Feedback: You Need a Dumb 900-Year-Old Man to Build the Ark

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Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S., responds to a scoffer who thinks that Noah had no knowledge about boat building.

To make your Ark project authentic you will need a 900 year old with zero knowledge of boatbuilding and a maximum construction crew of 8, surely?

First, please consider the following questions:

  1. Why would we need a 900-year-old when Noah was only in his 500s as he constructed the Ark?
  2. Why assume Noah had no experience in boatbuilding?
  3. Why assume a maximum of eight people worked to construct the Ark?

We often hear from skeptics who seem to relish sending us snide comments about God’s Word and our efforts to proclaim the Bible as true from beginning to end. And while they never seem to tire of mocking God’s Word, it is ironic that they are merely illustrating what Scripture said they would do. In 2 Peter 3, the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Peter to prophesy that these mockers would ridicule the ideas that God created the world, that He judged it with the Flood, and that Christ will eventually return to earth (2 Peter 3:3–7). So even in their efforts to belittle Scripture, these scoffers unwittingly demonstrate its truthfulness.

Let’s take a look at these specific claims because they give us an opportunity to clear up some misconceptions about Noah and to deliver some important teaching points regarding how to properly respond to someone who challenges our beliefs.

To make your Ark project authentic

What do you mean by “authentic”? We do not claim that Ark Encounter will be a replica of the original Ark built by Noah since we don’t know exactly how the original looked. Genesis 6:14–16 gives us the dimensions and a few other details about the structure. We will carefully adhere to these specific instructions given to Noah while doing our best to represent how it may have looked based on extensive research of ancient shipbuilding. So there will be a high degree of authenticity in that sense.

you will need a 900 year old

Noah was not 900 years old when he built the Ark, although he did live 950 years (Genesis 9:28). He boarded it in his 600th year, and he spent a significant amount of time in the previous century constructing the boat.

Scoffers often make this type of error. Rather than carefully checking the Bible, they frequently misquote Scripture or conflate ideas from the text. Thus, they mock a straw man of the text rather than the text itself. So whenever a skeptic appears to cite the Bible, be sure to double-check the text to see if it really states what the unbeliever claims.

with zero knowledge of boatbuilding

Which chapter and verse did you read that told you Noah was ignorant of shipbuilding?

What we do see in Scripture is that God always properly equips those He calls to perform specific tasks. When He instructed Moses to construct the tabernacle and its trappings, the Lord gifted certain people to accomplish those jobs.

And Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whom the Lord has put wisdom and understanding, to know how to do all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, shall do according to all that the Lord has commanded. (Exodus 36:1)

Similarly, when Solomon built the temple, he hired servants of Hiram, the king of Tyre, because they were specially gifted in cutting the required timber (1 Kings 5:1–12; 1 Chronicles 28:6, 10). This brings us to your final comment.

and a maximum construction crew of 8, surely?

Noah may have been the best shipbuilder in the pre-Flood world through decades (or even centuries) of experience, or God could have specially empowered him with the necessary wisdom when the time was right. Also, Noah could have hired people with the required skill to build the Ark, or he could have studied the subject for a number of years to become an expert.

The Bible does not tell us exactly how Noah acquired the skills to build the Ark, but it does tell us that he was faithful to do “according to all that God commanded him” (Genesis 6:22). The Lord knows exactly what He is doing, and He would have enlisted someone who was fully capable of finishing the project, especially with His enablement.

Nothing in Scripture limits the construction crew of the Ark to eight people. But even if Noah only used eight people to build the Ark, why should we be limited to do the same? Noah obediently built the Ark “for the saving of his household” (Hebrews 11:7) and the animals God brought to him (Genesis 6:20).

While the Ark Encounter is being built for a different reason, its ultimate purpose will be related in some ways to the original Ark.

Our Ark is being built for a different purpose. It will need to include facilities to accommodate the projected steady stream of guests. It will also have plenty of teaching points displayed throughout the structure utilizing modern technology because we desire to answer skeptical questions about the Ark and the Flood to show people that God’s Word is trustworthy.

While the Ark Encounter is being built for a different reason, its ultimate purpose will be related in some ways to the original Ark. Our Ark is being designed to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. The only people spared from the Genesis Flood were those who entered the door of the Ark. In a similar way, the only people who will be spared from the eternal consequences of their sin are those who have received forgiveness through Christ, who said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (John 10:9).

You can continue to mock the Word of your Creator, or you can be forgiven of your rebellion against Him.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:7–8)

I urge you to repent of your sin and call on the Son of God to save your from your sins. Indeed, He is the only door by which one can be saved (John 10:9; 14:6).


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