Tag Archives: Bible

The Ark Encounter:  An Encounter of Faith?

Recently, my wife and I, along with another couple, set out on a thirty-five-day camping trip.  We spent weeks planning the trip carefully orchestrating every stop around a theme of music and nature.  The music trail would take us to Mountain View, Arkansas; Hurricane Mills, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; Muscle Shoals, Alabama; Tupelo, Mississippi; and Meridian, Mississippi.  Blending those stops with time to enjoy nature at Mammoth Cave, Tennessee; Cumberland Falls, Kentucky; Smoky Mountains, Tennessee; Desoto State Park, Alabama; and Dismal Canyon, Alabama seemed like a great trip, and when we added The Ark Encounter in Kentucky, we figured the trip was perfection.  Despite a couple of days of rain, the trip was everything we hoped it would be except for one stop – The Ark Encounter.

Our visit to the Ark left me (I will not speak for the others) not just a little dismayed but uneasy about my experience.  Granted, the Ark replica at 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 50 feet tall is a spectacular feat of modern engineering and construction.  To think Noah and his sons built such a vessel 4,000 years ago with crude tools, and unlike the modern replica, their boat could float is absolutely mind boggling.  Of course, there are those who say the original Ark was a fairy tale not to be believed, but I choose to believe based on my upbringing and faith.  However, some of what I found inside the Ark was puzzling and faith rattling.  It pushed my faith in the Biblical story of the Ark to its limits.

First, there is little doubt The Ark Encounter at $48 a head to enter, $10 to park, a gift shop around every corner, zip lines that range in price from $49 to $99 per person is a money-making endeavor.  Bills must be paid, and someone must make a profit, so money-making did not surprise me.  Besides, remarkable detail prevailed throughout the interior of the vessel.  There was nothing cheap about the modern-day Ark – the structure inside and out is beautiful.  How the animals were housed and cared for in the Ark was logically presented although the designers freely admit they took artistic license with the beautifully designed displays to explain how things may have worked on the Ark.  Considering no one alive was around during Noah’s time, taking artistic license to explain such as waste removal and ventilation makes perfect sense.  However, what made absolutely no sense was the kinds of animals displayed inhabiting the Ark.

As would be expected, there were crates, cages, and clay pots to hold insects, birds, small animals, and large animals.  But, did you know Tyrannosaur was on the Ark?  Yes, you read correctly!  According to the folks who developed The Ark Encounter, Tyrannosaurs and Sauropod dinosaurs as well as many other dinosaurs had tickets on The Ark!  The people behind the development of the modern-day Ark say there were as many as 80 kinds of dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark.  Now that I look back on my visit to The Ark Encounter, I realize I saw very few cages that held anything other than dinosaur-like creatures.

I am a Christian, but as I walked through the Ark, I began to feel uneasy.  If I had done more research before boarding the Ark, I would have known the present-day Ark is not simply a pilgrimage for Christians to marvel at the glory and miracle of God.  It is a tool to turn all credible science related to evolution upside down, and solely promote creationism.  Maybe my problem is I don’t see evolution as a threat to God’s power and love, but it is clear through their exhibits the creators of The Ark Encounter do.  They believe the world is only 6,000 years old, and that is okay if that is where their faith leads them but changing or misconstruing proven science to influence others to embrace their point of view is, for me, unsettling.

I hesitate to say I felt as though someone was trying to brainwash me, but that is exactly how I felt.  To be fair, some of the science presented seemed almost plausible, or was that the brainwashing?  What did not come across as plausible were such assertions as fossils did not exist before the flood 4,000 years ago, mountains and all contained within them were created by the flood 4,000 years ago, and the earth is only 6,000 years old.  I could have probably taken all that as well as the paintings of men during Noah’s time battling a triceratops with a grain of salt.  However, when I came face to face with a tyrannosaur and other dinosaurs populating cages in the Ark and a sign that stated 80 kinds of dinosaurs were on the Ark, not even my faith could save me from doubt.

