How do Christian creationists explain Noah's ark?

Now, first off, standard disclainmer that this is not directed towards all Christians, or even all Chirstians who beleive in Intelligent Design. This is more directed at those who take the Bible as literally as possible. They beleive every word is true, and quite possibly that it’s the Word of the Lord Himself. Now, onto the debate (which may end up being not so great…)

Now, according to Genesis 6:19-6:20:

And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort
shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee;
they shall be male and female.

Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of
every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every
sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.
(from here)

So, two of every thing made of flesh, which has, AFAIK, been almost universally accepted to mean two of every animal. How the Hell did they all fit? There is no possible way.

According to Here, there are around 52,000 species of vertabrates. We won’t concern ourselves with invertabrates, since many live in the water, and the others are insects and arachnids, which, although there are many many many species of them, we can be nice and say don’t take up too much space on the ark. :rolleyes:

Anyways, of these 52,000, some are going to be living in water (we’ll ignore the fact that the oceans would be so diluted that anything needed to live in salt water would die…) I couldn’t find any hard facts as to how many species of vertabrates live in the water, but let’s say half of them do. Whether that’s anywhere near true, I have no idea. Maybe we can find that out at some point during the debate.

Now, we are left with 26,000 species of animals to fit on that arc. The dimensions of the arc are given as:

And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The
length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth
of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.
(Geneis 6:15)

A cubit is equal to Centimeters So:

(300 cubits)*(45.72 cm) *(1 m/100 cm) = 137.16 meters
(50 cubits) * (45.72) * (1 m/100 cm) = 22.86 meters
(30 cubits) * (45.72) * (1 m/100 cm) = 13.72 meters

This gives us a volume of ~43, 018 meters.

So, 26,000 species of animals, times two (male and female) leaves us with 52,000 animals. That means each animal (including Noah and his family) get just 0.83 cubic meters of space.

You try living in that small a volume. Now, yes, it’s true that many of the animals are small and you could fit several in that small a space, but conversly, many species are large and need several times that space. Elephants themselves take up in the range of 5 to ten cubic meters, and other animals are also large (hippos, rhinos, giraffes, buffalo.)

So, how did it work? Did God secretly stash away most animals? Did he just make more of the ones that went away, even though nowhere in the bible it says he did? Or, were there only a few species of animals at that time (enough to fit on the arc) and they all “changed” into the species we know today? (Hmmm…an animal changing itself over thoudands of years…sounds familair…I know there’s a word for it…)

I went to a Christian school, which was run by Bible literalists. Our “science” books explained how Noah’s Ark worked.

God may have told Noah to build it a certain size, but inside, God miraculously expanded it to hold all the animals (much like the magic car in the Harry Potter books), including dinosaurs. (Our “science” books were emphatic that man and dinosaur had co-existed. This section of the book included a charming drawing of a stegosaurus on the Ark in a stall next to a cow.) He made all of the animals ultra-placid, so they wouldn’t fight or eat one another.

The Flood created the Grand Canyon, as well as burying the rest of the dinosaurs in silt, making the fossils that “fool” scientists today. It also “churned” the layers of earth, which is why some fossils appear to be buried lower than others.

The usual nonsense they spout is that only certain “kinds” of animal were arked, and that natural selection (yes, it is allowed so long as it does not change “kind” such as in the case of those pollution-coloured moths and the like) subsequently caused the differences within that kind over the next few thousands years.

(Of course, if you carried on that reasoning, you could surely change even “kinds” over millions of years. But they don’t want to hear that. This is why the age of the Earth is crucial in such discussions.)

So Noah’s Ark was a TARDIS? :smiley:

It’s easy enough to say “[del]A wizard[/del] God did it.” What I find odd is that God is apparently throwing miracles around to solve basically a “design problem” in the original plan. “I’ll have Noah save all the animals by putting them on a big boat! Oh wait, there’s not enough room an a boat that a human can make? I’ll TARDIS it up!”

