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On the Preservation of Species

June 11, 2007

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One of the biggest objections that people have to the unreality of the Bible is that there is no way that Noah could have fit two of every species on the Ark, especially considering the massive dinosaurs, and all the extinct species. I have long imagined a sign staked outside of the Ark that read “No Dinosaurs Allowed!” because I could not imagine how Noah could have possibly fit even a couple dinosaurs on the little boat portrayed in Sunday schools. Like Eve, I am often tempted to think that God didn’t actually know what he was talking about in the absence of evidence. Isn’t it interesting that the first sin was the selective editing of what God said and yet that is exactly what is encouraged in churches today. Even though dinosaurs grew to extreme sizes they all started off being similar in size to an ostrich egg, so a juvenile dinosaur pair could easily be smaller than sheep. That almost seems feasible, but what about the space?

If one is to really take an honest look at the apparent infeasibility of Noah’s Ark the first logical step is to actually read the portion of the Bible that describes the Ark. This is not something that occurred to me, so I was very surprised to find out that, based on an 18 inch cubit the dimension of the Ark were: 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high, with 3 stories. That gives you an area of 101,250 square feet with 15 foot ceilings. This turns out to have a striking similarity to modern ships. So given the amazing amount of floor space, combined with the reduced number of necessary “species”, and the small size of even the great dinosaurs. Perhaps we should be asking the opposite question, one proposed in the Answers Book: “What did Noah do with all that extra floor space? Perhaps a couple games of shuffleboard.” Further Reading: Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study.

Further Comments: The Discovery Channel has taken a liking to pointing out that, while the Ark “just happens to be” good dimensions for something like a freight hauler, it couldn’t possibly have enough structural integrity because it was made out of wood, not metal. I’d just like to point out the Ark was made out of “gopher wood“, whatever that is. NIV translates it as cypress and then footnotes it as “meaning uncertain”. The species of tree this came from could be totally extinct or unknown, so we have no way of knowing the tensile strength of the material. Similarly, ‘pitch’ doesn’t necessarily refer to a petroleum product.  At some point you just have to say “I don’t know, I wasn’t there, neither were you”.  It’s another good example of people trying to claim a non-existence or an impossibility. There’s a certain amount of intellectual hypocrisy that goes on to selectively criticize the Bible down the the point of needing structural integrity tests while calling the Epic of Gilgamesh the “older, more pure account”, and failing to note that the Epic of Gilgamesh describes a cube. Boats aren’t shaped like cubes for a reason.

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4 comments

  1. Hey everybody First post, by the way,

    OK dude you are passing up a golden opportunity here. If yo are trying to push a literal interpretation of the bible here, the first of many problems that you encounter is extinction,

    If you have millions of years to play with then fossils make a lot of sense, however when you cut that down to 6,000 you get a couple of big problems.

    First of all from looking at dead bodies that we know to be a couple of thousand years old. Mummies and the like. we can see how a corpse begins to change over time. Much like old bread it gets a little dry and brittle.

    so a three to five thousand year old mummy is all fine and good. And yes the writing on the walls tells us that the mummy in question is that old. So we can skip the carbon 14 shenanigans.

    But when we look at a dinosaur, or even a homo-erectus skeleton. Which is so old it has nearly turned to rock by this point. It becomes hard to think that it is even on the same time scale as our dried up mummy.

    And what does this have to do with Noah you ask? Well…

    With Noah you are presented with an amazing opportunity. Why not have a big “NO DINOSAURS” sign outside the ark? OK so we take every species that we need to have extinct today. Dinosaurs, large mammals, insects the size of your coffee table, and the untold scores of extinct sea life. And you simply don’t allow them on the ark.

    So what it takes mainstream scientists billions of years to make extinct, God is now free to drown in a mere 40 days.

    So 150 days later Noah lands on mount Ararat, lights a couple of animals on fire, and we are good.

    So now we have this huge layer of dead animals, but we need to get them fossilized somehow. So that they look like proper fossils and not our mummy friend from earlier.

