The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. - Wm. Blake

Friday, August 19, 2005

It literally rained cats and dogs!

Great post over at the Slacktivist about God's findness for Creation in general, and beetles and ostriches in particular. It led me to wonder about how Bible literalists cope with the occasional factual misstatements in the Bible (such as that the ostrich is "unmindful" of her eggs - she isn't). I posted a comment, and added in a wonder about how literalists explain squeezing 2 of every animal into Noah's ark.

Silly me.

I wanted to get the dimensions right, so I did a quick Google, and of course literalist sites come up first. Fascinating things from reading The Other Side:

* Boy, do they parrot one another! Did you know that the Babylonian Flood myth includes a cube-shaped ark? That wouldn't be stable at all! I learned this 3 times, similar phrasing each time.

* The ark was bigger than any boat built until the modern steel ship era. Calculations show that it would have been more stable than modern ships! Also covered 3 times out of three.

* Taking every kind of animal isn't the same as taking every species. So apparently, postdiluvian evolution is OK.

These arguments are astonishing tributes to redirection and misdirection. Witness:
According to Ernest Mayr, America's leading taxonomist, there are over 1 million species of animals in the world.

God only provided the Ark for the protection of humans and land-dwelling, air-breathing creatures. A huge number of animals would not need to be taken aboard the Ark because they are water dwellers. Representatives would be expected to survive the catastrophe. With God's protection against extinction during the Deluge, survival would have been assured.

However, the vast majority of these are capable of surviving in water and would not need to be brought aboard the ark. Noah need make no provision for the 21,000 species of fish or the 1,700 tunicates (marine chordates like sea squirts) found throughout the seas of the world, or the 600 echinoderms including star fish and sea urchins.... [it goes on and on in this vein]

How many animals needed to be brought aboard?
Doctors Morris and Whitcomb in their classic book, "The Genesis Flood," state that no more than 35,000 individual animals needed to go on the ark. In his well documented book, Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study, John Woodmorappe suggests that far fewer animals would have been transported upon the ark. By pointing out that the word "specie" is not equivalent to the "created kinds" of the Genesis account, Woodmorappe credibly demonstrates that as few as 2,000 animals may have been required on the ark. To pad this number for error, he continues his study by showing that the ark could easily accommodate 16,000 animals.)

But, let's be generous and add on a reasonable number to include extinct animals. Then add on some more to satisfy even the most skeptical. Let's assume 50,000 animals, far more animals than required, were on board the ark, and these need not have been the largest or even adult specimens.

Remember there are really only a few very large animals, such as the dinosaur or the elephant, and these could be represented by young ones. Assuming the average animal to be about the size of a sheep and using a railroad car for comparison, we note that the average double-deck stock car can accommodate 240 sheep. Thus, three trains hauling 69 cars each would have ample space to carry the 50,000 animals, filling only 37% of the ark. This would leave an additional 361 cars or enough to make 5 trains of 72 cars each to carry all of the food and baggage plus Noah's family of eight people. The Ark had plenty of space.

Who knows? Maybe all this nonsense actually adds up. But look at how they get there: cite an actual scientist for a pretty meaningless number. Then distract from the magnitude of that number with blah blah. Then cite fake experts to get a number that is, in some sense, comprehensible. Wave off the large animals (you just knew that "dinosaur" would link to an explanation elsewhere on the site, right?), and finally pretend that you could pack the animals in like sheep in a railcar for about a year.

They just don't care. And the people who believe it don't care. They just want something with a lot of words so it seems like it's been explained. Any parallels to current events I'll leave up to the reader's discernment.


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