The Genesis Flood – Part 2

By Philip Robinson

In the first article we established that the Bible clearly teaches that the Flood described in Genesis 6-9 was a global, worldwide, catastrophic event. In this second article we will deal with some of the questions which naturally arise about such an event.

How big was the Ark?

It is unfortunate that when the story of the flood is presented to children for the first time in Sunday school the Ark is sometimes pictured like some kind of bathtub boat barely able to squeeze a few animals on, with a giraffe’s head sticking out of a window somewhere. But we have to realise that the Ark was a massive vessel. It was 140 metres long, 23 metres high and 14 metres wide with a volume of 43,000 cubic metres spread out over three decks. To use a modern day comparison, the Ark could have held over 500 standard steel box containers (2.5m ´ 2.5m ´ 12m) used in shipping today. It would have been able to hold up to 125,000 sheep sized animals.

Just how many animals did Noah take on board?

Noah was told (Gen. 6:20-21) that he was to take on board every kind of bird and every creature that moves along the ground and every kind of food for both the animals and his family to eat. When people they hear this then often ask, well surely that mean that Noah had to take millions of animals onto the ark? On the face of it this seems like a logical question as there are millions of different species today. However the Biblical kind was a much broader definition than today’s species. For example, there was more than likely only one original ‘dog kind’, from which all the various dogs that we have today descended. Even an evolutionist would agree with this, although they would disagree with the Biblical time frame, that all Canis familiari (domestic dogs), from a Great Dane to a Chihuahua and all the variations in between, have descended from and are only a sub-species of Canis lupus, a wolf ancestor, and can still freely interbreed today. For example when a wolf and a poodle mate they produce a woodle. We have here a case of dogs producing dogs within the large genetic potential that God gave them at their creation. The same principle applies to the other animals, so that there would originally have been only one cat kind, or horse kind, etc. In Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study, John Woodamorappe estimated that there would have needed to be only 16,000 animals in the Ark to represent all the different kinds of animals that we know about today. We should also mention here that represented in this 16,000 animals there would have been all the various kinds of Dinosaurs. Yes, even the big ones! While most people have in their mind the bigger dinosaurs such as Brachiosaurus or Tyrannosaurus Rex due to their impressive stature, we must realise that the average size of a dinosaur was only that of a sheep, and even then the bigger ones came from eggs which would have been no bigger than a football, meaning they were once quite small. So when born, and up to their teens, when they hit a massive growth spurt, even the big dinosaurs would have been more than manageable. We should also note that Noah did not need to spend his 120 years going round the land setting up traps to capture these animals, but rather God brought the animals to Noah (Gen 6:20).

Is there any evidence then that a worldwide flood did take place?

Even just by calling it what it was in those words we would expect there to be evidence: a worldwide flood would be no gentle affair! The Bible tells us that the springs of the great deep burst forth indicating massive volcanic and tectonic activity, and that the heavens were opened raining for forty days and nights (Gen 7:11-12). We would expect this event, which wiped out all of mankind except for those on the Ark, to have been remembered in two ways. First in the memory of man, as such an important event would have been passed down for generations to come. Indeed this is what we find; people groups all over the world have retained this piece of history, from places ranging as far as Hawaii (where the legend of Nu-u who made a great canoe with a house on it and filled it with animals and then waters came and filled the earth killing all the people and animals who weren’t on it), to the Toltec Indians of Ancient Mexico, the Aborigines of Australia, and the Babylonian tale in the Epic of Gilgamesh. There are hundreds of similar stories all over the earth. All of these people groups retained a memory of the flood, with the historical account from which they derive being found in Genesis 6-9.

The second way this event would be remembered is by the earth itself, as such an event as the flood would surely leave its mark. If such a flood happened we would expect to find billions of dead things, buried in rock layers laid down by water, all over the earth. And this is exactly what we find, in fact approximately 75% of the continental surface is composed of sedimentary rock, mostly laid down by water with billions of fossils of plants and animals. We find a massive watery graveyard reminding us of the judgement of God on man’s wickedness! The fossils themselves which we find in the rocks speak of catastrophic and rapid burial. For example we know of thousands of soft bodied fossils such as Jellyfish which could not have been buried slowly as they would not have endured such a process, and there are many phenomenal examples which speak of rapid burial such as fish that have been caught in a freeze-frame buried by sediment while eating another fish. We find evidence of this watery catastrophe in the form of fossils from the top of Mount Everest down to the ocean floor.

How did the animals get all over the earth after the flood?

Many animals would have needed to have travelled many thousands of miles to get to their current position from the Mountains of Ararat that the Ark landed upon; however, many centuries have passed since that time. Perhaps by looking at an animal that most people would not consider to be fast moving might help to give an explanation. 3,000 Cane Toads were introduced to Northern Queensland in 1935 in an attempt to control the Cane Beatle. Since that time they have rapidly multiplied and there is now thought to be over 200 million Cane Toads in Australia migrating over 2,000 km from their initial position. All this has occurred in under 80 years since having been introduced to Australia showing that such long migrations of slow moving animals in a relatively short period is possible, never mind the centuries they have had since the time of Noah.

After the flood, as the animals moved away from the Ark in successive population waves they would have they would have settled into various ecological niches. Animals could have covered these great distances over successive generations, or the process could have been speeded up by humans taking animals with them as they dispersed over the earth after the Tower of Babel incident. At this time, the ice age, a direct consequence of the flood, would have meant lower sea levels and the appearance of land bridges, across, for example, the Bering Strait, would have provided passage between the continents.

In the case of animals getting across to islands, The Creation Answers Book1 provides some clues from the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. “The Island remained lifeless for some years, but was eventually recolonized by a surprising variety of creatures, including not only insects and earthworms, but birds, lizards, snakes, and even a few mammals. One would not have expected some of this surprising array of creatures to have crossed the ocean, but they obviously did. Even though these were mostly smaller creatures….It illustrates the limits of our imaginings on such things.”


In this short article we have attempted to cover some of the most asked, fascinating questions that can be raised when considering the historical event of the flood in the time of Noah described to us in Genesis 6-9 to show that there are solid answers that can be given to an enquiring world. If you are interested in learning more about this topic we recommend the Creation Answers Book.

Reference 1   D. Catchpoole, J. Sarfati and C. Wieland, The Creation Answers Book, Creation Book Publishers; First edition (Jan 2007).