By now, nearly every Christian in the United States, let alone Adventists, has heard of the “ark encounter” in Williamstown, Kentucky. It is a life-size model of Noah’s Ark, which cost over $100 million to build. It opened in 2016 and has already had millions of visitors.
The Ark Encounter has the dual purpose of promoting young earth creationism and sharing the gospel to the world. It was built by the world’s largest creative ministry, Answers in Genesis. It was founded by Ken Ham, an Australian. They also built a world-class creation museum near the Cincinnati airport.
I first visited the Ark Encounter during its first year of operation. I was anxious to see how they dealt with the scientific issues of creationism. Their displays would affect how I set up our displays at the North Pacific Union Center for Creation Study Museum. I recently visited for a second time, and saw a number of changes and expansions to their ministry.
As for the historicity of the Genesis Flood, they apparently heard every objection, as their displays echo questions about insects, fish, the types of animals that were on board (including dinosaurs) and their food and care. They even address what was done with the…uh…poo! Their science exhibits also show the extensive evidence found in the earth’s crust of global destruction by water.
The evidence is well presented and is strongly backed by objective science. Of course, Wikipedia calls this evidence “pseudoscience,” a reminder that our current culture has not accepted the truths of God’s Word. But hopefully, for those with an open mind, these great truths will have a faith-building effect.
And that brings me to this question. Does the Ark Encounter do our job?
When I say “our” work, I mean the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
It seems to me that in Revelation 14:6-7, the first angel’s message includes a call to “worship him who made heaven, earth, and sea…”. These phrases are a clear reference to the Sabbath, a memorial of creation. Then there is the reference to “fountains” of water, which uses the Septuagint wording of Genesis 7:11 and the flood.
If we believe that the three angels’ messages are God’s last message to the world before the coming of Christ – including an evangelistic call to worship the God of Genesis (the Creator and the Judge) – we should also use a “voice strong”, if the messages of these angels are indeed our mission to proclaim.
But how much is our voice?
I recently spoke to two science teachers from two conservative Adventist colleges and the consensus was clear: our church does not have a strong focus on these truths. And, most alarmingly, it is one of the main causes why our young adults lose their faith in a Creator and walk away from the church. No answer is provided that could change this result.
What we need is leadership, pastors who take up this challenge, administrators who find funding, and prayers for the Lord of the harvest to send more workers. We do not want the harvest to suffer unnecessary losses. We also don’t need to rely on the Ark Encounter to do our job.