John Riddell finds some creationist claims really are testable, unfortunately for them.

A FEW weeks ago a couple of Jehovah’s Witness walked down my drive and told me if I wanted to live forever I had to believe the same things they did.

“Great”, I said, “That sounds like Paradise.” “It is”, they said. But there was a problem. A bit before that some Mormons had cycled down my drive and told me that if I wanted to live forever, I had to believe the same things they did. But they didn’t believe the same as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. What if I chose the wrong one? What if I became a Jehovah’s Witness and it turned out only the Mormons went to heaven?

Or maybe they were both wrong. They both make testable claims. One thing they have in common is they both believe the story of Noah’s Flood is true. There are millions of species on Earth now. Even Creationists admit you couldn’t get that many species onto an Ark. I heard a Creationist speaker (a Mr Sparrow) recently say that there were 50,000 different “kinds” of animals on the Ark with an average size of a sheep. I don’t know where he got these numbers from, but it gives us a place to start. It really doesn’t matter what number you use. The more animals you try to put on the Ark, the less room there would be for each of them and the more food and water would be needed. If you try to put fewer animals on the Ark, you need a very fast rate of evolution to get the millions of species that are around today.

Noah’s Ark was supposedly 300 cubits long by 50 wide and 30 high (Genesis 6:15). A cubit is about 18 inches. This is about 450 x 75 x 45 feet or 139 x 23 x 14 metres. The volume would be 44,471 cubic metres. If there were 50,000 animals on the Ark, this would allow about 900 litres per animal. A small sheep might weigh 50 kgs and occupy about 50 litres of space. To maintain its weight it would need 1 kg of dry matter and 2-3 litres of water per day.

The Bible isn’t very clear how long the flood was supposed to last. It is usually assumed it lasted about a year. Fifty thousand times two (male and female) times four (kg of food and water) gives us 400,000 kg/day, or (multiplying by 365) 146,000,000 kg/year, and this would occupy about 146,000 cubic metres. Three times the volume of the Ark.

“Ah,” says the Creationist, “They didn’t have to store the water. They could have drunk the rainwater or perhaps the diluted seawater. Therefore there is enough room on the Ark.” Perhaps, but what did they do with the water when they were finished with it? Was there a hole in the bottom to let it drain out?

Effluent disposal would have been a problem. It has been suggested that Noah and his sons shovelled all the sewage off the back of the Ark. This was said to be proven when Columbus discovered it in 1492. You have to hand it to Noah and his family. There were 8 people on the Ark (allegedly). That’s 50 tons of food and water per day that they each had to deliver to the animals, and then remove from the cages in its less delectable form. That’s four tons to shift per hour. Every hour. No sleep.

Remember the Ark had one trapdoor, and that was closed (Gen 8:6). It probably got quite stuffy inside. It would have been dark without windows and unpleasant without gumboots. Glass hadn’t been invented. Imagine Noah and his family shovelling their four tons per hour in the dark. They didn’t have electricity and they couldn’t light a candle. Even if there was enough oxygen, there would have been too much methane to risk an open flame (flatulence is flammable).

On top of all this they must have all been very sick carrying all the diseases and parasites that only survive on humans. Lice, tapeworms, measles to name a few. And even though Noah and his family were supposed to be good, one of them had to have gonorrhoea and syphilis or else those diseases would have ended with the flood. You can’t catch them from a toilet seat. I suppose they caught them at the Ark launching party. (“Of course there’s room on the Ark for you, my dear.”)

Another thing that bothered me was where Noah got the money to pay for the food. I suppose he could have rung up Wrightsons, booked it up on credit, and hope the flood would destroy all the records. The whole story sounds a little bit unlikely. If I have to believe in the flood story to get to heaven and live forever, then I think I’m in a lot of trouble. I don’t think I’m going to become a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness.

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