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Jun 07 2013

Noah’s Ark Park Aims for Plausibility

The proposed Noah’s Ark theme park in Kentucky is nowhere near the amount of money needed to actually start the project, but they’re working hard on planning and design. Reuters amusingly reports that their goal is to show just how plausible the Biblical flood story is.

In an office park in Hebron, Kentucky, the designers of the proposed “Ark Encounter” theme park are trying to answer questions like these in order to build faith in the Bible’s literal accuracy. The project has run into delays because of lack of financing, which could cost it millions in potential tax breaks. Despite the uncertainty, a recent Reuters preview of the project showed that plans for the ark are continuing.

“We’re basically presenting what the Bible has to say and showing how plausible it was,” said Patrick Marsh, design director for the park, which will feature a 500-foot-long wooden ark and other Old Testament attractions, including a Tower of Babel and a “Ten Plagues” ride. “This was a real piece of history – not just a story, not just a legend.”

Yeah, good luck with that. If you can do it without invoking miracles, you’ll be the first. The claim that there was once a global flood that killed off everything on earth other than 8 humans and the animals they put in a boat isn’t just wrong, it’s utterly moronic.

Scientists have cataloged 1.3 million species of animals, but Ark Encounter protagonists figure Noah could have brought on just 1,000 to 2,000 pairs to represent every animal “kind,” as the Bible puts it.

“If you start with a wolf, you can basically generate all of these dog-like kinds,” said Marsh. As for large animals like dinosaurs, Marsh said Noah could have brought them on as eggs or juveniles, to save room.

Wouldn’t you love to have been there when Noah tried to get a dinosaur egg away from its mother? And I’d love to hear how they explain beetles. There are literally hundreds of thousands of identified species of beetles in the world and probably many times that many that have yet to be identified. If they started with two of the beetle “kind” 4500 years ago, that’s a speciation rate of one every few hours.

72 comments

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  1. 1
    yoav

    “Ten Plagues” ride.

    If you’re a firstborn you probably should skip this one.

  2. 2
    holytape

    They took aim at plausible, but ended up hitting batshit-crazy between the eyes.

  3. 3
    greg1466

    The project has run into delays because of lack of financing, …“We’re basically presenting what the Bible has to say and showing how plausible it was,”

    I can see how it would be very expensive to demonstrate a global flood…

  4. 4
    Synfandel

    Mommy, Mommy, why can’t I go on the ten plagues ride? All the other kids are getting lice and boils. We never have any fun.

  5. 5
    chilidog99

    How about the “Jonah undersea whale ride?”

  6. 6
    marcus

    holytape @ 2 LMAO Yeah kind of like where god aims at San Francisco and takes out Oklahoma.

  7. 7
    holytape

    There is a lost verse in the story of Noah, which reads … “And then Noah loaded the 4,000 kinds of termites, the 1,390,252 kinds of wood boring beetles, 8,000 wood boring flies, 2,000 wood boring wasps, and 200 species of woodpeckers. Noah looked at the gopher-wood ark which cost him 300 years of his life to build, and was going to save his family from the impeding doom. Then looked back at the hordes of wood eating organisms now freely having their way with the superstructure. He looked to the heavens and spoke, “Really, God. 4,000 termites? Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.”

  8. 8
    baal

    “It might happen! Shyeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt!”
    Somethings that more or less work in a written medium don’t always translate well to 3D or even RL – theme park. I suppose if they build a really big boat and put in the middle of the park, they could rely on people being bad at assessing scale.

  9. 9
    Ben P

    Hell, I halfway wonder even with the broad traits that dogs exhibit, if you could deliberately breed a wolf into the variety of modern dog breeds in 4500 years.

    The most ancient dog breeds suggest that domestic dogs split from South Asian Wolves somewhere between 100,000 and 135,000 years ago. There’s some correlation to the fact that most of the oldest known dog breeds come from central and south Asia. Tibetan Hounds, Chow Chow’s, Shar Pei’s and similar dogs.

    Huskies, Malamutes, Samoyeds and similar “Spitz type” breeds are almost as ancient, but belong to a different clade, decending from a specific population of northern wolves about 100,000 years ago.

