Tuesday, October 25, 2011

N is for Noah’s Ark

Superficially, the story of Noah’s Ark appears to be a simple tale of virtue rewarded—with lots of animals thrown in to provide an aura of plausibility. (If the animals had not been taken aboard the Ark how else could their survival be explained?) But once the story of Noah’s Ark is examined more closely, it turns out to be yet another  mass murder by God. But before turning to that grim aspect of the tale, let’s first consider the animals.

According to the Book of Genesis, the six-hundred-year-old Noah and his family, consisting of his ancient wife and their three sons—all one hundred years old—and their wives, rounded up a mating pair of every animal species on earth. This was necessary because the whole earth was about to be covered with water to such a depth that no animals (except fish, ducks, alligators and the like) could survive. This would mean that all but the highest mountain peaks would be submerged. Otherwise, the great flood, which was supposed to sweep away the the entire human population of the earth (save only the virtuous Noah and his seven family members) would fail to achieve its purpose since a handful evil people inhabiting high mountains in places like Peru might have survived.

This already places the entire flood story well beyond the bounds of physical possibility. There is simply not enough water on the planet to flood all the land to a depth of several kilometers. But, one supposes that God, who had already created the entire universe effortlessly, could make some extra water for the flood then remove it afterward. But if this great cataclysm actually happened wouldn’t it have left some strong physical evidence behind? Where is it?

If Noah and his helpers had tried to round up a mating pair of every non-aquatic species on earth they would have had to travel to faraway places like China, Australia, Tasmania and the Americas in order to capture pairs of Pandas, Kangaroos, Koala Bears, Tasmanian Devils, Jaguars and Wolverines. Since we know all of these species survived the flood, how did Noah’s helpers get to such faraway places as Michigan and Queensland to collect mating pairs? And how did they get them back to their home base in the Middle East? How many years would this have taken? (The Bible says it was all done during Noah’s six-hundredth year; so the answer is less than one.)

Once all the species on the earth—there are about 5400 mammals—had been gathered up, where did they put them while the Ark was under construction? How were they fed? And how big must the Ark have been to hold them all? It had to have to been many times larger than the the Bible says. It had to have been big enough to hold far more cages than the largest zoos on earth today, since many species would need to be caged to prevent their devouring others. And what about the food to feed all these animals for several months? Where did it come from? Where was it stored? And how could old Noah and his small band of seven relatives have kept the cages clean and the animals fed aboard the Ark during this extended period? Imagine the smell inside the Ark!

Finally, let’s consider the human aspect of the great flood. God concluded that all the people on earth except for Noah and his children and their wives were unfit to live. Think of what this means: It means that not only all those evil adults but also all their innocent children, including infants, would be drowned. Bad as the adults may have been, what justice—much less mercy—is there in killing all of their children? Or might this be history’s earliest example of what is nowadays called “collateral damage?” Or perhaps God in his infinite wisdom knows that some families are inherently and irretrievably evil? (But isn’t free will supposed to be one of God’s gifts to mankind? And don’t good kids sometimes come from bad families?) What we have here is a yet another case of “guilt by association.” One would think that an Omniscient God could rise to a somewhat higher standard of justice.

If Noah and his helpers had enough time to rescue hyenas, rats, flies and cockroaches surely they could have saved and adopted a few of the infants. And why did they save the mosquitos? Surely the world would much better off without them.

But why should God bother with sending a flood at all? Why not simply zap all the bad people and leave the animals alone. What did Noah and his family do to deserve having to round up thousands of breeding pairs of wild animals then spend weeks with them on a stinking ark?

No comments:

Post a Comment