Ardent defenders of the First Amendment and the Separation of Church and State


Sunday, May 12, 2013

More Lies from Ken Ham

One of my founding rules of life is to eschew obfuscation; tell it the way it is in as simple and factual way as possible.  Occam's Razor and all that; and sure, I am often guilty of oversimplification, but that's the way it is here at the pad.  So it is no surprise that politicians and commentators on religion incur my ire on a daily basis with their spin.  In the case of Ken Ham, I can barely stand to read any more of his mephitic rhetoric, yet about once a week I find myself perusing his website, AIG.  It is usually just more of the same distortions and obfuscation of valid science, but a couple days ago he again tried to make a case for the reality of the myth of Noah's Ark. 

First of all, I always refer to anything from the AIG as being from Ken Ham because all of the commentators on his site have signed an agreement with the Hamster to publish only material that he has personally endorsed.  Ken Ham is the leader of this sect of fundamentalist, bible literalist Christianity and nothing is posted that does not agree with his personal interpretation of scripture.  Having said that, the article was supposedly written by one Tim Chaffey.

The line that especially caught my attention was:

"I don’t think there are many skeptics and critics of Noah’s Ark who would claim that it couldn't float—at least initially. Many large wooden vessels have been constructed that have floated without problems."
I might agree with the first sentence, and furthermore, I agree that the Ark would float quite well, as wood will do, after it broke into pieces after the first few minutes afloat.  But the second sentence is problematic.

Many large wooden vessels have been constructed that have floated without problems."
Oh?  Well, let us have a look at those vessels.

Ham's/ Noah's Ark would float in still water for a short spell, but due to the large dimensions, and the fact that the wood will have joints every 20 feet, lengthwise and hundreds of joints between the planks heightwise, even small swells would rip it apart in hours due to all the mechanical moments and torque action over that length.  Next, there will be so many linear joints that as soon as the boat started to stress and torque, the joints would open instantly and leak.  I won't even discuss the effect of wind on a structure three stories tall, of that length.

Anyone who has ever built a wooden boat of any length knows very well that they are impossible to seal 100%.  The wood will also expand and contract, further opening the thousands of seams/ joints.  The Ark started out on dry land.  With enough water pouring in from "somewhere,"  to cover the earth in 40 days indicates ridiculously large waves/ currents/ swells further complicating the idea of a large wooden vessel. After all, creationists claim that all the billions of metric tons of sediment in the geologic column were laid down by the flood, which would take extraordinary flows of water.

The Ark's dimensions were supposedly 135 meters long, 22.5 meters wide , and 13.5 meters high . That's 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.  The largest "wooden" ship ever built, that actually sailed was the Pretoria at 103 m long (338 ft,) and 13.4 m wide (44 ft.) and 23 feet high.  She was a barge built for use on the Great Lakes.  She had a wooden frame but it was reinforced with Keelson Plates, chords, arches and was diagonally strapped with steel.  It leaked so badly that it took 2 dedicated engines to keep the water pumped out of the interior.  She leaked like a sieve.

The Pretoria was built by James Davidson, the preeminent marine engineer of his day. She was launched in July of 1900 and sank in rough weather on lake Michigan in September of 1905, partly due to the Pony Engines failing and the ship filled with water.

Only steel reinforcement allowed the Pretoria to sail, but in 1869 Britain built the largest true wooden ship, the HMS Orlando.  She was 335 feet long.  She suffered from the strain of her length creating massive leaks and was scrapped in 1871 after a few short voyages.

Another consideration is that the modern wooden ships were far more stable in moderate to high seas due to the fact that they were Keel ships by construction and they were powered, and 'V' shaped, which enabled them to  "cut through" the waves.  The Ark, being a straight sided box would have been at the mercy of even moderate or light seas with waves and wind smashing against the straight sides.
Keel ships, with their attendant ribs are intrinsically stronger and triangulated frame rather than a box ship with corners that would increase longitudinal torque.

It is also interesting to note that Noah had no engines to pump out water from the interior of the ark and with eight people aboard, it is absurd to think that they bailed it by hand.

Finally, Johan Huibers from the Netherlands has built a 1/2 scale ark.  Even though it has steel reinforcement, it was considered unseaworthy and was installed on barges and towed via some canals to the port of Rotterdam where it is on display.

 Plans for Ham's ark remain a tightly guarded secret but there is no doubt that it will be built upon a robust foundation.  Northern Kentucky experiences freeze/ thaw cycles in the winter months and that heaving alone would soon negatively affect the integrity of the structure.

There are no Marine engineers on planet earth that have concluded that the ark could be seaworthy, that is, without some supernatural agent suspending the laws of physics and nature.

It is impossible for a ship of that material and construction to float on water for more than a very short period of time and anyone making the claim that Noah's ark as described in the bible was seaworthy is just plain nuts.