The Noah’s Ark Account – Real or Fable?
The account of the global flood and Noah’s ark is detailed in Genesis 6:5-9:3. Skeptics argue that the story is too fantastical to be accepted as history, particularly the Noah’s ark element. However, the account is relayed in the Bible as a factual event and not a parabolic tale.
Here are several factoids about the Noah’s ark episode, as well as some guesswork and a few theoretical points:
- The Genesis Flood began in the approximate year 2348 BC. You can read details here.
- The ark was about 450 feet long by 75 feet wide, which means it was six times as long as it was wide. This happens to be the precise ratio of contemporary naval ships. It was also over 45 feet high, which is near to 5 stories high.
- Speaking of stories, the ark had three stories, each 15 feet high.
- A colossal rectangular vessel of these dimensions would be very stable in the sea and impossible to overturn.
- The ark had the space for 522 standard boxcars while 35,000 animals the size of a sheep can fit into 150 boxcars. This means that the ark could fit as many as 125,000 animals the size of sheep. A larger vessel wasn’t made until 1884.
- There are less than 18,000 land species on the planet today, but let’s generously double that to include extinct creatures and then double that to include male & female vertebrates (Genesis 6:19-20). Then add the extra five pairs of clean animals that would be used for sacrifice and food (Genesis 8:20 & 9:3). This brings us to some 72,000 creatures, which is way more than were actually on the ark; I’m just trying to illustrate how much space was available on the vessel: Since the average size of animals is smaller than that of a sheep, less than 60% of the ark’s space would’ve been used for vertebrates even if there were 72,000 vertebrates!
- However, the writers of The Genesis Flood, John Whitcomb and Henry Morris, suggest that only 35,000 vertebrates needed to be on the vessel. And John Woodmorappe, author of Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study, believes that an even smaller number of vertebrates would have been kept on the ark, about 16,000 (the book goes into detail on how 8 people could have cared for this many creatures using archaic technology). Woodmorappe also points out that the word “specie” is not equal to the “created kinds” of the Genesis text, so as little as 2,000 vertebrates may have been necessary on the ark. We don’t know the exact amount of animals because the Bible doesn’t specifically say.
- In any case, Very large animals, like elephants and giraffe, were likely young ones.
- Hibernating species could’ve slept through much of the ordeal.
- In light of the available space noted above, there was plenty of room for the multitude species of insects.
- There was also ample space for a year’s supply of food for everyone on board (Genesis 6:21).
- Noah was told by the LORD that the animals would come to him & his team – obviously moved by the Almighty – so they didn’t have to gather them (Genesis 6:19-20). Noah’s job was to build an ark big enough to hold them all.
- Theoretically, the migration of the animals was not hindered by the separation of the continents as the land at the time consisted of a supercontinent known as Gondwana (or Gondwanaland), which separated and drifted during this critical turning point in history, resulting in our current continents & islands (Genesis 10:25). Take a look at a world map and you’ll observe how they clearly fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
- A theory is that the planet became skewed on its axis during this transitory period, which produced the polar ice caps. Clues in Scripture suggest a habitable global environment, confirmed by warm weather plant life and wildlife fossilized in all areas of the planet, which means that creatures were not isolated into polar and desert sectors.
- Genesis 7:11-12 shows how the entire Earth was flooded: “all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth for forty days and forty nights.” The waters in the canopy encircling the Earth were unleashed and merged with the terrestrial & subterranean waters (compare Genesis 1:7). Thus the water covering encompassing the globe ceased and a new system of hydrology began that has since characterized our planet (see Job 26:8, Ecclesiastes 1:7, Isaiah 55:10 & Amos 9:6).
- The total duration of the flood – beginning to end – lasted about 371 days, meaning just over a year.
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