Noah's Ark and the Flood

The Bible says the story of the worldwide Flood in the days of Noah, with all the land animals entering the Ark two by two. Only Noah and his wife, their three sons Shem, Ham and Japhet and their wives were saved. Most people do not think the story really happened? Is it history? Or is the Bible like so many other books of fables, and on a par with Aesop or Grim? Is creation or evolution the truth; catastrophism or uniformitarianism?

Stability. At universities there is a course in hydraulic engineering, in which students have to find the most stable design for a boat. The most stable design is that of Noah´s Ark. The Bible gives its dimensions as 300 cubits long by 50 wide by 30 high, with a window of a cubit, and a door set in the side. There were three decks. Such a boat, though slow, was almost impossible to capsize. Of course, Noah was not in a hurry to go anywhere! Such a design would even survive a violent tilt of 60°, returning to the upright position. The length to width ratio of 6:1 makes for stability, resisting vortex forces, pitch and roll, and riding over troughs and waves because of its length. Tests upon model ships in tanks, as well as computer simulations, all favour the design given for Noah´s Ark. In 1844, Brunel used similar ratios in the Great Britain (322´ x 51´ x 32.5´). Brunel was building upon experiences of generations of shipwrights, but Noah got it right first time.

Capacity. But could such an Ark really carry the creatures necessary to restock the earth after the Flood? The common cubit is equivalent to 18 inches, but even taking the shorter cubit of 17.5 inches, the Ark´s measurements would be massive 437 feet by 73´ wide by 44´ high. This would give a capacity of 1,396,000 a cubic feet, having displacement of some 14,000 tons. This would be equivalent to 522 railroad stockcars, capable of holding 125,280 sheep. There are some 18,000 species of land animals, with an average size like a sheep, so even allowing for all those which have become extinct since the Flood, there would have been room for two of each on just one deck. This would have left a second deck for foodstuffs (assuming the animals did not hibernate), with the third floor for Noah´s family and any who might have wished to join him. The Ark would have had a draught of some fifteen cubits, so could not have grounded during a flood which, we are told, covered the hills to a depth of 15 cubits. As the waters abated it landed on the mountains of Ararat near the Turkish-Russian frontier. There have been a number of reported sightings of it, encased in ice. Political and geographic difficulties have hindered the search for its remains.

Where did the water come from? Ordinary rain could not provide sufficient water for a worldwide flood. Genesis one tells us that on Day 2 of the Creation Week God divided the waters from the waters, forming the seas but also placing waters above the atmosphere. This would probably have doubled the barometric pressure on earth. Today the atmosphere contains 20% oxygen, but air bubble trapped in amber have 30% oxygen. Such atmospheric conditions before the Flood would have been more beneficial to health than today´s air. Hyperbaric medical chambers at greater than atmospheric pressure and with enhanced oxygen content have recently become a useful medical tool. People placed in them find that open wounds heal overnight rather than during a couple of weeks. A person pronounced dead with carbon monoxide poisoning recovered within three weeks in a chamber at Texas A & M University, with no impairment of memory. Such treatment restores memory loss, reverses the ravages of senility and helps stroke victims. As for plants, tomatoes grown for two years in such a chamber reached a height of 16 feet, bore 930 tomatoes and continued to grow. The fossil record tells us that giantism was common among plants prior to the Flood.

A water vapour canopy such as the one thought to have been in place before the Flood would have filtered out harmful solar radiation, enhancing health by reducing mutation rates. These effects could have contributed to the longevity of people in those times. By absorbing heat radiation from the earth, the water vapor canopy would have acted as a greenhouse, giving a uniform, warm climate throughout the earth. There would have been no extremes of temperature, no fierce winds and therefore no rain. Genesis 2 says that it had not rained on the earth, but a mist watered the ground. There were probably no high mountains, since mountain building occurred after sedimentary layers had been laid down during the Flood.

The Flood, we are told was God´s judgment on man´s evil. The Ark was his plan of escape for those faith would save them. The physical cause was that the fountains of the great deep were broken up and the windows of heaven opened. Tectonic activity always releases juvenile water from the earth´s crust. The water vapour canopy collapsed. Psalm 104 tells us that the earth was covered by the sea as with a garment. At God´s rebuke the waters fled. The mountains rose up and valleys went down, giving the seas their present borders. There are marine fossils on the tops of today´s mountains. The tectonic activity responsible for the mountain building described by the Psalmist has given earth its faulting, folds and thrusts, with earthquake belts as the remnants of this catastrophism.

