by William Trollinger
When it comes to Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter, there is much to criticize. Just for starters, Ham and company have created a tourist site dedicated to celebrating divine genocide. As commemorated by Ark Encounter, a righteously furious God drowned up to twenty billion individuals – including toddlers, infants, and the unborn – in Noah’s Flood. Adding to the grotesquerie, the Ark tells the story of Noah and his family happily enjoying delicious meals and contentedly engaging in various crafts, all the while blissfully ignoring the global slaughter just outside the walls.
On the other hand, Ken Ham gets quite exercised when someone notes that Ark Encounter has received a lot of government assistance (how can that be, when everyone knows that government persecutes Bible-believing Christians?). So last August Ham blasted me – in an article entitled University of Dayton Professor Attacks Ark and Ken Ham in Unscholarly Article – for having pointed out that in 2013 the little town of Williamstown issued $62m in junk bonds and then loaned the proceeds to help get the Ark Encounter project underway, and that this sweet deal was made even sweeter by the provision that 75% of what Ark Encounter would have paid in property taxes over the next three decades will actually be used to pay off the loan. I also pointed out that Ark Encounter used the vision of great economic benefits to persuade Williamstown to underwrite the bonds, but it turns out that the town has seen virtually no economic benefits from this deal (a fact Ham now blames on the town being too far on the other side of the interstate to get Ark visitors, something he neglected to say as he and his colleagues were wooing Williamstown).
Ham responded to my post with misrepresentations of what I had to say, failures to come clean about how the Ark has been funded and how the project was sold to Williamstown, and various ad hominem attacks. In my post, Ken Ham Attacks rightingamerica, I responded point by point to Ham’s misstatements and elisions while also delineating his attacks on my religiosity, my scholarly competence, and my ability to teach. I concluded by noting that
if Ham’s post were a paper written by a University of Dayton in one of my first-year classes, I would have written this at the bottom of the paper: Failure to provide substantive evidence to back your claims, and a dismaying tendency to resort to ad hominem attacks. This is not acceptable for a university-level paper. Revise and resubmit.[Thanks to Susan Trollinger for the italicized text.]
Ham is at it again, with his February 19 Cincinnati Enquirer article blasting the wonderful film about Ark Encounter, We Believe in Dinosaurs. In Ark documentary another hatchet job, Ham lets loose a volley of unsubstantiated attacks, including references to “deceitful producers,” an “agenda-driven propaganda piece,” a “supposed ‘documentary,” “clever camera angles and selectively-edited interviews,” and more. But as is Ham’s wont, over half of this article is devoted to claiming that the Ark has not received huge tax breaks. In the process Ham completely (and predictably) elides the aforementioned $62m bonds and property tax forgiveness package he received from the town of Williamstown; as regards Williamstown’s failure to benefit from the Ark (that it helped fund), the Answers in Genesis CEO once again blames the town for being on the opposite side of the interstate from Ark Encounter.
One of the individuals featured in We Believe in Dinosaurs is David McMillan, a former young Earth creationist who has become a critic of creationism and its denial of mainstream science. In a February 24 Cincinnati Enquirer article, McMillan succinctly and successfully rebuts Ham on all counts, concluding with the observation that “Ham’s treatment of Williamstown is a reminder that these sorts of cult-like organizations have impacts that go much farther than the foolish ideas they promote.” No need for me to summarize McMillan’s brilliant article. Here it is: Ham fleeced a town that gave him his Ark Encounter.