Once again, the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — are touting the “reality” of Noah’s Ark. The myth has been debunked thousands of times — see, e.g., Top Ten Reasons Noah’s Flood is Mythology — but creationists keep cranking out articles to show how believable the tale is.
AIG’s latest attempt is Fantastic Voyage: How Could Noah Care for the Animals? It’s a reprint of something they posted last July, but we ignored it then. It was written by Michael Belknap. We found a reference to him at Linkedin, which describes him as “Zoo Keeper at Answers in Genesis.” Before that he was “Veterinary Technician at McClendon Veterinary Services,” and he attended East Texas Baptist University. At the end of today’s article they say he is now “assistant content writer for the attractions division of Answers in Genesis.”
Michael’s long article discusses the usual issues, so we’ll ignore most of it and discuss only the parts that are either new or ridiculously absurd. Here we go, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
It’s difficult to think of Julius Caesar and other famous historical figures as real people, especially since we never lived in ancient Rome or ate blood pudding and Julian stew at the emperor’s table. We know they were real folks, but we never experienced the things they saw and touched every day. This is no less true of Bible characters like Noah.
Right. Julius Caesar is just as unbelievable as Noah, but both were real! Then he says:
You think you face challenges? Noah had to engineer the biggest wooden ship ever built. But that was just the beginning. He had to care for every kind of air-breathing land animal that God had made. Imagine. Modern zookeepers often find it challenging to keep a single wild species healthy, even after years of study. Noah, in contrast, had to meet the peculiar needs of every kind of wild creature. That includes not only the ancestors of modern bears and anteaters but tyrannosaurs and pterosaurs. Modern skeptics scoff at the possibility that a single family could coordinate such a huge undertaking. Just think about some of the difficulties:
• How could you store enough food for several thousand animals over a year?
• How could you feed so many animals every day?
• Where would you put all their waste?
• How could you replenish their clean water?
Michael provides us with perfectly reasonable explanations:
We can’t go back to Noah’s actual home to know exactly how he solved these problems. But we know enough from the history of animal care — and modern husbandry — to imagine the most likely solutions that a reasonable man with a good knowledge of animal behavior could implement in any era of history. For example, providing animals with spacious accommodations may seem ideal. But in reality, animals under stress often feel much safer in tighter quarters, and they even seek out little “nests.” So providing small, fairly dark spaces, such as cages, would help them feel more secure.
Brilliant! After that he tells us:
Wood is adequate building material for most cages, but what about the cages for those animals that gnaw wood? Smaller cage bars could be made of bamboo because it is a very hard material and resists chewing. An added benefit of bamboo is that it grows quickly. Perhaps Noah could grow fresh batches every spring while he was building the Ark.
The only problem is that bamboo doesn’t grow naturally anywhere in Europe or the Middle East. Then Michael discusses food:
Over the course of a year, these several thousand animals will consume a few hundred tons of it. Now that’s a lot of kibble! Many of today’s animals have very specialized diets because they’ve adapted to nearly every niche on the planet. The animals that God sent Noah, in contrast, likely weren’t the most specialized species within a created kind. In fact, most animals can eat almost anything nutritious (rather than starve) if they don’t have a choice.
So Noah had to identify the food types that would meet each animal’s basic survival needs, at least short-term. He could then divide up the animals into zones on the Ark near their primary food sources. Koalas and emus would be next to the dried fruits; pigs and kangaroos next to the grain. This would make the process of feeding more efficient.
Dried vegetation is sufficient for the vast majority of herbivores, but if fresh vegetation was needed, whether for food or medical purposes, Noah had to find or cultivate varieties that grew well in low-light conditions. As much as possible, he needed to provide varied food types because animals with more balanced diets are usually healthier
Most animals consume plants, but what about ones that may have switched entirely to meat — as have modern snakes and cats? Would Noah want to store live animals on board as food? It certainly could be done. For instance, seafarers in the 1600s and 1700s frequently brought giant tortoises on their ships as a fresh meat source. Tortoises are hardy and can sometimes stay alive for over a year without food. Alternatively, meat can be preserved through drying, pickling, salting, or smoking.
Food was no problem! Then he discusses waste removal, but he doesn’t offer anyhing as ingenious as our own solution — see Waste Disposal on Noah’s Ark — Solved! Hey, here’s a problem we never thought about:
How will you provide fresh water for the Ark’s population? Cisterns or other sealed vessels could house several million gallons of water — enough to last a year. However, this solution raises unique difficulties. First, water use is hard to predict. How much will the animals consume in these stressful conditions, and how much waste is likely? How much of the sitting water might get infested with harmful organisms?
A solution is periodic cleanings of the cisterns or the use of water-filtering organisms, such as mussels. But you’d have the laborious task of shifting water between cisterns. Also, there is a risk of the system becoming clogged with the filterers.
Perhaps the best solution is a combination of storage and rainwater collection. Bamboo pipes [bamboo again!] and simple valves could help disperse the water from the cisterns, while Noah could have placed vacuum-fed water containers in most enclosures that would require refilling only from time to time, not daily. Any rainwater collected would possibly still need treatments, such as settling, filtering, and chemical cleansing, but on a more practical scale.
Fresh water? No problem! Our last excerpt comes from near the end:
This just scratches the surface of the challenges Noah had to consider. Indeed, the task must have been overwhelming. A skeptic may see the difficulties and dismiss the account as a myth describing a deathtrap that would become a tomb rather than a lifeboat. But on what does success of a project ultimately hinge? It wasn’t God’s ability to pick a man who was great at planning. It was simply God’s favor to Noah; then Noah feared God and obeyed His commands.
That’s it, dear reader. Now you have no reason to reject the ark as mythology. Noah could have done it all.
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