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reader comments: Noah's ark

16 Sept 2010

No one seems to have done the math on how much water it would take to float the Ark up to 13,000 feet on a mountain, if the Mount Ararat site is actually it. So here it is:

Earth’s diameter=approx. 7918 miles

4/3 pi* r^3=surface area=((4/3)*(3.14)*(7918/2)^3)/3=2.5979 x 10^11 square miles area

2.5979 x 10^11 *5280 ft^/mile^2=7.2426 x 10^18 square feet area

7.2426 x 10^18 sq. ft x 13000 feet deep = 9.4153 x 10^22 cubic feet of water

9.4153 x 10^22 * 7.48 gallons/ft^3=7.0427 x 10^23 gallons of water , or

704,270,000,000,000,000,000,000 gallons of water is now missing from the planet. Where did the water go?

Kevin M. Kerwin

reply: down the drain? Or, see next reader's comments...

23 Sept 2010

Or a geometry lesson :-)

The volume of a sphere is 4/3*pi*r^3 whereas Kevin Kerwin said it was the area...

The volume of a spherical shell is the volume of the outer sphere minus the volume of the inner sphere ... or 4/3*PI*(ro^3 - ri^3)

So Kerwin's calculation should be - Radius of the Earth is 3959mi, or 20,850,720 feet. that's the inner sphere radius, or ri - The flood would add 13,000 feet to that radius (raising sea level 13,000') so the radius would of the outer sphere (the surface of the water at the time the flood dropped the ark on solid ground) would be 20,863,720 feet.

- So the calculation is 4/3 * PI * (20863720^3 - 20850720^3) or 4/3 * PI * ((9.081869079994551e21) - (9.064903158026292e21)) or 4/3 * PI * 1.69659219682576e19 or 7.106668775580767e19 cubic feet or converting to gallons (7.48/cubic foot) it's 5.315788244134415e20 gallons

This is somewhat less than the 7.04E23 that Kerwin calculated (his mistake was multiplying by 18000) but it's still a rather respectable number...

Of course, to ensure that everything was wiped out in the flood, all land would have to be covered -- including the peak of Mount Everest (lest some pesky critter bent on surviving climb to the top). which currently is listed as 29,029 feet high. to which you would have to add the height of the tallest animal that might get up there (I seem to recall that the claim is that the flood got rid of all the dinosaurs -- so I guess brontosaurus would be the candidate. The b. is 80' long or so, so it probably could reach no higher than 40'). So, the outer sphere (in the math above) would be 29069' larger than the inner sphere. Saving you the math, it's 1.590E20 cubic feet of water, or about 1.190E21 gallons.

But the doctrinally-correct answer is probably that it's a silly question since god can do whatever he wants and if he just wants the water to disappear, so be it...


reply: Now I remember why I dropped out of the math program....


3 July 2010

Dear Bob,

I am sorry that you do not believe in God; however, your unbelief doesn't mean that you are right.

reply: Well, that's a relief! If unbelief does not imply being correct, then I suppose it is only logical to believe that belief makes it correct. Am I right? Or am I right?

Since Noah's Ark has been located in the ice on Mt Ararat and has been partially explored, video taped, and carbon tested for age, I am convinced it is for real.

reply: More fine reasoning, but you do seem to be going around in a circle. You assume it was Noah's ark (and not Jeremiah's ark, say, or Houdini's flying boat) that was found. Assuming something doesn't make it right, or does it?

Of course this conflicts with evolutionist theory and is most damaging to atheistic views. It is politically correct to disregard the find, or contribute it to some religious fanatic's false tales.

reply: Your belief conflicts with a lot of other things, too. But I'll defend your right to believe any fairy tale you want to.

Anyway, in your web "News Stories" the link Noah's Ark Ministries is wrong and should be: www.noahsarksearch.net which brings one up to date on the discovery. I am especially interested in this subject since my father, A J Smith, led one of the first expeditions in search of the ark in 1949. PS: There is an Almighty God, I have personally met His Son.

Ardon Smith

reply: The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree, as they say.


