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Chinese glyph for "ark" is literally "8 mouths" (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Chinese glyph for "ark" is literally "8 mouths" (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CG101:

The Chinese glyph for "ship" is made up of pictographs for "vessel", "eight", and "mouth", indicating the eight passengers on Noah's Ark.


  • Kang, C. H. and Ethel R. Nelson, 1979. The Discovery of Genesis, St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.
  • van Arnhem, Cees, 2002. The Genesis site: Chinese characters.

CreationWiki response: It is interesting that The Genesis Site (now off-line) gave 44 such Chinese glyphs, yet Talk.Origins only attacks the one for boat. However, it is possible that The Genesis Site may have overstretched the meaning of these glyphs. (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. The Chinese character for boat (chuan 2) consists of the boat radical on the left and a phonetic element on the right.

This is actually Talk.Origins' best response to this claim. Unfortunately it would take an unbiased linguist in Chinese to settle this. Talk.Origins' reference is neither unbiased nor a linguist. Even if this one is a dud, The Genesis Site had 43 more. One mistake in 44 examples would be a rather good accuracy rate.

This is a classic evolutionary response: start by assuming one's own position to be true, end up by making the creationist case anyway. Talk.Origins assumes without proof that the ancient characters used exactly the same syntax as modern, simplified characters, and uses that as evidence. Evidently, they failed to consider the full implications of their assertion: if it is true, then the ancient Chinese, when developing their first script, used symbols to represent both ideas and the sound of the words for those ideas.

The phonetic element has two parts. The upper part is a primitive ideograph for "divide", though it looks the same as the character for "eight." The lower part is the pictograph for "mouth." However, these two elements have only phonetic significance.

If it "looks the same as ... 'eight,'" then why can't it be 'eight'?

2. The "vessel" on the left side of the glyph is a pictograph of a dugout canoe, nothing like an ark.

This response is rather weak, since the meaning is still "vessel". No one said the glyphs were always that precise.

3. Noah's Ark carried very many more than eight mouths.

No kidding, but there were only eight people on Noah's Ark.

4. No flood myths from China include an ark with eight passengers.

This is begging the question. The point is that if the biblical history is true, the Chinese people would be descended from Noah and his family. Even if they had forgotten this aspect of their history, the claim would be that the characters are evidence of that part of Chinese history.

However, the Chinese classic called the Hihking tells how the "family of Fuhi," was saved from a great flood. It says that the entire land was flooded, including the mountains and one family survived in a boat. The Chinese consider Fuhi to be the father of their civilization. The Flood was survived only by Fuhi, his wife, three sons, and three daughters. Being the only people left alive, they repopulated the world.

Lets see: We have Fuhi and his wife, that's two. We have their sons, that's three, and we have their daughters, that's three.

And 2 + 3 + 3 = 8.

So China does have a Flood legend with eight people in an Ark.

Reference: Panning for Traces of the Flood.

Further reading

CMIstill misrepresents ancient Chinese language?

See Also