Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Biodiversity and Noah’s Ark: The Solution You’ve Been Waiting For

I have sometimes wondered if the indifference that many creationists feel toward rescuing biodiversity from extinction is that they do not want to believe there is very much of it. In particular fundamentalists must believe that there have never been more animal species than could fit into Noah’s Ark.

The obvious problem is, how could two of every kind of animal fit into the Ark? This question has been asked thousands of times on websites and in blogs and books, including several of my own, which criticize creationism. The dimensions of the Ark are fairly well specified by Genesis (there is only so much leeway that you have in defining the length of a “cubit”). Creationists believe that Noah had all of the species of dinosaurs on the Ark also, since dinosaurs had to be alive before the Flood and Noah took two of every kind onto the Ark—though dinosaurs apparently became extinct in the post-Flood environment. We know that this is what they believe, for kids sit on saddles to ride dinosaurs in the creation museum run by Answers in Genesis.

The problem is that scientists keep finding the bones of new species of giant dinosaurs. It’s not just brontosaurus (Apatosaurus) anymore; it is Supersaurus and Ultrasaurus and Argentinosaurus. How would a pair of each of them fit onto the Ark? Creationists have an answer: hibernation. Noah could just pile them up, and not have to feed them, if the dinosaurs came in and fell asleep. This would require a miracle, not recorded in Genesis. But creationists have no problem just making stuff up. However, creationists would need to make up a lot more miracles than just hibernation. How can you physically fit all of those giant dinosaurs in the Ark? If you take the volume of the Ark and divide it by the number of species, you find that there is, in fact, space for all of them. But in order to use that space for giant dinosaurs, you would need the following miracles. First, God made all of the giant dinosaurs turn rigid. Then, God levitated them. Then, God guided them into slots, as if He were playing Tetris. If you admit the possibility of these miracles, then the problem of space on the Ark is solved. And to creationists, made-up miracles is an unlimited resource.

I would like to suggest a much more elegant approach for creationists to use, one that would be harder for evolutionists such as myself to answer. The approach is for creationists to assume that God is like Dr. Who. Dr. Who had a time travel spaceship called TARDIS, which stands for Time and Relative Dimensions in Space. On the outside it looks like a red British call box (phone booth). But inside, it has infinite volume. Now, if Noah and family built an Ark, then God changed it into a TARDIS, then there would be plenty of room for everything inside—and only a single big miracle would be necessary, rather than lots of little ones.

I’m just trying to be helpful to the creationists. I hope they appreciate it.

This essay will also appear on my website.

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