Pity the poor inverts

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How did all those “kinds” of animals survive aboard the Ark during Noah’s Flood? Ken Ham has a novel answer. See below the fold.

One of the common questions faced by Biblical literalists is how the heck the Ark could have kept all those “kinds” of animals safe during the Flood. How could a tiny cadre of humans have fed all of them and cleaned out their stalls? Where’d all that manure go on an Ark with only a tiny window to the outside?

Creationists have offered a variety of reponses. One is that Noah only took baby animals, but most answers are to the effect that “kinds” are not species but are at a higher taxonomic level–genus or family. For example:

The word species and the biblical word “kind” are often used interchangeably. This is incorrect since they are not synonymous. The biblical word “kind” denotes an organism that reproduces others like itself. The species concept is much narrower than this; therefore many species can be included in a single biblical “kind.” The word kind is probably closer to the modern taxonomic unit of genus, and in some cases the larger taxonomic unit, family.

Kurt Wise made a similar claim in a talk at Messiah College that’s no longer available on the web but which I archived some time ago. Wise talked about new species popping up daily or weekly in the couple of centuries after the Flood receded.

Ken Ham, though, has a different solution: Noah didn’t take a pair of representatives of all the “kinds” on earth aboard the Ark! In the March 11, 2010, edition of “Answers, with Ken Ham” radio program, Ham answers the pressing question “Insects–were they actually on the Ark?” The short answer is ‘No (except as stowaways).’ The long answer is more interesting:

Noah took two of every land animal, seven of some, on board the Ark, but did that also include insects? You know, some insects may indeed have been on the Ark, but they would have been stowaways. The real question is whether insects were among the living creatures that God said had to be on the Ark. Were they creatures with a life spirit called a Nephish, and were thus brought on board?

Well, there are differences of opinion among Bible scholars as to which creatures are covered in the list from Genesis chaper 6 that went on the Ark, but most conservative scholars regard regard the invertebrates–those without a backbone, including insects–as not being among them. So if God didn’t require Noah to take insects aboard the Ark, wouldn’t they have perished in the Flood? Well, according to Genesis 7, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life died. But insects don’t breathe through their nostrils. Actually, one way insects could have survived the flood is by floating on rafts of vegetation. (Emphasis added).

Ham is saying is that 95% of all species (or their ancestors) were not on the Ark. Representatives of only a part of just one subphylum, terrestrial vertebrates, were rescued. The rest of the vertebrates and the other three dozen animal phyla–arthropods among them–and even the invertebrate members of the phylum Chordata, were on their own to ride out the Flood however they could. That seems a little shaky, since God did tell Noah

… I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made. (Italics added)

So, God didn’t make bugs? That’s a little tough on beetles, but it does put the lie to His reputed inordinate fondness for them. :)

128 Comments

Apparently some creatures are just too wiley for the old bastard. Clever little devils. Of course, this just gives credence to my irrational belief that all invertebrates are made of pure evil so that even God himself can’t predict their motives or destroy them completely.

I think the key to Noah’s ark is how the hell he fed all of the animals. Let’s just pretend his ark was large enough to store them all (impossible, even as babies), many animals require other animals as food, and that would be quite a lot of extra baggage for forty days. Let’s presume all of those animals decided they’re okay with eating plantmatter for that more than one month’s time. That’s still enough wheat or barley or grass to sink the damn boat.

Let’s say they only ate a couple times and went mostly hungry during that time, well when the water finally receded (into space, apparently) they wouldn’t have enough time to repopulate to normal survivable levels before the predators utterly destroyed the prey populations. Let’s even forget about how all of the animals landing on a boat in the middle east had a far walk to repopulate their old habitats around the whole world that they were designed to survive in.

I get tickled by the “theory” that ‘kind’ means ‘genus’ or ‘family’ because, as is stated, they would have to speciate at an extremely high rate – about a couple times a day – to get to today’s diversity. Of course, creationists are fine with knocking scientists for not witnessing evolution ever happening and never seeing a new species pop up (which we actually have) while they’ll put forward that at one time animals were speciating at a rate of once a day. Why would it stop? Shouldn’t we have discovered like a hundred new species of big cat in at least the last hundred years?

