John Woodmorappe’s refutation of Glen Morton’s review of NOAH’S ARK: A FEASIBILITY STUDY

The following is my reply to Glen Morton’s review of my book NOAH’S ARK: A FEASIBILITY STUDY. The review has been deleted from the Internet site.

Some commentators have called attention to Morton’s (apparent) politeness. I have information which points to the contrary, but for the sake of discussion I will assume that it is true. But even then, politeness is no virtue when one is making irresponsible arguments. Remember, this is not a round-table debate on whether vanilla ice cream or chocolate ice cream are tastier. Morton is attacking the very Word of God. Like all compromising evangelicals, he is, in his book, subjecting Scripture to the most grotesque of contortions–all for the purpose of accommodating humanistic thought-processes and theories.

The format of my reply is as follows. I first cite a bloc of Morton’s statements, and then comment on them.

>cited, attached to the citation are adjectives like “absurd”, “naive”,
>”compromising”, “abysmally ignorant”, “sloppy”, “reckless disregard”,
>”extremely inaccurate”,”misleading”, “tomfoolery” and “intentionally
>deceitful”.

Let us face the fact that most of the attacks on Noah’s Ark have been so irresponsible and silly that they deserve such adjectives–and more.

Recall the words of the immortal Martin Luther: “When they assail the Word of God so atrociously, these criminal monsters are pushing me beyond the bounds of moderation.”

As for using the word “parrot” with reference to anti-Creationists, this stems from the fact that they ritualistically repeat earlier anti-ark chestnuts without exhibiting any evidence of thinking–much like parrots simply vocalizing the sounds that they hear. (In all fairness to parrots, however, there is some evidence (see, for instance, the book: THE HUMAN NATURE OF BIRDS) that some of them may have a rudimentary understanding of sounds they vocalize).

As for the words “intentionally deceitful”, I gave Morton the benefit of a doubt by ASKING him if that was his intention, or if he had simply made an exceedingly foolish argument in error or even in jest.

> The book lacks an index which is a serious impediment to the
> usefulness of the book for further study and research.

There is no index, but the table of contents is very detailed, so every major topic and sub-topic is covered. In addition, there is a new subtopic for every several paragraphs of test. However, I will consider adding an index to a later printing or edition.

> He spends very little space describing how these animals could have
> survived out in the turbulent flood waters.

False. I have a whole chapter addressing, among other things, the frivolous “turbulent water problem”–to the extent that this anti-Creationist charge has any coherence at all.

> Woodmorappe attempts to solve the feeding and care problems by
> comparing the ark to modern mass production farming methods. But there is
> no justification given to approaching the problem in this fashion.

Nonsense. The physiology of feeding tame wild animals (especially the large ones) is comparable to that of feeding domesticated ones. I also cite some examples where wild animals have been cared-for under intensive confinement conditions. Finally, in lab-animal situations (which I discuss) we have a large number and diversity of animals handled under intensive confinement.

> He notes that pandas can
> survive on diets lacking bamboo, but a check of the references shows that
> the replacement diet is more time-consuming to create than bamboo.

Wrong and/or disingenuous. The time-consuming rice porridge discussed is not the only bamboo-alternative available to feed the panda. I discuss the suitability of dry food substitutes for the panda, provided that they are high in fiber.

> This type of feeding is precisely why so many have wondered whether
> Noah and company had sufficient time to feed thousands of animals.

Baloney. I provide a detailed study of how long it takes to feed animals. I point out that only a tiny fraction of wild animals cannot be fed common foods, and fed under the conditions of some form of mass-distribution system. Even then, I provide several time-saving procedures.

> When it comes to care on the ark, Woodmorappe enlists the aid of the
> animals themselves. According to Woodmorappe, prior to the flood, Noah
> had kept a menagerie and trained the animals to defecate and urinate on
> command into buckets.

Misleading. I did mention such training as a POSSIBILITY, but in no sense did Ark waste management depend upon this. I emphasized such things as sloped floors, slatted floors, behind-animal gutters, etc., as the keys to efficient waste disposal. None of these things required the prior training of animals in any way, nor even necessarily handling of the waste by the crew.

