As the body of human knowledge has increased, creationists advocating a literal interpretation of the Bible are required to devise ever more complex defenses. Like many debate subjects, it is easy to get caught up in complex details and miss the many simple and devastating debating points immediately available to anyone. For example, the Noah story involves the idea of a worldwide deluge that wiped out all life except the animals (representatives of literally all of the world’s land dwelling “kinds”) on one boat with its small crew of eight humans. Here are some obvious problems with the Noah story (with thanks to Robert J. Schadewald in Creation/Evolution and Mark Isaac in Talk Origins for many of these insights).
- There are literally thousands of freshwater species of fish for whom exposure to salt water would be fatal. A worldwide deluge would have wiped out freshwater environments by blending it with ocean water.
- Gen 8:11 says, “And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off…” Given that the world was covered for a very long time by raging waters, terrestrial vegetation would not have survived. There could be no living olive trees, and certainly none with leaves attached for the plucking.
- Predators don’t exist in a one-to-one relationship with their prey. For each predator, many individual prey animals have to exist in order to maintain a stable balance. With only two of their prey species alive, how did these predators survive?
- Many disease-causing microorganisms can survive only if they find a host from just one species. They survive by hopping from host to host as each host specimen dies, is chased off by its immune response, or is driven into a dormant state to rear its head at a later time. This has some implications for the Noah story:
- Any species-specific disease that has to move to another susceptible host in short period of time would have become extinct since there was only one other possible host.
- Even if all species-specific diseases could ride out the Ark voyage in a dormant state, we are still left having to assume that one or both of the breeding pair would had to have been caring all of those diseases—at least all of those we find existing today.
- Just like so many other animal species, the human animal also has species-specific diseases. These include Measles (World Health Organization, 2012), Hepatitis B (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012), Influenza B, Polio (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011), Typhoid Fever (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010), Gonorrhea (LeFebvre, 2010), and Syphilis (World Health Organization, 2004) among others.
Not only is this last point a problem for the literal interpretation of the Ark story, but it raises a question about the Creation story itself. Creationists seem committed to the idea that there was just one act of Creation. But if this is true, then diseases like syphilis and gonorrhea must have been created with Adam and Eve, before the Fall. If they were created as a result of the Fall, then there was a second act of Creation; if not, then these deadly diseases must have existed in the Garden Eden before Original Sin. Even if the Creationist wants to argue that God fundamentally redesigned some earlier, friendly microorganism into these new organisms that can live only by feeding on humans, it stills leaves us with the creation of a new kind, regardless of whether it was created from nothing or from an earlier kind. You either have an instance of a second creation act, or an instance of speciation occurring after the first creation act.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010, October 5). Typhoid Fever. Retrieved June 09, 2012, from National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases: http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/typhoid_fever/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011, February 29). Vaccines and Preventable Diseases: Polio Disease In-Short. Retrieved June 09, 2012, from CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/polio/in-short-both.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012, May). Hepatitis B. Retrieved June 9, 2012, from Pink Book: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/Pubs/pinkbook/downloads/hepb.pdf
LeFebvre, D. (2010, July 26). Gonorrhea and Chlamydia. Retrieved June 9, 2012, from University of California Davis: Cosmos : http://cosmos.ucdavis.edu/archives/2010/cluster7/Medrano_Miranda_Gonorrhea%20and%20Chlamydia.pdf
World Health Organization. (2004, June). Disease Watch: In the News. Retrieved June 09, 2012, from Nature Reviews: Microbiology: http://www.who.int/std_diagnostics/publications/Disease%20watch%20syphilis.pdf
World Health Organization. (2012, May 29). Measles. Retrieved June 9, 2012, from World Health Organization: Western Pacific Region: http://www.wpro.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs_20120224/en/index.html