The following letter was recently received by Answers in Genesis:
Please do not send us anymore literature or requests for money concerning the “ Ark.” To us, it seems a dreadful waste of money, especially given the number of people unemployed and struggling to get by in our land.
In our estimation you are exhibiting very poor and unwise stewardship.
Also, as concerning the museum: it was a disappointment to us. We expected much more of a “museum” and place of higher education quality to be exhibited. Instead, too much of it was of a Sesame Street/kids-day-out quality. We gave to you expecting excellence to compete on the level of the Smithsonian, etc. but all we got was Disneyland scaled-down.
Also there was too much “Gospel” in the sense that every time you turned around, practically, you were accosted by it. If your apologetic is clear, factual, and compelling, a subtle gospel/salvation presentation on the way out is all that is needed to be effective. This is our opinion.
We continue to pray for you …
Here was our response (slightly edited for the web) as we answered the claims that the museum was too evangelistic and that the future full-size Noah’s Ark is not a worthwhile project:
Thank you for your recent note and for your support of Answers in Genesis. We also appreciate your prayerful support.
I am sorry that our Creation Museum did not meet your expectations and that it was too gospel-oriented and something similar to a scaled-down Disneyland.
First, we have always been upfront about the fact that this museum is meant to be evangelistic to all the non-Christian visitors. As we have said so often, the last thing we want is an evolutionist to tour the museum, give up on evolution, and become a creationist but not become a Christian. In terms of eternity, it does not matter if one is a creationist if he does not know the Creator, Jesus Christ.
I am not sure how much time you had to spend in our museum, but even our detractors have been impressed with the quality of our science displays. A New York Times critic talked glowingly of our fossil collection, especially our nautiloids.
Just this week a travel magazine wrote the following about the museum:
… the display design and educational content in this museum stand up to other major natural history museums in the U.S. … with displays that will please both casual visitors and those seeking scientific answers.
The quality of the museum and its exhibits … are thorough, compelling and well-presented, [and] they engender a real dialogue about the origins of our universe.1
At the same time, we did not want our museum to be boring and stuffy like so many natural history museums. Young people have the best time in museums when they not only experience quality displays (like ours) but also have fun in the process. For the Christian families that visit, our primary intent is to reach young people who are “evolutionized” in their schools, media, and science museums, and so we wanted to have an enjoyable place. Young people nowadays are not inclined to peer into exhibit cases and read a lot of science text—we need to reach youngsters through ways that connect to them in this technological age.
For what it’s worth, and of the thousands of emails, letters, and comment forms submitted about the museum, your letter is the first we have ever received expressing this specific concern about the museum’s content. But you have shared your opinion, and we have listened.
Regarding your comments about the Ark, I want to share with you why this is such a serious project (contrary to your assertion) and is one of the best ways to present the gospel in these days—and also to help the regional economy and make a dent into the high unemployment rate.
Perhaps we haven’t communicated well enough about the nature of the Ark Encounter project and why we think it will be even more impactful for the Kingdom than our evangelistic Creation Museum.
Frankly, we can’t think of a more evangelistic outreach for today than using the example of an Ark, which provides a picture of salvation, and thus allows us a great opportunity to proclaim salvation through the true Ark of salvation—Jesus Christ. While the Flood was a judgment by God upon the rebellious people of Noah’s day, God graciously provided the only means of physical salvation for Noah and his family. Similarly, Jesus Christ supplies the only means of salvation from sin. Regarding Jesus, Peter stated, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The Ark Encounter will give us a tremendous opportunity to share the gospel with millions of visitors.
While the Ark Encounter will be a fun experience for families, it is not an amusement park as you seem to have suggested. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an amusement park as a place “having various devices for entertainment (as a merry-go-round and roller coaster).” While we hope that our guests will be entertained as they learn Bible truths and events from various themed attractions, the Ark Encounter is not like Disneyworld, King’s Island, Universal Studios, etc. There will be no roller coasters, for example, and no other kinds of “thrill” rides.
The Ark Encounter can also be described as a themed educational complex presenting historical accounts re-created from the Old Testament and some from the New Testament. Furthermore, it will not be a frivolous place that exalts the ideas of man. More than anything, it points to the Creator and Savior of the world, Jesus Christ (Colossians 1). First and foremost, it is an evangelistic outreach.
Also, while the Creation Museum definitely serves its purpose in presenting real events from the Bible, and many lives have been touched (we rejoice in the many salvation testimonies), we believe the Ark can do even more to speak about the history of the Old Testament. Many skeptics will not even listen to the gospel message because they believe the Bible can’t be trusted, especially in Genesis.
Because of the attention the Ark will receive and the large number of visitors it should draw, the Ark Encounter is expected to reach many more people than we ever could have with the Creation Museum. There will be a lot of Bible instruction at the Ark project as we show visitors that the Bible is the true history book of the universe and that the gospel message, based in that history (starting with Genesis), is the most important biblical truth to share.
In addition, this project will meet a social need as it becomes a blessing to many needy people, especially with the state having so many people unemployed (over 10 percent in Kentucky). This attraction will bring jobs to 900 people at the Ark Encounter, many of whom might be needing employment at that time. Also, an estimated 14,000 jobs will be created in the area for tourism-related businesses (hotels, restaurants, and other places). These positions include thousands of management positions. Furthermore, the state and local governments will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue in the first ten years, which will help fund schools, health care, libraries, and other services. The Ark Encounter will be an absolute boon to northern Kentucky and its residents, in a state that has the sixth-worst unemployment rate in the nation for 2011.
Moreover, we can think of no more vital project to reach out to the neediest people of them all than those who are heading to a Christ-less eternity.
May I ask what have you read or heard from us or others that has prompted your concern and runs contrary to what you have read in this letter? Thank you.
I trust you can see the Ark’s potential as a way to share the truths of the Bible, particularly the gospel message.
I think when the Ark Encounter opens, you will see it as a wise use of funds, and I hope that you’ll be able to tour the Ark when it opens, Lord willing, in 2016.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
CCO, Answers in Genesis
P.S. Just as I was composing this letter, I received the following email about the museum:
We organized a trip [for 11 young people] to the Museum, and, in order to maximize the experience, we scheduled it for the Sunday and Monday of Labor Day weekend, with a campout on Sunday night.
At the campground we met a Christian couple who are actually living there. The husband is a finish carpenter by trade and his wife is disabled. As a result of the economy, they have lost their home and shop, and are reduced, materially, to their camper and pick-up truck. They were thrilled with our plans for taking the kids to the Museum, and I offered to leave our guest passes with them on our way home on Monday. They had never been, and such a trip is a definite luxury for their budget.
Although they were timid about accepting the use of our passes, by the time we stopped back by on Monday evening, Terry had a gleam in his eye as he had pondered using the passes to take lost people he knew. Long story short, in the three weeks they kept the passes, they took 23 people to the museum, and three of those received Christ!
I praise God for AiG and the Museum and all the related resources that enable people to effectively share the Gospel. I pray for you and Ken and the ministers and ministries regularly. May God ever prosper and protect you.