6 Feb 2009
The article includes an excerpt from John Renish with some various calculations about the size of the ark, etc. He does include the disclaimer that his "figures are quick and dirty," but an order of magnitude math error is not one you should be including uncritically: "Using the good Reverend Younce's figures, the ark ... displaced (assuming it floated at half its height) just under 76,000 cubic feet of water." Reverend Younce's figure for the capacity of the ark is 1,518,750 cubic feet, half of which is 759,375 cubic feet -- ten times Renish's figure -- and giving a displacement of a much more reasonable 24,300 tons for a vessel that size. Subsequent discussion based on the erroneous calculation is, of course, hogwash.

Unfortunately this is fairly typical of both sides of the argument -- taking another person's findings as fact without the least bit of independent checking. Skeptic looks just as dumb as biblical literalist....

-- Jon Oelrich

reply from Bob Carroll: I think trying to calculate the size boat needed for the task or the size boat actually described, while fun perhaps, will always be trumped by the side that gets to bring in a miracle whenever the going gets rough. Thus, I consider Oelrich's comments of little interest. Mr. Renish, however, has deemed them worthy of a reply, and  added comments on a few other problems that seem to sink any literal reading of this story.

reply from Jon Renish:

Jon Oelrich quite rightly took exception to my analysis of Noah's Ark.

Oelrich is correct that my calculations of the ark's volume are off by an order of magnitude. In reconsidering the problem, however, I found other errors that include my grossly inadequate allowance for the mass of the vessel itself and its fundamental impossibility given the technology and materials available to a Bronze-Age carpenter who wasn't a skilled shipwright and who didn't have at his disposal modern technology or the economic resources of perhaps the entire country he lived in. It is surprising that Oelrich didn't catch this failing on my part. An assiduous critic would have done so, even though it weakened his case.

First, the matter of the vessel's mass. A wooden vessel is not very strong as its size increases, so the builder must use timbers and planking that generally increase in cross-section as at least the square of the vessel's length. Most woods are rather dense and float pretty deeply, so an ark would have little of its unladen mass above the waterline. The ark as described was in the shape of a rectangular prism, so it had a lot of unnecessary material in order to make those square corners, as well as the bracing necessary to reinforce those fragile corners. It would therefore have a mass somewhat greater than the unladen mass of a modern vessel of roughly similar dimensions. The longest well-documented wooden ship ever built, the Wyoming, in 1909, had an unladen mass of 4000 tons: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wyoming_(ship). Her hull was only about 2/3 as long as the ark and only about half as wide. So, multiplying the Wyoming's mass by 1.5 squared (2.25) for the thicker timbers and planks, and by 3 for the difference in size, the ark should mass nearly 7 times Wyoming's (she had 90 diagonal iron braces on each side, yet she "worked" so much she foundered). Allowing for additional wood to replace the much stronger and more rigid iron we can presume that the ark would have an unladen mass somewhere near 30,000 tons, equivalent to 937,500 cubic feet of seawater, about 3/5 of the total volume of 1,518,750 cubic feet (per Oelrich) submerged, leaving a maximum capacity of 581,250 cubic feet (at best, the equivalent of two 33,750 square-foot decks of the ark) for all purposes. I served in an aircraft carrier for some years: she had about 1.7 million square feet of deck space (about 50 times the deck space of the ark) yet could barely accommodate 6,000 men, and that only because we had replenishments of food about every two weeks and made our own water.

You can make a very sturdy small rowboat out of a couple sheets of plywood and a few 1X1s, but you cannot readily scale it up because the larger vessel requires many pieces that cannot span the lengths involved. So, you must use thousands of pieces that will "work" against one another, engendering leaks. Anybody who's worked on wooden boats will tell you that you can't just seal their seams with pitch but must painstakingly caulk (drive pitch-soaked yarn into) every external seam; they'll also tell you that joining the pieces of wood together takes skill and (in the Bronze Age rare and very expensive) metal fasteners, at least for non-trivial vessels. Consider that Wyoming foundered because the crew (larger than Noah's) couldn't keep up with the leaks, despite reportedly having steam-driven pumps. Consider that Wyoming's yellow pine is much stronger than acacia or any other readily-available wood in the Middle East. Even the fabled cedars of Lebanon are structurally poor compared to yellow pine. I discovered today that the NIV says it was cypress but admits that the meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain. The same problem obtains for cypress. Then multiply Wyoming's 6-inch planking and the underlying structure by a factor to allow for the weakness of local woods, considering that the local woods would have to be doubled and redoubled, making the interior capacity somewhat smaller than the gross, presumably external, measurements of the ark. Consider also that the ark would also have a shape making broaching unavoidable in even moderate seas. Wyoming could carry only 6720 tons of coal, but coal weighs about 88 pounds/cubic foot, about 1.4 times as dense as animals and a whole lot less trouble to carry. That means Wyoming's bunkers held a volume of just over 157,000 cubic feet. Assuming that the ark could carry any load at all, it would need cargo room at many times (see next paragraph) the volume of Wyoming's coal bunkers, not likely considering the inadequate volume before adding timbers required to provide even a modicum of structural stability.

