AIG: Top Ten Flood Misconceptions

Since we posted Top Ten Reasons Noah’s Flood is Mythology back in November of 2012, it has received over 22,000 page-views, plus uncountable others by methods other than actually visiting this blog.

Now we present you the flip-side of the argument. It’s probably not a response to our humble post, but we found it today at at the website of the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

AIG’s essay is Ark Tales — 10 Popular Misconceptions about the Flood. It’s a re-post of something we ignored when it first appeared at the start of last year. The author is Tim Chaffey. AIG says he “holds an MDiv specializing in apologetics and theology and a ThM in church history and theology from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He is content manager for Answers in Genesis’s Ark Encounter theme park.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us.

After a boring introduction, Tim asks: “Are you guilty of any of these ten common misconceptions?” He doesn’t number them, but we will, and because he tends to drone on and on, we’ll have to be very selective in our excerpts. You need to read Tim’s entire post to understand it in its glorious entirety. We won’t bother with any rebuttal, because it’s not necessary. This is the list:

1. It Never Rained Before the Flood. Many creationists insist the Bible teaches that rain had never fallen prior to the Flood. This idea largely comes from a phrase in Genesis 2:5: “. . . before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground.” … [R]ather than describing Earth’s conditions throughout the pre-Flood world, this verse is likely just explaining the environment prior to Day Six.

We weren’t there, so we never worried about that. Next on Tim’s list:

2. Pre-Flood Society Was Complete Chaos and Violence. Genesis describes the world as extremely wicked and violent prior to the Flood. … Since that world perished in the Flood, it is impossible to know exactly what it was like. … Many civilizations throughout history have been filled with wickedness while still carrying on daily life. Ancient Rome built a grand society complete with law and order, roads, aqueducts, and impressive building projects. At the same time, Roman culture was quite wicked, filled with idolatry, violence, and sexual immorality. Another example is modern America. While much can still be admired, wickedness and violence have inundated American society. The same is true for our world at large. Perhaps other than technology we are not so different from the pre-Flood world.

So maybe pre-Flood society wasn’t all bad. But they were all slaughtered anyway. Tough luck! Let’s read on:

3. A Wooden Ark Would Not Be Seaworthy. Skeptics … claim the Ark could not possibly remain afloat. They cite modern examples like the six-masted schooner Wyoming, built in 1909 on a scale a little smaller than the Ark, which twisted in the sea and eventually sank.

Yet it is a mistake to assume the Ark was designed in the same way. Building large wooden vessels is difficult but not impossible. Some ancient Greek warships were of a comparable size to the Wyoming, and they managed to stay afloat. The Wyoming is probably not the best example of excellent design! Furthermore, before jumping to conclusions it’s good to get the whole story. The Wyoming successfully transported thousands of tons of coal for over 14 years! The Ark needed to float for only about five months before landing on the mountains of Ararat.

Okay. The list continues:

4. The Ark Was Box-Shaped. Perhaps no concept of the Ark has drawn more negative reaction from Christians than the sleek vessel being proposed for the Ark Encounter, now under construction in Kentucky. Convinced the Bible specifies that the Ark was shaped like a box, concerned Christians have argued against the bow fin and stern projection depicted on the Ark Encounter’s vessel. [We’re skipping a lot.] Another assumption has been that Noah did not have the time, tools, or technology to build anything other than a simple box-shaped boat. But Hebrews 11:7 reveals that Noah built the Ark in reverent fear, indicating he would have been very careful to build it in a way that honored the Lord. After all, every land-dwelling creature and the human race depended upon the Ark’s safety.

Given the uncertainty of the term’s precise meaning, we should refrain from dogmatism about the Ark’s shape, except that we can rule out the cutesy bathtub toy look portrayed in countless children’s books. The streamlined look of the Ark Encounter’s vessel was designed to maximize strength, stability, and comfort in turbulent seas. Noah’s Ark may have looked different, but short of finding the actual Ark, we do not know for certain.

That makes no sense. Hambo knows what the Ark looked like! Here’s more:

5. Not Enough Room for All the Animals. How could one guy fit a million species of animals on a boat for a whole year? Even Christians wonder about this question. They assume the Bible says two of every species went onto the Ark, and they envision an overcrowded boat like the ones they’ve seen in illustrated Bibles or films. … Noah was not instructed to bring two of every species, as if he used our modern classification system. Instead, Noah needed to bring two of every kind of unclean animal and more of the clean animals. The biblical kind seems to line up well with the family level of taxonomy.

