Noah, You are TOOO Much!
I have been thinking about the story of Noah and the ark. (Not the Ark of the Covenant that Harrison Ford and the Nazis all seemed to want because it contained the ten commandments and could be used to strip people down to their skeletons which must have been a riot at parties. There was a similar device in the movie The Nude Bomb which only striped people down to the birthday suit and probably should have been called the Ark of Uncover it). Since so many people believe in the literal truth of Noah'?s ark, I thought I would examine the subject. Some may say that it is unfair for an atheist/agnostic/cargo-cultist to pick on the flood story when many Christians believe it is an extended parable and not meant to be considered history. I however, think it is unfair of them to criticize unbelievers for being skeptical of the whole Bible as the word of God as if skepticism were a character flaw, while never criticizing those who take the flood and other stories literally, thereby encouraging our skepticism.
Non-literalist Christians seem to be very tolerant of the mixed message being sent yet are unwilling to accept responsibility for the fall out, preferring to blame the skeptic for his confusion. A similar comfort with mixed messages comes from the Intelligent Design/Creationist movement. They are very offended if you associate them with the religious young earth creationists but if you look into their previous writings and speeches you find that they are almost always evangelistic/born again-ers and many believe in a young earth or else refuse to even guess and the age of the earth and will not discuss their religious beliefs. Yet these 'experts in cross disciplinary pursuits' (my sarcastic way of saying that they work outside their field of competence) almost never feel the urge to criticize young earth creation religions or condemn using biblical verses in arguments. How can you condemn being associated with someone that you refuse to distance yourself from? (I asked this question to my shadow, he pretends not to hear me, not to know me - Bastard.)
And the argument against a critical examination of Noah is further undermined by the fact that it is not nearly as widely regarded as non-literal as many liberal Christian?s might like to believe. Today an author sells his book in the gift store at the Grand Canyon which claims that the canyon must have been caused by Noah'?s damp year. (Despite the fact that erosion is caused by the amount of water making contact with the rock not the amount that flows far over top of it - if the claim is that water receded so fast as to speed erosion then: a] Why is the canyon so meandering? and b] How could the ark have not been swept out to sea by such fast moving currents instead of gently lodging on a mountain top? Did the water recede that much more slowly on one side of the planet than the other?) I have also heard such "theories" (from psuedo-theology non-experts, working as far from science as you can get without actually leaving the planet to write) as the idea that certain petrified trees were not, as geologists claim, knocked over and buried by a landslide millions of years ago (apparently landslides never make trees lie in the same direction when it pushes them over despite what geologists and common sense would tell you is possible) but were in fact knocked over by the great flood and kept in line until the seas receded at which point they fosilized very quickly.
Given that American Christianity (TM) has decided to help the public school system teach biology by giving itself the task of redefining the definition of science without asking scientists what they think of the definition (see Kansas science curriculum), it seems likely that biology will only be the start and that the flood "?controversy"? will soon be taught in those American (later Canadian and then European) schools which are luck enough to get any geology instruction so a discussion of what will be taught might be wise.
First of all, let us ignore the inability of certain flood proponents to build a similar ark even using steel scaffolds and a crane. And let us ignore the fact that the evidence for such a re-emerging expansion of human civilization and all land based bio-systems from a single spot on the planet only a few thousand years ago comes not from dense crops of barnacledacles and coral on (not embedded in) mountain rocks nor the archaeological placements of villages towns and cities plus roads, customs, pottery and other cultural and technology styles nor from population growth patterns, genetic migration patterns nor any other field that we would expect to detect evidence of such a recent spcenteredntred on Turkey, but instead comes from the placement of one rock that someone at the CIA thought looked kind of like a boat on the side of a mountain and another rock-like depression that the Turkish Government thinks looks like a depression which the ark would have made. Let us ignore the fact that both sites have been examined, and even some who would like the ark to have been found think these are not the ark. In short Let us ignore the fact that all the evidence we would expect to find is missing and all that is termed evidencfavoravour of the flood and ark story has been found and promoted by people who really want the story to be true and that even if it had been strong enough to convince someone without a vested interest in the story and with the expertise to evaluate its claim to be evidence, it STILL would not prove the story.
