Friday, September 2, 2016

Summer Leftovers... Noah's Ark

Back in early July I stumbled across this article from AOL news:

It's a story about how a Creationist group in Kentucky built what they consider to be a replica of Noah's Ark.  A fascinating story, so much so that I was compelled to post some comments on our Facebook page.  In looking back at this story, I thought I should also share those thoughts here on our blog:

File this under "are you kidding me?"

Apparently a creationist group has built what they consider to be a replica of Noah's Ark in Williamstown Kentucky. They claim it was built according to Biblical dimensions (which can be found in Genesis 6:14-16).

While we do get some details as to the overall size of the ark, including that it should have 3 main decks, an upper deck, and a door on the side, we don't get much else. We're told it should be made of "gopher wood" (which scholars conclude was a poor Hebrew translation for "cypress") and that it should be covered in "pitch" inside and out... pitch of course, being a tar like substance to prevent the ark from leaking.

Aside from it's creationist roots, I have a few problems with this ark, beginning with it's modern nautical architecture. It looks like a cruise ship, with a curved bow and hydrodynamic stabilizers running along the keel. Keep in mind that during the time of Noah we have no reference whatsoever of boats or of sea-faring cultures. While there is some archeological evidence of people using rafts and canoes as far back as 8,000 BCE, we don't really see the genesis of boats as we know them today until 4,000 BCE with the ancient Egyptians.

When we hear the story of Noah's Ark (Genesis 6-9), we hear the story of the flood, and kind of jump to the conclusion that the "ark" was like a ship... a craft made to plow the waters of the flood. While the ark was intended to float above the rising waters, I don't think there was any nautical design involved. No bow, no stern, essentially a large floating box (not unlike the ark we see in the 2014 film "Noah" starring Russell Crowe). Again, this is a culture that knows nothing yet of building and using boats for transportation.

It's easy for our more modern culture to think of a boat when we think of Noah's Ark... but that perception is mistaken. When we think of a boat we're forgetting the ancient definition for the word "ark" which is a "sacred repository" or "sacred chest" meant to protect something holy. Think of "the Ark of the Covenant" holding the 10 Commandments. In this case, Noah's Ark is the sacred repository of God's creation, and is a symbol of God's covenant with man to never willfully destroy the earth again. It's not a boat, it's a sacred chest holding what God finds most dear... Noah, his family, the animals of the earth.

This "ark" in Kentucky is an interesting idea, but like so many creationist theories, there are any number of inaccuracies that can be found when tested against science and historical context. A faith based on the Bible does not preclude science or the theory of evolution.

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