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Is the Biblical story of Noah's Ark based on fact, or is it mere fiction or folklore?

The Biblical account of Noah’s Ark is clearly factual. Some have
advanced arguments saying that Noah could never have built the Ark, and
that the Ark would not have been big enough to hold all the animals.
Both objections are without foundation.

Some of the following
material has been published in “The Good News” magazine, February 1980,
and in “Exploring Ancient History–The First 2500 Years,” Imperial
Schools, 1967.

Based on the Holy Scriptures, God spoke directly
to Noah, telling him of His decision to destroy wickedness from the
earth (Genesis 6:13). He told him to build a great ship through which
his family and all birds and land animals would be saved alive, while
God covered the earth with a flood (Genesis 6:14-21). The building of a
gigantic sea craft presumes a knowledge of workmanship with brass and
iron–showing that all the fundamental crafts of culture and society
were known in that day. God said that Noah would not have to go looking
for the animals, for they would come to him (Genesis 6:20), but he
would have to provide quantities of food and grain.

Skeptics have
claimed the Ark could not possibly hold all those animals and
provisions, but simple fact proves otherwise. The physical dimensions
alone, as given in Genesis 6:15, stagger the imagination: “The length
of the ark shall be three hundred cubits [450 feet-based on an 18-inch
cubit, its commonly accepted length, compare the notes in the margin of
the New King James Bible], its width fifty cubits [75 feet], and its
height thirty cubits [45 feet].” Based on the 18-inch cubit
measurement, the figures show that the Ark was ocean-liner size in
cubic capacity. It had a volume exceeding 1.5 million cubic feet, and
virtually the entire capacity of the Ark could be used for storage, as
it had no engine room or fuel tanks. It had three decks totaling more
than 2-1/2 acres of surface. The Ark had a capacity equal to more than
500 standard American railroad freight cars! That was equivalent to 175
modern one-bedroom apartments! No ship of such size was again built
until the 19th century AD!

Building the Ark, then, was not a
simple undertaking. Considering that all the work was done without the
help of modern equipment, it must have taken Noah and his
sons–undoubtedly with the aid of hired laborers and craftsmen–decades
to build and outfit it with supplies. Some suspect it may have taken
the full 120 years that God had allotted mankind (compare Genesis 6:3).

Noah
also must have possessed considerable resources and wealth, as enormous
quantities of timber, building supplies and foodstuffs–plus labor–had
to be purchased or obtained by barter. Yet, his wealth shouldn’t
surprise us. God demonstrates time and again throughout the Bible how
He physically blessed those who humbly served Him, like Abraham,
Daniel, Job and Joseph whom God raised from prison to wealth and
rulership.

In addition to wealth and resources, Noah had to be an
engineer and an architect to direct the building of this enormous
vessel. He also had to employ thousands of servants–architects,
carpenters, craftsmen, contractors and sub-contractors (to use modern
terminology)–to fulfill all the details of this fantastic work! And
then, there was the task of collecting all the provisions for
sustaining them. Noah and his family may haven taken decades of
planning and preparation. All the zoological and botanical knowledge
necessary to carry this out took highly technical understanding and
information.

But could Noah get all those animals into the Ark;
that is, was the Ark big enough for all those animals? To quote from a
publication of the Worldwide Church of God, dated 1980, titled “In The
Beginning–Answers to Questions from Genesis”:

“God specifically
instructed Noah to select one pair of every ‘kind’ of unclean animal
and seven pairs of every ‘kind’ of clean animal. The Bible term ‘kind’
refers generally to a group of creatures, all of which interbreed. The
horse kind could be represented, therefore, by one pair of animals
having the genetic potential to produce after the flood all varieties
we have today. The same would be true also for dogs, cats, etc. Second,
only air-breathing, terrestrial animals were included in the Ark…
This excludes all sea creatures and simple forms of life which could
survive the deluge.
“… Only 40 percent of the animal kingdom lives on land, and 70
percent of all species of land animals are insects. The remaining 30
percent of the terrestrial animal kingdom are on a mean average the
size of a rhesus monkey [or a medium-sized dog]. Most animals can be
maintained in small confinement for long periods and remain healthy…
Estimates of the number of land mammal, bird, reptile, and amphibian
species on earth today total about 18,000.

“Recognizing that
only kinds, not species, were included, it would have been necessary to
have far fewer than 18,000 animals on the Ark… But let’s be liberal
and say 40,000 animals, whose average size is that of a rhesus monkey,
were on the Ark. How much room in the Ark would be needed for all these
animals? About 40 percent of the Ark’s 1.5 million cubic feet would
suffice! What about insects? Remember, the Ark had a storage capacity
of 500 freight cars. Two hundred cars would be occupied by mammals,
birds and reptiles. Giving every pair of known species of insects 16
cubic inches of space, another 21 such freight cars would be
required… [When] viewed from the perspective of simple arithmetic,
only about half of the space on the three decks would have provided
plenty of room to accommodate all those animals. That left the other
half of the ship for food and supplies and for Noah and his family.”

There
are no valid reasons to doubt the accuracy of the Biblical account
about Noah’s Ark and the Flood. We should take note of the fact that
Jesus Christ Himself confirmed its HISTORICAL accuracy. We read, for
example, in Matthew 24:37-39: “But as the days of Noah were, so also
will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days of Noah before
the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in
marriage, until the day THAT NOAH ENTERED THE ARK, and did not know
until the FLOOD CAME and took them all away, so also will the coming of
the Son of Man be.”

The early apostles accepted the account of
Noah’s Ark as HISTORICAL FACT. Paul wrote in Hebrews 11:7: “By faith
Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly
fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he
condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is
according to faith.”

Neither did Peter doubt the historical
accuracy of Noah’s Ark. He spoke about the “days of Noah” in 1 Peter
3:20, “while the ARK was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight
souls, were saved through water.”

Today, many who profess to be
“Christians,” neither believe in the historical accuracy of “Noah’s
Ark,” nor in the return–or Second Coming–of Jesus Christ to this
earth. Peter warned of such ignorance and denial of God’s Word, which
will have serious consequences for those who are guilty of it. He wrote
in 2 Peter 3:3-7: “… scoffers will come in the last days, walking
according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His
coming?… for they willfully forget: that by the word of God the
heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the
water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded
with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by
the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and
perdition of ungodly men.”

Lead Writers: Norbert Link and Bill Grams