Friday, 16 November 2012

The Noachian Flood Part 2 - Life on the Ark

Numbers on the Ark

So how many animals were on the ark? Answers vary, this site says 145,400. This would mean packing the animals in like battery chickens. Each human would have to look after 18,000 animals each. Say a cage needs mucking out once a week, he will be mucking out 2600 cages a day, or 2.7 cages every minute (leaving him six hours a day to sleep, eat, feed all the other thousands of animals he is responsible for).

At the other end of the scale (I have not researched this fully; there may well be higher or lower estimates out there), we have 16,000 animals (here). In this scenario, the humans have a leisurely 12 to 13 minutes to muck out each cage... For 16 hours a day, for a year. Who was it getting punished again?

Here is a page where AiG list all the supposed "kinds" of mammals. It is not a bad article in general, although it does say:

Wilson and Reeder (2005) place the great apes in Hominidae with humans, but given the significant differences between us and apes compared to some of the differences between other families, this seems ludicrous.

This ignores the inconvenient fact that chimps are genetically closer to us than to gorillas, but as noted at the start of my previous page, if a fact disagrees with their religious dogma, AiG will just ignore the fact.

Anyway, they propose 137 "kinds" of mammal still around today, but note: "Given the number of extinct mammalian families known from the fossil record, the actual number on the Ark could easily have been well over 300." They evolved into the 5500 species of mammal known today.

You also need the reptiles and birds. There are some extant 10 000 species of bird, and 9 000 species of reptile. Remember, God wants seven of each "kind" of bird.

3 Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.

Though Noah seems to have ignored that, and just taken two of each anyway:

8 Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, 9 There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.

Oh, God wanted all the animals that creep. There are over 100 000 species of spider and scorpion, about a million species of insects (Noah might be alright there, as most insects fly, but are not fowl; makes you wonder how those huge numbers of insects survived the flood though). There are moluscs, crustaceans and others, but a lot live in the sea, so we can probably ignore them (we are assuming freshwater and saltwater fish alike can survive the flood anyway). That said, creationists often claim that invertebrates are not animals in the Biblical sense, so Noah did not have to transport, and just pretend they could survive a global flood anyway.

In this hypothesis, we get to the 145,400 species by a process of (I assume) hypermutation, with new species appearing at the rate of nearly 29 new species appearing each year (these are mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians).

This is the average rate, one would expect the rate to be proportion to the number of existing species (10,000 species will produce less new species a year than 100,000 species will), so should be much higher today, than in Noah's time. I do not believe there is any evidence of new species appearing at that rate. Indeed, creationists actually use the claim that new species are NOT appearing to argue against evolution! odd that...

Whatever figure you have for the number of animals on the ark, you have a compromise between hyperevolution and packing in ridiculous numbers of animals.

Some people have suggested that some animals were carried as eggs, but I am not aware of any animal that has an incubation time of greater than a year, and once the eggs hatch, you have the problems of feeding and mucking out. A newly hatched bird will require a lot of attention. Furthermore, growing animals need a lot of food, and it is especially important that they get the right nutrition (I know, I have kids). It has also been suggested that the animals hibernated, but the number of hibernating animals is not large, and it tends to be the smaller ones anyway.

I seem to remember a claim that the animals could be trained to "do their business" in a convenient place (bucket, etc.). It will take some considerable time (to put it mildly) to toilet train 16,000 animals, and this will preclude taking juveniles (there just is no time to train before the journey). The humans still need to haul the "waste" up onto deck (the majority of animals have to be below the water line to keep the boat from capsizing).

Dinosaurs and the Ark

Do the above numbers include dinosaurs? The Bible says every kind, so dinosaurs (and other extinct animals) must be present (and creationists will generally agree). Who gets the job of feeding the T.Rex? Put in a couple of apatosaurus, a pair of brachiosaurus, two tyranosaurus, two deinosuchus, two stegasaurus, two triceratops, two anklosaurus, two indricotherium, two velociraptors, two smilodons and a couple of pteradactyls and you are quickly filling the ark (and there are plenty more kinds of dinosaurs and other large extinct animals). And after all that, the whole lot of them go extinct a few years later!

Here is a lengthy text by AiG addressing why dinosaurs went extinct after being saved on the ark. They use a lot of words, but do not actually seem to say anything (besides buy our book!).

Space on the Ark

Given a cubit that is 18", this gives an ark that is 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high (see here).

Say we go with hyperevolution, and only 16,000 animals on the ark, this gives each animal 100 cubic feet each, or 200 for the pair. Think about a box, 3 foot high, 6 foot wide and 10 foot long. And you need to keep a year's supply of food for two animals (or longer; what do they eat when they get off - predators are a big problem) in that space too. Also, you need to allow access for the keeper, so part of that space will be the passageway the keeper uses to get at the box.

Obviously animals are different sizes, and you would put the elephants and apatosaurus in bigger boxes, while your mice and sparrows go in smaller ones. Still, it sounds a bit squashed to me.

Life on the Global Ocean

How big were the waves during the flood? How hot was it?

From here:

The ark was built on a 1:6 ratio (50 cubits:300 cubits). The science of naval architecture reveals that the most stable ratio for an ocean going vessel is 1:6. All modern day ocean going vessels use this same length to width ratio. It is estimated that the ark could easily have survived even the largest of ocean waves. If the ark were equipped with a dragging stone anchor, it would have been properly positioned to meet any size ocean wave. The design of the ark would have made it almost impossible to turn over. 

Apparently they can tell that the ark would be "almost impossible to turn over" from the ratio of the length to width. I bet the designers of the ATLANTIC CARTIER are kicking themselves (length 250 m, width 32.26 m, ratio 1:7.7).

It is incredible what creationists will read into these things.


As well as packing the animals on the ark, you also need food and water for them. A man needs to drink at least 2 litres of water a day (see here), so let us suppose that all the animals on average need 1 litre each day. If we allow hyperevolution again, and 16,000 animals, then Noah will need 5840000 litres, or nearly 6 thousand tonnes of water! I wonder what he stored it in - ceramic pots? The good news is that it would be easy to collect, just collect rainwater for the first forty days (unless this was water that came out of the subterranean caverns, in which case it will be rather dirty).

A sheep will eat around 4 kg of hay a day (see here), say about 1.3 tonnes in a year. An average value across all the animals might be about 500 kg of food for the year, so 8 thousand tonnes of food for the 16,000.

A lion will get through 2.5 tonnes of meat in a year (according to here), and may not be too happy at eating meat that has been hanging around for a year.


Here is a helpful document about transporting animals. Say we go with AiG's figure of 300 kinds of mammals, so 600 mammals on a ark, and they radiate heat like a sheep at 75W, all those animals together are producing about 500 kW of heat (assuming a small contribution from birds, which tend to be small, and amphibians and reptiles, which are cold blooded). That is like have 250 2 kW heats in the ark, and the whole thing is ventlated by a single window. It is going to get pretty hot in there.

A man produces about 60 kg of carbon dioxide a day (see here). That will be about 40 to 50 tonnes every day for all those animals, which is around 25 million litres, or 300 litres every second. And that all has to flow through that single window, with fresh air coming in the other way.

Oh, wait, this was a window that was generally kept closed.

Genesis 8:6 And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:

There are plans by creationists to build a replica ark; it will be interesting to see how they ventilate it. Of course, their 16,000 animals will be plastic, so not producing carbon dioxide and heat, nevertheless, I bet they have better ventilation than a single closed window.

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