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Discovery Magazine 9/1/2018


The Master Ship Builder

Engineering is a field of science that studies how to build things. Engineers are scientists who work in this field. Think for a minute about all the things that might require an engineer. Do you ride in a car? How does the gas go into the motor without blowing the car up? Engineers figured that out (in the past, however, they sometimes got it wrong and some cars did blow up). How can we build huge skyscrapers that can stay up even when strong winds blow against them? Engineers study the strongest designs and materials and help builders know what to do. What about huge ships that can carry thousands of people on cruises? How can we design them to stay afloat with so much weight on them? Again, the answer is that brilliant engineers have studied the natural world and learned how to design such amazing vessels.

When we go to the Bible, we find a fascinating example of engineering genius. In Genesis 6:15, God instructed Noah to build an ark that was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. A cubit is a measure of length. It was probably about 18 inches. That would mean the Ark would have been 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. This is a ratio of 30 to 5 to 3 (length to width to height). The ark was one of the largest floating ships ever created for thousands of years.

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As it turns out, these measurements are perfect for a huge boat built to stay afloat rather than for speed. Obviously the ark was not built for speed, since it had nowhere to go! What is more, shipbuilders during World War II used a similar 30:5:3 ratio to build the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, which eventually was nicknamed “the ugly duckling”—a barge-like boat built to carry huge amounts of cargo.

The same ratio Noah used was still excellent to use thousands of years after he built the Ark. How did Noah know the perfect measurements? Modern engineers have many years of shipbuilding knowledge and information to use. Noah did not have such information. And Moses, who wrote down the information in Genesis 6, certainly was not a shipbuilding engineer. Where did he get such information? From the Master Builder! This is a great example of scientific foreknowledge in the Bible. We should thank God for inspiring such a wonderful book.




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