Let us just look at the story and whether it is believable.
The story, as I remember it (and I seem to remember it being told twice in the Bible with some differences as to how long they were at sea), begins with God realizing that the whole human world thing is just not working out as it had on paper. After the security breach in the garden of Eden and the interpersonal problems he had initiated by plafavoritesrites with the Cain and Able brothers, things had really gone down hill. It was time to scrub the lot of these wicked sinners from the planet and since a global plague would leave lots of smelly corpses to clean up and turning everyone into a pillar of birdseed and seit would take way to much effort, he hit on the idea of a massive world flood. This idea was so appealing to him that even though he agreed never to do it again, he needed to be reminded of this every time the kids started acting up (see Moses and his disagreements with God). Plus, by giving the heads up to the one righteous man and his nearly righteous family he could get them to do all the work to save themselves and get them to save the planets animals while they were at it. God would not need to lift a finger or aim his lightning bolts or anything. Perfect.
Unfortunately for the righteous fellers it meant a lot of hard labour and the vacation cruise from Hell. Not only did they need to share a boat with smelly, scary animals; every animal known (that includes every human parasite ever known, many of which can not survive in other hosts so it must not have been a pleasant journey for anyone); it was a boat which stays aloft for over a year (or under a year depending on the version) in a world flood that kills every person and animal but somehow forgets to kill all the plants. But that is not the most unbelievable part. Noah also had to share the boat with his kids and their spouses (vacationing with the in-laws - I would rather bunk in the sasquatch quarters.
Now when the ark puts down, Noah'?s gang must have come to a bleak realization. Individually, most land plants don't do very well deep under water and whole ecosystems with large numbers of plants animals and fungi in relationships do even worse. If an ecosystem is partially destroyed by flood it can, over long periods of time recover as species re-establish their relationships from the healthy sections. Unfortunately there were no healthy sections. The land is covered with rotting algae blooms, seaweed, sea salt and waterlogged trees. Sure Noah and his wife brought seeds for their crops and maybe every tree, plant and cactus happened to put out seeds, berries, nuts and other reproductive bits at the same time that year, all of which floated and survived the flood. Unfortunately, those which were not washed into the sea as the water dropped, landed on soil that was airless and was quickly drying rock hard. Fish had eaten the worms in the soil as they left to swim to places with less dense soil which would not be found in their lifetimes and now, with the water gone it was going to be some time before anything grew on this planet except for the huge areas of land Noah and the kids needed to till to feed themselves, their domestic animals and the wild animal herbivores (large numbers of which would have been needed to feed the carnivores until the ecosystems were stable).
It should be noted that, after riding out this flood for that long, it dropped them pretty much in the same part of the planet that they left from. Not the new world, not east Asia not in the middle of the ocean where they would drift to a coast somewhere in a manner that would make the tale seem a bit more plausible, right down in Turkey - a stone's throw from Babylon (north of which would be Eden where Noah'?s ancestors supposedly came from. Babylon was a civilization which also had a similar but contradictory world flood story that no one tries to get taught in geology class for some reason).
The standard rejoinder is that with God, all things are possible but the same also applies to the human imagination. The whole boat story seems as if it is meant to make the story of the wrath of God in a giant flood seem more possible but simply sending the angel of death seems like it would have been much less of a hasle. Noah could have put some blood on his door to keep the angel away and centuries latdescendantsendants could have celebrated the day that Noah was passed over. It would not require people to believe that everything we now know about biology and ecosystems was supernaturally suspended for a few years or that there used to be huge amounts of water above the stars which came down one day and met the water from below the earth (Geologists please take notes. You will be teaching this one day.) and disappeared eventually. Everyone in the ancient world knows that water can vanish as it does when cloths dry and the content of bowls evaporate, never to be seen again. It is only we faithless mordern people who have forgotten God's word what believe in invissible water vapor and a water cycle that obeys a conservation principle. All of this is to accomplish something that could have been done far more easily (and be far easier to believe) if God had just worked smarter rather than harder. Once again our souls rest on our minds' ability to believe things that do not sound true.