Noah's Ark: An Impossible Voyage (Part III)
Assuming the average animal to be about the size of a sheep and using a railroad car for comparison, we note that the average double-deck stock car can accommodate 240 sheep. Thus, three trains hauling 69 cars each would have ample space to carry the 50,000 animals, filling only 37% of the ark. This would leave an additional 361 cars or enough to make 5 trains of 72 cars each to carry all of the food and baggage plus Noah's family of eight people. The Ark had plenty of space.
Still the inexplicable fascination with trains! What the hell is the purpose of this? What’s wrong with just dealing with, oh, I dunno, Arks?! This has to be – hands down – about the most complicated and convoluted explanation for anything in the history of ever. Yes, a standard double-deck stock boxcar can accommodate 240 sheep, but we only need to know how many sheep a single-deck boxcar can hold since we don’t plan on stacking them on top of each other like some derangedly misguided live enactment of Monkeys in a Barrel. You have 3 decks to work with, so figure out how many sheep fit on 1 deck, then multiply by 3! What’s so difficult about that? What do you think, you’re just gonna have a couple thousand animals suspended from the ceiling or floating around like some crazy farm version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’s bubble room?
As noted above, the stock-size boxcar capable of holding 120 sheep is 475 sq ft (50’ x 9.5’). And remember, we only have about 65,000 sq ft (being exceptionally generous) of available housing and living space, the equivalent of 137 boxcars. 137 boxcars holding 120 sheep each would allow for 16,440 animals – relatively close to our mark - PACKED IN WALL-TO-WALL LIKE FREAKING SARDINES!!!
You’re done. Your boat is now entirely full. You do not have a year’s supply of food, you do not have a year’s supply of drinking water, you do not have empty space to accommodate a year’s supply of animal excrement, and you do not have the room for 8 human beings to survive without going insane (or even for 8 humans potentially going insane). Now drown me in adulation for not making you have to solve this problem with 50,000 animals! (admit it, I’m your new best friend)
Thankfully, we’re not trying to account for that many critters, just 16,000. Now, I’m sorry I have to show you some more boring math for a second, but again, bear with me. If 120 sheep fill up a 475 sq ft room, that means each sheep requires a personal space of 4 sq ft (just to stand - mind you - not to eat or drink or defecate or lay down or walk around or anything). 16,000 animals taking up 4 sq ft each would result in 64,000 sq ft. And what percentage of the Ark is this? If you said “37%,” please show yourself to the door and try to refrain from ever talking out loud again for the rest of your life. If you replied “just about all of it,” please help yourself to some refreshments and prepare for the bonus round. That’s right. All the animals just standing there took up almost 100% of the Ark’s available space. Even if the Ark actually had 100,000 sq ft for us to work with, it’s nothing to get terribly excited about. Shoving a Bengal tiger into a crate in which he “only” takes up 37% of the space does not make for a happy kitty. You could possibly get away with this for an 8-hour flight from New Jersey to France, but trying this for over a year straight is not recommended by any reputable cat-enthusiast. Remember this figure for later.
Ah, screw it. Remember it right freaking now. Suppose your high school class is planning their senior-trip to Washington D.C. There are 500 of you, and you’re trying to figure out how many rooms to book at the Sheraton. Remember now, 500 average high school seniors can be contained in 4 railroad stock cars, each totaling 475 sq ft. That means the entire graduating class takes up an area of 1,900 sq ft. As luck would have it, a luxury suite at the Sheraton is 4,000 sq ft, so, yey!...everyone can share a single room and they’ll “only” be taking up less than half of the space! Alls I can say to that is…you might want to check and see what the deposit is for incidentals for groups of that size before you book your …um…room.
Seriously, dude, try to figure out what point you’re trying to make before you just start spouting off random statistics. Nobody cares how many sheep you can compact into a storage unit for a smooth, 2-day springtime jaunt up to South Dakota. We want to know how many you can keep alive in there with the door welded shut for a year while someone shakes the container like the worst natural disaster in the history of the known universe. You could fit 26 circus midgets in a Volkswagen Beatle if you wanted to, but I strongly suggest letting them out to roam around after a month or two.
Oh, that reminds me…speaking of “letting them out to roam…” The website where we both found the statistics quoting how many sheep one can cram into a railcar also has some other useful sheep-related information: according to Federal law, any animal transported by said railcar must be given 5 hours of rest and exercise for every 28 hours traveled. This is the absolute bare minimum in order to legally avoid animal cruelty and/or death.
The bigger problem would have been the construction of the Ark…
Well, yeah, that’s a doozy all right…
But the Bible indicates that Noah did this under Divine guidance…
No, it doesn’t say that at all, Mr. Biblical Invention Guy. All it says is that God told him what to build (an Ark), how big to build it (see above), what to build it out of (gopher wood), what to seal it with (pitch), how many decks to build (3), and how many doors and windows to furnish this entire project with (1 of each). Then he sat around on His lazy cosmic ass for 120 years while Noah tried to piece this monstrosity together without any duct tape. Now, simply telling someone what to build, how big to build it, and what to build it out of is not entirely helpful in instructing them how to build it. You could tell me that you wanted a Cadillac painted candy-apple red, 17 feet long, room for 6, constructed from steel, white wall tires, and with a cool pair of racing stripes down the hood, but I wouldn't have the faintest idea how to go about assembling such a project for you. What did Noah conceivably know about boat-making? For that matter, why could God create a universe but not a beach-craft? Waiting over a century for a senior citizen to construct a floating building using a rock, chisel, and maybe a camel, just to murder everyone for not following rules that no one’s been given does not have the ring of divine efficiency or wisdom to these ears.
