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