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Archive for March, 2013

I don’t think Noah would have needed to define each species, or determine which individual animals would be the best to preserve. I don’t believe that he had to gather the animals, but that they came to the ark instinctively. Some translations of the Bible say that the animals went to Noah (Genesis 7:9,15,&16), and others say that the animals came to him.

Animals, especially birds, often cover great distances during migration, but most of the animals wouldn’t have needed to travel very far. Polar bears didn’t have to come from the Arctic, or kangaroos from Australia. Though animals have preferred habitats, the ancestors of all animals may not have lived far from the ark. Both evolutionists and creationists believe that Australia, along with all the continents, once formed part of a single landmass that scientists call Pangea.

At any rate, the construction of Noah’s ark may have taken around a century, and animals would have had ample time to drift toward the area. It’s also possible that at that time in history, wild animals didn’t the same natural fear of man as they have today. I intend to write more about this fear later. Just as God brought the animals to Adam when they were given names (Genesis 2:19-20), they were later brought to Noah’s ark to be preserved.

An atheist might very quickly dismiss this idea as depending upon the supernatural and therefore not scientific, but should we think of things that we don’t fully understand as being “supernatural.” I don’t think so. Scientific investigation begins with the belief that more is to be learned about everything. I believe that we should think of the word “supernatural” as only referring to a scientific reality beyond the scope of our present knowledge.

The strange behavior of migrating animals sometimes seems to border on the supernatural. The migration of animals is usually connected to seasonal changes and the search for food, or to breeding cycles, but that doesn’t explain some of  the extreme things that they do. Migrating animals often follow established routes, and sometimes travel much farther than would seem necessary.

The lifespan of most insects is short, and Monarch butterflies reproduce during migration. There are generations between those which travel one direction, and those that later return to the point of origin. That’s very strange for it indicates that knowledge of the routes and destinations are passed along to successive generations. There is probably something designed into nature that triggers the steps of their migration, but either way, we can think that God is calling to a generation of butterflies, “It’s time to go farther south,” and to another, “Let’s go back to the north.”

Pantala dragonflies cross the ocean between Africa and India. Why would they do that, and what tells them that they can? Do some convince others to undertake such a journey, or do all of them suddenly just get the same strange notion.

Being the skeptic that I am, I checked multiple sources to verify the following information on the Bar-tailed Godwit, a bird that holds the record for non-stop flight. According to Wikipedia, these migrating birds don’t reproduce during their stay in New Zealand. Some of the birds were tagged in 2007, and tracked by satellite as they flew non-stop for distances in excess of 6000 miles to China, Korea, and Alaska. There they mated, reproduced, and later returned to the south.

One female bird flew non-stop, more than 8 days, 7,258 miles from Alaska to New Zealand. That is hard for me to believe, but science says it is so. There are many things within the scope of our knowledge that are every bit as strange as some of the things that we read in the Bible.

The Bible teaches that many of our “realities” are symbolic of a deeper and greater reality. In the butterfly emerging from the chrysalis, God has given us a picture of the resurrection (ref. “Crystal, Chrysalis, and Christ” in my July 2010 archives). Noah’s ark was real, but it is also symbolic of Jesus and the even greater rescue effort that he is undertaking.

I also think that animal migration offers a picture of the resurrection and “rapture” of those who trust Jesus. I believe that Jesus is trying to save us for a better world, and that he must take us across an ocean that we cannot cross alone.

P.S.  I posted “Dawn of the Rising Son,” in April 2011 because many people, both Pagan and Christian, believe that “Easter” began as a pagan celebration. I think my post explains why we should associate Easter with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

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Evolutionary scientists agree with creationists that fewer “species” of creatures once existed. That isn’t evidence for evolution however, but only that God has designed his creatures to be able to adapt to their surroundings. Also, heredity is designed to produce a variety of individuals within the different kinds of life. Individuality is a God-given thing, and living things weren’t intended to reproduce carbon copies of themselves (ref. the Script (Kinds of Life) in my Oct. 2011 archives).

The definition of the word “species,” has also changed over time. It no longer refers to a particular kind of creature, the dog family for instance. Instead, scientists now speak as if many species exist within the dog family.  This change in terminology is sometimes used in a deceptive manner to cast doubt on the biblical record of Noah’s ark. The argument is raised that the ark couldn’t possible have held a pair of each of the millions of species of animals.

The answer is that the ark would only need to hold males and females capable of reproducing the varieties of animals that we see today. That statement can be supported by science. The fact that a lion and a tiger can produce a “liger” shows that both came from the same original kind of creature.

The New Answers Book 3, from Answers in Genesis, has a chapter by John Woodmorappe, author of Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study. Woodmorappe calculated that about 8000 genera, about 16000 animals total including young dinosaurs (not fully grown) and extinct animals, would have been taken aboard the ark. The extra “clean” animals on the ark wouldn’t have increased the overall number substantially. Most creatures on the ark would not have been fully grown. Whales, fish, and creatures which live in water wouldn’t need an ark. Many insects may have survived on floating debris, and many would have been on the ark as stowaways.

We don’t know which “cubit” was used in building the ark, but using the short cubit (18 inches), the ark would have held about as much as 522 railroad cars, each of which will hold 240 sheep. That analogy has been in use for decades, but it’s helpful. Most of the animals on the ark would have been much smaller than sheep. The ark was at least 450 ft. long, 75 ft. wide, and 45 ft. high. It was proportionally similar to modern ships, but apparently more box-like. There would have been sufficient area to cage the animals and store all the necessary food.

We know of at least two kinds of birds that were on the ark. There were doves, and ravens. Genesis 7:14-15 sounds as if several kinds of birds were on the ark, but it would not be necessary to shelter the thousands of varieties that existed before the flood, or that exist today. Creationists have introduced a scientific term for the attempt to identify the original kinds of creatures. Baraminology, from the Hebrew “min” (miyn), the word that’s translated as “kind” (Genesis 1:24 & 6:20), may not become a common household word, but it’s actually a pretty interesting study.

When the same doubts about the animals on Noah’s ark surface again and again, it can keep us going around in the same circles. Many times it isn’t because the doubts haven’t been answered sufficiently, but because the answers haven’t circulated as well as the questions. Sometimes a group of people with a particular ideology continues to communicate doubts to a different audience, even though they themselves are aware that reasonable answers exist. The target is often a younger generation. This is a common strategy of atheism, though many individual atheists shun such dishonest tactics.

Was the shift in definition of the word “species” intentionally engineered to cast doubt on the Bibles account of Noah’s ark? It has certainly worked out that way. Scientists, in their search for knowledge, should not cover the truth in the process. The search for truth should be as much a goal of science as the quest for knowledge.

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