LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The founder of a Bible-themed museum who recently debated evolution with TV's "Science Guy" Bill Nye says the widely watched event helped to boost enthusiasm among followers who invested in a project to build a 510-foot Noah's Ark.
Creation Museum founder Ken Ham said today that a $62 million municipal bond offering has raised enough money to begin construction on the wooden ark, estimated to cost about $73 million. Groundbreaking is planned for May and the ark is expected to be finished by the summer of 2016.
"It did help," Ham said of the Feb. 4 debate with Nye. "We obviously had a big spurt toward the end (of the bond deadline), and I think it was people who were involved in this, who really decided they were going to do something."
Ham said he could not go into details about the bond investors. He said he was grateful to "our generous supporters around the country."
Reached by phone today, Nye said he was disappointed the project would go forward and said he hoped it "goes out of business."
"If he builds that ark, it's my strong opinion, it's bad for the commonwealth of Kentucky and bad for scientists based in Kentucky and bad for the U.S.," Nye said. "And I'm not joking, bad for the world."
The Answers in Genesis ministry, which Ham leads, unveiled a proposal in 2010 for a $150 million theme park that would include the ark. But private donations to the project did not keep pace with the construction timeline, forcing its backers to delay the ark's construction and divide the park development into phases.
Ham's ministry and the Creation Museum enjoyed an avalanche of news media attention during the Feb. 4 debate with Nye on evolution and the Bible, which was streamed live on the Web. Answers in Genesis said millions around the world watched the event, and it was followed by numerous national news reports and TV talk show discussions.