Noah’s Ark

“Noah’s Ark”—Image by Hany Alashkar from Pixabay

This article investigates whether all the animals (including those extinct) could have fitted in the size of Noah’s ark as given in the biblical text. It also deals with whether it is plausible that Noah and his family performed all the tasks God gave him within the time allotted in the biblical text.

For the benefit of the reader who is unfamiliar with the biblical account of the Noah’s Ark and the Flood, I quote below the salient passages in the Bible’s (first) book of Genesis. Should the reader want to read the entire account prior to this discussion, it can be found in Genesis 6:5–9:17. I do not think it is necessary, but it might be a good idea if the reader never read the biblical text.

Discrepancy

According to Genesis, because of the excessive wickedness that ensued on earth after nine human generations, God decides to destroy all of humanity by means of a global flood—except for righteous Noah and his family. So God instructs Noah to construct an ark and to take with him into this ark his family and a male-female pair of every kind of land and flying animal.

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.” (KJV, Genesis 6:19–20, emphasis mine)

However, we soon seem to encounter a discrepancy, if not a contradiction, in the biblical account: just four verses later God gives Noah a different instruction.

“Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.” (KJV, Genesis 7:2–3, emphasis mine)

Here, it looks like God has changed his mind because he now wants Noah to rescue seven pairs of every kind of “clean” and flying animal; whereas, previously, he only requested one pair of every land and flying animal. Note also that God fails to mention the “creeping” animals this time. So, which one would be the ‘Word’ of God: the first instruction or the second?

Now, focus on the phrase “clean beast” in the last quote: it needs to be addressed before I proceed with my discussion. The word “clean” is an anachronism here: it had no meaning at the time of Noah. In other words, God could not have just given Noah such an instruction: Noah would not have understood what “clean beast” meant; God would have had to explain its meaning.

According to the Law of Moses (see Leviticus 8:3, 11:3 & Deuteronomy 14:6), “clean” animals have their hoof cloven in two and chew the cud (partly digested food of animals with a dual stomach): examples of clean animals are cattle, sheep, and deer; examples of unclean animals are pigs, camels, and hares. “Clean” birds or “fowl” are not defined exactly in the Mosaic Law (see Leviticus 11:13–19 & Deuteronomy 14:11–18), but roughly, they seem to be birds that can be domesticated: examples of clean birds are chickens, ducks, and pigeons; examples of unclean birds are crows, owls, and vultures (i.e., birds of prey)—including the bat.

It might come as a complete surprise to many Christians and Jews that Moses was not really the author of Genesis: like practically all Bible books, we do not know who its author was; in actual fact, there were several authors putting in their two cents’ worth into it. According to the biblical scholars of the New American Bible, for example, the above discrepancy in God’s instructions shows a difference of opinion between biblical authors commonly referred to as Priestly and Yahwist, respectively. The latter thought additional inventory of clean animals and birds was necessary for kosher food and sacrifices.

“For the Priestly source (P), there is no distinction between clean and unclean animals until Sinai (Leviticus 11), no altars or sacrifice until Sinai, and all diet is vegetarian (Genesis 1:29–30); even after the flood P has no distinction between clean and unclean, since ‘any living creature that moves about’ may be eaten (Genesis 9:3). Thus P has Noah take the minimum to preserve all species, one pair of each, without distinction between clean and unclean, but he must also take on provisions for food (Genesis 6:21). The Yahwist source (J), which assumes the clean-unclean distinction always existed but knows no other restriction on eating meat (Abel was a shepherd and offered meat as a sacrifice [Genesis 4:4]), requires additional clean animals (‘seven pairs’) for food and sacrifice (Genesis 7:2–3; 8:20).” (New American Bible, Genesis 6:19–21n)

So, they both inserted their opinion in Genesis: clearly showing the Bible is a human rather than a divine book. The Douay-Rheims Bible, tries to justify this anachronism by commenting on this verse,

“The distinction of clean and unclean beasts appears to have been made before the law of Moses, which was not promulgated till the year of the world 2514.” (Douay-Rheims Bible, Genesis 7:2n)

This is nonsense, of course. According to the Answers in Genesis website, the Flood allegedly occurred in the “year of the world” 1656 (Wright & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis_flood_narrative): that is, more than 850 years earlier. To say that people knew the difference between clean and unclean animals and birds more than eight centuries prior to the Mosaic Law (as the Douay-Rheims Bible contends) is hardly convincing. Anyway, the modern (2010) New American Bible scholars disagree with the much older Douay Rheims Bible scholars (1752).