Fossils. Fossils are remains or traces of animals and plants preserved in sedimentary rocks. Rapid burial is usually needed to preserve a creature as a fossil. Take fish for instance. Experiments show that fish decay and become dismembered scavengers by currents and scavengers in a matter of days or weeks. Yet the geological record contains many layers with millions of well-preserved fossil fish. A famous example is the Red Sandstone of Scotland. Trewin (1) draws attention to a specimen from Caithness which showsa large fish (Glyptolepis) fossilized in the middle of a meal! (see figure)

The tail of a smaller fish can be seen clearly, protruding from the mouth of the larger fish. In fact, many similar specimens are known from several localities around the world. In some cases, fish have been buried and fossilized so rapidly that even the delicate soft tissues have been preserved. The Santana Form-ation of Brazil contains fish whose gills and muscles are so perfectly preserved that geologists believe they were fossilized within five hours of death! The foremost expert on these Brazilian fossils, Dr David Martill (2), has called this ´the Medusa effect´ after the creature of Greek mythology who could turn people to stone instantly with her stare.

Fish are not alone in their striking testimony to rapid burial and fossilization. Extinct marine reptiles such as the ichthyosaurus, have been found in muddy sediments with even their skin preserved as a black carbon film around skeleton. A great deal o bury is needed to bury a creature as large as an ichthyosaurus. How rapidly was this mud deposited? An ichthyosaur found at Germany was fossilized while giving birth! Three babies can be seen within the rib-cage of the mother, and a fourth had just been born. More evidence of rapid burial comes from the study of fossil trilobites -an extinct group of marine arthropods. They look rather like woodlice, and could roll up in a similar way for protection.(3) Many trilobites are found fossilized in this position. This tells us that these animals were buried alive while trying to protect themselves.

Fossil crinoids (sea lilies) also give us excellent evidence for rapid burial. Crinoids are made up of small plates of calcium carbonate, called called ossicles, that are held together by soft tissues. When the creature dies, the soft tissue decays and the ossicles begin to break apart. Experiments and observations of modem crinoids show that dead sea lilies break up completely in just a matter of days, even in still water (4,5). Well-preserved and intact crinoids, such as those found in the rocks of Dorset, must therefore have been buried alive or very quickly after death.

Clams belong to a group of molluscs called bivalves. Their shells consist of two valves hinged together and held closed by muscle. When clams die, the valves open. Yet in many places we clams with both valves tightly closed. An example is a clam layer three feet thick and consisting of millions tightly closed clams, found exposed in Texas (6). In some cases we find escape burrows where the clams were trying to tunnel out of the sediments. Clams are a further example of creatures which have been buried rapidly.

Frozen mammoths. Most of us heard of the frozen mammoths whose perfectly preserved remains have been discovered in the Arctic regions. We have seen pictures of these furry giant elephants huddled together in the raging blizzard of a snowy plain, foraging through the snow to try to find sustenance. We have been told that they evolved their furry coats to help them survive the great Ice Age, and that from time to time one of them fell into a snow-filled crevasse, or an icy river, where they became frozen and preserved in the state we find them today Well, those are the myths, now for the facts.

The mammoths lived in a sub-tropical climate: There is abundant evidence that the earth once enjoyed a uniformly warm climate. Coal seams in the polar regions show that lush forests once grew where now there is only snow and ice. A fallen 90-foot fruit tree, with ripe fruit arid green leaves still on its branches, has been found in the frozen ground of the New Siberian Islands, where only 1-inch high willows grow now. Palm tree fossils have been found in Alaska. Grasses, bluebells, buttercups and wild beans as fresh as the day they were eaten, have been found in the mouths and stomachs of the frozen mammoths.

An estimated mammoths lie en soils: The soil of Siberia is so full of mammoth bones that ivory mines have been working for many years, and at least 20,000 tusks were taken from one mine alone. Besides mamoths, the Arctic soils contain the remains of over 60 animal species, including the wooly rhinoceros, camels, horses, tigers, and antelopes. Many of them lie in frozen silt, mixed together with boulders and tree roots.

The mammoths (and other animals) were struck suddenly by an icy catastrophe: An article in The Readers´ Digest Book of Strange Stories and Amazing Facts, reported that frozen-food experts had been asked their opinion of the frozen mammoths. Their verdict? ´To deep freeze a huge living a huge living mammoth, insulated in thick fur? stupendously cold temperatures of below -150 degrees F would be required. Such temperatures have never been recorded - not even in the Arctic.´ The article goes on: ´Apparently, at one moment the mammoth was munching away peacefully at the grass and butter-cups growing lush in the sunshine of a temperate plain. The next it was subjected to cold so bitter that it was deep frozen where it stood.´ Many of the frozen mammoths have been found in a standing position, surrounded by frozen silt. Their tissues and stomach had not even begun to decompose.