Noah didn’t need to bring marine organisms, and it’s debatable whether Noah needed to take insects on board (but there would have been space on the Ark for them). An exhaustive study of the land animal kinds, both living and extinct, is nearing completion. At present, it looks like the total will be approximately 1,000 kinds of animals, meaning Noah brought fewer than 5,000 individual animals. In an earlier detailed study using representatives from every genus, it was demonstrated that there would have been plenty of space for 16,000 creatures, along with their food and supplies.

Impressive, huh? Moving along:

6. Dinosaurs Couldn’t Fit on the Ark. Most people are surprised to find out that many dinosaurs were actually rather small. Just a few of the most popular “terrible lizards” were ginormous [sic], and they were once small — the 65-ton Dreadnoughtus likely came from an egg about the size of a football. Moreover, each family usually had a smaller variety that could have represented the whole family. So if God brought juvenile animals or smaller varieties to Noah, then there was no need to squeeze enormous animals onto the Ark.

No problem with dinosaurs. The list goes on:

7. The Flood Was Only a Regional Event. Many Christians have heard arguments that the Flood account describes a regional or local event. … Genesis 6–9 describes a world-destroying global catastrophe, and not a regional flood. [Several scripture quotes.]

That settles the global question. Here’s another:

8. The Oceans Do Not Have Enough Water to Cover the Earth. Another common concern is that Earth does not have enough water to cover the mountains. There are multiple difficulties with this misconception. First, it is based on the assumption that the Flood needed to cover the mountain ranges we know today. However, the pre-Flood world was much different than today’s world. For example, it likely consisted of one continent (Genesis 1:9), and since the Flood destroyed that world, we cannot know with any certainty how high the pre-Flood hills reached. Our modern lofty peaks are formed out of sediments that were filled with animals killed during the Flood.

Second, the breakup of the earth’s plates at the start of the Flood would have heated the crust under the oceans, causing the seafloor to rise and pushing the water over the continents. Under these circumstances, the ocean (which is more than 6.5 miles, or 10.5 km, deep in some places) had plenty of water to cover the earth.

[…]

Ironically, most geologists believe Mars once had massive floods. If a planet with no known liquid water can have a flood of biblical proportions, then it should not be hard to accept that our blue planet, 70% covered in water and possibly containing far more water locked in the mantle, could have had a global Flood.

We’re getting near the end:

9. The Genesis Flood Account Was Copied from Ancient Myth. In the past two centuries we have discovered flood stories that predate Moses, so experts regularly claim the Flood account is just another myth borrowed from other ancient cultures. Christians who have bought into this line of reasoning underestimate the many differences between Genesis and these stories, while undermining the authenticity of Scripture.

The Bible gives us the true account, and any version that varies from this record must therefore be a distortion of the original history (or a complete fabrication). The Bible does not read like any of these myths; it relates a sober account of the righteous judgment a holy God sent upon a wicked world while sparing one family. Yet the Ancient Near Eastern myths include all manner of legendary details and trivial reasons the gods flooded the earth.

And here’s the last item:

10. The Ark Has Been Found. Dozens of expeditions have searched the slopes and summit of Mount Ararat in hopes of making one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time. A handful of explorers claimed to have seen the Ark or pieces of it. Photos and satellite images have shown formations that can be construed as being Ark-shaped, but they are not conclusive.

[…]

Should we even expect to find the Ark? Even if frozen in ice, it is highly doubtful that a wooden structure would survive the elements for more than four millennia. As exciting as the Ark’s discovery would be for Christians, hardened skeptics who refuse to believe what Moses already wrote in God’s Word will refuse to believe even the most amazing of miracles.

Having demolished all misconceptions, Tim concludes with this:

Misconceptions will continue to spread concerning Noah’s Ark and the Flood. Hollywood certainly has not helped. The only antidote is a diligent study of God’s Word, being careful to separate what is actually in the text and our preconceived notions.

Very impressive. But we’ll stick with our top ten reasons why it’s mythology. What you decide, dear reader, is up to you.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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28 responses to “AIG: Top Ten Flood Misconceptions

  1. And how did kangeroos get from Mount Ararat to Australia, penguins to Antarctica, and the flightless dodo to the island of Mauritius?

  2. Cynic, cynic, cynic, you’re not cynical enough as long as you don’t mention this cutie:

    Top speed 150 meter per hour. Can’t swim or survive deserts.

  3. I like how Tim explains the Ark story with these conjectures, hesitations, qualifiers, and uncertainties…

    • likely
    • impossible to know exactly
    • Perhaps
    • uncertainty
    • may have
    • do not know for certain
    • debatable
    • likely
    • likely
    • we cannot know with any certainty

    And then tells us….
    “The Bible gives us the true account….”