Finally, consider that Noah would have to feed and water his family and charges for 11-1/2 months per Genesis 8, and consider all other objections, such as food for carnivores after the flood receded (and where, pray, did it recede to?). Then consider that Australia has many animals known only on that island continent and no way to feed many of them on either end of the voyage, similarly for the Americas and for tens of thousands of islands. Consider the number of genera carried, 1033 terrestrial and semi-aquatic mammals alone (genera approximately = kinds in Genesis, since Noah carried both ravens and doves, and I'm being generous in assuming with the creationists that kinds don't evolve). Consider that mammalian genera are relatively rare compared to the genera of reptiles, insects, terrestrial and aerial arthropods, birds, terrestrial worms, the many hundreds or thousands of parasites that infest all these animals (did you know that a dung beetle can harbor a veritable army of mites?), and so on. Consider that some insects, such as cicadas, must spend many years underground. Consider that most terrestrial plants cannot survive a year's inundation in seawater. Consider also that animals can't be kept in extremely close confinement, typically needing about 6-8 times their actual volume for space (think dog crate). Consider the time required to feed and clean up after all those animals. As somebody who worked on farms as a kid, I can unequivocally state it couldn't be done.

I hope this extended, even bleaker, analysis adequately addresses Oelrich's concerns. Understand, though, that it was all a tongue-in-cheek lark in response to the certitude of Dr. Younce. Trying to shoehorn an obviously cribbed myth into reality, by which I mean something that can be tested objectively, is bound to fail at some point.

Now, you can invoke a miracle if you want, but the greater wonder is that anybody believes in an omniscient being that would apparently suffer amnesia and as a consequence have second thoughts about his creation (Gen. 6:12).

--John Renish


16 Jan 2009
Re the number of animals that went into Noah’s ark: there were 2 of every kind, except the CLEAN animals, of which there were 7, because after the flood, the Lord told them it was ok to eat animals, presumably because there wasn’t as much food as before. The odd number was because Noah sacrificed one of each kind of clean animal as an offering to the Lord.

Re how they all got to the ark: at that time there apparently was only one continent, which was broken up around 60-100 years after the flood, during the time of Peleg, which is what his name means. That is also how the animals got to the different continents that we have today. They had a few years to disperse, and with the shortage of food, they would have had to do that.

Re the animals eating meat on the ark: they COULD have done that, but probably not. Even today, any animal can survive on a vegetarian diet, and I’m sure that is what they did on the ark. Also it is a possibility that God put them into a state of hibernation, where the input AND output would have been minimal.

reply: I think if I was going to speculate about God using his powers to keep the animals alive I'd go with the hibernation hypothesis rather than the vegetarian diet one. Even omnipotent beings probably can't get cats to eat grass.

I know you don’t like Ken Ham, but his organization has addressed all of these issues and more on his website (www.answersingenesis.org) and in his magazine, “Answers”. The articles are well-researched by knowledgeable, published scientists who just happen to believe God’s Word. Many of them came to that conclusion after many years of studying God’s handiwork and realizing that there is no way this amazing world of ours could have just “happened”.


reply: Like I say in my note to the Noah entry: the flood story was plagiarized. (Read the Enuma Elish, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and Homer Smith's Man and His Gods.) And "I realize that Noah's God is omnipotent, so Noah could accomplish any task as long as the Omnipotent One directs the show. No task would have been too difficult." You don't really need to be a scientist or very knowledgeable to come up with explanations for anything as long as you can use an omnipotent being to work miracles in your story.

By the way, atheists don't think this amazing universe just happened. It took billions of years to get to where it is now, and it is still evolving. Our planet is still cooling and moving toward its ultimate showdown with time. There are inherent limitations (we call them "laws" and "constants") to what the universe can be or become. It is amazing what can result from coincidences in such a universe. Things that were not planned or designed appear to us to be so. The evolution of the universe and of species is a much more amazing tale than the one told around campfires of invisible beings (like us but much more powerful) who can do anything just by an act of will (like we wish we could). The real world is much more amazing than the world of magical thinking.

