How could Noah fit all the animals on the ark? Skeptics often scoffed at the biblical account of Noah’s Ark and the flood. They claimed it was just a fairy tale or some story about a local flood. Non-believers and even some in church today will argue that it’s not possible for all those animals to fit on the ark. To answer this challenge of how Noah could have fit all the animals in the ark, we will take a three-step approach. Step 1 – How did the animals get to the ark? Step 2 – How big was the ark? Step 3 – how many animals needed to be on the ark?
- How did the animals get to the ark? To answer this question, let’s go to Genesis 6:20 where it states “Of the birds after their kind, of animals after the kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.” So the answer is: God brings them to the ark. Noah doesn’t have to go out and round them up on some wild safari.
- How big was the ark? A place to start here is to recognize what the ark looked like. We mostly see pictures of the ark looking like a houseboat with the giraffe’s head sticking out or some other small vessel that would not float very well. However, this is not what the Bible teaches. A description of the ark can be found in Genesis 6:15-16 where it states “And this is how you shall make it: the length of the ark should be 300 cubits, its width 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above, and set the door of the ark in its side. You show make it with lower, second and third decks.” There are four things we get from this biblical description. Number one: It did not look like a houseboat. Number two: It was about 450 feet long, 75 ft wide and 45 ft high. Number 3: It was large. It was about one-and-a-half football fields in length and had three decks. Number 4: It had a 6:1 length to width ratio. As it turns out, these dimensions are the perfect ratio for a large boat built for seaworthiness. The ark was not built for speed since it didn’t have anywhere to go. Shipbuilders during World War II used approximately the same ratio to build barge-like ships to carry tremendous amounts of cargo much like with these dimensions. The ark had the capacity of about 520 railroad cars.
- How many animals needed to be on the ark? A common misconception is that all the creatures had to go on the ark. The Bible does not teach this. In Genesis 7:14-15, every beast after its kind, all cattle after their kind, every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after its kind and every bird after its kind, every bird of every sort. And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life.” What is included here? It’s living things with the breath of life.” This would include the beast and the cattle, that would be any 4-footed large animal, the birds, all the flying creatures and the creeping things, which were mostly referring to small reptile-like creatures. What is not specifically included here is the sea creatures. They would not necessarily be threatened with extinction in a flood of this kind.
Could all these animals fit on the ark? First, the Bible never states that full-grown creatures were on the ark. God could have brought the young animals. Second, only “kinds” are on the ark, not all the varieties within-kind. For example, only two of the dog kind went on the ark, two of the cat kind, two of the elephant kind, two of the horse kind. This would greatly reduce the number of kinds on the ark to about 20,000. Third, since only young animals would need to be on the ark, the average size would be the size of a small sheep or even smaller. Fourth, the average railroad boxcar can hold up to 240 sheep. Let’s do some math. We have about 20,000 kinds, so we have a male and a female, that would have about 40,000 total animals. If we put just 200 animals per car to give them a little more room, we have 40,000 creatures / 200 per car which equals 200 cars full and 320 are still empty. We have plenty of room still in the ark but what about those dinosaur creatures? There are about a hundred known species of dinosaur, which gives us a total of about 200 dinosaurs being male and female on the ark. To give them some extra room to grow, we’ll just put 100 in a boxcar. This will add just two cars to our total. Assuming we did not include the dinosaurs and original 20,000 kinds, this would give us 200 + 2 or 202 cars full and still 318 cars empty, plenty of room left.
But what about the insects? Scripture does not give us enough detail here. Genesis 7:15 states that only creatures with the breath of life were on the ark. Insects do not have nostrils or lungs and do not intake air like other men and animals. Insects also do not have blood like humans and other animals. Many could have survived on masses of floating vegetation. However, there are some delicate insects like butterflies and bees which would have had a difficult time surviving outside the ark. This could indicate that certain types of insects may have been on the ark. Would it have been possible to have a million insects on the ark? The answer is still yes. Insects are very small. If each stayed in a 4-inch cubicle, that would only add to 12 box cars to the total. Now we have 202 cars plus the 12 new cars or 214 boxcars full and 306 boxcars still empty. Now we have answered the challenge. How could Noah fit all the animals in the ark? We have seen that there was plenty of room for all the creatures, Noah and his family. Once again, we have shown that the Bible can always be trusted in all matters of faith, all matters of history and all matters of science.