Naturally, both the discrepancy in God’s command in the Genesis text itself and the anachronistic slip not only undermine the veracity Noah’s Flood account but also of the Bible’s being God’s infallible Word.

Ark Size

A question often asked by most Christians is: could all the different land and flying animals, including extinct species (such as dinosaurs and pterosaurs) have fitted into Noah’s ark? How big was his ark? Luckily, we are told the size, the exact dimensions in fact, of the ark in Genesis. God instructs Noah,

“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. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.” (KJV, Genesis 6:15–16).

According to both the Douay-Rheims Bible and the New American Bible, a cubit, literally ‘forearm’ in Hebrew, is almost a foot and a half long.

“[The] Hebrew ‘cubit,’ literally ‘forearm,’ is the distance from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, about eighteen inches (a foot and a half). The dimensions of Noah’s ark were approximately 440x73x44 feet.” (New American Bible, Genesis 6:15n.)

Now, the size of an American football pitch is 360 feet long and 160 feet wide. So Noah’s ark, although somewhat longer than a football pitch, was much narrower and had a total area of just over half (c. 55.8%) of it. However, the ark had three stories: still the total floor area would have been about one and two-thirds (c. 1.67) times that of an American football pitch or slightly more than (c. 1.19 times) that of a soccer field (360×225 ft.). Imagine someone trying to fit all the various pairs of land and flying animals (both living and extinct), not to mention another six pairs of every clean animal and domestic bird, in less than two American football pitches (or in just over the size of a soccer field): Noah’s ark would have been quite crowded.

Enough Room?

Still, some readers might not be convinced yet: I concede it might not be that easy to tell, off hand, whether it was possible or not; and it has been the subject of much controversy. However, as I shall show presently, most books one reads about the subject admit that Noah’s ark would have become impossibly crowded were it to house all animal and bird species, let alone their numerous varieties: there does not seem to be any disagreement in this respect even among Bible inerrantists.

Since Bible inerrantists do not believe in macroevolution (I don’t, either—you may want to read my article on “Evolution”), a second related question they are often asked is: did Noah take into his ark all the animal species including varieties? So, Bible inerrantists came up with the concept of “kind” of animals: which is the word Genesis uses, for example, in a verse we already encountered.

“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.” (KJV, Genesis 6: 20, emphasis mine)

According to Bible inerrantists, the word “kind” needs some explanation: they contend it is somewhat like the classification of the term family in modern taxonomy. Dogs and wolves, for example, belong to the canine (dog) family; lions and tigers belong to the feline (cat) family, and so on. In other words, although dogs and wolves are not of the same species, they can still mate and breed with one another: mating and breeding seems to be, roughly, the dividing line in the biblical term kind. The same argument, of course, applies to the feline (cat) family (lions, tigers, leopards, domestic cats, etc.) as well as a whole bunch of other animal families we may not be so familiar with. Besides species, of course, there are varieties: all dogs, for example, are of the same species, but there are countless varieties of dogs; likewise, domestic cats, pigeons, finches, and so on. Consequently, the Ark Encounter website tries to explain what happened on Noah’s ark as follows:

“Was every species on the Ark? No. Species is a term used in the modern classification system. The Bible uses the term ‘kind.’ The created kind was a much broader category than the modern term of classification, species. The biblical concept of created ‘kind’ probably most closely corresponds to the family level in current taxonomy. A good rule of thumb is that if two things can breed together, then they are of the same created kind. It is a bit more complicated, but this is a good quick measure of a kind. There can be a tremendous amount of variation within a created kind. For example, various types of dogs, such as wolves, dingoes, coyotes, jackals, and domestic dogs, can often breed with one another.” (Ark Encounter)

So, it seems that, as I already pointed out above, also this apologetic website agrees that Noah’s ark could not even contain all the various species of animals, never mind varieties. The very fact that Bible inerrantists resort to this kind of explanation, I take as their admission (and enough proof) that Noah’s ark would have been too crowded had he taken into the ark a pair of all the different species.

