Reflections on the Ark Encounter

A view of the Ark Encounter (click for a larger image)

A view of the Ark Encounter (click for a larger image)

Yesterday, I toured the Answers in Genesis Ark Encounter with my wife and a friend. I wanted to visit the encounter as soon as it opened, but because of trips to Italy and China, yesterday was the first opportunity we had. I didn’t know what to expect, so I went in with an open mind.

I originally thought the Ark Encounter would be like the Creation Museum, with a parking lot close to the entryway. I was wrong. When we parked and got out of the car, we could see the ark, but it was a long way off. A building in the parking lot served as a “bus terminal,” where we were picked up and taken to the Ark itself.

When we got off the bus, my first thought was, “Wow. That’s big.” I have seen many models of the Ark over the years, and they all attempt to give you an idea of how big it was, usually by having scale models of trucks or elephants beside it. However, there is simply no substitute for seeing the massive structure built to its actual dimensions! Answers in Genesis bills the Ark as the largest timber-framed structure in the world, and I can believe that. *

The entrance is cleverly designed to give visitors a great view of the Ark’s dimensions. You enter the Ark from below, which gives you stunning views of the bow, like this one:

The bow of the Ark as seen from the entrance. (click for a larger image)

The bow of the Ark as seen from the entrance. (click for a larger image)

The inside of the ark is equally impressive. There are many, many cages that give you an idea of how Noah’s family might have cared for the animals in the ark. The cages are designed so that liquid waste (and small solid waste) would fall into drainage areas so it could be easily removed. There are also water bottles made of clay that could give the animals a steady supply of fresh water. In addition, there are clay feed bottles that could deliver a steady supply of food to an animal over the course of several days.

Many of the cages have models of animals that might have been housed inside them. In addition, there are lots of recorded animal sounds that give you a feeling for what Noah’s family might have heard on the ark. There are also several displays that discuss various questions one might ask about the ark, such as how many animals there were, how eight people could take care of them, what the animals were fed, and how the fresh water and ventilation needs of the animals and passengers were met.

Overall, I was impressed with those exhibits. Most of the time, they reminded the visitors that we don’t have a lot of details, so much of what is presented is speculative and includes a lot of artistic license. Other exhibits, however, are based on well-known facts. For example, there is an excellent exhibit about flood legends from around the world, which I have always seen as strong evidence that the Flood was, indeed, worldwide. I couldn’t get a really good picture of it, because there were a lot of other visitors there, despite the fact that it was a weekday. This was the best I could do:

A display discussing the various flood legends found around the world (click for a larger image)

A display discussing the various flood legends found around the world (click for a larger image)

My favorite exhibit was a temporary one. It comes from the Museum of the Bible, and it displays some amazing Bibles like the Great Bible (printed in 1539) and the Matthew Bible (printed in 1537). There are also pages from historic Bibles that contain multiple languages (polyglot Bibles), and there is even a page from a copy of the Psalms (in Greek) that was made in the late 200s!

Fragment of a Greek copy of the Psalms from the late 200s AD (click for a larger image)

Fragment of a Greek copy of the Psalms from the late 200s AD (click for a larger image)

Now, there were parts of some displays that I didn’t like. For example, the pre-Flood world exhibit (which we had to wait in line for about 20 minutes in order to see) starts with a lovely display that recounts what was created on each day of the creation account of Genesis 1. It accurately quotes the Bible as saying that God saw what He had made and it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

However, the very next display described Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and it used the word “perfect” several times. According to the display, even Adam and Eve’s marriage was “perfect.” Although many of my fellow young-earth creationists say that the original creation (or at least the Garden of Eden) was perfect, that’s an extra-Biblical idea which probably isn’t true. If God had wanted to say that His initial creation was perfect, He could have, as there are Hebrew words for perfect. Instead, He said that it was “very good,” which is quite different from perfect.

Now please understand that even the exhibits which had displays I didn’t like were, overall, very good (just not perfect). Thus, I don’t want my negative comments to overshadow the fact that I honestly think the Ark Encounter is something that everyone should see. As a young-earth creationist, it helped me better understand the worldwide Flood, the sheer magnitude of the Ark, and the various ways that Noah and his family could have taken care of all the animals on it. For example, I had never thought of this, but the Ark Encounter had an indoor garden that Noah and his family could have tended to supplement their food supply.

