Have you watched any of the documentaries about the search for the Ark? Or when it’s brought up in debates? Anti-Ark people focus on archeological, geological, anthropological, biological, technological, or historical evidence (or lack thereof). Pro-Ark people will rely on scripture and point at ‘science’ like hydroplate theory, or the commonality of flood-myths.
Personally, I feel like the debunkers are punching at the wind. Not because I think that what they’re doing is without value, but because people of faith are going to believe what they’re going to believe regardless of any evidence you trot out in front of them. And you Christians are not going to convert any scientists because… well, Noah’s Ark is a preposterous concept. However, I do think that there are some things that both sides can benefit from. This is where, yet again, Occam’s Razer comes into play. Oh, and in case you’re having a hard time keeping things civil, you should read this also.
Making the assumption that God meant boat when He said Ark raises a whole lot of questions, and answers only one question–for which there is a much better answer (below). Remember, not everything that floats is a boat.
There are many strong reasons for the Ark not being a boat, the strongest of which is that boat is a vehicle that is steered by the occupants. The entire point of the Noah’s Ark story is that Noah’s fate is entirely in God hands [Genesis 8:1]. Having a boat that he could steer or control in any way is contrary to that.
The main reason I think most people think the Ark was a boat is because it has almost always been portrayed as one. The portrayals of the Ark throughout the years tend to represent ship building contemporary to the artist, or reflect artistic tradition.
Because Christians are so emotionally connected to this particular depiction of the Ark, and because they have to explain the seaworthiness of it, they wind up having to make up all kinds of reasons for how such an amazing vessel could be built thousands of years before the knowledge or technology existed… by four men and four women.
Even at the height of wooden ship construction, using tools and techniques as far removed from Noah’s bronze-age (or possibly neolithic) knowledge as steam locomotives to Roman chariots, they couldn’t build a wooden sea-going ship as large as the Ark. To build a ship of that size, Noah would have had to have possessed a knowledge of woodworking and shipbuilding in advance of anything known to this day.
By comparison, let’s look at the replica built in Kentucky. Touted as a “modern engineering marvel” (from the official website ) the Ark:
- Consists of 3,300,000 board feet of wood coming from as far away as Oregon and British Columbia.
- Over 1,000 craftsmen were used in its construction.
- Claimed to be the largest timber frame-structure in the world.
For some reason, I can’t seem to find any concrete information on how many man-hours it took to build. Despite the dearth of information, the level of sophistication required to build this version of the Ark and the fact they needed to source wood from all across North America, makes the accuracy of this version of the Ark dubious to say the least. Note that there is also no claim that this replica could actually float.
This just goes to show how laughably easy it is to destroy any Ark-as-ship arguments. All of this can be avoided by simply abandoning the assumption that the Ark was a ship.
On the other hand, Ark As Timber Raft requires no special skills or tools. There is also historical proof of timber rafts being used as far back as the 3rd century BC. Not only is this much more plausible, but requires far fewer assumptions (that Noah was a genius shipbuilder or that God gave him a divine revelation not mentioned in the text, that he was able to build a dry-dock, that he had all the wood-bending tools and skills, work animals and knowledge of strength multiplication equipment, like the fulcrum, though the earliest that particular invention is mentioned is in the 3rd century BC, and so on).
I could see why a scientist would not suggest this during a debate, as the task is to discredit the arguments of the opponent, not to help them out. But frankly, I’m surprised and almost embarrassed that Christians aren’t pushing this hypothesis.
Of course this leaves the argument about seaworthiness. Wouldn’t a giant log-raft break apart on the ocean? But who ever said the Ark had to be seaworthy? Not the Bible.
The Ark Didn’t Need to Be Seaworthy
So the floods came, it started raining, and the fountains of the great deep were broken up, whatever that means.
But before we go any further, let’s take a look at the region where this all was said to take place. Mesopotamia/Turkey seems to be the consensus. Now the record for rainfall in a 24-hour period is 71.9” during a cyclone in Cialos in the Indian Ocean. Let’s say God did that. If the entire region filled up like a bowl, that comes to 2,876” of rainfall or 239,’ which is more than deep enough to kill everything. For perspective, the deepest part of Lake Washington is 219.’ And as windy as it sometimes gets around here, you don’t need to be in the Queen Mary to be safe.