Of course, I cannot see who or what gives this website, or anyone else, the right to define or interpret an ordinary word like “kind” this way: as opposed to species or even varieties for that matter: personally, I do not buy it. Interpretation is not really what the Bible says: nothing beats the written word. To me, a cat is a different “kind” of animal from a tiger, so is a dog a different “kind” of animal from a wolf, and so is a Chihuahua a different “kind” of animal from a Great Dane. If I were Noah, forgive my ignorance, I would not know any better; nor do I think this proposal holds water for the honest reader. The concept of “kind” as defined here is a stretched meaning resorted to by Bible inerrantists: as is usually the case with apologists trying to hold on to biblical inerrancy. Rather than admitting to what, deep down, they would think is the case (the truth) in a discussion unrelated to the Bible, they propose bizarre explanations in defending it.

So basically, without special so-called interpretations of the biblical text, we have another contradiction in the biblical text itself: namely, that Noah could not possibly carry out God’s command in the space allotted to him by the biblical text itself. I wonder why God could not foresee such a dilemma and make things a bit clearer for us, so it could be more easily believable. Possibly, all he had to do was add the ‘breeding’ requirement the Ark Encounter website proposes—that is, if the reader buys into its explanation. Or maybe, the Bible is not a divine book at all, but only a human book, like all the rest. Anyway, let me go along with the Ark Encounter’s concept of ‘kind’ for the time being.

Controversy

Not surprisingly, many biologists object, one way or another, to this concept of ‘kind.’ For example, professional biologist Richard A. Meiss, PhD, from Speedway, Indiana, USA, objected vehemently to an aired program in June 2001 in which creationists claimed that all the canine species (wolves, jackals, foxes, dogs, etc.) evolved, in some four thousand years, from only one (male-female) pair of animals. So, he wrote to them,

“As I understand it, you are contending that the whole array of canine species, from wolves to jackals to foxes to canis familiaris arose in approximately 4,000 years from the genetic potential in just two animals [Noah’s ark pair of animals]. As a professional biologist, I can tell you that this is preposterous and points up the superficiality of your arguments. Since you deny the role of mutation in adding information to the genome, how do you account for the wide range of present-day traits arising from two individual genomes which could have had only two copies of each gene between them? Such silliness will certainly not give you any credibility to those who are unconvinced (and are competent scientists), and most of your true believers lack the scientific background to assess the validity of your spurious claims.” (Batten)

In other words, a professional biologist rates the whole concept as incredulous nonsense that knowledgeable scientists would never buy into: he contends that they are simply fooling non-scientifically-oriented believers with outrageous hypotheses. Another professional biologist Don Batten, PhD, of the Creation Ministries International in Australia responded to the above letter,

“Two genomes (male and female) could have four different alleles [gene varieties] between them for each gene locus [location], not two. … There are probably some 30,000 genes in a wolf/dog …. Let’s be [ultra-conservative and] assume (as you claimed) that there were only two types of allele per locus, and that there was no codominance [i.e., an either-or inheritance] so only two phenotypes [visible traits] per locus, and there was only 1% heterozygosity [different alleles] in wolves/dogs (… [it’s] 6.7% in humans …), the number of possible varieties would be [230000/100 =] 2300 = 10300(log2) = 1090. … This number … makes the number of atoms in the universe [1080] seem … tiny … 1090/1080 = 1010 (10 billion) times larger!” (Batten)

Numbers never lie, of course. The above might be theoretically correct, as far as it goes, but is it true in practice? We have a difference of opinion between experts here which is usually tough to resolve.

From a scientist’s point of view, however, what I see lacking in Batten’s reply, is how long, in his estimate, it would take for a pair of dogs/wolves to produce all the canine (dog) family species and varieties we see today—he seems capable enough dealing with numbers. I mean, although the above might not be a big deal in the mindset of evolutionary theorists, I find that Bible inerrantists try to have it both ways here. According to them, only about 4,400 years (Wright) have elapsed since the alleged Flood—not millions or billions of years. Is their hypothesis above consistent with this limitation? Can all these dog species and varieties have evolved in less than 4,400 years? Assuming a gestation (pregnancy) period of about two months for dogs, allows six generations per year: giving only about 4,400×6 = 26,400 generations since the alleged flood.

Now, evolutionary biologist Richard Lenski’s Escherichia coli bacteria long-term experiment, involving twelve groups/tribes, has been running since February 1988 under ideal conditions for Darwinian evolution to kick in, namely, daily cycles of bonanza followed by starvation. It has reached 73,500 generations in early 2020, but there was no significant change in the genome except for one of the twelve groups—which happened after more than 31,000 generations. All twelve groups showed improvement in fitness: they grew larger in size, became more efficient at assimilating food and reproduction, but nothing else to write home about. That is, except for the one group, of course, which developed the ability to assimilate citrate (C6H8O7-3) in the presence of oxygen—something never experienced before with E. coli (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._coli_long-term_evolution_experiment).

