Answers in Genesis is an organization located in Kentucky. Among their features is what is termed a “creation museum” along with a replica of Noah’s ark from the Bible story found in Genesis. The biggest problem with the Ark of the Creation Museum is that it attempts to be the answer to a question that the Bible is not asking. It wants to provide its guests an experience of Noah’s ark, but in reality, it is more akin to the Tower of Babel from Genesis 11.
The common understanding of the Tower of Babel story is human pride drove the construction of the tower in an attempt to be more like God. My take-away from the story (and others before me) suggests that homogeneity of the people, not pride, drives the tower’s construction. The beginning of the story puts homogeneity at the forefront: “Now the whole earth had one language and the same words” (Gen 11:1, NRSV). A few verses later, the reasoning for the building of the tower also conveys the notion of being of one mind: “…[O]therwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). The feared consequence of not building the tower is separation from each other. The sameness is threatened. Pride is partially driving the human desire to build the tower, but it is pride in the uniformity of the community, not pride in the generic sense of human character.
This story has something to say about diversity. From God’s actions, it says that God prefers multiplicity to homogeneity. Why is that? Is there inherent beauty and even divinity in a diverse population? I think and believe so. What if the message were more subtle? What if the problem becomes when society has no diversity and is of one mind, but also suffers from the fatal flaw of being just plain wrong?
The Kentucky ark did not originate from pride. Much like the biblical story, I think the Noah-esq adventure comes from assumptions that the Bible and God fit into one agreed upon definition of Christianity. The community of a congruent faith displays for all an agreed list of assumptions. The language is one, its vernacular the same. The dialects of different faiths, biblical interpretation, and science have no place here.
The Ark and Creation Museum are a church. By their own admission, they provide tools for people to defend their Christian faith. In that way, they are a sanctuary. Within that location, Christians are reassured by the physical manifestations of the stories of the Bible. The message is soothing. “You are safe here.” “This is the world our God has created.” “The Bible is history and behold its physical recreation in front of you!” The answer that Answers in Genesis wants to provide is that your faith is validated. If we can show you that the creation of the world and subsequent early human “history” happened the way Genesis describes, then we can hold on to every word of the Bible.
The Biblical story ends with God taking action. The people are scattered, the languages confused, and the tower is left abandoned. If the Answers in Genesis museum is our contemporary Tower of Babel, then I encourage Christians to scatter and confuse themselves. Look and think about the stories of Genesis differently. Defending Christianity does not need to come at the expense of abandoning critical thinking and other ideas. Scatter yourself and find new outlooks and beliefs about the story. The true power of the stories comes from something deeper than a large boat or a vague tower. Confuse yourself with thought provoking and faith enriching questions about the story. Ask yourself what you believe and why. You do not need a tower nor a life-size ark to reach the Divine.