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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Response to 'Part Two' of AIG Response to my Post, "More Lies from Ken Ham"

So, just for the record, I am merely a person who got a degree in mechanical eng back in 1970,  but only worked a few years in that field, and a person who built two wooden Row boats, one flat bottomed and one deep "V."  Thus I am no authority on wooden ships except for a lot of study back in the day when I built my own.  And next, I didn't ask for this discussion, I was merely responding to the questions from a couple of my friends.  But since it is, in fact a public blog, I have no animosity to the response from AIG,  In fact, I am rather honored. I must have hit a nerve for them to waste their time on some anonymous blogger.
 Even more importantly, the response was the impetus for looking into this matter once again, and more comprehensively.  The ultimate answer is conclusive.  The maximum length of wooden ships was reached at about 350 feet- wood, no matter how you cut it, has definite, defined, limitations, 100 feet short of the supposed Ark.
I have visited the Creation museum ( I can prove this with plenty of evidence) and their authentic depiction of a scaled down cross section of the Ark, which has no metal in it.  It is flat bottom and braced with timbers of the post and beam design.  The sides are of Carvel design.  It is well understood that the limitations of wood and ancient style of architecture limit the length of a wooden boat to some length under 350 feet that were achieved with 19th and 20th century technology. 
Part two will show this to be consistent with the historical evidence.

Red = my original post
Black= Tim Lovett's response
Green= My rebuttal

I said (Frog)Anyone who has ever built a wooden boat of any length knows very well that they are impossible to seal 100%.

He wrote (Tim)That’s a sweeping statement. Planked wooden boats are prone to leakage if they flex with slip, but a rigid vessel (e.g., cold molded) can be sealed and made watertight. The Bible specifies that Noah used pitch, just like wooden ships from ancient times to the 1900s. In addition, Noah was instructed to use pitch inside as well as out, which may have been to stabilize the wood over a long construction period.

(Frog)Preposterous. Pitch is pliable, and nothing like materials that are used for cold molding, such as fiber glass or laminations which require modern epoxies.  Racking and deflection would open the pitch joints in short order. 
There is nothing in scripture or in reality that suggest the Ark was cold molded or rigid.
The wood will also expand and contract, further opening the thousands of seams/ joints.

Wood expands when wet and contracts when dry. If a pitched joint allowed water to seep into the wood, the resulting expansion of the planks acts to seal the faulty joint tight.

Just a moment ago you were trying to make a case for a rigid 'cold molded' vessel.  Cold molding would not allow water to penetrate into the wood.  Which way is it?
Also, why is it that no wooden ships over 350 feet were never built?  It's because even at 350 feet iron and steel reinforcement was needed.  The practical length of wooden ships had been reached.

 The expansion of moist wood counteracts the opening of seams and joints, and the wood will not contract again until the Ark is sitting on dry ground, after it’s all over.

Deflection of the timbers from longitudinal torque would soon wear the pitch from the seams as they "twisted and buckled" as happened on the Wyoming.
Its not a matter of if she'll leak, its just a matter of how much.  That scheme worked fairly well in small vessels only due to less deflection.

"…. the ancient Greeks seemed quite capable of taking their triremes in and out of the water—drawing them up onto the beach to prevent water logging and keep them lightweight."

Indeed, and when they were out of water they were undergoing repairs of all kinds. They were tiny in relation to the size of the supposed Ark and within the limits of reliable wooden construction.

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.

That “somewhere” water is ocean water where much originated in the springs of the great deep. AiG favors the tectonic plate Flood model as a flood mechanism, as you can read yourself on the AiG website !
According to Dr. John Baumgardner—a world expert in computer modeling of the earth’s mantle and leading proponent of the tectonic mechanism for the global Flood—the initial inundation would be very severe, subsiding somewhat by the time the waters reached a higher altitude Ark launch site. This would explain why all other ships were destroyed, since they started at sea level.

So, you are saying that the continents all ripped across the open ocean and the entire geologic column was laid down by the time the water got up to the level at which the Ark was built?  And just where do you find this in scripture?  Again, you are asking the bible to do something it was never intended to do and you proceed with wild speculation.  And Baumgarardner's make believe stories have been debunked with concrete evidence and valid science over and over again.  Shoehorning more myths into bible myths is absurd.

Once afloat, the average depth of water of almost two miles (three km)3 would have shielded the Ark from tectonic activity. Deep water is safe in a tsunami. The Ark had to survive the ocean surface, not the massive sediment flows at and near the seabed.

So, the ocean was calm on top with trillions of tons of stuff moving around on the sea floor?
What would be driving those flows?  And, it is wind that produces high seas and neither one of us is going to find out from the bible if there was wind or what the windspeed was.  There is no evidence for all of this crackpottery.

[Paragraph omitted by invoking Gish Gallop with nothing pertaining to the subject at hand]

Comparing the Ark to Other Ships

(Frog)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.