    Basenji’s are an outlier. Genetically their most recent common ancestor was the same South Asian grey wolf populations, but they migrated to Africa more than 100,000 years ago and remained largely independant of the rest of the dog population.

  10. 10
    matty1

    “This was a not real piece of history – just a story, just a legend.”

    Fixed

  11. 11
    Larry

    And all of this brought to you by financial incentives from the great state of Kentucky.

    You all should be hiding your faces in abject shame.

  12. 12
    holytape

    Biblical rides must really suck.

    Tower of Babel – just a stump of a tower and you can’t understand a word on the signs.
    “Ten Plagues” – enough said.
    Jonah Ride – Eaten by a robotic fish, let out three days later.
    Daniel Ride – Get tossed to either the lions or the flames (Your Choice.)
    The Garden of Eden Stack Hut. — Order the carmel apple get kicked out of the park.
    Job Ride – One member of the party gets struck with the disease and the rest just get killed.
    The Chosen People Ride – No ride, just a line that goes on for forty years.
    The ark of the convenant ride — You touch it, you die.
    The Jesus Ride – Get horse-whipped and nailed to a cross.
    The Women in Religion Ride. (Women only) – Get to sit in the back and say nothing.

  13. 13
    jamessweet

    I interpreted it as wanting to show the plausibility of building a boat with stone age technology that could stay afloat for 40 days (and 40 nights, don’t forget those nights!) while holding two of each “kind” of animal according to the silly pastime known as baraminology. It’s actually somewhat of an interesting question, if you ignore how absurd the premises are….

    By the same token, there is a lot of speculation about what kind of boat could have taken Lehi and his family (of the Mormon mythology) from Jerusalem to the Americas. Really interesting ideas have been floated (bah-dump) about how this could have happened. There’s a tiny part of me that finds such speculation fascinating, in the same way that I like reading about the technical specs of the Death Star.

  14. 14
    lclane2

    It’s important for them to discourage people from thinking about how many people a large zoo employs as well as how many more people a still larger zoo would employ.

  15. 15
    Adrian W.

    If you’re a firstborn you probably should skip this one.

    Whew, safe.

    Wait, it’s firstborn son, isn’t it? Shit.

  16. 16
  17. 17
    Synfandel

    And all of this brought to you by financial incentives from the great state of Kentucky.

    That’s the state that prompted the Kentucky Fried Chicken enterprise to change its name to KFC by demanding royalties for the use of the name “Kentucky” in a shameless (and failed) attempt to grab a lot of cash from a successful business.

  18. 18
    Synfandel

    The Women in Religion Ride. (Women only) – Get to sit in the back and say nothing.

    Unless you’re having your period. Then you’re turned away at the gate because you’re ‘unclean’.

  19. 19
    thisisaturingtest

    Yeah, good luck with that. If you can do it without invoking miracles, you’ll be the first.

    And this is the thing about these people I really don’t get. Basically, by their faith, god himself, and everything he does (such as the flood), is a miracle; their fall back position for anything they want to believe but can’t explain is “god can do anything!” How can you demonstrate “plausibly” something that is, by your own definition, not only implausible but impossible? They’re trying to plausibly demonstrate miracles? They might as usefully (and successfully) demonstrate a four-sided triangle- they’re trying to demonstrate a contradiction in terms.

  20. 20
    chilidog99

    From the FAQ

    We also plan for the Ark Encounter to eventually include daily live mammal and bird shows, an extensive interactive children’s area, live entertainment, and many themed restaurants, creative food outposts, and shopping.

    Mammal shows only?

    No serpent handling?

  21. 21
    doublereed

    I love how they’re shooting for plausibility. They’re not saying it did happen, but that it COULD happen.

    And they can’t even do that because it’s one of the silliest stories in the bible!

  22. 22
    DaveL

    They forget they wouldn’t have to produce all known species from 2,000 “kinds”, they’d have to do it before anyone in the ancient world noticed. As in “Aw, look, Biscuit had kittens… WHAT THE SMEG IS THAT?!”