Admittedly, bacteria reproduction, unlike that of dogs, is asexual, which will presumably decrease variability in reproduction and hence the probability of change (evolution). However, unlike Noah’s alleged single couple, twelve groups were used in Lenski’s bacteria experiment, and, according to calculations I show in my book Is God a Reality? (pp. 163–65), in every group the daily bacteria population started the day at around one million (106) and ended the day at around one hundred million (108). Thus the odds for random change have been increased significantly in the bacteria experiment: enough to more than compensate for its being an asexual reproduction, I would say. Recall that genome change can only twiddle its thumbs until random mutation kicks in and produces something preferable, or at least viable; moreover, the odds for random mutation to occur depend on both the total population and the number of generations involved. So, the scientific evidence we have, so far at least, does not support Batten’s hypothesis of change across the board—the like we see currently in dog species and varieties. The same argument, of course, holds for the feline (cat) family (the gestation period is roughly the same) and presumably any other animal family we may not be so familiar with.

Evolution

Rather than give the reader only my opinion, I shall now give the opinion of some other experts in in the field. In his book The Edge of Evolution, biochemist and Intelligent Design advocate Michael J. Behe contends that waiting times for a biological trait to arise by various evolutionary processes can be very long. For us to understand, he compares evolution to winning some prize (small or large) in a lottery because most mutations to a protein jeopardize its previous function. He argues that knowing the probability of drawing a winning ticket in a lottery is not enough; he explains,

“If the odds of winning [the jackpot] are one in a hundred million, and if a million people play every time, then it will take on average about a hundred drawings for someone to win. [With a hundred such drawings per year,] then it would take about a year before someone won. But if there were only one drawing per year, on average it would take a century to hit the jackpot.” (Behe, p. 54)

Likewise, the waiting time for evolutionary change depends on the total population (equivalent to the number of people playing) and the number of generations (equivalent to the number of draws). In his book Darwin’s Doubt, philosopher of science, Intelligent Design advocate, and director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture Stephen C. Meyer aptly comments on this scenario,

“Neo-Darwinists have long assumed that biological evolution works something like matching one number in [a lottery]. In their view, natural selection acts to reward or preserve small but relatively probable changes in gene sequences—like winning the small but more likely … prize in [the lottery] over and over again. They assume the mutation and selection mechanism doesn’t depend on winning extremely unlikely ‘prizes’ (like the whole … jackpot) all at once.” (Meyer, p. 244, emphasis in original)

Meyer then argues that if biological change were to involve several coordinated changes at the molecular level (like guessing all the numbers in a lottery) the waiting time would be prohibitively long. In peer-reviewed 2004 paper, Behe coauthored with physicist David W. Snoke, they argue that in generating a new protein, most of the time, requires the combinations of several improbable mutations at once: like guessing several numbers in a lottery. The question they tackled was then how long it would take and what population size is required to make such occurrences plausible. Their conclusion was that the “numbers were prohibitive.” (Behe & Snoke, p. 2661) Meyer summarizes their results,

“If coordinated mutations were necessary, then evolution at the genetic level faced a catch-22: for the standard neo-Darwinian mechanism to generate just two coordinated mutations, it typically either needed unreasonably long times [number of generations], times that exceeded the duration of life on earth [c. 3.5 billion years], or it needed unreasonably large population sizes, populations that exceed the number of multicellular organisms that have ever lived.” (Meyer, p. 245) According to Behe and Snoke,

“For example, consider a case where three nucleotide changes must be made to generate a novel feature such as a disulfide bond. In that instance, … a population size of approximately 1011 [hundred billion] organisms on average would be required to give rise to the feature over the course of 108 [hundred million] generations …. To produce the feature in one million [106] generations would, on average, require an enormous population of about 1017 [hundred million billion] organisms ….” (Behe & Snoke, p. 2660, emphasis mine)

According to Meyer, even for just two coordinated mutations, one million (106) generations would require a population of one trillion (1012), which exceeds the breeding population of any animal species at any given time; while a reasonable breeding population of one million (106) would require ten billion (1010) generations, which computes to ten billion (1010) years (i.e., close to three times the duration of life on earth), assuming only an average of only one-year life span for multicellular organisms (dogs live more than ten years). (Meyer, pp. 245–46) Meyer concludes,

“This is clearly an unreasonable length of time to wait for the emergence of a single gene, let alone more significant evolutionary innovations.” (Meyer, p. 245–46)

Please note that Meyer is here talking about billions of years—not thousands of years as creationists contend the earth and life has existed for. From the above argument, therefore, expecting significant evolutionary changes in just 4,400 years sounds unlikely.

