside it, and pointing to the larger spiritual truths the Ark represents.

And again, the article is wrong. Taxpayers are NOT helping to pay for this.

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Greg Long's picture

I don't NEED it either. In other words, my faith doesn't rest on a life-sized Ark. However, that doesn't mean it isn't interesting, helpful, etc.

Using the same logic, Jim, someone could say, "I don't need The Genesis Flood to buttress my faith. The Scriptures are enough! Don't you believe in Sola Scriptura?"

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Jim's picture

Greg Long wrote:

 

Using the same logic, Jim, someone could say, "I don't need The Genesis Flood to buttress my faith. The Scriptures are enough! Don't you believe in Sola Scriptura?"

It's Bible "theme park" ... if you need it go!

------

What the US needs is a greater investment in ministries like:

  • College / University outreach - the "fundamentalist deadzone" (if you remember the article)
  • Inner city churches

 

Greg Long's picture

Jim, again I don't NEED it. That word has no relevance to my views on the subject. I didn't NEED to go to the Creation Museum, but I found parts of it helpful and informative. I don't NEED the books I am reading right now as I prepare each week to teach a class on Biblical Creationism on Wednesday nights here at my church, but I find them helpful and informative (as long as they match with Scripture!).

  • Unlocking the Mysteries of Genesis DVD series by ICR--using this as the discussion starter for the class each week, extremely well done and highly recommended
  • Creation & Evolution: Compatible or in Conflict? by Jay Seegert
  • Darwin's Doubt by Stephen C. Meyer (an ID proponent)
  • The Genesis Flood by Whitcomb and Morris
  • As It Is Written: The Genesis Account Literal or Literary? by Kenneth L. Gentry

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Mark_Smith's picture

You are spot on.

Bert Perry's picture

Regarding whether it's interesting or helpful, the only thing they can really do is to demonstrate a list of "kinds" and demonstrate adequate space for all of them.  Other, bigger questions, like whether such a craft could float or stay together, whether it would take in enough air to sustain life, how wastes would be removed, and the like cannot be answered here.  Moreover, when I visited the Creation Museum back in 2007, the place was full of analyses of how they thought it would float, weather heavy seas, get adequate ventilation, and the like.  To argue they wouldn't have liked to make the case is just to deny their history and the exhibits at the Creation Museum.  

And no subsidies?   They are subsidies in all but name, folks.  They just happen to be paid after the place opens instead of being given prior to being built, and it's the same way Wal-Mart has been pillaging small town treasuries for decades.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

David R. Brumbelow's picture

I’m all for Ken Hamm and AIG.  Sure, I might do a thing or two differently, but they do an outstanding job. 

When I get the chance, I’d love to visit their Ark.  A replica makes it more real, lifelike, and can strengthen some people’s faith.  It can also increase your understanding.  As they say, a picture (replica) is worth a thousand words. 

Apologetics will not win everyone to Christ, but it is a valid form of evangelism, and it will win some.  I’m for all valid methods of evangelism. 

I plan to get a small replica of the Ark to use from time to time at our church.  Always liked “Show and Tell.” 

My preacher brother Mark once marked off the dimensions of the Ark on his church property; that was pretty impressive. 

David R. Brumbelow

David R. Brumbelow's picture

Noah needed the Ark for about a year.  Ken Ham, if our Lord delays His Coming, will need his Ark replica for a lot longer than a year. 

The Ark replica will last a lot longer and be easier to maintain, if it is not floating in water.  I can also be more centrally located. I see no problem with the Ark located on land.  

David R. Brumbelow

Greg Long's picture

Bert, there's something different about experiencing something in real life, that's why they have museums in the first place. To see in person the size of the ark and walk through it, that is a different experience than simply reading about it. And people regularly ridicule how they could have fit all the animals on the ark, now you can visualize it in real life, rather than just read an illustration about box cars and sheep.