  23. 23
    Alex

    1000 kinds of Animals? Sounds like there was some serious macroevolution going on in the past 4500 years co sidering that there are much more mutually infertile species today. I would not have thought they were such champions of thatconcept….

  24. 24
    YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith is a Spocktopus cuddler

    No serpent handling

    Only on Sundays.

  25. 25
    johnfromberkeley

    If they really wanted to impress me, they’d have to build it only with the resources available to Noah at the time.

    What will be especially amusing is that if they build a life-sized ark, they will have to face all of the challenges Noah did. And even with modern construction techniques, it won’t be a trivial project.

    It will be great if they have to talk about what a feat of modern engineering it was to build the ark, and then explain how an old jewish guy built the same thing back in his day, with the tools and resources available to him at the time.

  26. 26
    savagemutt

    A Tower of Babel? Great, they’re just going to piss god off again. I hope I get relocated to some cool nation.

  27. 27
    chilidog99

    Only on Sundays

    They won’t be open on Sunday.

  28. 28
    chilidog99

    Correction, according to the FAQ, they will be open every day except Xmas and thanksgiving.

    How blasphemous of them.

  29. 29
    chilidog99

    johnfromberkeley, not only what you pointed out, but they will also have to meet modern building codes to construct a giant wooden box filled with animals and people.

  30. 30
    Geds

    doublereed@ 21: I love how they’re shooting for plausibility. They’re not saying it did happen, but that it COULD happen.

    The sad thing is that their bar for “plausible” is actually extremely low. It basically works like this:

    Skeptic: “So you’re saying the guy built a huge boat by himself with stone age tools?”
    Fundie: “Well, he had three hundred years to do it.”
    Skeptic: “I guess it would be possible to build such a thing given that much time.”
    Fundie: “So it’s plausible.”

    or, and this is the sort of situation where it comes up more often:

    S: “You’re saying that there was a world-wide flood that killed everything but a tiny chunk of the population.”
    F: “Can you absolutely prove there wasn’t one?”
    S: “No, I suppose not.”
    F: “So then it could have happened.”

    This is the general problem with dealing with “plausibility” and the Ham-ish crowd. To them “plausible” means “can’t be definitively disproven.” The problem there is that they’ll either actively and intentionally ignore actual evidence provided by experts in the field (“Were you there?”) or ask someone who isn’t an expert for an expert-level explanation (for instance, I’m a historian, so I can take the Bible apart on a historical level, but I’m only conversant in high school-level science, plus a few things I’ve picked up here and there. I don’t really understand how carbon dating works, nor do I understand how they’ve determined ages for things that go beyond carbon dating or how they’ve married up the various things. I also understand the basic mechanisms of evolution and can explain that and dominant/recessive genes, but my knowledge is extremely shallow, so on some level I just accept that smart, dedicated people know exactly how all that stuff works. But a Hamite pushing me on those things will quickly hit “gotcha!” questions where I just don’t know what the answer is. All they need to know, meanwhile, is that “the Bible says it and I believe it”). When your default state is “goddidit” it’s an easy leap from “not-quite-impossible-but-damn-close” to “yeah-totally-happened.”

  31. 31
    otrame

    A 500 ft. WOODEN boat. That will actually float.

    These people are actually pretty funny.

  32. 32
    raven

    And they can’t even do that because it’s one of the silliest stories in the bible!

    It’s also one of the most vicious.

    During the Big Boat event, god invented genocide and killed everyone but 8 people. This was to fix his flawed creations.

    1. And whose fault was it that they were flawed anyway? God the creator isn’t real big on taking responsibility.

    2. It also didn’t work. We are the same humans we’ve always been. God’s fixes for his own mistakes often involve murder or mass murder and haven’t worked yet.

    It’s telling that the next scheduled human fix is the Apocalypse where jesus shows up 2,000 years late, kills everyone, and destroys the earth.

  33. 33
    Artor

    Synfandel; “That’s the state that prompted the Kentucky Fried Chicken enterprise to change its name to KFC by demanding royalties for the use of the name “Kentucky” in a shameless (and failed) attempt to grab a lot of cash from a successful business.”