Evolutionists, whose beliefs are based on gradualism (uniformitarianism), have no satisfactory explanation for the mystery of the frozen mammoths. To quote again from The Readers´ Digest Book of Strange Stories and Amazing Facts: ´Only a sudden cataclysm of hitherto undreamt proportions could have been responsible.´ The greatest cataclysm of all time was, of course, the Biblical flood.

Fast deposition of sedimentary rocks

Turbidites. On the 18th November, 1929, the Grand Banks earthquake struck the coast of New England and the Maritime Provinces of Canada. The earthquake caused a large mass of sediment to move down the continental slope into deep water in the Atlantic Ocean. As the slurry travelled along it snapped 13 transatlantic cables on the sea floor. From the times at which these cables were snapped scientists worked out that the flow was moving at up to 50 miles per hour and traveled ove5 500 miles in a little over 13 hours. The layer of sediment that was deposited by this flow covered more than 100,000 square miles and was 2 to 3 feet thick (7). Geologists call flows like this turbidity currents, and the resultant sediments are called turbidite. Thousands of layers, previously thought to have been laid down slowly in shallow water, are now recognized as turbidites laid down rapidly in deep water.

Conglonierates and breccias are rocks made up of pebbles and boulders that have been cemented together. The size of the pebbles and boulders tells us that powerfull water currents were needed to form these layers. Some contain boulders so large that they have been called megabreccias.(8) Geologists think that many conglomerates and breccias were laid down during hurricanes, typhoons or storms. A conglomerate on the Welsh coast, once thought to have taken five million years to be laid down, has been reinterpreted as a storm deposit laid down in only minutes or hours.(9)

Cross-bedded sandstones. Within beds of sandstone it is common to find inclined layering called cross-bedding. This is formed as sand dunes migrate across the sea floor under the influence of powerfull water currents. Single cross-beds form today in the Mississipi River in les than one minute (10). Cross-bedding is thus a sign of rapid deposition. Some cross-bedding is so enormous that it staggers the imagination. The Coconino sandstone of the Colorado Plateau, for instance, averages about 315 feet in thickness and covers an area of around 200,000 square miles. It contains cross-beds up to 30 feet thick, which would have required a water depth of about 300 feet. The current velocity needed to form these sand dunes would have been between 3 and 5 feet per second (11). Fast flowing water 300 deep over an area almost twicw the size of the American state of Colorado is a catastrophe by any standard.

Limestones, which most geologists think formed by the slow accumulation of lime mud and shelly material, probably formed quickly. Many limestones contain fossils in an excellent state of preservation, indicating rapid burial. A classic example is the lithographic limestone of Solenhofen in Germany, from which the famous Archaeoptervx specimens were recovered. In a side canyon off the Colorado River an exposure of the Redwall Limestone contains numerous large cigar-shaped shells. These shells have been aligned by water currents, contradicting the notion that this fine-grained limestone was laid down in a calm and placid sea (12). Other limestones contain coarse broken fossil debris or are cross-bedded, which, as we established earlier, is also indicative of strong water currents.

Paraconformities. Powerful evidence against long time gaps (millions of years) in the geological record is provided by what geologists call paraconformities. These are places where huge amount of time are thought to have passed, yet there is very little physical evidence to show it. Remember that the top of each layer must once have formed the sea floor or else the land surface before it was covered up by the next layer. We know that if a layer forms the sea bed or land surface for a substantial period of time, it is very vulnerable to damage. For instance, it will be exposed to erosion. The very next tide or rainstorm will begin to scour the sediment away. Channels and gullies will begin to form. Soon, parts of the layer will have been removed altogether. It is easy to find modem-day examples of this. Hurricane Carla laid down a distinctive layer of sediment off the coast of central Texas in 1961. About twenty years later, geologists returned to this layer to find out what had happened to it. Most of the layer had been destroyed by living creatures burrowing into it and disturbing it, and where the layer could still be found it was almost unrecognizable (13). It is difficult to imagine an exposed layer of sediment surviving intact for more than a few centuries at the very outside. In the geological record there are many instances where the junction between two layers is supposed to represent a gap of a million years. A close examination of these gaps and adjacent layers offers no such evidence. From Dead Horse Point in Utah it is possible to observe dramatic canyon erosion by the Colorado River. Exposed there are two major gaps in the geological sequence - one thought to represent 10 million years, and the other 20 million years (14). Sandwiched between these two gaps are deposits of the Moenkopi Formation, a sequence continental deposits. There is no evidence of a prolonged period of erosion along the tops of these layers. They are quite flat and featureless. In Grand Canyon, just below a prominent cliff formed by the Redwall Limestone, there is a claimed gap of missing deposits (14). The layers above this gap sit conformably on the layers beneath as though no long time gap had elapsed between them.

