By Dennis Melancon
In the book of Genesis in the Old Testament, God commanded Noah to build a floating vessel called the Ark. According to the Bible, God caused rain to fall for forty days and opened “the fountains of the great deep,” and the earth flooded. All people not on the Ark perished.
Recently, several of us took a road trip to Williamstown, Kentucky (south of Cincinnati) to visit the Ark Encounter and later the Creation Museum. The Ark is a reproduction of the original vessel that God commanded Noah to build to save him, his family, and many animals from a worldwide flood. The Creation Museum, 45 minutes away, is dedicated to the belief in the literal translation of the beginning of the Bible, that God created the universe in six days and the earth is about six thousand years old.
The trip to Kentucky was smooth and a pleasure. The major roads were relatively free of heavy traffic and well maintained. Once we reached the middle of Alabama, we drove through hill country, then the mountains of Tennessee and Kentucky. We were just north of the Smoky Mountains, but the area reminded me of the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri. For someone born and raised in southern Louisiana, this region was like visiting another world. Altogether, a very pleasant trip.
Everywhere we stopped on the trip, for meals or hotels, we were met by very friendly, helpful people, showing the best of Southern hospitality. Every stop had signs reminding us of masks and social distancing, but these policies were sometimes maintained with a “wink and a nod”. Masks were worn almost everywhere in the South, but some were pulled down to below the nose, or even to the chin. At both museums, we noticed that masks were worn by almost all visitors, but as the day progressed, masks began to disappear.
The modern Ark sits in a large well-maintained garden with other buildings, including housing a huge large restaurant, several gift shops, and a lecture hall seating over 2,000 people. A small zoo is also on the grounds. The enormous Ark, at 510 feet long, was built from specific dimensions found in the Old Testament. It is almost one hundred feet wide and over fifty feet high. There are three decks inside and a large door on the left side of the vessel. Each deck has connecting ramps to move guests up or down the different floors.
The lowest deck contains cages for the smaller animals (they are sculpted), with feeding and watering systems. The next deck is devoted to larger animals (also sculpted) in bigger cages, and bins for storing supplies. The top deck contains more storage spaces and living areas for Noah and his family. This level also features displays describing living conditions and how the family cared for the animals. Several videos provide more information about Noah and his family, and the work required to build this reproduction of the Ark and its various displays.
The Creation Museum in Petersburg is also surrounded by gardens and short walking paths. The main building is a two story structure, housing a lecture hall, 4D theater, planetarium, two gift shops, and a café. Dozens of informative three-dimensional displays of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and animals are featured. Other areas display evidence of the Flood and its effects, and how the earth changed because of it. Still others present more information about the Ark, how it was built, and how it was designed for the heavy winds and waves of the flood. Both of the popular attractions provide answers to many of the questions people have asked over the years about the Ark, the rains, the animals collected, and conditions after the flood waters receded.
Both attractions are family friendly and well maintained, with excellent displays and wonderful gardens. The staff members are friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. No matter what your beliefs, visiting these internationally popular attractions is inspiring and enjoyable for all. (Note: children 10 and under are free through the end of 2021.)
The displays at both museums were very well constructed and maintained, and they were all designed to share biblical accounts. They were all family friendly, easy to comprehend, and enjoy. The grounds at both museums were colorful, filled with plants of various colors and blooms. As with the displays, the grounds were beautiful to visit and enjoy, with excellent pathways. We also attended several very informative lectures at both sites.
Some questions answered at the museums included:
- God created dinosaurs the same week he created all other life on earth, so there were dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden, and Noah had dinosaurs on the Ark. Most of them died out after the Flood because conditions on earth changed too much to support them.
- At the time of the Flood, all continents were united in one Pangaea. Huge underwater volcanoes erupted, hurtling large amounts of water into the atmosphere to fall as rain. The rain flooded the single continent and took about a year to drain.
- God sent two of every “kind” of animal to board the Ark, but not two of every animal. A biblical “kind” refers to all animals of a particular family. So, Noah would not have had two wolves, two foxes, two coyotes, etc., as they are all of a “kind” of canine. So just two canine representatives would be enough. After the Flood, the two canines would branch out to what we have now. The same is true for other animals.
- Larger animals would have been difficult for Noah’s family to care for, so God sent juveniles of the large kinds; they would be smaller, easier to handle, and eat less food.
- God may have caused most of the animals to hibernate during the flood, to keep them sedate and to save on food and water.
- The original Ark had no rudder nor sails, but it may have had three keels to help keep it stable in heavy seas and may have had a sail-like prow to keep the vessel pointed toward the winds.
- The Ark depicted wave-powered pumps to provide fresh air and collect rain water for drinking.
For those who are strict creationists, both museums offer greater understandings of the Bible and The Word. For those who believe that the Biblical account is generally accurate but more of a quick guide into the beginning of the Earth, both museums are enjoyable and even educational. It is doubtful that the museums will change every mind, but just about everyone will enjoy the displays, as well as appreciate the remarkable work put into the building of the Ark itself.