Noah’s Ark: Fact or fable?

Tyler Collins, Opinion's Editor

With this summer’s opening of the Ark Encounter, a theme park centered around a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark in Williamstown, KY, there has been a surge in discussion about the Biblical narrative of the Ark and its plausibility.

The organization that built the Ark, Answers in Genesis, focuses on providing answers to questions about the Bible. They want the Ark Encounter to demonstrate to people that Noah’s Ark was a real ship and did indeed survive a global flood. Many people are skeptical and question the plausibility of Noah’s Ark. In my experience, many people reject its historicity before they investigate all of the facts.

How big was the Ark? According to the Bible, the Ark measured roughly 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet tall. It was massive, large enough to lay three space shuttles end-to-end on its roof.

Could it have held all of the animals? The Bible records that each kind of land animal, including birds, were on the ark, but it excludes fish and sea creatures, and most likely insects and other invertebrates as well which could survive off the ark. We also must realize that the Biblical term “kind” corresponds most closely to the family level in our current classification system, not the species level.

Calculating the amount of remaining land animals leaves us with about 1,500 kinds. The Ark Encounter, using “worst-case scenario” numbers, estimates just over 7,000 animals were on the ark. With about 2.21 million cubic feet of space, the animals, food, storage, and supplies would have fit comfortably on the Ark.

Could the Ark actually have stayed afloat? A 1993 scientific study by Dr. Seon Hong, current director general of MOERI, a world-class ship research center based in Daejeon, South Korea, found the proportions of Noah’s Ark to be perfectly balanced in meeting the demands of stability, comfort, and strength. Furthermore, Noah could have easily used a system of interlocking mortise and tenon joints to keep the hull strong and secure without springing leaks, just as the Greeks did with their war ships.

Is the story of Noah’s Ark verified by extra-biblical sources? Legends and stories of a worldwide flood event from which mankind survived are found in ancient cultures across the globe. According to the late Dr. Duane Gish, a biochemist and former vice president of the Institute for Creation Research,  there are more than 270 such stories,  from ancient peoples in places like Hawaii, Babylon, China, Peru, Russia, and Australia, which share a common theme and similar characters to the Biblical account.

Can we be sure the Biblical record is the original? These stories found in other cultures have many implausible details, which indicate they are mythologized versions of a real event, but the Biblical account is plausible, as we have seen, and was clearly written as history, not myth or epic. A prime example being the Epic of Gilgamesh from Mesopotamia, which records Gilgamesh surviving a global flood in a cube shaped ship, an impossible scenario.

While many are skeptical of the Ark, it is largely due to a lack of sincere investigation. The Biblical account is reliable in its details, verified by extrabiblical sources, and far too compelling to dismiss without serious consideration.