Seeing the Bible Come to Life
Ken Ham, founder of the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter in Kentucky, tells Dennis Rainey of his burden to build a quality museum that teaches the truth about God's creation. After extensive research, a world-class facility was built that allows visitors to walk through the Bible in a visually compelling way. In 2016 Ham opened the Ark Encounter, a true-to-size replica of Noah's Ark featuring first-rate exhibits designed to answer questions about the biblical account.
About the Guest
Creation Museum, and visionary behind a popular, full-size Noah’s Ark, Ken Ham is one of the most in-demand Christian speakers in North America. Ken is the author of many books on Genesis, including the eye-opening book Already Gone, coauthored by re...more
Ken Ham tells of his burden to build a quality museum that teaches the truth about God’s creation. After extensive research, a world-class facility was built that allows visitors to walk through the Bible.
Seeing the Bible Come to Life
Bob: Maybe, as you’ve read through the Book of Genesis, you’ve had some questions—questions about Adam and Eve or about Noah and the great flood. Ken Ham says there are answers to these common questions.
Ken: I traveled the world for the last 40 years. I know the most-asked questions people ask today—it’s: “How can you believe the Bible?—science and history of the Bible?” “Noah couldn’t get the animals on the ark.” That’s one of the reasons we wanted to build a life-size ark; because we heard that question over and over again: “How could Noah fit all the animals on the ark?” and “Where’s the evidence for the flood anyway?” “Where did Cain get his wife?” and “What about the ape men?” “What about dinosaurs?” We’ve heard all those questions. At the Museum and the Ark, we answer those questions.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, September 29th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Ken Ham joins us today to say the Bible is trustworthy and reliable, and you don’t need a Ph.D. in science or theology to come to that conclusion.
Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I hope we can get something resolved today, because this has been an issue for me. I grew up singing a song about Noah’s ark. The song I sang talked about the fact that it was built out of birch bark—you remember that song?—“…built it out of [gopher] barky, barky, children of the Lord.”
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Bob: Did you ever sing that song?
Bob: But then, somewhere else, I learned it was gopher wood. I don’t even know what gopher wood is—so I want to find out: “What kind of wood was the ark built from?” and the new one in Kentucky: “Was it birch or gopher wood? Can we find out?”
Ken: Yes; I can tell you—I have an answer to that.
Bob: I knew he would have an answer to it; didn’t you?
Dennis: And that’s not a co-host of FamilyLife Today; that’s Dr. Ken Ham. Ken, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Ken: Well, thank you.
Now, people ask me, Bob—if we built the life-sized ark that we built out of real wood, if we built it out of gopher wood.
The Bible says gopher wood. I said, “Absolutely! We had to go for a lot of wood.” [Laughter]
Bob: Go for here / go for there—I get it; okay. [Laughter]
Dennis: And the answer is: “Is there such a thing as gopher wood that we know about?”
Ken: That we know about; no. I think that that was lost in the past / in history. We don’t know what the gopher wood in the Bible is.
Bob: The gopher wood may have been a variety of tree that just does not exist post-flood; right?
Ken: That’s very possible too. But we know it was wood, and we know the dimensions.
Bob: And we know you had to go for it to build your ark.
Ken: That’s right.
Dennis: Wasn’t birchy barky, barky, as Bob was singing about.
Dr. Ham is the cofounder of Answers in Genesis. He and his wife Mally have been married for 45 years—they got married the same year that Barbara and I did, 1972. They have five adult children / four of whom are married—sixteen grandchildren.
He’s the author of a number of books. One of the newest is called A Flood of Evidence, which he co-authored with Bodie Hodge.
It really does answer more than 40 questions about Noah and the flood. It’s a great book—I would encourage our listeners to get a copy of that.
And he’s written a book called A Special Door. This is a children’s book that I think would be good all the way into elementary, that is well-illustrated, using the concept of a door. All the way to the next-to-last page, Bob—it’s really interesting—all these different doors, and then, as you might expect, there’s an ark door—the next-to-last page—and it says:
Noah and his family through the door went in
When God judged the world because of our sin.
We need to go through a doorway too;
Jesus is that door for me and for you.
