Today’s Irreconcilable Religious Factoid: Noah and the Flood

6 06 2008

Today I ask the faithful the question:

“Do you believe the story of Noah and the flood? Why or why not?”

Sounds simple enough, but I imagine there is a broad spectrum of opinions on this well known story.  Not to ruin the surprise but I think the story is completely ridiculous.  I know, you’re shocked to hear that.  But I’ve heard young earthers talk about the flood in the context of ridding the earth of dinosaurs and creating the Grand Canyon.  Hell, there’s a whole section of the creationist museum in Cincinnati devoted to convincing people that the Noah story is true.

So c’mon people, what am I missing here?  Convince me God pulled off this amazing story…or are you just going to wuss out and tell me this is yet another example of the Bible teaching in parables?

Evangelically yours (in a completely heterosexual way),

Super J.

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22 responses

6 06 2008
Buddy Fazzio

Even given the creationist stance that there could have been just 2000 pairs of animals on the Ark it is impossible. Looking at just 100 of the biggest animals gives us about 8 tons of excrement daily. 8 people could not haul 8 tons of shit up to the one little window the Ark had for ventilation every day for at least 150 days (it flooded 40 days and nights, but the waters were on the earth 150 days). Everything on the ark would have died from Methane and Amonia poisoing within a couple of weeks.

6 06 2008
Kat Stewart

Now that’s REALLY a bunch of shit! 😉

6 06 2008
Shaine B. Parker

There also would not have been enough room even if using an aircraft carrier. Not to mention feed for the animals.

8 06 2008
poppies

There’s a reason that it’s pretty easy to dismiss young-earther claims: they’re not biblical.

Check out http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/skeptics/noahzoo.shtml.

8 06 2008
SuperJesus

@poppies: Ah yes, the classic “The Bible doesn’t say that” defense. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone dismiss Biblical conflicts with some form of “you must translate the Bible yourself from the original Hebrew” I think I could afford to ignore the other 20 english language Bibles already out there and finally make the one “good” version with a my own translation. Right.

So you’re saying that it makes more sense because one article changes God’s command to gather “two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground” to “just mammals and livestock birds”? That’s pretty amazing since God did also seem to say he was going to flood the whole earth and kill all the animals. I know the Noah story doesn’t make any sense but your awkward reinterpretation of it leaves it making even less sense.

8 06 2008
poppies

Super J, there are two possibilities I see as to why translation issues come up so often: either Christians are trying to evade explaining illogical texts, or it’s quite difficult to translate an ancient eastern language and conceptual framework into a modern western language and framework. As someone who has taken the time to study the Hebrew and Greek, you can guess which possibility I find more tenable.

As for the “whole earth” misunderstanding, check out http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/flood.shtml.

And finally, as for “my” reinterpretation making less sense, please provide specific examples of such; I’m more than happy to clear up anything that’s unclear.

8 06 2008
SuperJesus

To his credit Hugh Ross, Ph.D. sure does spend a great deal of time performing remarkable feats of theological gymnastics to try to make the Noah story sound plausible. Again, he clearly recognizes that the story is simply silly as written. In the previous article he uses alternate translations of Hebrew words to change the animals on the ark from 2 of every kind to just, well, mammals and chickens. Now in this article he’s resorted to limiting the overall scope of the flood to a strong rainfall in the suburbs of Mesopotamia.

Really now, if he’s serious about all this I’m going to have to start to question the “omnipotence” of this so called God you’re peddling.

No offense poppies, but you’ve ignored a third possibility. The text everyone has been straining to translate into something vaguely coherent is in fact a collection of poorly written fairy tales from a a time long before science (and decent science fiction). Just my guess.

8 06 2008
Barbara

Just curious poppies, why would a god destroy those not capable of sin? Even if you in any way show that this story had any validity, which it seems your link is more mere assertion, why would this god destroy that which isn’t capable of sin. Why not say, take the infants and small children?

8 06 2008
poppies

@Super J: I can totally understand how you would embrace the “third possibility” you mention. I assure you that while I haven’t mentioned it here, I certainly haven’t ignored it, and really, for most of my life, I thought of that as clearly the case with these stories. I considered them myths at best, and propaganda at worst.

Because of that background, I completely get where you’re coming from, and I really can’t imagine what I could possibly say or do to convince you to charitably consider the notion that the Bible is remarkably logical and explanatory when analyzed in light of Ancient Near East conventions. Anyone trying to convince my former self of this would have faced an impossible task, since it just seemed so *obvious* to me that these stories were the attempts of ancient nomads to explain that for which they had no scientific framework.

Mark Twain supposedly said “whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reform,” and given that most people in modern culture view these stories as parables, myths, fairy tales (even the “religious”), it makes me tread carefully. In my studies of history, I’ve found that most of the biggest intellectual errors occurred as a result of someone toeing the line of their culture’s prejudices and unquestioned assumptions.

@Barbara: It seems to me that the veil of true curiosity over your argument from outrage is so thin as to be invisible. I could be wrong, and if you really care to delve into the complex issues surrounding your “questions”, we can work out a forum.

9 06 2008
SuperJesus

@poppies: I’m with you on the Twain quote however I find your (paraphrased) position that “the Noah’s Ark story is not a parable but perhaps a literal story but with limited regional impact” to be far more religiously apologetic than rebellious. Given that 90% of Americans proclaim an evidence-free belief in God, one might think the more Twain-esque reformative act would be to question that commonly held assumption rather than coming up with yet another way to rationalize the unbelievable.

I don’t think the story is a myth because, like you, I think that there were ancient floods that these stories are based upon. I also don’t see it as propaganda because that has a very sinister tone and I’m not sure what real manipulation could be found in telling such an impossibly inflated tale.

I think it’s just a story. A story that found its way into a number of religious books (it’s not just in the Bible) which by inclusion and exaggeration has been given clearly unjustified meaning.

9 06 2008
Barbara

@poppies
I see no hostility in my question.

What I am addressing is the fact that god chose (and this is in many biblical stories) to include infants and children because of the “sins” of their fathers. Not their own sins. My question is legitimate. Dr. Ross points this out as I’ve added below.

“As I mentioned in part seven of this series, the Bible is very specific about the extent of the defilement of man’s sin and about God’s response. The defilement is limited to the sinners, their progeny for several generations, birds and mammals which are part of their livelihood, their material possessions, and their agricultural land.”

I am always surprised at reading apologetic writings. I would think that in defense of this type of action you would rather have the story read as parable rather than an actual historical event which shows a very angry and petulant god.

11 06 2008
Chris

My question is:

If all “kinds” the animals traveled to the ark from all the corners of the world. How did they bring their food?
Koalas eat eucalyptus leaves exclusively. Eucalyptus grows exclusively on Australia. Pandas eat bamboo exclusively. How did Noah and his family get enough eucalyptus and bamboo to feed those animals for 40 days?
Did Noah store pounds of raw meat to feed the lions and tigers? Or did he bring extra livestock on board for such a purpose?
Also, the bible makes it quite clear ALL mankind and animals were destroyed except those on the ark. Where did the people that Noah’s grandchildren married come from?

11 06 2008
Chris

This website attempts to explain the problem with the number of animals. Complete with a Doggie Incest Fact Chart that I just love.

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/how-did-animals-spread

11 06 2008
SuperJesus

@Chris: What an awesome link! Check this quote out.

“The Bible is clear that representatives of all the kinds of air-breathing land animals and birds were present on the Ark. A technical term used by some creation scientists for these kinds is baramin—derived from the Hebrew words for created kind. Within these baramins is all the information necessary to produce all current species. For example, it is unlikely that the Ark contained two lions and two tigers. It is more likely that it contained two feline animals, from which lions, tigers, and other cat-like creatures have developed.”

I just love how they say “developed” and judiciously avoid the problematic (albeit more correct) “evolved”. That’s just awesome!

11 06 2008
SuperJesus

@Chris: Holy crap (literally) that page is a gold mine! I was going to make another comment here but I absolutely need to make a completely separate post just to savor the nutty goodness of your link. Thanks again!

11 06 2008
Chris

My pleasure. I often refer to that website when I need a quick laugh.

On a more sobering note, why do creationists constantly avoid obvious logical fallacies in their arguements?

11 06 2008
April

Just because the Holocaust is too horrible to believe and many of us weren’t there, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

11 06 2008
SuperJesus

@April: What in the world are you talking about? I do wish you would consider reading the blog and the other comments before you post a comment.

12 06 2008
Barbara

LOL…love the link. There was a lot of incest going on during biblical times. 😉

13 06 2008
Chris

On that same site, he explains incest was okay during Adam and Eve’s time. It wasn’t until Moses that god decided to make it icky.

15 11 2008
Elliott Bettman MD

But maybe the whole thing was a science fiction parable-sorta like Jules Verne? They took totipotential stem cells of every animal and kept them in test tubes. THAT would make more sense. One of the “Bible Scientists” on the Christian Ayatollah Station even said that all the tectonic plate movements took place during and after the flood “the founts of the great deep.” There was WATER not Magma under the crust and Mount Everest did not exist prior to the flood so it was not inundated. ROFLMAO

say…maybe G-d used global warming! He injected nitric oxide and methane (both wayyy worse than CO2) in the air to melt the icecaps and glaciers. THAT would make a demented amount of sense! And Gondwana broke up Antarctica drifted South and absorbed all the water as ice. We DO know there are alkaline carbonates in the Himalayas that cooled the Earth by absorbing CO2 when the mountains were formed

15 11 2008
Elliott Bettman MD

PS: the “Leviathins” (DInosaurs???) were mired in the mud of the Flood. If you wanna be Angel’s advocate, the aquatic turtles crocodiles alligators and frogs did NOT go extinct at the Jurassic-Creataceous junction, but the big reptiles did.

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