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  #1  
Old 12-08-2012, 09:12 AM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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Would Noah's Ark be seaworthy?

Would Noah's Ark, as described in the Book of Genesis, be seaworthy? You may treat "gopher wood" as any type of wood available today or known to have existed, and may add construction details not mentioned as long as you don't otherwise contradict the account. For example, you can select what type of pitch or nails you use as long as you use materials that would have been plausible for ancient humanity.

For example, could a multimillionaire use the book of Genesis as a guide and create their own Noah's Ark and expect it to be seaworthy?

I am not asking whether or not the book of Genesis records true history, only whether or not the boat described therein is plausible.

Last edited by robert_columbia; 12-08-2012 at 09:13 AM..
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  #2  
Old 12-08-2012, 09:20 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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There are really only two questions, here. First, would it float, and second, would it be stable. On the first, pretty much any sealed hollow wooden structure will float. And on the second, to get a full answer, we'd need to know how the weight inside is distributed, but in general, making a vessel larger makes it easier to make it stable.

The bigger problem is just what we're considering the Ark's specifications to be. Are we considering it to have the measurements in cubits it's claimed to have, or are we considering it to be big enough to contain two or more of every kind of animal, and support them for months?
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:47 AM
Elmer J. Fudd Elmer J. Fudd is offline
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It's not really the size that would make it more sea worthy than it is the ratio of it's dimensions. You don't need to know how long a cubit is to know that the ark was six times longer than its beam. That's ridiculously unseaworthy for an unpowered vessel. If your not planning to drive it anywhere you're better off in a giant basket than you are in something shaped like a modern container ship.

That said, who's to say the Flood created sea like conditions. If it was just water falling out if the sky and not a storm with wind anything that floats would do.
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:56 AM
Flyer Flyer is offline
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Since the Ark was bigger than it needed to be for mere transport of the animals, and since the ratio of the length to width was very stable, I would say that it wouldn't have any problems.

Incidentally, here's an illustration that shows just how big the Ark was.

http://www.purifiedbyfaith.com/Creat...k18Wheeler.jpg
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:00 AM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is offline
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I recall watching a TV show several years ago where they made a scale version of the ark using the dimensions and other information from the Bible. It's not like there are detailed plans about the construction of the ark in there, so they did have to do a lot of guesswork. They did at least base the construction of the ship on common shipbuilding techniques of the time. They tested their model in a wave tank and found that not only did it float, but it was also quite seaworthy and had a natural tendency to turn itself into the waves.

What this has to do with the actual ark (if it even existed) is all guesswork, but it does at least answer the OP. It is quite possible to build a ship based on the description of it in the Bible and have it be seaworthy. The dimensions and the description given are plausible, even assuming ancient construction methods.
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:04 AM
Elmer J. Fudd Elmer J. Fudd is offline
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Originally Posted by Flyer View Post
Since the Ark was bigger than it needed to be for mere transport of the animals, and since the ratio of the length to width was very stable, I would say that it wouldn't have any problems.
How so, without an engine? A six to one ratio is very unstable when dead in the water.
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:08 AM
Gorsnak Gorsnak is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
There are really only two questions, here. First, would it float, and second, would it be stable.
Is there not a third question: would it be strong enough not to fall apart when waves put stresses on the structure? Lift the stern and bow with a wave, middle unsupported in a trough, and she snaps in two?
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:14 AM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is offline
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Originally Posted by Elmer J. Fudd View Post
It's not really the size that would make it more sea worthy than it is the ratio of it's dimensions. You don't need to know how long a cubit is to know that the ark was six times longer than its beam. That's ridiculously unseaworthy for an unpowered vessel.
A cubit is just the length from a man's elbow to his fingertips. It's not an exact measurement, but it does give you a pretty close ballpark figure. The ark as described is maybe somewhere around 450 feet long or somewhere thereabouts, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet tall, but given the lack of a standard cubit, it could be anywhere from say 440 feet to 460 feet in length and still match the description. So yeah it's hard to say exactly what a cubit is, but we know the ark as described wasn't 200 feet long, nor was it 600 feet long. It was somewhere reasonably close to 450 feet long, which is pretty big.

