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The Ark

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Jan 2, 2002.

  1. Administrator2

    Administrator2 New Member

    Jun 30, 2000
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    One of the more important attempts at a serious creation science was John Woodmorappe's "Noah's Ark, a Feasibility Study".

    In it, he attempts to reconcile the Ark Story with science. Here is a link to a review of his work, and within it, a link to a rebuttal by Woodmorappe.

    The book is still in print, and worth reading (even if I don't happen to agree with it) because it does address certain difficulties in a literal Ark.

    Has anyone ever done a structural analysis of a wooden boat the claimed size? Even with iron fastenings the max size of wooden sailing boats was around 300 feet.

    There has been a computer simulation done on the dimensions of the ark and the results were the ark would have been quite stable considering the weight requirements for it. Noone knows for sure what kind of wood was used though.

    But if Noah's ark did indeed happen as creationists propose I still believe it had to require Divine intervention to protect the Ark. If catastrophic plate tectonics were the mechanism for generating the required water for the flood that would have created immense waves from the oceans and would make it hard to imagine how the ark could survive without help from God.

    According to this article, Woodmorappe made a very basic math error which invalidates his whole argument:

    Apparently when calculating the amount of space all the animals would take up, he used the median value to show that the average animal was rat-sized, when he should have used the mean value, which would indicate the average animal would weigh 763 pounds. So, those animals could not have fit on an ark of that size.

    The page also has a bunch of links to reviews of Woodmorappe's book, it's worth checking out.

    The leading post in this thread said Woodmorappe's book was worth reading because "it does address certain difficulties in a literal Ark." That is a statement designed to lead the reader into thinking that Woodmorappe is somehow presenting what may be insurmountable difficulties with the Biblical history of the Deluge and Noah's Ark.
    Nothing could be further from the truth. Woodmorappe discusses commonly-held ideas about problems and then presents responses based, usually, on his own research. His conclusion is that the Ark was eminently feasible.

    Regarding the structure of the Ark, a couple of points need to be repeated:
    -- from a personal friend of mine who is an engineer. The evolutionists here may recognize him by his old forum name of Fraz. The following are from a series of personal emails in 1998.:

    ------ "There is no real reason to think that there would be a lot of big waves to create stress on the Ark anyway ...All the seismic activity, would only be able to create waves if there was a shore to crash into. Waves from earth quakes can be hundreds of feet high but pass harmlessly under small boats out in the ocean. (this has been documented) the only time they become waves, is when they get close to land and thus run out of space below the top of the water, and come rising out of it. This could never happen at the time of the flood. They would just keep going till they died out. All manner of chaos could have been going on under the water, with little or no effect on the Ark.... Thus the only stress would have been "lift" off of the ground. The Ark did not have to "break" waves and move forward or anything, it just had to float on top of the water. I think the stresses on the Ark are over rated. IMHO."

    ------ "I've heard people say that the stress in some of the members would be too great before. The "splitting in half" if you will. However I think one thing is forgotten when calculating this. It is the fact that there is energy between water and a flat surface. ie....if you place a sheet of glass against another sheet of glass and hold the top one with the corners on a horizontal plane the bottom one will fall.
    However if you place a film of water between them you can hardly pull them apart.

    The Ark IMHO would have a flat bottom, therefore the water displacement needed to put stress in the middle of the ark to break it would be incredible. Also the square footage that the ark, and the weight in it , could be spread over with that design, would be capable of supporting forces that the volume of the ark could never produce. I mean even if youffilled it with cannon balls it could still take it.

    Hey! just thought of a good experiment you could still do if you still have water in the pool. Take a sheet of plywood and toss it in there. Then try and sink it by applying equal load to it. Bricks would be good for this. Then try and create waves that can put stress in the middle of the sheet. Then imagine the size of the ark and what it would take just to move it a little, let alone break it."

    ------ (this one "Fraz" posted on a forum about three years ago) "The very task for which the Ark was to be used for, is one of the main strong points (so to speak)for how the Ark could be constructed. Lets take say 3 stories worth of what would essentially be pens. Or for my purposes "Boxes". I have helped to design factories in this manner, so I know what I'm talking about. The Ark, if I was going to build it, would just be a bunch of boxes "pegged" together, until it formed one huge box with incredible strength. All that would be needed would be some "cross members" to take care of the twist (deflection) and this thing would be more than capable of doing the job.