> They were also trained to leave their pens for
> exercise and return to their cages on command. Snakes and bats were
> trained to take inert food. Birds were trained to take sugar water from
> pots. This, of course, makes Noah the greatest animal trainer in history.

Not necessarily. How many trainers did, for instance, Emperor Trajan have to deal with his 11,000 animals?

> How much time Noah and his hired hands required to train 16,000 animals is
> almost incalculable.

Another one of Morton’s typical baseless assertions. We do not know how many animal trainers Noah might have had before the Flood. Morton should have read my work more carefully. He would have learned that the vast majority of the 16,000 animals need not have been trained to eat foods substantially different from what they eat in nature.

>breed a pair of Koalas who would accept dried Eucalyptus leaves.

Morton’s imagination again. I never claimed that koalas HAD to be bred. They simply had to be chosen out of a certain number of candidates at hand (as had been done by the koala shipped successfully to the London Zoo in 1880). I only suggested that they COULD have been bred to make it easier.

> This type of solution is
> appealed to so often, it begins to take on the appearance of an ad hoc
> explanation.

Not at all. Simple, common-sense solutions are not ad hoc. On the contrary. The attacks on Noah’s Ark are ad hoc in the EXTREME.

>Many of the solutions are of the nature of a “could be, might be”.

Ditto above. I document my explanations in detail. My reasoning is tight, and there is only a short distance of reasoning or even speculation between facts and applications to the Ark situation. Then again, let us put all this in perspective. The critics of the Ark routinely make REALLY “could be, might be” claims, often without a SHRED of supporting evidence. Finally, let us remember the objectives of my research. I am attempting to offer a comprehensive list of possible ways of dealing with real or imagined Ark problems. I am not trying to prove that Noah’s Ark DID happen, only that it COULD HAVE happened–without 20th century levels of technology and/or a constant profusion of Divine miracles.

> Since CO2 is normally associated with volcanism and high thermal
> gradients, an explanation of where the CO2 came from would seem to be in
> order. None is given.

Nonsense. Common sense indicates that CO2 is a very common constituent of percolating gasses. These need not be volcanic or geothermal alone, but also from such mundane things as chemical reactions of carbonates, or even the decomposition of organics.

> Several arguments are not self-consistent.

As shown below, the contradictions are in Morton’s imagination. Since different solutions are presented, many of them obviously will not be “self-consistent”.

> Thus one is left assuming that earthworms are not on the ark. But earlier
> in the book, Woodmorappe had appealed to earthworms as the agent for
> decomposing and handling solid waste (p. 34-35). And later, he says that
> snails were on the ark for food (p. 101).

Transparent nonsense. I had clearly indicated that earthworms (and snails) were unnecessary as OBLIGATORY PASSENGERS on the Ark. They were POSSIBLY on the Ark for vermicomposting and for food, respectively. Bacteria and insects were also undoubtedly on the Ark, but not as passengers! Notice, by the way, how Morton is getting slippery and evading the real issue: his frivolous argument about earthworms not having time to make it on the Ark. Employing the Rush Limbaugh method, I would ask Morton and all the other anti-Creationists: “Will you now admit that the argument about earthworms and snails not making it on the Ark on time are bogus? AND “How long before anti-Creationist literature stops telling us canards about the need for various invertebrates, fish, and even bacterial cultures needing to be taken on the Ark?”

Notice also how, in this review, Morton deftly avoids admitting the fallacies of his arguments, such as the one about the Stefan-Boltzmann’s Law determining how animal houses are ventilated.

> Another example of inconsistencies is on page 202 where in his discussion
> of the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) he says that the DRB1 locus
> has 106 known alleles. Five pages later, he says it is 44.

Wrong. As I discuss in the chapter, the “loci” of the MHC are really recombinations. For that reason, different authors have different interpretations of what a variant is. My point remains the same.

> tons of airborne moisture. None of the assumptions are displayed to allow
> the reader to evaluate such a claim.

Most written books and journals do not show a step-by-step accounting of calculations. Besides, the arithmetic is fairly straightforward in my tables. If not explicitly specified, it can be easily figured out by “playing” with the numbers.

