Modern Science versus Noah’s Ark

Here’s the “news story” at Can Science Explain Noah’s Ark? Why Logic Thoroughly Debunks the Biblical Story (Miles Surrey, 22 April 2016).

The article quotes some physics students, who studied whether an Ark built to the literal specifications of the Bible would work. They pointed out that the Ark was not powered or guided; it only needed to remain afloat.

“postgraduate physics students at the University of Leicester confirmed through their metrics that the boat would have remained afloat, based on how big it would have been. According to the study, with the approximate ark measurement of 472 feet, it would have been able to hold up to 70,000 animals on board. ‘You don’t think of the Bible necessarily as a scientifically accurate source of information, so I guess we were quite surprised when we discovered it would work,’ student Thomas Morris said in an interview with the Independent. ‘We’re not proving that it’s true, but the concept would definitely work.’ “

The article also raises some objections to Noah’s Ark. I’ve made a list below that includes objections from the article as well as some other common objections. Objections to Noah’s Ark and the great Flood:

1. An Ark that size would be very difficult to build in ancient times
2. The Ark could not hold 2 of every species of animal
3. Eight human persons could not care for all the animals
4. Not enough space for drinking water and food for an entire year
5. Also, dinosaurs would not fit on the Ark

6. No evidence of flood that covered all land
7. Human ancestry cannot be traced back to only 8 persons, at such a recent time
8. There is not enough time between then and now for humanity to spread worldwide from Noah and his family

My reply to the above objections:

All these attempts to discredit the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark and the Flood make the same mistake: they assume that the story must be entirely literal.

1. The Bible uses highly figurative language to describe the historical event of the Flood. So we need not take the size of the Ark literally.

Each level of the ship had to have enough room for walking around, and so the height would need to have been at least 7 or 8 feet per level. If the height of the ship was three levels of about 8 feet each, then it was about 24 feet high (7 meters), about 40 feet wide (12 meters), and about 240 feet long (72 meters). This width and length assumes that the proportions of the ship are approximately those stated in the text.

2. The assertion that all animal species were on the Ark is figurative. Whatever animal species were on the Ark were representative, figuratively, of all life on earth. The extent of the Flood is also figurative, so the Flood did not destroy all animals or all humans outside the Ark. Therefore, not all species needed to be on the Ark.

3. With many of the elements of the story being figurative, the human persons on the Ark need not have expended much time and effort to feed the animals. But also, the animals may have been in a state of divinely-appointed hibernation.

4. The length of time in the Ark is stated by the Bible as one solar year (12 lunar months plus 11 days exactly). However, this length is likely a figure — which is why it is a round number: one whole year exactly.

5. Dinosaurs? Most Christians, including most Catholics, are not creationists. Belief in Noah and the Flood does not require belief that the earth is only several thousand years old. So, there were no dinosaurs at the time of Noah; they died out 65 million years earlier.

6. The great flood did not literally cover all land on earth. It was a worldwide flood-event — as evidenced by the over 1100 of flood myths found in cultures on every inhabited continent. But not all animals or humans outside the Ark were killed by the flood.

As for scientific evidence, my book Noah’s Flood: Literal or Figurative? discusses 4 scientific theories about the Flood of Noah. Each theory was proposed by conventional scientists (i.e. not creationist scientists). Each theory explicitly proposes that the discussed event could be the flood of Noah. Each assumes that the flood event did not cover the whole world with water, and did not kill all human and animal life outside the Ark.

7. Since the flood did not kill all humans outside the Ark, there is no need to trace human ancestry back to only Noah and his family…

8. …and no need for humanity to spread out, worldwide, from wherever the Ark landed.

The scientific theory that I favor on the great flood is that of W. Bruce Masse, who dates the flood event to 2807 B.C., when a comet struck the deep ocean (Indian Ocean), causing a severe change in the climate and massive worldwide flooding. The description of the flood event matches both the Bible text and the description in flood myths throughout the world. It was catastrophic enough to cause a worldwide flood-type event, but also not so extensive as to kill all humans and animals outside the Ark.

For more, see my book: Noah’s Flood: Literal or Figurative?

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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