How Horrible Was Life Aboard Noah’s Ark?

Our title asks a simple question. Of course, you might come back with: Horrible compared to what?

Well, consider the example of another crowded ship — one that is historically veifiable — the transatlantic slave ship. According to the Wikipedia article, Slave ship, those vessels could carry about 200 slaves and they looked like this on the inside:

Transatlantic slave ship

That was one deck. Here’s a cross-section showing all three decks:

We already know about those, because they were real. Now let’s consider Noah’s Ark. According to one of the greatest living experts, Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), who is described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page, the Ark contained “somewhere from 2,000–3,000 actual land animals.” That’s according to this article he recently wrote: How Many Kinds? That means there were more than ten times as many animals on the Ark as there were slaves in a slave ship.

It’s true that there were many small animals on the Ark, but there were a lot of large ones too — including dinosaurs (see AIG: Why Were Dinos Saved on the Ark?). And although Hambo is conveniently invoking the bizarre concept of “kinds,” and assuming that the millions of species now alive somehow evolved from them within the last 4,000 years, the Ark probably had far more than 3,000 animals aboard. It must have been a bit crowded, wouldn’t you think? Indeed, it probably made conditions aboard a slave ship seem luxurious by comparison.

What did the Ark look like on the inside? Nobody knows, of course, but ol’ Hambo’s experts have provided a diagram, which you can see in this article: Caring for the Animals on the Ark. If you click over there and scroll down, you’ll see a drawing of the inside of the Ark, showing all three decks. To us, it looks rather like the drawing of a slave ship. Well, why shouldn’t it? They’re both cargo ships.

If you think conditions on a slave ship were ghastly — according to Wikipedia, an average of 15% and sometimes up to one-third of the slaves didn’t survive the voyage — then it follows that conditions on the Ark were more than ten times worse.

So what do we conclude? Oh, nothing, really. But for a moment, let’s overlook the likelihood that the Ark is pure mythology. Assume that it was real, and then ponder what that voyage must have been like.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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34 responses to “How Horrible Was Life Aboard Noah’s Ark?

  1. Christine Janis,

    Hey — maybe the animals that are extinct today (saber-tooth tigers, mastodons, mammal-like reptiles, thecodonts, etc.) are the ones who lost a partner on the ark so couldn’t survive to reproduce.

  2. @Christine: That doesn’t seem likely. I mean, wouldn’t that be pointless? If the magical designer, blessed-be-he was going to kill them off anyway, why not do it ahead of time and make the ark smaller and seaworthy? It’s not like animals get a soul to worry about. Hardly seems intelligent to me. Wasteful, incompetent and foolish-be-he.

  3. Another point to consider, SC. The slavers weren’t at sea for over a year, so the Ark conditions were that much worse again.

  4. I think I’ve found a pertinent quote here with regards to the AIG “Dino’s on the Ark” article and it’s author(s)…………….. Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life son………………….Dean Wormer…………….. or
    “90% of this game is half mental”………….Yogi Berra
    Speaking of mental Hammy,,,,,,,,,,,,,,:)

  5. retiredsciguy

    Another point — the Ark had no means of propulsion, so it couldn’t stay pointed into wind or waves. It would have rolled horribly — in fact, it would almost certainly have capsized.

    Assuming for a moment it didn’t capsize, how would you like being trapped in a vessel with 3,000 seasick animals flopping back and forth with every wave?

  6. retiredsciguy

    It. Didn’t. Happen.

  7. A search of my library of hidden lore has produced a transcript of a conversation aboard the Ark:

    Mrs. Noah: Oy, Noah. One of the dinosaurs threw up again.

    Noah: Don’t bother me, woman. I’m busy navigating. Go clean it up.

    Mrs. Noah: Navigating? Are you crazy? The whole world is one big ocean! Besides, you can’t even steer this tub.

    Noah: Shut up, woman. Go clean up the dino vomit.

  8. Charles Deetz ;)

    The best ones at this game are the kids. What questions would kids have for Hambo, because they would entertain that this story was real … What kept the lions from eating Noah? Who took the gazelles up top to run around? How did the penguins get there in time?

    And kids are great at talking about poop! Imagine the poop questions Ken would have to answer.

  9. Christine Janis,

    “Imagine the poop questions Ken would have to answer.”

    He wouldn’t be able to answer, because He Wasn’t There.

  10. Of Noah’s Ark, our Curmudgeon invites us to

    ponder what that voyage must have been like

    The scheduled Ryanair flight from Dublin to Barcelona is a close approximation.