This is a study of the ark's theoretical "safety". It isn't related to the TV show that I saw many years ago, but their description of the ship is very similar. They conclude that the ship was not "ridiculously unseaworthy" as you claim, but in fact was reasonably well constructed and could tolerate high winds and waves greater than 30m in height.
http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/tj/v8/n1/noah

ETA: That link also discusses the structural integrity issue based on their assumptions of how the ship would have been constructed.

Last edited by engineer_comp_geek; 12-08-2012 at 10:17 AM..
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  #9  
Old 12-08-2012, 10:28 AM
casdave casdave is offline
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Physical size is not the only determinant, though of course size compared to the materials may be very important.

Do the techniques of the day allow for the type of rib structures that would be needed, and out of interest, is there likely to be enough wood of the right type available?

How long was it supposed to have taken to construct?

If we were looking at this as a project that we would have to consider how much material of the right quality, the labour required and the timescale.

All our received ideas of what an ark might have looked like are probably very unrealistic, I would not be surprised that an simple floating pontoon would have been the best, easiest and cheapest option, had there ever been such a thing as an ark.
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:45 AM
Elmer J. Fudd Elmer J. Fudd is offline
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I'm not an engineer so I can't comment on the conclusions of that linked study. I do know that stability increases as the ratio between length and beam decreases. That is why modern life rafts are round. The reason ships are longer than they are wide is so they can travel through the water better. The Ark only had to float. Making it look like a boat only makes it less seaworthy.

Last edited by Elmer J. Fudd; 12-08-2012 at 10:45 AM..
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:37 AM
cmyk cmyk is offline
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Originally Posted by Flyer View Post
Since the Ark was bigger than it needed to be for mere transport of the animals, and since the ratio of the length to width was very stable, I would say that it wouldn't have any problems.

Incidentally, here's an illustration that shows just how big the Ark was.

http://www.purifiedbyfaith.com/Creat...k18Wheeler.jpg
Noah had a truck?!
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:54 AM
Son of a Rich Son of a Rich is offline
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Aren't arguments for the ark's seaworthiness/ floatability sort of Biblical fanwanking? If you believe in the god of the OT, nothing really needs to be explained- God kept the animals in food, calmed the waters, stopped the boat from leaking, etc.
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Old 12-08-2012, 12:02 PM
Alka Seltzer Alka Seltzer is offline
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A quick technical point about ratios. Is god specifying the overall length, or the waterline length? Without knowing the design of the hypothetical ark, there is some wriggle-room here.

One point in it's favour, the Ark is fitted with an automatic stabilising system. Put two of every kind in a storm, and that mass is going to redistribute its self somewhat, through simple drainage.
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Old 12-08-2012, 12:27 PM
Xema Xema is offline
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It looks like the OP's question boils down to "Is it possible to build a large & rather beamy wooden ship that's seaworthy?"

Given that this has been done (even though in sizes not quite as large as the measurements indicate) the answer is probably Yes.

Last edited by Xema; 12-08-2012 at 12:27 PM..
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  #15  
Old 12-08-2012, 12:34 PM
Elmer J. Fudd Elmer J. Fudd is offline
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Originally Posted by Xema View Post
It looks like the OP's question boils down to "Is it possible to build a large & rather beamy wooden ship that's seaworthy?" .
But it's not at all beamy; it six times longer than it is wide. It's designed for speed, not stability.
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  #16  
Old 12-08-2012, 12:49 PM
Alka Seltzer Alka Seltzer is offline
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The Wyoming was 450 feet long overall, with a beam of 50 feet. However, the waterline length was only 330 feet, giving a length-to-beam ratio of 6.6. The ship was in service for 15 years, but tended to ship water in heavy seas, and eventually sank in a storm.

