Yes, folks – it’s Noah’s Ark! Making part 3 of my “ICR on the Flood” series.
John D. Morris himself, President of the Institution, is very keen on the flood, having gone on at least 13 (as of 2007) expeditions to search for it, all of which have failed utterly (muwhahaha!). He does seem a little protective of the Ark, calling the construction of a small model on Mt Ararat to “highlight the dangers of Global Warming”:
blasphemous use of a profound Scriptural truth to promote a scientific and political lie.
(Protip: Creationists don’t like global warming either. It’s called Crank Magnetism.)
What, then, does the ICR think about the Ark?
Naturally, they are forced to follow the description in Genesis 6-9, namely a boat constructed of ‘Gopher wood‘, 300 cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits. An early Jewish Cubit was 428.1 milometers long, giving a boat that was ~130 meters long by ~22 meters wide by ~13 meters high (I’m being generous in my rounding). In comparison, the HMS Victory is 57 meters long and the RMS Titanic was nearly 270 meters long. The Wyoming, the largest wooden schooner ever built, was 100 meters long. The USS Enterprise (the aircraft carrier) is 342 meters long, the longest naval vessel in the world. (At least one of Star Trek‘s Enterprise’s is given at 300 meters long).
The Ark apparently contained two of every ‘kind’, along with 7 pairs of the ‘clean beasts’ and the ‘fowls…of the air’. It should be noticed that the ‘clean’ part, in Genesis 7:3, contradicts 6:20, which has only a single pair of birds to go on the ark. Also, what animals were ‘clean’ is only revealed to Moses some time later in Leviticus, so Noah could not have known. There were also 8 humans on the ark: “[Noah], and [his] sons, and [his] wife, and [his] sons’ wives”. They all had to live on the ark for 371 days.
The ICR, like many other creationist groups, attempts to get around the space requirement of the animals on the ark by having Noah take only the juveniles, and taking the word ‘kind’ to mean that each animal was only a representative of a much larger group of similar animal. Dinosaurs, were also, apparently, on the ark.
There is an article, by a ‘John Woodmorappe‘ (aka Jan Peczkis), on the ICR website that is called The Resource for Answering the Critics of Noah’s Ark. The article is effectively a plug for his book, Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study, a ‘meticulous and weighty tome’ which was (at least in part) a reaction to Robert A. Moore’s The Impossible Voyage Of Noah’s Ark. The book has been reviewed on Talk.Origins by Glenn Morton, whose work was also attacked by Woodmorappe. Woodmorappe has also responded to Morton’s Criticism. See those links? Read them.
Woodmorappe’s book etc reminds me a bit of the Steampunk Genre, in that he attempts to find ways that modern solutions to the problems raised over the Ark could be applied with plausibly ancient technology.
Woodmorappe has Noah only taking mammals, birds and reptiles on the Ark (that is to say, that are counted as part of the official pairs – others, such as snails and worms, may be used for food). He finds that he can, taking ‘Kind’ to more-or-less correspond with ‘Genus’, limit himself to having to take only around 16,000 animals, with the median size being that of a rat. Among other things, he estimates an output of 12 Tonnes of ‘excreta’ per day. I don’t know how much food he believes they would eat, but it would have to be at least as much. He believes that this could be dealt with, via the (possible) aide of training, pumps, the placement of the animals, and work by the 8 people on the ark themselves. Whatever method you use, however, you still end up with a pretty stinky boat…
Nowhere do I see the problem of the construction of the boat itself addressed. The Wyoming, which I mentioned above as 100 metres long, suffered from chronic leaking and was unable to travel on the open seas. It “visibly undulated” in high seas, and it was reinforced with iron! Neither Morton’s article nor Woodmorappe’s response mention this, although Moore’s original article does, so I can only assume that Woodmorappe found some way to save the ark, although as Morton does not list this as one of the categories that Woodmorappe covered, and Woodmorappe doesn’t mention it in his summary in the ICR article, it’s possible that he didn’t.
The food problem has him require much of the food needed to be stored on the boat, with Woodmorappe apparently finding ways for animals that must eat live food to be persuaded to eat stored food instead. Many substitutes for the more exotic foods required for animals such as the Panda and Koala, so that the great variety of food that would otherwise be needed can be replaced by more generic foods.
Another ICR article has the ark “would have held over 101,000 square feet of floor space”, or 9400+ square meters, a little under 1 and a half football fields. This gives about .6 of a square meter per animal, which, if they are all rat sized, is, perhaps, reasonable. However, this does not address where the food goes. By playing around with the maths, we can see that, each day, there would have to be more than a kilogram of waste on each square meter of “floor space” each day. We can see that the Ark was not pleasant.
Woodmorappe also talks about what happened after the Ark. He reckons that evolution can be accelerated to allow for the divergence of species from the representatives on the boat, al la Baraminology. The trouble here is that practically any criticism of evolution that the ICR might make attacks this even more. Every now and then. Mr Thomas writes an article on how evolution can’t work because mutations are bad etc, but Baraminolgy is evolution on steroids.
He also claims that carnivores wouldn’t eat the bunnies coming out of the ark as there was lots of carrion around, that had been eroded out by the abating flood. He gives evidence of animals eating carrion if other food is not available. Morton responds that none of the evidences given are year-old carcases. Woodmorappe responds that
Some of the examples I cite of carrion-eating are ones where corpses are extremely decomposed. Who cares how old they were? Once they really stink, they really stink.
I want to know why the animals would eat the carrion when the bunnies are right there!
Ok, what does all this mean?
The ICR feels that the Ark was feasible. They have complicated responses to many of the criticisms offered to counter the ark, some of which are valid and some aren’t. As usual when Creationists attempt to find ways that biblical literalism could even be plausible, they end up tying themselves in knots. They are only saved by the fact that they are trying to prove that the Ark could be possible, not what exactly happened. Nevertheless, their ideas make predictions which lead to their downfall. For starters, the radiation of animals from the flood does not seem to match the current distribution. Possums are native to Australia and surrounding islands, but have been introduced to China and New Zealand, where they live quite happily. Why would possums only establish themselves in Australia, when they came off the Ark in Turkey? Other articles on the Flood on the ICR have the taller mountains being pushed up after the Flood, but then how could the Ark have landed on Mr Ararat if it was still being pushed up? If “every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” was represented, how could the insects not be on there in their pairs? Woodmorappe has the windows of the Ark opened for most of the time to prevent the increase of moisture, but according to Gen. 8:6 Noah only opened a window in the 11th month of the flood.
And so on. You can’t really answer all the questions while keeping with the Biblical narrative.
Hasn’t somebody built an Ark?
Yes, Johan Huibers has done just that. However, it doesn’t put to rest many, if any of the criticisms put forward about the Ark. It’s construction contains metal supports (which Noah did not have) and was built using modern methods of construction. It doesn’t have any of Woodmorappe’s labour saving devices, so that we could see if they work or not. It obviously doesn’t have 16,000 animals on it, although it does have a few. And it’s built on a barge, meaning that we don’t even know if it’s watertight, or could survive in the open sea. While some of these things are to get around the fire codes, I’m still going to say that you couldn’t build it without the barge, which is a different matter entirely.
In short, the Ark remains impossible, or at least, very difficult, and not in keeping with the observed reality. As for the Ark hunters on Mt Ararat, let’s not spoil their fun..