Creation Museum founder Ken Ham says he has raised enough money to begin building a 510-foot wooden “replica” of Noah’s Ark, the Associated Press reported Thursday. Ham’s evolution debate with Bill Nye turned into a fundraising bonanza for the young-Earth creationist, who says a $62 million municipal bond offering has raised enough to jumpstart his long-delayed Ark Encounter project, which is expected to cost about $73 million.
The "high-profile debate helped encourage more of our ministry friends to get involved in the past few weeks," Ham said in a news release Thursday.
"We praise our creator God for His blessings and for the incredible support we just witnessed from our generous supporters around the country," Ham said.
Nye told the AP that he was disappointed the project would go forward, and said he hoped it "goes out of business."
"If he builds that ark, it's my strong opinion, it's bad for the commonwealth of Kentucky and bad for scientists based in Kentucky and bad for the U.S.," Nye said. "And I'm not joking, bad for the world."
Ham’s claim to fame is the Creation Museum in Kentucky, which features dioramas of dinosaurs and humans coexisting, and flow charts that tell the story of God’s creation of the Earth. After completing the Creation Museum, Ham presented his plan to build a “full-size” Noah’s Ark. In 2012, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) proposed a $43 million tax break for the project. After a series of delays, Ham says his three-deck ark filled with animatronic animals will open in 2016.
Last year, Slate reported that Ham’s Answers in Genesis ministry was attempting to raise money by selling risky private bonds. Ham also published a series of children’s books, titled The Great Dinosaur Mystery Solved, Did Adam Have a Belly Button?, and My Creation Bible. Slate walks us through some of their plot lines:
A series of surreal illustrations features Adam and Eve feeding grapes to vegetarian dinosaurs while lions and cheetahs canoodle with an avaceratops. This herbivorous paradise is wrecked after Cain murders Abel. “Dinosaurs may have started eating other animals” at this point, Ham tells us, citing Genesis 6:13: “the earth was filled with violence.”
Sadly, a combination of natural disasters and “people killing them for food or skins” spurred dinosaurs’ recent extinction, a fact “fallible” scientists deny because “scientists, like everyone else, are sinners. Because of this, they don’t want to believe. It has nothing to do with evidence.” For promoting evolution (and thus denying God’s word), Ham concludes, scientists will face “everlasting punishment.”