We have received so many questions about the Ark Encounter based on misconceptions about the project itself. Some of these come from people who are supporters and others come from critics and skeptics. These types of questions give us an opportunity to correct these misunderstandings, so we’ll spend several posts addressing these issues.
Question: Why doesn’t your Ark look like a box, since that’s how the Bible describes it?
This question is similar to the inquiries we’ve received about our Ark displaying a bow fin (sail-like structure). The question may come from a skeptic seeking to mock the project or from a concerned supporter who, for whatever reason, has been led to believe that the Bible describes the Ark as a box-shaped object.
Consider what the Bible actually tells us about the Ark’s design:
Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. (Genesis 6:14–16)
The length, width, and height of the Ark are given, but to conclude that the text demands a box-shaped Ark goes beyond the normal use of how we describe size. For example, when we say that someone is six feet tall, we do not mean that he has a flat head that evenly lines up with his shoulders six feet above the soles of his feet; we simply mean that at the very top of his head is six feet high. The same is true when dimensions are listed for many other items, such as cars or ships as this article explains.
The text does not rule out a box-shaped Ark, so if one already has the box idea in mind when reading Scripture, it will be natural to assume that this is what God described for Noah. Yet it should be pointed out that even the traditional-looking boxy Ark is often not portrayed as being completely flat on the roof. Instead the roof is marginally sloped and there is often a long, low projection for the window on the top. So if one has this concept in mind, it isn’t really fair to criticize the streamlined and more stable Ark that we plan to build.
We should be cautious in expressing certainty about the Ark’s shape, and we need to remember that we are only given a few details in the text. Did God give Noah far more details than what were recorded? We can’t be sure. Did He simply give Noah what we have in Scripture and leave Noah to figure out the rest? Again, we can’t be sure. We should also recognize that throughout history, the Ark has been depicted in various ways, many of which have been attempts to faithfully represent the biblical data.
One thing we can be sure of regarding the Ark’s shape is that it was not a cutesy bathtub Ark so often portrayed in children’s books. These charming images give the false impression that Noah’s Ark and the Flood were just fairy tales. Our Ark will be designed to remind the world of the reality of God’s catastrophic judgment on sin and His tremendous mercy in the midst of the Flood.