  4. Damn. Rob beat me to it. I was going to say the same thing concerning the use of such ambiguous qualifiers as “likely” and “we do not know for certain”. Yet they’re certain enough to say, “This is EXACTLY what God thinks when He says all of these things, cuz we know better than y’all!”

  5. michaelfugate

    Misconceptions will continue to spread concerning Noah’s Ark and the Flood. Hollywood certainly has not helped. The only antidote is a diligent study of God’s Word, being careful to separate what is actually in the text and our preconceived notions.

    Something AiG has failed at miserably….

  6. The Wyoming had a hull length of 330 ft, compared to the Ark’s 450, and it pushed the limits of what was possible using wood and modern shipbuilding technology. But I suppose to AiG, 330 and 450 are pretty much the same number, so why sweat the details?

  7. Paul D. says: “The Wyoming had a hull length of 330 ft, compared to the Ark’s 450, and it pushed the limits of what was possible using wood and modern shipbuilding technology.”

    Wikipedia has a List of longest wooden ships. The Wyoming is on the list.

  8. As the AIG crew prefer bronze age myths to what scientists think about evolution, it’s no surprise they prefer bronze age myths to what naval architects and ship builders say.

  9. Eric Lipps

    Rob | 8-May-2016 at 7:13 pm |

    I like how Tim explains the Ark story with these conjectures, hesitations, qualifiers, and uncertainties…

    • likely
    • impossible to know exactly
    • Perhaps
    • uncertainty
    • may have
    • do not know for certain
    • debatable
    • likely
    • likely
    • we cannot know with any certainty

    And then tells us….
    “The Bible gives us the true account….”

    Of course, when actual scientists use qualifiers like the above and then tell us that science provides a true account, creationists foam at the mouth.

  10. Dave Luckett

    History. He claims that some Greek warships approached the Ark’s advertised size. Wrong.

    The largest regular Hellenic (not Greek) actual warships were so-called sixteeners. What that actually means is debatable. They couldn’t have had sixteen banks of oars. What it probably means is that they had three, but with sixteen rowers distributed over the three banks. At that, they were very extreme, but even so, were not the size of the Ark. Possibly they might have been as much as two-thirds its size. They were barely practical as warships in the Mediterranean sailing season – and all ancient fleets were extremely vulnerable to storms.

    The largest Greek ship ever claimed was said to be Ptolemy’s “forty”. The source is Athenaeus who quotes an earlier, lost work by Callixenus of Rhodes, which claims a length of two hundred and eighty cubits (the Ark claims three hundred) and a breadth across the gunwales of thirty-eight. (the Ark claims fifty). This ship was apparently twin-hulled. But Plutarch adds (although his source for this is not known) that she was grossly impractical, and rarely ventured out of port.

    The ancient vessels known as the Nemi ships were also extraordinary, but not that large, being about 73 metres, about 150 cubits, long. They were moored in a lake, which they could not leave, and would have been moved only rarely and with difficulty.

    The Wyoming, the largest wooden-hulled vessel known in modern times, was braced, pinned and fastened in iron and equipped with steam pumps, which were constantly needed. She was built with the best skills of early twentieth century New England shipwrights, but at about two-thirds the hull length, and only half the breadth of the Ark, was a known and certain widowmaker. In a career of fifteen years, she came close to foundering three times in modest Atlantic blows – nothing out of the ordinary – before her captain tried to ride out a nor-easter off Chatham, in Nantucket Sound. Despite the shelter of Monomoy Island, she foundered with all hands.

    The Ark is not possible. A minor storm, a small blow, a perfectly ordinary ocean swell would have sunk her without fail. Unless, of course, we retreat into the final citadel of omphalos – miracles ad lib, as required.

  11. The greatest indicator to me the ark is a myth is that the entire story takes place using only known technology and known disasters. It’s entirely consistent with the world the original story tellers lived in. Basically the original tellers of the tale took a well known phenomenon, i.e. a flood, and well known technology, i.e. wooden boats, made them “yuge, and so amazing.”

    Would God really do that, though? To begin with, he created all of the animals from nothing in no time at all – why wouldn’t he just do that again after the flood? Presto, world repopulated! Why go to all the trouble of building a huge ark? It makes no sense at all. And if he decided that he wanted to see Noah ride out a flood with thousands of animals, then why not just reveal to him how to forge metal and build a proper vessel? Why doesn’t the story mention any technology that wasn’t known to the people of the time? The answer – because it was a tale told in the context of the technology and experiences of people of the time.

    An all-powerful omnipotent deity, on the other hand, would not have been constrained by such matters. Such a deity would also have been unlikely to feel remorse afterwards, as the God of the bible does. In their defense, attributing human emotions to very non-human entities was the norm for all ancient peoples, and the early hebrews were no different.