I am sure there may have been some who left the Ark with a sense of renewal in their faith, but what about those who came seeking faith and a reason to believe?  Did dinosaurs and pseudo-science muddy the miracle of the Ark for them?  I hope not.  As a Christian, my faith helped me recover from my initial shock, but I can’t help but wonder the impact The Ark Encounter might have on those with less faith?  Will they leave the Ark believers in the miracle of God, or will they be turned off by what unfortunately comes across as a fairy tale authored by Edgar Rice Burroughs?

JL

©September 30, 2018

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Abandoned by God or Common Sense?

The 2016 campaign for the presidency has turned this nation into a swarming hive of publicity seekers, doomsday enthusiasts, and impetuous and reckless lunatics stirring the pot of chaos.  Seldom has a day gone by without somebody new jumping on the lunacy bandwagon so shamelessly driven by both political parties.  However, the madness goes beyond politics.  As a nation, thinking and emotions have become so compromised that it is clear many Americans have lost touch with reality.  Every day, the nation is confronted by people entangled in delusional aberrations.  They inject the reality of what they see and hear with what they want to see and hear, thereby creating a sense of warped personal authenticity.

America has lost touch with common sense!  People are quick to embrace hearsay, Facebook dribble, and biased news, especially if it supports what they “want to” believe – to heck with truth and reality.  Americans have developed a passion for morphing little things into big things or nothing into something.  They love to create mountains out of molehills.  As a result, they resemble Chicken Little running around crying the world is ending, and moaning and groaning that God has abandoned America.

If God has abandoned America, which is doubtful, it is because he is embarrassed at the lack of common sense currently on display.  People point to the lack of prayer in schools, lack of attention to the Bible, and sinful lifestyles as the reasons for America’s decline when the sad truth is this country’s problems lie in the hearts of the American people.  God has not abandoned America! The people, due to their reckless disregard for the American pursuit of liberty and happiness for all people as well as their neglect of the Biblical commandment to love their neighbor, have abandoned America.  As a nation, too many Americans no longer embrace diversity as a virtue in their politics, in their society, or in their personal lives, which means they have abandoned what made America great.  As a consequence of this indifference to liberty and happiness for all and love of neighbor, the nation stands helpless in the shadows of mountains built from molehills and righteousness built from convenience.

Common sense is the mountain Americans must reclaim before the nation can regain its sanity and move forward.  Until people begin to filter life, media, and hearsay through the lens of common sense, America will continue to resemble a quagmire of lunacy.  It is time we stop building molehills into mountains, stop pandering and giving credibility to stupidity, stop assuming we are more righteous than the other person, and return to practicing common sense and treating one another with respect.  That is the only way America will regain its sanity.  Once we have a grip on common sense and can again converse respectfully as adults without shouting down those who disagree with us, we will find America is still the greatest nation on earth, and throughout the insanity, God has never been more than a prayer away.

JL

©Jack Linton      May 22, 2016

Is Same Sex Marriage as Big an Issue for God as It is for Christians?

Here we go again, up to our eyeballs in righteous outrage. You would think we would have learned from our past since the clamor over same sex marriage sounds strangely similar to the outcry exhibited in years past against divorce, interracial marriage, and Civil Rights. For each of those in its time, pulpits across the South and even nationally proclaimed the end of America as we knew it, and promised the wrath of God would be let loose on our country. Yet, by God’s grace and mercy, we survived to tell the tale of those dark days. It was not easy, but we eventually learned to replace intolerance with tolerance as the right thing to do – the Christian thing to do.

I do not condone same sex marriage, but neither do I see why it should overly concern me. I fail to see how it will bankrupt my soul, raise my taxes, raise the national debt or gas prices, entice me to divorce my wife and seek male companionship, bring about the extinction of mankind, threaten my masculinity, poison the air, cause Outback Steakhouse to change its menu to crepes and chicken salad only, cause breweries to brew only lite beer, or cause God to punish me for someone else’s sins when I have more than enough of my own for which he could punish me. None of those things are likely to happen, and certainly not because of a Supreme Court ruling in favor of same sex marriage! I also do not believe same sex marriage will lead to the ruin of the heterosexual family unit, the corruption of schools, or the decimation of our churches. If anything, same sex marriages will give us Christians more people to point at and whisper about behind their backs. It is highly unlikely same sex marriage will rip apart all that is near and dear to our hearts. So, why should I or anyone else fret over two ole boys or girls getting married? I know; I know! As a Christian, I should fear for their souls, and I have been told more than once that the Christian ranting, raving, condemnation and foaming at the mouth is not judging but the Christian community’s way of witnessing and showing their love and concern for their fellow man. I may be wrong, but maybe if we turned down the volume a bit and used a feather and a bucket of fried chicken, our witnessing would be a lot more productive and representative of who we profess to be.