    So THAT’s what happened? I was washing dishes for KFC when the change was made, and they explained to employees it was because “Fried,” was a bad word they wanted to disassociate from. I always thought that explanation stunk, because everyone knows KFC fries the hell out of everything. Plus, several generations of customers already knew it as Kentucky FRIED Chicken.

  34. 34
    Larry

    Isn’t this bizarre. A theme park dedicated to the greatest mass murder in history. All the kings and villians in history are absolute pikers compared to this. What kind of sick, twisted mind thought that would be a good idea?

  35. 35
    oranje

    It would be even better if we could setup a theme park next door based on A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes. Oh woodworm…

  36. 36
    Robert B.

    Aiming for plausibility? Sounds like a difficult shot, from where they’re standing…

  37. 37
    chilidog99

    From the FAQ.

    Yes, we are constructing a full-scale, all-wood ark based on the dimensions provided in the Bible (Genesis 6), using the long cubit, and in accordance with sound established nautical engineering practices of the era. It should become the largest timber-frame structure in the USA.

    I won’t even go into the fire code issues here,

    But I can not possibly imagine how they could build hygienic animal enclosures out of wood.

    Further, with the amount of water they will be using to hose out the pens on a regular basis, that building will rot out in a decade.

  38. 38
    raven

    Needless to say this is a combination of religious kooks and scammers.

    Hard to say which is the biggest element but you won’t go wrong with…scammers.

    1. They haven’t been able to raise the money yet, in a few years. This is despite the fact that their followers are guilable and will throw money at just about anything, no matter how dubious.

    These planners might just be going through the motions, because they get paid for it.

    2. Ken Ham’s monument to modern plastics, the Creation Pseudomuseum, is showing declining attendance and revenues. Seen one plastic dinosaur, seen them all.

    3. Even if they get it built, they might not be able to break even. Amusement parks have high fixed costs and need high attendance numbers to do well.

    One biblical theme park, Bakker’s in NC, went BK and the one in Florida almost did.

  39. 39
    kantalope

    Raven – the arkpark won’t have the same fixed costs as a traditional theme park as they won’t require as many employees, they just need one or two of each kind.

    And fifthdentist and http://buffalobeast.com/117/let_there_be_retards.htm – Holy Hunter S. Thompson on a Benzedrine binge – I don’t know what…but Whoa!

  40. 40
    matty1

    I’ve actually seen a few baraminology papers online. The methodology if you can call it that is to pick a group of organisms and ask ‘are they a single baramin?’ then attempt to answer that by a literature search and a lot of assumptions about how similar things have to be to fit in the same baramin.

    The funny thing is they never seem to actually find baramin boundaries within their study group but always end up concluding the group are linked by common descent. In other words even people trying really hard to find evidence against evolution end up finding evidence for.

  41. 41
  42. 42
    tommykey

    So many inconsistencies with the ark story. For instance, God tells Noah to build the ark and collect the animals, but Noah needs to send out birds to find out if there is any dry land instead of God telling him where dry land can be found.

    Noah didn’t have any children until he was 500 years old. Since the Bible says he was an upright man, that presumably means he was a 500 year old virgin.

  43. 43
    reddiaperbaby1942

    The story only talks about animals. I’ve always wondered: What about the millions of plant species? Most of them would quickly die after just a few hours under water, not to mention forty days. And of course the bees needed to pollinate them.
    Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the summer: lots of beautiful trees all around me, all beautifully green (I live in the far north, in Finland. so all this green is a real luxury). I can’t help thinking: all that marvellous chlorophyll photosynthesizing away like mad, making life possible! I can almost hear it fizzing away.

  44. 44
    Modusoperandi

    “If you start with a wolf, you can basically generate all of these dog-like kinds,” said Marsh.

    Actually, if you start with a wolf, you get nothing. It takes two*. I know. I’ve watched.
     
    * And if you take two and only two, after some generations you get mad kings, bleeders, and Hapsburg lips.

