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Feedback archive Feedback 2013

Noah did not take fish on the Ark!

First published: 16 July 2013 (GMT+10)
Re-featured on homepage: 23 July 2016 (GMT+10)

There are many basic misconceptions about the animals Noah took on the Ark. The ideas that there were fish on the Ark and that dinosaurs would have been too big for the Ark are two of the most persistent misconceptions. In today’s feedback Dr sets these and other misconceptions straight.

Don P. from the United States writes:

In the article “How did dinosaurs grow so big? And how did Noah fit them on the Ark?” by Jonathan Sarfati, it is stated that “Noah didn’t have to round up anything, because God sent the animals to him.”
While that may be true, it cannot account for all the animal species (or “kinds” if you prefer) of every type in existence on the planet or in the air and in the seas. Neither can the concept of a dinosaur egg account for the indigenous habits of every mammal, animal, bird, plant, microbe, etc. by a ratio of seven pair of “clean” (14) plus two pair of “unclean” (4) from all that existed on the planet.
Suspension of belief in the all the representatives of the oceans, lakes, and streams overcoming their sensitivities to normally lethal changes to environmental conditions to swim up the ancient Euphrates to the docks nearest the Ark is incredibly complex.
How did the many sessile species, from sponges and corals to anemones and barnacles, detach themselves and waddle through however brief a trip it may have been? A problem analogous to that of terrestrial arctic and desert dwellers would be the exotic inhabitants of the abyssal and hadal zones of the ocean depths.
To postulate only shallow seas before the deluge precludes the very existence of deep-sea dwellers. So too with the dinosaurs. To postulate 55 created kinds with lots of varieties within these kinds cannot account for their growth size nor the population sizes of such a vast number of species (kinds) within such a short period of time. Even if micro-evolution is conceded, it will not answer the “shallow seas” argument.
The assumption regarding what went into Noah’s Ark and what did not is couched in covenantal terms, (clean versus unclean) not scientific terms (kinds versus species). So any position on dinosaurs and the flood of Noah’s day is pure speculation at best. And I say that as one who believes firmly in God.

CMI’s Dr responds:

Dear Mr P.

Thanks for writing about my article.

All the same, you would do well to find out what we actually teach about the Ark cargo. The article in question was about dinosaurs; it was unreasonable to expect us to cover everything else about the Ark. But only land vertebrates needed to be rescued from the Flood, as we point out in our core resource, Creation Answers Book: Chapter 13: How did the animals fit on Noah’s Ark?

Also, where on earth do you get the idea of “dinosaur eggs”? The whole point of the article was to show that dinosaurs could have been taken a year before they began their growth spurt. Further, further information came to light after I wrote that article which reinforces my points. That is, many dinosaur genera are really juveniles of other known genera Dino ‘puberty blues’ for paleontologists. See also Trilobites on the Ark? that refutes misrepresentations by a long-ager about the Ark passengers among many others.

Who said anything about the seas all being shallow? Seems like you have invented your own straw men to knock down. Another one was ‘micro-evolution’. Another straw man is presupposing that the Ark was in the land we now call the Middle East, overlooking the drastic continental reshaping in the Flood.

OK, you believe firmly in God, but compare James 2:19. We are not about any vague god, but the Triune God of the Bible. And note that Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, affirmed a ‘young’ earth and the global Flood.

Re “speculation”: the point is the “ministerial” use of science to build models based on the clear biblical teaching of a global Flood and Ark which rescued all the kinds of land vertebrates. The “magisterial” use of science imposes ideas like uniformitarianism and evolutionism upon the Scripture to undermine its clear teaching. See Flood models and biblical realism for more information.


Jonathan Sarfati

Helpful Resources

Readers’ comments

robert R.
After the roughness of the seas died down and it started to recede [maybe the last 6 months] I wonder if Noah and his sons hung any fishing lines off the side. Seals and other fish eaters you see at SeaWorld tend to eat a lot of fish to stay healthy and alive. They don’t hibernate, and there was no aquarium on board (maybe?) to gather food from. Straw and grass eaters had a decent store though.
Jonathan Sarfati
It’s possible, but not necessary. The book Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study (see resource list) has a section on piscivores in ch. 12. For example, some fish can aestivate, or stay dormant in a cocoon in mud if the water is drying up. In any case, most of the piscivores are marine creatures not required on board the Ark. Further, even land piscivores can eat alternatives, such as trout and poultry pellets.
Mike A.
Dr Sarfati,
Thank you once again for faithfully defending the Scriptures.

