Why Noah’s Ark?
When first encountering Young Earth Creationist literature, most people wonder why they seem to have such an obsession with Noah’s Ark. Even among Christians, the flood account is not discussed much outside of the Young Earth community. The Bible is a very long book, and the 3 chapters about the flood barely take up a page and a half in most Bibles. It’s a fun story for Sunday school because it allows crafts with all kinds of cute animals, but it’s not a passage that most Christians see as central to their faith.
But these few pages are the basis of nearly all everything in the YEC world. If you visit the homepage of any major YEC organisation, it’s almost certain that Noah or the flood will be mentioned on the first page. Why? Is this just some random obsession within this tiny community?
When I ask YECs this question, they generally say that this account is the most attacked by atheists. I see no evidence that this is true. I’ve been to a lot of atheist meetings and conferences and I can scarcely remember any where Noah’s Ark was even mentioned. Other than people who grew up in young-earth communities, most atheists know little about the story beyond it being about some animals on a boat, and have no particular interest in it. Videos and articles on this subject have a tendency to go viral within the Young-Earth community, but get little attention outside of it. It’s their obsession, not ours.
It could be that they are confusing attacks from atheists with attacks from other Christians, as they often do. Because the interpretation of the flood account is one of the major points of disagreement between YECs and mainstream Christians, it makes sense that this is often what they argue about. But that answer kind of begs the question, doesn’t it? How did this become a major point of disagreement? Why are these three little chapters so contentious? What makes this account so important to them that it’s worth fighting with the rest of Christianity over? The conflict is the result of this obsession, not its cause!
I think that the real reason is that Christians that want to use the Bible to explain the world around them have limited material to work with. The vast majority of the Bible is focused on the adventures of a small tribe wandering on foot around a tiny portion of the world. However, the scientific evidence that contradicts the Biblical narratives tends to be global or even universal in scale. It’s pretty hard to explain the existence of dinosaur fossils by referencing a small tribe in the Middle East conducting a census, or carbon dating by that same tribe winning or losing a battle.
The story of the flood in Genesis 6-8 is one of the very few stories in the Bible that covers the whole world. That is what makes the flood the focus of most YEC literature.