Even if you aren’t a young-earth creationist, however, I would think that the Ark Encounter would be something you could appreciate. Many old-earth creationists, for example, believe that the Flood was local, but they still believe that Noah and his family built an ark and cared for some animals on it. While the Ark Encounter does contain young-earth assumptions and presents some young-earth arguments, it is mostly about the Ark. Thus, I would think it would be useful to anyone who thinks the Ark was real.

Even those who don’t think the Ark was real should be able to appreciate the Ark Encounter. If nothing else, it will give you an accurate picture of the Ark that you are rejecting. The exhibits should at least show you that there are some reasonable answers to most of the objections you have against it. Those answers probably won’t change your mind, but they might give you a more realistic view of those who disagree with you on the issue.

As a result, I encourage everyone to visit the Ark Encounter. I think that regardless of their views on the Flood account given in the Bible, most people who can afford the admission fee will enjoy it and learn from it.

* The term “timber-framed” has a specific definition. Based on that definition, Answers in Genesis’s claim appears to be accurate. However, the Ark is definitely not the largest wooden structure in the world.
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  1. Tricia Roush says:

    Thanks for your feedback! I was really wondering what you would think about it. We don’t live close enough, nor are we going to be there anytime soon. It is helpful to know what others think, especially those who are more scientific.

  2. kennethos says:

    Dr. Wile, thanks for your honesty regarding the Hebrew in Genesis. Eden, being in a mountainous region, was probably a “perfect” place, being “very good”. But scripture never says the earth was “perfect”. Thanks for being honest with the data.
    As an OEC, I didn’t have high marks for the Creation Museum. But I’m slowly being impressed by the Ark Encounter’s physical realities. It’s worth a visit, though I might not agree with the biblical exegesis presented.
    Additionally, thanks for all the work with the blog. I enjoy virtually every posting.

    1. JD says:

      I find it quite odd he even brought that’s like he wants to get a response out of Ken Ham. Scripture never says the earth wasn’t perfect either. And there is this “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” Deuteronomy 32:4

      No pain..death..worry..etc. I have no problem believing God’s Creation was indeed PERFECT. Until man(I blame the woman!) screwed it up.

      There’s also this:

      1. Jay Wile says:

        I brought it up because it’s important. As Christians, we should be very careful to make a strong distinction between what the Bible actually says and what we interpret it to say. Sure, the Bible never says the earth wasn’t perfect, but it also never says the earth was perfect. Thus, it is clearly an extraBiblical notion to believe that it was perfect. Now just because it’s extraBiblical doesn’t mean it’s wrong, but it does mean it could be wrong. Since the Bible doesn’t say the initial creation was perfect, one shouldn’t build one’s ideas about creation assuming that it was.

        I respect Dr. Sarfati, but his article couldn’t be more incorrect. In fact, it is thoroughly refuted by the link that I gave in the original post. The fact is that the Bible uses “very good” and “very, very good” to refer to things that aren’t perfect. It’s hard to understand how “very good” can mean “perfect” when “very, very good” does not. Also, I note that while Dr. Sarfati discusses the Hebrew word “tamim” and shows why it wouldn’t be used in the creation account, he conveniently leaves out the word “shalom,” which would be the correct word to use if the initial creation were perfect.

        1. JD says:

          And Ken Ham and Dr. Sarfati could respond and you guys could go back and forth for eternity. Love every one of you but I think it’s all just a bit nit-pickyish. To me it’s just God saying He was pleased with what He had created..being a bit humble about it.

          I’d be willing to bet that if you asked those who believe in Creation that 99.9% would say God’s Creation was indeed perfect.. until The Fall. That whatever God touches is perfect.

          If the reason for thinking it wasn’t perfect is because God could have done even better- because there’s no limit for Him..then nothing He’s done/created or will will ever be “perfect”. And just like with trying to comprehend “no beginning” I’m not going to think about THAT too much..or I’ll pass out 😉

        2. Jay Wile says:

          I am sorry that you find it nit-pickyish, JD, but when it comes to teaching what the Bible says, I think it is very important to be precise. The Bible never says that the initial creation was perfect, and even if you believe it was, you should at least alert people to the fact that it’s your interpretation, not the words of the Bible.

