We have received many questions about the Ark Encounter based on misconceptions about the project itself. Some of these come from people who are supporters, and others come from critics and skeptics. These types of questions give us an opportunity to correct common misunderstandings, so we’ll spend several posts addressing these issues.
It’s true that we don’t know exactly what the original Ark looked like. We know some of its basic details and dimensions (300 cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits), so our Ark will be roughly the same size as Noah’s. Also, by studying ancient ships and the techniques used to construct them, we can gather clues to help us figure out what the Ark may have looked like.
This issue really just comes down to semantics. Our Ark won’t be a true replica in the dictionary sense of the word (i.e., like the original in every way). For that reason, some of us have avoided describing our Ark as a replica; it is our best attempt to reconstruct the biblical vessel.
It is true that some people have labeled our Ark as a replica, but this is still in keeping with how the term is often used today. That is, instead of referring to an exact reproduction, it is used to describe a close approximation of the original. For example, in the world of sports merchandise, authentic jerseys are exactly the same product worn by the professional players, while replica jerseys are less expensive shirts that look similar to the real thing but are different in several respects.
The point here is that the meanings of authentic and replica are somewhat flexible in common usage, so we shouldn’t get too caught up in the semantics of the issue. The design of our Ark is based on the biblical specifications and informed by the study of ancient ships. It will certainly be authentic in that it will be a faithful representation of the original (to the best of our ability), even if it isn’t truly a replica (an exact copy).
Thanks for reading!