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Because of her extreme length and wood construction, Wyoming tended to flex in heavy seas, which would cause the long planks to twist and buckle, thereby allowing sea water to intrude into the hold (see hogging and sagging). Wyoming had to use pumps to keep her hold relatively free of water. In March 1924, she foundered in heavy seas and sank with the loss of all hands.
So, if the Ark had a big figurehead it would definitely be possible. Of course, if 200 cubits is not a waterline length, the sauropods have that much less room in which to frolic.
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Old 12-08-2012, 01:17 PM
Darwin's Finch Darwin's Finch is offline
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Originally Posted by robert_columbia View Post
For example, could a multimillionaire use the book of Genesis as a guide and create their own Noah's Ark and expect it to be seaworthy?
This guy did it. His ark's dimensions match those of the Bible, but the construction involves steel barge hulls, so may not be completely accurate....

As to whether it's seaworthy, it was intended to sail, but wasn't allowed to do so due to safety concerns.
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Old 12-08-2012, 02:21 PM
Michael63129 Michael63129 is offline
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So, if the Ark had a big figurehead it would definitely be possible. Of course, if 200 cubits is not a waterline length, the sauropods have that much less room in which to frolic.
But that is why dinosaurs went extinct.

That aside, a 450 foot long Ark seems woefully undersized to hold at least two of every known species, over a million animals alone, even if you excluded fish and whales (and what about plants; some might be able to survive submerged but many would rot in the time given, never mind that it would be salt water).
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Old 12-08-2012, 02:26 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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But it's not at all beamy; it six times longer than it is wide. It's designed for speed, not stability.
"The bad news is, Noah wants to go water-skiing."
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Old 12-08-2012, 03:57 PM
Alka Seltzer Alka Seltzer is offline
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Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
This is a study of the ark's theoretical "safety". It isn't related to the TV show that I saw many years ago, but their description of the ship is very similar. They conclude that the ship was not "ridiculously unseaworthy" as you claim, but in fact was reasonably well constructed and could tolerate high winds and waves greater than 30m in height.
http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/tj/v8/n1/noah

ETA: That link also discusses the structural integrity issue based on their assumptions of how the ship would have been constructed.
Is this the first non-ironic use of an answers in genesis link in GQ, or am I being whooshed?

Quote:
Little is known about the shape and form of the Ark’s hull. However, several explorers have each claimed that they have discovered the remains of the Ark at some sites on Mt. Ararat. Based on their arguments and references,9 we estimated the form of the Ark’s hull as that of a barge-type ship.
Translation - we made something up.

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Assuming the specific gravity of the wood was 0.6 (tonnes per cubic metre) gave a lightweight (bare hull weight) estimate of about 4,000 tonnes, and the cargo weight then became 17,016 tonnes.
Bolding mine. This is very dubious. The also Wyoming had a similar empty weight, but a cargo capacity of only about 5,500 tonnes. That's a huge discrepancy between the one of the largest wooden ships ever built, and the claimed performance of the Ark. Without a credible displacement figure, those fancy stability calculations are so much bilge-water I'm afraid.
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Old 12-08-2012, 04:13 PM
Lanzy Lanzy is offline
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Noah had a truck?!
And a helicopter, cranes, whatever it took.
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  #22  
Old 12-08-2012, 05:32 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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The maximum possible weight for an ark-sized boat, assuming 18 inch cubits and fresh water, is about 43,000 tons. Even allowing for empty weight and wanting to float a bit higher than right at water level, 17,000 tons doesn't sound absurd.
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Old 12-08-2012, 06:54 PM
Xema Xema is offline
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Originally Posted by Elmer J. Fudd View Post
It's designed for speed, not stability.
To achieve the former, you need a decent measure of the latter.
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Old 12-08-2012, 07:03 PM
cmyk cmyk is offline
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And a helicopter, cranes, whatever it took.
Think he could've just asked God for an Aircraft carrier.

