WHAT’S AN ARK??
Defense of the Flood & why it is important
* Did the flood really happen or is it myth?
Obviously we are here today to defend the Biblical flood. I’ve debated atheists for years now, and they constantly use unbelievable events like the flood to “prove” to themselves that there is no way the Bible is a trustworthy source.
* Did you know the Bible actually tells us to be able to give a defense for the hope that we have? (1 Peter 3:15). Salvation is a crucial step in a believer’s journey but it is NOT the end goal. I hope, by the end of this message, to help you gain more of an informed faith.
The Noah story is gaining a lot of attention in today’s media thanks to the big-budget Hollywood movie coming out this Friday. We’ll look at that a little later, but the topic is becoming more and more of a water-cooler topic. How awesome would it be to be able to offer answers to some of those common objections about the flood!
People want the story to be a myth, because if it is reality that means God has the ability to judge his creation at any time. That scares people. But on the other hand, if the story is true – then we can trust the word of God, which means we can trust the gospel, the good news, that comes from the same source. Yes, sometimes you have to endure the bad news to get to the good news. Let’s jump into it…
The first thing we need to catch from the excerpts we read is Genesis chapter 7 verse 11 that tells us that when the flood started “the fountains of the great deep burst forth”.
* You see, the flood was not just rain for 40 days and 40 nights as we often times hear! What are the fountains of the great deep? Well, Christian scientists theorize that this is a reference to the onset of plate tectonics.
* All scientists agree that at one point all the continents were together and at some point in the past they broke apart. The Bible confirms that the earth was split and water gushed up from underground during the flood. It also rained.
The waters increased for 40 days and 40 nights and then held for 150 days! The flood was not a mere month and a half! These guys were encased at sea for over a year by the time the dry land appeared! This was the most massive event in the history of the world. Do you remember from science class what plate tectonics actually do? It initiates earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis… all over the world at the same time! Can you imagine?? Whew!!
The waters rose to about 22 feet above the highest mountain. Now, does that mean 22 feet above Mt. Everest? Nope. Mt Everest would likely not have been 29,000 feet when the flood began. If there were no plate tectonics pushing continents around before the flood, mountain ranges would not have been as tall. People who object to the flood often cite there not being enough water to cover the tallest mountains, and they are right if they are assuming the mountains as tall then as now – but we wouldn’t assume that.
Opponents of the flood like to say that maybe the flood was a local flood just to a certain region. But we just pointed out that the Bible says the waters rose to 22 feet above the highest mountains…
That explanation makes NO sense. In fact, if it was just a local flood – why didn’t Noah just pack up his family and the animals and hike to another part of the world instead of spending 100 years building an Ark? The Bible says ALL creatures with the breath of life were wiped out…. not some. The entire story of the flood collapses upon itself when you believe it was a local flood.
The point is the flood was a massive, devastating, year-long, global, catastrophic event that forever altered the face of the planet.
Now obviously we can’t just thumb our nose at our opponents and blindly accept the global flood and ignore what others say about it. Although I would never downplay the importance of faith, if the flood was a real historical event of the magnitude the Bible suggests then we should certainly find evidence for it, right??
If the flood destroyed an enormous amount of life on the planet in one sweeping go, wouldn’t we expect to find a massive graveyard? Perhaps we might expect to find billions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the world. You know what we find – billions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the world!
* The fossil record is that massive graveyard! Fossils show signs of rapid burial. If you leave a dead carcass out, what happens to it? Yeah, it decays – dead things don’t fossilize. Fossilization, like what happened to this trilobite, occurs rapidly with little to no warning. You have to get buried quickly and cut off from oxygen. Even secular scientists agree that nearly all fossils are formed in flood conditions! Did you know that? This stuff is really exciting to me!
I remember visiting the Grand Canyon about 13 years ago, and immediately looking at it and thinking: “this was the flood!”
Mainstream science tries to paint a picture that a little bit of water (the Colorado River) cut that canyon over a long period of time. I say it was a lot of water over a little amount of time! Neither of us was there to observe it, so science can’t prove it either way – it does come down to faith in the end.
Some scientists use the order in the fossil record to dispute the concept of the flood. They say if it was one big flood the fossils should be all mixed together, not neatly organized the way they are. Well, we concede that there certainly IS an order to the fossil record, but we disagree that it shows how life evolved over long periods of time. We see the order more like what we would expect to find given slowly rising flood waters. We would expect more simple creatures to get buried first, and the more complex creatures to outlast the rising waters. Above and beyond that there is a science experiment you can do called hydrologic sorting – you’ve probably done a version of it before – when you mix certain elements together, water has a built in sorting function.
We’d say the order in the fossil record is the order of burial during the flood year and the layers were carved out as the waters receded slowly. We know canyons with multiple layers can be carved out quickly because we watched it happen after the explosion of Mt. St. Helens.
* Many scientists believe the rock layers took millions of years to form because they observe them forming slowly today, but they do not take into account the possibility of a major, worldwide catastrophe.
How about a few more evidences?
* How about the fact that the world is STILL 2/3 water! Do you know that most scientists believe there was a worldwide flood on Mars – where there’s no trace of water today, BUT can’t believe this world was covered in water?!
* How about polar ice caps?
* How about plate tectonics?
* Did you know we find marine fossils on tops of mountains?? How’s that work? Perhaps those mountain tops were once covered in water.
How about the ice age?
* Would a global flood predict an ice age? You bet it would. If there was volcanic activity all over the earth, what do you presume that would do to the atmosphere? When one volcano goes off the ash is registered hundreds of miles away! If we have basically every volcano going off we would expect a massive ash cloud blotting out the sun’s rays for a very long time following the flood… which would lead to colder temperatures. Voila, an ice age. And we can theorize this a bit further out. Perhaps these cold temps cause people to seek refuge in caves – we could call these people cavemen. Perhaps their bodily features even adapted to the new environment, and we have Neanderthals!
Did you know that nearly every culture on earth has a flood legend? Yep! Now they differ on some of the details, but most of them talk about a big boat that saved man and animals to escape destruction by water! How incredible is that.
Let’s recap! Fossils, the order in the fossil record, the rock layers, canyons, mountains, valleys, plate tectonics, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, polar ice caps, marine fossils on tops of mountains, the ice age, Neanderthals, flood legends all over the world, and on and on!!
Literally everywhere you look there is evidence of the flood! Many don’t see it cause they’ve never taken the time to consider what kind of evidence a global flood would truly leave behind… or perhaps they don’t want to believe that God has the power to judge his creation. Folks, it happened! If the Biblical account is the hypothesis, the evidence in the world confirms it. Science CAN be exciting when looked at it through God’s eyes.
Alright, here we go! The number one question. Since there are millions of species on the earth, how could all those fit on the Ark?? The answer may be much simpler than you are expecting. Well… the Bible never says Noah took all the species on the Ark! What does it say? It says: take representatives of each kind with you.
You see there are lots of breeds of dogs, right? Did Noah need to take all the different breeds of dogs? NO! He only needed two dogs. Did he need to take all the different types of cats or horses… NO! He only needed two cats, two horses. Some Christian scientists have estimated that the total number of animals (including the pairs and 7 of some) would have in no way exceeded 16,000 animals, but may have been much lower.
For fun, let’s take the 16,000 estimate and do some math! We’ve done science, now how about some math. Actually just to make sure I’m not lying to you let’s up our already conservative estimate to 50,000 animals – cool?
All right. The average animal size is no larger than a sheep, most smaller – but we’ll go with the size of a sheep for our average. According to the Bible’s numbers, the ark was a massive 3-story 500 foot long vessel. It was not your bathtub Ark you often see with overcrowded giraffes sticking out the top. Hey, perhaps that’s why we think the flood didn’t happen. Anyways… the total volume of the ark would have been…1.5 million cubic feet, or able to hold about 569 railroad stock cars. 1 railroad car can hold 240 sheep.
Here’s where math comes in:
Let’s see, we said 50,000 as a way over-statement. That would only fill 37% of the ark!! 37%!
Yeah, but what about the dinosaurs – aren’t they too big to fit?? Well, most weren’t large, but even the large ones were small once.
Now, we could spend an entire other session on dinosaurs and the Bible – but in the end we would discover that we have no reason to doubt dinosaurs were on the ark, and either died out or were hunted down there after. One last quick thing about dinosaurs before we get too sidetracked – dinosaurs are land animals that would have been created on day six of creation alongside humans. There is allusion to them in Job chapter 40 and 41 (much after the flood) where it describes creatures that don’t fit the description of any living creature today. The word dinosaur was not invented until a couple centuries after the King James Bible came out. They had a word though that was used quite a bit to describe large, reptilian beasts in the King James – they called them “dragons”. And what are dragons: large, reptilian beasts. Again, dragon legends in every society on the planet. Coincidence? I think not. All right – back on track!
* So… there was PLENTY of room on the ark for all the animals (only 37% of capacity used) – and plenty left over! Why do you suppose God had Noah build an ark bigger than necessary? Well, Noah was a preacher of righteousness – perhaps he was hoping that others would join them. You see the Ark is a picture of salvation. Noah and his family had to enter through the door. Jesus says “I am the door” – we have to enter through him to be saved!