One of my favorite questions to ask Young Earth Creationists about Noah’s Ark is from an essay by Mark Twain. It goes something like “How many syphilis spirochetes, tuberculosis bacteria, Ebola virii, gonorrhea bacteria, leprosy bacilli, cholera bacteria, smallpox virii, West Nile virii, typhoid, polio, diphtheria, influenza, malaria, yellow fever, plague, etc., etc., were on board Noah’s Ark? Recall that some of these are specifically human pathogens, some of which multiply rapidly, some of which are quickly fatal… Where were these pathogens carried on Noah’s Ark (which you will recall carried all terrestrial life on the planet) – and how did Noah’s family survive?

Here’s the quote and citation from Mark Twain:

The microbes were by far the most important part of the Ark’s cargo… There were typhoid germs, and cholera germs, and hydrophobia germs, and lockjaw germs, and consumption germs, and black-plague germs, and some hundreds of other aristocrats, specially precious creations, golden bearers of God’s love to man…” - Twain’s “Letters From The Earth,” http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/twainlfe.htm

What is interesting about the “kinds” argument is that it represents a major retreat from fixity of species. Now we have “baraminology” which makes evolutionary trees of relationship of species within “kinds”. I’m all in favor of this. Let them reconstruct the trees – which will keep getting larger and larger. They’re on a slippery slope, and have already implicitly acknowledged that evolution can make different species, and can make different adaptations in the different species within a “kind” that represent novel information. Maybe evolutionary biologists should think of themselves as macro-baraminologists …

The creationists have coined a word for the study of biblical kinds: “baraminology” If you’d do your homework and read the Answers Journal, you’d see a couple of paper on it. All inconclusive, of course.

But I’d like to know about the fish. Sure, they could ride out the flood in the world-wide water. But salt water would have killed the fresh-water fish, and probably vice versa.

Creationists also make a big deal of classifying hominid fossils as human or non-human, to prove that there are no transitional fossils. You might ask your creationist friends about their “human” Neandertal, homo habilis, etc. The problem is that they had no domesticated crops and no metal-working. Whereas Genesis clearly states that Adam was a farmer, and his sons made metal tools.

Gen. 6:20 says

of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every [sort] shall come unto thee, to keep [them] alive.

Later on, in the dietary rules, locusts, grasshoppers, beetles and things that have more than four feet are identified among the “creeping things”, so I think Ken Ham is just inventing stuff.

Ah, simple logic, far sharper than the Sword of the Spirit.

What were the all the xylophages and gribbles doing during that voyage?

The Bible says that insects have four legs (Leviticus 11:20-23) so maybe insects were 33% smaller in those days.

Smaller? But didn’t arthropods used to be bigger? (Back when the air had more oxygen than it does today.)

John_S said: … I think Ken Ham is just inventing stuff.

The devil you say!

Well, Ham is an accomplished tap-dancer, isn’t he? He doesn’t really have much choice. His nose must be 20 feet long by now.

Oh what a tangled web we weave
when first we practice to deceive
.

I heard that Noah couldn’t tell the female cats – er, cat-kinds– from the male ones, so he made them all get jobs. The ones who brought home the tiny paychecks were the females.

Mee-YOW! (fnxtr runs and hides again)

Here’s a testable hypothesis for our creationist friends: If all the kangaroos, rats, and other land-dwelling species on earth are descended from the two on the ark, but all the whales, fish and other sea dwellers are descended from the original animals, there should less genetic diversity among the land-dwelling species. Evolution predicts diversity depends on population genetics, time since a speciation event, etc. Let the games begin!

Also, I think Ken Ham might be one of those creeping things.

Ken Ham is also famous for the cometary theory of inundation, where the Earth was hit by a comet containing enough water to cause the flood, and the impact, see, caused vast movements in the crust, which over the following months deepened the ocean basins enough for the water to have somewhere to go.

The overlapping physical impossibilities of this (the energy produced by an impact of that size would have boiled the oceans, and earth movement on that scale would have boiled them again from friction) are readily explained by the fact that God can do anything, so there.

“Ken Ham is also famous for the cometary theory of inundation, where the Earth was hit by a comet containing enough water to cause the flood …”

But isn’t that where the oceans originally came from? From the early cometary bombardment 4 to 4.5 billion years ago.

