We Believe in Dinosaurs documentary

As promised, I wanted to let everyone know that the documentary about Ken Ham, the Ark Encounter, and YEC in general is now available for streaming download!

It can be streamed on YouTube, Xfinity On Demand, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, and Dish. If you get a chance to watch, please review on those platforms as well as Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB.

An excerpt from my review:

“I think it’s a mistake to accept that sort of fairy tale. The Bible warns about what will falsely be called science,” intoned the church elder.

“Wait, you don’t believe in dinosaurs?” I asked, confused.

His wife interjected. “We know they’ve dug up a lot of old bones, but that doesn’t mean anything. They probably just got mixed up putting the skeletons together, and ended up with this whole evolution, dino myth. It seems like a big distraction from the Adversary.”

I was dumbfounded. We believed in dinosaurs. We believed God had created dinosaurs on the sixth day, alongside Adam and Eve. We believed dinosaurs had been on Noah’s Ark. We believed there might even be a few dinosaur species surviving in remote jungles. After all, the world was only a few thousand years old.

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Thanks for letting us know, David! I plan to watch this soon, so I thought this merited its own thread for people to share reviews, impressions, or questions they might have after watching it.

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Thank you!

The more people who can review, the better! It broadcasts on PBS Independent Lens in February but needs to have as much publicity before that as possible.

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I watched this tonight and found it really interesting. I’d been keeping an eye on it for a while and was glad to see it finally available. It was neat to see more of a “dramatization” of things I’d only read about. A few random and hopefully coherent impressions:

I liked the bits and pieces of your story, @DavidMacMillan. I think that was what really held it all together. I also realized my family wasn’t as cool as you because I think we were only five-year charter members, so probably our name isn’t on the wall anymore. :stuck_out_tongue: I resonated with your statement toward the end about no longer having that sense of obligation to be the authority on things, at the risk of everything crumbling.

One thing that makes me hesitant around secular treatments of YEC ideas is that so many things that are unfavorable to young-earth perspectives are also unfavorable to Christianity in general – which is why I appreciated that they also interviewed a pastor who accepted EC. So probably my primary quibble is how often the documentary used a broad term like “creationist” when referring to specifically YEC ideas.

I’ve read about the notorious Dan Phelps… nice to hear from him in person. He seems like a nice guy. I also thought Doug Henderson seemed like a very interesting person. I’m a bit surprised at the kind of access that the filmmakers were given to the Ark Encounter preparations, and I’m curious whether AIG will feel the need to write a response to the film or just pretend it didn’t happen.

I think it’s hard for me to evaluate whether a documentary is “fair” when I have stakes on both sides. For example, the montage scene where Ken Ham was getting an audience to repeat things back to him seemed like it was made to appear more cult-like than it probably was, but maybe that’s my bias showing.

But on that note, “missionary lizards” is a phrase I haven’t heard in a long time!

That protest “showdown” at the end seemed pretty intense – it was neat how they worked up to it. Eric Hovind is a chip off the old block, and that’s about all I’ll say on that. :smiley:

Anyway, good documentary – I definitely found it worth renting, and would be glad to hear thoughts from anyone else who watched it. I’ll try and put up a review on one of the streaming sites in a few days.

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I watched it last night — needed a break from all the football — and for the most part, I agree w/ @Laura‘s assessment above. I especially agree that @DavidMacMillan, your segments were the most interesting. Otherwise, the whole thing risked falling into the predictable atheists vs. fundamentalist Christian thing, and — pun intended — we’ve all seen that movie before.

I think for most of the folks who frequent this forum, there won’t be very much new information to be gathered. One bit of constructive criticism that I’d offer is that I would like to have seen more detail offered about the financial incentives offered to AiG to build the thing, and how that hasn’t exactly turned northwestern Kentucky into some nuevo poor-man’s Orlando boom town. I found the other very compelling segments to be the ones which focused on the people of Williamstown…what they had been sold beforehand and what things looked like for them a year later. I would like to have seen the film go a bit more in depth there.

Otherwise, a good — though not great — documentary. Definitely worth the $4.99 rental.

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Thanks for letting us know about it. I rented it yesterday on Amazon and gave it a watch. I really enjoyed it, and thought it did a good job exploring the stories of people connected to it, representing several different viewpoints. I especially appreciated that there was some representation from Christians who aren’t in the YEC camp or at least not “on board” with the Ken Ham ark. So, thanks for sharing your part of the story, David. The saddest part to me was all the tax money used and how the town was promised all this prosperity, and (spoiler alert) not a thing has changed.

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It really is a mind trip, to be happily free from the obligation of knowing all things but at the same time painfully aware of how fragile uncertainty can feel.

