Q&A: Noah, the Flood, and the Ark
- Monday, August 23, 2010
The account of Noah and the Ark is one of the most widely known in the history of mankind. Unfortunately, like other Bible accounts, it is often taken as a mere fairy tale.
The Bible, though, is the true history book of the universe, and in that light, the most-asked questions about the Ark and the Flood of Noah can be answered with authority and confidence.
How Large Was Noah's Ark?
"The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits." (Genesis 6:15)
Unlike many whimsical drawings that depict the Ark as some kind of overgrown houseboat with giraffes sticking out the top, the Ark was a huge vessel. Not until the late 1800s was a ship built that exceeded the capacity of Noah's Ark.
Measuring by cubits1, we know that the Ark must have been at least 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. In most of the Western world, wooden sailing ships never got much longer than 330 feet, yet the ancient Greeks built vessels at least this size 2,000 years earlier. China built huge wooden ships in the 1400s that may have been as large as the Ark. The biblical Ark, about as large as a wooden ship can be, is one of the largest wooden ships of all time—a midsized cargo ship by today's standards.
How Could Noah Build the Ark?
The Bible does not tell us that Noah and his sons built the Ark by themselves. Noah could have hired skilled laborers, or relatives like Methuselah and Lamech might have helped. However, nothing indicates that they could not—or did not—build the Ark themselves in the time allotted. The physical strength and mental processes of men in Noah's day was at least as great as our own, and perhaps superior.2 They certainly possessed means for harvesting and cutting timber and for shaping, transporting, and erecting massive beams and boards.
If one or two men today can erect a large house in just twelve weeks, how much more could three or four men do in a few years?
Ancient technology should not be underestimated. Adam's descendants were making complex musical instruments, forging metal, and building cities—their tools, machines, and techniques were not "primitive."
Early post-Flood civilizations display the engineering know-how necessary for a project like Noah's Ark. People sawing and drilling wood in Noah's day, only a few centuries before the Egyptians were sawing and drilling granite, is very reasonable! The idea that older civilizations are more "primitive" is an evolutionary concept.
In reality, when God created Adam, he was perfect. The human intellect has suffered from 6,000 years of sin and decay. The sudden rise in technology in the last few centuries has nothing to do with increasing intelligence; it is a combination of publishing and sharing ideas and the spread of key tools for investigation and manufacturing. One of the most recent tools is the computer, which compensates a great deal for our natural decline in mental performance and discipline.
How Could Noah Fit All the Animals on the Ark?
In Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study, creationist researcher John Woodmorappe generously suggests that, at most, 16,000 animals were needed to preserve the created "kinds." The Ark did not need to carry every kind of animal—nor did God command it to. It carried only air-breathing, land-dwelling animals such as creeping things and winged animals such as birds. Aquatic life and many amphibious creatures could have survived in sufficient numbers outside the Ark. This cuts down significantly the number of animals needed on board.
Another factor to consider is that today's tremendous variety in species did not exist in the days of Noah. Only the parent kinds were required to be on board in order to repopulate the earth.3 For example, only two dogs were needed to give rise to wolves, dingos—all the dog species we know today. Estimates for the maximum number of animals necessary on the Ark have ranged from a few thousand to 35,000, but they may be as few as two thousand if the biblical "kind" is approximately the same as the modern "family" classification.
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