I know many people like the magical story because they think it provides them with a powerful, loving protector who is perfect in every way. And many people don't like the amazing naturalistic story because it seems cold and loveless to them. They think that their lives would be meaningless if they weren't specially created to worship their creator and live forever worshipping the one who specially created them so they could live forever to worship him. But personally I find a being who commits genocide because his creatures aren't worshipping him to be less than loving or perfect. I also find the idea of existing forever to worship my creator a repulsive concept, but I've always had a problem with authority. Anger is an imperfection, but we're supposed to overlook that little imperfection in the story. Your real scholars and knowledgeable thinkers will not let such a contradiction pass unnoticed. Nor will they try to gloss over it. They will tell you that this story is false on its face because it portrays a perfect being as imperfect. Or, they will tell you that the story is false if taken literally, but true if understood allegorically. Real scholars will not waste their time trying to figure out how to explain the literal truth of every little detail in a story that is obviously false if taken literally.


19 Sep 2002
I have spent a few happy evenings exploring your site, and find it quite entertaining, albeit somewhat distressing in the depths of human gullibility which lay therein revealed.

I noticed quite a bit of dialogue under the heading of Noah's Ark, mostly in favor of its existence, and I wanted to toss one more bit of fuel [gopher wood maybe?] on to the fire -- you may make such hay of this as you can; I have not seen this point raised elsewhere.

Specifically, some creationists and other literalists like to point out that the proportions of the Ark closely resemble that of a modern cruise ship.

Problem is, regardless of size, that shape--what we would think of as a basic boat or ship shape--is about the worst shape you could have for an unpowered, unsteerable vessel at sea, in any weather condition, let alone the tempestuous weather presumably prevailing during the purported Flood episode.

'Broaching' it is called--the tendency of any vessel to be turned by wind and waves until it is broadside to the seas, where it is rolled violently and helplessly, frequently to the point of capsizing, swamping, or breaking up, and certainly to the point of severe structural stresses and extreme discomfort to the crew! The effect on hundreds of wild animals may be imagined....Loss of propulsion or steering during heavy weather is one of the greatest fears of the mariner [yes, I am one, a merchant marine officer], and is the reason that lifeboats are equipped with a simple device called a sea anchor, a drogue device of fabric shaped like a parachute, or in emergency, a simple bucket on a line, to keep the bow of the boat turned into the waves; and why modern inflatable liferafts are usually round [aside from ease of design of course]. I don't recall that the Ark specifications called for a sea anchor just in case the weather got rough, although I'm sure the diehards will adopt that possibility. I understand the word "Ark" itself signifies simply 'box'--verily, verily, I say unto you, a simple foursquare box design would have been much more seaworthy under the circumstances. Interestingly, the Greek flood myth--Deucalion taking the place of Noah, I believe--refers to him setting off in a simple wooden box, with his wife.

In conclusion then, the Ark was an extremely poor design for the job it was intended, which raises serious doubts about the wisdom of an Almighty God/Yahweh/Elohim who either is ignorant of, or completely disregards, some of the most fundamental principals of naval architecture. And you can't even work that up into a 'test of Noah's faith' dodge, as he wouldn't have known any better himself--at least not until about two hours into the voyage....

I hope you find this useful, informative, and amusing, and I extend in advance all permissions you may require to use the information herein for any educational, non-commercial, and hopefully inflammatory purpose as you see fit.


Robert Minor

24 Jan 2001 
I stumbled across your sight on Noah's Ark while researching another topic.

Well, I figured since so many well-meaning and intelligent people have spoken, I should throw in my two cents.

You make very good, logical points. However, your logic should lead you to understand that matters of faith cannot be explained logically. Likewise, those who have embraced an anti-religious bent will not accept any measure of proof (or a universe of circumstantial evidence) without attempting to disprove it. God works in circumstantial evidence (small things that SUGGEST his reality without coming right out and proving it). He doesn't work in absolute proofs. "Why?" Because it boils down to this. God wants something from us that He can't get by creating it OR showing himself to the general populace.

reply: If matters of faith cannot be explained logically, then why are you trying to explain it logically?

