Thursday, October 25, 2018

Ark Encounter Still Sinking

Another season has gone by, and it's time once more to point and laugh at Ken Ham's Ark Encounter, which is continuing to miss attendance projections just as was noted over the summer. The goofy creationist boondoggle saw a seventeen-percent drop in attendance this last September, even with school groups conducting field trips to the attraction (which is a whole other issue as far as the separation of church and state goes, but right now I'm just pointing and laughing).

It seems that the monumental difficulties Ham overcame trying to build the attraction were signs of things to come. First he tried to do it with donations, then with junk bonds issued by his church, and finally he closed the remaining gap with public subsidies he obtained by selling the state of Kentucky on wildly optimistic attendance projections.

The entertainment and educational complex that features dinosaurs interacting with humans, saw attendance this past September drop to 69,207 paying visitors — a 17 percent drop from last year’s same-month attendance of 83,330. As Hemant Mehta notes, that follows a trend of a declining — and accelerating — drop in attendance from last years numbers. Those declining numbers come even though public schools are using taxpayer funds to send school children to the museum to learn about creationism — a belief that all of creation is orchestrated by a divine being. According to American’s United for the Separation of Church and State, Ham’s Ark Encounter has been the beneficiary of millions of dollars of local and state tax breaks and subsidies.

“To help cover the cost of emergency services the small town [Williamstown] now must provide to the visitors of a large amusement park within its borders, city officials last year initiated a 50-cent fee on the tickets sold at the ark and a few smaller amusement venues in Williamstown. (This is the fee Ham and his company, Answers in Genesis, tried to avoid paying last summer by briefly switching the park’s status to nonprofit – a move that would have had a crushing long-term impact on property tax generation for the community but also nearly resulted in the park losing its $18 million state tourism subsidy.) “Americans United reports.

It seems to me that if God really wanted this thing built, why can't get more people to attend? Does Ham seriously worship a deity that lacks even the power to boost attendance at a theme park - you know, the kind of awesome power that any decent advertising agency already yields? This just raises more questions. You could make the point that we're talking about massive time scales required to create the universe - oh, except we're not! Ham says his deity did it instantly about six thousand years ago.

There really is only one conclusion when you think about. Ham's God doesn't care whether Ark Encounter lives or dies, because clearly he's not willing to lift a finger to help. It's like the Problem of Evil in theological thought, except I suppose here we could call it the Problem of Biblical Theme Park Attendance. If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good, why has he forsaken Ken Ham?

Maybe Ark Encounter was a bad idea from the start and the Almighty knew it all along.

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