By this time, some readers may have already unfriended me, trashed this blog, or written me off as a Godless heathen; however, for those still with me, I would like to share some additional reasons why I am not overly concerned about same sex marriage:

  1. I do not care if people think I am unchristian for not condemning a man or woman for a lifestyle I do not truly understand. I do not consider myself worthy of throwing stones at my fellow man;
  2. I do not have an issue with gay/lesbian marriages unless the law requires me to participate. It does not, so it does not concern me;
  3. I do not feel threatened by same sex marriages since I prefer women and happen to believe a woman is the most beautiful form created by God. In fact, I am so comfortable in my belief that I can’t help but wonder if homosexuality might be an eyesight issue;
  4. I do not believe the Supreme Court ruling puts me in danger of a homosexual proposal of marriage. If asked, I do not have a problem saying no, but if you are one of those people who has trouble saying no, I understand and feel your pain;
  5. I see same sex marriage as an answer to supply and demand. Same sex marriage increases the female selection pool for straight guys;
  6. I am not overly concerned that some people believe I will burn in hell for not taking homosexuals to task. Taking homosexuals to task is God’s task if he deems it necessary, and I am quite confident he doesn’t need any input or help from me;
  7. I do not believe legalizing same sex marriage will cause the world to go to hell in a hand-basket. That may very well happen, but it will happen because God deems it is time, and not as the result of Christians outraged over a controversial decision by the Supreme Court of the United States. Preachers in America have used the pulpit for end of time rants and to condemn people to hell since the days of Cotton Mather when women were regarded with the same intolerance and inhumanity as homosexuals are today. When the time comes for Christ to return, no one will know until it happens including the best of Christians and preachers; therefore, we need to relax and do what God put us here to do in the first place – to love one another; and
  8. I am not overly concerned with the legalization of same sex marriage since I believe it actually helps the Christian cause by pinpointing those in need of their prayers and witness. Once officially licensed as a homosexual couple, it’s hard to remain under the radar.

Finally, as a Christian, I do not have an issue with same sex marriage since I can’t find where homosexuality is mentioned at all in The Ten Commandments. If it is so horrid that it threatens the very foundation of human morality and everything we hold to be decent and good, why didn’t God include it along with murder, stealing, adultery and taking God’s name in vain when he passed the Commandments down to Moses? Based on my research, homosexuality is referenced in 6 verses in the Bible whereas “forgiving others” is referenced in 59 verses, “stealing” is referenced in 52 verses, “faith” in 51 verses, “judging others” in 27 verses, “bearing false witness” in 27 verses, “coveting” in 26 verses, “divorce” in 22 verses; “keeping the Sabbath” in 18 verses; “loving others” in 17 verses; “adultery” in 15 verses; and, “murder” in 13 verses. Looking at this list, I can’t help but wonder if there is a relationship between the number of scriptures assigned to a Biblical topic and its priority in the eyes of God. If so, I am not surprised that “forgiveness” stands at the top of his priority list.

If the number of Bible verses devoted to a topic indicates God’s priorities, then it is easy to see that when it comes to sin there are many sins as serious as or more serious than homosexuality. For example, based on the above list, “murder” is over 2 times more serious than homosexuality, “adultery” is 2 ½ times more serious than homosexuality, “divorce” is nearly 4 times more serious than homosexuality, and “stealing” is over 8 times more serious than homosexuality. This might be a bit too simplistic, but when placed in perspective with other Biblical content, I can’t help but wonder if God places as much importance on homosexuality as so many of today’s Christians do. I am not saying homosexuality is not a sin in God’s eyes, but we must remember he did not put us here to judge or ostracize our fellow man – we are here to learn to love one another. If we will do that, I promise you God with sort through all our sins and make any adjustments or judgements needed.

JL

©Jack Linton, July 6, 2015