This sounds like I am some huge proponent of this thing, I'm not really--can live with or without it. Just don't understand the need to attack it.

Bert, I'm wondering if you read Ham's response and if you could address his actual points?

For the umpteenth time, I need to say that taxpayer/public funds have not been used in any way to fund the construction of our life-size Noah’s Ark opening July 7 in Williamstown, about 40 miles south of Cincinnati. All funds (i.e., bonds and donations) to build the Ark Encounter came from private supporters of the Ark project. Furthermore, the bonds purchased by our private supporters were nonrated bonds that were collateralized with a first mortgage on the Ark real estate and a pledge of project revenues, unlike the writer’s claim that these were “junk bonds” with no security. In fact, today there are several billion-dollar municipal bond funds that hold a significant amount of nonrated bonds that perform well.

The writer’s statement that the Ark Encounter “landed a series of local and state incentives worth $80 million over 20 years” is just flat out wrong. Yes, the Ark Encounter has the opportunity through Kentucky’s tourism incentive program to receive a future rebate of sales taxes that it generates at our theme park, up to $18.25 million over a 10-year period after it opens...

Ultimately, only visitors to the Ark Encounter pay the sales tax that generates the possible rebate, which is a performance-based rebate incentive that does not come from any other source or taxpayer funds. So when the reporter wrote that "the ark project is a lightning rod for its reliance on public tax incentives,” he is just flat out wrong....

Tax increment financing (TIF) is a tool to encourage new development and redevelopment. It allows local governments (and sometimes states) to capture the increases in taxes from a designated area (TIF district) generated by new development within the TIF district, and to use a portion of those increased taxes to encourage the new development or improvements within the TIF district. It is an incentive program that is widely used throughout the United States. Across Kentucky, several cities have used a TIF for landmark developments to facilitate new development, expansion, and renovation in their communities. These projects include Yum Arena, the Louisville Marriott Hotel, the downtown Bowling Green Project, and the 21c Lexington Hotel. Key projects in Northern Kentucky that have used TIF include Manhattan Harbour, Ovation, the Fort Mitchell Gateway Project (redevelopment of Drawbridge Inn site), and Ark Encounter.

The city of Williamstown established an 898-acre TIF district to provide local incentives to Ark Encounter and other projects that may develop as a result of the Ark Encounter project. (Ark Encounter will only receive TIF district incentives from the taxes generated on the property that it owns and develops). The city and Grant County each support projects, with the TIF district providing a pledge of 75% of the new incremental increase in real estate taxes for a 30-year period. No existing taxes were impacted.

At the time the TIF district was established, the total taxable assessment of the 898-acre district totaled only $3.89 million, and it produced $5,611 in county taxes and $10,662 in city taxes. Ark Encounter will increase the taxable assessment of the TIF district by over $75 million dollars. Even with the 75% increment of the city and county taxes pledged to Ark Encounter, the city and county will annually generate thousands more in taxes than they would have if Ark Encounter had not been built. The net annual increase in new taxes to the city will be $58,125, and to the county will be $27,375, and these amounts do not include the increased amounts from tangible property taxes or other taxes the city and county will receive.

The local taxing entities over the life of the TIF will generate millions in new taxes as a result of Ark Encounter.

In addition, the other local taxing districts in Grant County—schools, library district, and so on—will receive 100% of the increased taxes as those taxes are not pledged to the TIF district. Therefore even though some of the increased taxes will be used to reimburse the Ark Encounter for its capital costs, the local taxing entities over the life of the TIF will generate millions in new taxes as a result of Ark Encounter, to the great benefit of Grant County residents.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

dgszweda's picture

I don't know about you guys, but I am going to enjoy eating at Emzara's Kitchen and snacking on some nice chicken tenders. I think it would be just like what Noah's wife would have setup on their ark.  I hope to visit the gift store and purchase a real replica of the ark.

