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Many animals don't require fresh or live food (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Many animals don't require fresh or live food (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 CH514.1:

Although a few animals have specialized food needs, such animals are rare, the needs are often exaggerated, and the specialized diets are not labor or space intensive. In short, the specialized dietary needs of animals do not prevent the voyage of Noah's ark from being feasible.

Source: Woodmorappe, John, 1996.Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study. Santee CA: ICR, pp. 111-117.

CreationWiki response:

Talk.Origins makes the mistake of applying limitations that exist today to the case of Noah's ark. (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Woodmorappe did not consider all animals with special needs. Just because some snakes can be coaxed to eat nonliving food, for example, does not mean all can.

Woodmorappe is being extremely generous here since most if not all of these special needs are at the species level, not genus or family. That is, by showing that some snakes today do not need the specialised diets, we can reasonably infer that the snake kind taken on the ark did not need the specialised diet. The fact that some species today that are descended from the kind on the ark need more specialised diets does not invalidate that point.

There are some recent discoveries in animal diets that have surprised many, such as the fact that grass and herbs make up a significant fraction of the mountain lion's diet, suggesting they may also be more generally adaptable than naysayers assume. Add to this that animals are known to be much more sensitive to natural disasters than humans, as we observed with the tsunami event in Asia, and as is common knowledge in many disaster-prone regions.

Most problematical, Woodmorappe did not consider terrestrial invertebrates, especially insects, which must have been on the ark. Many insects only eat a single species of plant. Keeping all the plants alive for a year would have taken considerable resources.

This Talk.Origins claim is based on several misconceptions.

  1. A misinterpretation of the Bible.
  2. Erroneously assuming the kind equals species and then forcing the limitation of specific species on whole kinds.
  3. Ignoring the fact that in the creation modern species are degenerated varieties of the original kinds as such their pre-Flood ancestors would not have had as many limitations.

There are new discoveries in genetics that suggest the genome of a living organism harbors structures and behaviors with much more variability and adaptability than has been assumed by biologists heretofore. This would mean insect species adapted to individual plant species can develop over years or decades through speciation from the original kinds.

2. Some animals' needs may be exaggerated, but Woodmorappe grossly exaggerated how easy it would be to deal with them. Many animals, such as the platypus, are difficult to keep alive during transport even in the best of conditions. Noah could give hardly any attention to individual animals and would have had to keep them in nigh intolerable conditions. Modern livestock shipping often results in high casualty rates, even though only domestic animals are shipped, and they are at sea only a few weeks.

Once again Talk.Origins is ignoring the fact that in the creation model species are degenerate varieties of the original kinds, and as such their pre-Flood ancestors may not have had their limitations. Furthermore, they are assuming that God left Noah, his family, and the animals to random forces, when in reality God would have provided them with protection and adaptation mechanisms to survive.

3. Woodmorappe noted that some animals can be fed artificial diets. He failed to note that the artificial diets were developed by the work of hundreds of researchers working over tens to hundreds of years. Noah would not have had that knowledge to draw upon.

Talk.Origins is simply assuming that Noah did not have that knowledge at his disposal, based entirely on evolutionary assumptions. Noah had two potential sources of such knowledge.

  1. Noah lived in a world were the average human life span was about 900 years, and even allowing 200 years for growth and education, that would still leave 700 years during which a scientist could do research. Pre-Flood man therefore may have had such knowledge, and it was lost following the Flood.
  2. Noah built the Ark on the instructions of none other that the Creator himself. Talk.Origins seems to be saying that God himself did not have such knowledge. There are engineers who have studied the specifications for the Ark in Genesis and have marvelled at its technology.

4. Some of Woodmorappe's solutions to feeding problems have problems of their own. He proposed feeding insectivores by breeding insects on grain in special compartments, and letting the insects escape into the cages of the insectivores through perforated pipes. Some of the escaping insects, however, would escape into the general grain stores, reducing a great deal of the food to waste before the voyage was over.

Once again Woodmorappe is simply showing that feeding insectivores live insects on the ark is possible. This is despite several pages where he shows that insectivores can and will eat more common food. As a result the above mechanism is just a case of if all else fails here is a possibility.

Furthermore, Talk.Origins is assuming no provision would be made to prevent their escape or to keep them out of food stores if they did.