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Bible Question & Answer


Q. Given the huge number of species on earth, could two of every kind of animal really have fit on the ark?

A. A common objection concerning the credibility of the account in the Bible of a global flood is that there is no way a boat could hold all the species on earth. First, let's consider what the Bible says about that boat. The dimensions of the ark are recorded in Genesis 6:15, "And this is how you shall make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits." Most experts on the ancient Near East estimate that a cubit was approximately 18 inches, or one and a half feet. That means the ark was about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Verse 16 also says the ark was to have 3 floors (as well as an air vent all the way around--I'm sure the humans appreciated that!), resulting in approximately 100,000 square feet of storage space. Its height was that of a 4 story building, and perhaps most impressive, calculations of the ark's volume indicate that over 500 railroad boxcars could have fit inside it! So we understand the ark had tremendous storage capacity, not only for the creatures, but also for their necessary food.

It should also be noted that Noah did not take "two of every kind of creature;" but those "in which is the breath of life" (Gen 6:17), in other words, terrestrial creatures that breath the air (cf. Gen 7:21-23). In Genesis 7:23 it states, "Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark." Taxonomists estimate the number of species to be in the multi-millions, however, a major percentage of these are aquatic organisms, plants, and insects, most of which Noah would not have included on the ark, or (e.g. insects) are very small. As for a common objection that dinosaurs would have taken up vast amounts of space--if indeed Noah included them (which I think he certainly did), it should be noted that most reptiles continue to grow throughout their entire lifespan. Thus, the enormous size attained by some of the dinosaurs may indicate great age for those individual specimens. Noah did not need to take a "great-granddaddy" Diplodocus on the ark, younger individuals the size of cows or even giraffes would have sufficed. Therefore, we can conclude that there was plenty of room on the ark for the creatures Noah was required to take.

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