This article is from
Creation 45(1):22–26, January 2023

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Five things you may not know about Noah

by & Philip Robinson

ID 54216103© Inara Prusakova| Dreamstime.comNoah

The account of Noah’s Ark and the global Flood is one of the best-known portions of the Bible. It has inspired films and documentaries, as well as numerous pieces of artwork on coins, tapestries, mosaics, and canvasses.

The Flood was the second global judgment for sin. The first was the Curse in Genesis 3, which was universal in scope (Romans 8:22). Due to the continuously evil actions of mankind in Noah’s time, in Genesis 6 God said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land” (verse 7). That would have been the end of mankind, if not for a special exception: “Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord” (verse 8). We read on: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God” (verse 9). Hebrews 11 says that Noah, “became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (verse 7).

God commanded Noah to build an Ark that would be used to save his family, and at least two of every kind of air-breathing, land-dwelling animal and bird. Noah carried out God’s instructions to the letter. The shape, size, and layout of the Ark were all specifically included in God’s command to Noah (see ‘What did Noah’s Ark look like?’, p.26). Noah did not have to collect any animals. Instead, God brought suitable representatives of the animals to Noah, before He closed the door of the Ark (Genesis 6:20, 7:16). There is more to Noah’s history than first meets the eye. Many of the events of his lifetime, some 4,500 years ago, hold the key to how we make sense of the world today.

© Adogslifephoto | Dreamstime.com © Dragoneye | Dreamstime.com
© Meinzahn | Dreamstime.com

1. Noah took no tigers or zebras

The animals that God brought to Noah had one job to complete when they exited the Ark. They were to reproduce and fill the earth. Species that we see now, such as tigers, zebras, and polar bears, were likely not on the Ark. Rather, creatures representing the cat, horse, and bear kinds were among the passengers. These are what Noah would have observed boarding the Ark. God chose which particular animals were to board, and the ones He chose would have had a high genetic potential. That is, they had many alternative forms (alleles) of genes, or high heterozygosity. Their descendants would have expressed many different combinations of their ancestors’ genes, and so would have been able to adapt to a wide range of environments. This has led to great variety among animals we now recognize, both within and between the biblical kinds. Also, the isolation of small population groups by, for example, a mountain range would have caused rapid diversification, as even evolutionists recognize (called allopatric speciation).

The area of study that looks at identifying the original biblical kinds is called baraminology: from Hebrew bara (created) and min (kind). There is, however, a limit to the wide variation within each created kind. Cats (felids) will always be cats, whether lions, tigers, or domestic cats.1 And horses (equids) will always be horses, including those we call zebras and donkeys.2 As specific traits come to the fore in successive generations within each kind (aided by natural selection, or selection by humans) it comes at a genetic cost. The total amount of genetic information is being diminished in the daughter populations, since information in the lines which die out (or in the case of breeding, ignored) does not get passed on. Some of that information is thus lost in that entire line. This is why, for example, a dog of a ‘pure’ breed that is very small, unlike its wolf ancestor, is no longer capable of giving rise to very large dogs. As successive generations were ‘selected’ for small size, genes for ‘largeness’ were selected against and are no longer in that line. Hence a ‘mongrel’ dog carries more variety in its genes than a ‘pure’ breed, and so can give rise to a wider variety of offspring.

2. Noah saw dinosaurs

Among the animals sent to Noah were dinosaurs. And also flying reptiles (pterosaurs), such as Pteranodon and Pterodactylus. The evolutionary story claims that such creatures lived many millions of years ago and became extinct long before there were people. However, the Bible teaches that all living things were created during Creation Week, just over 6,000 years ago. And since these now-extinct reptiles were air-breathing, land-dwelling vertebrates, they were definitely on the Ark’s passenger list.

Reptiles, like birds, hatch from eggs and so all dinosaurs started small, irrespective of their eventual size. God would have likely sent juveniles of the very large varieties, a year or more before they underwent their adolescent rapid growth spurt.3 Like countless billions of other creatures outside the Ark, the fossils of dinosaurs, often in huge graveyards, are found in layers of sedimentary rock laid down by the Flood.

3. Noah is our most recent common (male) ancestor

The Bible clearly teaches that we are all offspring of Adam and Eve (e.g., Acts 17:26; Genesis 3:20). This doctrine is foundational to the Gospel. Only descendants of Adam can be saved (Hebrews 2:14).4

The Y chromosome (the male sex chromosome), being only inherited through the male line, can be traced back to one male ancestor. Secular scientists, though they mostly do not believe in the biblical Adam, even named this man ‘Y-chromosome Adam’. The finding does not require that there were no other males at that time, only that he be the ancestor of all males today. It is, however, utterly consistent with the biblical account, so it does seem a rather fitting name. But we are even more closely related through the patriarch Noah. He and his family were the only human survivors of the global Flood that inundated the entire planet. His three sons and all men descended from them inherited Noah’s Y chromosome (Genesis 9:19). Therefore, an even better name would be ‘Y-chromosome Noah’, who himself was descended from Adam. This further underlines the fact that we are one big human family, no matter how distant the relationship between any two individuals worldwide might be.

