6/08/2014

Sunday School Fare: What about Noah´s Ark and the Deluge?

The Jews in their holy books include the story of Noah and his ark full of animals. Christians in the Roman Empire decided to include these books, and this story in your Bible. Many years later the Muslims, followers of Mohammed also included this story in their sacred stories. So this story is something many know since childhood, and is an important ingredient we can use to outline  the nature of God.

Briefly, the story says that God was angry with mankind and decided to kill everyone with the mother of all floods. But he also decided to save Noah and his family and two of every animal on a giant ark. Noah built the ark using plans and materials that God gave him, I imagine it was something like this:


Please do not get into a debate about the appearance of the ship because at that time no one photographed it. So my boat is as good as any you can imagine. It must have been huge because Noah filled it with two of every animal.

Then it rained, and the world was filled with water to the top of Mount Everest (which we all know is the highest mountain in the world). It must have been horrifying. Imagine humanity trying to save itself, running uphill in the company of rabbits, deer, squirrels, wolves, mice ...

This is not discussed much in these sacred books. But since my childhood I was very impressed by the idea of ​​ such a crowd, a giant zoo trying to outrun the rising water to finally end at the peak of a mountain, all tight, wet and desperate, watching as those downhill   drowned. I believe that every creature that could probably tried to run,  but none of them were saved  from drowning (this is part of the story).

The story ends when the rain stopped, the water level dropped, and Noah found land where his family was able to download the animal passengers. I've always wondered how it was possible for them  all to return to their place of origin? The elephants back to Africa one can see, because if the ark  ran aground in the Middle East and they  could walk through Egypt and down the Nile to get to Sudan, then spread all over the continent.  

But other animals must have had much more difficulty. The return of kangaroos to Australia must have been something truly amazing.


It is best not to dwell on the details, chalk it all as a  miracle, and leave it at that. You could say that God decided to drown the world,  did it miraculously and the same way,  after everyone died, the water disappeared, Noah came ashore with the ark, and in a blink of an eye the two survivors of each type of animal were found back in their home habitat.


The only detail that bothers me, and makes me think that this is just a story of the Jews is that God must be very intelligent and could have killed humanity with something much simpler, without having to kill the animals, which  after all had nothing to do with the whole mess.

Which brings me to the punchline: The world´s major religions suggest we worship the deity in Noah´s Ark story...and this makes me wonder if our behavior isn´t shaped by religions which consider mass genocide a proper punishment. Or is it that we invented these  religions and they reflect our own moral flexibility?  

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