Heather Hastie on the Ark Encounter Park

July 14, 2016 • 9:00 am

UPDATE: If you haven’t read this lovely, carefully researched, and funny piece on the logistical problems with Noah’s Ark, go read “The Impossible Voyage of Noah’s Ark” at the NCSE website. You won’t be sorry!


There’s no need for me to write about Answers in Genesis‘s Ark Park, which, according to some accounts, is raking in dough hand over fist (admission is $40 per person!).  That’s a testimony to the gullibility of Americans, but we already knew that. If you want to see a good piece about it, one loaded with hilarious Ark memes, go read Heather Hastie’s post “Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter” on her site Heather’s Homilies.  I’ll just put up a couple of the cartoons she reproduces (there are many):






30 thoughts on “Heather Hastie on the Ark Encounter Park

    1. You don’t think it would actually float do you?

      In some of the photos of the first day, there seem to be some concrete pillars. This is because no completely wooden structure of that size could support its own weight without being more or less solid wood.

      Once in the water, it would be a little bit better because the water supplies extra support for the structure. For example, HMS Victory, on display in a dry dock in Portsmouth, has mostly fibreglass cannon because real cannon would cause it to collapse unless it was in water.

      However, water introduces new problems. A purely wooden boat of the size of the Ark would flex significantly in even the slightest swell. This would cause gaps to open up between the planks of the hull and the rest of the story would involve monumental dampness.

      1. As a structural/mechanical engineer, I feel compelled to pick nits here.

        The largest wooden sailing ship is reputed to be the William D. Lawrence (built in 1874 and operated until after 1891).

        It dimensions were:
        335 feet length
        48 feet beam
        29 feet depth
        2459 tons displacement

        The Genesis ark dimensions are typically:
        440 feet length
        73 feet beam
        44 feet depth

        Yes, the ark dimensions are larger than the William D. Lawrence; but I doubt very highly that a wooden ship of these dimensions could not be built and operated or that it would have to be more or less “solid wood”.

        Wood is, in fact, and excellent structural material (that’s why it’s been used for such tasks for so long and is still in extremely wide use). (See: The Metropol Parasol in Seville, Spain; the Todaiji, Nara, Japan; The Tillamook Air Museum, Tillamook, OR, USA)

        The Ark at the Ark Encounter “museum” is:
        510 feet length
        85 feet beam
        51 feet depth

        So, yes, bigger again. But impossible? Not likely.

        I’ll look into running numbers on these sizes using constant strain and displacement proportional to volume when compared to the (actual, working) William D. Lawrence

          1. That burning sensation on your typing fingers is the feel of the quote-miners peeling layers away.

        1. Also, I don’t want to scare people; but the skin of the pressurized cabin of many currently flying commercial airplanes is, in places, less than 0.063 inch thick (less than 1.6 mm).

          Spreading out thin skin into a large size (in this case, more or less a circular diameter) provides a great deal of stiffness and strength (bending modulus is proportional to the square of the radius from the centroid).

          2024-T3 aluminum sheet isn’t crazy-strong compared to wood (middle 10s of MPa for wood, typically around 50 MPa, and about 400 MPa for 2024-T3 sheet).

          1. The highly successful De Havilland Mosquito, a light 🙂 bomber, was built of balsa wood and birch veneer.

          2. … as is well known.

            I think the balsa was used as the core of a ‘sandwich’ construction with the birch on the outer layers. That way the balsa provides a rigid bulk to space the birch layers (which carries the stresses) apart. These days one would probably use expanded polyurethane foam (‘styrofoam’) as a filler.

            Unfortunately, while the structure was strong, the glues of the time did not possess long-lasting properties, so nor did the Mosquitos. (Operational warplanes are not built to last for decades). I believe the builders of the few modern replica Mosquitos have encountered the problem that modern adhesives, while far superior, are generally not certified for aviation use – not due to any physical deficiency, but because they’re not produced for that specific purpose.


  1. “For a while it looked like he was going to have trouble getting it built”,

    but I read that thanks to Bill Nye debating Ken Ham the necessary funding was contributed from an anonymous source.

    Thanks Bill, and please tell us again how debating scam artists – whether creationists or homeopaths – is a good thing!?

    1. Oh, I found the reference. But it turns out it is Ham himself that credits Nye, so it is suspect:

      “The Bill Nye-Ken Ham debate had a side effect Bill Nye did not look for. Ken Ham secured the last funding he needed for his Ark Encounter project. And Ken Ham credits his debate with Bill Nye with that success.”

      “In their official news release last night, AiG cited two events that brought enough publicity to let the bond issue succeed:

      The upcoming release of a motion picture titled Noah, with Russell Crowe in the title role, that tells the Noah’s Ark story, and
      The Bill Nye-Ken Ham debate.”

