Sunday, February 26, 2006

Discussing Creationism Part III

I asked these questions last week, regarding Noah's ark,
1. What was the size of the ark?
2. How many animals could have fit into the ark? Biblically, we are not told except that there were 7 pairs (male and female) of each clean animal and a male and female of each unclean animal as well as 7 pairs of each fowl.

To help answer these questions I featured as an example "Christian Answers" and was given another site to look at called "Talk Reason". This is some of what I found.

Showing my work:
As I was examining the data from two of the web pages regarding Creationism and Evolutionism, I was disappointed to discover that the calculations of the volume in the ark did not match.

Volume of a square or rectangular shape=length x width x height

According to Christian Answers, the volume of the ark was = 137.16m x 22.86 m x 13.72 m=462,686.4 cubic meters.

While Talk Reason calculated the ark's volume to be 150m x 25m x 15m =approximately 55,000 cubic meters.

Which one is right?
The simple calculations shows that with the correct answer is 55, 000 cubic meters.

It appears that the problem in Christian Answers may have been with the metric measurements as the calculations in cubic feet were correct. (450' x 75' x 45' =1,518,750 cubic feet.)
Now that makes it possible to look at their comparisons between the railroad stock car and ark.

First, the dimensions of a railroad stock car were found (42' x8' x 8'). From these, the volume was calculated to be approximately 2688 cubic feet. So, about 565 stock cars would fit into the ark. (1,518, 750cubic feet/ 2688 cubic feet= 565)

Look back at the reasoning in Christian Answers and it is necessary to know how many sheep would fit in one stock car?

Christian Answers, again disappointingly used inaccurate measurements. They gave a single railroad's dimensions but in the deduction, sheep were placed into double decker trains. The dimensions for a double decker train had to be found then the results recalculated.

Double decker dimensions which are in meters 26.4 x 2.78 x 4.606m. These must be recalculated into cubic feet. 86.6'x 9.1'x 15.1'= 11900 cubic feet. This is the volume of a double decker railroad stock car.

The ark's approximate volume is 1,518, 750 cubic feet. Only 128 (1,518, 750/ 11900)of these double decker railroad cars would fit into the ark.

Now that we know how many stock cars would approximately fit into the ark, we need to know how many sheep would fit into one stock car.

Here is a quote from a web page called Life on the Central Branch that did just that:

"The hard times continued here and the Bank of Downs failed in January of 1891, but Denton seemed to be doing all right with his sheep. As March arrived, it was time to ship his animals to market.

The Chief reported March 5th that he had shipped eight double-deck carloads of sheep to Chicago the previous Friday. Denton accompanied the shipment and took W. F. Henry and James Worley along to help care for the animals.

Returning from Chicago, Denton said he used the Chicago, St. Paul and Kansas City railroad. They made the run from St. Joseph, Mo., to Chicago in 26 hours and he said this was the quickest run he had made. Another 10 carloads of sheep went to market in early April over this same Maple Leaf route.

As April 1891 drew to a close, Denton still had 1,800 sheep at Downs and hired C. D. Brown and Chas. Oldson to shear them. The animals yielded six and a half pounds of wool to the head, which the Chief said would bring Denton "the neat little sum of $2,500."

The sheep shipments ended in late May when the final eight carloads went to Chicago by train. The Chief stated that Denton had shipped 14,000 head that spring. In early June, a carload of wool was shipped to Boston, Mass.

From this, we read that there were 8-10 double deck railroad cars/ train. For three of them, the number of cars were given and for the other three they weren't but I have taken the minimun 8 cars per train. This makes a total of 50 cars used to transport 14,000 sheep or 280 sheep/railroad car. This is a good match with Christian Answers.

So I have used the Christian Answer's original calculation of 240 sheep/double decker stock car (leaving out the possible 40 more so as to create more space for the little darlings). According to these calculations, 128 of these double decker railroad cars could fit into the ark carrying 30,720 sheep (128 x 240).

