Kentucky Theme Park: No Tax Break


Kentucky has withdrawn its offer of tax breaks for a religious-themed park that would feature a 500ft-long wooden ark because its organisers plan to screen park employees based on religion.

The planned Ark Encounter park has evolved from a tourism attraction into an outreach for the Christian ministry that is building it, the state tourism secretary, Bob Stewart, said in a letter to the group’s lawyer on Wednesday.

“Certainly, Ark Encounter has every right to change the nature of the project from a tourism attraction to a ministry,” Stewart wrote in the letter. “However, state tourism tax incentives cannot be used to fund religious indoctrination or otherwise be used to advance religion.”

Surely the message is more important than the religiousness of their staff?  I fully expect that the people in charge will change their tune for a tax break…

Mount Ararat or Mount Judi?


My take is that the oldest source is the most trustworthy – unless a more recent source can disprove the earlier one.

Long before Christian traditions cited Mt Ararat as the landing place for Noah’s Ark, there was Mt Judi:

In the book, Antiquities of the JewsJosephus wrote:

the ark rested on the top of a certain mountain in Armenia … However, the Armenians call this place, αποβατηριον ‘The Place of Descent’; for the ark being saved in that place, its remains are shown there by the inhabitants to this day.

That was written in AD 93 or 94.

The identification of Mount Judi as the landing site of the ark persisted in Syriac and Armenian tradition throughout Late Antiquity but was abandoned for the tradition equating the biblical location with the highest mountain of the region, Mount Ararat.

It makes sense, given the enormity of the alleged food, that the legend is changed so that the highest mountain in region becomes the official landing place.

The most ancient descriptions of the ark story come to us from (modern day) Iran. Mt Judi is far closer to Iran than Mt Ararat.

Christians Unhappy With Russell Crowe Movie

Here’s a great example of how polls can be skewed. Look at how loaded this question is:

“are you satisfied with a biblically themed movie designed to appeal to you which replaces the Bible’s core message with one created by Hollywood?”

98% of 5000 Christian consumers (where did they find them – from their own mailing list? Or perhaps their 68,000 Facebook followers?) said no to this question. I wonder what the response would have been to an alternative question, like:

“are you excited by the prospect of watching the glory of Noah’s epic story on the silver screen?”

But it gets worse – on the page where Faith Driven Consumer asks that loaded question, they also say:

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Noah has been criticized for depicting Noah as a “crazy, irrational, religious nut…fixated on modern-day problems like overpopulation and environmental degradation.”

Expect the same protests that met the excellent The Last Temptation of Christ.

Was Noah’s Ark Circular?

A recently deciphered clay tablet from ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq these days) describes Noah’s Ark pretty much the same way as other ancient texts do.

With one mighty exception…

It describes a circular vessel known as a coracle, not the rectangular vessel of modern mythology.


The tablet records a Mesopotamian god’s instructions for building a giant vessel – two-thirds the size of a soccer field in area – made of rope, reinforced with wooden ribs and coated in bitumen. [Source]


Coracles are real vessels from that location and era (and numerous other places). Small and round, they aren’t easy to steer, but that wasn’t a problem for Noah. One difficulty for bridging the gap between ancient myth and reality is whether or not coracles could be built at such dimensions, and also be seaworthy.

The tablet is currently on display at the British Museum. A book about it and the deciphered story, The Ark Before Noah, will be released.

“Ark Encounter” update

I previously reported on plans to build a full-size replica ark (and theme park) in Williamstown, Kentucky.

Well, they’ve had problems with funding but it still might proceed.

The project is currently in the design phase. Not enough private donations have come in to start construction, and building permits will not be ready until November, according to Ark Encounter co-founder and Senior Vice President Michael Zovath.

The project has $12.3-million in hand and $12.7-million more in committed donations; it needs $23-million more to start building the ark alone. Zovath does not know when that will happen.

Like Noah before the Flood, the builders are in a bit of a time crunch, since Kentucky tourism tax incentives for the project are set to expire in May 2014.

The longer it takes to start building the $150-million park, originally planned to open in spring 2014, the less the project stands to gain from the rebates, which allow it to receive up to 25 percent of project costs over 10 years from sales taxes generated by the business.

Zovath said the project may refile for the incentives, which critics argue are a violation of the constitutional divide between church and state. If the rebates applied to the full project cost, they could amount to $37.5-million.

My opinion: they are aiming too high. Surely they could build an ark worth visiting for much less?

Noah Comic Funded at KickStarter

The story of Noah has been told many, many times – and not just in Biblical texts. It is a favorite of children everywhere, and so it perhaps not so surprising that it will now make an appearance in comic book form.

This story as I read it, while full of redemption, beauty and hope has also the grim reality of judgement on such a grand scale as never before or since seen. The story lifts my eyes to see a God who is awesome and terrifying, while full of love and compassion; I believe that to sidestep these aspects of the story is a disservice to all. [Kickstarter]

The author describes it as a “wordless picture book” – maybe to just keep the concept on the respectable side.

Based on the first page, it will be a handsome book – and will be available to purchase in due course.

Noah’s Ark Comic

Rod Walsh: Ark Contained Dinosaurs

Rod Walsh (from Geelong, Australia) has made seven model arks, and this is his latest:


Mr Walsh’s two metre ark  model is 72 times smaller than the real deal which he says was the length of three Olympic swimming pools, four storeys high – and large enough to carry about 130,000 animals over its three levels.

…As to the curly question of dinosaurs, Mr Walsh says the Bible talks about a ‘behemoth’ with a tail the size of  a cedar tree. He says he is sure there was a small dinosaur on the ark, along with ‘one of every kind’ of animal, but not every specie.
More at News Mail

That is an interesting take on the dinosaur question. According to Genesis:

Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.

Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.

The first paragraph could be misinterpreted to mean two of each type of animal – two birds, two fish, two mammals. But the second paragraph makes it clear – seven of every kind of bird – that we are talking species.
Aside from Genesis, I can’t see how taking one species of dinosaur onto the Ark could translate into all dinosaur species living after the flood.

25-Foot Noah’s Ark Replica in Texas

It is clear from the photos that this model ark has had a lot of time and skill spent on it:




The model is on display at the Creation Evidence Museum – dedicated to finding and displaying evidence in favor of Creationist ideas. One such exhibit is a human footprint within a dinosaur footprint, proving a co-existence.

According to Genesis, regarding the dimensions of Noah’s Ark:

The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.

Consequently the model looks pretty close to how Christians would imagine it.

A dedication ceremony will be held on Saturday.