What could God want that He can't create for himself. Worship. Love. True and honest "I Love You" worship. If he created a group of people who did nothing but worship Him because they were created that way, it would be like you building a robot to worship you. There's no genuine love or worship. It's what he's programmed to do. For God to get the genuine worship He desires, He has to give us the most wonderful and dangerous gift of all, FREE WILL; the power to say, "I worship you," or "I don't worship you." Then, if we choose of our own FREE WILL to worship God, the praise is precious, truly worth something. God sent the flood because He saw that nearly everyone chose not to love Him. Likewise, the few who did choose to worship Him would certainly be persecuted and killed rather than changing anyone's mind. The Bible says that He flooded the Earth because He saw the hardness of their hearts. With a world full of Godless creatures, God's creation would turn into a nightmare.

reply: I don't think your view of God does him much praise. Why would an omnipotent, omniscient being need to be worshipped? Your notion that God lacks something only we can give him makes God look weak and as if he were suffering from low self-esteem. I don't know about other readers, but your explanation sounds like the explanation some bad father might give as to why he had so many children even though he couldn't provide for them properly.

Imagine yourself in a world full of people who didn't believe in God. It wouldn't be some atheistic paradise. No one would feel any compunction about killing you. They have no God or punishment to worry about (believe it or not, most of the laws we follow today were created from natural laws spelled out in the Bible..a.k.a. given to us by God). No one would feel any compunction about stealing everything you own. What do they have to worry about?

reply: As I have said to other writers, if the only thing that keeps you from killing others and committing other atrocities is your belief in God, please please please never abandon that belief! I agree that a world of only atheists would not be a paradise. But something like 90% of the world's population believe in God and the world isn't quite as blissful as you seem to think it should be if people fear God. We have laws against killing and stealing because we want to live and live well, without fear of being killed or robbed. If God changed the commandments tomorrow to allow killing and stealing, we'd still make them illegal.

I'm about as logical as anyone you'll ever meet. However, I am a Christian (I didn't say Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, etc. I said Christian.) because I was simply overwhelmed by the circumstantial evidence.

Understand: As much as you deeply wish NOT to believe, others WISH to believe. So, it stands on both sides of God.

While I'm sure you will have some serious flaming to do because of this letter, I felt compelled to write it to try to clear up some of the misconception about God (misconceptions often held by Christians themselves, oddly enough). It is my hope that you will attempt to read this with some measure of openness. And, despite your before-stated atheism,

God Bless You, David A. Smith

reply: I have a feeling I'm a bit more open about these matters than you are, David.

9 Dec 98
I just discovered your site and the discussion re Noah's ark. I enjoyed it immensely! I hope you'll enjoy the following story that happened to me. I lived in Turkey during 94, 95, 96 and part of 97. I once wandered into a conversation between two other Americans I knew there. They were both engineers, one a structural engineer, one mechanical. Both young, bright and capable in their disciplines. They were talking about Noah's ark. The mechanical engineer was talking about how Noah's ark had been found near Mt. Ararat, several hundred miles from where we were working. He was talking about how big the ark was, dimensions, etc. I was listening, the other engineer was listening. I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall and finally realized he was serious. Before I could catch myself, I laughed.

I said, "you can't be serious; you really believe that story literally, that he (Noah) gathered up all those animals and put them on an ark?" I looked to the structural engineer, he was not smiling. "You too," I said. Both of them believed the literal truth of the story. I had discovered many times before that people capable of believing stories like the one about Noah's ark are not necessarily stupid, but, nevertheless, it always surprises me when I see it happen. They seem to have the ability to shut down part of their normal reasoning ability when considering the Bible.

I told them that I too considered myself a Christian, but there was no way I could force myself to believe in a literal translation of the Bible. This was the first time religion had come up and my reactions that day put a coolness on my relationship with these two men. They were not the same around me after that. I could see them kind of pulling together, closing ranks. It was sad to me to have this happen. Sad for myself and sad because of the larger meaning of this incident. I believe Elaine Pagels talks about this "us" and "them" kind of religious phenomena in her book The Origin Of Satan.
Jim Russell

reply: Selective skepticism is quite common. I find many of my readers praise me for my critiques of New Age ideas, paranormal and psychic frauds, etc., but draw the line at religion. Many skeptics even defend drawing the line at religion as long as one bases one's belief completely on faith. The coolness of the response you received, however, is not necessarily a sign of drawing the line between us (who have faith) and them (who don't). It could be a sign that these men did not think their belief was a matter of faith, but one that had been established by suitable evidence and argument.

