How did Noah’s Ark float?

May 15, 2008

Greenpeace volunteers build a modern day version of the legendary Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey May 21, 2007 as part of a project to draw attention to global warming. REUTERS/Fatih Saribas (TURKEY)The story of Noah’s Ark in The Bible is widely read as an allegory and discoveries of a stunning range of species of wildlife raise questions, for those who believe in the account as literal truth, about how they all crammed aboard.

The total number of species of animals and plants on the planet, according to biologists, may well range up to the tens of millions. About 1.8 million have been identified so far — many of them are plants and fish that Noah did not take along to escape the flood, according to the Book of Genesis.

Even the Ark, with its three decks, would have quickly filled if Noah took at least two of all living creatures as God instructed Noah in the Book of Genesis. 

Modern maritime standards are that cows, for instance, need about 2 square metres each on ocean voyages in pens of about half a dozen. The Ark was about 140 metres (460 feet) long — the world’s biggest container ships are now almost 400 metres long.

One 2004 poll showed that 60 percent of Americans read the story of Noah’s Ark as literally true.

Some creationists  say that the instructions to Noah to take along all “kinds” of animals might indicate a broader grouping than “species” — perhaps just one pair to represent cows, buffaloes or yak. And maybe insects, of which there are many thousands of species, managed to survive on floating uprooted trees? Noah might have taken along juveniles, or God might have induced a type of hibernation.

What do you think?


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Noah’s Ark is a myth. It is appalling that 60% of Americans believe it to be true. This emphasizes how gullible and ignorant they are.

Posted by Roy Fischer | Report as abusive

Noah’s arc is a myth? The entire bible is a fairytale…. and by the way, there is no need to emphasise how gullible the yanks are.

Posted by Kelly Smunt | Report as abusive

I was brought up to believe that God created the world and the Noah’s ark belief system. But now that I am older and have much more knowledge, I really don’t know if I can believe these stories. Especially the Noah’s Ark story. I was watching a show on the Discovery Channel or something that talked about how it was somewhat impossible for Noah to build a ship like that. I mean, honestly where was Noah able to find all that lumber and how could he construct it on his own?!

Posted by Chandra | Report as abusive

It has been proven that the days were not 24 hours long, so it is only a matter of time to prove the ark right.

Posted by nathan p | Report as abusive

What about Jonah living inside a whale?
Isn’t that believable too?

Posted by Syd | Report as abusive

Now, now. We do not know what part of the population they got that statistic. If it was from Christians then its really amazing its only 60% seeing as they/we (I was raised Catholic) are taught to believe the Bible is true.

I wonder what percentage of believers in you respective countries would say the same thing? Especially the Orthodox christian religions. Hell they probably still believe the Earth is flat and the sun revolves around it.

Posted by Swalke | Report as abusive

Proven… the discovery channel…. wow – glad to know that debate was ended.

Look – if you can believe that God Almighty (maker of heaven and earth) spoke directly to Noah – what is the stretch to believe that God helped him build the ark?

And as to it being ‘proven’…. well, tough to prove something when no one was there.

Posted by T. Stanton | Report as abusive

i am embarassed to be an american everyday so thanks i feel a lot better after reading this.

Posted by jon hamann | Report as abusive

I find it incredibly weird that a story like this would actually be published. Obviously, all of the stories that have been told in the Bible/Torah/Quran, depend the fact that the readers believes in GOD and also believes that the book(Bible-Torah-Quran) is the revelation of GOD.

So, if you believe it is the revelation of GOD then you will have no problem believing any story in the book itself, as you are certain it is from GOD. It all depends on if you believe its the revelation of GOD or the writing of man. If you believe its the revelation of GOD then you will know that GOD is almighty and has the power to do anything, as he created everything.

If not, then you will think it a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. I think first you have to find out if you believe the book to be the work of GOD or not, then post an article about a story in the book.

Posted by Confused Observer | Report as abusive

what a load of rubbish – any half-educated person should understand that Noah’s Ark was just a myth

Posted by Luke | Report as abusive

Although it’s impossible to prove that Noah’s Ark ever existed, that doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. Darwin’s theory of evolution hasn’t been proven, and yet there’s many people who take it as the truth just because it’s taught in schools. Folks, there’s a reason why it’s called “theory” of evolution.

If you read the books, “A Case for a Creator” and “A Case for Christ” by journalist Lee Strobel, you will come to understand that the Bible is actually a true historical document with better arguments for the truth compared to many of the so-called “scientific” writings out there by evolutionists or people who don’t believe in a Creator.

Posted by Greg | Report as abusive

Greg – you say people only believe in evolution because it was taught at schools.

I only believed in God because it was taught at school, at home, and rammed down my throat at least once a week in church. It never felt right though – I stopped believing around age 7, the same time I stopped believing in Father Christmas (I had already worked out the truth behind the tooth fairy and Easter bunny)

Don’t worry though, I understand why anyone has faith. It’s because for some people it is too difficult to comprehend the idea of impermanence and death. Maybe you should read a book as well, Greg. Read a book on Zen Buddhism, at least to get a different perspective on things.

Posted by Tom Morgan | Report as abusive

Greg, we can try and try to educate these people in the truth but at the end of the day, if Man is so blinded by arrogance and belief in only himself, then when the time comes, they will have it coming.

It’s easier to believe what you can see than what you can’t see.

Posted by Five Times | Report as abusive

The whole noah´s ark tale is a bit far fetched really anyway, do you not think? can you imagine all of those animals paired up two by two in one big boat together, for a start there would not be two of everything once the flood waters receded. there would be absolute carnage the lions would have eaten the zebra´s. the birds the rodents etc etc. that is unless noah prepared with extra prey to feed the original pairs. which is making this boat rather large. and anyway as mentioned above the bible is obviously a fairytale that people made up because they had very little to entertain themselves with back then. dont get me wrong i think religion has had its part in the world people need something to aspire to, and the world would be a very uncivilized place without it today, however, there would also not be half of the wars, trouble and strife there is in the world today without religion. If people really need something to worship – HERE I AM!

Posted by Ben the Antichrist | Report as abusive

Yes Five Times, it is easier to believe what you can see as opposed to something that isn’t there.

It’s even easier to accept (be indoctrinated to) a whole ready-made belief system that explains all of the difficult questions with one easy answer – god. Why do our loved ones die? they don’t, they live on in heaven. Why do some evil people get away without out punishment They don’t, they will burn in hell with a fiery devil. Why does god allow huge natural disasters to occur, such as the earthquake and cyclone we have just witnessed? Ummm…. god moves in mysterious ways?

Bollocks. People like you need some comfort in this completely random existence of ours. And by the way I don’t only believe in myself – I believe that there is a plethora innumerable beings scattered across the the universe. Maybe some of them are advanced enough to create new beings and civilisations and therefore may be referred to and worshipped as god’s by self depreciating lower life forms with plenty of guilt.

Posted by Tom Morgan | Report as abusive

60% of Americans? I don’t believe it. I live here (although in Massachusetts) and I just don’t think that really anyone thinks it is true. As someone said, is this among churchgoing people? Among the general population I would be shocked, shocked if 20% or more believed in it. It is so patently ridiculous that it takes a really “devout” person to believe in it. Its very innocent of course, at this level, but as we all know religion can and does serve a sinister purpose in areas such as propping up authority figures (privileged priests and politicians), drawing attention away from real social issues by targeting minorities (esp. homosexuals) and other bogus issues, and finally in metaphysically justifying horrible calamities like war and suffering. This is why religious belief needs to be considered more seriously than is currently done, its not all fairy-tales like this one, elements of religion are often a real threat to progress.

Posted by Roy Fairbank | Report as abusive

I happen to believe God Had Noah bring in the animals the way the Bible says. Since I believe he created the earth and everything else, why couldn’t He keep the animals a few days?

Posted by janet yest | Report as abusive

Perhaps they meant that 60% of American thought that the story was meant to be taken as literally true, instead of an allegory, as the author mentioned.

Of course, this is stupid to argue about anyway. There may have been a widespread flood, several different religions ascribe to it, as well as being discussed in the Epic of Gilgamesh. His father (and god) Lugalbanda was a mortal during the time of the flood, which if nothing else contradicts the events in the bible, especially the fact that Noah and his family were the only survivors.

Posted by lordastral | Report as abusive

Tom Morgan, I’m sad to hear that you stopped believing in a just, holy and loving God at age 7. No one should be forced to believe in the Bible, since that wouldn’t be called faith anyway. Everyone must work out their own faith and be sure of what and why they believe in something.

The reason why I believe in God and His Word isn’t only due to the impermanence or death, but it’s because in this world I see not only the sinfulness and selfishness of humanity, but also the wonders of His creations, His loving and yet just Hand if you study history.

Thank you for recommending the book on Zen Buddhism, but religions based on relativism doesn’t really have any answers to the many questions in the world.

Posted by Greg | Report as abusive

In answer to the question raised by Alistair: On the water! How can anyone assume the story of Noah and the Ark was a myth anyway? Just because modern society did not see this occur it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. The teachings of the Holy Bible are a man’s interpretation of events and shouldn’t be taken literally and used as guide to live your life better anyway. Of all the miracles that happen in this world there is definately something some being (God/Buddha/Allah) doing something to allow these wonderful things to happen. Why couldn’t Noah build the Ark? Look at the pyramids, Easter Island etc. How do we know Noah didn’t/did get help? Maybe the author of this article (Alistar) should watch the movie ‘Evan Almighty’ to answer his questions…. :)

Posted by Conscientious Observer | Report as abusive

One thing that I think should be made clear (it usually isn’t) is what the term “myth” means. “Myth” does not mean “not true.” A myth is an explanation of how something came to be. All cultures have these explanations of how the members of the culture came to understand things the way they do.

The Noah’s ark myth is a very meaningful one to me, but it’s chief meaning to me is as one man’s spiritual awakening. His spiritual awakening in a world hostile to monotheism doesn’t isolate him. It’s others who are isolated. Just as other religious figures withdraw to the mountains for their religious experience, Noah’s isolation is on the waters (and water is a religious symbol in so many cultures). After a time, the dove’s gift of the greenery shows him it is now time to move into the world again.

The myth may be based on an inundation that happened in the region (I think it’s present day Iraq). That seems likely considering that the flood shows up in the Epic of Gilgamesh, a work older than the Bible, I understand. (And in that myth, it’s interesting that the gods are sick and tired of these squabbling humans and are seeking to destroy them–reminds me of the humans today squabbling over land, religion, “truth” rather than trying to celebrate those parts of their cultures that they share.)

The spiritual message of the stories in the Bible are always of more importance than whether they are literally true. It seems to me that’s why Jesus is always telling the apostles not to talk about his–the magic becomes more important than the spiritual truth.

It disturbs me most of all when folks hold the attitude that “either you hold the same understanding that I do (a literal belief in everything in the Bible), or you’re not a religious person.” I am a church-going Christian, always seeking ways to do good and build unity with others. I love learning about other religions and their practices, which is why I read the Faith Blogs.

Posted by Denise | Report as abusive

Noah’ ark is in the Ararat range in Turkey poss Mt judi, but has not been found yet. (its a troublesome area close to kurdish iraq with difficult terrain and frequent earth quakes- hence not found yet). Someone mentioned Jonas (younas)-his descendants are alive today in the Taradouant area of Morocco near the Atlantic coast.Jesus’s wider family descendants are everywhere around us today (the jews), Mohammed’s family through his children are everywhere around us today. Incidentally the last two religious figures mentioned above are cousins from centuries earlier because of their shared forefather Abraham. There is proof in people and places of God’s infinity, why do people find it so hard to beleive!

Posted by jm-uk | Report as abusive

in my opinion – all of YOUR opinions are wrong. and i feel perfectly entitled to say that with very little explanation because its MY opinion. and i know im right . thankyou

Posted by Ben the Antichrist | Report as abusive

why are we still talking about obviously made up bronze age myths in 2008?
All the story shows is that the people who wrote the old testament had a strange fascination with almost total extermination.
If it is all true then so does God…

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Ben, since you say that you’re perfectly entitled to say that you’re right with little explanation because it’s your opinion, then if MY opinion of you is that you don’t exist and that I’m perfectly entitled to MY opinion without giving you an explanation, then I guess you don’t exist then. :)

Posted by Greg | Report as abusive

I was also surprised by the 60 percent figure in that link, reckoning it sounds high. According to a Gallup poll, 31 percent of the American adult population believe the Bible is the “actual word of God and is to be taken literally word for word”; another 47 percent said it was “inspired by word of God” and 19 percent rated it “ancient fables, history, legends recorded by man”. d-Americans-Believe-Bible-Literally-True .aspx

Posted by alister doyle | Report as abusive

there is a little bit more truth in that than you would ever realise greg

Posted by Ben the Antichrist | Report as abusive

who on earth is this Greg character to force his opinion on others. i personally agree with Ben, so why is it so important for Greg to put down his comments. free speech Greg. you believe Noah´s ark existed, I don´t. lets leave it there. no one wants to hear your opinion on Ben, i do not care if he exists or not, but you´re obviously so narrow minded that you can´t handle people disagreeing with you.

the boat would have been massive, did he leave all the fish to just swim about in the flood waters or did he build tanks for them on board. if he did leave them in the water around the boat then how did he make sure there were only two of every kind?

Posted by jack stevenson | Report as abusive

Jack, I’m not trying to force my opinion on others. I’m simply replying to Ben’s comment about his opinion, and I’m showing Ben the fallacy of human relativism.

For example, if everyone on earth thinks their personal opinions are right without actually seeking out the truth or logic behind them, then are they really looking for the truth then? If my “truth” says that no one else besides the race I’m from lives, then I guess it’s right to act out my “truth” by murdering other races if we go according to human relativism.

Jack, you champion free speech, and yet you put down what I wrote. Isn’t that a contradiction to what you wrote? Or does free speech only apply to people who are like-minded as the one who claims free speech?

Posted by Greg | Report as abusive