Saturday, 9 April 2016

Genesis chapter 6: Preparing for the flood

This is one of the most contested stories on internet forums. People simply can’t help arguing about it on the internet, while in the real world, fundamentalists try to replicate the “floating zoo”.
Chapter 6 begins with God making a declaration, not to anyone in particular, after the writer explains that “men began to multiply” and that their sons “took them wives, of all which they chose.”
God declares that he will not always be around to “strive” with men, because they are “flesh” and their lives will be a hundred and twenty years. 
Genesis 6:3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever…
I’m not going to discuss that here. This post is about the preparations for the flood.
I’m also not going to go into a long discussion about the lengths of people’s lives because living for more than 900 years is as improbable as floating a wooden boat filled with animals in order to cause them to evolve over a short two thousand years into their modern form.
Moving on to the wickedness that caused God to want to destroy man, verse 5 says that it was “great” “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”.
This is all very good and well, but there is no definition of what the evil was. Given that there is no history, even mythological history of the more than a thousand years that have passed since the creation of man, wouldn’t it have been a little fair of the writer to invent a story about how people had moved into cities, how they’d organised them, their rituals, their civic arrangements, and so on. There is none of this, so when we imagine the story, and how it all came about we have nothing on which to base our suppositions. Movies depict people as living the lives of Roman city dwellers with orgies, drinking, gambling, “depravity” of every kind, but without knowing when the story was supposedly set, it is difficult to imagine what the wickedness was.
Another point is that God “repents” that he made man. With all his knowledge of men’s thoughts, and his supposedly omnipotent powers, didn’t he know this was going to happen? He created people, didn’t offer them any skills training, simply told them to “till the ground” and to be in charge of the animals, but then left them to their own devices for a thousand years. What was he doing while people were learning “wickedness”? Why didn’t he bring down some horrible punishment on the perpetrators themselves, long before he decided to wipe them off the face of the earth, including all the dinosaurs, and their children? Considering that he threw his first people out of the paradise he gave them, simply because they ate a piece of fruit he’d told them not to eat, he seems a little impotent if he has to wipe out the whole planet, including the people living tens of thousands of kilometres away in South America, just because some people in an obscure town, in a desert on the opposite side of the world from the Americas, are having “wicked thoughts”.
Among all this “wickedness” he finds one single man who “found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Conveniently that one man also happened to be a direct descendant of Adam. 
The writer goes on to explain about the “corruption” after again naming Noah’s three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
The corruption is violence. Verse 11 says:
The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
Thus we have that men were sinning in their minds, and that they were committing violence. How is any violence that men, even all of them could possibly commit, worse than violently drowning everything, including the animals living in the ocean? What violence, or sinful thoughts are so bad, that the deity in charge of the earth should choose this most violent method of wiping them off the face of the earth? Including Noah’s grandfather, Methuselah, a 900+ year old man, and little babies not yet walking. How come some innocents, little children and animals weren’t just saved, and the evil people, merely “smote” as God does throughout the rest of the historical portion of the Old Testament?
Instead the writer chooses to modify a flood legend from Near Eastern mythology to explain the appearance of rain. In verses 5 and 6 of chapter 2, it says that..
the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth,...but there went up a mist from the earth and entered the whole face of the ground.
There is no further mention of rain until chapter 7 when the “heavens opened”. 
While God is deciding to commit mass genocide with the humans on the earth, and planning to destroy the earth - it says so “I will destroy them with the earth”, he finds time to draw up plans for Noah’s boat. 
Compared to the Titanic, which was 269.1 metres in length, and 53.3 metres in height, this boat (half the length of the Titanic) is small, especially considering that by today’s standards, the Titanic was a small ship.
After explaining the measurements, God says again, and I’m not quite sure to whom he is speaking in the narrative, I suppose it’s Noah, that he will destroy everything,
…wherein is the breath of life, from under the heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.
He says this while complaining about the “violence” on the earth!
But he establishes a covenant with Noah, and his sons, and his sons’ wives. 
Verses 19-21 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee: and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.
This piece is important for a few reasons. 
  1. They don’t know how long they’re going to be on the boat, it doesn’t say.
  2. They are to collect two of every animal, specifically, fowls and cattle.
  3. It doesn’t say snakes, pandas, whales, elephants, kangaroos, or sloths. It says only two of every kind, and specifically mentions fowls and cattle.
Although it says to take “of every living thing, two of every sort, after it’s kind” it also says to bring food for them. Which means that if they were bringing lions onto the ark, they would have to have brought in at least 100 donkeys for them to eat. A lion might not eat every day, but when it does, it eats a lot of meat. A single donkey for a family of lions is a hearty meal. Thus for almost a year on board the floating zoo, there would have to have been a few dozen donkeys.
Now bearing in mind the small size of the floating zoo, should God not perhaps have had second thoughts about bringing carnivores on board? 
When it says, “of every sort, and every kind”, it’s not saying to leave the panthers behind. It’s just ludicrous. Besides it’s merely a remake of the flood story from earlier incarnations of religion. Just mythology. Nothing more.

More on the flood itself in the next post.

No comments:

Post a Comment