by Susan Trollinger
As noted in our last post, Ark Encounter (which opens July 7) offers visitors a life-size opportunity to experience the story of eight people and 2000 animals snugly situated on a boat while – according to Answers in Genesis (AiG) – millions or billions of people and animals were drowning in the global flood raging outside. In this sense, Ark Encounter is a massively expanded and “brought-to-life” version of perhaps the darkest room in the Creation Museum, the Voyage of the Ark room.
That room contains a miniature diorama in which men, women, children, and animals are stranded upon or frantically trying to climb to the peaks of mountain tops (all that remains above the fast-rising flood waters) to escape their certain death. While some folks are sprawled onto the rock, perhaps unconscious, those standing are flailing their arms as they desperately signal the Ark, begging for their rescue. The Ark floats by, sealed off from their distress as there are no windows. The only opening—the door through which Noah’s family and the animals entered—can be seen, but it is shut. An accompanying placard explains that God has shut the Ark’s door, thus ending “any opportunity for people outside . . . to be saved.”
In Righting America (pp. 54-56) we have more to say about this diorama, and provide a photograph. But also in the Voyage of the Ark room – and about which we say little in the book – is an equally troubling video that plays on a composite set of four flat screens. One sees various computer-generated animations of the Earth in the process of being consumed by the Flood. The seams of the Earth appear to split open from the North Pole to the South, and the Flood waters burst forth swallowing all land in giant walls of water. Inset clocks indicate that all this happens very quickly. What makes this all so vivid is the scene of what appears to be a mother and daughter in Middle Eastern dress sitting inside a house and contentedly playing a game of Mancala . . . and through the window one sees a wall of water rapidly advancing on the blissfully unaware pair. Within a matter of seconds, they will be desperately trying to keep their heads above the raging waters. Within a matter of minutes, they will be dead.
There is a bench positioned in front for comfortable viewing. From our seven visits to the museum we can say that it is a compelling video. We have a photo from 2012 of six middle-aged and elderly white women – two on the bench, two in chairs behind the bench, two standing nearby – attentively watching the wall of water approaching the house.
What makes all this even darker is that the Voyage Room, within which these scenes of both global (the whole Earth) and personal (a mother and child) destruction appear, was constructed in such an appealing way. The floors, walls, and ceiling of this room are all covered in beautiful wood stained a warm golden color. Life-size baskets filled with food for the journey wait in corners of the room for use as miniature dioramas depict idyllic family scenes wherein Noah, his wife, and children dine together amidst beautiful tapestries and hand-woven rugs or feed the animals from abundant sacks of grain (Righting America, 56-58).
Life on the Ark appears to be good, very good. And visitors are positioned by the room itself to experience that warmth, peace, love, and goodness.
Yet just beyond its golden stained walls, a mother and child suffer. The whole world suffers.
What a curious and callous juxtaposition.