  45. 45
    dingojack

    So They’re gonna knap their own stone tools, fell their own ‘gopher trees’, build a gigantic wooden boat (from the hull inward, holding it together with wooden pegs) and caulk it with tar (hand drawn from tar pits)? And then they’re gonna launch it and pray it doesn’t break up, founder or capsize?
    Good luck with that!
    Dingo
    ——–
    PS Mesolithic peoples on the southern edge of Doggerland were building boats using a tongue and groove technique some 10,000 years ago, but not on that scale.

  46. 46
    yoav

    @reddiaperbaby1942
    And despite what the creationists usually claim you would also need room for all the aquatic animals most of which need very specific levels of salinity and temperature to survive. So Kenny must make room on his magic boat for great whites and blue whales and any other species of fish, coral, and so on, and he’s not allow to use any glass for it.

  47. 47
    bnimble

    At least with a working Tower of Babel, it might do something to combat all the unilingualism going on around there.

  48. 48
    raven

    The story only talks about animals. I’ve always wondered: What about the millions of plant species? Most of them would quickly die after just a few hours under water…

    The story requires god to continually poof miracles every time the plot bogs down in silliness and impossibility.

    The biblical god isn’t all that competent.

  49. 49
    yoav

    and caulk it with tar

    And then pray really hard the fire breathing dragons didn’t belch for the whole year.

  50. 50
    reddiaperbaby1942

    I hope he remembered to include a few specimens of the common earthworm, without which all terrestrial life at least would soon become extinct.

  51. 51
    dingojack

    reddiaperbaby1942 – there is only one response to your post #43, I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to listen to this.
    :) Dingo

  52. 52
    Alex

    @bnimble,

    combat all the unilingualism

    Unilingualism sounds like something you would go to hell for, something very dirty, you know, something a Homo sapien would do.
    So I’m sure they’ll be happy to combat it.

  53. 53
    Deen

    “We’re basically presenting what the Bible has to say and showing how plausible it was,”

    but instead, they’re showing how implausible it was that Noah could ever get enough funding to build his ark.

    Wouldn’t you love to have been there when Noah tried to get a dinosaur egg away from its mother?

    Noah’s tale would’ve been far more interesting if they’d bothered to describe the adventures to round up the dinosaurs, as well as his travels to Australia to round up the marsupials, etc. The Bible would be far more impressive too if it had described all the animals that were entirely unknown to the middle east. Wouldn’t you include at least a mention of some of the animals that nobody else had ever seen?

    If they started with two of the beetle “kind” 4500 years ago, that’s a speciation rate of one every few hours.

    Yes, they don’t believe in evolution, but they believe in turbo-evolution. For which there is no evidence. And which apparently has stopped since. Right.

  54. 54
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    I interpreted it as wanting to show the plausibility of building a boat with stone age technology that could stay afloat for 40 days (and 40 nights, don’t forget those nights!) while holding two of each “kind” of animal according to the silly pastime known as baraminology. It’s actually somewhat of an interesting question, if you ignore how absurd the premises are…

    I kinda like this idea. I’ll even go further, they can build the boat with modern tools (tho no modern amenities obviously), let them pick their “kinds” as long as its a representative sample of modern diversity. Then we lock the 8 people most responsible for this nonsense in there for 40 days (or until they concede failure) and see how if they can somehow feed all the animals and deal with the resulting mountain of feces. I’d guess with 4 people feeding and 4 people shoveling 24 hours a day, they’ll be neck deep in crap and starving animals in under a week.

  55. 55
    dingojack

    Dave – plus having to bail the boat continually as the flexing caused by rough seas would create wide-spread leaks throughout the vessel. [See HMS Orlando]
    Dingo

  56. 56
    tommykey

    Not to mention that Noah and his family, landlubberts that they were, would have been heaving their guts out from seasickness.

  57. 57
    Modusoperandi

    dingojack – sure, but they you should see the lounge act. [See Tony Orlando]

  58. 58
    dingojack

    MO – LOL!! [See Tony Orlando!]
    Dingo

  59. 59
    Chiroptera

    yoav, #1:

    Wow! First comment, and you already won!