(Tim)A Great Lakes barge? So you conveniently cherry-picked a barge that lasted 5 years while a 1909 wooden schooner of similar length (Wyoming) lasted 15 years, and paid for itself many times over.

(Frog)Actually, I didn't cherry pick anything.  I merely grabbed a couple examples, and as you will go on to prove, none of them were seaworthy enough to last a year on the ocean without major and constant repairs, constant pumping, and iron/steel reinforcement.
The Wyoming is a perfect example. 
"Because of her length and wood construction, Wyoming flexed in heavy seas, which would cause the long planks to twist and buckle, thereby allowing sea water to intrude into the hold.
Wyoming had to use pumps to keep her hold relatively free of water. In March 1924, she foundered in heavy seas and sank with the loss of all hands."
 And again, the Wyoming was much smaller than the supposed Ark.

 Another ship of Pretorian length was the 1853 clipper Great Republic, which survived a fire and lasted another nineteen years.

The Great Republic was, of course, like all the others, much smaller than the Ark.  She was reinforced with 336 1/2 tons of iron and 56 tons of copper. She was Launched on October 4, 1853- And burned on On December 27, 1853. She was salvaged and rebuilt as a much smaller iron reinforced vessel.  Both Great Republics were much smaller than the supposed Ark.

 (Tim)These ships were commercial workhorses built as quickly as possible and with an expected working life of only 12–15 years or as little as ten. Yes, they leaked excessively as the hull worked loose because the stiffness of the hull depended almost entirely on the tightness of caulking. Even placing two pins in each plank gave little improvement.

(Frog)Isn't most anything built as fast as possible?  They were still built to the architects specifications.  And, the "stiffness of the hull depended on the tightness of the caulking"??  The Ark had only pitch, which is a very poor caulking.  Also, caulking does nothing to increase stiffness, it only plugs the cracks.  You are getting way out there, lil buddy.
I am very surprised that an "expert" would claim that "the stiffness of the hull depended almost entirely on the caulking."   That is not true at all. 

(Frog) 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.

(Tim) Steel (well, iron actually) is not the only way to brace a wooden ship. House framing needs bracing, too, and this can be done either by steel straps or plywood sheathing.

Yes, and Noah had neither.

Now let’s look at the carvel planking technique that dominated wooden shipbuilding in the last few centuries.  The method was simple and quick, but prone to racking because the parallel planks were “nailed” to parallel frames.  The only bracing was the caulking itself, so a new ship didn’t stay a “tight ship” for very long.

I don't know what you're on, lil buddy, but you're on it out in left field.  Caulking has nothing to do with bracing. 
Caulking  on wooden vessels uses fibers of cotton and hemp fiber soaked in pine tar to seal the cracks. Caulking was driven into the seams between planks. Caulking addd no structural strength.

 Larger ships were subject to higher forces, which sped up the loosening of the caulked planks, leading to reinforcement by means of iron straps. These diagonal straps certainly helped improve a bad design and gave the single layer of carvel planking some much-needed shear resistance. But the steel straps were pinned (bolted) to softer wooden frames, a considerable stress concentration especially at the ends of the straps.
This led to the next patch-up: steel plates at the top and bottom to secure the diagonal bracing. Okay, that kept the hull sides intact, but now the problem was transmitted to the top deck.

Yes, but what is your point?  Noah had no iron bracing.

Later, during World War I, steel was scarce and wooden supply ships were being built in a hurry.11 Naval architects revisiting the carvel hull bending problem made big increases to keelson depth and upper deck reinforcement (using clamp and shelf strakes). One design aimed to “produce a boat which will have strength equivalent to that of a steel hull without using excessive amounts of timber.” It had a double layer of diagonal planking under the standard planks. That’s not a carvel hull, that’s cold molded, just like the wooden minesweepers built in the 1990s.

The  Avenger-class wooden minesweepers that you are referring to  was commissioned in 1994. The 224-foot hull was framed in wood and planked with diagonal layers of fir, then covered with fiberglass.
Noah did not have fiber glass, nor did he have the technology to make thin strips of underlayment and no glue to make them stiff.  As far as I know the longest composite/ fiber glass boat ever built was the Mirabella V at 247 ft.  You're still over a hundred feet from what you need to float the Ark.

So the short-comings of a carvel hull are not easily corrected. The better way is to use a planking method with inherent shear strength, akin to a house frame braced with plywood instead of clapboards (also called lap siding or weatherboards).

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.

Sorry, there’s an HMS Orlando (1858-1871) made of wood with iron bracing or a later HMSOrlando (1886-1905) with an iron hull. Read the PBS website.16 So I am helping you with your argument, even the 1858 Orlando had iron bracing (although you did try to cut its lifespan down from 13 years to 2).

Yes, indeed you are helping prove the point that no wooden ship the size of the ark has ever sailed because even smaller ships could not be made seaworthy or reliable.
the construction and use histories of these ships  (at only 335 feet) show that they were already pushing or had exceeded the practical limits for that size of wooden ships.

