Answers in Genesis is about to roll out a multi-million dollar advertising campaign for the Ark Encounter. You may have already seen many billboards, Facebook promotions and heard radio advertising for the ark but apparently these were just a preview of the real media blitz that will continue right up to the July 7th opening.
As part of the new advertising campaign, AiG has released the poster copied here and which you will see hundreds of times in the coming month. I can’t help but point out the irony in this poster and the Ark Encounter advertising campaign in general: The “literal” depiction of the true Ark is being promoted with false imagery.
Ken Ham gushes over his Ark daily on Twitter as bringing the literal truth of the Noah’s Ark to the world. It will show the true dimensions of the ark and be built of wood. It will proclaim the truth like no other Christian icon ever has before.
But look at the animals in what is supposed to represent the open door of the ark, with either the animals entering or exiting the ark. These animals are very modern species. If you visit the Ark Encounter this summer you will discover that Answers in Genesis does not believe that any of the animals that literally entered and exited this ark looked like they are depicted in this poster. Paying customers will instead find sculptures of the common ancestors of the animals shown here. For example, the Ark Adventure will not have a modern giraffe species but rather a short neck animal with a different face.
Ok, its hard to put animals that don’t look like any species alive today in advertising materials but shocking the public has never been a concern before. Why not be accurate in advertising?
What is the message here? Look closely and you will see two different cat species (a male and female lion and a leopard), two bear species (a panda and a brown bear?), and two canines species (red fox and a wolf). Ken Ham has been expounding religiously the last two months that all the modern species of the world we know were not on the ark. Rather only two of each unclean “kind”* were on the ark which represent a small fraction of today’s species. But in this poster we see Answers in Genesis and Ken Ham contradicting their own message. There are two species of canines when Ham says there was only a single ancestral pair of canines which was neither a fox nor a wolf. I’ve been writing about Ham’s view of the origin of species (ie. evolution) recently (for example: Is Ken Ham’s Rapid Post-Flood Diversification Really Evolution?) and this poster does not reflect Ham’s view of what the animals on the ark looked like.
This campaign is sending confusing mixed signals to those that will eventually plunk down their money to see the ark. What they will encounter is a menagerie of strange amalgamation of many species of animals that presumably represent the original kinds which were the actual animals that were on the Ark. I expect their will be qualifiers on the cages that these depictions will be their “best guess” at what the animals looked like but they are certain of one thing: the animals depicted on this poster were certainly not what the animals on the ark looked like. And yet, this is how they are advertising the truth.
Yes, I’m overplaying my point a bit. After all, the ark is just a partial depiction of Noah’s ark. Other than the size, wood composition and a single door, there is little else that is literally the same as described in the text. For example, it doesn’t seem to be covered in pitch so why did it have to be made from wood – and not gopher wood – but it didn’t have to be covered in pitch to make its message? I am not sure. I suppose it really isn’t that critical that they show more realistic animals on the Ark. The intent of the advertising is to grab attention and get kids and their parents to the ark where they can then be gradually introduced to a more accurate view of the ark animals. If they put a bunch of weird animals on the poster that would distract from what they think is the main message.
I just find it ironic that Ken Ham can write almost daily about how accuracy and truth even in small details are so important but then he isn’t willing to pay attention to details when he feels that it isn’t going to serve his needs. To me it appears that AiG feels the ends will justify the means. Get folks to the door and then they can feed them their version of the truth.
* Bears, canines and cats were all considered to be unclean animals and thus only a single pair including the “the male and its mate” were to be brought on the ark. This poster show at least three cats on the Ark and it thus wrong according to the YEC understanding of “kinds.”
UPDATE: Ken Ham has responded to my post with one of his own on the AiG website. I found his reply quite surprising since his interpretation of the meaning of the ad is quite different than the message that it seems to convey. Apparently the animals in the picture are looking into the replica ark ready for a New Voyage today which is why they are modern animals. I was supposed to get that impression form the tagline “The voyage begins again” and realize these are supposed to be modern animals. I’ve seen all of their advertisements and I’ve watched them with other and discussed the ads and this is not the impression we had from the current advertisements. In retrospect you can see that the animals coming to the ark are coming to see the new voyage and so it sort of makes sense once he tells us what we are supposed to see in the ad.
But, does the general public get this impression from the ad? I expect that if I were to show 1000 adults and children this poster 99 or 100% will think they are depicting animals coming to Noah’s ark not animals today heading to this replica ark to take a new voyage despite the tagline. You can say that my post wasn’t well researched and so that is why I didn’t understand but do you expect people driving along the freeway to see this sign and do research before deciding what the image intends to say? Of course not. You know that most people will equate the image with Noah’s ark and thus the animals with the animals that were on the ark.
Furthermore, It is worth noting that the TV ad shows all the animals coming two-by-two to the ark. Why would modern animals do this? Is it good advertising if we didn’t get the message?
Let me know if I’m missing something here. In my post I was aping Ken Ham’s ultra-literalism but apparently I needed to exercise more creative interpretations to understand his advertisements.