And the last page is talking about the gift of Christ and a door to receive that gift.
If you’re looking for a way, as a grandparent or as a mom and dad, to introduce your children to who Jesus Christ is and their need for a Savior / their need for a relationship with God, A Special Door by Ken Ham is a great book.
Ken: Well, you know what, Dennis—I tell people: “Okay; the book’s great. Then, bring them to the Ark; and then walk them up to the door of the ark and get their photograph, right there, at the door; and tell them about Jesus, the Door.”
Dennis: Well, I want to talk more about the Ark; but first, I want to talk about the Creation Museum. What moved you to create / to build a first-class museum called the Creation Museum?
Ken: Well, you know some of the history of my parents and their influence on us and then me becoming a teacher. When I was teaching, I also took my students to secular museums; and they’re all from an evolutionary perspective. I had that real burden—I was thinking—like that Nehemiah principle, you know: “Why don’t we do something about this?!”
I was thinking: “Why can’t we have a creation museum? Why can’t we have a museum, where we actually teach the truth from God’s Word?”
Back in the early ’80s, I and a Board member of the ministry I started in our house in Australia—we actually found a piece of property, and we prayed over that property together that God would let us build a creation museum. I didn’t know that the Lord would answer that prayer, nearly 40 years later, in the state of Kentucky in America. Actually, it’s within a one-day drive of two thirds of America’s population—so it’s very central to the population.
We moved out to Kentucky, specifically, to fulfill that vision / that burden the Lord had given me many, many years earlier in Australia—that we prayed for. It’s a reminder, too, that things don’t always happen the way we want them to happen. God’s ways are not our ways. I’ve always reminded—I’ve been reminded, many times, over the years of—well, how did the Israelites conquer the Promised Land? It was little by little by little by little. [Laughter]
Sometimes, I’d like it to be big by big; you know. But that’s really where the burden came from.
Bob: A lot of people think about a museum—and maybe they’ve been to the Smithsonian; or if they’ve been to London, they’ve been to the museum there and seen the Rosetta Stone. They think of exhibits behind glass; and you walk through, quietly, and you look and you look. Your idea of a museum is kind of like—that meets Disneyworld; right?
Ken: Right; exactly. [Laughter]
Bob: You put the two together to make it something that would be, not just interesting, but fun.
Ken: Well, I had this script I’d written on the walk through the Bible—because, really, that’s what the Creation Museum is—a walk through the Bible. What I want to do is—to present the history in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation; answer skeptical questions to help people understand that history is true; wanted mums and dads, with their children, to be able to experience creation, and the flood, and the Tower of Babel; and to help them connect the Bible to the real world.
The Bible connects to fossils and to the Grand Canyon; it connects to the American Indians; it connects to death and suffering—it connects to everything.
I had this concept of: “Okay; a chronological approach to teaching the Bible,” and then—using fossils, and dinosaurs, and things that you would see in museums and that—but doing it from a perspective of the Bible’s history being the foundation for this.
We didn’t know how to build a creation museum. I and one of the other founders with me—we designed a building—big box, if you like. I remember saying to Mike, who was one of the founders, “I don’t know how we’re going to do this.” We met a guy called Buddy Davis, who had these dinosaur sculptures: “We can use the dinosaurs; but “What are we going to do? I mean, how are we really going to do this?”
Out of the blue, we received an email from a guy called Patrick Marsh, who was in Japan. He said, “Hey, I heard you were building a creation museum,” because it was actually in the newspaper.
And he said: “Hey, I’ve worked for Universal Studios in Florida as head of design for King Kong and Jaws. I’ve worked for the Olympic Games people in Los Angeles. I’ve worked in theme parks around the world. I’m a Christian / I’m a creationist—I want to use my talents for the Lord.”
Ken: And so the Lord brought him in with us. He said: “Wait a minute. You mean you’ve already designed the building?” “Yes.” “Well, you don’t design a building and then tell me to put the museum inside. You have to design the museum, and then we design a building for that.”
Now: “We’ve already designed the building. You have to design inside.” He actually designed this incredibly brilliant design, where you walk down two stories—
Dennis: Yes; right.