Because the size of the animals would vary from insects to a T.Rex, the average size of a sheep hopefully will suffice for this illustration.
There also has to be room for food and other supplies, so how many railroad cars should be left for this and Noah's family? What if we say that only 125 railroad cars were filled with the animals and leave 3 railroad cars open for these other necessities? That would make room for 30,000 animals in total. (125 stock cars x 240 sheep/stock car)

Then there is the question of how many clean animals vs unclean animals were there. (7 pairs of each clean and only 1 pair of each unclean)We would need this to give an exact number of each species or variations of animals. As no number was given in the Bible for how many of each there were, it is not possible to know for sure. For estimation purposes only, if 7 pairs were used for all of the different types of animals, this will make the number (30000/14=)2142 different types of animals. As this number is lower than it was, it probably would've been more like 2500 of different types of animals.

Check my math and the reasoning out as well.

There are more points that were made regarding the original questions from "Discussing Creationism II". They will be brought up next week.

For now, hopefully everyone can see that it is necessary to recheck the steps that were taken to come to a conclusion. If one step is out, then all conclusions are out too.

Before the Evolutionists out there start feeling smug about the errors in this one Creationist's web site, remember, critical thinking starts with the ability to look at one's own position first. In discussing any controversial subject, it is important to examine the facts and to understand the difference between the facts (evidences) and the conclusions that were made from them.

Are you blindly trusting the conclusions that others (even scientists) made without first checking the facts and conclusions out for yourself? It is easy to make mathematical errors and easier to make errors in perceptions.

A scientist is not allowed to include God in the analysis for there is no evidence that God exists. Thus, you get Evolution, a beginning without a Creator.

Creationists aim to include the physical data/facts with the belief that the Bible is a reliable source of fact as well. The combination of these should result in a better understanding of our beginning.

I hope in the course of these discussions, to become more knowledgeable of the evidences as well as of the debate between Evolutionists and Creationists. I ask for your help as I endeavor to achieve this by supplying the facts and evidences that you know or where to find them so I can have a look at them for myself.

Discussing Creationism Part I

Discussing Creationism II


pam said...

Wow sure know how to do your homework on this...I will go back over your previous discussion on this subject...I have absolutely know doubt concerning God creating everything mainly because of what He has done in my life over the past 32 years. His Word has proven to be 100% right on in my walk with Him...but trying to convence unbelievers of this fact in my life is a tad bit difficult...but that is the job of the Holy Spirit..Thank God!

cranky old fart said...


Does God "creating everything" mean that you have to believe in the "literal truth" of the Noah Ark myth?


Bothered to look at Gilgamesh yet?

Mango Lane said...

My apologies to both Carol and C.O.F. for butting in on their debate but I feel compelled to comment on the subject of Gilgamesh. I can only assume that C.O.F. feels this ancient account of a world wide flood proves that the story of Noah and the ark is a myth. In fact among several civilizations there are accounts of a major world wide flood. How interesting : various nations throughout this vast world have an account of a similar event. My question to Cranky old fart is, if I may be so bold: does this prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that a major catastrophic flood was merely a myth? Does the fact that the Gilgamesh account is quite similar to the OT account prove that the whole thing is just a fanciful story or does it indicate the opposite thing?

cranky old fart said...

OK, have it your way, it's all the stone cold truth (and it actually may have been an account of an ancient local flood)but the point is that the fundie Christians have chosen the Genesis account as the sole literal, historical, truth, Discounting the fact that Gilgamesh was written much earlier than the OT book.

Also, if repeating the same story makes it true, I got some greek gods that belong in your history books.

pam said...

Hi cranky old answere your question all I can say is I believe in the litural truth of the Noah Ark account as it is told in the Bible...but you don't have to believe it if you don't want to...I believe we were created with free choice...but that there is also consequences to our choices.

Dave said...

Pam's comment shows that this type of debate is ultimately worthless.

