Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Noah's Ark - Mice

A pair of mice produces a litter of about six, and those can be sexually active in 30 days. Assuming just half of those are female, and that there is adequate food on the Ark (Noah was required to provide food for all the animals), over ten months just one pair of mice can multiply to over a million. But when you start to think about all the different kinds of mice, rats, and other rodents in the world, there are more than 2,000 species. With each of these breeding at the normal rodent rate, there would be no physical space left for anything else before landfall on Ararat. (I wonder if the mountain was named for all the rats that swarmed off the Ark?)

Noah's Ark - Mountain Lions

A mountain lion typically kills one deer a week, so a pair of them over a ten month span on the Ark would need about 87 deer-equivalents. Fortunately, the deer family has about 90 species, so taking just one of the seven from each species would do the trick. If you figure in lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, snow leopards and clouded leopards, that would more than polish off all the deer. But no problem, could save the last pair of each deer species and let the big cats eat antelopes instead (there are 91 species of those). Oops, but there are also eight species of bears and 34 in the dog family (all of this just counting extant forms; presumably the extinct ones all died in the Deluge!). So those would consume the rest of the antelopes and in fact the rest of the ruminants (those in the "clean category", that came on board in sevens). This causes a problem for Noah, for after the Flood he has to sacrifice one each of the "clean" animals. If he is sure that the last female of each type is pregnant and sacrifices the male, there still won't be enough to go around, even if Noah's family is vegan (they would not be allowed to eat the "unclean" animals on board).

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Noah's Ark - Polygyny

For the "clean" animals on the Ark, Noah was to allow seven to board, not just two. According to Deuteronomy, the clean animals include cud-chewers with split hooves, in other words, all the cattle, sheep, goats, deer, and gazelles. In the wild, these all tend to be polygynous, that is, to have one dominant male breeding with a harem of females. So my guess is that the "seven" would consist of one male and six females. Presumably this also applies to the "clean" birds, such as chickens, turkeys, and pheasants, letting on one cock and six hens in each case. I would think this would inspire Noah. He'd say, "Hey, I don't have to mess with Ham, Shem, and Japheth. I could be like these other preferred animals, with just me and a harem. My wife and three daughters-in-law, and that would make room for, say, three more, virgins naturally. And that would allow a faster repopulation of the world after the flood, with more breeding females. After all, if we humans come on two-by-two, each man with one female, that makes us equivalent to the "unclean" animals, and that can't be what God intended."

Noah's Ark - Miracles?

Some would answer all my questions about the difficulties of Noah's Ark by saying "Well, God simply cared for everything miraculously." If that could be done, of course, there is no need for the Ark at all. God could enclose every creature and plant in magical bubbles, putting them in stasis during the flood and restoring them afterwards. For that matter, why even bother with the flood? Just instantly dispose of all the evil or non-believing humans and start over with Noah's family. Saves lots of hassle. The trouble with miracles is, if they are so easy for an omnipotent God, why mess with non-miracles? Ah, but the stock response is "We cannot know God's reasons, ways, and motivations." Hmm, there certainly seem to be a lot of people in the world who claim to have hotlines from God with rules that they are more than willing to impose upon others. They assert the literal truth of scripture (do they really know what "literal" means?), but at the same time insist that their personal interpretation of scripture is what counts. "Scripture doesn't mean what you say, it means what I say!". I love fantasy literature, and the Ark story is just too good to ignore; I just want to understand the details of the cruise.