Noah’s Ark…Testament to Catastrophe

Written by Steven King:

The Bible contains descriptions of many incredible events.  One of the most spectacular events documented by the Bible, in the book of Genesis, is the worldwide flood and Noah’s Ark! Some people claim that the description of the ark is too ridiculous: it couldn’t hold all of the animals, survive a huge flood, or Noah and his family wouldn’t be able to take care of the animals for an entire year.  Because of criticisms, the account of the flood is claimed to be impossible. A more thorough look at the ark and its purpose reveals that it was perfectly suited for a worldwide flood.

Purpose of the Ark

noahs_ark_pictures__image_4__sjpg324  In the account Genesis, God was determined to destroy the world with a global flood (Genesis 6:7).  However, rather than destroying all life on the earth, God instructed a man named Noah to build an ark.

The ark was to be a large boat that his family could survive on during the global flood.

In addition, two of every kind of animal that lived on land and breathed air was to be on the Ark with Noah, so that they would survive the flood as well, which is the purpose of the ark. If we are to determine whether the ark is ridiculous or not, we will have to see whether it could fulfill this purpose.

Size of the Ark

The ark was huge, but was it big enough?  After all, the ark had to hold all of those animals.  According to Genesis 6:15, the dimensions for the ark were 300 cubits long by 50 cubits wide by 30 cubits high.  A cubit is an old unit of measure that is equal to one and a half feet.  The dimension of the ark would then be 450 feet by 75 feet by 45 feet.  To give it some perspective, a NFL football field is 360 feet long (if you include the end zones).  The ark was 90 feet longer than a football field!  Another way to appreciate the size of the ark is to consider its capacity: the entire volume of the ark was 1.54 million cubic feet.  This is equivalent to 270 double deck railroad stock cars.

The Number of Animals

Remember that only land animals that breathed air needed to go aboard the ark.  Aquatic animals, such as fish, some reptiles and mammals, molluscs, jellyfish, and other types of water creatures would not have to go on the ark, as they would survive out in the waters of the flood.  Some animals, such as the insects, are very small, so while they would have been on the ark, they would take up only a tiny amount of space.  The animals that would take up the most room on the ark would be the mammals, birds, and reptiles.  There are a total of 18,600 species of mammals, birds, and reptiles alive today.  That seems like a lot of animals, and it is, but Noah would not have to have that many animals on the ark.

Today, we count animals in terms of species.  A species is defined as animals that can interbreed in the wild and produce fertile offspring.  Species is a man-made term that helps us understand and classify living things.  A better way to count the animals that were on the Ark is to count kinds.  A kind, which is also called a baramin, refers to animals that are capable of interbreeding with one another.  A kind usually encompasses several species.  For instance, a horse (species Equus ferus) and a zebra (species Equus zebra) can interbreed with one another.  The offspring is not fertile, so they belong to different species, but because they can interbreed, it shows that horses and zebras are genetically related and thus belong to the same kind.  Because they are genetically related, horses and zebra are both descendant from the same stock.  Think of the different breeds of horses: they are all descended from wild horses.  Similarly, horses and zebras would be descendant from an original horse kind.  Studies indicate that the kind is usually equivalent to the genus or family level in our modern classification system.  Counting only genera of mammals, birds, and reptiles, and remembering that there would be a pair of each kind of animal, there would only be 16,000 animals in total on the Ark.

While some animals that would be brought on the ark would be large, most known animals are actually quite small.  For every elephant, there are many more small rodents.  Even the very large kinds of animals could be represented by juveniles or adolescents so that the small, immature animals would not take up as much room.  Even the largest dinosaurs start off small, so they would have fit on the ark as well.  The average size of an animal on the ark would be the size of a sheep.  240 sheep can fit on one double deck stock car.  16,000 animals the size of sheep can fit into 67 double deck freight cars.  That is only a quarter of the capacity of the ark!  There would have been plenty of room on the ark for Noah and his family to store food and supplies for themselves and the animals.


Caring for the Animals

Most kinds of animals can hibernate or aestivate.  These are torpid states of sleep when an animal requires very little food.  If most of the animals on the ark went into hibernation, there would be a whole lot less food consumption and a whole lot less waste to clean up.  Hibernating animals would make the job of carrying for them much easier on Noah and his family.

Another Catastrophe

The information discussed previously shows that the idea of keeping all kinds of animals on the ark is far from ridiculous.  Rather, it is very feasible, making the story of Noah and the ark appear like real history and not a fanciful fairy tale.  But the ark is more than just a testament to the worldwide catastrophe of the past: it reminds us of another catastrophe that will happen in the future.

Speaking of the worldwide flood, the apostle Peter reminds us that “the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.  But the present heavens and earth by His [God’s] word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” (II Peter 3:6-7)


 The coming judgment is upon ungodly men, men who are sinners.  However, “all have sinned and fall[en] short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

The target of the judgment is all of mankind, for all men have sinned.  But, “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God.” (I Peter 3:18)  Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, died in the place of man and rose again, paying the penalty by dying on the cross.

What must a person do to escape the judgment?  The penalty is already paid, there is no more work for salvation to be done.  Instead, what a man must do is “confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)  If Jesus is Lord of your life, you will escape the coming judgment by fire.



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