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In the Gilgamesh Epic, the survivors are Utnapishtim, all of his family and kin, and the craftmen (XI 84–85), and yet their exact number is not mentioned.
In the Gilgamesh Epic, the survivors are Utnapishtim, all of his family and kin, and the craftmen (XI 84–85), and yet their exact number is not mentioned. The Epic does not state whether it was possible for the survivors to produce offspring or not.1 After the flood, as Utnapishtim and his wife were given immortality and were removed to “the mouth of the rivers” (XI 189–196), a distant and inaccessible place for man (tablet X, XI 235–236), they seem to “have ceased to live truly human lives.”2 Assuming the flood was universal, according to the description, “all mankind turned into clay” (XI 133), unless the survivors included both men and women and they were fertile, the human race would become extinct. Even though the word “family” (kimtu) and “kin” (salātu) might imply including women or daughters, the Epic does not mention this point concretely. As noted previously, according to the legend, the mother of Gilgamesh is the goddess Ninsun, and his father is a king of Uruk, Lugalbanda, a human being, whereas Gilgamesh mentions Utnapishtim “abîia” (IX iii, 2) in the Epic. Translating this word “my forefather,”3 Gilgamesh had to have been descended from Utnapishtim or his human children. And yet, their connection is not specified in the Epic. Even if Utnapishtim had become the ancestor of the goddess Ninsun after the flood, there is no specific reference in the Epic.
In Genesis, the survivors are Noah and his family. More specifically, they are eight people, four couples; “Noah and Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark” (7:13). It is also stated, “
Now this is the genealogy of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And sons were born to them after the flood” [emphasis this writer’s] (10:1). In addition, the Genesis account includes the table of nations which descended from Noah’s sons. Thus, the Genesis account seems to have more specification and historicity than the Gilgamesh Epic. Some people may think that it is impossible to increase from only eight people to the present world population. However, Morris states
Although we have no truly reliable population data to work with until modern times, it is possible to study population growth in terms of some reasonable model, to compare that model’s implications with respect to modern trends, and then to extrapolate backwards into the past on that basis.4
The following equation and explanation will shed light on the argument concerning the feasibility of the growth of population:
Equation 1 … will give the world population n generations after the first family, for an average life-span of x generations and an average number of children growing to maturity and marriage of 2c per family.5
Assuming that c = 1.5 and x = 1, i.e., the average family has only 3 children and the life-span is 1 generation, the population growth will be as the following table shows:
Generations Population 10 106 20 6,680 30 386,000 52 4,340,000,000
Assuming one generation is 35 years, it is takes only 1,820 years to increase the population to over four billion people.7 This calculation seems to show that the Genesis account is not fanciful. In fact, according to the Genesis record, although many people seemed to have married later than 35 years old, they also lived much longer than 70 years, like the patriarchs. Furthermore, Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth had more children: Shem had five sons (10:22), Ham had four sons (10:6), Japheth had seven sons (10:2). Because these sons had to have married the daughters of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, i.e., their sisters or cousins, probably Noah’s sons also would have had about the same number of daughters8 even though their names are not recorded.
On the other hand, Bernard Ramm denies that all human races descended from Noah for the following reason:
As far as can be determined the early chapters of Genesis center around that stream of humanity (part of the Caucasoid race) which produced the Semitic family of nations of which the Hebrews were a member. The sons of Noah were all Caucasian as far as can be determined, and so were all of their descendants. The Table of Nations gives no hint of any Negroid or Mongoloid peoples … Suffice it to say that effort to derive the races of the entire world from Noah’s sons of the Table of Nations is not necessary from a Biblical standpoint, nor possible from an anthropological one.9
Actually, it is obvious that there are some people groups, so-called “races,” which have different appearance such as skin color. Therefore, some people think that “races” must have descended not from only Noah’s sons, but from some other groups. However, the following information is relevant:
All people can interbreed and produce fertile offspring. This shows that the biological differences between the “races” are not very great. In fact, the DNA differences are trivial. The DNA of any two people in the world would typically differ by just 0.2 percent.10 Of this, only 6 percent can be linked to racial categories; the rest is “within race” variation.11
It is genetically possible from currently available information to explain how the different skin color groups descended from the common origin.12 In fact, “Race is a social construct derived mainly from perceptions conditioned by events of recorded history, and it has no basic biological reality.”13 The following statement by R. Laird Harris is useful to rebut the argument by Ramm that “It is pious fiction to believe that Noah had a black son, a brown son, and a white son”:14
We need not adopt the view that has sometimes been expressed that the three sons were black, yellow, and white.We need not adopt the view that has sometimes been expressed that the three sons were black, yellow, and white. If they were so, what were their wives? Rather we would say that in these six people were all the genes which have separated out into the modern races. Shem may have had the genes for kinky hair and yellow skin, Ham for white skin and Mongoloid eyes, etc. But the genes we would have to say were all there whether in evidence in the body characteristics or not.15
According to the Scripture, it seems to be reasonable to consider that the physical differences between so-called “races” were the result of the change in the environment brought about by the Flood and certain other factors which can be summarized as follows:
In summary, the dispersion at Babel, breaking a large interbreeding group into small, interbreeding groups, ensured that the resultant groups would have different mixes of genes for various physical features. By itself, this would ensure, in a short time, that there would be certain fixed differences in some of these groups, commonly called “races.” In addition, the selection pressure of the environment would modify the existing combinations of genes, causing a tendency for characteristics to suit their environment.16
Thus, the Genesis account does not have an insurmountable problem concerning the population growth from the survivors.
