Ken Ham: How Many Animals on the Ark?

One of the greatest questions of all time is: How many animals were on Noah’s Ark? We’ve seen a few articles on this by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else.

Back in 2012, ol’ Hambo wrote How Many Kinds?, in which he said:

The scholars doing the research for this project are predicting from their research on living and fossil mammal, amphibian, reptile, and bird kinds that there may have been as few as 1,000 land animal kind represented on the Ark. As there were two of each kind (and seven of some — the clean animals), that would mean somewhere from 2,000–3,000 actual land animals were needed on the Ark.

That figure has been revised from time to time. Two years ago when we wrote Ken Ham: The Biology of Noah’s Ark, ol’ Hambo’s estimate was 2,000 animal “kinds” on the Ark, which means at least 4,000 animals. Don’t forget that Noah was commanded to bring seven pairs of “clean” animals.

The numbers are changing again. A few days ago, Hambo posted this at Answers in Genesis (AIG), his creationist ministry: Get Answers to Animals on the Ark. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

How many animals did Noah need to take with him on the Ark? Many people (like Bill Nye “The Science Guy” during his debate with me in 2014) believe that since there are millions of species on earth today, Noah needed to take two of each of the millions of species on the Ark with him. Because they think there’s no way Noah could have fit that many animals on the Ark, they conclude that the “story” of Noah and the Ark is just a fairytale.

Yeah, well, what does Bill Nye know? He knows nothing compared to Hambo, who says:

But Noah didn’t need to take millions of animals on the Ark with him. Estimates of how many animals Noah needed on the Ark have “evolved” over the years as more research is done from a best-case scenario of about 2,000 animals to a worst-case scenario of about 16,000. But if there are millions of species, where do these seemingly low numbers come from? Well, consider a few clues Scripture gives us about what animals were on the Ark.

Hambo gives us three clues from scripture. Here’s the first:

1. Land animals were only required to go on the Ark, not sea creatures, dramatically reducing the number of animals on the Ark.

Yeah — no problem for fresh-water fish. They survived — somehow. This is the next clue:

2. Kinds — not species — were told to go on the Ark. The biblical term kind is different from our modern species with the defining factor being the ability to breed. If two organisms can breed (such as tigers, lions, and cougars), they must be in the same kind (though some animals in the same kind have lost the ability to breed due to mutations and other factors). According to research, kind is about on the level of family in our classification system used today, in the majority of cases.

That’s an important clue! And this is the third:

3. Insects don’t breathe through their nostrils, so Noah probably didn’t take them on the Ark (intentionally at least — though if he did, because they are so small, the insect kinds would have easily fit on the Ark).

Yeah, all insects can survive a year in the water. What does Hambo conclude from those clues? He tells us:

Taking all of this into consideration, research estimates show that about 1,400 kinds were taken on the Ark.

First it was 1,000 kinds. Then it was 2,000. Now it’s 1,400. This is a real test of our faith in creation science. Hambo concludes with this:

That’s only about 6,700 individual animals (remember, the clean animals came in pairs of sevens) — and that’s a generous number that will likely go down further as more research is conducted on which organisms belong to which kinds. In fact, it’s possible it could be as low as around 1,000 kinds.

According to Hambo, there was no problem getting 6,700 animals on the Ark. Although back when the estimate was “somewhere from 2,000–3,000 actual land animals” we posted How Horrible Was Life Aboard Noah’s Ark?, comparing the Ark to a transatlantic slave ship. The Ark was ten times worse.

And then there’s the problem of incredibly rapid speciation after the Ark landed — plus the problem of how those animals dispersed all over the world. Our favorite mystery is how the three-toed sloth migrated to South America. More problems are mentioned in this blog’s all-time most popular post — with over 38,000 hits: Top Ten Reasons Noah’s Flood is Mythology.

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32 responses to “Ken Ham: How Many Animals on the Ark?

  1. They should have taken all of the sea creatures aboard because that volume of water added to the oceans would have changed the salinity enough to kill off most salt-water species.

    These discussions are merely diversions, of course, like discussions of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. These discussions obscure the real questions, such as why are their angels at all? Why does an all-powerful god need minions, messengers, errand boys, demigods, or any other being? What is it that cannot be done by an all-powerful god that needs assistants, dancing or otherwise?

    In fact, the existence of angels is evidence that Yahweh wasn’t all-powerful at all.

  2. Bill pointed out that you would see eleven new species each and every day, Then Ken told Bill your figures are too high, so even more new species each and every day.

  3. Hambo:
    “That’s only about 6,700 individual animals (remember, the clean animals came in pairs of sevens)…”

    “Pairs of sevens”??? Huh?? Oh, I see — that’s how Hambo shrinks the numbers down.

  4. Charles Deetz ;)

    I’m sure Hambo’s research includes death rate of animals in captivity for a year without light or their usual exercise. Or disease and pestilence. Of course even one death would destroy the lineage of that kind (and god’s plan). Hambo, there’s my ten-year-old’s question of the day … what’s the answer?

  5. Charles Deetz ;)

    FYI, after posting I did some googling and three pages in found just one Yahoo Answers post that even consider’s my question. And I thought it was obvious to ask and address by creationists.

  6. I guess a mate dying would be a good way to identify which animal would be the carnivores next meal.

  7. @Charles Deetz 😉 Well, the animals would have had God’s blessing, so they would have been kept alive.

    Makes you wonder, though — if God were that powerful to keep all the animals alive in such horrendous conditions, why go to the bother of having Noah build an ark at all? Why didn’t God just teach all the animals how to tread water until the Flood receded?

  8. Sorry, Charlie — when I copied your name and semicolon/parenthesis, the sc/p got changed to a winking smiley face. C’est le vie.

    [*Voice from above*] It looks good, so we’ll leave it.

  9. Any animal species today which is represented with just a dozen individuals is considered to be doomed to extinction without careful management.
    But consider the case of the first meals of carnivore kinds. The first meal of a cat kind, and there goes either the last male or the last female of one unclean kind. (And remember that the first thing that Noah did was to offer up sacrifice of one of each clean kind.)
    Not to mention the various diseases and parasites and accidents.
    If you’re going to suggest that there were a lot of babies born immediately after the landing, think of how helpless many animals are at birth. On the other hand, many babies of carniverous animals need a lot of feeding. How many kinds went extinct to keep the seven (yes, all of the birds were respresented with sevens, not just the clean birds) of the eagle kind alive?

  10. Of course, all of this speculation about “kinds” is just that – speculation without Biblical basis. We have no idea of what the word “MIN” means in Biblical Hebrew. The biological concept of “species” is an anacronism in the culture of the Ancient Near East, let alone genus or family or microevolution, or ecology.
    What the creationists are trying to do is to play with the lack of detail to make up their own stories. But their own stories are not what the Bible says.

  11. Ahem, ‘animals disbursed all over the world’? I think that may have meant ‘dispersed’, unless they had already invented international finance.

  12. Completely OT but our flat Earther hero Mike Hughes launched his rocket yesterday:

    If you watch the video the launch happens at about the 26 minute mark and the commentators are potty mouthed retards, so you are warned.

  13. Arcy says: “Ahem, ‘animals disbursed all over the world’?”

    Mumble, mumble. Okay, it’s fixed. Thanks.

  14. Tom B says: “Completely OT but our flat Earther hero Mike Hughes launched his rocket yesterday”

    That’s exciting, but I’ll wait until he announces the results.

  15. I’m not a biologist but I have heard that there are maladies that can’t survive outside of their hosts and that a couple of those are gonorrhea and syphilis. It that is true, one of those eight people was at least a carrier. What do people with more knowledge than I have to say about this?

  16. Charles Deetz ;)

    retiredsciguy says c’est le vie. Yep. Or my avatar might say ‘Day, me say day O’ 😉

  17. Michael Fugate

    “But Noah didn’t need to take millions of animals on the Ark with him.”

    No he didn’t, because the story is fiction. You could have an Ark that held every species ever known if you so desired. That’s the advantage of fiction.