31 Jul 1996
Great work, but...

[re] Noah's Ark:

You really took the hard way to refute this claim. What you describe as "bigger than any supertanker we've ever seen" is actually smaller than you would expect - the bible specifies its dimensions which are in order of magnitude of 1,000,000 cubic feet - start from the bigger animals - and see how many of the 50,000 pairs may be squeezed in (+food for 6 months).

Avnimelech Rani

reply: I often take the hard way and am well known around these parts for swatting flies with sledgehammers.

21 Nov 1996
Did you look in the December 1996 issue of Popular Mechanics? Apparently it shows that scientists have spotted the remains of a huge ship 7,546 feet above sea level on a mountain 20 miles from Mount Ararat and along with the discovery, the remains of large drogue stones used to stabilize a large ship. That shows your article on Noah's Ark is flawed.

James Gonzales 

reply: How do you "spot" a huge ship? Either you have found it or you haven't. Do these "scientists" you mention have names? You're sure you're not passing on another one of those stories from pilots or airplane passengers who "see" huge ships 20,000 feet below them? Anyway, do you really think a wooden ship could survive from the time of Noah? If a ship is found at an elevation of over 7,500 feet, which I doubt will be the case, how will these "scientists" know it's Noah's Ark? Do you think they'll find a brass plate with Noah's name?

30 Jan 1997
Your entry on Noah's Ark was interesting and brought up several points which I had never considered. I'm always interested in separating fact from fiction. However, I am troubled by some of your comments on religion at the beginning of the article. I think that considering the purpose of this forum (to expose the myths behind "truths" not supported by evidence), your comments on the rightness or wrongness of a god who wipes out all life (except for the ark) to be out of place since they are opinion drawn from "common sense".

reply: I don't know where you got the idea that I was conducting a "forum" or that my purpose is "to expose the myths behind truths not supported by evidence"....whatever that means. In any case, my comments about a Perfect Being wiping out most of creation were meant to indicate that such behavior is inconsistent with the concept of perfection and infinite goodness, two attributes commonly attributed to the God of the Bible. As you must know, despite the fact that God is said to be ineffable, that has never stopped believers from talking about God. If a missionary is murdered by the very people he has devoted his life to helping, those who believe in God have no compunction against claiming that "God called him to heaven." The true believer would not say "I haven't a clue why God let this good man be killed." I have no problem with theodicy: if believers think they can explain the ways of God to humans, let them. But we atheists reserve the right to use logic, demand consistency in thinking and to offer alternative explanations for evil events. Also, if fundamentalists demand that the Bible be read literally, we have the right to point out absurdities and contradictions which a literal reading renders.

Answers to questions like "would a loving god do this" or "would a righteous god set an example like this" are not answerable because they are absolutely untestable. They are opinion based on belief.

reply: Being opinions does not protect them from critical analysis. Some opinions make sense; some don't. Some are well-founded; some are not. Some opinions are self-contradictory. Being untestable does not mean they do not have to maintain internal logical consistency in order to be plausible.

Your comments (in this forum) serve only to humiliate people of faith and color yourself as an anti-religion bigot who resorts to ad hominem (not sure if an attack on God is ad hominem!) attacks. Those attacks lessen your credibility, which is substantial from what I've read.
Kenneth Thomas 

reply: I doubt that any of my comments cause humiliation to people of faith. On the other hand, I own up to being anti-religious, though I deny being a bigot but if it makes you feel good to call me a bigot, by all means, go ahead. And if you consider my demand to be coherent, logical and free from self-contradiction to be an ad hominem attack on God, then God help you and all your followers. You may wish to worship an irrational Being, but don't expect to be praised by other believers for your efforts.

19 Mar 1997
You have a fascinating website. In regards to your belief that it would be impossible for a flood to destroy all of civilization without leaving a trace you are mistaken.

reply: I wasn't aware I made such a claim. Thanks for letting me know.

Orson Scott Card published a book titled "Pastwatch." He puts forth the theory that the land bridge between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula also acted as an immense natural dam separating the ocean and what is
now the red sea. When the ocean finally eroded away the top of the barrier, any people living on the other side would have experienced a flood of epic proportions. As for it destroying all of civilization, if the flood occurred early enough in history the potential tribes in that area might have been the
only civilized people at that point of history.