    Two or three men at a time, could easily handle the small individual "boxes", so there would be no need for special equipment that we think they may have needed. I've always wondered how they could have made the Pyramids, but I must admit, the Ark never seemed like that big a deal to make."

    The other point that needs to be made about the Ark was pointed out to these men here some time ago as well. Here is the exact post I put together for them then:

    OK, let's get serious about the ark.

    There is good reason to believe gophering was a lamination process, not a wood. In the 1954 edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary check "gofer, gaufre, goffer, gopher, and gauffer see also wafer" and you will find several references having to do with wafers, as in biscuit making, a honeycomb pattern, layers of lace in dressmaking, etc. It looks like God left the clue in the languages even up to the present day.

    As far as the joints were concerned, notched and pegged joints in good furniture, with a little glue added, will often be stronger than the wood itself, causing breaks to happen on either side of the joint rather than the joint coming apart. In an earlier email exchange with "Fraz" he mentioned the following: " I would also offer up my barn as an example of some "old" pegged building practices. None of the beams are pegged in the middle of course, but where ever they have been pegged, the peg is still there. The beams have bowed under years of stress and of course their own weight, but the joints are all still in tact."

    Now, regarding the pitch: March 6, 1993, p. 17 of New Scientist (vol 35, p. 91) has an article entitled "The glue that held the Roman Empire together." It states that "The researchers tried to make their own glue by drying fresh birch bark at room temperature and then heating it to a high temperature in a covered vessel. The result was a charred material sticky enough to be an adhesive. The researchers claim that the repairers might have made their glue in a similar way."

    In Creation Ex Nihilo, Vol. 7 No. 1 was an article entitled "The pitch for Noah's Ark" by T.B. Walker, B.E., Ph.D. The author describes how the early Europeans made pitch by distilling or heating wood. The process required a herringbone pattern of cuts to be gouged into pine tree trunks and the resin collected at the base of the tree. The trees were then cut down, covered in soil or ash and burned slowly to produce charcoal. The resin was boiled and the proportion of charcoal added made pitches of varying qualities. This pitch-making industry flourished in Europe for over 1000 years.

    A 1925 book entitled 'The Technology of Wood Distillation' by M. Klar, translated from the German states, first page, first chapter:

    "The origin of the distructive distillation of wood can be traced
    back to remote antiquity, for it is certain that ancient races
    were acquanted not only with the production of charcoal,
    but also with methods of recovering distillation-products
    resulting from the process of carbonisation. Examples of
    such products are fluid wood-tar and pyroligneous acid, which
    were used by the Egyptians for embalming the dead, as
    recorded in the works of ancient writers. Pliny, for example,
    writes in his 'Historia Naturalis, Lib. II, de pice': . . ."

    In "The Guide to Self-Sufficiency" by John Seymour, 1976 (don't have the publisher, sorry), is the following:

    "If you heat coniferous wood in a retort, or even just burn it
    in a hole in a bank, a black liquor will run out of the bottom.
    This is wood tar, it is the best thing in the world for painting
    boats and buildings"

    It has been asked if Noah's available technology exceeded that of the recent centuries. Personally, I would not be surprised, but that is of no account. The Romans used more elaborate techniques than the merchant ships of the recent past. That is because the Romans built to last and the merchant ships were built quickly for the purposes of making money. It was a matter of labor and care more than technology.

    And, as one last point, Genesis 4, which is entirely antediluvian, mentions both iron and bronze work.

    In short, it would be good if those who want to attack the possibility of the ark did a little research first instead of jumping on the internet bandwagon with so little in the way of facts at their disposal. Sorry about the tone, but it doesn't seem to matter how often much of this gets said, it is blithely ignored anyway. Yes, Noah had the technology at his disposal to do exactly as God commanded him to do.

    And, lastly, about Woodmorappe's 'basic math error' -- here is the post from several years ago on that!

