40. Should Noah’s Ark be taken literally?

The story of Noah’s Ark is one of the most important stories of the Old Testament, because it is one of the few miracles that would’ve left behind a literal “flood” of evidence for us to examine. But before we can begin exploring this evidence, we need to ask how we should be interpreting the story of Noah, because not all Christians seem to agree…

“Secularists deny the possibility of a worldwide Flood at all. If they would think from a biblical perspective, however, they would see the abundant evidence for the global Flood.”
AnswersInGenesis.com

“There are no historical facts verifying this biblical account… So, it seems reasonable to read the story of Noah and the flood as an allegory…”
Christian-Bible.com

“An integration of all flood and creation passages clearly indicates that the Genesis flood was local in geographic extent.”
GodAndScience.org

So… which is it? Global, local or allegorical?

Navigating Troubled Waters

All aboard!Up until about the 18th century, most Christians simply accepted the story of Noah as historical fact. But new discoveries and a rising tide of evidence began to erode confidence in the historicity of the flood narrative, leaving many Christians with a boatload of reasons to reject a literal interpretation.

Maintaining a literal stance meant having to potentially defend and explain…

  • why most geologists and archaeologists are wrong;
  • how four men managed to build a boat large enough to hold all the world’s animals in under 75 years, using nothing but primitive tools, wood and pitch;
  • where the flood water came from and where it all went;
  • how Noah collected and cared for the over 8 million species that exist today;
  • how freshwater fish survived an influx of salt water;
  • how Noah obtained animals from distant places;
  • how animals became distributed after the flood;
  • how Noah obtained food for special diets (e.g. bamboo for the pandas, eucalyptus leaves for the koala bears, etc.);
  • how Noah stored a year’s supply of fresh water for all the animals;
  • how Noah provided suitable environments for all desert, amphibious and arctic wildlife;
  • how so many plants and trees survived the flood;
  • what the animals ate after departing the ark;
  • why all dinosaurs and many other animals still went extinct;
  • how all races sprung up from one family;
  • why ice cores don’t contain an obvious “flood lair;”
  • why no one else was aboard another boat during the flood,
  • and many other issues.

While those who take a literal view have gone to great lengths to provide us with complex explanations, this hasn’t been enough to satisfy the most ardent Christian skeptics. But rather than just rejecting the Bible altogether, many Christians have taken to interpreting the story as allegory or a local flood.

Was Noah’s flood a local flood?

The local flood view begins with God warning Noah that there is going to be a great flood, but He neglects to tell him it’s only going to be a local flood. AnswersInGenesis.org asks:

“If the Flood only affected the area of Mesopotamia, as some claim, why did Noah have to build an Ark? He could have walked to the other side of the mountains and escaped.”

Noah's ArkFor once, I agree with Answers in Genesis. God didn’t need to order Noah to spend decades building a giant boat. God could’ve just said, “Hey Noah, I need you to take the family on a little vacation while I do some remodeling. Why don’t you visit those mountains over yonder, where all those animals are headed?”

Local flood advocates suggest that Noah didn’t need the boat, but that God was testing him… for 70 years… to see if he would do it.

Our story continues…

So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”
~ Genesis 6:7

Luckily for God, all the animals and the entire human race lived in Mesopotamia! And he could wipe them all from the face of the earth by flooding this one area. And why would Noah need such a large boat, just to save some local animals?

Next we move on to the problem of the waters covering the mountains…

…all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered.
~ Genesis 7:19

According to some local flood advocates, the word “mountains” is better translated “hills,” and this verse should read: “…all the high hills under the entire heavens were covered.”

Here in California, we have a name for really high hills, we call them “mountains.” Noah never gives us any reason to believe that some mountains remained uncovered, and if they were, he could’ve sailed to them.

Genesis continues…

Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
~ Genesis 7:23

Of course, according to local flood advocates, killing “every living thing on the face of the earth,” actually means killing “every living thing on the face of Mesopotamia.” We must also accept that the “entire heavens” only stretch out as far as Mesopotamia (which is a stretch).

God also mentions that “the birds were wiped from the earth.” Why? If this was a local flood, were the local birds not smart enough to fly over the mountains to safety? Likewise, it wasn’t necessary for Noah to take two of “everything with wings” (Gen. 7:14); the birds could take care of themselves.

Finally.

If Noah’s flood was just a local flood, then there is no miracle here. No longer is this a story of a man left hopelessly adrift in an endless ocean, Noah is now just a man floating in a sea, surrounded by seashores. All this boat needs to do is drift ashore and everyone can disembark; it’s not necessary to spend an entire year on board, and Noah doesn’t need to wait for the water to recede. But alas, he does, and the ark comes to rest on… well… I guess we would have to call it the hills of Ararat (Genesis 8:4).