So, next time someone says to you there is no way Noah could fit all those animals – feel free to chuckle under your breathe first, but then offer them real answers … with Christian love! J
I know this has been a lot of information, but I’m doing that on purpose. I want you to take away today that there are answers to the skeptics. We’re gonna move a little quicker through a few more questions. Here’s another one…
Could one man do all this? Well, let’s clear up some confusion first. It wasn’t one man, it was him, his wife, his 3 sons and their wives. 8 people. Also, there is a common misunderstanding that people from ancient times were for some reason less smart than today’s man. This is simply not true. Even Bill Nye in his recent debate with creationist Ken Ham admitted that there is no evidence to suggest that we are “getting smarter”. In fact, the Bible says Adam’s offspring went and built cities! I think we get this idea that early humans were these grunting, dumb cavemen –
* “so easy a caveman could do it”, right? But that’s just not what the Bible or the evidence suggests.
In fact, Noah was apparently so skilled that he and his family could engineer and build a massive vessel capable of surviving what was basically the end of the world. A family that capable, that skilled – would surely have the forethought to also engineer what many animal caretakers use today – automatic feeding mechanisms.
One flip of a lever and grain or seed or water or whatever they might use would flow through to multiple enclosures all at once. Now I am in no way trying to say that their job was easy! No, I’m sure they worked hard, all day, every day, for months – but there were possibilities available to make the care of the animals more manageable.
Also we need to realize this was not about ultimate habitat conditions. There was no inspector that came through to make sure everything was up to code or humane. This wasn’t about perfection, this was about survival! What was the minimum necessary to keep these animals alive? There is much more we could go into with this question – but I think we’ll just leave it here and know that if Noah could built the Ark, he could maintain its contents as well!
Wow, when they got off that boat after being cooped up for over a year – I’m sure they couldn’t wait to get out back into the world – but what world awaited them?? The entire face of the planet was altered and scarred. Trees leveled, plant life minimal, new rivers, lakes, seas, canyons, rock layers, and on and on. The earth was still reeling from the catastrophe. Just as we experience aftershocks today after major catastrophes, I’m sure there was much ongoing volcanic and seismic activity for many, many years – possibly hundreds of years.
Actually, think about it – whenever we have a volcano go off or an earthquake today, isn’t that technically an aftershock of the flood? A reminder that this earth was ripped apart. Like I said – the evidence is everywhere!
One of the biggest questions about the post-flood world was how did animals like Kangaroos get to Australia?? Obviously the Bible is silent on this, it’s also silent on how Noah took care of the animals, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look at the evidence in the world today and make educated guesses about how it could have worked.
One thing we do know is that if you lower all the seas by just a few hundred feet there are land bridges that connect every continent on earth.
Perhaps in the aftermath of the flood the seas were not at the level they are today. Perhaps they raised their levels when the ice melted following the ice age. If this is the case, the animals simply could have migrated anywhere in the world. If you think this explanation is too far-fetched, then we would also expect the seas to be filled with floating debris from the destruction. Perhaps there were miles and miles of floating uprooted trees.
If you put those massive tree rafts in motion given what we know about currents – you get access to all continents. These are just a couple explanations of how animals could have gotten to remote locations from the Middle East area.
People don’t ask these questions because they are authentic reasons to doubt the flood, they ask them because they’ve already decided there was no flood, and they use the questions to justify their belief.
Many geologists look at how processes accumulate slowly today and extrapolate those slow rates out to all of unseen history. They see the Colorado River slowly cutting rock in the Grand Canyon and assume it always has for all of history. They ignore the historic record that there was a worldwide flood because they do not accept the word of God as true history.
Even many Christian geologists do this. Why? Well, unfortunately it’s the same answer: they do not accept the word of God as true history. It’s actually very common. We, as Christians, often times tend to become “salad-bar Christians” picking and choosing what works for us and what doesn’t.
Why would Christians dispute God’s word on the flood in the first place? Well, it’s the elephant in the room that I haven’t really said much about yet. As I’ve been researching these topics I’ve found that once you start answering some questions here, they start opening up a whole slew of new questions. There’s a reason I gave my creation/evolution talk a couple years ago before venturing into this topic. You see, if Noah’s flood is the process that created all the fossils, rock layers, and other geologic evidence in the world – then the predominant views on evolution are incorrect. I don’t want to jump into a bunch about evolution today, but it is connected.
