Encountering the Ark

 The Unicorn is a Mythical Beast.

— James Thurber, The Unicorn in the Garden

Although my readers do not come to this space to get ideas for vacations they may wish to take, many of my readers may be looking for respite after suffering through the last 12 months of what is known as presidential politics.  Herewith my suggestion for something to do after voting. The suggestion I offer should serve as a way to go gently from the complete insanity of the presidential election, to something only slightly less unreal, as we all seek a soft landing back into the real world.  The destination to which I direct my readers as they attempt to return to normalcy, is located in Williamstown, Kentucky.

Williamstown is home to the world’s largest replica of Noah’s Ark.  It was built at a reported cost of $100 million, which even when put into the context of how many hundreds of millions have been spent on this election, seems like a lot of money.

The site where the ark resides is called “Ark Encounter,” and the promotional materials designed to entice visitors, describe it as a “Christian evangelistic outreach intended to bring the Ark of Noah’s day to life.” Since there is not sufficient water in the immediate vicinity of the park to float the ark, tourists boarding it will not enjoy exactly the same experience enjoyed by Noah and his companions. Nonetheless, it will give visitors an idea of what a huge ark it was.  A visit, says the literature, “equips visitors to understand the reality of the events that are recorded in the book of Genesis.”  Understanding those events will, of course, be completely different from trying to understand the events that will lead to the election of a new president in only a few days’ time.  As educational experiences, however, it is obvious that both are of equal value.

The first thing of which prospective visitors should be apprised, is that the phenomenon described in this piece is NOT the same as the experience that people visiting America’s largest waterpark in the Wisconsin Dells will enjoy.  That place is called “Noah’s Ark,” but it is nothing more than an enormous amusement part and in its literature is described as the “Largest Water Park in America.”  It is quite different from “Ark Encounter” which is not meant to be amusing but educational. Whether “Arc Encounter” achieves that goal is probably in the eye of the beholder and if the beholder is of a scientific bent, it is probably less of an educational event than if one subscribes to the beliefs of former presidential candidate, Ben Carson. Nonetheless, a description of the physical structure will almost certainly create a sense of excitement in the reader and inspire the reader to plan for a visit.  According to the literature, the arc is “seven stories tall, a football field and a half in length” and is the “largest timber-frame structure in the world.”

A visit to “Ark Encounter” will prove enlightening in any number of ways.  A little known fact is that Noah was accompanied by, among other animals, dinosaurs that were kept in cages on the ship. The proprietor and designer of the ark, Ken Ham, told a visitor that there were only about 55 different kinds of dinosaurs on board Noah’s ark but in total there were about 8,000 different kinds of animals plus an equal number of their mates on board. In addition to the variety of dinosaurs that accompanied Noah, the exhibit suggests that unicorns were among the animals Noah was preserving. The effort at preservation of the unicorn as a species was apparently a failure, since no unicorns are known to have survived after the animals on board the Ark were released.

For much of what I am able to recount, I am indebted to Minda Berbeco, the former Programs and Policy director at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). (Since describing her visit to “Ark Encounter,” Ms. Berbeco has left NCSE and is now the director of the San Francisco Bay chapter of the Sierra Club.)  Ms. Berbeco, who wrote about her visit to the Arc for Science League of America, observed that on Arc Encounter there are models of polar bears and, according to the information accompanying their exhibit, is an explanation that is contrary to the belief of people like Ms. Berbeco or people at the San Diego zoo where live polar bears are found.  The description at “Arc Encounter” says polar bears are well suited to living in warm climates and do not need to be kept cool.  That explains why, on Noah’s Ark, where there was no refrigeration, the polar bears did just fine. The foregoing gives the reader only a taste of what awaits the visitor at the “Ark Encounter.”  There is a great deal more to be learned from the exhibits on display and the accompanying texts.

All in all, the Ark and the election are a good news-bad news scenario.  The good news is what is taught on “Ark Encounter” did not actually happen. The bad news is the presidential campaign of 2016 did actually happen.

More articles by:
March 21, 2018
Paul Street
Time is Running Out: Who Will Protect Our Wrecked Democracy from the American Oligarchy?
Mel Goodman
The Great Myth of the So-Called “Adults in the Room”
Chris Floyd
Stumbling Blocks: Tim Kaine and the Bipartisan Abettors of Atrocity
Eric Draitser
The Political Repression of the Radical Left in Crimea
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Threatens Wider War Against the Kurds
John Steppling
It is Us
Thomas Knapp
Death Penalty for Drug Dealers? Be Careful What You Wish for, President Trump
Manuel García, Jr.
Why I Am Leftist (Vietnam War)
Isaac Christiansen
A Left Critique of Russiagate
Howard Gregory
The Unemployment Rate is an Inadequate Reporter of U.S. Economic Health
Ramzy Baroud
Who Wants to Kill Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah?
Roy Morrison
Trouble Ahead: The Trump Administration at Home and Abroad
Roger Hayden
Too Many Dead Grizzlies
George Wuerthner
The Lessons of the Battle to Save the Ancient Forests of French Pete
Binoy Kampmark
Fictional Free Trade and Permanent Protectionism: Donald Trump’s Economic Orthodoxy
Rivera Sun
Think Outside the Protest Box
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone