How many animals were on Noah’s ark? When thinking about such important questions, we always look to Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else.
The last time we got figures from Hambo was a year ago, when we wrote Ken Ham: How Many Animals on the Ark? The answer he gave was that “about 1,400 kinds were taken on the Ark.” He said:
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.
In that post we pointed out that Hambo’s figures had changed over the years. Back in 2012 we were told
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.
And in 2016, ol’ Hambo’s estimate was 2,000 animal “kinds” on the Ark, which means at least 4,000 animals. So, in just the few years we’ve been keeping track, Hambo went from 1,000 kinds (2,000–3,000 animals) up to 1,400 kinds (6,700 animals). This is very difficult for us, because we try to have total confidence in Hambo. He doubtless studies the bible night and day, and he also has a team of brilliant creation scientists on his staff, so he certainly ought to know something as fundamental as the number of animals on the ark.
To make matters even worse, the numbers are changing again! The latest post at Answers in Genesis (AIG), Hambo’s creationist ministry: is: How Could All the Animals Fit on the Ark? The authors are Michael Belknap and Tim Chaffey. They have no bio for Belknap, but we’ve seen him described at Linkedin as “Zoo Keeper at Answers in Genesis.” Here are some excerpts from their article, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
One of the most important issues relating to the Bible’s flood account is the topic of animals on the ark. The estimated numbers, sizes, and types of ark animals impact nearly every aspect of the vessel’s interior operations, including time and labor expenditures, food and water needs, space and waste management, and enclosure design. The subject of fitting the required animals on the ark is a significant point of contention between biblical creationists and skeptics. However, properly addressing these concerns is more complicated than a mere compilation of data about different animal species. First, we must answer some fundamental questions.
Why is it so complicate for AIG? They know when the world was created, and how many days that took. Those numbers don’t change. Why do the ark’s numbers keep changing? Anyway, skipping their discussion of the size of the ark, they say:
The Bible informs us that the ark housed representatives of every land-dependent, air-breathing animal — ones that could not otherwise survive the flood (Genesis 7:21–23). Conversely, Noah did not care for marine animals, and he probably did not need to bring insects, with the possible exception of delicate insects like butterflies and moths — since most insects could survive outside the ark. Also, insects take in oxygen through spiracles in their skin, and the Bible specifies that those creatures targeted outside of the ark were those “on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life.”
We can’t imagine how freshwater fish survived when the world was transformed into one gigantic ocean. Anyway, the creation scientists tell us:
Skeptics often assert that there are millions of species in the world — far more than the number that could fit on the ark. However, according to estimates published in 2014, there are fewer than 1.8 million documented species of organisms in the world. Consider also that over 98 percent of those species are fish, invertebrates, and non-animals (like plants and bacteria). This means that there are fewer than 34,000 species of known, land-dependent vertebrates in the world today.
It’s very difficult to get an authoritative estimate on the number of species. This 2017 article from PhysOrg will give you an idea: A new estimate of biodiversity on Earth. Anyway, AIG devotes several paragraphs to discussing what they regard as the difference between species and kinds, after which we’re told:
The Ark Encounter depicts a worst-case approach when estimating the number of animal kinds. Some people believe Noah brought two of every unclean animal and seven of every clean animal. The text seems to indicate that Noah cared for more animals than this (Genesis 7:2–3), particularly when it comes to the clean animals and flying creatures. The Lord may have sent seven pairs of the clean animals and seven pairs of all the flying creatures (not just the clean varieties).
Although this worst-case approach more than doubles the total estimated number of animals on the ark, this model shows that even a high-end estimate of total animals would have fit on board. Obviously, if the Lord sent just seven of each clean animal and seven of just the clean flying creatures, the ark would have had plenty of space to accommodate this lower total.
Ah yes, either way the ark had plenty of room. AIG continues:
People often wonder how all the animals could have fit in the ark, particularly when considering the massive dinosaurs. We see so many illustrations of large creatures packed tightly into a little boat. But this image is inaccurate. Noah’s ark was much larger than it is usually depicted, and many of the animals were probably smaller than shown in popular pictures. It makes more sense to think that God would have sent to Noah juveniles or smaller varieties within the same kind.
Okay, juveniles. They need less room, they eat less food, etc. It makes sense. Let’s read on:
Based on initial projections, the Ark Encounter team estimates that there were around 1,400 animal kinds on the ark. It is anticipated that future research may reduce that number even further. The Ark Encounter team projects that there were fewer than 7,000 animals on board the ark. The wide discrepancy between the number of ark kinds and individuals is due to the relatively large number of flying and “clean” kinds — each estimated at 14 animals apiece.
Aha! Now we have the latest estimate: 7,000 animals. Back when Hambo’s 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.
Okay, that’s enough from AIG’s latest ark estimates. It wouldn’t surprise us if the numbers change a few more times. It doesn’t matter. Hambo’s drooling fans will accept whatever they’re told, and we’ll stick with what we wrote in this blog’s all-time most popular post: Top Ten Reasons Noah’s Flood is Mythology.
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