In my opinion, however, Behe and Snoke’s calculations seem to be out to some degree because we actually have evidence of a significant, rare mutation in Lenski’s bacteria experiment after 31,000 generations. In fact, they do admit it to some extent.

“Because the [peer paper] simulation looks for the production of a particular MR [multi-residue] feature in a particular gene, the values will be overestimates of the time necessary to produce some MR feature in some duplicated gene.” (Behe & Snoke, p. 2661, emphasis in original)

At the same time, from the above, it seems ludicrous to expect species and variety outpours, across the board in all taxonomic families, from single pairs of animals in 4,400 years.

Note

Intelligent Design is often labelled as pseudoscience—even by a serious online encyclopedia like Wikipedia (but not by the Encyclopaedia Britannica Online: https://www.britannica.com/topic/intelligent-design). However, unlike Creationism, Intelligent Design does not base its theories on the Bible and accepts all the scientific results except those where it believes scientists jumped the gun—like macroevolution. In his book The God Delusion, evolutionary biologist and self-declared atheist Richard Dawkins states,

“The presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question, even if it is not in practice—or not yet—a decided one.” (Dawkins, p. 82)

I must admit I agree with Dawkins in this. So, I think Wikipedia is wrong in calling invoking God’s action a pseudoscience (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design) where there is clear evidence of super-intelligence and design. For more detail on this concept, one might want to read my article “God of the Gaps?”

Regarding Lenski’s bacteria experiment, for example, the bottom line is that E. coli bacteria remained E. coli bacteria: they did not evolve into a different species, say, from a prokaryote (i.e., cells without a DNA nucleus) to a eukaryote (i.e., cells with a DNA nucleus). Thus it seems to have even ruled out presumably the first step in macroevolution (i.e., large-scale evolution), as opposed to microevolution (i.e., small-scale evolution).

Number of Animals

Despite this interpretation of the word “kind,” many scientists still question whether there was enough room to fit all the land- and flying-animal families, including those that are now extinct. Keep in mind that biologists say about 99.9% of species have become extinct. In defense of the biblical account, the Ark Encounter website, for example, states that there was ample room. It argues,

“Noah’s cargo … excludes fish and other sea creatures, and it probably excludes the insects and other invertebrates. Recent studies estimate the total number of living and extinct kinds of land animals and flying creatures to be about 1,500. With our ‘worst-case’ scenario approach to calculating the number of animals on the Ark, this would mean that Noah cared for approximately 7,000 animals. Without getting into all the math, all of the animals, food, storage, and supplies would have fit comfortably on the Ark.” (Ark Encounter)

I am not sure whether the reader would buy into such a sweeping statement without any calculations; not to mention the necessity of separation between predators and prey, although, in all fairness, the Genesis account does state that the ark had to be compartmentalized. Genesis portrays God telling Noah,

“Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.” (KJV, Genesis 6:14, emphasis mine).

Available Time

Now, how much time did Noah’s family have to gather these 7,000 animals, say? Just one week, according to the Yahwist biblical author. Admittedly, one might argue that, according to the first (or Priestly) biblical author, Noah might have had a previous instruction to gather one pair of every kind of land and flying animal.

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.” (KJV, Genesis 6:19–20, emphasis mine)

However, from the context of the following passage, God seems to have made only one order—not two.

“Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.” (KJV, Genesis 7:2–4, emphasis mine)

Observe that the phrase “of beasts that are not clean by two” is repeated here; clearly, the second (or Yahwist) biblical author intended God to have made a single order to Noah—not two different orders some time apart. Note also that the time God allotted Noah to accomplish all this was only “seven days.”

Insects

Now, why does the Ark Encounter website think that insects should be excluded? According to Genesis, God’s instructions were clear.

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.” (KJV, Genesis 6:19–20, emphasis mine)

Thus, according to Genesis, all “creeping” animals were to be rescued from the Flood; does that not include insects? Statements like “it probably excludes the insects” undermine a website’s credibility. Just because it adds the word “probably,” it doesn’t get its author/s off the hook: it is still misleading.

