Righting America

A forum for scholarly conversation about Christianity, culture, and politics in the US
At Ark Encounter, It’s All About Hell  | Righting America

by William Trollinger

Placard from inside the Ark Encounter. Photo by Susan L. Trollinger.

In my last post, I highlighted the ways in which the Noah family featured at the Answers in Genesis (AiG) tourist site, Ark Encounter, bears remarkable similarities to Commandant Höss and his family, who (as dramatized in The Zone of Interest) happily lived in a beautiful house adjacent to Auschwitz. At Ark Encounter, Noah and wife and three sons and their wives are happily and stunningly unconcerned by the fact that, according to AiG, outside the walls of their big boat up to twenty billion people are drowning. And visitors are encouraged to join the Noah family in their moral obliviousness by taking “keepsake photos” at the door that, according to AiG, God shut tight just as the waters were rising and the drowning was commencing. 

Of course, Young Earth Creationists (YECs) need the global Flood as their explanation for why the Earth is not ancient, as the year-long Flood created the geological formations (e.g., the Grand Canyon) that make the Earth look old when it isn’t. That is to say, it makes sense why YECs would create a tourist site that highlights the Flood.

But what is not clear is why they need to make the absurd claim that up to twenty billion human beings drowned in this Flood, nor is it clear why (using “artistic license”) they need to create a little family that is so morally vacuous that they can play music, read books, and eat good food in the midst of a divine genocide. 

It’s not clear, until one realizes that, when it comes down to it, the message of Ark Encounter is not simply about the global Flood that supposedly proves the YECs to be right. That is to say, the main message of Ark Encounter is not simply about the past. Instead, it is also about the future.

This all becomes clear when one enters the “Fairy Tale Ark” exhibit, where all sorts of Noah’s Ark books are displayed, many or most of which are children’s books. Through a series of placards, visitors are instructed that these books are “deceptively cute” but “destructive,” as they “disorient” the reader, “disregard” God’s Word, “discredit” the Truth, and – in their portrayal of “cute animals and a fun boat ride” – “distort” the message. In short, these books are in the business of “defaming God’s character”:

By treating Noah’s Ark and the Flood as fairy tales rather than sobering reminders of divine judgment on a sin-filled world, these storybooks frequently trivialize the Lord’s righteous and holy character.

In case all of this is too subtle, there is the red-orange serpent looking at you while wrapped around this message: 

If I can convince you that the Flood was not real, then I can convince you that Heaven and Hell are not real.    

Heaven is an after-thought (at best) at Ark Encounter. The point is Hell. And as the folks at AiG see it, if you have trouble accepting the notion that a “righteous and holy” God drowned up to 20 billion human beings (including children, infants, and the unborn) – if you struggle to wrap your head around this sort of genocidal God – you might also doubt the notion that there is a God who is planning to subject billions of humans to eternal torment. On the other hand, if you believe in the notion that God drowned up to 20 billion human beings (again, including children, infants, and the unborn), then you should have no trouble believing that God is quite capable of consigning billions of human beings “to conscious and everlasting punishment in the lake of fire (hell)” (proposition #45 in the AiG Statement of Faith). 

In the end, this is the point of Ark Encounter. And there’s no point in thinking about all those who will be tortured, forever. They deserve it.
(Note: Check out Paul Braterman’s 3 Quarks Daily piece about Ark Encounter, “Toilet Train Your Tyrannosaur.” Yes. Toilet training.)