Also, I believe it is a mistake to look at the description of the flood as literal (covering all the mountains of the Earth). As with any narrative, you must view it from the perspective of the author, or in this case, Noah, who passed down the verbal history or the priests that transcribed it some twelve centuries later. Or let me put it this way, to a man on a raft in the middle of Lake Superior, it would look like the entire world has been flooded, so when the man describes it as such, it is a true statement from his perspective. And consider that by any modern measure, Noah was a profoundly ignorant man1. This is not an insult, but a simple fact. He didn’t know of North America, or Antarctica, hadn’t even conceived of anything as tall as K2 or Everest, anything as wide or deep as the Grand Canyon, and people wouldn’t know the Earth was a sphere until the 6th century BC (and for some, much later than that). Why assume that Noah would need to know any of these things to obey God’s will? Or why assume God would grant this knowledge through divine inspiration, whether to Noah or the scribes, when it has no bearing on the story or it’s message?
Even if the water did rise to Waterworld levels, why assume it was stormy? The ocean can be calm, you know.
It is natural to equate flooding with calamity. But, it doesn’t have to been a hundred foot wall of water. A mere 6 inches of flowing water can throw you off your feet. Water moving at 6mph has the force of a tornado, and at a measly 25mph, the force of a 790mph wind. We’ve all see the images of huge SUVs been swept along by 3 feet of water.Depending on the direction and how the flood waters came in, the Ark could simply have been buoyed by the waters–which is exactly what the text says–while everyone and everything else was swept to destruction. The text only says that the Ark was ‘moved about’ on the surface of the water, and the only time winds are mentioned is when the winds came to cause the water to subside, all of which sounds peaceful to me.
The fact that there are myths of cataclysmic floods in various cultural traditions does not prove2 that a single world-wide phenomena happened. However, sometimes catastrophic floods do happen… particularly in lowland areas, ravines and river valleys… like Mesopotamia.
So give up claims of a literal global flood. You won’t be contradicting scripture, and you’ll immediately start sounding smarter. Oceanographer and underwater archeologist Robert Ballard has apparently found evidence for a massive flood in the correct region (though there has been little recent progress and no other proponents of the theory), so you’d have a real expert in your corner to boot.
It Will Never Be Found
Trying to find the Ark, I believe, is completely futile. Think for a moment of what Noah would have faced upon making land (or in this case mountain) fall.
There usually isn’t a lot of forest on the top of mountains. Any wood would be waterlogged, and even if it was usable for construction, they would need dry wood for cooking fires. But why go elsewhere for building materials when you had pre-cut, pre-worked wood at hand? Why add unnecessary work?
No, God doesn’t tell Noah to use pieces of the Ark to rebuild their lives. Know what else He doesn’t say? That they can’t use the Ark to rebuild their lives. He also doesn’t tell them to build new homes or plant crops or many other necessary-for-life things.
Even if they decided to just walk away from the Ark, you still wouldn’t find it because even if the wood survived all these thousands of years, it would just be a scattering of logs and sticks covered over by eons of dirt and indistinguishable from the surrounding landscape.
Pro-Ark Peeps, there is no way you are going to convince science-based atheists of the literal truth of Noah’s Ark. So don’t look like an idiot by holding onto stupid ideas that you don’t have to.
Anti-Ark Peeps, you are not going to disprove by science the existence of Noah’s Ark to people who believe in the inerrant nature of the Bible. By all means, continue to appeal to reason by using evidence and rationality. But in addition, use the fact that fundamentalists consider scripture to be the ultimate authority and point out every assumption they make that is not supported by it, or that does so with a shaky interpretation of the text. You still won’t convince them, but doing so will show how weak the foundations of their arguments are.
1.What do you expect from someone living around 3,000 BC? Quantum mechanics?
2. Besides, if any people not descended from Noah recorded The Flood…isn’t that proof that the Flood didn’t destroy all other men and animals as scripture said? By it’s contradictory nature, any such account must be disqualified.