A second cataclysmic flood may not be imminent but Noah's Ark may rise again.
Fundraising for a project known as the Ark Encounter has brought in enough money for the construction of the ambitious structure to begin. The aim of the project is to build a full-sized replica of Noah's Ark as described in the Bible. The project was initiated by the same people who founded the controversial Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky.
"We praise our Creator God for His blessings and for the incredible support we just witnessed from our generous supporters around the country," said Ken Ham the president and CEO of Answers in Genesis and one of the founders of the Creation Museum. "Yes, there have been days of nervous anticipation. Many challenges and road blocks came up as we worked through the stages of the bond offering leading up to the final bond delivery. From atheists registering for the bond offering and attempting to disrupt it, to secular bloggers and some reporters writing misleading and inaccurate articles about the bonds-the obstacles were numerous and disruptive."
Controversies and debates aside, a full-sized replica of Noah's Ark would be an impressive sight. The planned structure will be 510 feet long and is estimated to cost a total of $24.5 million. However, the Ark Encounter is also meant to serve as a biblical theme park and the estimated $24.5 million price tag will only cover the ark itself. An 800 acre plot of land was allocated for the theme park but the park will be built in sections over several years. The total cost of the entire park will be around $73 million. The organization behind the project has reported that it has raised around $14.4 million in private donations.
Once completed, the theme park is expected to draw in an estimated 2 million people during its first year of operations. The location chosen for the Ark Encounter is in Grant County, Kentucky.
Ham said that a sizable portion of the $14.4 million worth of donations was acquired due to a highly publicized debate between ham and Bill Nye "The Science Guy" on Feb. 4. The debate pulled in around 7 million viewers, which brought a lot of attention to the project.
"The date of my debate with Bill Nye had been on our calendar several months before we knew the final delivery date of the Ark bonds," said Ham. "But in God's timing, not ours-and although the bond registration had already closed before February 4 and no more bonds could be purchased- the high-profile debate prompted some people who had registered for the bonds to make sure they followed through with submitting the necessary and sometimes complicated paperwork."
The project was first proposed back in 2010 but numerous problems caused repeated delays. Construction of the ark is scheduled to begin on May.