An Encounter with the Ark

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, July 13, 2017 8 comments


by Steve Risner

My wife and I were able to visit the Ark Encounter in Williamsburg, KY recently. We've visited the Creation Museum numerous times and have enjoyed it every time. The Ark was no different. Answers in Genesis did a great job of constructing a structure to the believed dimensions of the Ark according to Scripture, and in filling that structure with what are feasible methods and means that may have been employed to sustain life on the Ark during the nearly 1 year that 8 people and an unknown number of animals would have survived. I'd like to go into some depth on some topics concerning the Ark if I may.

The bottom line with it is if we reject the account of the Ark and the Flood as it's recorded in the Bible, we are free to reject literally any other parts as well. The reasons for rejecting the Flood account and the means that God used to replenish the earth with air-breathing, land-dwelling animals have always been less than impressive to me. I've heard many. But if the Flood didn't happen as a global event about 4400 years ago, how can we trust anything the Bible tells us? Only because of humanistic interpretations of nature does anyone in today's age question the account's details in Scripture and/or completely revise the narrative. We don't have license to do such things, especially if the cause is another religion (humanism and/or naturalism) that disagrees with the Bible's portrayal. There is literally no excuse to do this and I hope to help you see why, at least from my perspective.

I believe this topic—that of the Flood—is very important. This is because if the account in God's Word is not reliable history, then the rest of Scripture is not reliable and the entire faith of the Christian is worthless. This is because if we can't believe some of it, how are we able to trust any of it? However, if the story is true, then there is no reason for anyone on earth to not offer their lives to Christ. It's that important. This portion of history tells of God's creative work, His hate for sin, His wrath and justice, and His love. The entire Gospel message can be found in this short narrative that occupies just a few chapters of Genesis. In short, the Bible, and therefore Christianity, stands or falls with the Flood of Noah, in my opinion.

First, some details about the Ark Encounter itself: we loved it. We arrived on a Wednesday morning, hoping this would mean it was easier to navigate with fewer people. There were certainly a lot of visitors, but I think we chose a great day to get in, see it all, and get out. The Ark itself is enormous, obviously—the largest timber-framed structure on earth. It's 510 ft long, 85 ft wide, and about 51 feet high (although it sits off of the ground, making it closer to 65 ft high). As you walk in, they have a time lapsed video to watch, if you like, of the construction. That was pretty interesting to watch. A great deal of work was done to put this thing together in around 2 years. There was a great deal of cost involved as well—none of which was paid for by taxpayers. That's in interesting side note: the amount of lies and fake news delineated over the course of this project by people who despise the Biblical account of the Flood (whether atheists, some other religious group, or, unfortunately, Christians who've rewritten the book of Genesis to fit their second religion) was astounding. In fact, it still is as bogus stories are still circulating. Any time a claim was made that I couldn't investigate on my own, I would simply email AiG and ask them. That's how it should work, right? The taxpayer thing was just one of the false narratives being told. It amazes me how someone will hold their position when the only way to defend it is to lie. Doesn't that mean you know your position is wrong but you just choose to stick to it anyway? Moving on into the Ark...

The first and second deck of the three decks were primarily for animals. Row upon row, stacks and stacks of small cages with watering devices and feeders were all around. The Ark Encounter makes it clear in numerous places that they took artistic license with a lot of the details of the Ark's construction. Whatever the Bible gave as a guideline or a solid fact, they incorporated. If it was something not included, they felt free to envision what was a possible solution for any number of details. The point of the Ark Encounter was simply to demonstrate the possibilities and not give us the absolute truth of the details, which is impossible. Too many details are left out in the Bible.

As we walked further in, we saw walls lined and floor space filled with water jars and food storage. We walked in further and found larger stalls for the larger animals. Many of the animals found in these enclosures were extinct varieties of animals of specific kinds. This added to the intriguing nature of the visit. Many strange animals our eyes have never seen in the wild due to their believed extinction were modeled (very well) for us to see God's creative handiwork. The second deck was similar but had more of the larger animal stalls as well as some room for doing work like blacksmithing and weaving as well as other skills that may have been useful for a long stay on a huge wooden ship.