    Best you read Woodmorappe before you start criticizing him. But for purposes of the other readers here:
    Woodmorappe divided up the animal kingdom which was involved in the ark into eight groups by approximate body mass. He then calculated the number of kinds of animals according to the most numerous possible: the genus. Here are his words regarding that:

    "However, in order to make this exercise more interesting, I have deliberately made the problem of animal housing on the Ark much more difficult by adopting the genus as the taxonomic rank of the created kind [he had already provided both evolution and creation scientists' arguments establishing that "kind" is far closer to the rank of family than genus, which would drastically reduce the Ark's population]. This necessitates...nearly 16,000 animals on the Ark. This number is based on land animals of whose existence we know (either as live animals or fossils). Because I have intentionally made the Ark-crowding problem so much more difficult than it actually was, all other possible sources of error, individually and collectively, are rendered trivial by comparison. This makes it unnecessary to provide error bars for the various tables in this work."

    When Woodmorappe refers to the size of the rat, he is taking into account ALL the possible animals on the Ark : here is some of his explanation:

    "IN order to derive a complete inventory of animals on Noah's Ark, I have compiled and computed body-mass estimates for all the living and known extinct genera of land vertebrates. These can be broken down into eight-eight orders of live and known extinct land vertebrates....the destribution of their constituent genera is high asymmetric, and there is a sharp asymptomatic drop-off of constituent genera per order when the orders are listed from largest ot smallest....the three largest orders (Passeriformes, Squamata, and Rodentia) collectively account for nearly half of the 16,000 animals on the Ark....At the other extreme, forty-four orders have ten pairs or fewer, and thirty-five have five or fewer pairs."

    This should explain why he took the rat's body mass as the average.

    Regarding the old canard about him using the median value -- he only even mentioned that word once and that by way of illustration.

    But the internet garbage has a way of mimicking eternity... it doesn't matter how often the truth is presented, since truth doesn't seem to matter to some of these people anyway, they are more than happy to promote often refuted nonsense anyway.

    Helen, it's certainly possible you're right about the median vs. mean thing being a big misunderstanding. But the section you quoted doesn't really answer the question:

    The fact that the orders with the most genera tend to be rat-sized doesn't mean he should take the rat's mass as average. Did he in fact do the calculation by adding up the total mass of each different genera, and then dividing by the total number of genera?

    The statistically honest way of doing this would be the mean. The median would exclude large animals, and as noted, the relatively few large animal species would take up a disproportionate amount of room.

    Using the median size would simply ignore the existance of such animals.

    To QXR37 -- you are right that the material I have quoted did not reference the median. I simply said Woodmorappe had used the word only once or twice and then I showed how he had determined weight and mass for his analysis. Woodmorappe spends several pages discussing how he arrived at this material in his body-mass chart. It is not until he gets to the section entitled "Mass Distribution of the Animals on the Ark" that he spends one small paragraph where he references the he Morris-Whitcomb estimate, that the median size would have been about that of a rat. Thus the median is NOT used in estimating the material for his body mass charts, but only as a passing reference as a comparison to another set of data under a section apart from the body-mass material itself. That paragraph may be found at the bottom of page 13.
    The section on Ark Animals by Body-Mass Category starts high on page 10 and runs to the bottom of page 13, where that one small paragraph in its own subheading is found.

    Just two paragraphs up from that (in other words, those accusing Woodmorappe of sloppy work only had to read one page of the book to know they were wrong), we can read this:

    "I have based all the ensuing calculations on the Ark logistics by using the arithmetic mean of each respective small body-mass category (e.g. assuming in calculations that all the animals in the 1-10 gram category weigh 5 grams, etc.). For animals larger than 100 kg, I used the geometric mean of each category (e.g. letting every animal in the 100-1000 kg category weigh up to 316 kg for purposes of calculations). My reason for using the geometric mean for the larger animals is the fact that there are more smaller than larger animals in each respective large-bodied category. This follows from the fact [that] animalsfollow a log-normal distribution of genera relative to body-mass categories (Maurer et al. 1992), with the larger animals being part of the tail end of this distribution.”

    I think therefore, it is safe to say that Barbarian and the rest who are so quick to jump on the bandwagon against this man have not even bothered to read that one page of the book! The paragraph quoted and the one using the word 'median' the ONE AND ONLY TIME it is used in the entire book, as a passing reference, have only one paragraph between them, both being on page 13.