Although, most of Card's book is science fiction and hippie drivel, there are quite a few interesting ideas in it. It is definitely worth reading
Kevin Butts

reply: I see. Well, I'm sure Mr. Card was playing with a full deck, so I won't question his hippie drivel or science fiction.

23 Jun 1997
Here is another interpretation of "Noah's Ark"

  One issue that is often raised against Christianity is Noah's Ark and the Flood. Did it really happen? Did the flood really cover the whole world? Is there enough water on earth to cover all the land? Could the ark really hold two of every kind of animal in the world? Though these might be intimidating questions, the answer to each is a resounding, "Yes."

      God said to Noah in Genesis 6:14-16, "So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks" (NIV). According to God's Word, Noah built the ark. Eight people entered it and all humanity died in the ensuing flood.

      Did the flood really happen? Yes. Jesus said in Matt. 24:37-39 that the flood happened. If you can't trust Jesus, you can't trust anyone. As far as physical evidence goes there are numerous sedimentary deposits world wide which suggest a universal flood. There are countless fossil deposits world wide (For fossilization to occur organisms must be buried rapidly with sediment.). Every major culture has a flood legend. Of over 200 flood legends, 95% say the flood was universal; 70% say survival depended upon a boat; 66% say the wickedness of man was the cause; 88% say there was a favored family; 66% say the remnant was warned; 67% say animals were also saved; 57% say the survivors ended up on a mountain; 35% say birds were sent out; 9% say eight people were saved; and 7% mention a rainbow.

      Is there enough water to flood the entire earth? Absolutely! If the earth were perfectly spherical the oceans would cover all the land by more than a mile in depth. The biblical account is that it rained for 40 days and nights in which the floodgates of the heavens were opened up as well as the fountains from the earth (Gen. 7:11;8:2). There is a theory known as the canopy theory that states it had never rained on the earth up to the time of Noah and that a mist watered the plants (Gen. 2:6-6). The theory goes on to state that there may have been a heavy cloud or water vapor layer over the entire earth and that it was this canopy of water that became torrential rains during the flood period.

    Did the flood cover all the earth? Yes it did. The depth of the flood waters is described in Gen. 7:19 as covering "all the high mountains under the entire heavens." Also, there are many references in the Bible to it being global: Gen. 6:1,4-5,12,13,17,19;7:4,6,10,19;8:3;9:15. There were 40 days of rain (Gen. 7:12), 110 days of flooding (Gen. 7:24) and 221 more days of draining (Gen. 8:1-5,13-14). That is a total of 371 days of flooding that covered the mountains. That could not be a local flood.

      Could the ark really contain all the animals of the world? Again the answer is "Yes." But let's look at the last question in more detail. The ark took about 120 years to build. Noah was 480 years old when he began the work and he had the help of his wife, three sons, and his son's wives. He probably hired local people to help in the construction.

     The dimensions of the ark have a ratio of six to one. The Ark was six times longer than it was wide. This is the best ratio for modern ship building. Model stability tests have shown that the design is stable for waves up to 200 feet high and that the ark could have rotated 900 and still righted itself.

      The volume of the ark would be 450 feet long by 75 feet wide by 45 feet high. This equals 1,518,750 cubic feet and is comparable to 569 modern railroad boxcars. Therefore each boxcar, by comparison, would be 1,518,750 ÷ 569, or 2,669 cubic feet of space. The average size of an animal on the earth is smaller than a cat. But, just to keep it safe let's consider the average size of an animal to be a sheep. The average double deck stock car holds 240 sheep. The Ark capacity would be about 569 x 240 equaling 136,560 animals of that size. However, that still is not accurate for our needs. Since most birds, reptiles, and amphibians are much smaller, let's double the boxcar capacity for them. Therefore, the boxcars could each hold 480 different kinds of birds, reptiles, amphibians.

     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 there 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.

• The total number of mammals would be 3,700 times two pair which equals 7,400 animals. 7,400 divided by 240 = 31 boxcars used.

• Since Gen. 7:3 says to take seven pairs of every bird then the total for birds would be 8,600 times two pair times 7 or 120,400 animals. 120,400 ÷ 480 = 250 boxcars.

• The reptiles and amphibians would be 6,300 plus 2,500 or 8,800. 8,800 times two pair equals 17,600 animals. 17,600 divided by 480 = 37 boxcars.

