Built to demonstrate that the Bible is scientifically and historically accurate, an enormous “life-size” wooden ark takes shape in rural Williamstown, Kentucky. Lead designer Doug Henderson and his team of talented sculptors labor for months crafting lifelike animals for the project. Among their creations are dinosaurs, which they believe sailed with Noah and his family. “They probably took juveniles,” he says, explaining how the enormous animals would have fit on the boat. To Doug, it doesn’t matter that mainstream science puts the age of the Earth at 4.5 billion years. Ph.D. “creation scientists” at the Ark’s parent organization Answers In Genesis maintain that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and that evolution is the work of atheists. Doug believes them.
The creationist vision disturbs Dan Phelps, a Kentucky state geologist. For years, Dan has fought against Answers In Genesis’s “non-science” through op-eds and letters to the editor. When he discovers that the Ark will receive tax incentives despite discriminatory hiring practices, he ramps up his fight. A local Baptist minister also protests the incentives, intensifying the struggle over the American principle of the separation of church and state.
David MacMillan, a 26-year-old former creationist, has a different perspective on the Ark. A charter member of Answers In Genesis’s Creation Museum in his youth, he now writes articles and blog posts that examine the creationist mindset. He hopes his writings help creationists hear a different message: that evolution is not the work of the devil, and creationism is not the only way to understand the world.
In tiny Williamstown, home to the Ark, residents hold their breath hoping the attraction will revive their economically depressed town. Showing off Elmer’s, her newly opened store and café, Megan McKamey dreams that maybe the Ark could help Williamstown become the next Branson, Missouri or Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
As the giant wooden structure rises atop Kentucky’s rolling hills, Dan, David and Doug join a growing number of protestors, creationist supporters and Williamstown hopefuls in preparation for the Ark’s dramatic Opening Day.
Shot over the course of four years, WE BELIEVE IN DINOSAURS follows the Ark from blueprints to opening to aftermath and tells the story of the troubling relationship between science and religion in the United States.