* How do you view the evidence from the past? None of us were there to actually observe what happened – therefore interpretation is required.
Fossils don’t come out of the ground with nifty tags on them saying “65 million years old”, we imply that interpretation. But we also buy it, don’t we? We accept man’s word because we see the scientists as the authority. But what have we done?? We’ve turned the church and God’s word into the secondary authority. In other words we go to Sunday school for our life lessons, but to “real school” to hear the truth. That sounds dangerous to me! I’m not implying there is some mass conspiracy in the scientific world. I love science. But I think science should start with the true authority on the matter – the word of God. When we are talking about issues that deal with the ancient past, I’d rather trust an eye-witness account that comes from a God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow – and never lies.
All right, it all comes down to this! In Matthew 24:37 Jesus himself says:
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man”. If the flood event is a myth, then Jesus’s second coming is a myth. Wickedness is increasing before our eyes every day. Defending Christianity is becoming controversial.
In John 10:9 Jesus says: * “I am the door: by me if any man enters in, he shall be saved”. There was another door that life had to step through to be saved. You see the Ark is a picture of salvation.
It is the single most devastating event in human history. God wiped out all of mankind! How horrible is this God?? BUT, the flood is also a redemptive story of God’s grace. He gave us another chance. He saved mankind. It’s a baptism. The earth was cleansed, given a new chance. The earth will be cleansed again, but this time by fire. Deep down people don’t like this idea of this God being able to wipe us out at whenever he pleases. We like to feel secure. We live in a fantasy that says old age is the key to life. It’s not. It’s fulfilling God’s mission for your life. If you’re not fulfilling that mission, then watch out – judgment is coming.
Still don’t believe me about the judgment part? How about this? In 2nd Peter 3:3-7 it says:
I often hear it said: why don’t we just focus on Jesus! Present the gospel, these topics are too divisive. Well, let me make one more point on why this important if you’re not convinced yet.
Biblical scholars often argue that Paul was the better missionary than Peter because he saw more converts won. But here’s the distinction:
* Paul was mainly witnessing to the Jewish culture – those who had a firm foundation in the history of God. They knew about creation, they knew about the fall, what sin means, the flood, etc. They had the foundational elements in place – therefore he could just present Jesus’s gospel. In contrast, Peter witnessed mostly to the Greek culture. Those who had no roots in the God of the Bible. As we see in the above verse, and others – he had to start them from the beginning before he could present the gospel message. People need to know WHY they need a savior. This applies today. 50-60 years ago, we had prayers and Bible teaching in schools. Everyone went to Sunday school – it was taboo not to. Now we’ve had half a century of secular humanism crammed into the culture while the church scales farther and farther back into obscurity. 50-60 years ago we lived in a Jewish culture. Presenting the gospel was sufficient for evangelism. The culture has changed. We now live in Peter’s Greek culture. We have to start from the very beginning, and if we can’t defend that part of the Bible, they won’t buy Jesus.
1st Peter 3:15 states: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”. We are not called to blind faith. Many of us are birthed in blind faith – and that’s okay, but it’s not the end goal of the Christian life. Keep growing. Keep learning. The answers are out there. The truth has been here all along! Researching these topics has given me the confidence to stand on the unfailing truth of God’s word in my personal and professional life.
- People have a hard time believing the gospel of Jesus because they don’t believe they can trust the Bible.
- If we can show that the Bible is trustworthy, we have a better chance of convincing more people for Christ.
- The flood was more than just rain; it lasted for a full year, and massively altered the face of the planet.
- We know the flood happened because of the evidence we see in the world: a fossil graveyard, rock layers laid down by water, plate tectonics, the ice age, and on and on.
- We know that there was more than enough room on the Ark for all the animals, in fact it was probably less than 50% full. Noah did not need all species on the Ark, only representatives of each KIND of animal who then could later adapt out to all the species we have today.
- We know that if Noah and his family had the know-how to build a massive vessel, then they would also have the forethought to install automated feeding mechanisms that would help with the care of the animals.
- There are several possibilities for the distribution of animals following the flood including land bridges or log tree mats.
- Many geologists do not see evidence of a flood because they look at the evidence outside of the Biblical record. They see slow geologic processes today and assume they’ve always worked slowly. This is personal interpretation, not proof.
- This is important because we need to realize that God’s word is trustworthy from the very first book through to the last book. God judged his creation in Genesis and He will again in Revelation.
With all that said – I told you that I would create a water-tight case for the Biblical flood. So, did I? If statistics are right, there are some of you who are still not convinced. Let me try one last thing for you folks! Let’s use the scientific method!