*takes another look at the photograph*

... Wait a minute... That's not an ark... Look at those louvres, that's a time machine! Think Noah got that beast up to 88 cubits an hour?

Last edited by cmyk; 12-08-2012 at 07:06 PM..
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Old 12-08-2012, 07:19 PM
cmyk cmyk is offline
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Aren't arguments for the ark's seaworthiness/ floatability sort of Biblical fanwanking? If you believe in the god of the OT, nothing really needs to be explained- God kept the animals in food, calmed the waters, stopped the boat from leaking, etc.
Of course it's like fanwanking. Not unlike deliberating if the Millennium Falcon (of which we have more stringent design plant on compared to Noah's ark), could really make the Kessel run in under 9 parsecs, despite the fact a parsec is a measure of distance.

Example fanwank: Well, perhaps the Kessel Run is an infamous smuggling run, from point A to Point B. That course is determined by your strategy of which routes, the inherent dangers of choosing which route(s) as the shortcuts found are usually the most heavily guarded, too remote if something goes wrong, or impassable by circumstance, like a nebula or something.

Then again, they asked him if the ship was fast, not if he was cunning. But he was both and the Empire was defeated.

...And then God invented the rainbow, and Lucas didn't know what the fuck a parsec was.

Last edited by cmyk; 12-08-2012 at 07:22 PM..
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Old 12-08-2012, 07:57 PM
Elmer J. Fudd Elmer J. Fudd is offline
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To achieve the former, you need a decent measure of the latter.
But you olso need a propellant like oarsmen, sails or an engine, none of which the biblical ark apparently had.
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:04 PM
Mangosteen Mangosteen is offline
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Originally Posted by Elmer J. Fudd View Post
But it's not at all beamy; it six times longer than it is wide. It's designed for speed, not stability.
Speed? It wasn't going anywhere and it had all the time in he world to get there.
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:15 PM
Elmer J. Fudd Elmer J. Fudd is offline
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Speed? It wasn't going anywhere and it had all the time in he world to get there.
That's my point! The dimensions given in the Bible make it a stupid design for an unpowered ark.
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:24 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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Aren't arguments for the ark's seaworthiness/ floatability sort of Biblical fanwanking? If you believe in the god of the OT, nothing really needs to be explained- God kept the animals in food, calmed the waters, stopped the boat from leaking, etc.
Yeah, and if God is all-powerful, what does he need a wooden boat for? Why can't he just snap his fingers and make it all happen instantly? What's with this 40 days & 40 nights shit? What does he need Noah for? If he created the world once, what's so dammed difficult about a little redecorating?
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:28 PM
pancakes3 pancakes3 is offline
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Um, the biggest flaw in the Noah's story was the need of an omniscient and omnipotent god to hit the reset button all together.
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  #31  
Old 12-08-2012, 11:06 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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"Hang on, God; rather than killing everybody, why don't you just make it rain for 40 days and 40 nights and wait for the sewers to back up?"
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:43 PM
Askthepizzaguy Askthepizzaguy is offline
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Well it's all patently ridiculous. Unless you answer every single logical inconsistency and impossibility with "Oh God took care of that" magic then it's utterly indefensible.

1) Noah's family doesn't provide a stable enough gene pool for humanity to exist.

2) An elderly gentleman does not have the capability of taming two of every creature on earth and leading them thousands of miles toward the ark. Especially given there were continents across oceans that were inaccessible to him.

3) Two of every creature doesn't provide a stable enough gene pool for those species to continue to exist. Hint: even if they were all potent and fertile, their offspring would all be inbred and the problem would only get worse.

4) Two of every creature haven't even been discovered by MODERN biologists. New and previously undiscovered species exist everywhere. How many varieties of toad on how many continents would he have had to collect?