This is a good place to note a few things here concerning animal numbers. A very common objection is to the numbers of animals on the Ark and the space required for animals on the Ark. Let's just say, after seeing the display at the Ark Encounter, I have no issues at all with the space and number of animals. The first thing to note is how many animals were likely on the Ark. Skeptics will erroneously claim that there are some millions of species on the earth (I've often heard 6 million or thereabouts). This means that number times two would be the number of animals necessary on the Ark and there is no way for this to be true. That's correct. Millions and millions of animals couldn't possibly fit on the Ark.

Fortunately, this claim is heaped in false assumptions. While there may be 1.9 million known species on planet Earth, and this number will likely increase as time goes on, there is no need to fret. First and foremost, the Bible doesn't speak of “species” of animals because that's a very recent (relatively speaking) word that modern day science uses. What makes a species a species is something of a mystery, as there are about 12-20 different definitions you can find online. But it makes no difference. A species is the smallest subcategory of organism. The Biblical “kind” is a much more broad group of animals that's less than 2,000 and possibly less than 1,500. AiG estimates it at 1,398 kinds of animals. This is calculated using known abilities to cross-breed species and other factors. I'd like to write more on baraminology in the future. There are several cases where there is uncertainty about the boundaries of a “kind,” so AiG tried to error on the side of having more kinds rather than fewer kinds.

Now, let's also consider the fact that of the 1.9 million documented species (and, truly, there are likely many we have not documented), only about 38,000 of them (or 2%) are land animals that have the breath of life in them. This means 98% of species are fish, plants, insects, bacteria, etc. So the number gets dramatically decreased just by reasonably restricting the type of animals on the Ark as commanded by God—land-dwelling, and primarily if not exclusively vertebrates. These two factors (using the Biblical “kind” rather than species, and limiting the number to land-dwelling vertebrates) greatly decreases the actual number of animals that were likely on the Ark, and therefore greatly reduces the amount of space necessary to house them.

Let's move to animal size. In my mind, I had always just considered stalls as being all over the place filled with the pairs of animals, or groups of them if they could live together. I hadn't really considered the fact that most animals are very small (compared to some of the larger animals we commonly think of). About 85% of all land-dwelling animals are fewer than 22 pounds. Only about 7% are between 22 and 220 pounds. Thus, only 8% are over 220 pounds. Also keep in mind that these numbers of average sizes are for full grown, mature adults. It isn't referencing juveniles or even younger animals. Younger animals would be advantageous to have for their size, durability, and the remainder of the breeding life being longer. This means that only just over 200 large or very large cages were necessary and just under 300 medium sized cages. There would have been roughly 600 smaller cages and about 300 cages for birds. That may sound like a lot—1400 cages. But keep in mind the volume of the Ark was extremely large. Nearly 500 tractor trailers could fit inside the Ark! That's significantly larger than it would need to be to house this many animals, if, in fact, the estimates by AiG are even close to accurate. I have no reason to doubt they are anything less than in the ballpark. To be honest, if the numbers for animals are a fifth of the actual number, the Ark would still have an enormous amount of free space for supplies and for people. The Ark is just that big. The Ark Encounter represents all of these estimates and has accommodations for all of the believed animals—from birds to bats to cats to cattle to snakes and dinosaurs to elephants and giraffes and the humans on board as well as supplies.

After seeing this representation of the Ark with its size and space, the accommodations and supplies, as well as some of the suggested solutions to some of the problems that likely would have been involved with this Biblical narrative, I have no doubt that the Flood and the Ark that was necessary to keep animal life and mankind alive was possible. I plan to discuss a little more of the Ark Encounter next time and get into a number of the common objections or questions people have with the Flood. Thanks for reading.

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8 comments:

ashleyhr said...

