For the past 40 years, Answers in Genesis (AIG) founder Ken Ham has endured scorn from the media, the mainstream scientific community, atheist groups and even a few professing Christians for his unyielding defense of the Book of Genesis as historical fact.
So when Franklin Graham endorsed his public stance in the face of criticism from atheist groups in a Jan. 12 Facebook post, likening the Australian Biblical apologist’s boldness to that of Noah, Ham appreciated the encouragement. Atheists had warned public school districts to stay away from AIG’s Creation Museum and the organization’s latest offering, the Ark Encounter, as a field trip option.
“I’ve seen that in Franklin Graham—a willingness to stand boldly and authoritatively on God’s Word,” Ham says.
In his social media post, Franklin wrote: “Noah wasn’t intimidated by atheists in his day, and neither is the builder of the Ark Encounter in Kentucky, Ken Ham. … I really like Ken’s response! He’s offering all of those school districts FREE ADMISSION to students and teachers who come on public school field trips! I hope every school takes him up on the offer. What an opportunity! There’s no question it’s educational and filled with #truth. … let Ken Ham and everyone at the Ark Encounter know that you will pray for them to stand strong and continue their great work.”
Ham’s ministry debuted its full-size replica of Noah’s Ark in Williamstown, Kentucky, in July 2016. The massive ark stands 51 feet tall, is 510 feet long and stretches 85 feet wide—a timber-framed structure featuring three decks of world-class exhibits about life on the ark during the global flood described in the Book of Genesis.
The attraction, which also sports a zoo, village market, 1,500-seat restaurant, 2,500-seat auditorium and beautifully landscaped gardens, draws more than 1 million visitors a year.
And yet, atheist groups have threatened lawsuits in five states if public schools make it an official field trip destination.
“If we don’t stand up for our rights in this nation, and stand boldly, then we will lose them,” Ham says. “We are now seeing the consequences of a much more secularized culture, a logical outworking of the foundation that man is his own God and that man determines what is right and what is wrong.”
To that end, Ham successfully took on the state of Kentucky three years ago in federal court to protect the Ark Encounter’s eligibility for the same tourism tax rebate guaranteed to qualifying non-religious tourism destinations in the state.
For Ham, the question of Biblical authority leaves no room for compromise.
“My parents raised me to stand on the authority of the Word of God and to understand what the Bible really is.” Ham says. “That it is the Word of God and doesn’t just contain the Word of God. It is God-breathed. And so, this is God who is using different people to write down for us what we need to know. It’s the foundation of all of our thinking and the foundation for our worldview.”
Ham fondly remembers hearing Billy Graham, whom his father endearingly called “the-Bible-says man,” preach on the radio during his 1959 Australia Crusade.
Two years later, Ham answered God’s missionary call on his life, which eventually led him to travel across Australia and the United States as an itinerant speaker and distribute books about Biblical creationism.
“The battle that began in Genesis, chapters 2 and 3, is the battle between two foundations—God’s Word and man’s word,” Ham says. “It is very easy for us to listen to what human beings are saying and what the culture is saying and try to change God’s Word.”
For decades, the academic world has propagated human ideas like Darwinian evolution, which has rendered a society in moral chaos, Ham says. “Everyone does what is right in their own eyes” (Cf. Judges 21:25).
“When you look at the abortion issue, or issues of racism, or gay marriage, or the gender issue, they are all really the same symptoms of an underlying problem—we now have generations who have come through an education system basically devoid of the knowledge of God and are being taught a very naturalistic view of origins,” Ham says.
That’s why in 1994, Ham launched Answers in Genesis, an apologetics ministry aimed at training and equipping Christians to articulate a Biblical worldview that debunks evolutionary ideas about creation and amplifies the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Our worldview needs to be judged against the absolute authority of the Word of God,” contends Ham, who has written extensively on Biblical doctrine.
In 2007, God answered Ham’s prayer of 30 years with the founding of his 75,000-square foot, high-tech Creation Museum—not in his native Australia but in Petersburg, Kentucky—providentially located, he notes, by only a day’s drive for two-thirds of the United States’ 328 million-plus population.
Each year, the museum leads about a half-million visitors on a state-of-the-art exhibit tour of Biblical history. It features a planetarium, 4-D theater and animatronic dinosaur models.
“You can’t go away without being presented with the Gospel,” Ham says.
And while media outlets bring almost daily news of racial and ethnic strife, the museum has a positive, Biblical message to share that is often overlooked—we are all created from “one blood” (Acts 17:26).
“Really, the answer is understanding the true history that God has given us,” Ham says, “that we’re all descendants of Adam and Eve. We’re all one race. We are all family. We are all related to each other.” And only the Gospel can bring reconciliation—to God and to each other.
Today, northern Kentucky is the No. 1 faith-based tourist destination in America. And more important, 30 percent of museum and Ark Encounter visitors are non-Christians. Once, on the same day, Ham met Muslims, Orthodox Jews, Catholic Nuns and Hindus visiting the Ark Encounter.
“We speak boldly and yet lovingly and gently,” he says. “But we don’t make excuses for what we believe, and we don’t apologize for what we believe.”
Ham has long challenged much of the status-quo thinking of the secular scientific community and academia alike on matters of origins, even as some in the church have fallen prey to materialist arguments about evolution.
“We even have people in the church who, in response to the culture, are changing what they believe about God’s Word,” Ham says.
THE AUTHOR OF LIFE
Ham, 67, says his view of Genesis—and that God is creator of humans made in His image—informs everything, including his view on abortion. For example, the public outcry of infanticide after the New York Legislature’s recent legalization of late-term abortion—which allows the procedure through full-term pregnancy—should be the same for abortion in general.
“What is the difference between aborting a fertilized egg, or one that is developed over a week, or two weeks, or one day?” Ham says. “In reality, there is no difference, because they’re all human, made in the image of God.”
Ham knows that without the support of like-minded Christians around the world—something Noah didn’t have—the Answers in Genesis ministry, with its Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum, wouldn’t be possible.
Raymond Damadian, a medical doctor and research scientist credited with inventing magnetic resonance imaging and the first whole-body MRI scanner in 1980, says Ham is his hero, and his Bible and scientific knowledge is “massive.”
“He is rescuing America’s soul from the lie of evolution,” says the 83-year-old, of Melville, New York.
Nathaniel Jeanson, who has a Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology from Harvard University and is a member of the Answers in Genesis faculty, says Ham’s elevation of Scripture in the creation-evolution debate is unparalleled.
Ham’s boldness in standing for the truth of Scripture is the thing that drives him in his ministry.
“We can speak boldly, we can speak authoritatively,” Ham says, “not because of our personal opinions, but because if we really believe God’s Word, we can speak with that authority, and people respond to it.”
For more information about Ken Ham’s apologetics ministries, visit AnswersinGenesis.org, CreationMuseum.org or ArkEncounter.com.