    I hope that helps straighten out the issue.

    [Administrator: most of the rest of this thread had to do with Woodmorappe, not the Ark or the Bible. The few parts which had to do with the Biblical record are below but will seem disorderly due to the fact that they were snipped from the posts, the rest of which were discarded.]

    Because there have been so many arguments which allege the impossibility of eight people caring for so many animals, I delved into actual manpower studies on the time required to care for a given number of animals under various conditions. It turns out that simple labor-saving techniques could have enabled eight people to care for 16,000 rat-sized animals assuming the availability of only rustic tools, along with a 10-hour day, 6-day week, with time to spare.

    If, as discussed earlier, Noah had a menagerie before the Flood, most of the weaker animals must have already died off... Now I wonder if those rates really changed as animals got experience with captivity. Why would Noah on his boat with only seven helpers be expected to do so better than early 20th century zookeepers? In essence, the data don't support the ark fantasy so he [Woodmorappe] must invoke the managerie claim and Divine filters to circumvent reality. Page 65 in my edition.

    His whole write up this shows me that he knows nothing about caring for large animals. First, based on my experience, death rates for all animals and particularly juveniles will be higher than he allows under crowded conditions and without antibiotics. Second, many wild animals must learn appropriate behavior from their parents and others. Consider the effort that goes into reintroducing animals raised in captivity into the wild. Third, you already have a big problem with what predator will eat while prey species regenerate. This will be compounded by any species that are not yet old enough to even mate when they come off the ark. I suppose this make the problem of predators that have to be taught to hunt my their mothers mute, since there would be nothing for them to eat anyway.

    Thank you, Randy.
    I did think some of the material at the beginning of the book was good. Some of the points made regarding the level of 'kind' in the current taxonomic system and that sort of thing.

    And as the book went on I found myself cringing. I've raised animals, too. That probably says enough. I'm not in this to run down anyone -- I just disagreed with a lot of what he said.

    All that said, though, I think that the effort he made to look at the problems face on is commendable. The stereotype of the Ark with Noah and his wife grinning on deck and two giraffe heads sticking out someplace is about as far as most people ever get.

    In response to a few of your points, I think it should be pointed out that if one is dealing honestly with the entire biblical scenario, one would have to understand that the animals were not yet afraid of man and not yet carnivores. Thus the problems involving death rates would probably not have surfaced. I would have to add also that since God Himself, the Bible says, directed animals to the Ark, they were divinely chosen and therefore had what it took to withstand the year on the Ark.

    Nor do I think the Ark was crowded. Woodmorappe says that he aims for genera rather than family level to make the thing a challenge. I don't think he should have done that, personally. If he wanted to give himself a 'safety margin' of numbers, adding 50% to the family level number would have been more than sufficient. Given three decks on the Ark, and figuring the lowest for ballast/manure/etc., there is still plenty of room for any enclosures needed (and they may not have needed many...) as well as exercise room. I have never had a problem with that part.

    As to animals not yet being carinivores I have a little trouble envisioning Smilodon Fatalis (the so-called saber tooth tiger) living off fruit. I also think there is quite a bit of evidence for predation in the supposedly flood deposited fossil record but I am not an really up on that. I do know that there is a big problem with what carnivores would eat post-flood, when even creationists admit that they would have been carnivores.

    Well, I don't have much problem with the room part. But remember someone has to take care of all that space and boats, even when not full of animals need a lot of maintanance. I do have a problem with the idea that all current animals could have super evolved from the family level in just a few thousand years. In that case if you lose an animal from the ark before it mates you lose not only the species and genus but the whole family as well. One meal of one lion, one whole family gone.

    I have thought about this quite a bit. I am not only from the other side of the fence, I have spent a lot of time building fences and repairing fences and pens damaged by animals. I think you also have to postulate that God made the animals especially docile during the trip or they would have been breaking out of their pens and cages all over the ark. Woodmorrape's arguments just don't work and I don't really think yours are a way out for the ark either. You must continually invoke miracles throughout the process. Fine, but I don't think you can legitimately call it creation science if you do that.

    [ January 02, 2002: Message edited by: Administrator ]