These feedback emails ask questions regarding whether the Ark could have accommodated all the animals, and whether atheism can provide a logical basis for morals. CMI’s Lita Cosner and Dr Don Batten respond.
Chris C. from the United States writes:
I was having a discussion with someone about creation and evolution and they said this:
Estimates for undiscovered species range up to 100M more than those we already know about, plus MORE extinct ones that we don’t yet know about. CMI and AIG readily admit these facts, but they don’t count on you doing the math. Think about it. 2M species divided by [x number of Biblical kinds] divided by, say, the first 3000 years post-Flood. You’re talking about speciation events happening within hours of each other, even with species that have gestation periods in the range of 4-14 months each.
I’m no math genius or anything, so could you tell me what he means and if you guys acknowledge this how, according to him, unbelievable it sounds?
CMI’s Lita Cosner responds:
There are several pertinent points:
1. Scientists can’t agree within an order of magnitude how many species there actually are. Out of the species we know that are living today, many are acknowledged by all parties to come from a common ancestor—e.g. lions and tigers. Many can interbreed (ligers, zorses, etc), meaning that they are the same biological species.
2. The vast majority of species (both living and extinct) are marine animals, insects, plants, and tiny things like bacteria and protists. It is precisely these things we don’t have to account for, because the Ark only took on land vertebrates as obligate passengers. A secular Internet source I looked at said that there are around 31,000 known species of land vertebrates living today. I would argue that the addition of created kinds which have no living representatives would not be significant enough to affect our argument (for instance, maybe 50 basic kinds of dinosaurs—see Too many dinosaur names).
3. This number counts, for instance, panthers, leopards, housecats, lions, and tigers as all different species. So we can agree surely that a very generous estimate to the atheist would put the number of ‘kinds’ as 10,000–15,000. Incidentally, John Woodmorappe in his Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study showed that it was possible to house and care for 16,000 animals and store food sufficient for a year with space left over on a vessel the dimensions of the biblical Ark. If the level of created kind is as high up as the family, then the number of animals is the hundreds—at most, just a few thousand.
4. Given that we’re talking about land vertebrates, the amount of speciation required is not one that exceeds the ability of these animals to procreate. If 1,000 kinds of animals aboard the Ark had to generate 31,000 species extant today, that’s less than 7 species per kind per millennium, which we can hopefully agree is not unrealistic. We need even less speciation if there are more created kinds….
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