"Fortunately, this claim is heaped in false assumptions. While there may be 1.9 million known species on planet Earth, and this number will likely increase as time goes on, there is no need to fret. First and foremost, the Bible doesn't speak of “species” of animals because that's a very recent (relatively speaking) word that modern day science uses. What makes a species a species is something of a mystery, as there are about 12-20 different definitions you can find online. But it makes no difference. A species is the smallest subcategory of organism. The Biblical “kind” is a much more broad group of animals that's less than 2,000 and possibly less than 1,500. AiG estimates it at 1,398 kinds of animals. This is calculated using known abilities to cross-breed species and other factors. I'd like to write more on baraminology in the future. There are several cases where there is uncertainty about the boundaries of a “kind,” so AiG tried to error on the side of having more kinds rather than fewer kinds."
All that is a ruse by AiG which completely ignores what the Bible says. At Genesis 6: 19-20. That the disembarking creatures were to 'multiply' (not 'cross-breed' - or become a species/become a new species). What has been translated as 'kinds' in some English Bibles logically refers to species. A male and female of the same species can and do breed and their offspring may do the same, adding to numbers over time. Please also see my comments here: http://worldviewwarriors.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/scientific-evidence.html

Steve said...

Hello Ashely,
Thank you for reading my writing and for commenting. It generally helps others understand if I get an opportunity to clarify things.
It's not a ruse and it's a thought process of far more than just AiG. No one is suggesting anything about cross-breeding animals from the Ark. Perhaps you don't understand the basic ideas behind the "kind." It's very logical and very grounded in scientific processes but is also young in our understanding of it. If a horse and zebra can mate (they can--I've seen the offspring) then we would conclude they are of the same kind. They are not the same species, however. They have, over time and due to population isolation and varying environments, developed genetic changes (most likely degenerative or epigenetic changes) that would cause us, in today's age, to classify them as different animals. The thought is no different, really, than your beloved nested hierarchies. The only key difference would be we believe (as the evidence and our experience suggests) that there are very real limitations to how far an organism can drift from the original.
Of course the text doesn't say "go make a variety of species." Again, you're having issues not thinking in today's vernacular. The kind is a very real thing. It most often seems to match up with today's taxonomic "family" but this isn't always the case. If you don't believe that the "kind" is a thing, you generally have to declare that the taxonomic classification "family" doesn't either. But if you will concede the family is a thing, then you must also conclude that the kind does as well. And, again, there are exceptions but, for the most part, the classification of the last 250 years or so meets up with the Biblical classification from 4400 years ago about right there--at the family.

"What has been translated as 'kinds' in some English Bibles logically refers to species. "--this is false. Again, the Bible is not bound to use a classification made up by Carolus Lennaeus 250 years ago. In fact, it's nonsense to expect it to do so.
Please read up on the "kind" here and get back to me: https://answersingenesis.org/creation-science/baraminology/what-are-kinds-in-genesis/

Thanks, again, Ashley. Always a pleasure.

ashleyhr said...

'Kinds' generally equates to biological species not biological families for the reasons I've already given - every creature (apart from hybrids) is a member of a species - and a male and a female representative can and do breed and may multiply in number. Your argument implies that the Bible is divorced from biological realities that were only discovered long after it was written (I think flat earther Christians/non Christians do the same ie reject later discovered astronomical realities and just focus on certain scriptures out of wider context).

The ruse is that AiG have to find a way of remotely plausibly fitting all those creatures that came to Noah on one large wooden ark. To try and get around Genesis 6: 19-20.

If I have any comments on your link I will let you know. AiG articles are NOT holy writ.

ashleyhr said...

AiG are trying to tell people that 4,500 animals were members of 'kinds' (equating to biological families or maybe genera) and 'not' members of species because, they say, 'species did not exist yet'). Utter rubbish. As now they were members of species (as well as belonging to larger families etc). "After the Flood, the animals were told to “be fruitful and multiply on the earth” (Genesis 8:17). As they did this, natural selection, mutation, and other mechanisms allowed speciation within the kinds to occur. " Utter rubbish. I can guarantee that they have NO scientific evidence whatsoever for their wild (pun unintended) scenario. (Speciation itself is of course real - but the writer of Genesis never mentions or alludes to it.)

ashleyhr said...

Sorry I meant "4,500 years ago".

Steve said...