And also, according to local flood advocates, God creates the rainbow not as a covenant to never send another local flood, but as a promise to never kill all of mankind with a flood. (He’s still allowed to kill millions of people with floods, just not all of them at once.)

In short, the local flood interpretation makes for a completely nonsensical story: there’s no need for a boat, or to rescue animals, or to remain at sea for a year, or to wait for the waters to recede, or for a rainbow covenant.

Was the story of Noah’s flood allegorical?

While the Bible does contain many parables and metaphors, and some parts could be read as allegorical, I see little evidence to suggest that the story of Noah’s ark was intended as anything but a literal story.

Firstly, we have Noah who is listed in the genealogies of Genesis 5, 1 Chronicles 1, and Luke 3. Noah also had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. So unless Noah’s wife was impregnated by a metaphor or an allegory, we must accept that Noah was a literal person.

Second, if Noah was a real person, but his story is untrue, then the Bible has deceived us by saying these all events happened to Noah, when they, in fact, did not. 

Third, God Himself refers back to the flood in Isaiah:

“To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.”
~ Isaiah 54:9

Has God forgotten that this was just a metaphor, and that he never did cover the earth with water?

Fourth, Jesus also seems to believe the flood was a literal event:

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot.”
~Luke 17:26-28

Jesus could’ve cleared things up by saying, “Just as it was in the parable of Noah…” yet he chose to describe these times as literal days. There were literal days before the flood, there was a literal day when Noah entered the ark, and literal days that followed.

Fifth, elsewhere in the New Testament, Noah’s flood is understood as a literal event:

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
~Hebrews 11:7

…to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water…
~1 Peter 3:20

…he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others…
~2 Peter 2:5

The people of “the ancient world” who were “disobedient long ago” were not imaginary, nor was the ark that Noah was building, they were all just as real as Noah.

Lastly, once again, there is the matter of the rainbow. Why do rainbows exist? According to the Bible…

And God said, “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth… Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.”
~ Genesis 9:12-15

Why would God create a literal rainbow as a promise to protect us from a metaphorical flood?

Noah's Ark - Missed the Boat

Conclusion

I think it’s pretty obvious what the motive is for wanting to turn away from a literal interpretation, but I believe it’s clear that the Bible intends for the story to be understood as a literal event. I believe the majority of Americans are correct in holding firm to a literal interpretation, so when I address Noah’s Ark in future questions, I will apply a literal translation for all the aforementioned reasons.

If it turns out the flood narrative is bogus, I think we need to man-up and accept that the story is wrong, not retreat to alternative interpretations that attempt to salvage the story.

About these ads
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to 40. Should Noah’s Ark be taken literally?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m a christian and interested in atheistic views. Ultimately I believe anything is possible with god thus nonmiraculous explinations are not necessary and we will never totaly understand all things but for your amusement I have give these responses to the 16 questions at the begining of the blog.
    1. In the day of Columbus most geologist thought the world was flat. They were wrong.
    Experts do give evidence of a global flood.
    2. The Egyptians built boats in excess of 300ft that were capable of carying 1300 tons.
    3. Several senarios of where the water came from, bible says fountains from the deep and
    windows from heaven – 70% of what comes from volcanoes is water in the form of steam – some
    say there was a water canopy others say an asteroid or comit hit the ocean.
    4 Noah may have not needed every specie e.g. horses zebras donkies all came from one equine
    species the same with dogs wolves coyotes and jackals from one canine species. Experts say
    there my have only been 16000 animals that would have easily fit.
    5.As far as the fish there are many explinations. I kind of like the idea that mabey a species such
    as the striped bass which can live in eather fresh water or salt water may have evolved into other
    species such as the fresh water smallmouth and largemouth bass.
    6. There again Noah may not have had to collect as many types of animals. – back to question 4
    7. The geography of the earth is unknown at the time of Noah so some of the animals may have
    crossed places such as the Bering shraight. In 1883 Krakatoa destroied the island but eventualy
    was repopulated by animals obviously crossing the ocean.
    8. Noah still had plenty of space for stored food. Pandas and koalas along with other species may
    not have evolved yet to need bamboo ect.
    9. Experts estimate that only 9.4% of the ark would have been used for drinking water minus
    rain water that was collected.
    10. This question can also be adressed by animals that have or have not evolved yet.
    11. There are estimates that say that vegetation may have only been covered for 9 to 7 mounths or
    shorter since it would have taken time for the water to cover high mountians.
    12. Plants may not have been totaly killed off. Plants may have started new growth before the
    animals exited the ark. e.g. Dove brings back the olive leaf.
    13. There are many explanations of how the dinosaurs could have gone extinct. Some same the
    environmental change after the flood or they were hunted to extinction.
    14. There is realy only one race. DNA of any 2 people in the world only typically differs by 0.2 %
    15. Ice core samples are bogus. That was proven when those WW2 planes were discoverd in 2007
    under 260ft. of ice.
    16. Not sure if I totaly understand the question but mabey there were others in boats that just didn’t
    survive.
    Ultamaty God gives us the free will to chose the path we decide to follow just like in the story of
    Noah. We can follow his path by accepting Jesus Christ as our savior and repenting of our sins or
    we can reject him. I will continue to pray for you.
    sorry for all the grammer and spelling mistakes

    • Hi Anonymous, thanks for posting.

