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All kinds could fit (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (All kinds could fit (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CH512:

Noah's ark could have carried pairs of all kinds of animals for a year.

Source: Woodmorappe, John, 1996. Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study. Santee, CA: ICR.

CreationWiki response: (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Woodmorappe (1996, 1-44) has done a detailed analysis of the possibility of fitting all animals aboard the Ark. He found that the animals, together with the food and water they require, would fit in about 90 percent of the available space. However, he made several invalid assumptions that, when corrected, fill the ark past overflowing.

While in doing his feasibility study, Woodmorappe had to make certain assumptions, not all of them valid, Talk Origins' criticism is based almost entirely on their evolutionarily mind set and a clear bias towards inflating the number of animals beyond credibility. When viewed from a creationist perspective, it turns out that correcting for one invalid assumption solves other problems as well.

  • The "kinds" used in Woodmorappe's calculations were genera. Taking individual species, which is a much more reasonable definition of kind in the context of the ark, increases the load three- or fourfold.

This is a typical argument made by scoffers like those at Talk Origins. The main goal is to inflate the numbers, it is based on the purely evolutionary assumption that the observed variety arose only by accumulation of mutations over long periods of time. It ignores the affect of small inbreeding population as animals dispersed after the Flood. Under such circumstance, it is easier for those mutations that do occur to take hold, thus greatly accelerating substitution rates. When this factor is combined with genetic recombination, Natural Genetic Engineering and gene transfer, it is clear that the presently observed variety could have come about in the few thousands of years since the Flood.

Actually in choosing to equate genus with kind, Woodmorappe was deliberately erring on the side of caution, since interbreeding experiments have shown that in many cases kind is actually equivalent to family and in rare cases more than one family. If calculated based on kind = family then Woodmorappe's estimated 16000 animals is reduced to only 2000, a reduction of a factor of eight, and thus his estimated 90% of the Ark's space is reduced to about 12%. Even if we assume half were genera and half were family that would result in 9000 animals and about 51% of the Ark's space.

The result is the correcting for Woodmorappe's error here is only a problem if one makes evolutionary assumptions.

Reference: What are the Biblical Kinds?

Reference: Natural Genetic Engineering

Reference: Genetic Variability by Design

Reference: Ligers and wholphins? What next?

Reference: Brisk Biters

Reference: Darwin’s finches: Evidence supporting rapid post-Flood adaptation

Reference: Evolution from the Creation Perspective

Reference: Speciation

Reference: Speciation Conference Brings Good News for Creationists

Reference: Speedy species surprise

Reference: Gene Hi-Jacking - The Role of Genetic Transformation

Reference: Genes caught skipping from bacteria to beetle

  • Woodmorappe did not account for the extra clean animals, considering their number negligible. However, he believed that the only clean animals would be thirteen domestic ruminants traditionally considered clean. But if the Bible is taken literally, all ruminants would be considered clean. Under Woodmorappe's assumption, the extra clean animals would increase the load by 1.5 percent, or 3 percent if you include seven pairs of the animals. Taking all ruminants increases the load by 14 or 28 percent.

Assuming that Talk Origins' interpretion is correct; their past track record makes this questionable; then Woodmorappe's deliberate error on the side of caution solves this problem.

  • If kind = family then a 28% increase only raises the percentage of used Ark space to 26%.
  • If half genus and half family then a 28% increase only raises the percentage of used Ark space to 66%.

The result is that even assuming Talk Origins is correct here, by erring on the side of caution Woodmorappe considered this in his calculations.

  • Woodmorappe included only juveniles of animals larger than about 10 kg. This assumption, however, is unbiblical and, for some animals, impractical. Taking adult animals would increase the total mass more than thirteenfold. Taking even some of these animals as adults or taking older juveniles could easily fill the ark beyond capacity.

Talk Origins's claim that this is unbiblical is based on a mistranslation and misinterpretation of Genesis 7:2. This verse is simply referring to the fact that both male and female animals went on the Ark. There is no reference to the maturity of the animals. Now they are right that in some cases taking juveniles would be impractical, if you ignore God's hand in the process. However the largest would be reptiles, and reptiles grow all their lives, and as such young adults would still be relatively small, and most are on their own from birth. Furthermore if the larger animals that could not be represented by juveniles, were actually represented in family instead of genus they would still not be a problem.

  • According to the creation model, dinosaurs and other animals now extinct would have been alive at the time of the flood and therefore would be aboard the ark. The only extinct animals that Woodmorappe included in his calculations were the ones that were known at the time. Since then, many other dinosaur genera have been discovered, and no doubt there are many more as yet undiscovered.

Woodmorappe was deliberately erring on the side of caution in a manner that over inflated the numbers. It is likely that many dinosaurs were represented by family not genus, and as such the discovery of a new dinosaur or other extinct genera would not be a problem, particularly given how easily it is to designate some new fossil as new genera and the impossibility of breeding experiments.

  • Woodmorappe excluded land invertebrates from his calculations, despite the fact that they must have been aboard the ark. These animals are small enough that they alone would not have increased the load significantly, but they are numerous enough and have many special requirements, so the infrastructure needed to house and care for them would have been significant.

This is based on both evolutionary assumptions and misinterpretation of the Bible. As such it is another example of "your theory does not work under my theory so your theory must be wrong."

  • Woodmorappe made no allowance for food spoilage or water wasted from spilling, although the conditions he described aboard the ark guarantee that both of these problems would have been severe.

Woodmorappe was deliberately erring on the side of caution in his calculations in a manner that over inflated the numbers. This deliberate over estimation leaves room for just such problems. Furthermore Talk Origins's claim ignores God's preserving hand, as well as the possibility that Noah had access to technology that would prevent much of the spoilage and waste they imagine.

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