That Amazing Ark!
“Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.” (Genesis 6:14-17)
Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did. (Genesis 6:22)
Skeptics laugh at the idea of the Ark. It was not big enough, they insist. Some animals would not have fit through the door, they believe. Others laugh at the idea of a worldwide flood. Unnerved by the fact of past judgment, they do all they can to deny it (2 Peter 3:3-9).
Consider the dimensions the Ark: it was 450 feet long by 75 feet wide by 45 feet high … ratios comparable to that of modern ships (Naval architect D.H. Collins, “Was Noah’s Ark Stable?—Creation Research Society Quarterly 14:83-7). Collins demonstrated that even in winds three times hurricane force, the Ark was extremely stable.
Now consider the size of the Ark: there was over 100,000 square feet of floor space, more than 20 regulation-sized basketball courts. The total cubic volume would have been 1,518,000 cubic feet—equal to the capacity of over 550 modern railroad stock cars. Was there enough room for all the animals? According to Ernest Mayr, one of America’s leading taxonomists, there are over 1 million species of animals in the world.
Here are some important details to note: they did not have to take the water dwellers on board (the 21,000 species of fish and other small sea creatures). The same is true of the mammals that are aquatic … the whales, seals and porpoises. Amphibians and all reptiles (sea turtles and alligators), as well as a large number of the arthropods (numbering 838,000 species, such as lobsters, shrimp, crabs and water fleas and barnacles)—didn’t need to board the Ark because they are marine creatures. Insects are usually very small, and many of the 35,000 species of worms as well as many of the insects could have survived outside the Ark.
Doctors Morris and Whitcomb in their classic book, The Genesis Flood, state that no more than 35,000 individual animals needed to go on the Ark. But, as Dr. Morris states, let’s be generous and add on a reasonable number to include extinct animals. Then add on some more to satisfy even the most skeptical. Let’s assume 50,000 animals, far more animals than required, were on board the Ark, and these need not have been the largest or even adult specimens.
There are really only a few very large animals, such as the dinosaur or the elephant, and these could have been young ones. Assuming the average animal to be about the size of a sheep and using a railroad car for comparison, we note that the average double-deck stock car can accommodate 240 sheep. Thus, three trains hauling 69 cars each would have ample space to carry the 50,000 animals, filling only 37% of the Ark. This would leave an additional 300+ cars to carry all of the food and baggage plus Noah’s family of eight people.
How did Noah build the Ark? This is an even bigger problem, but the Bible indicates that Noah did this under Divine guidance and there is no reason to believe he did not hire additional workmen.
How were the animals gathered? The Genesis account indicates that God gathered the animals and brought them to Noah inside the Ark two by two.
How could Noah and his family take care of all those animals? How could 8 people feed, water, and provide fresh air and sanitation for all those animals? In answer to this issue, a number of scientists have suggested that the animals may have gone into a type of dormancy. It has been said that in nearly all groups of animals there is at least an indication of a latent ability to hibernate or aestivate. Perhaps these abilities were supernaturally intensified during this period. With their bodily functions reduced to a minimum, the burden of their care would have been greatly lightened. (See “The Ark of Noah,” Creation Research Society Quarterly. 8:142-4.)
For Further Review
1. Why is it important to affirm the reality of a flood as recorded in the book of Genesis?
2. What grave conclusion is the unbelieving trying to avoid?
3. How has today’s lesson increased your confidence in the Word of God?