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"How many sheep would a dinosaur need to eat per day while living on the Ark?" This was the question I posed to Ken A. Ham, the director of the new Creation Museum in Kentucky, which I toured for Skeptic. My question harkened back to the 1660s and John Wilkins's 1668 An Essay Towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language, where I learned that "atheistical scoffers" had been rolling their eyes at the notion that so many animals could fit on so small a boat (300 cubits = 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high, says Genesis 6:15). Bishop Wilkins, who acted as the first secretary of the Royal Society, set about demonstrating once and for all that the ark could indeed hold the menagerie. Creating elaborate charts based on scriptural descriptions of Noah's craft and cargo, Wilkins established that the middle floor of the three-floor ark was just under 15-feet tall and held foodstuffs for all the passengers, including 1,600 sheep for carnivore consumption. So naturally when I learned that Ham's new exhibit diorama would show visitors how the dinosaurs lived on the ark (something Wilkins couldn't have predicted), it seemed reasonable to ask how many sheep they'd be digging into.

"Well, that's an interesting question," Ham replied nonplussed. "We don't know for sure, but from a biblical perspective we know that all animals were originally herbivores." (Carnivore activity only happens as a result of the Fall — animals did not experience death before Adam's sin.) "So it is possible that carnivores ate plants and grains while they lived on the ark. Even today we know that grizzly bears eat grass and vegetation primarily, so it's not true that an animal with sharp teeth and claws must eat meat or must be a carnivore. At the very least, the carnivores could survive on vegetation for a significant time span."

I was surprised to find myself relieved that Ham was unfazed by my line of inquiry. Something slowly happens to your criteria for "reasonableness" as you become immersed in a creationist worldview. Ham and I were having a perfectly reasonable conversation — if only we had been living in the 1600s. Ham's speculation about Ark-board vegetarians seemed, at least for a moment, ingenious because it simultaneously cut down on the physical space needed for food (grains and vegetables can be compressed to take up less space than sheep) and eliminated another 1,600 mouths to feed. Bishop Wilkins would have been proud.

The $27 million Creation Museum opened its doors to the public in May 2007. This evangelical museum is an offshoot of Answers in Genesis (AiG), which is run by Ham, who holds a B.S. in applied science from the University of Queensland, is author of titles such as The Lie: Evolution, and Walking Through Shadows: Finding Hope in a World of Pain. In addition to books, AiG produces a creationist magazine, and a variety of Christian DVDs, CDs, and so on. He and his board of directors, each of whom he describes as "a godly man who walks with the Lord in wisdom and maturity" have been "upholding the authority of the Bible" since 1994.

Ham and his organization believe that the time is ripe for a rebuttal museum. The promotional material on the AiG website states, "Almost all natural history museums proclaim an evolutionary, humanistic worldview. For example, they will typically place dinosaurs on an evolutionary timeline millions of years before man. AiG's museum will proclaim the authority and accuracy of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and will show that there is a Creator, and that this Creator is Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15–20), who is our Savior." Located in Petersburg, Kentucky, near Cincinnati, the museum has an elaborate walk-through exhibit of Noah's ark. As you enter the giant exhibit you encounter 12 animatronic figures building the vessel. You can then meander around two floors of animal pairs, walking both inside and outside the ark. There is also a display of the design plan of the ark to lend scale, demonstrating to visitors that this massive diorama represents only 1 percent of the total ark space. The walls are covered with mural paintings that show how Noah's family took care of the animals, including engineering speculations about food and waste management. And crucial to the logic of the entire ark display is the exhibit showing how two of every "kind" of animal was brought on board, not two of every "species."

If Noah had to get every species on board, then Ham and the other Creationists would be in deep trouble. The Amazon rain forest alone, according to some researchers, may contain as many as 20 million species of arthropods, which are themselves only a piece of the rain forest biosphere. The popular college textbook Biology (Campbell, Reece and Mitchell) sums up the numbers by saying that, "To date, scientists have described and formally named about 1.5 million species of organisms. We can only estimate how many more currently exist. Some biologists believe that the number is about 10 million, but others estimate it to be between 30 million and 80 million." Even if we take the most conservative numbers of species and then add the staggering numbers of now extinct species (like the dinosaurs), we have an insane amount of animals to fit on a boat that's less than two football fields long.

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