IMHO a God would be smart enough to just make a plan that wouldn’t require stuff like that. Like make a virus to kill all wicked people, and not Noah and his kin. Hell, why even make a virus, just have them drop dead because He willed it. Why fuck with animals at all? The author of the flood plan did not even have the knowledge that modern man has, let alone the knowledge of an omnipotent God.

Well, the ship that Adric was in did tie into the origins of earth…

Heh heh, I’ve not heard that one before. Funny how it kept all the bones exactly in a skeleton shape while sorting the fossils exactly into ascending layers of trilobites, fish, amphibians, dinosaurs, mammals and humans all around the world, including helpfully mixing in a needle-thin line of Iridium below above which no dinosaurs appear and below which no human, bird or other modern mammal appears. That is one mightily impressive “churn”!

I have seen the explanation that all the animals in the world evolved from those originally on the ark, which would make me want to ask this person how he reconciles the fundie view on one hand that evolution can’t happen, with the view that it happens in just a few thousand years.

But in the real world, I don’t think I know anyone who actually believes the ark story to be literal. How many Christians, or fundies even, believe it to be literal?

I recently listened to an excerpt of Julia Sweeney’s Letting Go of God show (on This American Life (Godless America episode aired on June 3), where Julia started attending a Bible study group, and quickly learned that the accounts of the creation in Genesis 1 and 2 seriously conflict with each other. She noted something like “Which makes me wonder, for all those people who believe every word of the Bible is literally true, they can’t have read even the first two chapters!”

IANAC, but i’ve always viewed the story of the ark as representative of the ice age. but then, i don’t think this god character only took 7 days to create the world, either.

Actually, I think you are asking the wrong questions to be honest. Ok, for a moment lets say you COULD get all the animals on the Ark. How the hell would you feed them for an extended period of time)? Where would you get all the various things TOO feed them…and where would you store it all? And, well, what about the whole poo situation? How exactly would you much out the Ark for an extended period (I forget exactly how long this whole thing went on…40 days and nights for the rain then some period while the flood waters receeded IIRC)?

Finally and to me most importantly…how would you GET all the animals? Oh, I’m sure god helped out by sending them to Noah…but if god could magically transport animals from around the world, why bother with the Ark in the first place?? And if god didn’t magically transport them, but only, er, encouraged them to go to Noah, how did some of them cross the oceans to get there (leaving aside the unique dietary requirements of things like koala bears and such)?

To me this story has always been sort of like the Santa Claus thing…its a great childrens story but when you actually look at it from the standpoint of reality, it completely breaks down unless one is willing to use a magical (or divine) intervention. And really, why would god go to all that trouble to have Noah build an Ark? It would have been much easier for god to simply send angels of death to wack all the humans except Noah thus sparing the animals…who hadn’t really done anything wrong anyway.

Of course, I DO believe there was a flood in our ancient past…a LOCAL flood, perhaps rising sea levels after the last ice age, perhaps the breaking of a natural dam that flooded out the Black Sea. But afaik there is zero evidence of a global flood…certainly not one in the last 10,000 years.


In 4237BC, the Euphrates flooded. Big flood, not one of these pansy-assed 200 year floods that makes the news with helicopter shots of fields under water, but a real honest-to-Og ten thousand year flood. Some kook who’d spent years building a giant raft (much to the amusement of his neighbours) saved his family, 3 sheep, and a half dozen goats when it turned out his raft actually floated. The story grew in the telling.

The story of Noah, if it’s to be taken literally, requires dozens of miracles. Which, I suppose, if God exists, isn’t entirely out of the question, but it would certainly lead one to wonder about the big guy’s sanity. It reads rather like a series of Calvin and Hobbes comic strips where Calvin makes a lot of little snowmen or something for the purpose of playing Godzilla.

The real question isn’t how Noah got all those animals on the Ark, nor how he captured or baited those animals to load on the ark. The real question is how did anyone miss the fact that the whole story of Noah’s Ark was ripped off from the Babylonian poem, The Epic of Gilgamesh, which existed a hell of a long time before the Bible was written?

