Error in Article & what should be done.

Glenn Morton (
Wed, 11 Feb 1998 18:42:29 -0600

I never find it easy to admit publically I made a mistake in something I
have written. It doesn't matter that I have had to do this on numerous
occasions, most recently concerning the salt/molecule definition of atoms.
When one is face with admitting error one has several choices:

1. Ignore the thing and hope it goes away or no one else notices.

This is not a very good or honest approach to the problem and doesn't lay
the basis for future trust from others when one needs it.

2. Appeal to the future. Future science will solve the problem and turn the
error into non-error.

Once again, not a very useful procedure because one can appeal to future
science for anything, when what we must deal with is today's science. God
put us in the 20th century not the 22nd century. I presume it is because He
wanted us to deal with today's science not tomorrow's.

3. Disparage the person who discovers the error. Say he is biased and only
his bias prevents him from seeing the truth.

Probably the meanest and nastiest approach to the problem of error but which
is used with great success by many both in and outside of the faith.

4. Come clean and admit it.

It is the only course of action which really is appropriate. This is what
one simply must do no matter how painful or embarassing the error.

Now to the admission of my error which is not awful or devastating, just
embarassing. It is not particularly harmful to my views, but I hate this
admission anyway. Allan McCarrick has informed me of an error in footnote 18
of my article "The Mediterranean Flood" in the Dec. 1997 PSCF, p. 238-251

I want to express my appreciation to Allan for his vigilence against
mathematical error. I totally messed up the heat calculation in the ark.
The equation I used was wrong. The conclusion, that a relatively tightly
bound ark would be too hot, however, remains correct, but the way I got
there was wrong.
I have had several people look at the following, but any error that might
turn up in this is my responsibility not theirs.

In Genesis 6:15-16 Noah is told to build an ark, pitched inside and out
having 3 decks, one door and "finished to within 18 inches of the top" (NIV).

There is no mention of windows in the above description. If there was a
window around the entire ark it would appear only to be 18 inches tall and
incapable of ventilating the lower decks.

The only mention of a window is in Genesis 8:6 when Noah opened the window
(singular not plural (NIV)). The window presumably had been previously
closed because Noah opened it. Now, given the sparse evidence for rows of
windows on the ark, here is what the temperature calculations would require.

I chose the dimensions for the ark given in the NIV which is 450 feet x 75 x
45. I had originally only allowed heat to escape from the top of the ark
because of the thermal conductivity of the wood (2 x 10^-4 cal/cm/sec/deg C)
and the need for thick wood to structurally support the sides and bottom of
the ark. Only the top could be thin enough for energy to escape. Heat
escape through the thicker sides and bottom would be negligible. Thus the
top would be 450' x 75' or 137 m x 22 m which gives me the value that I used
of 31,370,000 cm^2.

Given the 35,000 sheepsized animals on the ark which Morris and Whitcomb say
were there, and assuming that each sheep used energy like a human, say
2,000,000 calories per day and that the surface area of the ark's roof were
31,370,000 cm^2 then

2,000,000*35,000=70,000,000,000 calories

dividing this by the surface area of just the roof gives

70,000,000,000/31,370,000 cm^2=2231 calories per cm^2/day or .025 calories
/cm^2 /sec.

Now this is just shy of the amount of energy recieved by the sun at the
equator at noon which is .033 calories /cm^2/sec. Assuming that the wood
has a thermal conductivity of 2.0E-4 cal/(cm sec deg C) in order to conduct
the requisite heat through the roof of the ark we use:

flux = -(conductivity)*(area)*(dT/dX)

0.025 = -2.0E-04 * 1 * (dT/dX)

DT/DX= 0.025/(-2.0E-4) = -125 deg C/cm

If we assume that the roof of the ark was 3 centimeters (~1 inch) thick
board, we have a temperature difference across the ark's roof of 375 deg C!
The actual temperature might be a bit more or less than this since there
would be some heat escape through other sides of the ark but the roof just
might need to be thicker than ~1 inch. I would argue that the roof would
need to be thicker.

Because of this problem the ark would become exceedingly hot, especially on
the lower deck which had no possibility of a window.

I apologize to the readers of the ASA for this error. It has no effect on
the thesis I advocate, but truth needs to be served.


Adam, Apes, and Anthropology: Finding the Soul of Fossil Man


Foundation, Fall and Flood