Silver-level articleNoah's Ark

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Rescued from the

Global Flood

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Seven of the clean kind

Noah's Ark was a gigantic wooden vessel in which Noah supposedly saved every kind of animal[1] of the Earth from the great flood.[2] This myth is part of the Torah and the Qur'an.[3] It is most likely just one of a number of retellings of retellings of retellings of the same general Mesopotamian flood story, an example of which is the story of Utnapishtim, the King of Shurrupak, from the Epic of Gilgamesh.[4]


[edit] Construction

The creationist model of the ark.[5]

other means of propulsion The construction of the Ark supposedly took at least 70 years,[6] or possibly even 120 (see below). The Bible translates that it was built of "gopher wood" (a transliteration from the Hebrew consonants g-p-r, with the best guess for meaning being the similar consonants in "cypress") and was 300 cubits long by 50 cubits wide by 30 cubits deep.[7] This raises the question, what's a cubit? Cubits were a form of measurement used by the Ancient Egyptians. There are two types of cubits, a standard cubit and a royal cubit. A standard cubit is approximately 18" or a foot and a half, but a royal cubit is around 22" or a foot and ten inches. Essentially, a cubit was the measurement between a man's elbow to his wrist, or to the tip of his fingers.

And here we run into our very first problem: simply gathering enough wood to build the boat. When another notoriously large ship (that was purportedly only a fraction of the Ark's size), the Great Michael, was built in 1511, it was said to have took "all the woods of Fife" (a county in Scotland famous for its shipbuilding), as well as having to import wood from France, other areas in the Baltic sea, and cargo ships scrapped for use in its construction. A ship of Noah's size would have required tens of thousands of trees (and on top of that, high quality timber trees) to be cut for its construction, something that is not exactly feasible considering the Ark was probably built somewhere in what is modern day Iraq, which as anyone can tell you has never exactly been known for its thick abundant forests.[8]

Even if Noah could somehow acquire the positively insane amount of wood needed to construct it, however, it runs into further problems. The Ark would have been a sizeable fraction of the size of an aircraft carrier or a battleship, and a wooden boat that size would have been too leaky and flexible to withstand the stresses of global flood conditions.[9]

Even if that were settled, the largest wooden ships ever built were just over 300 feet, and they required diagonal iron strapping for support. Noah must have needed a knowledge of metal working not known until a few centuries ago.[10] Claiming Goddidit does not answer the question of why Noah had to build it in the first place.

Noah's Ark has the record for the longest wooden ship[11], and yet Young Earth Creationists believe it happened in 2348 BCE.[12]

The Bible makes no mention of sails, oars, keel or rudder, and it is usually assumed that the Ark did not have any. Depictions of the Ark almost invariably show a symmetrical vessel with no clearly-defined bow or stern. Without means of propulsion or navigation in the flood waters, the Ark's course would have been entirely at the mercy of the elements. It could be argued that this is understandable as the point was survival, not a voyage, but a wooden vessel as big as the Ark which lacked the ability to steer into the wind in stormy waters would have a very low chance of survival. One must also wonder how Noah and his crew could be so certain that The Ark would stay in the Middle East and not drift away to some other part of the world, like the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The absence of propulsion or steering would seem to be a very poor design choice in those circumstances.

[edit] How much water?

See the main article on this topic: Great Flood

Because the surface area of Earth is approximately 200 million square miles, and the height of Mt. Everest is approximately 5.5 miles, the amount of water that needed to be supplied (and disposed of) in the Great Flood is about 1.1 billion cubic miles.[13] The atmosphere today is only capable of holding the equivalent of one inch of precipitation (over the entire world) in the form of water vapor. The amount of rain per second that would be falling to generate 1.1 billion cubic miles of water over 40 days is almost unimaginable, the equivalent to 289 cubic miles per second. While rain is one possible source, the Bible also mentions the "fountains of the great deep"[14] as found in Genesis 7:11-12. This has given rise to the whole flood geology area of hydroplate theory and the aptly named lunar bukkake theory, which has attempted to replace rain almost entirely with water from underground.

[edit] The animals

See the main article on this topic: Caring for the animals in Noah's ark
The inevitable result of keeping carnivores and potential prey together.

According to the Bible, Noah was instructed to load the Ark with two or more of every kind of animal on earth at the time. The logistics involved in rounding up the animals (chasing down every nematode, netting every last songbird and riding herd on the rhinos, though creationists state God brought the animals to Noah) and getting them on board the Ark are amusing to contemplate. Then there is the no small matter of collecting and loading a year's supply of the correct kind of food for every single species. How did they keep enough meat for all the carnivores without the benefits of refrigeration? The meat required by the T-Rex alone would have been prodigious. Keeping the predators separated from each other and from the species they would ordinarily have eaten must have proven a formidable task. Finally, disposing of the enormous quantities of fecal matter such a menagerie would produce over the course of a year must have tried the patience and fortitude of even the most devout of Noah's super-devout family. One hopes they had plenty of room deodorizer. For an image of pure bedlam one may imagine the view of Young Earth Creationists, who picture dinosaurs,[15] goats, saber-toothed cats, deer, and mastodons all happily sharing their ocean cruise on board the Ark. Now, Creationists have this strange notion that the animals must have been "hibernating" or had converted to vegetarian diets during the flood. One might also wonder about the shifting of the cargo in rough seas - rough enough to carve out the Grand Canyon, after all. Picture sea-sick giraffes being tossed around.