I continue to find it fascinating that people continue to hold to the misconception that ‘species’ and ‘kinds’ are the same thing. In terms of the ability to reproduce it certainly seems like the taxonomy put forth in textbooks is woefully inadequate and it seems time and time again that scientists struggle to clearly define exactly what a species is. I have found that moving up the taxonomy into the area of order or family and considering everything farther down as the variation within a kind makes so much more sense when you look at the diversity of life. That God made everything according to its kind seems undeniable from a scientific perspective.

Thank you again for your teachings and I will continue to learn from you as long as you put forth information.
James K.
Characins, cichlids, and callicthys are well known freshwater fish kinds, but in each of these families we find brackish water variants. Search, Pristella tetra, Callicthys callicthys, and Heros severus. Each of these species occur in coastal estuarine habitats which have a salinity of at least 10% that of seawater. Noah’s flood would have caused profound mixing of water chemistry (fresh water from underground reservoirs/springs “fountains of the great deep”, and sea water and lakes/rivers). The resulting flood waters would have no doubt been brackish with fluctuating levels of salinity. Overtime speciation would have resulted in the loss of salinity tolerance in many species within these originally hardy kinds, and similarly to how one can't breed a chihuahua back into a wolf, no amount of selective breeding could breed salt tolerance back into extreme soft water breeds. However in just a few generations breeders have successfully adapted Symphysodon aquiefasciatus to hard water with neutral pH so I guess it really depends on the degree of variability in the genome of a particular species.
Jonathan Sarfati
I discuss cichlid sympatric speciation, as well as the issue of salt and freshwater fish, including haloclines, in my Genesis 1–11 commentary The Genesis Account.
Richard L.
Dear Don,

In what you write is evidence that you are an intelligent, well-informed brother in Christ.

How then can you write especially paragraphs 3 and 4, but also paragraphs 2 and 5?

(gently said:) You make a glaring mistake—one a bible-reading 7-year-old can quickly spot—when you talk about the difficulties of sea-life migrating toward the ark.

That concept is nowhere in the bible. Please—first of all—read the **actual bible text**; read all the details in it in Chapters 6–9 of Genesis.

Almost all of your misconceptions will then instantly clear up. The designated animals in the ark were NOSTRIL-breathing (Gen. 7:22) land-based creatures—all that would otherwise drown in the flood (Genesis 7:21–24).

Thus, discussion of a sea-life toward-ark migration is a total misconception and unintentional caricature. Please adjust your thinking, dear brother. And take a mental load off.

And embrace all the details that our sovereign God wills to include in the precious biblical text. The God of precious covenants—who is faithful and reliable to keep them—is also the God who is faithful and reliable to be true to all the details that he provides in His Bible.

(To think otherwise is to personally insult and hurt the Holy Spirit—fully God—who practiced perfect quality control when he wrote all of the bible. I'm sure you don't want to do that. [Please don't follow wayward Peter Enns and his very wrong hermeneutic. Instead, please look the Holy Spirit in the eyes and find out what hermeneutic pleases him.])

Please note all biblical details and ask all interpretive questions of all those details. First of all, please do proper inductive bible study of the related bible text; only after that, engage in thinking and discussion. Thank you.
Paul O.
If there were no fish on the Ark, then where did all the fish come from that we see today? The flood would have killed all the marine life on the planet, because it mixed all the salt and fresh water, dramatically changing the pH of the water—killing salt water and fresh water organisms (not just fish).
Jonathan Sarfati
One of our feedback rules states that you must search our site before posting. Clearly you did not do so. For in a previous feedback, Refuting Noah’s ark critics, I had dealt with this old canard. Also, the book cited in that article, Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study, has a chapter “How organisms outside the Ark survived the Flood … in the Floodwaters, which were tolerable”.

Also, you might need to learn some basic chemistry, since pH concerns acidity/alkalinity, and is distinct from salinity, or if you want something more technical, ionic strength.
Brad C.
It's amazing what some people will argue about. Thank you CMI for all of the amazing articles you have written / published on your site.
P. T.
Thank you Jonathan, a great, concise response as usual. It's interesting how “challenges” to Bible truth invariably take us back to Genesis. I had one put to me today about supposed monkey behaviour in gypsies in Slovenia (so I was told). When their supposed monkey behaviour was described variously as destructive/chaotic, I questioned my friend about defining “monkey behaviour” and why we view it as destructive when humans do it—and ultimately the conversation led back to Genesis 3—so my friend in the end read Gen 3 about SIN (sadly not my favourite translation) and now has facts to meditate on. Thanks to CMI, I can answer my skeptic friends. Keep up your fantastic work that's helping all of us—even those getting up to monkey-business!
King T.
One only has to compare gen. 6 verse 7 to Zephaniah 1 verses 2 and 3 to see that God is very precise in what he says. For the flood, there were no fish but for the final destruction of the earth, everything is included. No mistake.

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