Thanks for the dialogue, Ashley.
You said, "'Kinds' generally equates to biological species not biological families for the reasons I've already given - every creature (apart from hybrids) is a member of a species - and a male and a female representative can and do breed and may multiply in number."--this is great news! You are good with defining the Biblical kind and therefore cannot suggest it's not a thing. What it is you're almost correct on, but you're still off. Being able to breed is one of the criterion. That's why horses and zebras are the same kind, why tigers and lions are the same kind, why wolves and coyotes and domesticated dogs are the same kind etc etc. Except for the dog and wolf, none of these are the same species. I'm not arguing that the Bible didn't know about certain biological discoveries. The species was not a discovery. Still today, 250 years after the naming system was coined, the species is chaotically defined. However, this was not a recent "discovery." It was a recently coined term. Humans like to classify things. This is a naming system. It's not a reality in terms of biology beyond we call these things these names. So, of course, the Bible wouldn't mention the species and would not necessary use a term that you or I would equate with species. The Bible doesn't mention dinosaurs by name, either, but it does talk about huge beasts that walk on land and huge monsters that swam in the waters. Dinosaur is a term coined in the 1800's, so of course it wasn't used when the Bible was written. The point here is that you want the term "kind" to be synonymous with "species" and there is literally no reason to do so (unless you think it will prove your point, and then you seem to be bound to it). If you feel I'm in error--that lions and tigers can breed but are not the same species--show me. If you think zebras and donkeys and horses cannot breed like I say they can, show me. There are numerous other examples of animals clearly not the same species but can breed. I hope you're letting that sink in.

"The ruse is that AiG have to find a way of remotely plausibly fitting all those creatures that came to Noah on one large wooden ark. To try and get around Genesis 6: 19-20. "--not at all. I've seen the Ark. There's MORE than enough room for the animals. In fact, there are only fewer than 40,000 species of land animals at all today. Most of these animals are very small. Some are larger, sure, but large animals comprise a very small percentage of the total. Here's a short list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_genetic_hybrids

Steve said...

It's likely the species we see today, to one degree or another, didn't exist then. They have, through adaptation, population isolation, and degenerative mutation become what they are today. If you think that's false, that means you can't believe in single common ancestry, either. This isn't really a tough idea: a "kind" is a group of animals that can interbreed or could interbreed at some point in the past since the Ark. There are lots of animals that can do this and are, therefore, the same kind although not the same species. After they left the Ark, they multiplied. After they multiplied, they went off in local populations and drifted genetically from their family members, but are still the same kind. This is the mysterious boundary of Darwinism.

If you're quoting someone in your above comment, please give them credit. What's being said there and you disagreeing with it sort of tells me that you're not evolutionist, either. Or do you scrutinize your own beliefs less strictly than you scrutinize beliefs you don't like? Do you hold your worldview to a different standard than you hold mine? Your inconsistency is glaring. It would bother me if I were inconsistent like that because it would mean I'm likely wrong. You seem to be okay with it. How is that?

ashleyhr said...

"You are good with defining the Biblical kind and therefore cannot suggest it's not a thing." Maybe. But my point was that AiG are falsely saying there were 'no' species at the time of the flood (just 4,500 years ago) and that everything was 'kinds' in some super family/genera sense. That is scientifically impossible (and it twists Bible verses). The Bible simply describes 'kinds' when it means types or varieties down most likely to individual species level (since Genesis 6:17 and then 19-20 refer to 'all life',terrestrial mainly, and then 'every kind of'). "The point here is that you want the term "kind" to be synonymous with "species" and there is literally no reason to do so." There is every reason. Species breed, And species have always existed. And AiG's kinds (not the biblical version) have never existed. We will have to disagree.

"It's likely the species we see today, to one degree or another, didn't exist then. They have, through adaptation, population isolation, and degenerative mutation become what they are today". Geologically and biologically speaking, little will have changed in 4,500 years. Some new species, some extinctions. "If you think that's false, that means you can't believe in single common ancestry, either." Yes I can. Over around 3.8 bn years or whatever the current figure is. "If you're quoting someone in your above comment, please give them credit." I was quoting from the article you sought my comments on. No more, no less. I frankly don't understand your final accusation so I think it is best ignored. My position is not inconsistent. I profoundly disagree that "... allowed speciation within the kinds to occur" (the AiG tosh that species did not, yet, exist only their 'kinds' and then that those magicked into species post-flood). It's a lie. The wording should be "allowed further speciation to occur" (even that is not in Genesis - but it is real). But AiG are trying to indoctrinate with their nonsense about 'created kinds'. They seem to have succeeded with Worldview Warriors bloggers.