5) After the flood, since all the animals not on the Ark were wiped out, how did the Americas become populated with animals again? There was no land bridge between Asia and America at that time.

6) The distribution of species on earth, isolated from one another by oceans, could not have ended up distributed the way they did if all species except the ones on a boat that ended up in the middle east died. There's a reason Darwin's voyage was so interesting, because certain islands had clearly isolated populations of flora and fauna, which would not have developed such distinct differences from mainland creatures in just a few thousand years.

7) Opponents of evolution are often believers in this Noah's Ark nonsense. Well to give them a big hint: Evolution would have had to occur at a rate a hundred thousand times faster than it actually does in the real world for the Noah's Ark story to be even remotely plausible. Otherwise you wouldn't have so many different types of beetles, okay?

8) Explain why the plants and animals of all the distinct continents look like they've been evolving in isolation for millions of years, not having a common mediterranean source of approximately 4000-5000 years ago

9) Without evolution, the amount of species on the ark, in terms of sheer mass alone, would sink the ship and overflow out of it.

10) Food. Shit. Piss. Animals eating each other. Disease. Natural death. Accidental death. A handful of people trying to keep elephants, tigers, lions, polar bears, penguins (that must have taken a while) alive, not diseased, and uninjured. There's no way you fit the sheer mass of organisms inside a boat of that size. The humans on board will spend 24 hours a day hauling tons and tons of feces and piss up to the top deck to pour it overboard. Good luck going inside the Lion's cage to collect his shit chunks. Where do you store the food? How do you feed a hundred thousand pairs of animals? Do you keep them in separate cages? A cage for each of the different varieties of toad? Flightless birds? Wild cats? Wild dogs? Freshwater FISH?


It's all lies, utterly ridiculous and indefensible lies!

And if there WAS A GOD, who is OMNIPOTENT AND OMNISCIENT, he wouldn't need to perform this ridiculous exercise, he could snap his fingers like Q and make it happen sans flood, and sans ark.

That the most brilliant of all beings ever conceived by man would have the imagination of a bronze age idiot, proves that this crap was written by a bronze age idiot.

It's right up there with slavery being okay, women being property to be traded by their fathers, and making bets with Satan that people will still worship God even if he's a total dick.

The writing in that book is so sloppy, the only explanation for the fact that anyone believes it is literally true is that they have no scientific curiosity, no ability to think critically, and no desire to question something they've been instructed not to question, just take it on faith. It's as ridiculous as Scientology, and when I see Christians making fun of Mormons for their wacky beliefs, I am stunned by the lack of self-awareness.

The Noah Story has a lot more holes in it than the wooden boat. It was sunk long before it ever became seaworthy.

How many flights of stairs would Noah have to climb, every single day, just to haul buckets of animal piss off the ark? How many tonnes of shit would he have to personally move, every day? Or do we just let the air become unbreathable with fumes, toxic gas, and the rancid stench?

Pack 100 chickens in a suitcase for 2 months and see how many of them survive without human intervention.

Now imagine the suitcase doesn't contain 100 chickens, but 2 of every chicken-sized animal on earth. Many of which eat one another.

Now keep every couple alive and well, and make sure they can breed and cover the earth when they're done, even though the genetics suggest you'll have nothing but retard babies who are riddled with genetic defects and are sterile.

Couple that with the grand question: If Eve has nothing but sons, who do they fuck? Cain wanders off and marries a baboon? What? Ask your priest.

Last edited by Askthepizzaguy; 12-08-2012 at 11:44 PM..
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  #33  
Old 12-09-2012, 02:25 AM
Malacandra Malacandra is offline
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What made you think Eve had nothing but sons?
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Old 12-09-2012, 06:36 AM
casdave casdave is offline
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........sooooo, anyway, about this ark,

Do you think the captains bunk had cotton bedsheets or linen ones?
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Old 12-09-2012, 07:42 AM
hibernicus hibernicus is online now
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The New Yorker had an article just a couple of weeks ago on a replica ark that was built in New York for making a film about Noah.

