Biblical Absurdities: How Much Space Does the Ark Need?

In this series, we look at the countless absurdities that can be found in the Bible. Today we are looking at the alleged dimensions of the Noah’s Ark and seeing whether there is any chance it could have held the animals it was supposed to.

I got bored and crunched some numbers and this came out. Obviously you don’t need math to show this is silly, but lets have some fun with this.

Note that I was rather generous and assumed that Noah only needed to keep these animals on the Ark for 150 days. Most scholars admit that this would have been more like 370 days.

Let’s assume the dimensions of the Ark given in the Bible. Genesis 6:15 gives us a figure of 300 by 50 by 30 cubits. Let us assume that a cubit is 21 inches. A cubit ranged from about 18-21 inches, but I am going with 21, as that was a common definition of the cubit given in Mesopotamia.

Why Mesopotamia? Many elements of the Biblical flood story seems to be taken from earlier flood legends around this region. So, I am going to go with this plausible figure that also gives an upper estimate for the alleged size of the Ark.

So, we have a volume of about 450,000 cubic cubits. Let us convert that to litres. Why? Because later we are going to figure out how much water and food the animals needed. Litres works well enough for both. We get about 68,292,270 or about 68 million litres.

Let’s go with a fairly conservative number of animals required, 70,000 animals.

This is obviously far too low. The Bible talks about “kinds” of animals. But the word “kind” employed here has no objective meaning. Animals are not divided into “kinds”, nor is the word “kind” given any definition.

Why does this matter? Because apologists will tell you Noah brought one of each kind onto the Bible. Not one of each species, but each kind. Even though the word “kind” has no meaning and apologists can consider several different species all the same kind.

For instance, they can say Noah had one couple of the lion kind, the tiger kind, the bear kind. Not several bear species, not hundreds of cat species, not thousands of bird species, but one bird kind and so forth.

This means they can say that Noah only needed enough animals to cover all the “kinds” of animals.

But they can only artificially create so many kinds without seeming clearly insane. Most people can easily see that even if you only count the land creatures, you need several thousand “kinds” of animals.

Scholars tend to agree that the 70,000 is a figure on the low side, so we will go with that. Again, we are being generous here.

Ark
This drunkard is the guy that built an impossible Ark?

Now, we are going to assume that the average animal is about the size of a sheep. This does not seem unreasonable and several Biblical “scholars” themselves use this metric.

We need to give them some space, let’s give each animal one meter cubed of space. That is 1000 litres, per animal, or 70 million litres required.

Too little, given many Biblical scholars claim that at least some of the dinosaurs were on the Ark! But, we will allow it. We are being very generous here.

A sheep requires about 3 litres of water a day. We will go with one litre, to make it be very generous. So, for 150 days we need like 31,500,000 (31.5 million) litres of water (which he has to keep fresh for 150 days).

For 370 days we need over

Yes, we need to bring along water. That is, fresh water. We cannot use salt water for this and Noah did not have magic to convert salt water to fresh water.

Unless you think he can gather 7,000 litres of salt water a day. And then covert all 7,000 litres of salt water to fresh water. No, I don’t think so.

Let’s assume about 1kg of food a day, probably a little generously low. We will assume the food has the density of water. We need like 10,500,000 (10.5 million) litres of food.

Granted food is denser than water, but we will definitely need more than 1kg of food a day on average.We are already 43,707,730 (43.7 million) litres short.

This is even though will actually need far more than 70,000 animals. And although we probably need more water than this and almost certainly more food. And we will need far more than on average one cubic meter of space per animal!

In fact, the animals themselves require more space than the Ark has to spare! The animals need 70 million liters of space but the Ark has under 69 million liters to spare!

And that is before we account for the fact we need to bring along food and water. Which require over 42 million more liters of space than the Ark has to spare!

The Ark is seriously short on volume, even if we make some pretty generous assumptions.

Whups, looks like our all-knowing God did not give Noah the right dimensions. This Ark was going to be big enough!

Now, what about if we assume Noah was on the Ark for 370 days?

He will need 77,700,000 litres of water. That is over 77 million litres of water.

He will need over 25,900,000 litres of food. That is almost 26 million liters of food.

Together he needs over 100,000 litres for food and water. Which is already far larger than the volume of the Ark, leaving no room for the animals themselves!

So much for the omniscience of God….

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