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This, too, is doubtful; but, even if true, it would be the occasion for another remarkable marvel: herbivores turned carnivores turned herbivores were changed once more into meat-eaters, only this time they were specifically given a craving only for rotten, water-logged carcasses rather than the tasty living animals stumbling all about.

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Then, somewhat later, after sufficient "replenishing" had taken place, they were altered one final time into their present forms! In actual fact, it seems that there must have been a period when all the animals were programmed like the serpent in Eden to subsist on "dust. For Noah, one more task remained. After disembarking, he built an altar to the Lord and offered burnt offerings "of every clean beast and of every clean fowl" Genesis Biblical scholars generally state that the reason why Noah took a dozen more of each clean animal was so that he could have extras to sacrifice鈥攁 sacrifice that must have amounted to the destruction of hundreds of thousands of the precious animals which had endured all the perils of the storm.

So the animal population was drastically reduced in this manner, and the Lord savored the smell and said that he would never send a flood again Genesis But for the luckless animals that remained after the sacrifice, no doubt terrorized by the smell of their cooked comrades, many months of toil and tears still awaited as they began repopulating the earth.

A large number of marsupials, found today only in Australia, made the long journey to that continent, which, strangely enough, is the only place where fossils of their progenitors are found. Even stranger is the fact that such fragile creatures as the platypus and the blind marsupial mole raced across the land bridge quicker than Malaysian tigers and other robust placentals. In a similar vein, the ceboids New World primates found their way to South America, again, the very region where their fossil ancestors had thrived.

The elephant bird, a nine-foot, thousand-pound giant, decided not to remain on the mainland like the ostrich but splashed across the sea to Madagascar. In similar fashion, the dodo headed for Mauritius, the solitaire to Reunion, the white dodo to Rodriguez, the kagu to New Caledonia, and the kiwi to New Zealand鈥攁ll flightless birds who swam to remote islands to make their only homes.

The fish of family "kind" Comephoridae somehow crossed Asia to live in Lake Baikal, while the family of electric eels opted for the trans-Atlantic trip to South America. The gila monster and Mexican beaded lizard, the only members of family Helodermatidae, chose not to stay in convenient Asian deserts but journeyed through Siberia and across the Bering land bridge, Alaska, and Canada to arrive in the American Southwest, accomplishing this feat during the same Ice Age that creationists say decimated dinosaurs and buried mammoths!

And all of this occurred despite the reproductive bottleneck of a single male and female, in which the slightest mishap, even a chance separation in the unknown wilderness, would have meant instant extinction.

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The plant seeds that Noah had stored on board had to somehow be distributed around the world to climates and soils where they could grow. Two thousand species of cactus had to find their way to the New World while avoiding the arid lands of Asia and Africa. The giant sequoia and redwood trees had to reach the Pacific coast of North America and produce, from the handful of seeds in the ark, the magnificent forests that date to within a few centuries of the flood.

Who carried the double coconut to the Seychelles, its only home, or planted the endemic flora atop the towering peaks of Venezuela's "Lost World"? How did the post-diluvian botanists determine which seeds would sprout only on the tundra and which required brakish marshes?

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The Bible has our patriarch and his family return to the simple pastoral life they once knew, leaving no one to handle the impossible chores of re-establishing the global ecosystem. But why go on? The geographical distribution of animals and plants is a powerful piece of evidence for evolution and is satisfactorily explained only by that theory. In a simple creation model, biogeography becomes merely quixotic; when the straitjacket of the flood is added, with a rapid distribution from a single point in the Middle East, during an Ice Age, resulting in a few centuries in the complex ecological patterns seen everywhere on the earth today, the whole thing becomes completely impossible and incomprehensible.

So, the most tremendous series of miracles of all brings down the curtain on this amazing adventure. When, however, this same story is brought into the twentieth century and insisted upon as a literal account of historical events, a considerable change is observed. No longer a simple folk tale, it has become a surrealistic saga of fantastic improbabilities. Events which seem relatively straightforward at first glance鈥攂uilding a boat, gathering animals, releasing them afterwards鈥攂ecome a caricature of real life.

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The animals themselves are so unlike any others that they may as well have come from another planet; genetic Frankensteins with completely unnatural social, reproductive, and dietary behavior, they survived incredible hazards yet remained amazingly hardy and fecund. In fact, these sixty-eight verses of Scripture, when interpreted literally, are crammed with more miracles than any comparable piece of literature anywhere on earth鈥攎iracles that are often pointlessly complicated and unedifying.

Building one large ship of wood rather than many small ones, landing it on a volcano instead of a plain, preserving all five varieties of venereal disease while permitting thousands of species to become extinct鈥攖hese examples plus more add up to a thoroughly senseless level of supernaturalism.

