“Why would a God of love drown and put to death all of humanity?” These are the words of Herbert W. Armstrong. “Science can’t give you the answer, and religion can’t give you the answer.” You’re only halfway there, Herbie, but you need to take me all the way.
One of the oldest works of writing contains a myth about a flood, but it’s not the biblical old testament. It’s the Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem out of Mesopotamia. It includes gods that deliver a flood to punish humanity, and a man and his wife are chosen to survive. Pretty similar to the biblical story. China, India, Thailand, and many other cultures have flood myths in their history. Like with many grand aspects of the bible—a god who creates and controls existence, a savior who dies and is resurrected—the great flood is not an original tale. It is a retelling of a very old myth also known as the deluge myth.
Despite this universal idea that there was a worldwide deluge, there’s no way that it actually really happened.
Just think about it: God told a man to build an ark, so he took 100 years to build that ark, then led two of every kind of animal onto it for a few weeks while it rained all over the earth? And he survived with all the penguins, somehow?
It would not have been possible for Noah to have rescued the animals like that, nor would it have been possible for water to have covered the whole earth as the bible says that it did in Genesis.
According to creationists, the geological evidence of fish and marine fossils found in rock sediment above sea level is an indication of a worldwide flood. First of all, aren’t fossils works of the devil? You don’t get to quote fossils if they’re of the devil. You can’t have it both ways! And anyway, this evidence can be explained by the variance in sea levels over time due to the ice ages and glacier melting. Duh!
Another aspect of the myth includes the fact that once the rain subsided, the ark landed on the first exposed land which was the top of Mount Ararat. This is where the beautiful and inspiring scene happens with the dove eventually coming back with an olive leaf which tells Noah that it’s time to leave the ark. However, Mount Ararat is only the highest peak in Turkey, not in the world. So it doesn’t really make sense that Noah’s ark would have landed on Mount Ararat. The ark stayed intact and they only made it to Turkey? Was God an ignorant and impractical God as well as a vengeful one?
My question with the deluge is about the dimensions of the ark in consideration of how many animals there would had to have been on it if Noah really did have two of every kind. I don’t think that 300 cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits is big enough to house all of the animals—or to keep the necessary ones separate from Noah and his seven family members. I’ve been to zoos bigger than that, and they have only included a small selection of animals compared to animals worldwide, even at the alleged time of the flood.
Noah also would have needed to have food for his family and for the animals. What about the animals that needed to eat meat? How would he have kept the meat fresh for 40 days let alone 150 days?
This is just the beginning of reasons for the impossibility of the truth in the myth of the great deluge and Noah’s ark as described in the bible.
Anyone who thinks a little more deeply and pragmatically, instead of blindly following what the minister says, can infer that the bible is a collection of myths, syncretic legends, and polyglottic folklore, some of which—like good legends—are based on people and events that may have actually existed. But in the end, it’s an oral tradition, not a history.
When one is infected with the God virus (thanks to Darrel W. Ray for that awesome terminology) it becomes second nature to take in all information through the filter of one’s religious beliefs so that the end resulting beliefs are always indicative of one’s specific faith and religious beliefs. Growing up in the Armstrongism faith, we had every reason to not believe the religions of Asia and the Middle East but every reason to believe the Armstrong faith, despite the similarities inherent in many religions worldwide.
Once one includes skepticism in one’s intellectualism, it becomes easier to ask follow-up questions that include evidence in order to debunk myths and seek out truth.
What is considered to be true when it comes to the great deluge myth is that after ice caps melted from the last ice age there was an overabundant amount of water level rising in areas including the Black Sea into the Mediterranean. This is according to studies done by William Ryan and Walter Pitman. Since the Hebrew people of the bible would have occupied the area of the Mediterranean, it makes sense that flooding in that area would result in a story passed down in the oral tradition about a flood that was so abundant it must have covered the whole world. Their world view would not have been much of a Weltanschauung at all, and their perception of the capacity of Earth would have been minimal and ethnocentric. Hence Mount Ararat and not a peak in another part of the world they would have never heard of.
In other parts of the world, the effects of the last ice age may have resulted in flooding in various areas, as well as tsunamis and other “acts of God.” This explains why many parts of the world developed deluge myths that became a part of their oral tradition.
Perhaps a melting ice cap is less exciting than a vengeful god that resents his own creation of humanity, then destroys all humans except for one family and its patriarch who ends up living to be over 900 years old. In the end, there is a special element of excitement in the truth of matters, and that is worth passing down to future generations.