So after the “kinds” left the ark they underwent super-evolution to produce the variety we find today?

alloytoo said:

So after the “kinds” left the ark they underwent super-evolution to produce the variety we find today?

Of course … it’s all about the miracles!

Consistency with objective observation just isn’t their strong suit.

Wayne Robinson said:

“Ken Ham is also famous for the cometary theory of inundation, where the Earth was hit by a comet containing enough water to cause the flood …”

But isn’t that where the oceans originally came from? From the early cometary bombardment 4 to 4.5 billion years ago.

Yes, some of it but not all at once, and over several hundreds of millions of years. Much is presumed to have been tied up in deep rocks as the earth formed too.

Space borne Accretion is still happening, I saw figures for the additional water we aquire each year from space impacts, but I can’t find a source now, its not a trivial couple of gallons, but its not cubic miles either.

Steve

alloytoo said: So after the “kinds” left the ark they underwent super-evolution to produce the variety we find today?

Absolutely. The sloths quickly migrated to all the distant places we find them today, and then quickly evolved into slow and sloth-like creatures. The Slow Lorises were Fast Lorises on the Ark and after their quick migration to today’s locations became Slow Lorises.

alloytoo said:

So after the “kinds” left the ark they underwent super-evolution to produce the variety we find today?

Right. Whenever anyone tries to pull this crap, just ask them a few simple questions. What is a kind? Are insects a kind? How many insects species are there today? Is a beetle a kind? How many different species of beetles are there today? Is a weevil a kind? How many different species of weevils are there today? Sooner or later they are either going to have to admit that they have no clue what they are talking about, or that evolution is indeed remarkable at producing new species.

Then, you can move on to ask them why there is a nested hierarchy of genetic similarity between all living organisms if they are not really related. Common design is not the answer. Remember, whales nest within artiodactlys not fish, even when nonfunctional characters are used to reconstruct the phylogeny.

DS said:

Then, you can move on to ask them why there is a nested hierarchy of genetic similarity between all living organisms if they are not really related. Common design is not the answer. Remember, whales nest within artiodactlys not fish, even when nonfunctional characters are used to reconstruct the phylogeny.

The problem is that many creationists refuse to acknowledge that the data says this. Of course, it’s a matter more or less settled 150 years ago, but they just say “of course, there are many problems with the molecular phylogenies” and then they run like hell. They never have faced up to the shared signal in the different kinds (there, I’ve used the word) of morphological data and the different regions of the genome.

Instead they drag up some discrepancy and say “what about this? You haven’t explained it!” and run like hell.

The other approach that some creationists use is to admit that there is a common signal, but to say “you haven’t ruled out common design!” And indeed, we haven’t ruled it out. They carefully don’t note that common design predicts every possible pattern we might see and is thus not a scientific explanation.

And as a result of those large cometary impacts (along with the late bombardment of other bolides), it would have not only boiled any incipient oceans, but probably melted the crust back then as well. That’s one of the reasons we haven’t found rocks dating back to the very origin of the earth.

Steve Taylor said:

Wayne Robinson said:

“Ken Ham is also famous for the cometary theory of inundation, where the Earth was hit by a comet containing enough water to cause the flood …”

But isn’t that where the oceans originally came from? From the early cometary bombardment 4 to 4.5 billion years ago.

Yes, some of it but not all at once, and over several hundreds of millions of years. Much is presumed to have been tied up in deep rocks as the earth formed too.

Space borne Accretion is still happening, I saw figures for the additional water we aquire each year from space impacts, but I can’t find a source now, its not a trivial couple of gallons, but its not cubic miles either.

Steve

Joe wrote:

“The other approach that some creationists use is to admit that there is a common signal, but to say “you haven’t ruled out common design!” And indeed, we haven’t ruled it out. They carefully don’t note that common design predicts every possible pattern we might see and is thus not a scientific explanation.”

Well that is the beauty of the SINE data. More than any other data set, the pattern cannot be attributed to common design. If a creationist makes this claim, then they are admitting that god copied the mistakes. Of course, common design really doesn’t make much sense for any of the other data sets either, but as you say, god can do anything she wants. She can even do foolish, stupid, inefficient things that make a mockery of “intelligent” design.