The kind and number of the animals which Utnapishtim loaded into the ship is mentioned ambiguously in the Gilgamesh Epic. While Ea commands to Utnapishtim to bring into the ship “the seed of all living creatures” (NUMUN nap-šá-a-ti ka-la-ma XI 27), later Utnapishtim narrates to Gilgamesh, “Whatever I had of the seed of all living creatures I loaded into her (the ship)” (mim-ma i-šu-[ú e-ṣe-en]-ši NUMUN ZI. MEŠ ka-la-ma XI 83) (emphasis this writer’s). Therefore, it is equivocal whether the animals which Utnapishtim loaded were “the seed of all living creatures” or only what he had.17 If it were the latter, assuming the flood was global, all the other kinds of animals which were not loaded into the ship would have become extinct. While it is also noted that Utnapishtim loaded “the beasts of the field, the wild animals of the field” (bu-ul EDIN ú-ma-am EDIN XI 85), if they were only all he had, it is questionable whether “the beast” (būlu) and “the wild animals” (umāmu) included all the kinds of animals from which all animals living today are descended. Even if it was the former, it is also questionable whether it was possible to load “the seed of all living creatures” into the ship. The number and gender of each kind of animal are not specified. For example, it is likely impossible to load a hundred animals from each kind even though the ship was huge. In addition, the reason for loading the animals is not mentioned. If the species’ survival was the purpose, it would have been useless just to load many animals unless they were productive. No matter how many animals Utnapishtim loaded, unless the animals included both male and female, they would have been extinct after the flood. The Epic is not clear in that regard. Even if the animals were loaded as food or possessions for the survivors, “the seed of all living creatures” seems to be too many. It seems unreasonable that Ea would have made Utnapishtim load “the seed of all living creatures” on the ship when he was escaping from the flood stealthily.
In Genesis, the following is the relevant passage about the animals which Noah had to take into the Ark:
You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female to keep them alive with you[emphasis this writer’s].Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.18
Thus, the purpose of loading the animals and the number and gender of each kind of animal are clearly stated. “This specification anticipates the command to be fruitful and to increase in number and so replenish the earth (Genesis 8:17, Genesis 9:1).”19
Skeptics assert that because the number of all the animals is millions, it would have been impossible to load them in the Ark.20 Carol A. Hill asserts that “Even the early church fathers like Augustine (354–430) recognized this difficulty.”21 Therefore, it is necessary to define the biblical “kind” (מין) in order to figure the number of animals which Noah took into the Ark. “Even today, creationists are often misrepresented as believing that God created all the species we have today, just like they are today, in the beginning. This is called ‘fixity of species’. The Bible does not teach this.”22 Because the animals were created “according to their/its kind” (
If two animals or two plants can hybridize (at least enough to produce a truly fertilized egg), then they must belong to (i.e. have descended from) the same original created kind. If the hybridizing species are from different genera in a family, it suggests that the whole family might have come from the one created kind. If the genera are in different families within an order, it suggests that maybe the whole order may have derived from the original created kind.
On the other hand, if two species will not hybridize, it does not necessarily prove that they are not originally from the same kind. We all know of couples who cannot have children, but this does not mean they are separate species!