          I don’t think you understand my position. I am not saying the initial creation wasn’t perfect because I think God could have done better. I am saying that the Bible never says it was perfect, so the idea of a perfect initial creation is extraBiblical. I personally think it wasn’t perfect, simply because the Bible uses “very, very good” to describe something that wasn’t perfect, so it’s hard to understand how “very good” can mean “perfect.” However, that’s my interpretation. Since the Bible doesn’t say one way or the other, there is no way to know for sure, so it shouldn’t be taught as fact.

        3. Greg says:

          JD, I believe the reason that the Creation was not labeled perfect is because God’s Creatures (including heavenly angels) have in their Nature to not Choose God. Therefore The initial creation was not perfect. After Christ Returns, all Of Creation will be perfect and His Glorified Creatures will be perfect because we will no longer have the ability to not choose him. Sorry if that sounds too elementary, but just an observation.

          But, I agree, the OEC model which includes, death, suffering, thorns and thistles before the Fall and subsequently God’s curse, cannot bear the weight that good exegesis of Gensis 1-3 puts on it. Just my opinion.

  3. Melinda Johnson says:

    If you aren’t near enough to go see it, you can always view their videos on YouTube. I think you can probably just search for it. There’s one that is an hr long that explains some of the reasonings behind what they put in their exhibits. I can’t wait to see it next week!

  4. John Miller says:

    Good thoughts, I live in Indiana so I’ll probably make the trip over to see it relatively soon.

    Is there any information on how many species of animals they guess there were during that time? Obviously the ark, though massive, has limited space. I’m wondering what the guess was as to how many creatures fit inside.

    1. Jay Wile says:

      They have two numbers. The first they call “bare bones” number, which is 1,600. The other number is their “worst case” scenario, which is 6,700. Essentially, they are using the genetic information we have on the various genera and families to figure out which are truly related to one another and which aren’t. Unfortunately, there is limited genetic data on some kinds of animals.

      One of the signs, for example, is on the bat cage. They discuss the bats they know are related to one another, and they need 14 bats for each of those kinds (remember, Genesis 7:2 says Noah had to take 7 pairs of flying creatures). Of the rest of the bats, they essentially take 14 of each genera, just to be sure that they have enough. Most likely, some of those genera are actually related and therefore part of the same kind, but the genetic data (and fossil data) aren’t complete enough to know. Thus, they assume that those genera aren’t related and each represent a different kind. This means they have 22 different kinds of bats and 14 of each kind, for a total of 308 bats. This is the maximum number of bats needed, based on the genetic and fossil data that we have today. Most likely, there were fewer bats on the ark.

      In the end, then, the “bare bones” number assumes a large degree of relatedness between living and fossil creatures. The “worst case” number assumes the maximum amount of unrelatedness among living and fossil creatures.

      1. Jonathan Sarfati says:

        It’s more likely that the adjective ‘clean’ is understood to carry over to the ‘birds of the heavens’, i.e. what follows applies only to the clean birds [Heb. flying creatures] and clean animals. But the Ark would be large enough to hold seven pairs of all kinds of flying vertebrates, even though this was not necessary.

  5. Bill McClymonds says:

    When I have seen arguments by naturalists or old age creationists concerning flood events, the arguments against the Bible explanation of the flood seem to be framed or formed as naturalistic arguments. They go something like x couldn’t have happened because y would have prevented it from happening. In most cases x represents an occurrence that would be unlikely to occur naturalistically and y represents the natural scenario that would most likely prevent x from happening. One example is that there wouldn’t be enough time for the limited number or animal species on the ark to reproduce all the different types of animals we see today. In this example x is the number of animals on the ark and y it the natural period of time in which they have to diversify.

