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Crew could feed and care for animals (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Crew could feed and care for animals (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CH514:

The eight-person crew aboard Noah's ark was sufficient to feed and care for all the animals.

Source: Woodmorappe, John, 1996. Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study. Santee, CA: ICR, pp. 71-81.

CreationWiki response:

Please note that Talk Origins has reduced an entire 11-page chapter to a single sentence. All of Woodmorappe's reasons for the conclusion are lost. (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Three hundred and twenty full-time employees are needed to care for fewer than 3000 animals at the Washington National Zoo (Grimaldi and Barker 2003). Granted, many of these would be working on administration and visitor concerns that would not have existed on the ark. Still, assuming that only a quarter of them cared for animals, that is still eighty people to care for 3000 animals. On the ark, there were eight people to tend more than 15,000 animals (assuming Noah's crew were not needed to do maintenance and bail water). They would have had to work more than fifty times harder than professional zookeepers. Double shifts are not enough to make up the difference.

Accepting Woodmorappe's number of 15,754 animals aboard the ark, and assuming the crew attended to them sixteen hours per day (a very generous assumption), each animal would receive an average of about thirty seconds of attention per day for all its needs.

This is an over-simplification of the situation. The ark was designed for a totally different purpose than a zoo. On the ark all that was needed was to keep the animals alive and healthy enough to repopulate the Earth; zoos need to keep the animals looking presentable to visitors as well as keeping them alive and healthy. So zoo care would be much more labor-intensive. Furthermore, zoos have more space per animal than the ark. This is significant.

Talk Origins is assuming that all the labor had to be done by humans. They totally ignore animal labor. They are also ignoring the fact that some tasks could be done on multiple animals at the same time. Most modern assembly lines could probably be claimed as impossible if one ignored similar factors.

2. Labor-saving mechanisms proposed by Woodmorappe are unrealistic. For example:

Actually Talk Origins is making them seem unrealistic by ignoring important factors, including the fact that Woodmorappe was deliberately making assumptions that made it harder.

  • Watering many animals at once via troughs would not work on a ship. Most of the water would slosh out as the ark rolled with the waves.

It needs to be noted that Woodmorappe was just suggesting general concepts, not detailed plans. Talk Origins is also ignoring the fact that the troughs could have been designed to help prevent spillage. Another possibility is that the animals drank directly from pipes in a manner similar to a water bottle.

  • Automatic feeders would allow pests to infest the food. Animals with automatic feeders would probably eat more and waste more food, too, increasing the amount of food that must be stored. Woodmorappe did not account for the extra space required.

As is typical, Talk Origins leaves God out of the equation. God could have controlled pests and kept the animals from wasting food and overeating. This assumes that Noah made inadequate provision to prevent these "problems" himself. Remember, Woodmorappe was suggesting general concepts, not detailed plans.

  • At least one third, and probably two thirds, of the manure could not be disposed of by simply pushing it overboard, since it would be below the water line. The manure would have to be carried up a deck or two.

Once again Talk Origins is ignoring the use of animal labor, as well as possible lifting mechanisms for manure.

3. Woodmorappe did not consider some time-consuming tasks:

And Talk Origins is exaggerating both "problems" and ignoring possible solutions. In particular they are ignoring God, which is typical of their arguments.

  • The ark itself must be maintained. It would be a miracle if bailing alone were less than a full-time job.

Again, Talk Origins is ignoring God. The Bible says God kept the clothing of the Israelites from wearing out during their 40-year trek through the wilderness, so God keeping the Ark from deteriorating or leaking would not be a problem.

Furthermore, Woodmorappe does not ignore this "problem"—he deals with it elsewhere in the book. Talk Origins seems ignorant of the fact that a properly constructed wooden ship can go years without major maintenance.

They are also assuming that leaking is inevitable and a major concern. The Bible says the Ark had a layer of waterproofing material on both the outside and inside, and leaks can be prevented by proper construction. Engineers have also studied the design of the Ark in detail and say that it is built in a way to specifically handle the tossing and turning of high waves.

One possibility would be to have two or more layers of planks, with the same waterproofing material between them. This would go a long way to preventing leaks and bending.

  • All of the hoofed animals would need to have their hooves trimmed several times during the year.

How many of the estimated 16000 animals would have hooves? This would not be an overwhelming problem, particularly if—as would be likely—these animals were used for labor, or taken for walks. Furthermore, as always Talk Origins is ignoring God. He could have halted the growth of the hooves if that were needed.

There are other issues too numerous too list. Especially the larger animals could have been juveniles.