In my last post I left out one proposed cubit size, because it deserves its own post. Not because it’s particularly different or influential, but because it amuses me that David Fasold may be the first person to perform a silly mathemagic trick on himself and be astounded!
David Fasold was a marine salvage expert who wrote a book (Ark of Noah) about a rock structure in Turkey known as the Durupınar site. At the time, he believed this structure was the remains of Noah’s Ark. He was always a controversial figure in the YEC community, particularly because he occasionally took the word of flood myths from other cultures over the Biblical account. In 1996 Fasold co-authored a paper admitting that the structure was a completely natural formation1. Major YEC organizations such as Answers in Genesis (AIG), Creation Ministries International (CMI) and Institute for Creation Research (ICR) agree that this is not the Ark, and the most well known advocate for this site, Ron Wyatt, died in 1999. However, you still often see claims about this site circulating on social media. Furthermore, many of the ideas from Fasold’s original book seem to have worked their way into the YEC literature and continue to be discussed today, even though they were based on what most agree was an irrelevant hunk of rock.
If you hear about the Durupınar site on social media, you will likely hear the claim that it is “the exact dimensions described in the Bible”. This, of course, depends on the size of the cubit. The actual length of the rock formation is 164 m (538 ft). Fasold argues that this is due to distortion, and the original was 157m (515 feet), matching the Egyptian Royal Cubit. But Fasold justified that cubit size with some absolutely dizzying numerology.
He says that this number is correct, because it makes six cubits equal to pi meters. Which certainly isn’t logically impossible or anything, so presumably an omniscient God could pull it off, but thinking about the logistics of these miracles always makes me giggle.
This equals 61802 inches, which are the first four digits after the one in phi, the golden ratio3 (God obviously encoded this message in both imperial and metric units, so that you would need an international perspective to figure it out).
Now we get to the truly amazing part! If you double the width of the ark in inches you get the hypotenuse of a triangle with a length of 100 and the same angle as the Egyptian pyramids! This also just happens to be the length of a cubit in inches! Are you amazed? If so, you’re not paying attention.
The ark is 50 cubits wide. When you double 50 cubits you get 100 cubits. When you ignore decimal places, 100 cubits is the same as 1 cubit. It doesn’t matter what conversion you use for cubits, if you multiply the width by 2, it will always be the same if you ignore decimal places. There’s nothing miraculous about it. But nonsense like this is hidden in pages and pages of text that confuse the reader.
I kind of like these games, so I’d like to add my own here. If you take half of Fasold’s length for the Ark and convert it to sheppy, the unit coined by Douglas Adams & John Lloyd to represent “the closest distance at which sheep remain picturesque”, equal to approximately 7/8ths of a mile, you get 42 sheppy. And 42 is the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything in Douglas Adams’ the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!
Obviously, you could play these games with any random cubit size you chose. There is nothing actually special about Fasold’s choice, he’s just making things up to force a random rock formation to match the story. He goes on with this nonsense for pages, even pulling the same multiply-by-100-then-ignore-decimal-places trick twice. I can’t tell if he is being deliberately deceptive or if he’s just so bad at math that he really is fooling himself. Either way, it’s just sad.
The other big problem is that no matter what cubit size you use, the length to width ratio of the Durupinar site does not match the Bible. If the length was 157m (515 feet), then the width should be 26m (86 ft). But the width of the Durupinar formation is 42m (138 feet). In the book, Fasold brushes this off, stating “I’m sure it contains the same volume as the rectangle described in scripture” and “It may have been referring to volume, or capacity, and using a rectangle to convey the idea”. Later, he states that the actual width of the ship is the golden ratio multiplied by the number given in the Bible, although he gives no explanation why the correct width wouldn’t be given in the Bible. He also later gives a volume of the ship that is not equivalent to the volume given in the Bible.4
Over all it’s just a mess of random numbers.
- L. G. Collins, “BOGUS “NOAH’S ARK FROM TURKEY EXPOSED AS A COMMON GEOLOGIC STRUCTURE,” Journal of Geosciences Education, pp. 439-444, 1996. ↩︎
- If you actually multiply the unrounded numbers out you actually get 6184 inches, so you have to add some arbitrary rounding error into your arbitrary unit conversions to get this to work. ↩︎
- The ratio of pi/phi is irrational, so as long as you are multiplying and dividing by rational numbers there is no possible way to actually get from pi to phi without the rounding error. ↩︎
- On page 251 he gives the volume of the Ark in cattle cars. Using his 20.6 inch cubit, the Ark should be 920 cattle cars in volume, but the number he gives is 852. ↩︎