Ever since the book of Genesis became known to a broad audience, some twenty-four centuries ago, skeptics have questioned the possibility of fitting two of all species of land animals into a single boat. In the early days of the Church, apologists made a careful count of the number of species in the world (arriving at a laughably low number*), made the largest possible estimate of the size of the ark**, and carefully arranged the animals into that space along with enough food for a year and Noah’s family. These methods were sufficient to satisfy the faithful until the Renaissance, when sailors began bumping into entire continents with hundreds, even thousands, of new species. Then scientists began finding hundreds of very large, extinct species. How did they fit into the story?
The Ark story is one of my favorites, as it very concisely illustrates the one legitimate concern that Creationists have: that science will eventually undermine faith by pointing out how idiotic Biblical literalism really is. We simply know too many solid facts about history, biology, anthropology, archeology, history and physics to take these stories at face value. There is no way all the species of the world could fit in an ark that wouldn’t be the size of Cuba. Then their are the dinosaurs:
Dinosaurs, and other extinct animals known only by fossils, create a special problem. Not only do fossils multiply the number of animals that need to fit onto the ark; many of those fossil animals are very large. Some Biblical literalists chose simply to deny that they really existed. Others have suggested that fossils are the remains of a couple of practice creation that God did before making us. That idea has fallen out of favor, because it breaks the rules of taking the Bible at its word. No, the only real answer must be that dinosaurs were on the ark. This is the solution that Ken Ham embraces for his Creation Museum.
He wins point s for imagination, I’ll give him that. But Museums aren’t justÂ about imagination, and they most definitely aren’t about affirming outmoded beliefs just to quiet those pesky doubts caused by encountering facts.