Dan and Doug are both very nice people. Dan is of course now a great friend of mine – the film did not depict much of our earlier interactions but we had known each other for years by the time we “met” on the side of the road. Actually, we had traded letters to the editor almost two decades ago, when I was a teenage creationist.

If you did not watch through the credits, make sure you go back and do so (if you can) – there is a short response from AiG during the filming process. They gave very open access to the filmmakers because they love all kinds of publicity. I will also say that despite how culty the scene with Ken Ham and the kids may have seemed…it really wasn’t artistic license. I know from experience that’s exactly how it really is.

Looking forward to seeing reviews!

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I’m glad you enjoyed the film. I wish they had invoked more Christian opposition to the Ark Park, but unfortunately there really isn’t any opposition in the Kentucky area. The one Baptist pastor who joined in the AU lawsuit was just about the only person who actually was willing to speak out.

Ken Ham has orchestrated an extremely successful propaganda campaign painting himself as a defender of truth and Biblical authority. Even though many pastors and other Christian leaders in the region are alarmed (or at least bothered) by his rhetoric, he still enjoys widespread support because of his anti-secular and anti-atheist reputation. Those who would oppose him are cowed by the sprinkling of hard-line extremists in the churches who fully support his mission. I would estimate that at least a fifth of churchgoers in central Kentucky are aware of and enthuastic about Ken Ham’s message, and half of the rest see YEC as generally positive (or, at the very least, non-harmful).

As Dan explains in the film, even local scientists are afraid to challenge Ham because of the blowback from conservatives.

The financial angle is ridiculous. There are huge financial irregularities across the board and I wish the ACLU would get involved. They have received an ungodly amount of taxpayer assistance and they consistently continue to hijack tax exemption to maximize their own profits.

The story of Williamstown is quite sad. Despite promises that tourists would be bussed in and out of the town, the folks at AiG have been very shrewd about collecting profits inside their own coffers. They sell joint two-day tickets for the Museum and the Ark at a discount and encourage guests to stay in Cincinnati, come to the Creation Museum the first day, and then drive down to Williamstown the second day before departing. They have restaurants and attractions (zip-lining, petting zoo, etc.) inside the Ark Encounter grounds, so there is no incentive to explore anything else.

Additionally, because guests must park near the road (at $10 per vehicle) and then queue for bus transport to the grounds, they are cut off from their wheels for the duration and cannot leave to make the 5-minute drive into Williamstown without taking a bus back. There’s no easy way to visit the Ark Encounter and then leave and then come back.

AiG has also taken active measures to contain revenue. There was one small diner located between the town and the Ark, so they bought its lease and forced it to move into the park so they would make money off of it. They are also buying up land to build hotels on the property.

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I guess I did see that, just didn’t think it was much. I can’t remember whether they mentioned the name of the documentary or not, but I thought they might want to have an “official response” up on their website to pull in traffic for anyone who googles it. But perhaps by now their followers are used to hearing, basically “anyone who disagrees with us is wrong,” so might not think anything of it.

Yeah, I believe it. Maybe the eerie music in the background added something to it, but either way, I hope that will make people think twice next time Ken Ham accuses someone else of “indoctrination” or “brainwashing.”

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@DavidMacMillan, Thanks for your post, and for taking the time to write all that. I especially like the 2nd half of your post, and again, I wish the film had done more to unpack the whole financial angle.

I think that’s the real story here, at least to those of us who frequent this forum. The whole YEC advocacy thing — including Mr. Ham’s schtick in that regard — is kinda old news. Nothing he or his acolytes might say along these lines is surprising anymore. But what AiG has done to make this Ark Park work out for them financially is certainly highly dubious. My understanding — and I’ll be the first to admit that I likely don’t have all the facts straight — is that they’ve bundled the for-profit corporation bit of the Ark Park into their non-profit “ministry” in a way that maximizes the tax breaks etc. in such a way as to flow to their bottom line in as lucrative a manner as possible.

It’d be different if they had simply put 10% down out of their own coffers and then gone to Wells Fargo or whomever for a loan on the rest. The wisdom of all that would then just be on the bank. But as it is, they’ve parlayed their status as a non-profit to avoid the tax bill, while politically acting like Amazon or any other corporation when it comes to squeezing the state of Kentucky for special incentives. My understanding is that the parking fees that you referenced are a part of that, and for example don’t fall within the non-profit “ministry,” but instead go to the corporate bottom line.

Anyhoo, I’ve seen stuff about all this discussed elsewhere online, and I can’t help but wish that the film had dug a bit deeper into that whole angle.

And I cannot help but add that this is a so-called “ministry” that is putting together a venture in the high eight figures that’s not ministering to anybody. Not exactly the Sisters of the Poor Children’s Hospital.