Skeptics and some scientists claim that there is no possible way Noah could have fit all the animals on the ark. Michael Shermer, a self-proclaimed atheist, and the publisher of Skeptic magazine and director of the Skeptics Society put it this way:
“There’s no possible way that Noah could have retained all 10 billion species on a single boat and then distributed them appropriately where the marsupials are all in Australia and so forth. This is ridiculous. It is so ridiculous I find it embarrassing for people who attempt to prove that it’s true.”
Shermer is correct. It would have been impossible for Noah to have taken every known species (10 billion, according to Shermer) onto the ark. But that is not what God told Noah to do. God gives the answer to the skeptics’ claims in Genesis 6.
Answering the Skeptics
God tells that He created the land and sea creatures after their kind. There’s a difference between kind and species. Kind is closer to what biologists would call families, with some exceptions.
Take for example the dog kind. One female dog and one male dog can mate and produce various species—e.g. coyotes, wolves, and all domestic dogs. So the different species we have today could have easily been generated after the flood from the information already present within the parent kind.
Noah only had to take representatives of the different kinds of land-dwelling, air-breathing animals.
Genesis 6:20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.
In His Word, God is clear in telling us what died outside the ark:
All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. (Genesis 7:22)
Noah did not need to take sea creatures on the ark. They are not “dry land” dwellers. Noah also did not need to take any plant life. He only took creatures that had the “breath of life” in their “nostrils” and lived on “dry land.”
So how many animals?
Let’s do the math. From the genus level, we can get all the different animals we see today—about 8,000 animals. The Bible says “two of every” animal (Gen 6:20). Let’s double that number to 16,000. The Bible also says seven of some, so let’s increase it to 30,000. The question arises, could 30,000 animals fit on the ark?
Size of the animals?
Let’s consider what the average size of the animals would have been. The Bible doesn’t say Noah was to take the oldest or the biggest animals. Calculating the size of all young land animals, the average size is actually smaller than a sheep. But let’s use a sheep as the average size. So we’ve increased both the number and the size of animals for our calculation. Now the question becomes, could 30,000 sheep fit on the ark?
Size of the ark?
God clearly gives us the dimensions of the ark:
Genesis 6:15-17 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.
Using a small cubit to be conservative, we can calculate the ark to have been 450 feet long (the length of 1½ football fields), 75 feet wide (equal to the length of two school buses, bumper to bumper), and 45 feet high (equal to three giraffes stacked one upon another). The ark had three decks, a door, and a window. This was a huge sea-worthy vessel with more than 100,000 square feet of floor space and a cubic volume of more than 1.5 million cubic feet, which is about the capacity of 522 railroad stock cars!
Now we must ask, how many sheep can fit into 522 railroad stock cars? The average railroad double-deck stock car can hold about 240 sheep. Here’s the math: 522 stock cars x 240 sheep = 125,280 sheep.
125,280 sheep-sized animals can fit on 522 railroad cars, which is equivalent to the 1.5 million cubic feet of the ark. There was plenty of room for all the animals, all the supplies for the year-long stay on the ark, and the eight people on the ark that Noah built!
It’s both amazing and assuring that in God’s Word we find answers and reasoning to our questions. Through the power of His Holy Spirit, our great God who teaches us all things:
…the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)
Experience The Ark Encounter
From The Ark Encounter website: The Ark Encounter is a one-of-a-kind historically themed attraction in Williamstown, Kentucky. In an entertaining, educational, and immersive way, it presents a number of historical events centered on a full-size, all-wood Ark, which is the largest timber-frame structure in the USA.
Find more information about the ark, places to stay, things to do, and ticket prices to this amazing attraction online at The Ark Encounter.
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The Top Ten Got Questions? in 2020
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