  12. @Ed: And since the sky fairy allegedly poofed all the animals into existence in a day, why couldn’t he manage to poof all the people he was displeased with out of existence in a day or so, and leave the bloody animals alone?

  13. Origin somewhere makes the suggestion that the story of the Flood was deliberately written with impossibilities so that the reader would not be deceived into thinking that it is a literal depiction of an event.

  14. Ed says: “The greatest indicator to me the ark is a myth is that the entire story takes place using only known technology and known disasters.”

    Another problem is that the whole tale of the flood is superfluous (aside from being ridiculous). If you start with Adam & Eve, and they sinned — which somehow condemns us all — then Jesus is sufficient to let us escape the results of their sin. The flood story adds nothing to that scenario.

  15. waldteufel

    @TomS

    Do you mean Origen?
    If so, do you have a specific reference? I haven’t seen that argument before, but it sounds interesting from an early church history perspective.

  16. waldteufel

    To be clear, I don’t believe any of the biblical story of Noah’s flood to be true, but I find the evolution of the Christian church to be interesting.

  17. Yes, I mistyped, and meant Origen. Unfortunately, I have lost the citation, but It probably was in his commentary on Genesis.

  18. docbill1351

    I recall somewhere that the early civilizations hung around the Mediterranean because their boats were unsuitable to ply the Atlantic Ocean, with all the rollers and stuff. It wasn’t until the development of the carrack and later galleon that ocean travel became possible (Age of Discovery).

    As for water, old Hambo is something like 600 billion cubic miles SHORT of water to cover the Earth, no matter how you stack the land. He also has the problem of figuring out where all the water went; once you have a water planet, there’s no where for the water to “drain.”

  19. The biggest impossibility – by the Bible’s own calculations, Noah was dividing animals into clean and unclean several hundred years before those divisions would even be given. It’s a clear, obvious and complete contradiction that the Bible makes no effort to resolve.

    Simply put, an ancient people’s relationship with stories and narratives wasn’t ours – the notion that a story needed to be accurate in order to be important just wasn’t THERE for a lot of narratives.

  20. michaelfugate

    Out the bottom? It’s the bathtub earth model, water comes from the faucet in the sky and drains out the hole in the floor. Add water fast enough and it will fill – could even slop over the sides. Most organisms were simply lost in the swirling drain and this is why the fossil record is so incomplete. Instead of looking for the Ark, AiG should be looking for the drain hole. When climate change melts all the ice, we can simply adjust sea level by letting some water out.

  21. @dweller42: It’s pretty clear from AIG (and, dare I say it, political campaigns), many narratives today have a tenuous relation to reality.

  22. They forgot the most obvious misconception of the Flood!
    That it ever happened!

  23. @abeastwood They’re the cause of one another, frankly. If you believe that your faith must be based on facts that aren’t in evidence, then you’re going to part with company with reality at some point.

    @L.Long Of course it did – that area of the world has seen some tremendous floods, several of them accounted for just before the story of the Flood in Genesis was passed around as oral history. What never happened is the global, world-shattering flood that they claim is totes obvious in the Bible even through it really, really isn’t.

  24. @dweller42
    One thing to consider about clean/unclean is that the difference is not exclusively a matter of taxonomy. A cow can become unclean by being injured by a predator.
    The Ancient Near East did not have the same concept of taxonomy that we moderns have. One can see this by their classifying bats among the “birds” – and there are passages where there are “cattle according to their kind” – and the Hebrew word MIN (kind) is never used in reference to humans. Whatever “kind” means, it isn’t in reference to anything about modern taxonomy, whether species, subspecies, family or any taxon.

  25. Belief in these incredible stories is the basis of religion, for they support the belief in the sky gods and their powers over all mankind and the world itself.

  26. TomS, you’re quite right – “clean vs. unclean” was definitely an idea prior to it’s use in the Temple, however we know what vocabulary would be used if it were that notion of clean vs. unclear we were talking about in the Noah narrative; it’s really not. It’s pretty clear that Noah gathered animals that were suitable for sacrifice in the Temple long before the Temple actually existed.

    Which is ultimately the issue I have with the arguments about how you couldn’t fit all the species into the Ark – when you make that argument, you’re effectively saying, “I’ve read this narrative and I believe it’s clear that this I meant to be read as a historical event,” and I don’t think you can even get that far.

  27. @dweller42
    I think that your final sentence makes the point quite well.

  28. Tim Chaffey, Mdiv, ThM, OMG:
    “Our modern lofty peaks are formed out of sediments that were filled with animals killed during the Flood.”

    Wow! Talk about misconceptions!!! I wonder where Timmy boy studied geology? Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, where he got his other degrees?