    In many cases those who believe in young ages then try to defend the event that is being challenged by trying to refute the naturalist argument with a defense that also uses naturalistic assumptions. Personally I don’t think that is necessarily the best approach to a challenge about the events surrounding the scriptural record of the flood. As I read scripture there are multiple supernatural events occurring in the narrative about the flood. First there is God giving Noah plans and direction for building the ark. Second, the animals apparently come to Noah, he doesn’t seem go out and gather them. Third, God closes up the ark behind Noah and his family and the animals after they enter the ark. Fourth, there is a flood that covers the high mountains. Fifth, the ark and its passengers and animal cargo is preserved through a prolonged torrential downpour. Sixth, the rains stop and the water recedes within a time frame that allows the overwhelming majority that are on board to leave the ark safely. The things I have mentioned are just some of the miraculous events that are recorded in Scripture about the flood.

    My point in saying these things is that the flood narrative is clearly a supernatural event with God controlling the process from start to finish. It is a miraculous event just like the miracles of Christ. Few people try to defend Christ’s miracles by giving a naturalistic explanation. If a naturalist said for example that a person with a withered limb would not have enough time to heal instantly, no Christian would try to provide a naturalistic defense for that miracle. In the same way the flood narrative is, in my opinion, best defended as simply a miraculous event. Whatever cannot be explained naturalistically can be explained by simply saying that it is reasonable to expect a God who is capable of the miraculous events surrounding the flood to also be capable of arranging the post flood events to suit His purpose. I am not saying everything that happened was necessarily miraculous, but it is not unreasonable to expect an all powerful God to arrange some of the post flood events as well as the actual flood events themselves. For example, the continued preservation of all the animal kinds that were present on the ark and their progressive reproduction into the diversity of life kinds we see today could have easily been arranged by a God who initially brought all the animals to Noah when he had completed the ark.

    Many things in scripture can be explained from a natural point of view. I am all for using a natural explanation when that is the most reasonable explanation for an event. On the other hand, I don’t think it is necessary to try to stretch a natural explanation to the point where it becomes unreasonable in order to explain some of the events that occurred during the flood and post flood. If there is a good natural explanation then it should be used. If, on the other hand, something is highly unlikely from a natural point of view, I do not think it is unreasonable to say that we simply don’t know if it was a natural occurrence or if it was the hand of God directly intervening at that point in history when multiple other miraculous events were occurring. One or a few more miraculous events during a time when multiple miracles were occurring doesn’t seem at all unreasonable to me.

    1. Jonathan Sarfati says:

      “My point in saying these things is that the flood narrative is clearly a supernatural event with God controlling the process from start to finish. It is a miraculous event just like the miracles of Christ.”

      Actually it’s a bit different. The point of ‘Ark apologetics’ is to show the non-necessity of miracles, not their non-existence. Compare also the biblical perspective on miracles and natural laws in Miracles and Science.

      God was definitely involved, as we can see from the centre of the giant chiastic structure of the historical Flood account: “God remembered Noah” (Genesis 8:1). This is a Hebrew idiom for God acting again on Noah’s behalf.

      One of the ways He did this was as per your #1: providing the dimensions of a demonstrably sea-worthy vessel, as opposed to the crass cubical shape of Utnapishtim’s ark in the counterfeit Gilgamesh Epic. God instructed Noah to pitch the Ark, and this was likely made by boiling pine-resin and charcoal, and would not only waterproof the Ark but also make it much more impact resistant.

      As I say in The Genesis Account:

      “The biblical evidence suggests that God used natural means for much of this. E.g. God commanded Noah to build an Ark, rather than levitate them all or recreate all kinds. For the Flood itself, God named water sources that already existed. And … God used natural means to abate the Flood, and Noah had to use natural means to decide when it was safe to leave the Ark.”

      1. Bill McClymonds says:

        G’day Dr. Sarfati. Thank you for your comments on my post. I have learned a lot from Dr Wile’s comments on some of my prior postings, so I appreciate your comments also.

        I am not arguing against a natural explanation when that is the most reasonable explanation. I think my last paragraph pretty much sums up my post. I do however think God was clearly involved from start to finish in the flood narrative. There is nothing natural that could stop 40 days of continuous rain that was initiated and maintained by God. It was a specific time period of rain and flood water from other sources that was set by God to accomplish His purpose. He could have caused it to rain long enough for all the supplies on the ark to be depleted and for all on board to starve to death. He did not do that. It was His plan from start to finish and, in my opinion, it was clearly supernatural start to finish.