The size of the ark question is also completely pointless as even a cursory glance at the situation would show. It does not matter if the ark was big enough for millions of animals, Noah could not have collected these animals as a), he might have been able to cover a few tens of miles but he couldn't have found more than even a small % of the animals in that area, b), he couldn't have been aware of 3/4 of the world's animals or 3/4 of the world's land masses.

Evolution in no way precludes the existance of God, it merely suggests the most likely way that life has progressed since the formation of the universe. It has nothing to say about these beginnings and God is as good a suggestion as any. Creationists love to say that it's them versus evolution, it's not, it's them versus education, science, logic, common sense etc.

Mango Lane said...

To C.O.F.:
You give in too easily. I was hoping for a spirited rebuttal. Oh well.
As for the repeated telling of a story making something true; well, it works in a court of law. Of course we can all debate whether the law is really a search for the truth. I suppose it`s really which argument is the best - the most convincing.
I certainly perceive that you have not been convinced of even the possibility of the Creation account etc. being accurate. I must admit that I have not been the least bit swayed by anything you have offered here- so far. It`s going to take more than just looking outside my window or studying a globe or discounting the fact that scientifically unexplained events do in fact occur.
I must let you know that I do appreciate your input on this matter. It is obvious that you are a passionate person concerning your beliefs. As for me I am interested in the truth where ever that may lead me.

Carol said...

Cranky Old Fart,
Re: Gilgamesh? Not yet.

Anyone can jump in. Thanks for doing so especially since you have read Gilgamesh.
I will hold off on discussing this topic until I have read it as well.

That's right, Pam. No one can force anyone to accept either position. It is up to the individuals to make up their own minds.

No discussion is useless and I don't go along with the idea that it is Creationism vs Evolution. There has been crucial data discovered by men (and women, hopefully) of science in this field. What I am questioning are some of the conclusions. Science isn't infallible. I hope that we can discuss this topic together, rationally, logically, scientifically without ridicule. Perhaps we might discover something uncommon and unthought of before.

Are you willing to share your knowledge on the subject?

I hope to get to the issue of the gathering of the animals but you will have to be patient, too. This is a fascinating topic to explore and I prefer not to be rushed.

I also am pleased that you are open to the idea that God might've created the universe.

Thanks for reading everyone.

Dave said...

'No discussion is useless and I don't go along with the idea that it is Creationism vs Evolution.'

I couldn't agree more, what I'm trying to say is that comments such as:- 'I have absolutely know doubt concerning God creating everything mainly because of what He has done in my life over the past 32 years.' are not open to rational debate and discussion.

cranky old fart said...


To be more precise in my response to your earlier comment:

The fact of an earlier more detailed account of the flood story would support the argument that the latter Genesis story was borrowed from the earlier. Hence, the argument that Genesis is the only source for the "true facts" of the flood story is somewhat weakened.

Gilgamesh really has nothing to do with the historical "fact" of the Noah story. Common sense takes care of that, though Carol seems to want to dwell on "size" issues. Hmmmmm

Carol said...

Cranky Old Fart,
There might be another post on the size this Sunday as there are still points that I want to address.

zeb said...

Was the Gilgamesh account written before the flood took place?
Would that make him a prophet?

cranky old fart said...

There was apparently a later flood also:

In the Greek myth, the flood took place during the age of Deucalion 1 (1450 BC). Deucalion 1 and his wife, Pyrrah 1, were warned in advance of the coming deluge and told to construct a chest and fill it with provisions.

I mean, it was written down in ancient times, so it's gotta be true, no?

Zeus assembled the gods and decided to wipe out mankind by water. Deucalion and Pyrrah survived the flood by floating in the chest they built.

Mango Lane said...