>Calculations of the heat production
> by animals in the ark are claimed to show that there is no problem with
> this issue, but the lack of calculations force the reader to depend upon
> the author for the validity of that statement.

Wrong. No calculations are even necessary, because I relate to the problem of recommended air changes per hour. Third-grade arithmetic.

> Woodmorappe’s tables are confusing, and abridged and because of this
> it is difficult to check out the mathematical accuracy of his arguments.

Nonsense. As I point out, the tables are truncated because the remaining categories, collectively, have only a small effect on calculations. Thus, the results of any computations done based solely on the material in the tables will give a total which will be only slightly less than those groups listed, and shown, in the tables.

> For instance, in Table 1 he divides the animals on the ark into 8 weight
> divisions for each class: reptiles, birds and mammals. Thus one would
> think that there are 24 categories (3 X 8).

Come on now. These are not categories but groupings by CLASS. In Table 2, there are groupings by ORDERS. There are 8 logarithmic body-mass categories, and these same categories are used consistently throughout this work, whenever body mass of animals is germane to calculations.

> Table 2 lists the same data
> for 25 orders, then abridges the remaining 61 land vertebrate orders
> (which means 61 categories). One can not figure out why this table is
> published.

I clearly explain why, and why I truncate it.

> giving only a reference, uses a totally unexplained equation (and we

I clearly explain the equation, and what it is intended to show.

> Woodmorappe states (p. 27) that the urine could be drained overboard
> by gravity. He does not tell how this is possible from the lowest floor
> level which was below the water line.

Wrong. I was focusing on the larger animals (specifically, horses), which were on the higher floors. As I noted earlier, the smaller animals’ waste probably was allowed to accumulate in situ, so there was no need to move it against gravity. But had Morton read my work more carefully, he would have seen that I discuss a chain pump that could have been used to raise waste material against gravity and dump it overboard.

> At one point he suggests that the
> animals could be trained to urinate and defecate upon command while
> someone holds a bucket behind the animal. Assuming that this can be
> accomplished for the largest quarter of the animals and that they need to
> be serviced three times per day, each person must service 125 animals per
> hour, 2 animals a minute. What a fun job that must have been.

Again, a totally absurd misrepresentation of my work. Who said that the animals HAD to urinate and/or defecate INTO A BUCKET? Much less that it had to be hand-held while this was taking place, or that the waste had to be emptied every urination/defecation? The animals urinate and defecate into a gutter or dunging area, NOT into individual buckets. Pa-lease get your facts straight. And as already noted above, training of animals was totally unnecessary to deal with the animal waste on the Ark. For instance, when calculating the time needed to clear pen floors of waste, I assumed NO training of animals to defecate into a dunging area.

> Woodmorappe’s treatment of the heat generated up by the animals is
> quite unworkable. He claims that reptiles give off no heat. This is not
> true. Their metabolism, while slower than mammals and birds does indeed
> give off heat.

Ridiculous nonsense, and possibly another attempt to misrepresent my work (intentionally?). FACT: I clearly note the fact that reptiles give off heat, but that their heat output is negligible compared with mammals and birds. Consequently there is no need to calculate it.

> He uses units no physicist would approve of – Kg
> heat-producing biomass per cubic meter. If he gives a definition of how
> much heat is generated by such a unit, I have been unable to find it.

Another exceedingly silly claim. I was not using or inventing a physics unit, but simply giving the reader an idea of the heat-producing flesh per unit volume for illustrative purposes. This was necessary since animals of very different sizes were on the Ark, so I could not use something like “standard 1000 lb. cows per volume of barn”.

>Thus, it is impossible to verify his assertion that the animals would not
>overheat the ark.

A patently absurd claim. Citing the turnover rates required per animal of given mass, I have conclusively and obviously proven that the animals would not have come anywhere near to overheating the Ark.

> area. But anyone who has ever performed a fluid flow calculation will
> know that you can not calculate the problem in this fashion. Hydrodynamic
> equations must be used and friction taken into account. His method for
> calculating air flow is far too simple.