The set designer made the point that was made in this thread - an ark that doesn't need to go anywhere doesn't need a keel, and doesn't really need to look like a boat at all - it can just look like a big shack.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:03 AM
handsomeharry handsomeharry is offline
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"Hang on, God; rather than killing everybody, why don't you just make it rain for 40 days and 40 nights and wait for the sewers to back up?"
"How long can you tread water?"
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:18 PM
Alka Seltzer Alka Seltzer is offline
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The maximum possible weight for an ark-sized boat, assuming 18 inch cubits and fresh water, is about 43,000 tons. Even allowing for empty weight and wanting to float a bit higher than right at water level, 17,000 tons doesn't sound absurd.
Seriously? We're taking about a wooden ship with a deadweight tonnage (cargo capacity) almost three and a half times outside known experience, and you don't see a problem? There are fields where order of magnitude estimates are useful, but shipbuilding is not one of them.

Yes, you could probably build a wooden structure of those dimensions, load it that heavily, and expect it to float - on a flat sea. The issue is whether it could survive the stresses of any significant wave action. The answer to that is, very probably not.

Very large wooden ships, such as the Wyoming, suffered badly from hogging and sagging. In the case of the Wyoming, water would leak through the hull as the planks twisted, which had to be pumped out. And this is a ship reinforced with iron struts every 3 feet or so. Bear in mind, any flooding compounds the problem, as the stresses increase.

The study I debunked ignores these problems. The stability analysis itself may be perfectly sound, but is useless if the basic figures are not realistic.
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  #38  
Old 12-09-2012, 08:32 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Nobody has mentioned the problems with the rain.

To cover all the land with water, the rate of rainfall must have been tremendous. way heavier rainfall than any wooden boat structure could endure. Heck, i doubt that a modern aircraft carrier could withstand that rate of rainfall.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:05 PM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
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Nobody has mentioned the problems with the rain.

To cover all the land with water, the rate of rainfall must have been tremendous. way heavier rainfall than any wooden boat structure could endure. Heck, i doubt that a modern aircraft carrier could withstand that rate of rainfall.
I thought the water came from under the earth as well.
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Old 12-09-2012, 10:06 PM
stui magpie stui magpie is offline
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But you olso need a propellant like oarsmen, sails or an engine, none of which the biblical ark apparently had.
Flatulent Elephants?
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  #41  
Old 12-10-2012, 05:15 AM
Alka Seltzer Alka Seltzer is offline
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Nobody has mentioned the problems with the rain.

To cover all the land with water, the rate of rainfall must have been tremendous. way heavier rainfall than any wooden boat structure could endure. Heck, i doubt that a modern aircraft carrier could withstand that rate of rainfall.
The problems with a literal interpretation of the story are actually much greater than that. If the waters camein the form of rain, the seas would boil, due to gravitational potential energy being converted to heat. Noah and company would be broiled.

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I thought the water came from under the earth as well.
And if the water came from under the ground, you'd have the same problem. It's hot down there. Hence the utility of geothermal power.
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  #42  
Old 12-10-2012, 07:46 AM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stui magpie View Post
Flatulent Elephants?
I believe Noah used that to power the winches. Good thing the technology was available, and Noah was one smart cookie, you bet.
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Old 12-10-2012, 08:42 AM
razncain razncain is offline
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Duplicating Noah’s ark by building it to some scale model won’t do, because it’s the size that will do it in and cause it to leak like a sieve! Noah and company could not have bailed the massive amounts of water that would have been taken in.

It would have needed iron straps or some other metal to hold it all together. Noah’s ark was well before the Iron age, and there is also no mention of anything other than gopher wood. Look at any large wooden ship, and you’ll see how important iron or other metals come into play into holding it all together.
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