Saturday, January 17, 2009

Noah's Ark

I visited a fellow blogger's site recently and found an interesting post which touched on God. I couldn't refrain from posting a comment there.

Then I thought of an article I wrote some years ago—I wrote it to a religious friend in the hope that he'd be able to shed some light on the issues raised. At the same time, I also posted that article in a blog somewhere, although I can't remember where exactly. As I said, I wrote the article some years ago.

It suddenly occured to me that since I now have my own blog, I might as well post the article here for your reading pleasure. It took me a while to trace back where I saved this article—in the end I found it in one of my 3 pendrives. Perhaps some of you might even be able to provide me with a viable explanation?


According to the Bible, all but a few of the living things in the world were once killed by the great flood. Those very few who survived were Noah and his immediate family members, along with male and female pairs of all the animals in the world. This is the story of Noah and the Ark. This imaginative story is very interesting, but I’d like to hear opinions on some of the finer aspects of it.

The Ark

(i) Size & Design

The Bible is very specific about this particular piece of information. The Ark was built like this: 450ft long; 75ft wide; 45ft high. It is to accommodate 3 floors, i.e. lower, middle and upper decks (Genesis 6.15). I would imagine that a few thousand years ago, it would have been quite a major construction project! Nothing was actually mentioned on the navigational equipment, so it is possible to argue that for the sake of saving space on board, the absence of a bridge where Noah was able to carry out navigational tasks. It is hard to imagine how a 450-footer could have accommodated all the animals in pairs, not forgetting numerous species and sub-species, even after allowing for the 3 floors on board. Of course a pair of elephants, for example, would have occupied so much space. And there are other huge animals too. Furthermore, some animals are accustomed to certain ranges of temperatures for survival—some require cold environment, while others require warm climate etc.

Can anyone with ship-building expertise shed some light on the above scenario?

(ii) Food & Water Storage

Nothing was mentioned on clean water and food storage capacity, bearing in mind that the Ark was to be floating for almost a year. I’m not forgetting that some animals—for example, bears—might have hibernated during the flood, and hence required little food. However, the vast majority of the animals are not hibernating animals. They needed daily ration of food and water. My best guess is that the water and food required for so many animals and some humans for all those months would have been quite a lot, so storage/ration of water and food would have been a tricky problem.

Taking the population of the Ark into account, I’d say at least several tons of food would have been required on a daily basis. But I must admit that I haven’t gone into detailed analysis and calculations on the actual amount of food/water required. I wonder if it is possible to determine the amount. Anyway, logically speaking, quite a large space would have been required for storage purposes.

And then even if the storage situation could be solved somehow, one wonders on the preservation of these foods. Of course fruits and vegetables have very short shelf lives in the supermarkets in spite of modern technologies like refrigerators etc. I suppose it is safe to rule out canned food at that time. So it would be interesting to know how these foods were preserved for an entire year in the Ark.

(iii) Construction Materials & Duration

Now assuming that Noah had the expertise on such an undertaking, I wonder the duration for the completion of the project. I suppose his family members must have helped him, but it was still a huge undertaking. In my opinion, it might have taken several years, if not several decades to complete. This should not be a big mystery, since apparently people lived to be several hundred years old those good old days. So several decades wouldn’t have been an issue. Then there was the question of building materials, the most significant must have been the supply of ‘good’ wood (Genesis 6.14). Considering the size of the Ark, it must have required a lot of wood.

Just to expand a little bit on the construction material, namely wood, it is interesting to know just how long it would take an average person to chop down a tree and then saw the log to turn it into sawn timber. Of course there was no motorized round saw at the time, so all the cutting and sawing would have had to be done manually. Therefore, it would have taken quite a long time just to get all the sawn timber ready, let alone to actually getting down to building the ship.

If indeed it took decades to complete the project, I wonder how long a sawn cypress wood could last. One can’t help wondering if the wood would rot long before the Ark was completed.

(iv) Congestion

Working out the space of 450ft x 75ft x 3 floors, gives an approximate 101,250 sq. ft floor space (ignoring the thickness of the walls/partitions). That is equivalent of about 2.3 acres, give and take. And that is assuming the Ark was just a square box. Obviously if it wasn’t a ‘box’ then the space on board would have been even lesser; maybe substantially lesser. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is, space would have been very, very limited on board. Congestion problems must have prevailed throughout all those months during the flood. I asked a friend who worked in a zoo for some years, if it’s possible for all the pairs of animals in the world to fit into an area of 2.3 acres, bearing in mind that a substantial portion of that space was for the storage of food and water. After considering for a short moment, he gave the expected answer—NO.

How was the ventilation problem solved? Since we are talking about living animals, all would require air to breathe. Nothing in the Bible indicates any ventilation system, although there was a mention of a space of 18 inches between the roof and the sides of the boat (Genesis 6.16). Maybe that was where fresh air got into the Ark. But those of you who are familiar with building construction would know that for such a large floor space, it is necessary to have some sort of ventilation system, eg. using fans to facilitate the flow of air. Moreover it is also unclear where those animals on the lower decks got their air for breathing. Perhaps what’s even more mind-boggling was that apparently all the windows were closed during the flood (although this was not specifically mentioned). Only after months floating in the flood did Noah open a window he had made in the Ark (Genesis 8.6).

After the Flood

The water kept going down, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains appeared (Genesis 8.5).

Meanwhile, Noah sent out a dove to see if the water had gone down, but since the water still covered all the land, the dove did not find a place to light. It flew back to the boat, and Noah reached out and took it in (Genesis 8.8-9).

He (Noah) waited another seven days and sent out the dove again. It returned to him in the evening with a fresh olive leaf in its beak. So Noah knew that the water had gone down (Genesis 8.10-11).

Let’s consider the flow of the story for a bit. The Bible says that the first dove couldn’t find a place to land. Then seven days later, again the dove was sent off. And that evening it brought back a freshly plucked olive leaf. We are now able to deduce that the water must have subsided further during that 7-day window. OK, fine, we progress.

But now a fresh dilemma arises. Are we to assume that the olive tree survived almost a year underwater? Can anyone with specific knowledge on olive trees comment on this? The other possible explanation is that the olive trees did not survive the flood; but was somehow able to quickly regenerate to the extent of growing fresh leaves within that 7-day window—a weak explanation, in my opinion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ummm...can someone also please explain the accepted theory of the law of nature particularly the food chain?

So are we saying that on the ark, there were great restrains? Either that or the act of survival of the fittest aka gory mauling and all that were sensored ala our trigger happy snip-snip sensorboard. PG13? No-no, make that SX18 or SG18 rating ;P (Corny, that will solve your great mystery of availability of fresh meat, but enough to cover supply for over a year?? Am baffled too!!)

As for the part on the dove story, I assume its correct and logical to say Genesis 8.5 comes before Genesis 8.8-9 (no brainer right?). Then, why is it stated in G8.5 "...the tops of the mountain appeared." but in G8.8-9 "...but since the water still covered all the land, the dove did not find a place to light." So, what was the sighting of the tops of the mountains all about?? A mirage? DOINK!!!!

Water level going down... down where? Someone pulled the plug or flush lever? If the entire world/earth was flooded, by the laws of gravity, it should theoritically flow downwards how then or where did the water level go down to? Evaporation yes, but wouldn't it come pouring down as rain unless there was an immediate and instant global warming, which then begs the question on the suvivability of the olive tree... ARRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! Headache!!!

Err..btw, who cleaned up all the poop on the ark? Then again, if there's no food, then no poop lor? Hor? More ARRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!