Noah’s Ark and the Loons.
This isn’t about birds on the Ark. Well, some of it is, but that’s not the gist of this post.
Some loon in Kentucky (Am I being redundant?) is building a 500 foot long boat to replicate the boat of Biblical fame. The idea works like this – if he can do it, the bible must be true.
I think he even plans to populate it with “two of every animal”. I’m not a biblical scholar; the majority of what I know about Noah’s Ark is from the Sting song, “Rock Steady” and the movie, “Evan Almighty”. Okay, so I did go to Sunday School in my youth. The way I understand it the story says there were 7 of every clean animal, not just two.
Anyway, the point is there is simply not enough space on a 450ft x 75 ft boat for all the species on the planet. Okay, so if we reduced the number of species to those within a couple thousand miles, it might be plausible until we account for food. Which reminds me: where will the Kentucky Yokel find the Unicorns to feed to the carnivores?
There are ways to make the flood myth plausible by reducing the area of the flood. However any alterations to the original story invalidate the premise of the dude in Kentucky. He’s aiming to prove the Bible is literal.
According to the myth, the flood was the entire Earth. We have to brush aside the obvious questions of where did the water come from to bury the world in 7 miles (assuming the highest mountain was undersea) of water and where did it go afterwards. Since we’re talking God, we can ignore science, right? But then why did God have to create the flood through rains? Why not ‘poof’ the water into place? Omnipotent? Why have a flood in the first place. So inefficient for an Almighty Deity…
Speaking of where all the water went…could we get some of it back. I understand some godforsaken places could use a little less forsaken and little more water, like Texas and most of the places mentioned in the Bible.
“Two of every animal, no matter how small.” Except 7 of each bird and clean animal. I could argue that there might have been fewer species in Noah’s days, but that would require evolution, which clearly doesn’t fit into this argument. There are a lot of animals in the world. Two of each one would not fit into a boat, even with several levels, the size of the Ark. Seven each of the clean ones make the space even more cramped. Most warm blooded mammals eat their mass in food over the course of 40 days. Birds would eat several times their mass, and most birds are of the seven of each kind. There are tens of thousands of distinct species on the planet.
The size limit for a structurally sound wooden ship is around 300 feet—any bigger than that and the limitations of the material cause problems. Wood is flexible and when it flexes it changes shape, meaning the seams don’t stay in the same place. This means big ships leak. The ocean is not flat. Big wooden ships tend to bend over the swells of the ocean, this stresses the materials and wood only flexes so much before it loses integrity.
Proponents of the flood myth often will cite that every culture has a flood myth. This is not quite true and ignores the fact that not all flood myths fit into the same timeframe. Floods have happened throughout history and there are several plausible opportunities in history for the sea levels to rise on a global level, maybe even two meters in one year. Assuming everyone lived by the ocean (they didn’t) it might seem like a global flood, but at the time few, if any, people were aware of global anything. Regional floods can easily wipe whole pre-historical nations off the map. Glacial melts tore through river valleys with catastrophic results. Of course, this requires the acceptance that the last major ice age ended about 10,000 years ago, but that was 4000 years before God made the Earth, right?
Bottom line, floods are scary and make good stories. Religion is a whole lot less interesting if it doesn’t give people a scary alternative to being holy and faithful in the eyes of the church. Most successful religions learned a long time ago that the Carrot is not as effective as the Stick.
On the brighter side, several of the looniest people in the country will be occupied with their hobby for a few years.
Side note: The bit about all Kentuckians being loons is only from personal experience. I haven’t met everyone from Kentucky, but I should assume that at least one, if not most, of them is not a loon. “Justified”, which is one of my favorite television shows takes place in Kentucky. Being a television show, it doesn’t help debunk the myth that all Kentuckians are, to one degree or another, loony. Then again maybe all of us humans are, to one degree or another, loons.