Ken: You don’t even know you’re walking down.
Dennis: Very gradual.
Ken: Very gradual. He used the space two or three times—it’s based on things that he saw in Japan. You walk through the whole Bible, and we use animatronic dinosaurs and life-sized exhibits of all kinds. We have a planetarium, a special-effects theater, and so on. It’s the quality of what you’d expect—in fact, I think it’s better than the quality of Hollywood; it really is. When people come—they say to me: “This is better than the Smithsonian.
“This is better than what Disney can do.”
But then, when we came to the second thing we wanted to do—to build Noah’s ark—we said: “Patrick, guess what? God’s already designed the building / He’s already given the dimensions. [Laughter] He was preparing you for this—see.”
Dennis: Yes; He wanted you to fall in line.
I know this—when I was thinking about / Barbara and I were thinking about somehow influencing the worldview of our grandkids, we were praying and thinking, “How could we do that?!” We so want our grandchildren—as they go through junior high, high school, and on into college and into life—to be anchored in the Scripture and to know how to answer the questions that are going to be thrown at them.
One of the things we had in our toolbox—and still have in our toolbox, because we have a lot of grandkids—is to take them to the museum—Creation Museum. All the way there, we had little projects we were working on with the kids to prepare them for what they were going to see when they got to the museum.
A lot of other museums begin with the assumption that God doesn’t exist.
Dennis: And yet, this museum begins with that premise—that God is the Creator; creation is a reflection of who He is; and yes, “Here is an example of how God did it.”
We taught our kids / took them through that; and now, three years later, we’re hearing back from our grandkids how that has helped them spot error in their teachers’ assumptions; how it’s taught them to think from the Bible rather than to the Bible; how it’s anchored them in a Christian worldview so that, not only as they go through junior high and high school are they going to be anchored, but they’re also going to be anchored to go through college, which is when we’re losing a lot of our young people today.
Bob: So I have to ask you: “If I brought an 11-year-old to the Creation Museum, what’s going to be the thing, at the end of the day, that the 11-year-old is going to say, “That was the coolest!”?
Is there something that stands out that everybody just goes, “That’s the awesomest thing!”
Ken: You know, I hear over and over again, from parents and kids—and they say / kids say: “Mum, it helps make the Bible real. It helps make it come alive.” They go through—of course, they love the dinosaurs; because kids just love dinosaurs; but I find that there are kids that’ll say, “Well, I liked the garden of Eden.” Others will say that they liked the big fossil dinosaur. We have an insectarium—a world-class collection of insects—some of them say, “We love the insects.” They like different things; but the common one I hear the most is: “It helps make the Bible real / Bible come alive.”
I hear that from the Ark, too—that parents say their kids say: “Wow! It makes the ark real!” When you’re coming up the hill, in the shuttle bus from the parking lot, and you come to the ark and they see it for the first time—I love to be sitting in those buses; and the little kids in there: “W-o-w!”
And then you hear: “It’s huge!” [Laughter] “It’s enormous!”
Bob: I saw an ad in a TV circular—this was maybe 20 years ago / I’ll never forget it, though. It was selling a DVD for children that was a collection of animated fairytales. You could get the story of Hansel and Gretel, and The Three Little Pigs, and—I mean, it just had a whole listing of your favorite fairy tales. And listed among the fairytales was Noah and the Ark. I thought, “This is a culture that believes that, right there, with the big, bad wolf is Noah and his boat full of animals.” That’s what people, sitting in pews, are thinking about Noah’s ark; right?
Ken: They are, unfortunately. When you look at most of your children’s books, even Sunday school materials, Noah’s ark is sort of treated more as what you call a story. Story, today, really means fairytale.
When we opened the Ark—and we did that in 2016, July 7th—one of the things that I had our Board do for the opening of the Ark was—we arranged to have 12 stones, because of the 12 stones of Joshua’s day—when God told them to take 12 stones as a memorial so, when your children ask, “What do these stones mean?” you will not forget to tell them / make sure you pass on the truth about God and who He is to the next generation.