    Well so far we have had God flooding the entire planet with 15 cubits of water, and believe me it’s pretty impressive to submerge every mountain on earth, except Ararat, with only 22 1/2 feet of water.

    And then get rid of the water somehow. Very impressive.

    On top of that apparently rainbows didn’t exist back then either. (This surprised me too) So if god is flooding the planet, repopulating the earth, and giving light the ability to refract, he can probably take a ten minute break to fossilize a few dead animals.


  2. Thanks for your reply Zach.

    Noah’s Flood certainly does have a lot of explanatory power for dealing with extinct species. The idea that dinosaurs were not on the Ark is one that I held for a long time, so it’s certainly not one that I would dismiss off-hand. Still, I’m trying to look at all the possibilities. So if it is feasible that all the evidence has come about in a scenario that matches with the most straight forward interpretation of the Bible then people have another possibility to consider.

    I’ve already got an article on Dinosaurs and Fossilization that I haven’t gotten around to finalizing yet. Sorry about that. Here’s an explanation of fossilization: http://www.dinoruss.com/de_4/5c60e6e.htm The important thing about fossilization is that it takes very specific circumstances to allow bone to be replaced with mineral. Fossilization is not a guarantee, so most human remains are not on their way to becoming fossils, they’re on their way to becoming dust. Mummy’s are an interesting exception, in that they have been carefully physically and chemically preserved. Still, I think mummies are on their way to becoming dust because they are not encased in rock, so no fossilization can occur, they’re just doing it exceptionally slow.

    Take a look at the fossilization article, here are a couple things I noticed: “In arid regions, bones left on the surface may crumble away in less than 10 years”. “A sudden flash flood will trap many animals, whose remains will be quickly buried as the mud and silt carried by the flood is deposited.”

    “Sediment builds up over buried remains and pressure drives water out and converts the sediment to rock. During the lifetime of the rock, water filtering through it dissolves some minerals and deposits them at other sites, and deposits different minerals at the original site of the fossil.” Water is an essential element in fossilization because it provides the necessary rapid burial, sedimentation, and then the medium for mineral replacement. The Flood would provide all of these ingredients far above normal quantities which could lead to rapid fossilization. On closer examination, there is no real hocus pocus required, just natural processes working under catastrophic conditions.

    I should actually publish the Dinosaurs article. You did give me some things to think about and research has uncovered a lot of interesting things. I’m not familiar with any human remains that are truly “fossilized” as in being replaced completely by minerals, but that would be an interesting thing to look into. (A common argument against the Flood is the utter lack of fossilized human remains, we can’t have it both ways.) One thing that tends to obfuscate the matter is the word “fossil” is often used to describe an artifact that is old, not something that has gone through fossilization. I’ll continue to research, and see if I find anything new.

    T. Rex Soft Tissue Found Preserved
    Many Dino Fossils Could Have Soft Tissue Inside
    “Mummified” Dinosaur Discovered In Montana

    Cave Digging for Europe’s Past
    Fossil find reveals evolutionary montage
    Johanson Announces Historic Discovery


  3. I have a retraction to make. I talked to an expert in fossilization and they cleared up a lot. There are apparently lots of fossilized human remains. The study of fossilization (and dead things) is called taphonomy. Fossilization does not require a flash flood, that’s just one of the best conditions. Fossils can also be formed by land slides, mud slides and a couple other rapid burial situations. The key ingredient is the removal of oxygen from the environment, so that the bacteria responsible for decay can be stopped. Beyond this, the rate of fossilization is mainly effected by the chemistry of the soil in which it is encased, this can be a slow or fast process depending on how close to optimal the chemistry is. Pressurization is not necessarily required. I’ve been told that given a bath tub and some naturally occurring chemicals one can create the right chemical environment for fossilization which can happen in a week or two (I know that’s longer than the typical internet attention span). I want to see this for myself, so I think I’ll try it out. I’ve heard you can make petrified wood, which would be cool. Any ideas on what I should try to fossilize?


  4. “I’ve heard you can make petrified wood, which would be cool. Any ideas on what I should try to fossilize?”

    A cat!



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