Ooh, ooh, i got it! The insects were preserved by Satan to plague us after the flood. Thankfully Satan wasn’t too discriminating in that he preserved some pollinators too.

Well if ol’ Hambone gets to make shit up, why can’t the rest of us?

I’m going to go with the poofination theory here. God snapped his fingers and POOF! All of the animals automagically fit on the Ark. He snapped them again and POOF! No hunger or manure. He then snapped them one last time and POOF! The animals were all where they were supposed to be after the waters receded.

Argue with that logic! I dare you!

alloytoo said:

So after the “kinds” left the ark they underwent super-evolution to produce the variety we find today?

And remember that this burst of super-evolution managed to produce much of the variety of life in just a few hundred years. If we date the Flood to 2348 BC, and Abraham to 2000 BC, and then note that the story of Abraham in the Bible makes reference to varieties of domestic animals; and the tabulation of clean and unclean animals in Leviticus is supposedly from about 1500 BC. Surely that tabulation must be exhaustive and thus exclude any possibility of new “kinds” appearing thereafter.

One might wonder, not only how there was this burst of super-evolution, and how it stopped after a thousand years, but also why there is no mention of this anywhere in the Bible. After all, if it isn’t in the Bible, and there is no evidence for it outside the Bible, isn’t the only possibility left that somebody is just making stuff up?

KJV GEN 6:17 also says “… and every thing that is in the earth shall die.” Well that pretty much means a sterile Earth if all the microrganisms “in” the Earth go too. All that beneficial bacteria … gone. How is that to get replenished post flood. God specifically excludes microrganisms from the Ark, which BTW precludes any stowaways too, unless you want to dispute God’s word.

Doesn’t Genesis 7 also say the “creeping things” were “destroyed from the earth”? So whether they had nostrils or not should be irrelevant, right?

We are all missing the obvious: all non-vertebrates that survived the flood are, in fact, undead, hence Noah didn’t have to bring them on the Ark. Its all so simple when you think about it scientifically.

Henry J said:

In that case, I’ll post the straight line for the next related joke that somebody can post when they have time:

Who is the Doctor?

Which Doctor?

“The Doctor is Who?”

“That’s what I want to know. Who’s on first?”

“No, Who’s on second.”

“What?”

“No, he’s on first. Who’s on second.”

“That’s what I want to know.”

Which Doctor? Doctor Who.

He’s from Gallifrey.

Don’t forget the following argument when considering the Flood. Mount Everest is roughly 9000 meters high. The shallow oceanic regions are within a kilometer or so of being at sea level. The pressure increases by roughly 1 atmosphere with every ten meters of depth. So, if in fact the oceans rose by 9000 meters and stayed there for almost half a year, for almost half a year things like the coral reefs would have been in an environment where the water was:

a) Completely dark – very little light penetrates to 9 km of depth. All plant life would have died.

b) Roughly 1/3 as saline, perhaps a bit less. This is assuming that the rain or comet or whatever was fresh water, and if it was salt the salt would still be there.

c) At a pressure between 900 and 1000 atmospheres. While animals have evolved that can live at these pressures, if you take animals that have evolved to live at near-surface pressures UP to these pressures, everything changes – oxygen exchange across gill membranes, cell biochemistry, the whole nine yards.

d) At the wrong temperature. In fact the effect on ocean dynamics and heat transport (see wikipedia pages on the “conveyor belt” transport of heat with salinity that drives the world’s great currents and keeps the temperature reasonably stable) would have been enormous, no matter what the temperature of the new water as it fell, welled up, rained, whatever.

e) And if it rained, it would have had to rain at 5+ inches a minute on every square meter of the Earth’s surface for all 40 days. Mammals would drown standing up in this, and no ship ever made would an inch of rain or more falling every 12 seconds. To be honest, falling as a comet is no better – it is even worse. At least rain doesn’t come in at or near terminal velocity. On the other hand, the latent heat of fusion of a layer of water that covers the earth to 9000 meters would be, um, “large”.