  18. I wonder whether there are signs that the Ark story was deliberately written so as to be understood as a tale. This was suggested by Origen.
    For example, I am not a farmer, but the idea that one could could have more than one bull confined in close quarters with cows is asking for trouble – the same with roosters.

  19. Our dear SC once again demonstrates that he doesn’t understand creacrap “science”:

    “no problem for fresh-water fish. They survived — somehow”
    It rained. Rain consists of fresh water. Fresh water has a lower densitiy than sea water. The first floats on the second. So the fresh water fish stayed at the surface while the others dived downward.
    As for other problems I recently learned the correct answer from another YEC expert. It’s

    “It would have been taken into account by God.”
    Which definitely proves that you can’t beat creacrap.

  20. @mnb0
    But how do exclude the possibility that the means chosen by God include nature, macro evolution, and millions of years?
    The Bible does not explicitly exclude those. You just refuse to consider them.

  21. Cynic asks about gonorrhea and syphilis aboard the Ark. We’ve already discussed that — see Syphilis, Leprosy & Noah’s Ark.

  22. “But how do exclude the possibility ….”
    Evilution is for athiest materialist nazicommies.

  23. Eddie Janssen

    Why not a subtle nod of the head and all evil people on earth drop dead on the ground.

  24. We are all familiar with the Omphalos hypothesis, which tells us that the world was created at the begiinning with the appearance of having had a prior existence.
    How about the hypothesis that the Bible was written with the appearance of having been written about Young Earth Creationism, but when we really understand the Bible it is about the operation of evolution in Deep Time?

  25. Is this the greatest extent of creationist research? Showing us how with mental gymnastics you’re able to reduce the number of animals on a boat.

  26. @TomS: that would make you an athiest materialist nazicommie. Also I’m pretty sure that Ol’Hambo rejects the Omphalos hypothesis, unless it suits him (regariding radiometry, I think).

    @Troy: Yes, creationist research doesn’t get any better than this.

  27. @Troy…yup, pretty much.

  28. Michael Fugate

    “Is this the greatest extent of creationist research?”
    When one reads fiction, one needs or, simply does, fill in the gaps; the authors only include what they deem necessary to drive the plot. Readers add in the unknown as they see fit.

    Such is the method of creationists – there are as many possibilities for filling in the flood tale as there are readers. If the number were 500, 1000, 10,000, or 10,000,000, each would be equally plausible – how can one make fiction any more fictional?

  29. @Michael Fugate
    Well put.
    There are the devoted readers of the Sherlock Holmes stories who work on the continuity of the stories. See the “Baker Street Irregulars”.
    Or the studies on the motivations of Halmlet.
    It is an unspoken rule that one is not permitted to invoke the supernatural, except where warranted, as with the ghost.

  30. Michael Fugate

    And the ghost is a plot device to inject the workings of the human mind – hopes, dreams, fears. The supposed supernatural is really just our imaginations at work. Consider God – which is entirely a product of our minds. There are as many conceptions as there are minds. A good comparison is an imaginary animal like the unicorn. Is it like an artiodactyl – shed antler or permanent horn, cloven hooves, foregut fermenter, no upper incisors or is it like a perissodactyl – hair horn like a rhino, single hoof, hindgut fermenter, upper incisors? Or is it a mix? Or is it of an entirely different lineage? Any could be “correct”.

  31. Speaking of impossible animals, we tend to thnk of it being a modern mind which would think of the impossibility of such creatures. But there was a Greek author of perhaps the 4th century BCE; Palaephatus, the author of “On Incredible Tales”.

  32. bewilderbeast

    I think there were millions of species back when Noah was a carpenter and G_d simply had ALL OF THEM – millions of each species – hover around the ark for the duration. No cleaning needed that way. Food? They ate each other, like they always do. And some were given a pass on needing food. ‘Samiracle.
    Please tell Hambo. He underrates the possibilities of “miracles”. If you’re miracling, MIRACLE, dammit!
    The sloths hover’d back to S America after the duration.