Counting Kinds

on March 13, 2014; last featured March 14, 2014

How could Noah have fit all those animals into his big ship? How could only he and seven other people have cared for them?

The most-recent research indicates that Noah only needed maybe 2,000-3,000 animals.
Two questions that are often asked about Noah’s Ark are: how could Noah have fit all those animals into his big ship, and how could only he and seven other people have cared for them? Bill Nye brought up these questions in his debate last month with Ken Ham.

These questions arise from an exaggerated view of the number of animals that were actually involved. God didn’t tell Noah to save every species of air-breathing, land-dwelling animal, only two (and in a few cases, seven pairs) of each kind of air-breathing, land-dwelling animal. The obvious question is: what constitutes a “kind”? Is a kind what we’d today call a genus? A family?

The answer is still being researched, though evidence suggests in most instances it’s the family level. The higher up the classification levels we climb, the numbers of individual animals that Noah needed to bring aboard the Ark becomes fewer. We need to remember that the standard Linnaean system of classification is man-made; it is not God’s system of classification.

According to a recent study, there may be only 137 different mammalian kinds alive today. Add those to the now-extinct kinds, the bird kinds, the reptile kinds, and the amphibian kinds, there may have been fewer than 1,000 Ark kinds. The most-recent research indicates that Noah only needed maybe 2,000-3,000 animals.

Even so, that’s a lot of critters to tend to on a daily basis on the Ark. But don’t forget that humans were still recent creations of God. As such, they would have been very intelligent and resourceful. It’s not a stretch to imagine Noah, his family, and possibly hired labor being able to build all sorts of clever, labor-saving inventions to help in the year-long task of tending to perhaps 3,000 animals.

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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.