Old school part 2 – Got an umbrella?

Today, we’re going to tackle the Great Flood. You know, Noah. The ark. Two of every beast. His sons and their wives? 40 days and nights of rain?

As we all know from the Bible, God was quite wroth with mankind for being so nastily sinful and for completely disregarding His will, and so He flooded the whole Earth and killed everyone and everything that wasn’t on the ark, and…

(Chuckle. Snort. Heh he.)

*Ahem* And those folks repopulated the Earth to the level of species diversity we have today, and billions and billions of people, and this was some 6,000 or 7,000 years ago. And so…


And so this…


I don’t think so.

Look, I’m not saying God didn’t bring a flood. I’m not saying there wasn’t a Noah or an ark. What I’m saying is that while I don’t think the tale is metaphorical, given that Jesus actually preached Noah as a real person and wasn’t a person prone to lying, I don’t think it’s precisely as cut-and-dried as most fundamentalist folk would have you believe.

Look, there is just no way the ark that Noah built would have big enough for two of everything. Also, what about all the trees and bushes and stuff? I think 40 days of flooding would have done a number on the foliage, don’t you? And this very small sample of humanity and husbandry was able to spread across the world in several thousand years? Look, God can work big miracles. But this shit just doesn’t jibe with history and the archeological evidence of primitive people at all.

So, what did happen? I see two most-likely scenarios.

First, God did indeed flood the whole world, but it happened millions of years ago. That’s a nice simple answer. As I mentioned in the post for Old School, Part 1, the family trees laid out in the Bible likely skipped over untold numbers of generations to focus on the key predecessors to Jesus.

Second option is that God flooded the “known world” of Noah and the folks around him. That is, God flooded a very, very large region of land, most likely in the Middle East, and everything pretty much played out as described in the story. I still think this would have happened far more than 6,000 or 7,000 years ago, but way less than a million.

Frankly, I like the second option better. The thing about God is that while He can do very large, dramatic miracles, He doesn’t generally do that. God’s much more into subtlety and long-range planning. He prefers to put people and events into motion to create a chain, sort of like a huge bunch of dominoes that knock each other over across an unimaginably large landscape to form innumerable possibilities and eventually knock out certain results that God wants.

One of those results—the most important result of God’s planning in fact—was Jesus. God picked the Hebrews as His “Chosen People” for a number of reasons, but one of them was to define a specific group from which Jesus would be born. And it took a long time to get events to play out for the people and time and circumstances to be right for Jesus’ entry into the world.

What I believe is that Noah and his neighbors were one of the earliest precursors to the Hebrews. Way before Abraham and the first covenant and all that. God intended those people to keep on breeding and growing and eventually producing what would be his officially Chosen People when the time was ripe. But they were a foul bunch and not fit to bring forth Jesus at any point. People were just that bad. Seeing that there was only one really righteous man, Noah (and presumably his family was at least nominally righteous), God wiped out the rest of the folks in the region to start with a clean slate.

This makes the ark a plausible vehicle and the two-by-two crap no longer looks like crap. Yes, some repopulation was necessary because new entries of animals from other areas would take a while, but there was no need to repopulate an entire world—only the world of the pre-Hebrew folks that God had to mostly destroy to make the path to Jesus’ birth possible.

Click here for Part 1 of the Old School series


6 Responses to “Old school part 2 – Got an umbrella?”

  1. June 27, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    interesting thesis. let me think on it for a minute.

  2. 2 thewordofme
    October 23, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Hi again Deacon,

    Really enjoy your posts.

    Look at all of the Old Testament with a slightly different attitude…it’s Jewish myth. They made up their God…just like the hundreds of other civilizations around them. They were just better writers/myth makers.

    Making up Gods seems to be a world-wide phenomenon common to most cultures around a certain time in their development. They all had Gods and the cultures that had the best stories or the most powerful people behind them thrived. Yahweh, one of the many Gods invented, just happen to ride a wave of beneficial circumstances.

    There is no more proofs behind Yahweh, Elohim, Jehovah, or El than there is for any other made-up God, there is just more humans pushing it or him. And remember the Christians happened to have that 1000 year period called the Dark Ages, where the Catholics killed, tortured, maimed and plundered the world and threw the fear of God into everyone.

    I hope your little girl gets well soon.
    Say hi to Miz Pink for me please.

    Thanks again for your thoughts to me.

    Bill twom

  3. 3 Deacon Blue
    October 24, 2008 at 2:14 am

    While I understand the perspective you come from, which is purely intellectual and logical, and can see why you might simply label the Hebrews as “better myth-makers,” it just doesn’t explain it for me.

    I’m not aware of any other religion at all of those times that posited this kind of God. Throughout the world, people were looking to belief systems that explain how nature, emotions and other inexplicable things work. By and large, these belief systems are polytheistic.