    But that ordeal only lasts three hours. A year in such conditions would doubtless result in 100% fatalities for all on board.

  11. So if Noah only took each “kind” of animal (meaning family onto the ark, then how many apes did he take? Did humans get off the Ark and somehow have children that became gorillas, orang-utans, chimps, and Ken Ham?

    And how many hermaphroditic animals did Noah bring aboard? What about certain species of frogs, who are capable of changing gender under duress? What about whiptail lizards, who reproduce asexually through parthenogenesis? Did Noah leave animals like these to die in their sins, because they did not follow the Biblical view of marriage being between one male and one female?

  12. Is the whole arc adventure supposed to have taken place before the supercontinent of Pangea broke up? If Pangea broke up after Noah’s time, it would require that continental drift has been very, very fast (in order to have placed the contients in their present locations). OTOH, if the continents were already separated by the modern oceans, just how did Noah get kangaroos delivered to Australia, polar bears to the Arctic, zebras to Africa, etc.? FedEx wasn’t in business at the time :-).

  13. In the seat pocket in front of every animal was a barf bag.
    Didn’t the Ark have a poop deck like every ship?

  14. Ceteris Paribus

    Bummer, man. I thought the topic was about Dr. Noah Zark, from Mad Magazine archives. Gotta get more sleep. Sorry. But if anyone has any news about the other characters, Flesh Garden and Dale Light, be sure to post.

  15. The two biggies for me (as others have mentioned) are…
    Super-duper EVILooshin immediately after the flood, and…
    Super-duper Skootin’ continents travelling thousands of miles in a few weeks!

    …Oh, and all those existing civilisations that just seemed to breeze through the catastrophe without even the slightest inconvenience 🙂

  16. @Realist1949: They have a theory of runaway subduction that allows continent to move around at incredible speed (also incredible lack of friction). Perhaps the Indian continent (now sub-continent) might have been used as a taxi to deliver critters where they need to go. That might also explain why it is currently trying to park underneath Asia. (Beep beep!)

    Back to the Ark, sailors on long sea voyages used to suffer terribly from scurvy and other deficiency diseases. The counter to this wasn’t discovered until 1747. Noah and family would have been in very bad shape.

  17. Apparently, Noah and his family lost most of their teeth, married within the family and settled in Arkansas. True story.

  18. Lewis Thomasonn

    All of your comments forget one thing God gid it so there were no problems and no one took a sh**.

  19. If I undertand Hambo correctly, the easiest way to find where the Ark came to rest would be simply to find the area where all know species exist currently. The area that supports the the most diverse cross section of all known species should do fine.

    A good start may be marking the promising areas on your map with small “Red” flags. Next you’d do well to mark the location of Mt.Ararat with a slightly larger “Gold” pin. Step three is the easiest, ignore all the “Red” flags and convince yourself that there is only a “Gold” pin in your map. It’s rather important that you comply with step three for reasons that you know you cannot comprehend.

    The heartbroken fossils of all the widowed/extinct species should be close by, making for easy cross confirmation.

    Boom, Done

    For my next trick I intend to divert the blame for the onset of global warming away from mankind via an Irresponsible Deluge theory.

    The theory will state that the volume of green house gasses released by the enourmous amount of rotting aquatic matter left covering the Earth following the abatement of the great deluge, eclipses any volume of green house gasses that modern civilization has so far, or will ever cumulatively produce. No “Carp and Trade” jokes please.

    Given that the onus can clearly be placed on the “Irresponsibe Deluger” due to uncontested historical account. The only reasonable action would be to hold the available representatives responsible for their leaders reckless actions in his/her/tba absence.

    Science and ID heads to court yet again.

    Cheers ;=)

  20. Ceteris Paribus

    @docbill1351 And some number of them have now migrated just across the state line to Branson, Missouri, where the sheriff reports they have found steady, gainful, employment in the sideshow industry located there.

  21. While not as horrific as a slave ship. During WW II they crammed around 14,000 solders on the Queen Mary liner. The record was 16,082. She transported a total of 765,429 solders in total.

    Since Noah’s arc is fictional, it all depends on how many animals one wants to claim could fit on it. Maybe they should check the myth of Gilgamesh to see it he stated how many animals his ark carried.

    Keep on smiling . . .