So we had each of the Board members lay 12 stones. That’s a permanent exhibit, now, at the Ark. I love to see families taking their photographs in front of those 12 stones; because I said to people: “The Ark and the Creation Museum—they’re our 12 stones—they’re our 12 stones to remind the world that God’s Word is true; and to remind the coming generations that the history in the Bible is true; and that the gospel based in history is true.” The Museum and the Ark are for parents—
—it’s for them to come and for them to be equipped themselves—but to take their children there and to help their children learn the truths of God’s Word. We answer the most-asked questions that people have.
I’ve traveled the world for the last 40 years. I know the most-asked questions people ask today—it’s: “How can you believe the Bible?—the science and history of the Bible?” “Noah couldn’t get the animals on the ark.” That’s one of the reasons we wanted to build a life-sized ark; because we heard that question over and over again: “How could Noah fit all the animals on the ark?” and “Where’s the evidence for the flood anyway?” and “Where did Cain get his wife?” “What about the ape men?” “What about dinosaurs?” We’ve heard all those questions; and at the museum and the Ark, we answer those questions.
I remember there was—one of the non-Christian leaders in our community in northern Kentucky wanted to go to the Ark; and I took him there. As we walked up to the ark, he stood there and he said: “Wow! I didn’t realize Noah’s ark was so big!” You really can’t understand it till you go there and stand there, and actually stand below it, and then go into it.
And then he turned to me and he said this—keep in mind, he’s a non-Christian—he said, “You know, maybe Noah could have fit all those animals on board.” You see, that really is the point—that as soon as the kids see this, it gets rid of all those fairy-tale-like ideas. They realize this was a huge ship; because it was designed as a wooden ship and built as a building—that’s what we did. They see it built with real wood, and it makes it come alive and real for them.
Bob: You built it with hundreds of workers and cranes and trucks. Noah built it with his three sons. I know it took decades for it to be built, but looking at the size of the ark, somebody has to look at it and go: “Could one guy and three boys really build a ship like this?”
Ken: There are people that say all sorts of things to me—like, “Well, Noah couldn’t have built a ship like this.” I say, “Why not?” “Well, he didn’t have the tools we have today.” “Of course he didn’t. What tools did he have?” “Uh, well; I don’t know.” See, a lot of people actually have an evolutionary view of history, where they think: “Noah’s not as good as us,” and “He was primitive,” and so on.
But look at what Scripture says—within seven generations of Adam, there are workers of bronze and iron. When you have people—like, think of some of the most brilliant people that have invented all sorts of things in our modern day—like Thomas Edison—imagine if you have people like Thomas Edison living for hundreds of years. Noah lived for hundreds of years. Who knows what technology they might have accumulated?
You know, just as we hired all sorts of contractors to build the Ark, maybe Noah hired all sorts of contractors. That’s why, at the Creation Museum—we built 1 percent of the ark at the Creation Museum; and at the Ark Encounter, we built the other 99 percent as well.
Dennis: That’s just one of the exhibits at the Creation Museum—there are over 140 exhibits.
Ken: Oh, yes; a phenomenal number of exhibits.
Dennis: So what are the top three? Could you dare to mention what the top three exhibits might be at the Creation Museum?
Bob: Well, the million-dollar dinosaur has to be one of them; right?
Ken: Dinosaurs; yes. The dinosaur exhibit’s certainly one.
Also, the Noah’s ark one—even though it’s only one percent of the ark, people love that ark exhibit. We have scoffers there, who are scoffing, while Noah is building the ark—animatronic Noah that answers questions and so on. So, that also really helped us understand that building the life-size ark, people would really, really be interested in it; because that’s been one of the favorite parts in the Creation Museum—because the Creation Museum—you walk through the history of the world.
The dinosaurs and certainly the ark exhibit, and I would say the insectarium now that we built, which is a later exhibit that was added with the animatronic scientist. People are fascinated—it’s a world-class collection of insects. We explain it all from a biblical perspective too. We even have a teaching session about the bombardier beetle that blasts fire and smoke out of its rear-end. [Laughter]
Dennis: I’m sure the kids love that one! [Laughter]
Bob: There you go!