It is easy to cherry-pick poor performersPretoria and Orlando—because these ships were based on carvel hull anyway, built like a “bundle of reeds.” There are much better ways to build a wooden ship.

Whaaaa?????  carvel planking is a method of boat building where planks are fastened edge to edge, gaining support from the frame and forming a smooth surface.  I see no similarity at all  between that and a 'bundle of reeds.'  And there is no reason to believe that the Ark did not use Carvel planking, or perhaps a Lapstrake, where the edges of hull planks overlap.

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.

Since you mention “Keel ships” and “V” shapes, you might be referring to deadrise—a “V” shaped bottom—something that has been around since antiquity. Most modern ships have a flat bottom (no deadrise) amidships, which is stable too and increases carrying capacity.
Or perhaps by “V” shaped you mean a pointed bow in conjunction with a prominent keel, improving directional stability when the vessel is making way. Indeed, that can be read on the AiG website too.

There is no point in discussing modern ships.  By a keel I mean a deadrise which slops up from a keel which increases the strength of the hull, by triangulation, and for which there is no evidence in scripture that the ark was built upon a laid keel. I explained this in my next paragraph.

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.

A straight-sided box with corners? Anyone claiming to “peruse” the AiG website on a weekly basis would quickly find a ship-like Ark with three keels (see Feedback: Ark Design and Thinking Outside the Box for example).

That is pure guesswork.  There is no evidence that the Ark was built in that manner. Sometimes one can think so far out side the box that no box remains, and it is easy use "think outside the box"  as a euphemism for wild guessing. 

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.

Yes, I agree that your idea of hand-bailing is absurd. Power for winching or pumping can come from other sources, like wave motion, wind, or animal draft power.

So now, in addition to the on-board wastewater treatment system with wooden anaerobic sludge digestion tanks and bamboo piping, (mentioned in a recent AIG article) we're going to have bronze-age pumps powered by windmills and having the resident animals pacing on treadmills or around a post (btw, aren't all the animals supposed to be infants or in hibernation or something?)? you are doing an extraordinary job showing the absurdity of this all on your own. It's becoming a farcical cross between The Flintstones and Gilligan's Island at every succeeding step that you take.You are trying to make the bible something that it was never meant to be.

Finally, Johan Huibers from the Netherlands has built a 1/2 scale ark.

No, he also built a full-scale Ark. Initially he built a half-scale Ark (in 2007)—you can read about it on the AiG website. In 2012, Johan completed his second Ark, this time at full-scale. You can read about it on the AiG website News to Note, December 15, 2012 and Noah’s Ark in the Netherlands!

Yeah and he planned to sail it around the world, but it too was unseaworthy!  :)  So it was installed on barges and towed via canals to the port of Rotterdam where it is on display. 

(Tim) Come back next week for my response to the claim that Noah’s Ark was unseaworthy as I finish my analysis of this critique of our article.
With regards,


Thanks for trying, Tim.

Are wooden ships reliable?  Yes, to a degree.  Yet as wooden ships approached the length of 350 feet the point was reached where they were not reliable even with 19th century technology
My original post was merely to show the concept of why wooden ships the size of the Ark were never feasible or seaworthy and how all the efforts of nineteenth and twentieth century shipbuilders at the height of their skills could not make an all-wooden ship the size of the Ark that would float for any extended length of time.

I will also maintain that if anyone ever really thought they could build an Ark sized wooden vessel and go out on the ocean for one year with 8 people and all those animals, they would have done it by now.
And if you really have any balls, then go ahead and build one and prove your commitment.

All of the history of ship building shows perfectly well that once the length of 350 feet was approached, the integrity of the vessel vanishes.  That became clear once ships of 350 feet were attempted.  Even with iron and steel bracing those ships leaked terribly and needed constant pumping out of water and maintenance.
History and experience also shows very well that no wooden ship of 450 feet in length hass ever even been attempted due to the failures of much smaller vessels, and it is clear that the materials and technology of the 23rd century BCE could not have supported such a vessel.

The only conclusion that can be arrived at is that the bible story of Noah's Ark is merely a story from someone's imagination in an attempt to make the story bigger than life.  It shows that the ancients had no clue as to the limits of building an all wooden ship.

Is there a moral to the story?  Sure, as there are to many bible stories, told as we would expect from ancient men with no understanding of sociology and the other sciences.

But to be sure, the Ark story probably had a seed of truth about some local flood in ancient times, but the idea that a 450 all wooden ship sailed the oceans for an entire year is preposterous beyond description.

Respectfully submitted,


1 comment:

BaldySlaphead said...

Excellently argued, Froggie; you make your points well and convincingly (not that it will make the slightest difference to AiG, more's the pity). However, it's only fair to acknowledge you're arguing with the deluded, which gives you a rather unfair advantage.