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How innocent are ‘bathtub arks’?

From T.M.. His letter is printed first in its entirety. His letter is printed again, with point-by-point responses by Dr Jonathan Sarfati, interspersed as per normal e-mail fashion.



Visit our Q&A page on Noah’s Ark!
I am a long time supporter of [your ministry] and believe in your mission and work. First I’d like to suggest that your Answer Update (editors Zordel & King) have an email address on it so that letters to the editor can be sent. You should also be willing to print letters to the editor. This gives the publication credibility. Please pass this to the editors.

I just read [your] article ‘The bathtub ark’ and must say that [you] should lighten up some. [Your ministry] suggests that ‘in a sense, it is reinforcing what the world is claiming: that Noah’s Ark is just a story’. I strongly disagree. A first grader is not capable of understanding the complexities of the origins issue. We teach them through Bible stories, lots of Bible stories. I submit that the ‘bathtub ark’ does exactly the opposite of that which you suggest. A six-year old understands that God destroyed the world and a God-fearing man named Noah took the animals with him to keep them safe. What a great story told by thousands of Sunday School teachers every week … no scale-models, no meteorological studies of atmospheric conditions, no theological discussions … just Noah doing what God asked through the eyes of a child.

Then two pages later you offer books for sale for children! Perhaps we should just give them all Morris’ book The Genesis Flood

Don’t misunderstand my comments. I love your work and support you in many ways. But to all the volunteers that teach our children and Children’s Directors in our churches, you owe them an apology.

One of the problems with [your] ministry is a paranoia that everything in life is an attack on the book of Genesis and our believe system. It simply isn’t true. To imply that ‘bathtub arks’ is some scheme designed to lead our children astray is absurd. Give me a break.

T.M.

Cute ark with Don't graphic
Lobster eye diagram
Top: Don’t use this cute Ark (by Dan Lietha)
Bottom: Realistic picture of animals (including dinosaurs!) entering Ark (by Steve Cardno).
I am a long time supporter of [your ministry] and believe in your mission and work.

Thank you for your support over the years. Humanly speaking, this is what makes our work possible.

First I’d like to suggest that your Answer Update (editors Zordel & King) have an email address on it so that letters to the editor can be sent. You should also be willing to print letters to the editor. This gives the publication credibility. Please pass this to the editors.

Sorry, but the Answers Update is pressed for space and designed to inform our supporters. We do have a letters to the editor section in Creation magazine and our website also has a feedback section.

I just read [your] article ‘The bathtub ark’ and must say that AIG should lighten up some. [Your minstry] suggests that ‘in a sense, it is reinforcing what the world is claiming: that Noah’s Ark is just a story’. I strongly disagree. A first grader is not capable of understanding the complexities of the origins issue. We teach them through Bible stories, lots of Bible stories.

But sir, as we often point out, this is exactly the problem — we teach just ‘Bible stories’. But they go to public schools and hear fairy stories and Greek mythology and see the Bible as part of the same. More importantly, in ‘science’ they hear about millions of years and evolution. Instead, we should be teaching the Bible as history and give kids answers. The proof of the pudding is simply in the number of kids from Christian homes who go to public schools and apostatize soon after they start adulthood.

I submit that the ‘bathtub ark’ does exactly the opposite of that which you suggest. A six-year old understands that God destroyed the world and a God-fearing man named Noah took the animals with him to keep them safe. What a great story told by thousands of Sunday School teachers every week … no scale-models, no meteorological studies of atmospheric conditions, no theological discussions … just Noah doing what God asked through the eyes of a child.

And the eyes of the child impress upon the brain of same child that there’s no way that the Ark could have taken all the animals on board. I’m not sure what interactions that you’ve had, but we often encounter people who simply claim that the Ark could never have fit all the animals on board, but when we ask ‘How big was the Ark?’ and ‘How many animals would have been required?’ they have no idea! So we reply, ‘So an unknown-sized Ark could not have held an unknown number of animals? How do you know?’ We have a number of intelligent, well educated speakers out on the road in contact with many thousands of Christians — all of them have become convinced that this image and the residue in people’s minds has had a powerful effect in making the whole Genesis account seem ‘fairytalish’.

Then two pages later you offer books for sale for children! Perhaps we should just give them all Morris’ book The Genesis Flood.
Comparison of stability of cute v real Arks
Comparison of stability of cute v real Arks (by Dan Lietha).

This is facetious. Why not give them the Answers for Kids article from Creation magazine about the Ark which explains the Ark’s huge size in simple language and clear illustrations such as those on the right? It’s also important to show dinosaurs on the Ark, another feature conspicuously absent in the cute arks, otherwise kids are more likely to swallow the secular myth that dinosaurs died out millions of years before people arrived on the scene. We also find that our scale model of the Ark (built by Rod Walsh) is a huge hit with kids, including grown-up ones ; ). There are ways to use children’s language and imagery while still ensuring it does not perpetuate fallacy. Take, for instance, Ken & Mally Ham’s book A is for Adam which uses cartoon-type illustrations. Our objection is not to cartoon imagery per se.

Don’t misunderstand my comments. I love your work and support you in many ways.

Thanx, we appreciate it. Hope you don’t misunderstand our position following these explanatory comments.

But to all the volunteers that teach our children and Children's Directors in our churches, you owe them an apology.

I would not have thought so, since all we are doing is making it clear that when one thinks through the implications of one’s teaching, one should be using different imagery. The criticism is well-intentioned, as I am sure are the people who have been using that Ark illustration. We believe it is crucial to teach the Ark account as history (using imagery appropriate for age, as with the book mentioned earlier) and with realistic Ark sizing. In our experience, once most of these realise the problems, they are happy to change their illustrations.

One of the problems with the [your] ministry is a paranoia that everything in life is an attack on the book of Genesis and our believe system. It simply isn't true.

I regret the somewhat intemperate language like ‘paranoia’. That has never been our position. We are a specialist ministry, however, and have clear evidence that many problems in society have their roots in a faulty view of origins, leading to the belief that there is no Creator to whom we must give an account. By pointing out the problem with the bathtub Ark images, we did not imply that they were deliberate schemes or similar. I am sure that it is quite unintentional — we tend to perpetuate what our culture has handed on to us.

To imply that ‘bathtub arks’ is some scheme designed to lead our children astray is absurd. Give me a break.

See above. I respectfully fail to see how our article could be reasonably inferred to be an accusation of deliberately leading kids astray. I hope this explains our position.

T.M.

(Dr) Jonathan Sarfati
Scientist, author, speaker and apologist
Creation Ministries International (Australia [now USA])


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