Another example comes from India. The Deccan Plateau is made up of a thick pile of basalt lava flows. These basalt are thought to have been erupted throughout a period of several million years. But we know that each lava flow must have formed very quickly because they spread out over very large distances (some can be traced over 100 miles) before they had time to cool. Each flow probably formed in just a few days, so the bulk of the geological time is thought to have passed between each eruption. However, evidence for long time gaps between the flows is lacking (15). The tops of the flows are strikingly flat, implying that there was no time for erosion to take place between eruptions. For instance, the the village of Shyampura is built on top of one of the lava flows which forms a flat plateau nearly three miles long and more than a mile than 50 feet over the whole area (16). If thousands of years passed between each eruption, then why weren´t the lavas eroded into the conical hills that modern day erosion is producing in that region?

Many other examples of paraconformities like these have been described (14). One well-known geologist admitted "The origin of paraconformities is uncertain, and I certainly do not have a simple solution to this problem" (17). The obvious and simple solution is that the time spans represented by these gaps in the sedimenary record were very much shorter than most geologists assume.

Polystrate petritrified trees. Fossil trees and large animals extending through 20 to 50 feet of sediments, and even petrified forests with vertically over-lapping trees over a half mile thickness such as at The Joggins, Nova Scotia, speak of rapid deposition. If uniformitarian ideas of these trees were correct, the tops of these trees would have rotted while they waited hundreds of thousands of years for sediment to build up around them. Local catastrophes, such as at Mt St Helens in 1980 show the fast rate of deposition and erosion of sediments. Laboratory experiments confirm it.

Tectonic evidence. There are volcanic rock lava flows covering thousands of square miles, on a scale altogether different from today´s volcanic flows. Analysis of the lava from different parts of the flow hundreds of miles apart confirms that it was all associated with a single flow. These huge flows, all over the world, and each so many times greater than anything which has occurred in more recent times, is evidence of all the fountains of the great deep being broken up, as described in Genesis 7.

For more informations see:
- Genesis Flood by Henry Morris and John Whitcomb
- World That Perished by John Whitcomb
- Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe by Steven Austin
- Origins: Linking Science and Scripture by Ariel Roth
- In the Beginning by Walter Brown
- Creation´s Tiny Mystery by Robert Gentry

1. Trewin, N.H. 1985. Mass mortalities of Devonian fish the Achanarras Fish Bed, Caithness. Geology Today March-April: 45-49.
2. Martill, D.M. 1989. The Medusa effect: instantaneous fossilization. Geology Today 5:201-205.
3. Nield, E.W. and V.C.T.Tucker. 1985. Palaeontology: an introductions. Pergamon Press, Oxford.
4. Liddell, W.D. 1975. Recent crinoid biostratinomy. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 7:1169.
5. Meyer, D.L. 1971. Post modem disarticulation of recent crinoids and ophiuroids under natural conditions. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 3:645-646.
6. Nevins, S.E. 1971. Stratigraphic evidence of the Flood, pp.33-65 in: Patten, D.W. (editor), A symposwm on Creation III. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, USA.
7. Roth, A.A. 1975. Tuitidites. Origins (Geoscience Research Institute) 2:106407.
8. Chadwick, KY. 1978. Megabreccias: evidence for catastrophism. Origins (Geoscience Research Institute) 5:39-46.
9. Ager, DY. 1986. A reinterpretation of the basal ´Littoral Lias´ of the Vale of Glamorgan. Proceedings of the Geologist´ Association 97:29-35.
10. See Ref. 6.
11. Austin, S.A., editor. 1994. Grand Canyon: monument to catastrophe. Institute for Creation Research, Santee, CA, USA.
12. See Ref. 11. 13. Morris, J.D. 1994. The Young Earth. Master Books, Colorado Springs, CO, USA.
14. Roth, A.A. 1988. Those gaps in the sedimentary layers. Origins (Geoscience Research Institute), 15:75-92.