Ham's defense of creationism against Nye's evolution arguments was viewed by 7 million people in a Feb. 4 live stream, according to the biblical apologetics ministry Answers in Genesis (AiG). Three weeks later, Ham announced enough money had been raised to fund the $73 million first phase of the Ark Encounter educational park, which includes a 510-foot ark.
He credited God for bringing the project to fruition.
"The date of my debate with Bill Nye had been on our calendar several months before we knew the final delivery date of the Ark bonds," Ham said in a press release. "But in God's timing, not ours -- and although the bond registration had already closed before Feb. 4 and no more bonds could be purchased -- the high-profile debate prompted some people who had registered for the bonds to make sure they followed through with submitting the necessary, and sometimes complicated, paperwork."
The raising of several million dollars in donations and ark memberships prior to the bond paid for the purchase and clearing of land, architectural plans, exhibit designs and other costs, AiG reported.
The first phase of the Ark Encounter will include installation of the park infrastructure on 800 acres off I-75 in Grant County, Ky., south of Cincinnati, and the construction of the ark. The ark is slated to open in 2016, Ham said.
Ham continues to caution people about watching Paramount's upcoming Noah. He described it as not only biblically inaccurate, as Paramount has admitted, but outright "anti-biblical."
The official website for the film Noah prominently displays the message that the movie takes artistic license, and that the biblical story can be found in the book of Genesis. That's not enough to redeem the film's inaccuracies, Ham said.
While films based on Bible stories have often strayed from Scripture, Paramount's Noah, Hamm said, goes beyond artistic enhancement of Scripture.
"The Noah movie is an attack on the Bible," Ham told Baptist Press. "It's not just unbiblical, it's anti-biblical, because the environmentalism is over the top. Noah is more interested in animals than he is in humans (in the movie).
"The Bible portrays Noah as a man of great reverence ... and he's a preacher of righteousness, whereas the movie has Noah a very angry man who even wants to kill his grandchild because when his daughter-in-law gets pregnant, he wants to stop the propagation of the human race. I mean, it goes on and on; there are a lot of things like that in it."
The Ark Encounter will help people understand the biblical account of Noah's ark, which is crucial to the Gospel, Ham said.
"I believe the ark is the greatest reminder of the Gospel," he said. "As Noah and his family had to go through a door to be saved, we need to go through a door to be saved. So it's a reminder of Jesus. He said, 'I am the door.'
"We want to build the ark with that emphasis, to lead people to the door, to go through. Whereas the Noah movie is being produced by Hollywood for entertainment."
The Paramount production will potentially lead astray youth and Christians of all ages, Ham said.
"Unfortunately I think a lot of young people ... they're not going to read their Bibles these days. They're not going to check it out," he said. "And then many Christians don't read their Bibles like they should. So I think even many Christians will probably be led astray by the movie."
Ham encourages moviegoers to instead see a biblically solid portrayal of the global flood in a movie directed by Ray Comfort, "Noah -- and the Last Days," available for Internet download ahead of its March 28 release on YouTube and DVD.
Comfort, founder, president and CEO of Living Waters Publications, said he directed and produced his Noah film in protest of Paramount's production. For more information on Comfort's production, go to NoahTheMovie.com.
Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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