    Hell, even the Romans, who were more technologically advanced than the Jews of Jesus’ time, were worshipping the same pantheon as the Greeks had, just with new names. Yet these gods all still had very specific job descriptions, very human behaviors and very nature- and emotion-oriented purviews.

    Why would the Hebrews, have developed a faith around one god for so long a time. In particular, a god that doesn’t really serve as a way to explain how nature works but rather a god that is focused on faith, the soul and creation as a whole (and holistic) thing.

    Why would they be so divergent from general human nature?

    It just doesn’t make much sense to me that there would be an internal drive to produce a faith like that. It speaks to me of somethign from outside (God) presenting to them a way that humans simply hadn’t fathomed or considered before.

    Then again, I’m going on faith, not intellect, on this…so naturally you and I are going to see it from completely different perspectives.

    I’ll leet Miz Pink know…though I suspect she’s more interested in popping out that kid right now. 😉

    And my girl is indeed doing much better now. Thanks for the well-wishings there. 🙂

  4. 4 thewordofme
    November 13, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Hi Deacon,

    An example below of the next thing that Biblical apologists will be facing. My guess is that humanity came out of the Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda areas of Africa. Almost surely our modern human ancestors came from these areas 160,000 to 200,000 years ago.

    Among native Europeans, almost everybody can trace their maternal genealogy, using mDNA, to one of only seven women, their ancient clan mother. To give them an identity I have given these women names: Ursula, Xenia, Helena, Velda, Tara, Katrine and Jasmine. The women lived between 10 000 and 45 000 years ago, six of the seven were hunter-gatherers, the seventh, Jasmine, was an early farmer. These seven women are also related to each other, and these connections can also be followed by mDNA. They join up with the clan mothers from other parts of the world and ultimately coalesce in one woman – mitochondrial Eve, who lived in Africa about 150 000 years ago. Wherever we live on the planet, we are all her descendants.–Brian Sykes. Bryan Sykes is Professor of Human Genetics at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford. UK”

    So far the only rebuttal to genetic tracking is from creationists who claim the science is phony.

    Article below is selected parts of story in Scientific American magazine

    Following mitochondrial Eve
    In 1987, Rebecca L. Cann and Allan C. Wilson of the University of California, Berkeley, published a groundbreaking paper based on analyzing the DNA of mitochondria, the cell’s energy-producing organelles, which are passed down through the maternal line. They reported that humans from different populations all descended from a single female in Africa who lived about 200,000 years ago—a finding that immediately made headlines trumpeting the discovery of the “Mitochondrial Eve.” (Despite the Biblical allusion, this Eve was not the first woman: her lineage, though, is all that has survived.)

    Following Y Chromosomal Adam
    The route humans took from Africa to the Americas over the course of tens of thousands of years can now be tracked on the map as if the travelers were moving, albeit extremely slowly, on a series of interconnected superhighways. Alphanumeric route signs, such as I-95, can be recast as alphanumeric genetic markers. In the case of the Y chromosome, for instance, cross the Bab el Mandeb on highway (genetic marker) M168, which becomes M89 when heading north through the Arabian Peninsula. Make a right at M9 and set out toward Mesopotamia and beyond. Once reaching an area north of the Hindu Kush, turn left onto M45. In Siberia, go right and follow M242 until it eventually traverses the land bridge to Alaska. Pick up M3 and proceed to South America.”

    Referencing your post above about the ‘Flood’ I think Jesus spoke of Noah’s flood because he was familiar with the Pentateuch as were all of his listeners and followers. His mention of Genesis does not necessarily give credence to it—only that he was aware of the old stories.

    With all the evidence that keeps mounting up against sooo much stuff in the Old Testament, I am inclined to dismiss the majority of it as myth and story telling and moral examples perhaps. 🙂

  5. 5 Deacon Blue
    November 13, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    I’ve spoken a bit about the Adam and Eve dynamic in this blog as well. (Oh, and thanks for sharing this. I did see stories about it already but hadn’t thought to include it in here on this blog…now you’ve saved me the trouble)

    I still hold to the belief that Genesis is “Creation for Dummies” and I see nothing in science that would lead me away from that; in fact, scientific discoveries will continue to solidify my belief that Genesis was a way to tell the story of creation and early humans to the Chosen People in a simple way.

    I have no quibble with the scientific discoveries you cite above. Well, except that even scientific findings aren’t ironclad, and the fact is that it’s a big leap to declare that only that one woman’s lineage remains on this planet; we’re still uncovering too much about the genome for science to be that confident in such a claim. But the basic findings I can believe, and support, and they don’t change the fact that I do believe there were an Adam and an Eve at some point. Whether they were truly the first humans is something I’m willing to question. Whether all people on Earth sprang from them alone I am also willing to question. But I maintain that they existed in some form and for some reason.

    From your standpoint, I probably seem to just be making excused to integrate science into the biblical story. I would argue that we are, as humans, supposed to be smart enough to deduce that the Bible and the mechanics of the universe can coexist.

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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