Most illustrations of Noah’s ark portray the biblical vessel as overloaded with animals with little to no room for Noah and his family. Granted, most of these pictures are specifically made for little children in Sunday school. However, there is little substantive difference between these unbiblical representations and the modern secular conceptions of Noah’s ark. Before going any further, let’s take a look at the specifications which God gave to Noah for building the ark. Genesis 6:14-16 declares:
Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. 15And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. 16A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.
As for its structure, the ark was 300 cubits in length (~450 ft.), 50 cubits wide (~75 ft.) and 30 cubits high (~45 ft.). These measurements gave the ark an internal volume of ~1,500,000 ft3. In addition, the vessel was constructed with three decks as well as covered inside and outside with pitch for a water sealant.
Even with these impressive dimensions, modern secularists mock the biblical account, objecting that there is no possible way that Noah had enough space on the ark to fit two of every kind of land animal, bird, reptile, insect, etc. The key to answering this objection is an accurate understanding of God’s command in Genesis 6:19: “And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.” Secularists typically interpret “every sort” in this verse to indicate every subspecies variation within each species of land animal, bird, reptile, insect, etc. For example, they would argue that Noah did not merely bring two dogs on the ark. Instead, he, anachronistically speaking, brought two German Shepherds, two Irish Setters, two Chihuahuas, two Golden Retrievers, etc. In other words, Noah would have brought every subspecies variation of dog, not to mention cat, cow, elephant, snake, eagle, hawk, spider, fly, etc. This argument is a straw man logical fallacy which attempts to ridicule the biblical account of Genesis 6-9, and Christians need not be intimidated by this objection.
Noah did not bring two of every subspecies variation of every land animal, bird, reptile, insect, etc. Rather, he brought two of every kind of animal from which all of their respective subspecies variations are subsequently derived. For instance, Noah simply brought two snakes (male & female) from which are subsequently derived every subspecies variation of snake on the planet (i.e. pythons, cobras, boa constrictors, mambas, vipers, etc.). Likewise, Noah brought two elephants (male & female) from which are subsequently derived every subspecies variation of elephant on the planet. The same applies to every kind of animal that Noah brought on the ark. Needless to say, this is a much more reasonable explanation of the biblical account. Furthermore, with regard to the larger animals (such as elephants, giraffes, rhinoceros, large lizards, etc.), Noah would have likely brought immature (and therefore smaller) specimens of these larger animals due to the spatial constraints of the ark. In their attempt to attack God’s Word, secularists consistently portray Noah as inept and incompetent – assuming outright that he would have only brought adult specimens with him upon the ark. Not so. Many of the animals which Noah took with him on the ark were likely immature and therefore smaller. This is all the more likely given that Noah would had to have brought forty days’ worth of provisions for his family and the animals, and younger animals consume considerably less food than adult animals. Some have suggested that God may have supernaturally caused the animals to hibernate during their time on the ark. Although the Bible makes no mention of God doing so, I take no issue with such a position.