        I don’t think it is necessary to show the non-necessity of miracles during a time when miracles were clearly occurring. Again, my last paragraph pretty sums up my thoughts. Thank you once again for your comments. I do value your opinion.

  6. JD says:

    It’s not letting me respond to your previous I’m down here.

    Besides others(not just the 2 mentioned above) having a different interpretation, the other (3rd) interpretation would be what I said- that God wasn’t referring to His grading His Creation on a 1-10 good to perfect scale. He was just being humble and pleased with what He did. God is Perfection. “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.”

    1. Jay Wile says:

      That’s a possible interpretation, JD. But once again, it is an interpretation. It is not what the Bible says. As Christians, we must be very careful to distinguish between what the Bible actually says and what we interpret it to say.

  7. Jimmie Montgomery says:

    I’m an Old Earth Creationist, I am in the Charles Spurgeon type of theology school and looking at the Bible and the World. The Bible uses phenomenal descriptions for many things. I’ve listened to Flat Earth people quoting the Bible to support their point of view that the world is flat. They ignore verses that speak of it being a circle hanging on nothing. They actually say have you any experience with the round Earth. I say yes as a navigator I have to plot a rhumb line on a flat map to show my true course over the sea. I wished they wouldn’t use the Bible for their nonsense.

    I understand YEC theology as I followed it myself for some time. I came across a lot of problems trying to get so many things to fit into it I was starting to think the Bible was wrong. A visit to the Grand Canyon was quite disturbing to me as I knew it was at the bottom of the Grand Staircase and actually seeing it and how imposing it was made me think that no mere one year flood created this. World wide or local the Flood didn’t make the world’s sediments with fossils in them, there were too many.

    God brought the Alan Hayward book “Creation And Evolution” into my life and I found the answers I needed. I looked and found more along the same lines. I do not believe God loses any of those who are “In Christ” ever. He wasn’t letting me go either. It was later that I started reading some of the best of the Puritans and it changed how I looked at the Bible to a richer perspective. The Framework Hypotheses doesn’t seem that far out of the way for me to accept, many great Christians in history subscribed to some form of it. The American acceptance of Darby’s and Scofield’s Dispensationalism really is unique and totally unbiblical taking a symbolic book like Revelation and turning it into a literal interpretation wherever it possibly could to the point of saying giant locusts will attack those with the Mark. Only in America could such teaching grow so fast. A good book to read is Michael S. Horton’s “Made In America
    , A History of Evangelicals in America. That is a good overview. I always wondered where much of what we practice and teach in our churches came from that I studied a lot of Church history.

    The Ark Encounter is a stunning example of the American way of doing things. How much went into it, $100 million or so? Well it will give some jobs to a rural area of Ky. I suppose, so it will at least help some poor people. I doubt it will change many minds that are already made up. I hope it is a commercial success as I can read the headlines now if the taxpayers of that county get stuck paying off the bonds that were used to pay for the majority of it. Ham may have been technically correct when he said no taxes were used it the construction of The Ark Encounter, but taxes are helping to pay off the bonds including a 2.5% tax out of every employee’s wages that work there.

    Sorry to bear such news, but Ham has been disingenuous saying what he did. No Christian is perfect and I guess Ham has managed to have his dream built, at least being between Lexington and Cincinnati it will manage to stay in business hopefully.

    Still it seems a poor way to spend money when so many are suffering. I just had major surgery at a Seventh Day Medical system Hospital for free as all I had was Medicare and I’m poor and $100 million would be better spent there I believe or in a Baptist nonprofit hospital. Every person at these hospitals hears the Gospel preached in one way or another. I wonder who makes the more lasting impression? I’m betting on the hospital with the scripture writings on every wall and the visiting chaplains who help and comfort and pray for you. I had the Head of Radiology pray for me when he told me my kidney cancer had come back after being frozen off 6 years earlier and I would have to have my kidney removed. Nobody who applied for charity was denied, again only in America are there so many religious nonprofit medical systems. It ain’t all bad.