There are so MANY absurdities it is hard to keep count. How long would it take to load the 5 million species, per species, into a Wal-Mart sized wooden boat? Only 86400 seconds in a day… Where exactly did they put the saltwater aquarium containing every saltwater fish that couldn’t stand the salinity shock or thermal shock (which is pretty much every saltwater fish)? Where did they put all of the freshwater fish that very definitely can’t tolerate salt water? How did they get enough fresh air in and out of the tiny little window? How did they remove all of the HEAT generated by all of the warm bodies? How did they collect penguins in the first place, and keep them cold enough to survive once they collected them? Where did they put all of the desert species that couldn’t survive the enormously high humidity. How did poison dart frogs that reproduce only in the water caches of bromeliads high in the rain forest of south america get on board, and get back to their rather specialized niche in time to reproduce?

The flood is one of the biggest jokes in the world. It is so absurd that it cannot be justified even IF one invokes God and Miracles at every turn. The simple arithmetic of the described events is impossible long before one considers the details.

rgb

rgb said:

Don’t forget the following argument when considering the Flood…

[Lots of science stuff]

The flood is one of the biggest jokes in the world. It is so absurd that it cannot be justified even IF one invokes God and Miracles at every turn. The simple arithmetic of the described events is impossible long before one considers the details.

Why does this remind me of those accounts which demonstrate that Santa would have to move faster than the speed of light to visit every child on Xmas Eve?

Exactly like a creationist approach to Noah, calculating the salinity levels of a flooded world is to miss the meaning and the power of the narrative. The only thing I find worse are those ‘scientists’ who explain Biblical miracles through naturalistic stories; the parting of the Red Sea was a small earthquake; the Burning Bush was a natural gas leak; etc.

For hundreds of years, kids have enjoyed playing with their wooden arks and all the little brightly-coloured animals. No salinity calculation is going to take away the power of the visual image of an ark packed to the rafters with elephants, kangaroos and lions. And let’s not forget that the dove returning with the olive branch retains its meaning in a whole variety of contexts in the 21st century, many of them secular.

Stop playing the creationist game of asking about the science of the flood, and ask more basic questions: why is this narrative so popular, what did it do for its original audience, and what work does it do now? Throw in a Christological gloss for a couple of millennium, and the answers to two of those three questions are easy.

If faced with someone so simplistic that they literally believe in a world-wide flood, there is no point in calculating the internal space allocated to each animal. Instead, ask them what they know about the origins of the tale, and why it was originally recorded at all. You won’t persuade anyone, of course, but you will be getting away from a pointless literal debate and sticking to reality.

Why not ask about the two original Noahs: one who built an ark and the other who invented agriculture. And how when these narratives were jammed together (because of the coincidence of their names) you end up with a good bloke who saves the world, and whose first action afterwards is to plant a vineyard and get drunk. Doesn’t work as a coherent story, which is why everyone remembers the ark but not the night out on the piss.

Oh, and the Flood is of course justifiable if you invoke God and miracles. That’s practically the definition of God and miracles: they ignore math.

eddie, the reason why it reminds you of the Santa accounts is because it’s an exact parallel. Santa doesn’t exist any more than the Noachan Flood did, and you have to invent any number of events outside of the order of nature - ftl travel, suspension of the law of gravity, whatever - to make it work. The Flood is justifiable if you have enough miracles, yes. But anything is justifiable then.

But your point about narrative is well-taken. Both stories are powerful narratives armed with all the formidable weapons of figure and metaphor that humans have always used to explain the world to themselves. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and in the sense spoken of in that famous piece, there actually is one. Yes, we have limited powers over nature, and we may use those powers. They may save us even from our own folly. See how that resonates even today.

If Santa Claus doesn’t exist, then how come Italian sailors stole his bones during the 11th Century?

Stanton said:

If Santa Claus doesn’t exist, then how come Italian sailors stole his bones during the 11th Century?

I didn’t say he never existed. I said he doesn’t exist (except in the metaphorical sense), using the present tense.

But in another sense he never did exist, for the Saint Nicholas who was Bishop of Myra in the fourth century only resembled our Santa Claus in his habit of freely giving.

So in three different senses, Santa Claus did exist, but is dead, never existed, and still exists. Narrative is a strange beast.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on March 14, 2010 7:58 PM.

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