Last month, the state of Kentucky gave the go-ahead for a new Christian theme park, whose centrepiece will be a reconstruction of Noah’s ark. The megaboat will, of course, be built to biblical specs – why tamper with God’s foray into ship design? It will be about 500ft long, and house large live animals including giraffes, and (non-live) dinosaurs. Ark Encounter will be open for business in 2014, global weather permitting.
The main organisation behind the project is Answers in Genesis, which gave Kentucky the Creation Museum a few years back. The organisation seeks to propagate a literal interpretation of the bible, through fun days out. The key aim in this case is to persuade people that the biblical story of Noah was historically true, not just a myth. The replica ark aims to give the impression that an original ark really existed.
One is inclined to sneer at this sort of thing as absurdly showy propaganda for fundamentalism. But actually it deserves a more careful and nuanced response.