dgszweda's picture

In my opinion, anyone can do anything they want with their money.  This is a free country.  With that said, I find this type of attraction as being only a step away from the money changers in the temple.  While there will be some Bible messages available, I don't see this as the proper route to evangelism.  This was a large sum of money that was raised through private bonds in which the donors are receiving financial compensation that is being generated by ticket sales that are driven by things like zip lines, gift shops, petting zoos, and other attractions that have nothing to do with the gospel.  This will primarily be visited by Christians and home school groups with probably a smattering of individuals who are unsaved who may look at it out of curiosity.  While Ken Ham may not be getting profits, the bondholders are.  These bondholders are probably Christians, churches, maybe AiG families and other individuals looking for tax-free interest payments.  I would like to see how many people are really saved, or how many individuals who have never heard the gospel are being addressed through this $30+ million dollars.  I really struggle with how this aligns with both the instruction and practice of spreading the gospel in the New Testament.  $30 Million would have paid for 500 students to earn a 4 year degree at a bible college and plant a church.  Instead it is going toward lining the pockets of bondholders, many who might not even be Christian in the first place.  God doesn't need the Ark Encounter to reach a single soul, and if he did need Disney Park Attractions, it would have been outlined in Scriptures.  We need to train people to spread the gospel and we need to present the gospel, in as simple of a practice as Christ did at the well.

Greg Long's picture

If the one and only purpose of the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter were evangelistic, you might have a point.

I'm just curious, have you been to the Creation Museum?

(And again, I'm not a staunch defender of AiG..I don't donate, have only been to the CM once...)

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Bert Perry's picture

Greg, they're generating new taxes like any business, but why should a newcomer to town get the tax exemption, but not established businesses?  No matter how you cut it, TIF and sales tax exemptions are subsidies.

To draw a picture, Kentucky sales tax is 6%, of which AIG is getting 4.5% back.  Profit margins in retail (e.g. Walmart) are 3-5%.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Greg Long's picture

Bert, the newspaper article is not making a case against TIFs in general as you are, but rather that they are being used in this particular case. They are inconsistently outraged about the use of these tax incentives, as they're not arguing against it in principal, just that shouldn't be used for any religious entity. To achieve their agenda, they are using misleading headlines and articles making it seem that AiG received direct government subsidies to help build the thing, which is just false.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

dgszweda's picture

Greg Long wrote:

If the one and only purpose of the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter were evangelistic, you might have a point.

I'm just curious, have you been to the Creation Museum?

(And again, I'm not a staunch defender of AiG..I don't donate, have only been to the CM once...)

The purpose of both of these institutions as claimed by Ken Ham, AiG and their respective websites is to equip Christians and evangelize the lost.  The benefit of these institutions to the State, as explained by Ken Ham is that it will create jobs and bring revenue and profit into the surrounding communities.  So I don't think I am way off.  It is clear that there is a big push that this helps evangelize the lost.  I don't need a $30 Million amusement park to equip myself or my family to understand what the gospel says about the ark.

I have not been to the Creation Musuem.

I am a defender of AiG.  I appreciate much of what they have to write and what they have done.  I just don't think this is being a good steward of God's money, nor do I feel that this is the proper way to equip the saints or evangelize the lost.  There is not a single Christian that will be better equipped to shared the gospel or a soul won on things like cafe's, petting zoo's or zip lines.  Much of what is presented at the attraction while not necessarily conflicting with the Scriptural account, cannot be claimed to be the Scriptural account in the Bible.  We don't know exactly the dimensions of the ark, nor what it looked like.  The ark was not built by Amish craftsmen, the carved animals are ideas of what may have existed during this time (but we don't know with certainty), we don't know who Noah's wife was (but AiG has chosen to use an apocryphal account of her name), we don't really know what their living quarters looked like while on the ark......  while those are great things to ponder they are not really rooted in the true Scriptural account, leading to some careful discussions that should be had with our families after visiting this attraction, identifying what was truly Biblical and what was presented to give us an idea of what might have been.

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