It’s the place young earth creationists admire as bringing the Bible to life and other Christians consider ludicrous, but it’s also a hot tourist destination.
Readers of USA Today once against voted the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum as the No. 1 and No. 2 religious museums in the nation.
The side-by-side attractions in Northern Kentucky beat out the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.; the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C.; the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia; and several other well-known museums and historical centers.
This year’s “USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice” poll featured 18 nominees in the category of best religious museum curated by a panel of travel experts. Readers then weighed in with their votes. And just as in 2020, the last time the poll was taken, the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum rose to the top.
The popular destinations are among the most controversial of all religious-themed attractions in the world because they are based on a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis, a view held mainly by conservative evangelical Christians. The attractions are operated by Answers in Genesis, a nonprofit that defies modern science to teach that the earth is only 6,000 years old and that creation happened in six literal 24-hour periods.
A majority of biblical scholars today see Genesis as a literary description of creation, not a literal or scientific account. Modern science teaches the earth is billions of years old.
The centerpiece of the Answers in Genesis destination is the Ark Encounter, featuring a 510-foot-long recreation of Noah’s Ark built to the specifications given in Genesis. Inside the ark, tourists visit Ararat Ridge Zoo, a virtual reality experience, a 2,500-seat Answers Center that hosts daily family programs, and a huge family playground.
More than 1 million tourists visit the Ark Encounter annually, and about 500,000 visit the adjacent Creation Museum.
Ken Ham, a noted creationist and founder of the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, said results of the USA Today polling shows the triumph of a “biblical worldview” over secularism.
“One could make the argument that USA Today should have included the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., in its list. While most people would not consider the Smithsonian to be a religious museum, it does promote a worldview: naturalism and atheism,” Ham said. “I’d argue that there are no ‘non-religious’ positions for museums that are described as natural history facilities. Each has a worldview to proclaim. The Ark and Creation Museum are, of course, religious museums, as they promote a theistic, Christian worldview.”
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