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Is Noah’s Ark Real or Mythical?

Is Noah’s Ark real? Or is it merely a bedtime story Christian parents tell their kids? Is it a true telling of God’s physical judgment on the world? Or an allegory of His hatred for sin?

You can find plenty of skeptics who will tell you that Noah’s Ark is just a fable. Or they say the Great Flood was just a local flood restricted to the Mesopotamia region. And while Russell Crowe may be a talented actor, his rendition of Noah only reinforced these misguided perceptions of the biblical figure as a myth.

Here at Answers in Genesis, we firmly believe that Noah did build a giant Ark and that the Flood truly did happen. The Bible affirms this all throughout Scripture—from Genesis’ account of the Flood to Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament. And while the Bible is the final authority on all truth, the book of Genesis isn’t the only reason we think the Flood literally happened.

You see, there are piles of evidence in various fields that point to the truth of Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood that wiped out the whole earth. You can find many videos on Answers.tv that address the various questions skeptics have about the validity of the Flood.

But for now, let’s start with what archaeology tells us.


Archaeological Evidence for Noah’s Flood

One of the reasons atheists don’t believe Noah’s Ark is real is that they don’t believe the Flood even happened!

Yet when you look at fossils deep underground, you don’t see evidence of slow accumulation over millions of years. You see evidence of one cataclysmic event—a storm big enough to wreck the entire earth.

That’s probably not what you learned in secular schools, though. Evolution-based textbooks teach students that those layers were formed over millions of years. “Each layer represents ages’ worth of evolution throughout history,” they say.

Not so. The problem is that since no one alive today has witnessed what actually occurred, we’re left to assume what happened based on what we see today. When evolutionists look at layers upon layers of strata, they see millions of years because of their worldview. But that’s not the only way to view those layers.

When Christians look at those same geographical layers, they see a huge catastrophe. How else can you explain strata lines crossing continents? Or fossilized sea creatures on mountaintops? Or folded rock layers?

Think of the Grand Canyon. If you look at the strata in the Grand Canyon, you’ll notice that some of them curve, even looking at times as though they’re folded on top of each other. Those kind of fluid layers can only be made when the rock is still hot enough to be pliable, indicating many strata were created at the same time.

Is Noah’s Ark Real? But How Did All Those Animals Fit?

Another reason some doubt the validity of Noah’s Ark is the question of how Noah managed to fit all those animals on the Ark. But the answer isn’t as complicated as some think.

With all the diversity we see in the animal kingdom today, it would be easy to think that Noah had to get millions—or at least hundreds of thousands—of animals on the Ark. Certainly not all those animals could fit in a single Ark!

Well, they didn’t have to. In an effort to maximize numbers, John Woodmorappe, author of Noah’s Ark: A Feasible Study, estimated that a minimum-sized Noah’s Ark could fit around 16,000 genus-based required animals onto his Ark (an exaggerated maximum), with maximum food, cages, and fresh water, And only about three-fourth of the Ark would be needed for all of that.

After all, Noah only had to carry land-bound, air-breathing animals, including winged creatures (Genesis 6:20). The Flood certainly killed many water-bound animals, but enough could have survived to repopulate afterward.

So when you take into account how animals can diversify within their kinds, you see that Noah really only needed thousands of animals—not millions—to fit on his Ark. For example, Noah only needed two dogs on the Ark in order to eventually produce the number and variety of dogs we have today. (family, not genus or species, is a closer match to how the Bible describes “kinds” in most instances)

With this in mind, if we count a biblical cubit as 18 inches (which is a conservative estimate), less than half of the Ark’s area space was enough to house all those animals, according to Woodmorappe (not including food and water). This left plenty of room for fresh food, water, and even many other people. Noah’s cubit was probably longer—the older cubit of about 20-21 inches like the royal cubits used in the pyramids of Egypt and elsewhere, creating even more space on the Ark.

More realistic numbers were performed since Woodmorrappe at the Ark Encounter and Answers in Genesis and found in Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge’s book A Flood of Evidence. Realistic maximums by researchers yielded no more than 1,400 kinds with no more than 6,700 individuals. Minimum numbers ranged closer to 3,200 individuals—both sets of number are far less than Woodmorrappe’s absolute maximum numbers.


So with far fewer animal kinds onboard and a larger cubit-Ark, this dispels some doubts behind “Is Noah’s Ark real?”

How Could the Ark Have Survived the Flood?

This is another common question behind those who wonder, “Is Noah’s Ark real?” If the Flood was big enough to wipe out the entire earth, how did the Ark manage to make it through the deluge intact?

Genesis 6:14-16 describe the general dimensions of the Ark, but God most certainly gave Noah more detailed information than this. (Just think of how detailed God was when He told Moses exactly how to construct the Tabernacle.)

Some think the Ark couldn’t have survived the Flood since it was shaped like a rectangle. But keep in mind that the Bible doesn’t say the Ark was a rectangular box. In fact, Scripture gives no clue about the shape of Noah’s Ark other than the proportions—length, width, and depth. Ships have long been described like this without ever implying a block-shaped hull.

For many years biblical creationists have depicted the Ark as a rectangular box, probably because it was easier to convey the measurements that way. The problem is that the Ark likely didn’t have this shape. Instead, a Korean study performed at the world-class ship research center in 1992 showed that the Ark, with all its massive proportions, could have handled waves as high as 98 feet (30 m) with the right kind of hull.