Again nonsense. My calculations are not based on theory, but actual APPLIED ventilation of animal housing. So Morton’s intellectual-sounding remarks about the need for hydrodynamic calculations are so much obfuscatory gobbledygook.

> water vapor each day. He implies that the inside of the ark would have low
> humidity (another inconsistency).

Wrong again. He should read (or reread) the Ventilation section. I allow for high internal humidity during winterlike conditions.

> the ark 7 centimeters (3 inches) deep. The Ark, even under Woodmorappe’s
> scenario, would have been “anything but dry”.

Nonsense. If Morton were correct, then every time it rained, the interiors of nonventilated, nonairconditioned buildings would be dripping wet. Traditional animal housing (e. g. poultry houses) which lack air conditioning do not become dripping wet inside every time there is a spell of rain and relative humidity of 100%. More important, Morton is once again slippery, and dodging his original argument. The real issue is whether Morton would now admit the fallacy of his original argument about the certainty of grains and foods on the inside of the Ark inevitably becoming wet (and hence ruined). THAT is what he had originally asserted.

> were). He appeals to gradual acclimatization of amphibians and fish to the
> salinity of the flood waters. But exactly how a global flood was able to
> gradually occur is unexplained.

Another misrepresentation. I never claimed that the Flood had to “gradually occur”, I only said that there only had to be a few regions compatible with a fish’s or amphibian’s salinity tolerance. As far as gradual acclimatization to salinity changes is relevant, this does not require the Flood to “gradually occur”. Common sense alone dictates that, in some regions, the complete mixing of waters of different salinities (with or without prior stratification) must not have occurred all in one instant.

> studies of carnivores eating carrion, but none citing cases of carnivores
> eating year-old carcasses.

Again nonsense. Some of the examples I cite of carrion-eating are ones where corpses are extremely decomposed. Who cares how old they were? Once they really stink, they really stink. Needless to say, Morton presents no evidence as to why carrion more than one year old is supposed to be inedible. Hence we have another frivolous Morton argument. Following Rush Limbaugh’s method of “demonstrating absurdity by being absurd”, I will save Morton the trouble of making up new frivolous arguments against my work by making them myself:

1). Woodmorappe has not demonstrated that buried carrion will last one year if Jupiter and
Saturn are not properly aligned.

2). Woodmorappe has not proven that the earth’s magnetic field would not have
speeded up the decay of carrion.

3). Woodmorappe did not properly consider that the flesh of preFlood animals might have
been much more fragile than that of animals today, and have decayed away extremely rapidly.

> the genetic diversity. Unfortunately, Woodmorappe appeals to a period of
> rapid mutation after the flood to restore genetic diversity. Very little
> justification for this is given.

Give me a break. I list several LINES of evidence for elevated mutation rates, citing and elaborating upon both endogenous and exogenous causes. Moreover, as I point out, these are needed only for the generation of rarely-occurring alleles, not, at least in the main, for the restoration of overall genetic diversity.

> normal gene into a pseudogene. However, he does not explain why processed
> pseudogenes are found at the same locations in chimp, gorilla, gibbon and
> man but not on other species.

That was beyond the scope of the book. Actually, as I showed in a BSA (Bible Science Association) article (1994, volume 32, number 4, pages 12-13), comparisons of pseudogene associations between primates (including humans) often contradict established evolutionary sequences.

> Some of the stranger claims of the book:

Morton fails to explain why he imagines these things to be strange. On the contrary, I document the workability of these claims.

> On page 188 he writes: “Furthermore, a single pair of founders most
> definitely can have the same genetic diversity as fifty founders, and
> without any miraculous or unusual procedures.”

Why on earth Morton would consider this one of my strange claims is beyond me (unless, of course, he is being lightheartedly sloppy or intentionally deceptive). FACT: I clearly document my assertions.

Conclusion:

None of Morton’s arguments carry any weight. They are all simply frivolous and thoughtless assertions, devoid of any factual support. Until Morton supplies detailed documentation to support his charges, and recants his patently false earlier arguments (all of which he has deftly avoided thus far), I consider further discussion with him a waste of time. And I trust that other Scientific Creationists, to the extent that they have not done so already, will do the same.

John Woodmorappe