    1. Jay Wile says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jimmie. I hope you aren’t trying to draw a parallel between flat-earthers and young-earth creationists. First, the flat earth is a relatively new concept. The ancients and the early church fathers understood that the earth is spherical. By contrast, a belief in a young earth stretches all the way back to the beginning of Christendom. Second, while there is no evidence to suggest a flat earth, there is ample evidence which suggests a young earth.

      I find it interesting that you used to be a young-earth creationist and then switched to old-earth creationism because of the Grand Canyon. Perhaps you should learn more about the geology of the Grand Canyon, as I think it is best understood in a young-earth framework. Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe by Dr. Steve Austin might be a good place to start. You could also look at the geological studies related to the Mount Saint Helens eruption. When you see the walls of stratified sediment produced by a small, local flood that was caused by the eruption, it is quite easy to see how the large deposits of sedimentary rock we see today could be laid down by a global Flood.

      The reason I find your conversion to old-earth creationism interesting is because it is the opposite of my experience. I believed in an old earth, until I started my graduate work in nuclear chemistry. The more I learned about how radioactive dating was done and the assumptions behind it, the more it conflicted with my own scientific research. As a result, I looked into the issue of the age of the earth, and I found significantly more evidence to support a young earth than an old earth. As a result, I became a young-earth creationist.

      I agree that Horton’s book is an interesting read. I disagree with his theology, but some of what he says is right on the mark. Indeed, his chapters on consumerism and self-esteem (chapters 3 and 4) are particularly good. I also agree with his point that the United States is not (and has never been) a Christian Nation. Greg Boyd expands that argument in his book, Myth of a Christian Nation. However, I have to say that his overall thesis is flawed. To claim that the True Apostolic Faith was “rediscovered and attested anew in the Reformation” is nonsense. The Reformed tradition (like all modern traditions) is not a rediscovery of the Apostolic Faith. It is an attempt to interpret the Bible based on a more modern (in this case, 16th-century) worldview. This doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s just nothing like the way the early Christians interpreted the Scriptures. Even a cursory reading of the early church fathers makes that abundantly clear.

      I am not sure why you have a problem with the “bonds” that you discuss, which are actually called “Tax Increment Financing” arrangements. They have been used in many parts of the U.S. (and many parts of the world) to reinvigorate areas that are depressed economically. In the end, they bring economic development to an area, in the hopes that over time, the economic development will pay larger dividends than any cost to the taxpayers. In the end, the elected officials in the state of Kentucky, along with the bureaucrats they appointed, decided that the Ark Encounter would provide just that kind of economic benefit. Every Tax Increment Financing arrangement is a risk, but in the end, the elected officials in the state of Kentucky seem to think that the possible benefits outweigh the risk. I guess only time will tell. The point, however, is that the Ark Encounter is being treated no differently from any other source of economic development, and that seems reasonable to me. Indeed, a recent court ruling regarding another tax incentive specifically said that the Ark Encounter cannot be treated differently. Thus, if you don’t like what is happening, you need to get the laws of Kentucky changed, which will harm economic development, at least according to those who made the laws.

      You say, “Still it seems a poor way to spend money when so many are suffering.” However, that’s certainly not the way Ken Ham and those who have donated to the Ark see it. To them, a person’s eternal salvation is much more important than his or her worldly suffering. They think that them Ark Encounter is an evangelism effort, and they think people will come to Christ as a result. Indeed, the last exhibit you see in the ark is about the Crucifixion and salvation. Now, you might disagree that this kind of evangelism is effective, but others probably think that hospital charities are not effective as an evangelism tool. After all, there are certainly many, many, many more people who will see the ark compared to those who will go to a Christian-funded hospital.

      Obviously, I am not saying that Christians shouldn’t fund hospitals. I am just saying that as a Christian, some of my contributions go to ministries that are focused on relieving suffering, and some of my contributions go to ministries that are focused on spreading the Gospel. Both of those activities are important works that Christians should support, and different Christians see the effectiveness of each kind of ministry differently. I personally praise God for all attempts to spread the gospel and for all attempts to eliminate suffering.

    2. Jonathan Sarfati says:

      Whitefield? Seriously?. Nothing on that page that I didn’t address back in 2004 in my book Refuting Compromise.