…and there is no reason to believe he did not hire additional workmen.
I always love when apologists use phrases like, “there is no reason to believe…” which actually means, “When I couldn’t think of a reason after 12 seconds, I concluded there must not be one.” Well I can think of a couple great reasons why Noah didn’t hire additional workers: (1) Noah was considered a “righteous man,” so he most likely wasn’t all too keen on enlisting people to help construct the element of their own demise. Who in their right mind hires the condemned man to make sure all the electrical wiring is working properly before sending him off to the chair? That’s just plain messed up! (2) The Bible says that Noah’s neighbors all occupied their time by ridiculing him for building the damn thing, not by submitting job applications to haul freaking gopher trees around town in their Radio Flyers for him.
How were the animals gathered?
Another enormous problem some have posed is the problem of gathering specimens of each kind of air-breathing land animal and bringing them aboard the Ark. However, the Genesis account indicates that God gathered the animals and brought them to Noah inside the ark two by two…
Or seven…or fourteen….or whatever…depends on which verse you prefer… Wait, simply telling us, “God did it” doesn’t explain anything. Was He running a celestial transit service and just depositing the creatures by winged bus?
I thought the whole point of this exercise was to leave the supernatural out of it and explain how it could have happened naturally, without appeals to magic. If you’re going to start invoking divine intervention, why don’t you just throw your hands up and say, “Screw it! The whole freaking process was a miracle every step of the way!”
If you honestly believe in Invisible Magical Sky People, nobody would begrudge you for invoking their help to charter this sea sabbatical of yours. You don’t have to be frugal about your miracles either; pull out all the stops! “God-Magic made the boat! God-Magic collected the animals! God-Magic splinted the broken giraffe legs when the Ark hit the first big wave!”
"God-Magic shrunk all the animals to figurine size and then cryogenically froze them in suspended animation (without electricity)!" “God-Magic supplied pine-scented air fresheners and celestial Muzak to make this floating Port-o-John somewhat tolerable after Day 3!” Go nuts with it, man! Just remember what any good comedy actor will tell you: you can’t go half-way or you’ll just end up looking foolish. You gotta fully commit to yer lunacy to actually pull it off.
Some have suggested this may have involved the origin of animal migratory instincts or, at least, an intensification of it.
Right, because Canadian Geese are notorious for their honking and V-shape formations as they make their annual roundtrip flight from Saskatchewan to Istanbul. (And by the way, who is “Some?” Are they related to “They?” Is this a credible source, or did you hear it from your girlfriend’s cousin’s barber’s talking donkey?) This throw-away argument might be at least a teensy bit plausible if every animal displaying migratory tendencies found themselves wandering around Kabul every October.
We also know that most animals possess the ability to sense danger and to move to a place of safety.
(And the animals that don’t possess this ability? What did they do, just join the parade and fall in?)
Yes, it is widely known that animals can sense earthquakes and other storms several hours before they happen, but all this usually entails is a bit of quirky and erratic behavior, not a mass exodus to a foreign continent. When was the last time a thunderstorm set in and you looked up to discover you Labrador was in Argentina? Did you brush up on your animal biology by watching a Roland Emerich or Michael Bay flick? What I’ve never been formally educated to is the idea that they can sense such an occurrence many months or even years out (or however the hell far out it would take for a Galapagos tortoise couple to migrate from the west coast of South America to freaking Palestine, or whatever). But perhaps I’m wrong about this. Maybe animals can sense rains, what, like 2 years before it gets cloudy? And then also they can sense savior Arks.
Yeah, I concede your point that animals can sense disaster coming. But I’m yet to be convinced that part of this natural process also features sensing the location of the nearest FEMA camp. I can totally buy that maybe some wildebeests or orangutans thought to themselves, “Hmmmm, we need to leave the Savannah or the Island of Borneo pronto.” But I’m also fairly confident that this instinct wasn’t immediately followed up with, “...and head off to Jerusalem to look for a wooden cruise ship.”
And since the Flood was supposedly world-wide, wouldn’t the animals in the immediate vicinity of the under-construction Ark also sense something unusual? If sensing danger makes animals suddenly relocate (which doesn’t actually happen), what about the animals near the Ark who were sensing the same thing but had no safe place to relocate to? And are you also suggesting that only two of each kind of animal sensed the danger and headed for the cruise liner, or are you implying that every freaking animal on the planet showed up at Noah’s doorstep while a bouncer behind a red velvet rope ushered in the just the pretty couples sporting sunglasses at night? Seriously dude, this is pitifully lame.