In today’s post, our colleague Treavor Bogard continues his discussion of Answers in Genesis (AiG), exploring the possibilities and potential significance of the Ark under a different director than Ken Ham.
Darkness v. light. Death v. life. There is more than one way to understand the Ark.
The Ark Encounter, like the Creation Museum, promotes the simple and simplistic notion that evolutionary theory has led to cultural decay in the West. Given this, it is incumbent on righteous Christians to engage in a culture war against the atheistic forces of decay and corruption. Inside the Ark, the God-fearing are held safe from the flood and close the door on the masses who face peril in the rising tide. The Ark Encounter inscribes on its visitors a dramatic sense that the saved are radically distinct from the depraved. People are not seen as a mixture of good and evil, but as being either all good or all bad.
Conservative evangelicals such as Ken Ham rally behind narratives in which the land is purged and Christian fundamentalism triumphs. This message is reverberated in Trump’s campaign to “Make America Great Again” through exclusion: literally building a wall and shutting out Mexican immigrants and people from Muslim-majority countries as well as rejecting more rights for non-whites, women, gays, trans people, and other minorities.
The Ark has tapped the ideological sentiments of many conservative Christians who feel that a white, middle class, Christian America is under threat by social progressives. Kim Davis, county clerk for Rowan County, KY, said she was acting “under God’s authority” when she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage. Former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee, described the whole affair as the “criminalization of Christianity.” The Ark Encounter stands as a cultural symbol of the sentiments of a people who feel the time has come to shut the door on secularists.
Of course, the Ark could be seen otherwise. The Ark could be seen as a very different sort of symbol. Contrary to Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis (AiG), the Ark could be understood as an instrument of grace for all of us. In this vision the Ark would represent a God who sees the love that connects our shared humanity, undivided and keeping afloat all that is real, leaving behind all that is false in ourselves: grandiosity, deceit, illusion, and separateness. In this vision the rainbow would be the promise that we are never separated from God’s love, that love is the only thing that is real, and that we need no longer divide in order to conquer, but unify in order to heal.
Grace. Love. Unity. Sounds like the Gospel. Doesn’t sound like AiG’s culture war Ark, and the divine drowning of perhaps 20 billion people.