In the case of three species, A, B and C, if A and B can each hybridize with C, then it suggests that all three are of the same created kind ― whether or not A and B can hybridize with each other. Breeding barriers can arise through such things as mutation.27
According to the following instances, one can judge that it seems to be probable that numerous species and genera belong to the same created kind. Brown and grizzly bears are able to interbreed with American black bears, polar bears and Asiatic black bears.28 Sloth bears and sun bears also can produce offspring.29 A camel and a llama produced a hybrid “cama” in the United Arab Emirates.30 An albino corn snake and albino king snake produced a hybrid “Genae” which was fertile.31 Sarfati states, “In fact, not only are there known crosses between so-called species, but there are many instances of trans-generic matings, so the ‘kind’ may in some cases be as high as the family.”32 The following will clarify the definition of the original created kind:
For example, horses, zebras and donkeys are probably descended from an equine (horse-like) kind, since they can interbreed, although the offspring are sterile.33 Dogs, wolves, coyotes and jackals are probably from a canine (dog-like) kind. All different type of domestic cattle (which are clean animals) are descended from the Aurochs,34…. The Aurochsitself may have been descended from a cattle kind including bisons and water buffaloes. We know that tigers and lions can produce hybrids called tigons and ligers,35 so it is likely that they are descended from the same original kind.36
If the category family is equal to the created kind,37 Noah would have only had to load about 2,000 animals on the Ark.38 According to this information, the number of the animals loaded in the Ark need not be in the millions. For the sake of making his studies as interesting as possible, Woodmorappe adopts the genus as the taxonomic rank of the created kind and figures the number of the animals loaded on the Ark was about 16,000, i.e., about 8,000 kinds.39 And yet he calculates that the Ark had enough room for them and their food.40 Even though Noah needed to load huge animals, he could have chosen infant couples.41
Another relevant passage is
Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.42
This is apparently an amplification of the original instruction in Genesis 6:19–20 quoted above. Some translate שבעה שבעה seven pairs (7:2,3).43 On the other hand, there are those who consider it seven individuals.44 Because the purpose of embarking the animals refers to the kinds’ survival and their propagation after the Flood (NIV, Gen. 7:3), it seems to be reasonable to think that the significance of שבעה שבעה is seven pairs (7:2,3). Another argument is that the number of animals is different in 6:19–20 and 7:2–3. However, K. A. Kitchen remarks
In Genesis 6:20, shenayim, “pair”, is probably being used as a collective for “pairs”, seeing that one cannot form a plural of a dual word in Hebrew (no *shenayimim!); Genesis 6:19, 20 and 7:8, 9 are the general statements, while Genesis 7:2, 3 (clearly two and sevens) is specific.45
Noah is to bring aboard pairs of animals. Specifically the animal population is to consist of seven pairs of clean and one pair of unclean.
To be accurate, the text does not say that Noah is to take aboard clean animals and unclean animals. He is to bring with him animals that are clean and those that are not clean.46
The categories of clean animal and unclean animals are not indicated in Genesis.
According to other Scriptures, clean animals are only a few (
In Genesis, it is mentioned that the animals shall come to Noah (Genesis 6:20, 7:8–9). On the other hand, God commanded Noah to take the animals into the Ark (Gen. 6:19; 7:2–3). These passages seem to mean that “Noah was to get credit for getting animals on the Ark even though God is the One who did it.”48
One of the most-asked questions is concerning the gathering of kangaroos from Australia or their migration to Australia from the Ark.49 Adamthwaite states
Less serious a problem is the range of marsupial animals in Australia. While these are now unique to our country (Australia) [note this writer’s], fossil marsupials have been found elsewhere, e.g. in South America. Kangaroos have survived only in Australia simply because here there are no natural predators for them. It is reasonable to suppose that these animals had migrated here before the subsidence of the land bridge to Asia, but were then cut off from the outside world. The isolated environment created an ideal breeding ground for marsupials.50
Therefore, before the Flood, kangaroos “must have lived on the same continent where the Ark was built, so they could come to Noah by divine guidance (Gen. 6:20; 7:9) without having to cross oceans.”51 Woodmorappe explains the distribution of the faunas in each continent including kangaroos by showing the limited routes through which the animals would have migrated during the Ice Age after the Flood.52 The following comment is helpful for this argument: “Their low rates of postnatal growth53 and lesser food requirements would have made them especially suitable for long voyages, as would the near-lack of diurnal marsupials.”54 Thus, the Genesis account concerning the animals loaded into the Ark seems to be clear, detailed and realistic.