Let me try to show why the website says this. Most, about 97% of, insects are strictly land animals, and they would drown if separated from land by water for an extended period, that is, more than a couple of weeks, and, according to Genesis, the waters covered the earth for about 318 days (see Genesis 7:11 & 8:13). Currently, we know of close to 1,000,000 species and more than 1,000 families of insects; we have not identified all the insects yet: the problem is we keep discovering new ones—close to 10,000 species every year (One Zoo Tree & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insect). Noah and his family would have had quite a job collecting them from across the whole world—from the desert sands to the snowy mountains. It begs the question then: how did Noah manage to gather all the insect species including the ones we have not yet discovered in only one week? Not to mention those that are now extinct.

Provisions

Genesis then concludes God’s instructions to Noah as follows:

“Take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them. Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.” (KJV, Genesis 6:21–22, emphasis mine)

On top of all the work implied above: that is, cutting and transporting all the material required for a gigantic ark, building the ark itself, gathering all the land animals, birds, and insects; we must not forget that Noah and his family also had to collect food supplies for more than a year (see Genesis 7:11 & 8:14) both for his family and all the animals. Probably, I presume, they also required water supplies (at least empty vessels); because after forty days the rain stopped (see Genesis 7:12), and the flood waters were probably too polluted, with dead bodies, to drink. So, Noah and his family had to collect food and water provisions not only for themselves but also for, let us say, 7,000 animals, large and small, for a whole year. Have you ever done groceries for just your family for a month? God gave Noah quite a tall order to perform in just one week, but allegedly he performed it all.

Does not the whole narrative of Noah’s Ark seem somewhat implausible to you? Does it not have the earmarks of a myth rather than fact? All the above practical objections seem to present overwhelming corroborating evidence, confirming the hypothesis that the Flood account was only a myth. Moreover, as I have shown in my article on “The Flood,” the parallelisms of the Noah’s biblical account to Utnapishtim’s account in The Epic of Gilgamesh (which was engraved on clay tablets dating a thousand-odd years prior to the first book of the bible) drives another nail in the coffin of its being a myth.

The Rainbow

According to Genesis, after the Flood was over, Noah offers a sacrifice to God; on seeing this, God regrets what he had done (see Genesis 8:21): so he makes a covenant with Noah and humanity as a whole. As a sign of this covenant he allegedly sets a rainbow in the sky every time it rains: as a reminder to him not to go overboard again.

“God said, ‘This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you [Noah] and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.’” (KJV, Genesis 9:12–15, emphasis mine)

Focus on the word “bow” as in ‘bow and arrow’—a symbol of war and aggression. However, if you happen to go at the top of the Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls, Canada, on a rainy day, you do not see just a “bow” of a rainbow, as we normally do, but a whole circle above and below your position on the tower. Of course this phenomenon is observable on rainy days on any tower that is high enough (>158 m) to allow a complete circle to form—or even on an airplane. So, it is not really a “bow” but a whole circle; however, the biblical author was not aware of this. (Neither was I, for that matter, until I experienced it in Niagara Falls.) He proposes, therefore, that rainbows did not exist prior to Noah’s Flood, and that God set it up in the sky on rainy days to show us and to remind himself that he will never again use a flood to destroy all of humanity, as he had just done. However, as physicists know well enough, it is the water droplets in the air that split the white light from the sun into its component colors—as a prism does. In other words, the rainbow is a physical phenomenon that was always observable ever since the earth existed: consequently there was never such sign of an agreement between God and humanity introduced after the alleged Flood, as the Bible contends. So again, here the Bible contradicts science.

No Ark Fossils

Finally, as I also mentioned in my article “The Flood,” we come to the fact that, although many people have looked for Noah’s ark for more than a century, despite many false claims, nobody has ever found a splinter of it on the mountains of Ararat where it allegedly lodged. Albeit, in his book In the Minds of Men, creationist Ian Taylor gives as probable reason the fact that there is a whole range of dangerous, snowcapped mountains to be searched, not to mention its political oversensitivity (Taylor, In the Minds of Men, pp. 388–89). I guess he still hopes we shall find it.

References

Ark Encounter. “How Many Animals Were on Noah’s Ark?” Accessed November 13, 2020, https://arkencounter.com/animals/how-many/.

Attard, Carmel Paul. Is God a Reality?—A Scientific Investigation. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2017. (ISBN: 9781532012228.)

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Published by costantino22

I was educated by Jesuits, and I even became a Jesuit for more than six years. I have a bachelor of science degree in physics and mathematics, and I am also a Bible enthusiast. My main interest is how God, the Bible, and Christianity relate to science and reason.

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