Full-size Noah’s Ark in Hong Kong!
A huge full-size Noah’s Ark right next to the road leading to one of the world’s busiest airports? In Hong Kong, a city ultimately controlled by the People’s Republic of China? Yeah, sure, we thought at CMI Brisbane when we first saw the photo as it neared construction in October 2008—it had to be one of those digitally manipulated images you see floating around the internet … . But yes, the missionary friends who sent it1 assured us, this was no trickery—and its size and dimensions are the same as the original Ark, as given in the book of Genesis.2
So it was a real thrill when in June 2010 I had the chance to spend the better part of a day in and around this colossus. Seeing it certainly helps one grasp the huge size of the original vessel, designed to take two of all land-dwelling vertebrate kinds.3 (When one realizes that in all there were probably only around 15,000 to 30,000 animals averaging the size of a ferret, it soon becomes clear that there was enough room for food, drinking water, and whatever else was needed.4)
Built via an unusual mix of government and private enterprise, the ‘vessel’ (OK, the building) sits on a prime 25,000 m² (270,000 sq. ft.) piece of land on Ma Wan island, overlooking the Rambler Channel and Tsing Ma Bridge, over which the highway to the nearby airport runs.
Huge numbers of vehicles pass by this Ark replica every day. Mostly designed as a tourist drawcard, it has become one of Hong Kong’s most prominent landmarks. Where the original Ark had three decks, its Hong Kong counterpart has five levels. The ground floor has an ocean-front restaurant and banquet hall, and the top floor is “Noah’s hotel” with sea views.
Despite these commercial aspects, it is plain that Christians were and are involved—and not just from the glaringly obvious fact of what the main building represents, as will be shown. Three brothers prominent in land development (one definitely known to be a Christian) floated the concept5 to Hong Kong’s government, which funded a sizable portion of the construction. And the company which operates most of the Ark-themed displays inside is very much an evangelical Christian body, called The Media Evangelism Ltd (TMEL).
It was thanks to TMEL that I was permitted the extensive tour with free access to all the areas they operated. Their spokeswoman Angela Kwan said, “Most visitors know that it’s from the Bible, but they appreciate that it’s not boring, and there are few family recreational options in Hong Kong. It presents family-friendly values, including teaching them about Earth’s functioning, and to love the environment.”
Those ‘family-friendly’ aspects were not hard to spot. The building is surrounded by substantial and beautiful greenery, with very life-like outdoor animal sculptures (in addition to the life-size animals emerging from the door of the Ark, see photo on the left). And there was much more to see and do outside, including a spectacular collection of live animal curiosities, such as a ‘Siamese-twin fish’ and many live two-headed turtles, one of which features in the article Mutant (non-ninja) turtle?.
It was also plain to see that the booming Hong Kong industry in pre-wedding photo albums saw the Ark and its attractive surroundings as a favourite spot to get spectacular backdrops—all day, shutters were clicking on beautifully dressed couples throughout this ‘Ark park’.
Inside this gargantuan Ark, in the very extensive sections operated by TMEL, 6things were even more impressive. Apart from a few displays promoting awareness of things like global warming (which was likely to have been a government requirement), it was a full-on (and extremely professional and extensive) presentation of biblical truths. I was amazed, for example, at the substantial 3D movie theatres that were interspersed with the many high-quality displays, some of them interactive. I shared with a healthy crowd of visitors the experience of a stunning animation of the opening scenes of the Flood. Surround sound, with vibrating and moving floor and even sprays of water droplets, really brought the scene to life.
It was particularly moving to see so many visitors coming through in just the few hours I was there, knowing that the overwhelming majority were not Christians. TMEL said that in their first year, with little promotion (none at all in mainland China, which will be targeted for advertising shortly) over 500,000 went through. Probably the majority of these would have been non-Christians, many with no prior understanding of the doctrines of Christianity or the reality of the gospel.
To see first-hand evidence of these hundreds of thousands of unbelievers being exposed to not only unashamed information about the reality of the global Flood of Noah, but much other gospel-relevant biblical teaching, was something I will not soon forget. What’s more, these Taoists, Buddhists and others, including many school groups, were so obviously keenly taking it in.
Most seemed to be enjoying it, too, with many positive and appreciative exclamations in response to, for example, dramatized 3D animations of the Exodus and the Crucifixion, appropriately narrated.7 Quite a few are apparently taken by their Christian friends, which opens the door for many questions about the Gospel of Christ.
As the day drew to a close, I left the ‘Hong Kong Ark’—amazed, delighted, and very thankful for such an obviously effective witness to so many who would otherwise be unreached.
References and notes
- Neville and Irene Chamberlain, who also accompanied me on the day tour of this Ark. Return to text.
- Using the most common measure of the cubit, it would fall some 6 m (20 ft) short in length—an unavoidable restriction on construction due to the peculiarities of the site, apparently. Given that this is considerably less than the variation in Ark length that results from assuming various types of cubit, this building is for all practical purposes a full-size replica. Return to text.
- These representative pairs could give rise subsequently to several different species. For example, two canids could give rise to dingoes, coyotes, wolves (and from them domestic dogs). The potential for such variation is all there in the information already present in the parent population, just as the information in a mongrel dog population is capable of being sorted into genetically poorer ‘purebred’ varieties through breeding selection. See also “A parade of mutants”—pedigree dogs and artificial selection, Creation 32(3):28–32, 2010, creation.com/pedigree. Return to text.
- Only vertebrates breathe through nostrils as per the biblical description. See Creation Answers Book ch. 13, 2008. Return to text.
- Pun intentionally retained after it was noticed. Return to text.
- A portion of the high-quality interior displays were also constructed with funding provided by TMEL. Note that there are other interior displays, including Christian ones, not operated by TMEL—the fact that we would not have had time to see any more in a near-full day indicates the huge size of this ‘vessel’. Return to text.
- In addition to the English subtitles, it was great that the Chamberlains, after 35 years in the city, spoke fluent Cantonese and could pass on the nature of audience comments as required. Return to text.