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If there was ever a situation in which Hume's distinction between the credibility of miracles and the credibility of miracle-tellers applies, this is it. How can we account for this transformation? Put simply, the tale of the ark grows taller in inverse proportion to the advance of science. Two centuries ago, when biology and geology were in their infancy, the theory of a worldwide flood as a major event in the earth's physical history seemed perfectly plausible and, in fact, was advocated by various scientists. But as geology progressed and as evolution gradually achieved a position of fundamental importance, the concepts of biblical literalists were shown to be untenable and were falsified.

At the same time, the disciplines of biblical criticism, comparative religion, and archaeology uncovered the true origins of these stories and myths and showed that they were a natural part of the religious development of the Near East.

We would ask the creationists if they would consider simpler alternatives to their present ark theory. Since one ship is far too small, how about several?

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  7. Since eight people are far too few, why not crew the ark with eighty? For that matter, what is wrong with having a flood of many years, long enough to accomplish everything diluviologists demand, during which righteous Noah and his family were whisked to safety aboard a fiery chariot, Elijah-style, with the animals and plants simply being re-created afterwards? These or any number of additional hypotheses would simplify the story and would require substantially fewer miracles.

    Even re-creating all life would expend far less divine energy than the complicated manipulations needed to preserve it. But merely to pose such questions is to answer them, for the creationists already "know" what occurred and seek only to confirm it. As Henry Morris concludes, "But the main reason for insisting on the universal flood as a fact of history and as the primary vehicle for geological interpretation is that God's word plainly teaches it!


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    No geologic difficulties, real or imagined, can be allowed to take precedence over the clear statements and necessary inference of Scripture" , p. It is within this framework that creation "science" sets about its task, with the predictable result being nothing more than old-fashioned apologetics鈥攋ust enough rhetoric to assuage the doubts of those who are ready to believe anyway.

    Most of the difficulties, from ancient shipbuilding skills through the destructiveness of the storm to the landing on an active volcano, are swept aside with one or two irrelevant comments.

    What little research is done, such as on the hardiness of seeds or the capacity of freight trains, is vitiated by considerations so simple they seem hard to overlook. Ad hoc hypotheses, such as the theory of kinds or the hibernation model, are cooked up to suit the occasion, reminding one of historian W. Lecky's remark about "the tendency. By the time we read of fish adapting to the "gradual" change in salinities or of dinosaurs "somehow surviving" outside, we begin to wonder if the creationists can take themselves seriously. When even these nonsensical suggestions fail, the apologists have no qualms about resorting to the interpretive wastebasket: miracles.

    Had there been any scenario for the gathering of the animals and for their care aboard the ark which had any semblance of plausibility, we can be sure that it would be highly touted as "proof" of the scientific accuracy of Genesis. As it is, a virtue is made of necessity and we are told that the supernatural is an essential element demonstrating the divine character of the catastrophe Whitcomb, , pp. But since miracles are by definition violations of the laws of nature and hence beyond experimental scrutiny, any theory that must employ them loses its status as science.

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    As Mueller has recently written, "Science. In all history, science has never been forced to resort to a supernatural or miraculous hypothesis to explain a phenomenon" p. Yet for creationism, the deluge, with its miraculous rescue of the animals, is not a minor incidental but a key feature. Without it there is no creationist explanation for sedimentation, orogeny, large-scale erosion, fossils, coal and oil, glaciation鈥攐r even the phenomena of migration and hibernation. The universal flood is a part of all "scientific" creation models and of most draft creationism legislation being pushed across the nation.

    Yet by its proponents' own canons, it is not scientific and consequently has no more business in the science classroom than a ghost story. It is also quite obvious that the creationists are not engaged in any meaningful search for the truth concerning origins. They are committed in advance to a particular creed, and the facts exist only to be explained away. Apparently they are not even sincerely curious about prehistory, since they maintain that Genesis contains all the information on this subject that we need to know. As Henry Morris writes, "If we are to know anything about the creation鈥攚hen it was, what methods were used, what order of events occurred, or anything else鈥攚e must depend completely on divine revelation" , p.

    In fact, the real raison d'etre for the entire creationist movement has nothing to do with science at all; it is evangelism pure and simple. Kofahl candidly confesses that "supposedly scientific theories such as evolution which contradict the Bible can cause some people to doubt the Bible and thus hinder them from coming in humble faith to Jesus Christ for salvation" p.

    In the specific instance of Noah's ark, its "confirmed discovery. Before our eyes, creationism鈥攃omplete with seminars, debates, institutes, "technical" journals, and major campaigns to sabotage public education and scientific autonomy鈥攄issolves into nothing more than a scheme to proselytize conversion to fundamentalism. Our study of the epic of Noah has two results: we have shown beyond any reasonable question that such a voyage never took place and could not possibly have ever occurred.

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    And we have demonstrated that those who accept this tale are using not knowledge but faith鈥攆aith of that irrational variety expressed in the old quip as "believing something that you know isn't true. Ancil, Ralph E. September Andrewartha, H. Introduction to the Study of Animal Populations. Second edition.