Would the fin and stern extension on our Ark model be pointless without propulsion? Bodie Hodge, AiG–U.S., and Tim Lovett explain.
Hi Bodie, read your article on the shape of the Noah’s Ark on A/I/Genesis today.
May I just make a small comment on said paper, and please this is just not to be argumentative in any way.
Re the thought behind the reason for the Ark to have a pointed end, bow, and stub end stern.
Unless the vessel had some means of forward propulsion it would make absolutely NO difference to the stability of the vessel.
In fact the difference in the ends would, being unequal, give reason to cause the vessel to in effect spin due to the difference in resistance to the flow of the waters brought to bear on the unequal ends.
The thought of losing forward power drive in large waves or winds or storms is a nightmare scenario for all mariners. The Ark didn’t even have sail power.
And no doubt God was exercising a protecting hand all thru the process of the flood and could have had a calm around the Ark to ensure its safety. Just as our Lord calmed the storm when crossing the Sea of Galilee.
I may be missing something of course here and would welcome your kind response if possible.
Keep up the good work of defending and championing the truths of Gods word.
May God bless your ministry.
It is nice to hear from you, and no argumentative tone taken. Christians should be able to talk and discuss these things as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). We would agree that is a reasonable assumption that there was no propulsion system on the Ark. This is likely why the word for Ark (tebah) is used as opposed to ship (’oniyah), a common word for a boat that usually had a form of propulsion (oars, sails, etc.). Moses was also placed in an ark (tebah), likely a simple tiny floating vessel, rather than a boat with propulsion.
However, with large wind-driven waves, turning sideways is the natural position for any long vessel, which is exactly why “losing forward power drive in large waves or winds or storms is a nightmare scenario for all mariners.” Sideways is bad (beam sea).
If the Ark had features like we have added (i.e., a wind-catching fin on the bow and the stern extension), then the Ark would have turned into the wind and waves for much better stability.
If the Ark had features like we have added . . . then the Ark would have turned into the wind and waves for much better stability.
These features make sense because they would make the Ark align with the wind and waves. Note that the fin at the bow is aligned downwind, and the stern (resembling a modern bulbous bow) is designed to face the waves. So it seems to run backwards compared to a modern ship. Also, the dimensions given in Scripture (300 cubits long by 50 cubits wide), are far more slender than a modern lifeboat designed for random orientation in the sea.
You point out that these features appear to be designed for propulsion. This is partly true; some limited propulsion is achieved by the forecastle superstructure and fin aligned with the wind (i.e., the vessel has waves at the stern). It is estimated that this design would travel at only a few knots, enough to gain directional stability afforded by keel and skeg, but not fast enough to introduce a broaching risk in a quartering sea.
Furthermore, I would be cautious of making statements such as, “And no doubt God was exercising a protecting hand all thru the process of the flood and could have had a calm around the Ark to ensure its safety.” The Bible doesn’t say this, and these types of claims could render the Ark almost pointless. We need to keep in mind that the Ark was the “protective hand” given by God. Of course, God upholds all things, but thinking that God miraculously protected the Ark throughout the Flood could open a door for other ideas that are not recorded in the Scripture. Please don’t take this as a criticism but as a teaching point, as we have all probably made mistakes like this before.
The Ark certainly served its purpose to stay afloat during the Flood to preserve life. The Bible indicates that the Ark floated on the waters of the Flood until it came to rest “
in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat” (Genesis 8:4). I hope this helps.
With kindness in Christ, God bless.
Bodie Hodge and Tim Lovett
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.