© CMImorphology
Figure 1. The Bible teaches (ten times in Genesis 1) that organisms reproduce after their kind. Much variety, including new species, can arise within a kind. But since the variation possible is mostly limited to the genetic information originally present, one kind never changes into another different kind. The biblical ‘creationist forest’ fits the evidence better than an evolutionary tree of all living creatures evolving from a single-celled creature, which itself came from non-living chemicals. The Bible does not teach ‘fixity of species’, the straw man that Darwin often knocked down. The diagram here shows a pattern of diversification from the representatives of the original kinds aboard the Ark. Some diversification of this nature would have occurred between creation and the Flood.

4. Noah is the oldest ever known to become a father

Noah was very old when he fathered Japheth, Shem, and Ham: over 500 (Genesis 5:32). The fact that Noah had these sons after having been alive for over half a millennium is probably a major reason that human longevity (the old ages when the patriarchs died) started to plummet post-Flood (see ‘From Adam to Abraham’, p. 25).

Mutations (genetic copying errors) happen to all of us. When a mutation happens in a gamete (sperm or egg cell) it can be passed on to our offspring. Hence, any mutation in a gamete used at conception will be present in the new-born, and is able to be passed on to the gametes of succeeding generations.

Adam and Eve were created perfect, but as a result of the Fall, mutations in their DNA code started to occur, including in the gametes giving rise to the following generation. Once someone inherits a mutation, this damaged gene itself gets copied in succeeding generations, so new mutations are added to those already present. So, as the population increased, mutations would accumulate in successive generations, and still do today.

Importantly, the risk of new mutations increases with the age of the parent, especially in the case of the male. Sperm keep on being produced from cell division throughout a man’s lifetime (some 840 divisions by age 50), and the risk of mutation increases with each round of division. Therefore, fathering children at an older age means a greater risk of passing on mutations than for that same person having children at a younger age.5 The genetic information in Noah’s gametes would have had 500 years to be negatively impacted by mutation; much more than for any of the other biblical patriarchs.6

While Noah lived to a ripe old age of 950 years, roughly the same as those before him back to Adam, we see a decline in people’s ages after this. His son Shem lived to be 600 years old, after which the ages drop to around 400, then 200, then gradually stepping down to our own lifespan.7 This downward trend (following a mathematical decay pattern) is likely from the impact of the progressive accumulation of mutations.


5. Noah is a role model for today

Noah’s history leaves us with several practical applications for our own lives. Noah listened, trusted, acted, and saw the fulfilment of God’s Word. But he also used his time to tell others of the impending judgment. The time between God’s announcement of the coming Flood and it actually arriving was 120 years (Genesis 6:3). Noah did not only use this time to build the Ark, but he was “a herald of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). He preached to the people that they should enter the door and come into the Ark to be saved (cf. John 10:9). When it was time, God did not ask Noah to close the door of the Ark. God is the Judge of each life (Luke 12:4–7)—He solemnly ended the embarking period.

The fruits of Noah’s labour were disappointing; only he, his wife, and their three sons with their wives were spared—eight people in total (1 Peter 3:20). It’s a sobering reminder that when we share the truth with others, not many will accept it.

Nonetheless we too are called to be involved in spreading the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, and we have been given the Great Commission to carry out (Matthew 28:19–20). Spend your time wisely, dear Christian.

What did Noah’s Ark look like?


The Hebrew word used for the Ark of Noah is tebah (תבה) meaning box-shaped or chest. It is not the Hebrew term used for boat or ship, e.g. ’onîah (הינא) in Proverbs 30:19, or tsî (יצ) in Isaiah 33:21. The Bible is clear that it was to contain three levels within, and a window near (probably around) the top. The dimensions of the Ark were 300 cubits (about 138 m / 450 ft) long, 30 cubits (14 m / 45 ft) high, and 50 cubits (23 m / 75 ft) wide (Genesis 6:15–16). So the Ark’s volume would be about 44,400 m3 (1.57 million cubic feet)—the carrying capacity of 340 semi-trailers (articulated lorries).

Posted on homepage: 8 April 2024

References and notes.

  1. Tay, J., Liligers: A testimony to the created kind, Creation 40(2):12–14, 2018; creation.com/liliger. Return to text.
  2. Catchpoole, D., Zenkey, zonkey, zebra donkey! Creation 26(3):56, 2004; creation.com/zonkey. Return to text.
  3. Sarfati, J., How big were the dinosaurs, really? Creation 41(3):12–14, 2019; creation.com/dinosize. Return to text.
  4. By their blood relative, the Kinsman-Redeemer Jesus Christ (Isaiah 59:20; Luke 3:23–38). This is one reason we won’t find sentient life elsewhere in the universe. ‘Aliens’ not descended from Adam would also be cursed, for a sin from which they could not be saved. Return to text.
  5. Green, R.F., Association of paternal age and risk for major congenital anomalies from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, 1997 to 2004, Ann. Epidemiol. 20(3):241–249, 2010. Return to text.
  6. Sarfati, J., Why don’t we live as long as Methuselah? Creation 40(3):40–43, 2018; creation.com/methuselah. Return to text.
  7. Carter, R., The rapid decline in biblical lifespans: Mathematics tells us the numbers are not made up, creation.com/rapid-decline, 5 Oct 2021. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

The True Story of Noah's Ark
by Tom Dooley and (illustrator) Bill Looney
US $17.00
Hard cover