Noah's Ark Project Given Boost
Noah's Ark to be built in 2016 ArkEncounter

An Old Testament theme park, based on the story of Noah's Ark, received a wave of approval after its Christian group backers launched a $62 million municipal bond offering.

Creation Museum founder, Ken Ham, says the bond has allowed the first phase of construction of a 510ft replica of the ark to move ahead.

The centrepiece of the biblical theme park in northern Kentucky will be the replica ark which is set to be the largest timber-framed structure in the US.

The 800-acre Ark Encounter park will boast other features including a pre-Flood village, a 'Tower of Babel' containing an audio-visual effects theatre, and a theme park ride based on the 10 plagues of Egypt.

The $120 million (£72 million) park plans to open in 2016 and is expected to make revenue of around $119 million over 10 years.

Ham, who is also president of ministry group Answers in Genesis, wrote on his website that "God has burdened AiG to rebuild a full-size Noah's Ark".

The group needed at least $70 million to complete its first phase but suffered setbacks after private donations failed to come forward as quickly as needed. The ark alone will cost $24.5 million to build.

Ham said: "God in His providence supplied our needs. We're going to begin construction, and this is going to be great for the area... Lets build the ark."

TV personality Bill Nye, was said to be "sickened for the Commonwealth of Kentucky" that the project was moving ahead. The atheist recently held a highly publicised debate with Ham on the subject of Darwinism v Creationism, to which Ham now credits for helping to secure the last-minute bond gift.

Crowe as Noah
Actor Russell Crowe as Noah, from Darren Aronofsky’s adaptation of the legendary Biblical tale, “Noah.” Wiki

In a statement he said: "The recent global media coverage of the Ark project and the soon-to-be-released film Noah starring Russell Crowe, plus Ham's well-publicised February 4 debate with Bill Nye 'The Science Guy' (over 7 million people watched live), have all helped bring the Ark Encounter to the world's attention."

Nye side-stepped the question whether he would be criticised for the debate that led to the boost in funding the ark, by saying: "Me? I've always been criticised."

Hollywood blockbuster 'Noah'

The project comes shortly before the release of Noah, the Hollywood blockbuster version of the Old Testament tale featuring Russell Crowe as Noah and Emma Watson as his daughter.

Ham said the movie, although not being entirely true to the teachings of the Bible, would raise interest in their project.

Paramount Pictures recently announced a disclaimer to Noah's marketing materials to clarify the movie in regard to the biblical story.

The message, which will appear on trailers and posters, reads: "The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic licence has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis."

A full-scale replica of Noah's Ark in the Netherlands. (Photo: Wikipedia).
A full-scale replica of Noah's Ark in the Netherlands. (Photo: Wikipedia).