C.O.F.: It figures that a man would turn this issue into one about "size". Well, anyhoo, back to reality.
Here`s the thing about "facts": they are part and parcel of truth. I think that Carol, at the very least, is finding out if the ark and its contents are a possibility. To do this one has to go to things like ancient writings. Is it really your belief that any writing from antiquity is unreliable or worse, a myth?
That a massive catastrophic flood can occur has been proven by archeology. Oh and also by various ancient writings. How about Katrina and the tsunami disaster?. As I mentioned before all nations of people have some kind of ancient record of a flood of biblical proportions. Are all these accounts of the same event that Noah experienced? It is possible that some are, but it`s also possible that they are not. What I find intriguing about this is the fact that the writers of all these accounts must have experienced,first hand, a major destructive flood. How can somebody write about something they have no knowledge?
The writer of the Gilgamesh epic tells of a cyclone. In certain regions of the world that is near water, a storm can produce a devastating spiral-like tidal wave. So what? Well what I`m trying to get across is that all these accounts are based on actual physical phenomenon thus the stories are based, at least partially, on (drum roll please) FACT. Is it so hard to accept that a number of people survived a flood as such by a boat and that animals could have come along for the ride?

cranky old fart said...

"Is it so hard to accept that a number of people survived a flood as such by a boat and that animals could have come along for the ride"?

Well the flood event you describe is by no means hard to accept. The forewarning of such an event sufficient to build a huge boat and stock it with a wide variety of animals, however, is a little harder to swallow. No?

But the real point is that I've CONCEEDED for the sake of argument, the boat and size issue. IT DOESN'T MATTER! Why go on with fact finding about a "fact" that doesn't matter??

Carol said...

Hold all these thoughts, we will discuss the myths at a later time.

Cranky Old Fart,
Just because you don't want to discuss the the size of the ark and the number of animals that could logically fit into it, does not mean that it is not important to the discussion. We will proceed as planned.

Rhiannon said...

Is this a class?? Who's the teacher??..And which ones are the students???..:) Will there be a test? :)

You all have fun now....


Carol said...

Hi Rhiannon,
I think that in a debate, everyone believes that they are the teacher. I hope, though, that the facts are what teach, of which everyone is welcome to supply. We are all the students.

I agree, that looking at facts and figures can be rather dry, but there is time for everything and you never know, Corey might have another cartoon to share.

creeper said...

Cranky does have a point at least in that the size of the Ark and how many animals can fit in it is somewhat irrelevant if we don't also consider how many animals would have had to fit into it to plausibly explain the variety of life we see around us today.

So an important question in this is: How many species are there today, at what rates can they evolve, and so how many "kinds" would there have needed to be to accomplish today's variety within approx. 4,500 years? Also, what were those kinds? It's all well enough for us to say that the average size would have been that of a sheep or a horse, but that's a complete guess, as are the numbers that have been bandied about.

Marine animals can also not be simply written off because they "knew how to swim"; marine animals rely on a certain level of salinity in the water (saltwater, freshwater etc.), and will die if the salinity changes drastically, as it would for a vast number of them in the case of a global flood. This has been touched on on Radar's blog and will apparently be coming up again soon.

Also, a couple of points regarding the recurring mentions of floods in different ancient civilizations:

1. Ancient civilizations only had very limited perspectives on the world, and would not have been able to know if the entire world had been flooded. A local flood (something like Katrina perhaps) would have been blown up in hindsight and based on limited perspective.

2. The flood myth showing up in several civilizations may mean that there were floods everywhere, or that the story simply was passed on. It is entirely possible, given how myths travel from one civilization to another, that Noah's flood is a retelling of Gilgamesh, or other myths.

3. Floods, even catastrophic ones, taking place in the past is possible and even likely. What is unlikely (and given the evidence of continuous ancient civilizations and dendrochronological records, even impossible) is a global flood when the Bible says it took place (approx 2348 BC).

Dave, just a couple of corrections regarding your understanding of what the creationists actually are claiming:

Noah would not have had to travel around the world to collect all the animals, as they were travelling to him, as commanded by God. The landmass was still one at the time, because it supposedly was split into continents during the flood.

FWIW, that's what the claim is.

Carol said...

Hi Creeper,
Thanks again for your input.

Regarding the estimation of animals that could have fit in the ark, one has to start somewhere.

Thanks for the good points you put forward. I will consider them in future discussions.

#2 was addressed in
Discussing Creationism Part VI