BioLogos Responds to the “Ark Encounter”

Young-earth creationist organization Answers in Genesis, led by Ken Ham, has recently opened the Ark Encounter to the public. The Ark Encounter features a large wooden reconstruction of Noah’s Ark, based on the Flood story in Genesis 6-9. Answers in Genesis believes that the early chapters of Genesis should be interpreted as historical and scientific statements, requiring that the universe was created in six days around six thousand years ago, and that a world-wide flood produced most fossils and geological features on Earth. While we at BioLogos affirm and share the Christian faith of young-earth creationists like Ham, we disagree with their interpretation of Genesis and their view of the scientific origins of our world. Answers in Genesis and Ken Ham do not speak for all evangelical Christians.

Christianity has a tremendous legacy of encouraging scientific research, building on the belief that all of nature is God’s creation. Through modern science, we are becoming increasingly aware of how God has crafted the universe around us. Hundreds of years of research in geologypaleontologybiology, and many other fields have produced abundant evidence that the earth is billions of years old and that fossils and geological features formed through many processes over eons of time. Today, 99% of PhD biologists agree that plants, animals, and humans formed through evolutionary processes.

We at BioLogos fully affirm the authority and inspiration of the Bible, while believing that proper interpretation of Genesis 6-9 does not conflict with modern science. The story of Noah’s ark and the Flood is an essential part of the Bible’s divine teaching about God, his relationship to creation, and the just punishment that sin deserves. The story points to the magnitude of Christ’s work, saving us from judgement and giving us new life. We must remember that the first ancient readers of the text saw its primary message as theological, not scientific.

The perspective offered by Answers in Genesis forces people to choose between the Bible and modern science, and reinforces the harmful cultural stereotype that modern science and biblical Christianity cannot mix.  Sadly, Answers in Genesis is staking the authority of the entire Bible—and Christianity itself—on the view that a global flood is a viable alternative to abundant scientific evidence for a longer chronology of creation. To do so, they must add in many speculative details not found in the biblical text, such as the “biogeographical rafting model”. And they must rely on a theory of post-Flood animal evolution in which species diversify at rates many times faster than any known evolutionary mechanism. These theories, along with many others posited by young-earth creationists, are not based on credible scientific evidence; in fact, they contradict the clear evidence in God’s creation.

When people accept the AiG narrative that these scientific conclusions are essential to Christianity, then their faith is often shaken when they encounter the incredible explanatory power of modern science. In fact, we hear from individuals on a daily basis who have experienced a deep crisis of faith when their young-earth creationist beliefs were exposed as scientifically (and biblically) weak. While we are grateful that BioLogos has helped recover and strengthen the faith of these Christians, we mourn the fact that countless others have drifted away from the faith. Young-earth creationist teaching is causing unnecessary harm to the reputation of the Church and creates a stumbling block for people who are considering the Gospel.

For more resources on science, Genesis, and the Flood, I recommend checking out our Common Questions page, as well as the other resources linked below.

Notes & References