  60. 60
    Draken

    @reddiaperbaby1942, #43: Plants aren’t living things, dontcha know.

  61. 61
    pianoman, Heathen & Torontophile

    “Ten Plagues” ride.

    “If you’re a firstborn you probably should skip this one”

    @yoav, good one!

  62. 62
    Skip White

    Perhaps the ark was really some sort of TARDIS or other tesseract, which is just as believable as the actual story.

  63. 63
    Skip White

    @Modusoperandi #44,

    For some reason, I read that comment as being in the voice of Stefon from Weekend Update.

  64. 64
    Matrim

    That’s the state that prompted the Kentucky Fried Chicken enterprise to change its name to KFC by demanding royalties for the use of the name “Kentucky” in a shameless (and failed) attempt to grab a lot of cash from a successful business.

    I really wish people would actually find out the truth of the matter before spreading misinformation. While I find the idea behind Snopes’s The Repository of Lost Legends entertaining, it often ends up just spreading wrong (if relatively harmless) information. No, they did not switch to KFC because of trademark issues. Also Mr. Ed was not a zebra, mobile homes are not named for Mobile, Alabama, the bear on the California state flag was not an error, and the Titanic wasn’t showing “The Poseidan Adventure” when it struck the berg. Snopes is a great source, but you still have to be sure you’re looking at the reall stuff and not the T.R.o.L.L. And if you heard it someplace else (or even on the normal part of the Snopes site), it would behoove you to verify.

  65. 65
    Modusoperandi

    Skip White, you read everything in the voice of Stefon from Weekend Update.

  66. 66
    timberwoof

    I still think that lake looks like God sat down there.

  67. 67
    kermit.

    Dave Then we lock the 8 people most responsible for this nonsense in there for 40 days
    .
    Actually it rained for 40 days, but it took a year for the flood to recede enough to find dry land.
    .
    It takes dozens of major miracles and thousands of small ones to make the Flood story work. I wonder if Yahweh was ashamed of his criminal behavior. Isn’t much of a lesson if he uses multiple miracles to hide the fact that it ever happened.
    .
    As a gardener, I’m interested in the idea of plants not only surviving a year long immersion in brackish water but their incredibly quick re-establishing their populations. They did all that and turboevolved, too. Wish my garden plants were that enthusiastic about either surviving or coming up with new sets of traits. I’ve tried soaking my perennials in weakly salty water for a few months, but all I got was a greenish, anaerobic goo.

  68. 68
    kermit.

    As for building a working copy of the ark, it’s pretty simple, actually. Just start with a good 450-foot (140 m) beam for the keel, and the rest pretty much falls into place.

  69. 69
    Big Boppa

    reddiaperbaby1942 @50

    I hope he remembered to include a few specimens of the common earthworm, without which all terrestrial life at least would soon become extinct

    Actually, they brought along a whole bunch of “kinds” of worms. But see, it was a year long sea voyage and they had to do some fishing to survive and, well, you know….

  70. 70
    Childermass

    Good luck getting all that “microevolution”* of dogs from a single pair of dog kind because with only one male and one female the necessary genetic diversity will simply not be there. So any formation of all those new types of varieties of dogs is nothing more than magic. Ditto everything else.

    *Yeah, they don’t know what that word means.

  71. 71
    ospalh

    Aiming for plausibility?
    I think i know how they mean it.
    According even to Ken Ham himself, there were 120 years between the announcement that there would be an ark, and the sailing of the boat. Most of that time Ham, i mean Noah, was just sitting on his tush, doing nothing much but bemoaning how bad the world had become.

  72. 72
    bmiller

    Basenji’s are an outlier. Genetically their most recent common ancestor was the same South Asian grey wolf populations, but they migrated to Africa more than 100,000 years ago and remained largely independant of the rest of the dog population.

    Basenjis are outliers in many other ways as well. They don’t bark and are amazingly smart and stubborn.

    Gosh, I miss my basenji :( Mine passed on last year at age 15. Current landlady doesn’t want aimals. :(

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