Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Impossible Voyage

The National Center for Science Education has a thorough and fascinating analysis demolition of the story of the voyage of Noah's ark as expounded by modern creationists at The Impossible Voyage of Noah's Ark. There's some interesting stuff about the real state of shipbuilding techniques at the time of Noah, not to mention the inherent challenges of designing a vessel to cope with all those animals.

Before any of my British friends scoff at the need for such an elaborate effort to prove that the beautiful and inspiring myth of Noah's ark is exactly that, a myth, please reflect that 40 percent of Americans still believe that humans were created by God within the last 10,000 years, and that in Kentucky the state is backing the building of a $150 million creationist theme park which, among other things, will teach visitors that men and dinosaurs existed at the same time, and that unicorns were real.

There's a battle for the minds of the next generation going on out there people... and I'm not sure who is winning.


O Docker said...

Well, here's some real science that tends to support the creationists' theories.

Andrew Burton said...

I think your 40% figure is a little high. Our countrymen aren't quite that dumb. of course they did elect Obama.

Tillerman said...

Thank you O Docker and Andrew for finding two excellent opportunities to continue the fine tradition of diverting the theme of a comments thread away from the subject of the original post.

O Docker is, of course, the world champion of this art and I would be quite happy to pursue the discussion of the history of human brain size and its relevance to human intelligence, especially in the context of America's Cup management.

Andrew, I don't think 40% of Americans are dumb and I never said that. But 50% of them do have below average IQ.

Now, back to the original topic of prehistoric naval architecture and what to do with 25,000 tons of animal poop...

JP said...

I can forgive much of a country that has given the world Cheers, Fraser, The American Office and the paint-ball episode of Community.

O Docker said...

I'm sorry, but I still feel my comment was uncharacteristically (for me) on point.

If I'm reading it correctly, this post is about a scientific analysis (or demolition) of a theory held and defended by creationists. You continue by mentioning other beliefs held by creationists.

I site a reference to an article in a respected journal which applies scientific analysis to a phenomenon which might well explain why creationists hold the beliefs and theories that they do.

This is the very model of a modern blogger's comment.

Zen said...

Are you saying there are no unicorns?!

Next you will blasphemy Santa Claus!

As far as 25,000lbs o poop, dump over board, they had no 3 mile laws back in the day!

As for Andrew, yes 40% - 60% they did elect Bush for two terms!

America's cup, don't even go there!

However there is a proof it is a myth. Who in there right mind would save mosquitoes!???

Tillerman said...

Nice try O Docker but I refuse to be drawn into a discussion on the size of creationists' brains whatever references you site (sic).

Tillerman said...

Good idea Zen. But it was 25,000 tons of animal poop, not 25,000 lbs. I'm sure that Ham, Shem and Japheth loved their Dad but that's a helluva lot of shit to shovel overboard even to please their Dad. I wonder if they had one of those electric heads that Pat the desert sailor likes?

Tillerman said...

Thanks to Chris Partridge of Rowing for Pleasure (best rowing blog on the planet according to authoritative sources) for an excellent post on Noah's Ark in which he discusses a certain practical difficulty in building a wooden boat 450ft long by 75ft beam.

Clearly Chris is one of those old school bloggers who believes in writing comments and follow-up posts that actually remain on topic. O Docker, please note.

Anonymous said...

You know why Noah didn't do much
fishing from the Ark? He only had two worms.

Tillerman said...

Anonymous - There weren't any worms at all on the Ark because worms come in apples not in pairs.

Joe said...

Can you imagine 2 of every species on the face of the earth in that ark thingy? What about the fish? They got off easy by my account. No need to queue up and have their passports stamped, It just proves that God loves the water.

Pandabonium said...

And then there is the question of plants, fungi, etc... not to mention hermaphrodite animals which are neither male or female... or species that change from one sex to another during their lifetime...

I prefer the term ignorance to stupidity in this case, though it's hard to make excuses for ignorance at this late date.

Tillerman said...

I am pleased to see that some of my readers are following the long-standing tradition of rushing to comment before reading the full contents of the item on which they are commenting. This one was a little long so you are doubly excused.

The status of fish (and other marine animals) and the Ark is an interesting issue. The author of Genesis is a little ambiguous on what happened to the fish. But the author of the NCSE paper does discuss the topic (around page 9.) Briefly, he argues that the salinity of the oceans would have been substantially affected by the flood; and that "there are actually many aquatic regimes and many specialized inhabitants in each. Some fish live only in cold, clear mountain lakes; others in brackish swamps. Some depend on splashing, rocky, oxygen-rich creeks, while others, such as a freshwater dolphin, a manatee, and a thirteen-foot catfish, live only in the sluggish Amazon. In all these instances plus many more, the environment provided by the deluge waters would have no more suited these creatures than it would have the desert tortoise or the polar bear."

But wait. It gets worse. "According to creationists, the deluge, in one year's time, deposited nearly all of the sedimentary rocks present in the world today." Our author then does some rough calculations on how much mud and sand and rock etc. must have been mixed in the oceans and comes up with a ratio of roughly 2 parts water to 1 part rock. Not exactly the kind of slurry in which most fish can survive.

So it seems that Noah would have needed to rescue all the marine animals too, including all the fish, and manage a massive aquarium of all the different aquatic environments on his voyage. All so that we can enjoy oysters and lobster and grilled sea bass today. Praise to the Lord!

O Docker said...

I sense that 2011 is going to be a challenging year for blog commenters.

Not only are we being tasked with staying on subject, but we're being held accountable for having read all sighted text.

Uh, I mean all sited text.

No wait, should that be all cited text?

Oh, whatever. In this age of texting and tweets, what does diction or grammar matter any more?

The problem is I've been writing off-topic comments for so long, I don't know if this comment is on point ot not.

And Panda, you'd better shape up. The question of indeterminant sexuality was discussed on pages 19-20.

And it will be on the test.

Andrew Burton said...

You see what happens when you inject religion AND politics into a sailing blog?
Two weeks before I can dust off the Laser and join the Newport frostbiters. can't wait for a sailing fix.

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