This week, creationist Ken Ham threw a fit over a 2019 documentary, We Believe in Dinosaurs, which aired this month on PBS as part of the Independent Lens series. He accused the documentary of being biased against creationism because it depicted, accurately, the appearance of dinosaurs in Ham’s “Ark Encounter” recreation of Noah’s Ark in Kentucky. “It turned out to be an agenda-driven propaganda piece focusing on dinosaurs and the Ark Encounter, where dinosaurs represent only a tiny fraction of the exhibits at the Ark,” Ham wrote. That’s a bit like complaining that histories of Germany always mention that Hitler fellow even though he was only in power for 12 years.
But let’s not pretend that the dinosaurs are shunted off into a corner. A few years ago, Ham proudly shared images of an exhibit he planned showing Nephilim giants battling a dinosaur in a Minoan-inspired arena in the cyclopean style of the Mycenaeans. To complain that the documentary unfairly focused on the dinosaurs is to admit that the claim is insupportable and ridiculous; otherwise, he should be proudly embracing the imaginary history of Nephilim and dinosaurs that he trumpets. I thought his museum was all about presenting the so-called “truth.”
More telling, though, was Ham’s projection at the end of a Cincinnati Enquirer op-ed piece complaining about the PBS film: “This is a reminder that those who oppose the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum often take selected pieces of information and weave a false story for their propaganda purposes.”
You mean like your dinosaur battling Nephilim in a Mycenaean-Minoan amphitheater?
The warrant for that entire exhibit is selective cherry-picking of ancient information and modern fringe history, wrapped up in apocryphal Jewish texts that aren’t part of the canonical Bible. For example, the use of Mycenaean-style cyclopean architecture derives from Pausanias’s claim that the Cyclopes built the Mycenaean ruins because they were so large that no human could have constructed them.
I have previously reported that Ham’s pre-Flood history has little to do with the Bible and much to do with nineteenth and twentieth century fringe history books. The Ark Encounter refers to a global cult of serpent worship, which is not a biblical concept but one found in John Bathurst Deane’s 1830 book Serpent Worship. Similarly, the Ark Encounter envisions a pre-Flood world based on Ignatius Donnelly’s Atlantis: The Antediluvian World, complete with Mexican-style pyramids. Worst of all, the vicious Nephilim and their rampages as depicted in the Ark Encounter are nowhere to be found in Genesis 6:1-4 but rather in the apocryphal books of Enoch and Jubilees.
The museum calls such use of extra-biblical stories a “plausible backstory,” but it’s really just popular mystery-mongering bullshit from all your favorite paperback ancient mysteries books dressed up as God’s Word.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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