      Whitefield’s page doesn’t even address my point that the Hebrew word translated ‘perfect’, tam, is used of imperfect people. Nor does his amateurish word study address the context in Genesis 1: the ‘very good’ is the culmination of seven assessments of ‘good’ in Creation Week.

      I didn’t mention shalom simply because my old-earth opponents used tam. In any case, I fail to see why shalom (peace, completeness, ‘should’ have been used instead, since likewise it is used in Scripture of demonstrably imperfect situations. For example, it is translated ‘wholly’ to describe Judah’s carried away into exile (Jeremiah 13:19).

      I’m sure that if God had used tam or shalom, old earthers, who must have both human and animal death before the Fall (if they even believe in the Fall), would have said ‘If God had meant to describe a perfect creation, then He wouldn’t have used words that describe imperfect people and situations.’

      1. Jay Wile says:

        But the point is that the Bible doesn’t describe the original creation as perfect. Thus, to say that it was is extra Biblical. It might be true, but we don’t know. Once again, I don’t see how “very good” can mean “perfect” when “very, very good” does not.

        1. Jonathan Sarfati says:

          But what alternative do you propose? My article showed that using the Hebrew tam (“perfect”) would not work, because it is clearly used for imperfect people and situations. As above, using “shalom” would also not work, for the same reason.

          But the seven-fold appearance of the objective pronouncement “good”, culminating in “very good”, serves this goal.

          As I’ve said elsewhere:

          9. Hamartiology: Doctrine of sin

          It’s impossible to understand sin without Genesis. Paul refers back to Genesis 3 to explain man’s inherent sinfulness and resulting death because we all came from Adam (Romans 5:12–21 and 1 Corinthians 15:20–23 ). This has been a consistent teaching of the Church, e.g. at the Council of Carthage in AD 418:

          “Canon 1—If any man says that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that whether he sinned or not he would have died, not as the wages of sin, but through the necessity of nature, let him be anathema.”

          Paul also explains that the entire creation is cursed because God subjected it to futility at the Fall.

          This is also part of a ‘big picture’. God is perfect, so He created things perfect; any imperfection is due to sin, not to the way God made it originally. Indeed, God calls His creation “good” (Hebrew טוב tôv) seven times in Genesis 1, and seven is the biblical number of perfection. Furthermore, the seventh time, after God finished His creative work, He declared the finished product “very good” (Genesis 1:31, Hebrew מאד טוב tôv me’od). As will be shown, this is a strong indicator, especially with the explicit teachings above, that the world originally had no death or disease.

          Nigel Cameron comments on God’s seven declarations of “good” in Genesis 1:

          “Six times individual elements in the creation are pronounced “good”, and the seventh time the whole creation receives the emphatic “very good”. It is difficult to see how the divine approbation could have been more strongly expressed. Evidently, the seven-fold pattern is deliberately given to the expressions of approval, culminating in the “very good” judgement on the whole work, since they do not follow the pattern of the seven days. We find them on days one, three, four, five and six; two on day three, and two—including the “very good”—on day six. The use therefore of the perfect number seven is intended to be emphatic and is not directly related to the seven-day character of the creative work. It reflects the absolute perfection of the work of God, and in the light of what follows in chapters 2 and 3, the stress on perfection takes on a dramatic and inescapable significance.”

        2. Jay Wile says:

          My alternative is to honestly admit that we don’t know. The Bible doesn’t tell us that creation was perfect. It tells us it was “very good.” Since the Bible uses “very, very good” to refer to something else that is definitely not perfect, there is simply no justification for saying that we know the pre-Fall world was perfect.

          There is no reason to think that just because “very good” follows six “goods” that “very good” means perfect. Indeed, I would say that “very good” is simply a statement that the things created on each individual day were good, and that in the end, when they combined, they produced an even better thing: a “complete package” of life and its sustenance. However, there is no indication that this “complete package” was perfect.

          There are two things we know about death before the Fall: plants died, and people didn’t. That’s all the Bible tells us. Anything else is based on interpretation. That’s not to say it’s wrong. That’s just to say that now you are adding man’s fallible reasoning to God’s infallible word. As a result, you shouldn’t teach it as definite truth. You should teach it as an interpretation that could be wrong.