      The total number of boxcars used would be 318 with a total number of animals at 145,400. There would be 251 boxcars left over. That means that only 44% of the ark would be used for storing the animals. Obviously, then, the rest of the space would be used for food for the people and animals and sleeping quarters. In addition, considering that insects are extremely small, it is easily conceivable that they could be housed in part of the remaining space.

     It should also be considered that many animals can hibernate. Additionally, predators and prey have been known to habitat peacefully together during situations of stress like fire, flood, or earthquake. In the Ark, normal animal behavior would probably have been different from normal. Specialists in animal behavior have noted that animals can sense danger and have often migrated to escape it. Perhaps God used their migratory instincts to get them to the Ark.

    Though this is only a brief analysis, it should present enough evidence that the Ark account is certainly within the realm of possibility.
no signature

reply: Dear anonymous: are you a reincarnation of a medieval casuist? In any case, you didn't need to argue to establish that the Ark account is within the realm of possibility. We concede that point. Now, where is your argument to establish that the account is within the realm of reasonable probability? (p.s. Why no signature? A reader notified me that the above can be found on the Web Page of one Matthew J. Slick.) 

7 Aug 1997
I must say that I am somewhat disappointed by your response to the anonymous "arkeologist" who stated that a global flood was in the realm of possibility. Therefore, I feel the need to write this response. In this, I will respond to his three major points.

Did the flood really happen?-He starts by quoting Jesus. However, Jesus also said that the mustard plant had the smallest seed and that the second coming would occur during the lifetimes of his disciples. I guess you can't trust anybody. He then says that there is a great deal of physical evidence to support a global flood. However, he presents none of this evidence, apparently expecting us to take his word as gospel. He then mentions that "every major culture" has a flood myth. First of all, a thousand myths do not add up to a single fact. Second, if a flood really happened, why do they all differ on details? They don't even agree on the flood's universality.

Is there enough water to cover the earth?-The vapor canopy is remarkably flawed. It would take about 9 kilometers of water to cover Mount Everest. The air pressure at sea level is one atmosphere, or about 14.5 pounds per square inch. There would have to be enough vapor to produce 9 km of water. This vapor would add air pressure to the atmosphere; in fact, it would be the majority of the antediluvian atmosphere. This would be the equivalent of living 9 km underwater. Since the pressure increases by one atmosphere about every ten meters you go underwater, the vapor would add 900 atmospheres, or 13050 pounds per square inch, to the air pressure. And the only way to keep all this water from condensing would be to raise the temperature. The pressure and heat would surely be enough to kill life as we know it.

Could all the animals fit on the ark?-He first starts by saying that Noah could have hired locals to help him build the ark. However, this begs the question: Why? The locals knew why he was building the ark, so why would they expedite their own destruction? He then goes into storage issues. First of all, he says that 480 animals could have fit into an area equivalent to a modern-day boxcar. To a non-creationist mind, that seems a little crowded. In addition, his calculations are inaccurate.

I will start with the mammals. Since Genesis 7:2 states that Noah was to bring seven pairs of "clean" animals and only two "unclean" animals on the ark, and since Leviticus states that the only unclean animals are the camel, the coney(rabbit), the hare, and the swine, 3696 of the "kinds" would have been in seven pairs.

3696 times 14 equals 51744.
51744 plus 8 equals 51752.
51752 divided by 480 equals 108 boxcars.

I will concede that the birds would occupy 251 boxcars.

As for the reptiles and amphibians, since they were not unclean, they would have traveled in sevens.

8800 times 14 equals 123200.
123200 divided by 480 equals 257 boxcars.

108 plus 251 plus 257 equals 616 boxcars, or 8% more than the capacity of the ark. And this is without the marine life, which the anonymous casuist has omitted from the ark without explaining how they could have survived the silt-choked, turbulent waters of the flood. He must have done this because he knew it would destroy his calculations, since the "other" marine life by itself would have occupied 803 boxcars.

I hope that I have shown that a global flood and Noah's ark are definitely within the realm of impossibility.
Chris Durrance

reply: I'm not sure exactly what you have shown. Boxcar math is not my speciality. I am sure, however, that the number of boxcars needed to hold the true believers who will find fault with your math and logic is incalculable. 

larrow.gif (1051 bytes) Noah's ark

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