The study’s leader, Dr. Hong, said the proportions of the Ark as outlined in the Bible are near optimal. The study combined analysis, model wave testing, and ship standards, yet the concept was simple: compare the biblical Ark with 12 other vessels of the same volume but modified in length, width, or depth. Three qualities were measured—stability, hull strength, and comfort.

While Noah’s Ark was an average performer in each quality, it was among the best designs overall. The proportions show a design balance that’s ruined when proportions are modified incorrectly. It’s no surprise that modern ships have similar proportions—those proportions work.

What Scripture Says About the Question of “Is Noah’s Ark Real?”

Some Christians might say Noah’s Ark was simply an allegory to depict God’s hatred for sin. Or they claim it was a local flood and not a global one. But if that’s the case, then why does Jesus compare the judgment of His Second Coming to what happened during the Flood?

In Matthew 24:37-39, Jesus describes what it will be like when He returns. In verse 39, He says that “the flood came and swept them all away.”

The apostle Peter also likens Jesus’ final judgment to the Great Flood. In 2 Peter 3:6, the apostle describes how water completely destroyed the whole world during Noah’s day, just as fire will destroy the entire globe at Jesus’ Second Coming.

Scripture makes it clear that when Jesus returns to judge the earth, it will destroy every single thing. All those who have lived in sin will go to eternal punishment, and all those who have put their faith in God will go to eternal life. There’s no middle ground—and there’s no “local element” about it.

If we look at Genesis’ account of the Flood, we have to come to the same conclusion. To say that Noah’s Flood was merely a local flood is to ignore the numerous times God said He wiped out “all living things” on the earth (see Genesis 6:13, 17). Everything under the whole heaven was covered with water per Genesis 7:19.

Plus, how could a local flood have caused the waters to rise above the mountains, as Genesis 7:20 says? Water seeks its own level; it could not rise to cover the local mountains while leaving the rest of the world untouched.

And lastly, if Noah’s Flood were local, then God would have broken His promise numerous times to never again send a similar flood. How many times have local floods devastated communities? Too many times to count. Clearly, God was referring to a flood that covered the entire earth. Such a global flood has certainly never happened again since that time.

Is Noah’s Ark Still Around Today?

If someone discovered the Ark today, it would be one of the most incredible archaeological discoveries in history.

The Bible says that after the Flood, the Ark rested on the “mountains of Ararat” (Genesis 8:4). These mountains refer to a mountainous region in Western Turkey to Eastern Iran in the Middle East, including Mt. Ararat in Turkey and other mountain ranges nearby.

Curious archaeologists and adventurers have searched for the Ark on Mt. Ararat even though most ancient literature on the subject points to another mountain in the same general range (Mt. Cudi—pronounced Mt Judi). In fact, Mt. Ararat has attracted the most attention because of its permanent ice cap. Some have even reported that they’ve seen the Ark in that location—or at least a giant wooden vessel.

But after several expeditions, there’s still no conclusive evidence that the Ark is on Mt. Ararat, a large volcano that has had many eruptions up through he 1800s. The wood of the vessel discovered on the mountain is likely not pre-Flood wood. And even if the Ark did land in that spot, it happened about 4,500 years ago. That’s enough time for the Ark to have deteriorated or picked apart by scavengers looking for fuel for their fires.

Without supernatural intervention, it’s unlikely the Ark is still intact today. The Bible doesn’t tell us one way or the other. And although it’s important to ask if the Ark has survived over thousands of years, its discovery—or lack thereof—shouldn’t be a factor in someone’s faith.

Jesus said, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31).

With that in mind, it’s important to understand the most important question of all when it comes to Noah’s Ark. Instead of asking, “Is Noah’s Ark real?” perhaps we should ask a deeper question.

The Real Question Is: Why Did God Destroy the Earth?

Scholars like to argue about whether or not the Flood really happened or whether it was local or global. But the better question is: Why did God flood the earth?

The Bible says the world had become so wicked that every single thought in men’s and women’s hearts was evil (Genesis 6:5). Imagine that—every single thought was evil. God was so grieved over the rampant sin He saw that He decided to judge the whole world. After all, the whole world was guilty.

This isn’t unlike the rampant sin we see today. All around us and across the news media we see more evidence of man’s wickedness—abortion, rebellion, false religions, and widespread rape and murder to name a few.

The reality is that God had every right to wipe out the earth because He’s holy. That means He is completely good. He cannot tolerate sin or overlook it.

And yet God is merciful—and He always has been. He saved Noah and his whole family because Noah was righteous. He honored God, and God honored him. That’s why God told Noah to build an Ark big enough to rescue him, his family, and representative of the land-dwelling, air-breathing creatures to repopulate the earth.

In this way, that Ark actually represents something that saves us from more than just a worldwide flood. It was a shadow of the salvation we find in Jesus Christ, who came to this earth to rescue every single person who puts their faith in Him.

Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9).

As people see the truth of the global flood God sent as judgment on sin, we pray that they can also see that Jesus is the only rescue from the coming judgment on this world. Knowing this truth is far more important than knowing the answer to “Is Noah’s Ark real?”

Dive Deeper Into This Topic on Answers.tv

Want to learn more about biblical and physical evidence supporting Noah’s Ark and the Flood? Check out our resources on Answers.tv!

Determining the Ark Kinds featuring Dr. Jean Lightner

Noah’s Flood: Washing Away Millions of Years featuring Dr. Terry Mortenson

Noah’s Ark: Thinking Outside the Box featuring Tim Lovett

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