      [ http://www.conservativenewsandviews.com/2014/02/28/creation/ark-encounter-revived-thanks-bill-nye/ ]

      1. Nye certainly didn’t help. I thought the debate was a bad idea, and I don’t think Nye did a particularly good job. Instead he gave Ham a national platform on which to preach his insanity.

        Frankly, I wish Nye would shut up. Jerry is a much better debater and explains things more clearly. But I’m sure Jerry would be smart enough not to engage with Ham.

    2. In light of this perspective, does it not reasonably follow that a public school biology teacher in the U.S. creationist heartland (who – unlike Nye and other such widely-recognized science figures – has to deal daily with the pressures from the local Peyton Place creationist community) quite well-enough advised to skip teaching the fundamentals of evolution? Why should s/he so trouble herself if the result will be increased local support (financial and otherwise) of the creationist position?

  2. A question occasioned by musing on Genesis after reading this post: Who is the first woman with a name in the Bible, after Eve?

        1. Any Biblical scholar could take that apart ruthlessly. Hagar (the not-too-horrible) might have words too.

  3. I’ve always wondered how big a ship you’d need to hold a pair of every animal on the Earth. Checking with Mr. Google, I see the number of species is pegged now-a-days at about 8.5 million. Now the average animal size is based on the fact that the vast majority are insects (I don’t think they count bacteria). So on average, generously, let’s say a pair occupy 0.5 cubic cm. So, we are only talking about less than 5 cubic meters required for the whole slew of them. Not much of a problem, really. The excretory waste problem, pointed out by many, can be handled by placing them squarely on the poop deck. To be fair, Ken may be onto something here.

    Anyway, here is the definitive take on the legend of Noah, from Ricky Gervais:


    1. The creationists get around this by saying that the Ark didn’t have species, just “kinds,” though of course they never specify how many kinds there were, or what exactly constitutes a “kind.” If pachyderms are a kind, they’re already in trouble!

      1. Whenever you pin down an apologist, they waffle briefly, then they seem to be giving you a wink and turning to their audience of the already convinced and offering a (non-)explanation: “kind”.

        1. Wails the creationist, “microevolution not macroevolution. Not that they’d recognise evolution if they were dying in agony from MRSA.

  4. From my favorite bible translation:

    Genesis 6

    1 An when men begun 2 begats kidz on teh urf, dey had dawters. wich is gud cuz Ceiling Cat still wudnt let dem masturbate.

    2 An teh sons ov Ceiling Cat saw taht teh dawters ov mens wer rly hawt An sexy; An dey sed “PENIS GOES WHERE?” An dey had sexxs but no buttsecks cuz it wuznt inventd yet.

    More: http://www.lolcatbible.com/index.php?title=Genesis_6

    1. I’m just wondering if teh BuyBull records genealogies in enough detail to quantify the expected reduction in birth rates following the invention of sodomy (Lot et al, Gen 19:4), and of coitus interruptus (Onan, Gen 38:9)?

  5. The following quote is from a Wikipedia article about Zheng He (1371AD to 1433 or 1435AD) and ships in the emperor’s treasure fleet:

    “Traditional and popular accounts of Zheng He’s voyages have described a great fleet of gigantic ships, far larger than any other wooden ships in history. Some modern scholars consider these descriptions to be exaggerated.[citation needed]

    Chinese records[77] state that Zheng He’s fleet sailed as far as East Africa. According to medieval Chinese sources, Zheng He commanded seven expeditions. The 1405 expedition consisted of 27,800 men and a fleet of 62 treasure ships supported by approximately 190 smaller ships.[78][79] The fleet included:

    “Chinese treasure ships” (宝船, Bǎo Chuán), used by the commander of the fleet and his deputies (nine-masted, about 127 metres (417 feet) long and 52 metres (171 feet) wide), according to later writers.[citation needed]
    Equine ships (馬船, Mǎ Chuán), carrying horses and tribute goods and repair material for the fleet (eight-masted, about 103 m (338 ft) long and 42 m (138 ft) wide).
    Supply ships (粮船, Liáng Chuán), containing staple for the crew (seven-masted, about 78 m (256 ft) long and 35 m (115 ft) wide).
    Troop transports (兵船, Bīng Chuán), six-masted, about 67 m (220 ft) long and 25 m (82 ft) wide.
    Fuchuan warships (福船, Fú Chuán), five-masted, about 50 m (160 ft) long.
    Patrol boats (坐船, Zuò Chuán), eight-oared, about 37 m (121 ft) long.
    Water tankers (水船, Shuǐ Chuán), with 1 month’s supply of fresh water.”

    I hope I’m not confusing ancient Chinese wooden ships with Japanese, but it seems to me I read that a shipyard had been found that
    constructed these very large ancient wooden ships. I also read that the ships were made of compartments so that if one sprung a leak the rest remained watertight and the ship remained upright.

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