[edit] A male and its mate

Genesis 7:2 (NIV) says that the animals were taken as pairs, "a male and its mate". This has a couple of interesting consequences.

Not all animals form pairs. For example, there are genera of whiptail lizards which have only females, and which reproduce parthenogenically. It would be impossible to take a male, because there aren't any. This also presents problems with eusocial animals: a male bee (a drone) and a queen bee do not make up a viable hive. One might also wonder about animals which do not form pair bonds, whether it makes sense to speak of a bull and his cow, for example.

Some creationists try to solve the space problem with the suggestion that many kinds of large animals were taken as eggs (or small babies).[16] But only mature forms have a mate. However many reptilian eggs rely on temperature-dependent sex determination, i.e. temperature determines whether an egg develops as male or female. This thermosensitive period occurs after the egg has been laid, so sex determination in these reptiles is at the mercy of the ambient conditions affecting egg clutches. For example, in many turtle species, eggs from cooler nests hatch as all males, and eggs from warmer nests hatch as all females. How the Ark was able to temperature control such eggs is not explained.

Add to that the fact that even if you found a pair, biology and genetics would suggest that two single individuals will not have enough genetic diversity to actually parent a healthy, reproductive, successful population of animals.[17] Even the alternative reading of seven pairs of "clean animals" presents a very narrow bottleneck; and the family group of Noah, his wife, their three sons, and the sons' three wives only has the variation in, at most, a population of five.

[edit] Archaeological search

Many creationists, both Christian and Muslim, have searched for the remains of Noah's ark, but in vain. Astronaut James Irwin participated in one such search in the 1970s. In 2010 a Chinese team claimed to have found the Ark on the upper steeps of Ararat.[18] There was muted excitement among creationists, but the finding was declared a hoax in September 2010.[19]

People who want to take the Bible literally might be advised that the Bible does not say that the Ark landed on Mount Ararat. It says "in the mountains of Ararat". That is, in the mountain region which was called "Ararat" in Biblical times. It doesn't designate a specific mountain. And, anyway, what we call today "Mount Ararat" only acquired that name after the Bible was written. So if an ark is found on Mount Ararat, either that proves that the Bible was wrong, or somebody else built an ark.

[edit] The Ark on creationist wikis

Naturally, the fundie-hole Conservapedia treats the ark as a very real, rather than mythological, symbolical or even legendary vessel. They treat the Ark in the same manner as a modern vessel, using their "ship" template. Apparently Noah had 120 years' noticeimg[20] but it took him less than 19 years to build once he'd started. The fact that they give actual days of the month that the keel was laid and the ship was completed is rather impressive and certainly improves upon James Ussher's chronology dramatically.

A Storehouse of Knowledge gives a less detailed account than Conservapedia, preferring to stick with a straight biblical description. It does not branch out into actual "evidence" or bizarre attempts to make it seem like a real object, although that is undoubtedly the editorial stance of the site.

CreationWiki presents a decent rundown of the ark as a fact.[21] It primarily complains about how secular scientists don't take the Flood seriously. It also features, in all seriousness, a good, full-color picture of a model of the ark, complete with dinosaurs![22] Their excuse for why technology of the day would be unable to produce the ark, is that modern society can't know what the technology of the day was, due to it being under a mile of sedimentary rock. Unlike the hyper-precise Conservapedia ship template, CreationWiki admits that the exact time that Noah began construction is unknown.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. For a discussion of the number of each kind Noah took with him, see this article.
  2. The Skeptic's Dictionary
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Wikipedia
  5. BTW, if the Ark doesn't have a sail or oars for propelling it, nor rudder or other means to steer it, why is it always depicted as having a prow at each end?
  6. Answers in Genesis
  7. Genesis 6:14-15
  8. Skeptoid, Noah's Ark: Sea Trials
  9. Some wooden craft in this size range were indeed constructed in roughly this time period, but they were used as barges on inland waterways, which is much less stressful on the boat.
  10. Skeptic's Annotated Bible, Gen. 6:14 note
  11. List of longest wooden ships on Wikipedia
  12. Creation Ministries International
  13. For the metric kind it's about 4.5 billion cubic kilometers.
  14. The Bible; Genesis and Geology - The Fountains of Noah's Flood and the Windows of Heaven
  16. For example, this Answers in Genesis cartoon
  17. Besides, the bible says incest is bad. I guess Adam, Eve, their children, and non-human animals don't count.
  20. The 120 years notice probably doesn't work because it is after Noah is already 500 years old and the flood occurs 100 years God is like "Screw you guys, I am flooding the earth 20 years early."
  21. CreationWiki - Noah's Ark
  22. Noah's Ark Model by Rod Walsh
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