  22. Here’s a post from the BBC about the missing David Mckenzie who was apparently searching for the Ark remains in Turkey.
    <a href=
    Anyone know more about this?
    Anyway, our First Fleet to underside (I don’t mind that moniker now curmudgeon) in 1778 managed to set up what is now Oz and the British didn’t need an Ark.
    All the best for your election stateside, and, today, we had a holiday for a horse race. ‘Green Moon’ won the Melbourne Cup. Make what you will.

  23. Carl Segnit says: “Green Moon won the Melbourne Cup.”

    Surely it’s an omen. Now all I need is an oracle …

  24. To the statement “One of the dinosaurs threw up again,” Noah must have at least briefly pondered what it had been eating. After all, forty days and forty nights — one might be a bit peckish, no? Noah’s possible reply: “Has anyone seen Shem, Ham & Japheth, lately?” I guess we’ll all find out in 2014:

  25. What strikes me is that Ham could simply say that the animals we see around us today were the ones that made it on the ark, and all of the extinct animals died out before the flood. There is nothing in the bible to contradict that. So Ham is making the arc story exponentially more improbable (of course, it has zero probability to begin with, but you get my point) for no apparent reason, unless it is to capture the kids with the idea that Noah lived in some sort of Dinotopia before the flood.

    Let’s see if the film-makers include dinosaurs in the upcoming arc movie. My bet is that they don’t.

    Thanks for the link, Neon. The comments are interesting. One creationist, answering a question, wrote that since there was no rain prior to the flood, no one had seen a rainbow. I never heard that one before.

  26. Christine Janis,

    —-‘-since there was no rain prior to the flood,—-”

    Do these people really know zero about biology and life in general?

  27. Doctor Stochastic

    LInk to the Gilgamesh Flood:

    Of course, Gilgamesh’s Ark landed on mount Nimush wherever that was at the time.

  28. Doctor Stochastic says: “Gilgamesh’s Ark landed on mount Nimush wherever that was at the time.”

    It’s in my back yard, but I’ve been unable to win immortal fame by discovering the remains of the Ark because the site is guarded by Bigfoot.

  29. SC, I never realized Mount Nimush (or any mountain at all) is in Florida. If you hadn’t mentioned Bigfoot, I would have thought you were delusional.

  30. When you think about it, the concept that Noah took on every living thing on earth, save for the little fishies, etc., unless god intended them to drown in the flood waters, is absurd.
    So, taking the story literally is not rational, as Noah and other Middle Easterners had no concept of animal life in the Americas, Asia, Australia, etc. Therefore the number of animals he’d take on board is likely limited to the animals known only in the Middle East. And practically speaking, what mattered was the farm animals, the pets (T-Rex’s), the draft animals, the horses, etc. Therefore, the need for a huge vessel was totally unnecessary and was grossly inflated by biblical writers and editors over time as they are prone to do when it comes to religion.
    More likely, the guy had a big raft, crammed a few sheep & goats, & cows on it, his family, and they set out for a day of fun rafting and picnic down the river during a brief rainstorm and minor flooding, came back home, tidied up, and life went on, ‘cept for the T-Rex’s, which they ate.

  31. Yes, the idea of a genocidal, oops, biospherocidal, God is a little outside of the more common Christian concept of a loving, forgiving God.

    I get a shudder whenever I see cartoon versions of noahs ark all over baby things. I just want to burn the cards my daughter go with that crap on them. Yes, little one there really are monsters and these people want you to think that the big monster is your God.

    Let it go people. It never happened, and why do you want so desperately to believe such a horrible story did happen in the first place?

  32. @Christine Janis:
    Speaking as an expert (I was a YEC fundamentalist for 23 years), I can confidently state that no, they don’t know anything (real) about biology and life in general. What little they “know” comes from creationist books and tracts. Furthermore, everyone in the church knows you don’t ask questions about this sort of thing.
    As for the specific belief that there was no rain before the flood, it comes from Genesis 2.4-6 (yes, the same pentateuch that teaches that bats are birds. For more biological ignorance, check out Genesis 30:27-43).

  33. @Mark Joseph:

    yes, I meant to mention Gen. 2:4-6. The fact that the Bible then fails to mention rain again until the Flood is what the fundies will use to claim there was no rain prior to the Flood. There is nothing but absurdity in the “science” of Genesis.

    I only hope today Americans can excercise enough sense to vote some of these idiots out of office.

  34. retiredsciguy

    TJW, your wish is happening. Theocrat Richard “Pregnancy caused by rape is God’s will” Mourdock lost his race for the senate to Dem. Joe Donnelly. Mourdock had defeated long-term Sen. Richard Lugar in the primary.