How did Noah fit the millions and millions of species of animals on this planet into his ark? It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to realize the physical impossibility of this.

This is a continuation of the 50 supposed questions Christians could not answer. You can find the full list here.

Millions and millions? How did you come up with the number of millions and millions, and exactly what number is millions and millions? Three million? Ten million? One hundred million? This question deals with the number of animals the ark held and the space required so let’s first determine how much space the ark had, which will help us decide how many animals it could hold.

In Genesis 6:15, we can find the dimensions of Noah’s Ark to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high. What is a cubit you might ask? A cubit is approximately 1 ½ feet long, but it would depend on the culture. Bodie Hodge wrote an article on the length of a cubit, and found it to be from 17.5 inches to 20.6 inches long. 1 It was actually based on the length of the elbow to the fingertips, so you can imagine you would come up with some variation, but eighteen inches is a very reasonable estimate.

Arkcompaired1With those measurements you could estimate the Ark to have around 400,000 cubic meters. If you have a hard time imagining what that would equate to, it would be about 570 modern railway cars.

 

 

 

Ark1You will find several replica’s of Noah’s ark around the world. One was built in the Netherlands by Johan Huibers. It has 3000 visitors a day and has been open for about 2 years. It has movie theaters and a restaurant along with life sized plastic animal replicas. It took him three years to build it and cost over one million dollars. 2 Also the state of Kentucky is considering a biblical theme park and has plans to also build a life size Noah’s ark within the park, with estimates of opening in 2016.

So how many animals were on the Ark? John Woodmorappe wrote a book about the feasibility on Noah’s Ark. He estimated that only 15% of the animals on the Ark would be larger than a sheep. This percentage does not account for the possibility of ‘infant’ animals.

What does the Bible mean by “kind” of animal? Many think the definition of “kind” is broad. Cat breeding organizations over the world recognize about 70 different breeds of cats belonging to one species. Each breed would not have been necessary to bring on the Ark.

Got Questions wrote, “…even if we presume that “kind” is synonymous with “species,” “there are not very many species of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. The leading systematic biologist, Ernst Mayr, gives the number as 17,600. Allowing for two of each species on the ark, plus seven of the few so-called “clean” kinds of animals, plus a reasonable increment for known extinct species, it is obvious that not more than, say, 50,000 animals were on the ark.” 3

The Christian Apologetics Research Ministry, or CARM, looked into the how many animals the Ark could hold. Matt Slick wrote, “Noah had to take two or seven of every kind of animal on the earth. Though it is not really known exactly what is meant by a Biblical kind, it is generally considered to be animals that are fertile within their own groups. Any dog can breed with any dog, therefore, dogs are one kind. It would only be necessary to bring representatives of each kind since the parents could produce offspring that would carry the genetic information for all variations within their kind.” 4

The average railway car can hold about 240 sheep, but the average size of mammals, birds, and reptiles is much smaller so you could double it to 480 mammals in a box car. CARM has estimated the number of animals needed would have been around 145,000. With those numbers, which is a very large estimate, less than 60% of the space on the Ark would have been used to house animals. 5

These kinds of questions bank on a very narrow translation of Genesis and many Christians debate on the interpretation of Genesis passages. Noah would not have had to fit every single species of animal in the Ark. He would only need enough animals that would reproduce and spread across the earth which would expand into the wide variety of animals we now have across the earth.

I personally don’t believe everything the Bible says is true, but I believe everything the Bible teaches is true. For example, Psalm 91:4 says He will cover us with His feathers and we will find refuge under His wings. Does that mean God has feathers and wings? Of course not; it is a metaphor. In Revelation 16:1, the Bible talks about the angels pouring out bowls of judgments on the earth. Are there really giant bowls that will be poured out onto the earth?

For many, the Ark account is a game changer. They believe that it is an absurd tale and Christians are foolish in believing it. Many Christian apologists believe it is possible the flood was localized and not world wide, again something not all Christians agree on.

Yet, there is evidence that not only could the Ark hold enough animals to repopulate the earth, but that the flood actually took place. Doubts about the flood, I believe, are the root of all skeptical questions about Noah’s Ark.

In 2012, Robert Ballard and his team began to research the possibility of a localized, (Mediterranean), or a world-wide flood. Ballard is a world leading underwater archeologist that you may have heard of because of his work on searching, finding, and exploring the Titanic a few years ago. Ballard believes it is possible because of the massive glaciers that were on land. He said, “Where I live in Connecticut was ice a mile above my house, all the way back to the North Pole, about 15 million kilometers, that’s a big ice cube. But then it started to melt. We’re talking about the floods of our living history.” 6

Two Columbia University professors have proposed the salty Black Sea was once a freshwater sea, so Ballard and his team began to research the possibility. They found an underwater shoreline 400′ below the surface, and evidence of a massive catastrophic event dating to about 5000 BC. This was confirmed by the carbon dating of the shells along this underwater ancient shoreline.

Dismissing the Bible, and the accounts held within, due to some seemingly hard to swallow stories show not only a person’s narrow view of what is possible, but an ignorant view on what is feasible. Christians don’t have all the answers; no world view or religion does. But there are some things we can, Know for Sure, and science supported by research demonstrates that the Christian world view is something to be seriously considered.

Sources:

1. Hodge, Bodie. “How long was the original cubit?” Answers in Genesis. Answersingenesis.org, 19 March 2007. Web. 14 August 2014.
2. Stump, Scott. “Life-size Noah’s Ark replica draws tourists in Netherlands” Today News. Today.com, 28 March 2014. Web. 15 August 2014.
3. “How did Noah fit all the animals on the Ark?” Got Questions Ministries, n.d. Web. 10 August 2014.
4. Slick, Matt. “Could Noah’s Ark Hold all the Animals?” Christian Apologetics Research Ministry. CARM.org, n.d. Web. 13 August 2014
5. Ibid.
6. Millman, Jenna. Taylor, Bryan. Effron Lauren. “Evidence Noah’s Biblical Flood Happened Says Robert Ballard” ABC News. abcnews.go.com, 10 December 2012. Web. 15 August 2014.

 

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46 Questions Christians can’t answer by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

 

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