Dennis: You also have, though—as you go through the history of the Bible and you explain how God put it together / creation and life—you also present the gospel.
Ken: We do.
Dennis: I really like this, because you have people who sit down—for what?—20 minutes?
Dennis: And they hear a very clear explanation for how a person can have a relationship with Christ. It really does do a good job of talking about the problem—man’s problem of sin. He needs a Savior; because he’s under the wrath and judgment of God, without a Savior.
Ken: Well, you know, we have a movie they call The Last Adam that presents a gospel very clearly; but we just opened a brand-new exhibit, Christ’s Cross Consummation, that goes through the gospel, from Genesis all the way through Revelation, and the life of Christ with stunning pieces of artwork on Christ and who He is—and presents the gospel as well. The movie, The Last Adam, is shown now in our big theater—we have a thousand-seat theater there that we use for all sorts of things—and also a smaller theater upstairs.
We have a movie at the Ark called As in the Days of Noah that presents the gospel very, very clearly. This is one of my favorite examples—this really, to me, sums up what the museum and the Ark is all about. You’re mentioning that particular movie—sit down and watch. In that movie, we had actors who portray Mary and Joseph; and the soldiers; and, of course, the Resurrection and so on—talking about the Lamb and Jesus being the Lamb.
I went down to the museum one day, and it was near closing time. Everyone had gone except one family, there in the bookstore. They’re looking for a book for their 12-year-old daughter—they said: “We were sitting in that Last Adam movie, watching it. When it got to Mary talking about the Lamb, and the priest holding the lamb up, the little girl turned to her parents and she said, ‘Mum/Dad, now I know what it means that Jesus is the Lamb.’”
She committed her life to the Lord, right there in those seats, watching that movie. They wanted to get her some materials to help her understand that further.
That’s what the museum is all about / that’s what the Ark is all about. I mean, they are major themed-attractions / they’re tourist attractions—a lot of non-Christians come. People come from all over the world to see them—the life-sized exhibits—I mean, they’re better quality than what you’d see at Disney or the Smithsonian—they really are—and people say that over and over again.
It’s actually phenomenal—the Lord’s let us do this—but we didn’t just do it for entertainment. We did it because we want people to hear the gospel. And there were people that said: “If you overtly present the gospel, people aren’t going to come. I mean, if you make this such a Christian thing…” We said: “No. There’s no point in doing it if you don’t do that,” and people do come.
Dennis: They do, and they listen, and they hear the truth of who Jesus Christ is and their need of Him as their Savior, their Lord, and their Master.
I just appreciate you being with us and sharing about the Creation Museum and the Ark; and I just appreciate you, as a friend and as a fellow warrior for the gospel, here, in America. I’m glad you’re a missionary to America.
Bob: And you keep your eyes open for the Rainey bus with all the grandkids coming, because it’s headed your way; trust me.
Ken: I’ll tell security. [Laughter]
Bob: If our listeners are interested in finding out more about the Ark Encounter or about the Creation Museum, go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. We have a link there. You can find out how to schedule your own family excursion to both locations. Again, the information is, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com.
If you can’t go to the Creation Museum or the Ark Encounter, you can bring both of those experiences to your home. Answers in Genesis has created two great books—these are gift-size, full color, coffee-table type books that take you on a virtual tour through both the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum—
—along with answers to the most common questions that people have about the Book of Genesis, about Creation, about the ark. Find out more about the journey through the Ark Encounter or journey through the Creation Museum books when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com; or call to order at 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; the phone number is 800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, as we wrap up this week, I want to just say a quick word of thanks to those of you who make it possible for FamilyLife Today to be reaching more people more often than ever before—those of you who help fund the work of this ministry. The dollars you’re investing, here, at FamilyLife are paying dividends in the lives of millions of marriages and families all around the world.
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We’ll be happy to send you a copy of this brand-new book when you go, online, to donate at FamilyLifeToday.com; or when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Or you can mail your donation and request Dennis’s new book. Our mailing address is FamilyLife Today, PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
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And we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday. We’re going to talk about how there ought to be fun in marriage. Ted Cunningham joins us to talk about how we keep fun alive in a marriage relationship. Hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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