    3. Jonathan Sarfati says:

      This is just a boring rehash of ‘You should be feeding the hungry’, which we addressed long ago.

      That 30yo book by the Christadelphian heretic Alan Hayward (1923–2008) is dreadful. Even a lot of his arguments against biological evolution were outdated even when it was written. Hayward also resorted to the old flat earth myth (p. 70), long ago discredited by responsible historians (as this site among others thoroughly documents). E.g. Hayward called Augustine a flat-earth when in reality he disputed a totally different concept, the existence of Antipodeans (people on the other side of the globe). He affirmed explicitly that the earth is a globe, as did almost everyone else.

    1. Jay Wile says:

      Thanks for sharing those, Wilbur. I will have to read and listen and then decide whether or not I can offer a review. Dr. Tour is (of course) a giant in the field, and I am not sure I could add anything to what he has to say. Nevertheless, I will read and listen.

    2. Jay Wile says:

      I ended up reviewing the article, Wilbur. The video seemed to cover the same ground, so I didn’t watch it for long.

  8. Jean says:

    I enjoyed reading this post, thought I’d share this article I came across today, as it’s ark-related

    1. Jay Wile says:

      It is an interesting article, and it shows there may be elements of truth in many mythologies. Thanks for sharing it!

  9. Ann IHms says:

    Dr. Wile:
    I certainly agree with the comment about appreciating your blog. Thanks for the time and expertise you put into it. It is very informative.

    My dad always said the Dead Sea Scrolls find was the greatest archeological proof of the Bible ever and that if they found the Ark that would top the Scrolls. I think it is very exciting to see believers attempt in any way they can to help people think and to provide answers for serious (and even non-serious) questions. You certainly do that in a very effective way and I believe this Ark Encounter exhibit does, too.

    Does the exhibit point out the spread of civilizations from Ham, Shem, and Japheth? I so hope they emphasized that Cain was the only descendant of Ham that was cursed and that Egyptians were part of Ham’s lineage that God expressly loved as His own. There is so much World history springing out of the Ark that I think most people don’t know and that would help destroy the racial divisions around the world.

    GOD bless you,

    1. Jay Wile says:

      Thanks so much Ann. In answer to your question, they do have a good exhibit on the descendents of Ham, Shem, and Japeth. I don’t recall anything about Cain’s curse. It may be there, however. I might just be forgetting it.

    2. Jonathan Sarfati says:

      To be fair to them, Ken Ham has long emphasized that very thing, that it was only Canaan who was cursed, and that it had nothing whatsoever to do with skin colour. E.g. from last millennium, he wrote in Interracial marriage: is it biblical?:

      “These Canaanites had an ungodly culture, and were descendants of Canaan, the son of Ham. Remember, Canaan was cursed because of his obvious rebellious nature. Sadly, many Christians state that Ham was cursed—but this is not true. Some have even said that this (non-existent) curse of Ham resulted in the black ‘races.’ This is absurd and is the type of false teaching that has reinforced and justified prejudices against people with dark skin.”

  10. Bill McClymonds says:

    I enjoyed watching the You Tube video and reading the information in the links given by Wilbur Nelson a couple days ago. My thanks to him for posting those links.

    In my opinion as a non chemist, Dr Tour gave the best summary of the information early in the video. He used the term collective cluelessness to describe current understanding of chemical prebiotic synthesis necessary for the first life form. He summarized that term by saying, “Those who say this is well worked out (prebiotic development of the first life form through chemical synthesis), they know nothing -nothing about chemical synthesis.” A little later in the video he said, “Chemists are collectively bewildered. However I say that no chemist understands prebiotic synthesis of the requisite building blocks let alone assembly into a complex system.” He goes on to give some very technical information to demonstrate why that is true, but his initial quotes pretty much sum it up. The video is over an hour long but watching the first five minutes of the video will give you a pretty good summary of what Dr. Tour is going to say.

    I’m not trying to discourage Dr. Wile from reviewing the links. I’m just suggesting that those of us who are not as technically proficient in chemistry can get the gist of Dr. Tour’s information pretty early in the video without having to understand all the technical details.