In the book justifying the Ark, Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study, author John Woodmarappe brings in how much help God was to Noah during the voyage of the Ark. He speculates that it ranged from minor help on occasion, like when the shit got a little to high, to miraculous intervention when things got really dire. Caused me to wonder why bother with the Ark if God stood ready to save Noah’s little band no matter what.

Yeah, I pretty much figured the only way out is to say “God made it happen.” But if that’s true, why bother woth Noah and an ark? Why not jsut go “poof” abnd every person save Noah and his family are gone? As are all their heathen buildings and idols? Like most of the Bible, it doesn’t hild up to scrutiny.

Because then the story wouldn’t be as interesting. Had god just decided to wave his magic god wand and just kill all the ‘bad’ people, that would not have been as good a story as Noah, scorned then triumphantly right about building a boat in the desert, blah blah blah. Stories don’t have to make much logical sense to be good. And of course, when this particular story was written it DID make sense to the folks in the area. After all, they could look around and maybe knew about a few hundred species, so it wouldn’t really have been that much of a problem to imagine that big a ship easily dealing with them. They probably never even considered the various logistical impossibilities. 'Sides, its a good story for back then. :slight_smile:

But I think you have your answer…Christians who take the word of the bible literally will always be able to just explain away all the inconsistencies, the out right impossibilities by simply pointing at god and saying he simply took a hand in making it work. That of course is the problem with magical/divine explainations but what the hell… :wink:


Why does this topic invariably degrade into people poking mile-wide holes in the Noah’s Ark story, and then asking believers to prove the contention?

As ridiculous as the NA story is, I realize there are millions who believe it actually happened. In the face of illogic, the obvious course of action, it seems to me, is to ignore it, and let those who choose to wallow in fantasy do so.

My point here is this topic often becomes a series of “Yeah, and what about such-and-such fact?” responded to by “Yeah, and what about such-and-such fact?”, and on and on. Is it hoped that those who believe the story will arrive at a revelation and say “Hmm…you know, those logicians are right. The Noah’s Ark story is false!” or achieve some other such epiphany? Never happen.

The OP’s question was with regard to how it was possible to fit all the animals within the volume of space required in excess of the purported volume of the ark. The answer is simple. It wasn’t possible.


Heh, great post.

This is the biggest problem with the point of view of the Bible literalists. Sure, it’s possible that an omnipotent God did every single implausible thing in the Bible – that the world was created in a week, that humans have been around since that first week, etc. But the only way that could be true is if God deliberately created enormous quantities of evidence for the explicit purpose of fooling scientists. The evidence that the universe is billions of years old, that evolution took place over millions of years, etc. is far, far more than could be explained as some sort of accidental coincidence. Either it really happened that way, or it took an act of God to make it look that way. And why would God possibly do that? Just to screw with us?

A good debate requires two sides. How often have we had a bible literalist who stayed around very long? When you have a debate like that it’s the equivalent of calling yourself tough because you beat up the kid with thick glasses and leg braces in grade school. Go pick on someone your own size for a change.

Well, let’s take another view. Why did the fish not survive? From the OP’s link

006:017 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the
earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life,
from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall

So why would the fish die, if they live in water and do fine in modern-day floods (sure, the ones that wind up on land afterwards have some small problems breathing, but there are still bodies of water afterwards).

If you assume the existance of the flood at all, you’ve got to believe in miracles. Logic, when applied to preternatural phenomena, can’t get you anywhere. If God could make a flood, He could definately make a TARDIS or scale up Noah’s ark or placate the more aggressive animals. To stop halfway through the story and say “Hey, that no make sense” is silly.

My Sunday School teacher argued that the ark was stocked with juvenile animals (puppies, kittens, dinosaurlings) and thus didn’t take up as much space.

Yes, I know. But that’s what he said.