      I don’t want to rush past the fact that you and I are basically in agreement on the conclusion of this question, which is that the flood narrative should be taken literally.

      I do plan to give ample consideration to most of these questions in the future, but it would’ve taken far too long to address all of them here. My only purpose for listing them was to give an overview of the kinds of objections that led some Christians to doubt the flood hypothesis. But I do realize that apologists have rebuttals to these, and will cover them later in more detail.

      Have a Merry Christmas! :-)

    • Goldarn says:

      Just a historical nit: In the days of Columbus, most educated people (including geologists, I suppose) thought they world was round, because of the renaissance of learning of the knowledge that came down to us from the Greeks (who also knew it was round). Columbus just thought the Earth was smaller than most educated people believed, and thus could be circumnavigated to find a shorter route to Asia.
      Spoilers: he was wrong. Good thing he found the Americas in his way, or things would’ve gone badly for him.

      • JackJack says:

        Yes, Columbus believing the Earth was flat was one of those factoids (facts which aren’t factual) we’re taught as children. Just like the myth of Noah’s Ark, which is nothing but a plagiarization of Greek stories and others. To me, arguing about whether Noah’s Ark was feasible is like arguing about whether Santa makes sense. Could he fit down a chimney? What about apartments? Could he visit all the houses in one night? No adult would argue about such silliness with another adult, so it’s just as absurd to argue about Noah’s Ark.

    • anonymatheist says:

      a) the kind of evolution you’re implying takes hundreds of thousands of years (take australia for example – those animals have been evolving independently from the rest of the earth for millions of years)
      b) nearly all plants cannot survive submersion in salt water
      c) ice core samples aren’t bogus – a simple dash over to wikipedia will clear that up
      d) dna proves we didn’t all come from noah (human genome project – we would see a “bottleneck” in human population from within mitochondrial chromosomes, meaning we could see within our dna that the human population had shrunk down to the size of a small family. what we found was that the smallest the human population has ever been was between 2,000 and 10,000 people – quite a bit larger than noah’s family)
      e) experts have repeatedly failed to produce evidence for a global flood
      f) if the waters covered the highest mountains, everything/everyone in the ark would have suffocated and frozen to death, as oxygen levels and temperature are prohibitive of most life when you reach altitudes above everest.

      • Garbonzo says:

        I’ve never heard about D before! Thanks for that info. But I don’t understand how the smallest the human population has ever been was between 2,000 and 10,000 people. Doesn’t that mean we had to have evolved separately between 2,000 to 10,000 times by complete chance?

        • DanD says:

          No, remember that evolution doesn’t suddenly toggle from “not-human” to “human”. It means that whatever nominal first genetic human was, they were part of a breeding population no less than 2000 hominids with which they were still able to interbreed. Overtime, whatever genes make us human came to dominate that group, but at no point was there a lower breeding population despite the minor differences in genetic make-up.

          • Garbonzo says:

            Hmm. It’s still a bit complicated for me (evolution always was the hardest topic for me), but I think I understand. Thanks a lot!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Nice post 500Q, I did recently find a website and wasnt sure where it fitted so I posted it on the index page, but now I’ve found a relevant page, I’ll post it again

    http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com.au/2010/04/drunk-with-blood-gods-killings-in-bible.html

    Yes, it is biased but gives you a general idea of the killings that happened in the OT and NT, and the reasons people were killed. In my other post I mentioned that people do insist that the commandment “thou shalt not kill” is meant to be translated as “thou shalt not MURDER”, which apparently means it is ok as long as it is justified. But there are some very interesting reasons as to why people were ordered to be killed by God.

    An interesting fact in relation to Noah’s Ark, rainbows were meant to be divine, because God sent it as a covenant (as you said). It was originally something miraculous and had nothing to do with white light, so… enter Isaac Newton who not only split white light into the spectrum, but turned it BACK into white light… and I think you get the idea.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  3. rautakyy says:

    Solid good post once again! Thank you. Some people argue, that there is no contradiction between religion and science and like you I beg to differ.

    Either there is a world wide conspiracy of scientists trying to disprove all the different religions and ancient scriptures like the Bible. Or the Bible and other such ancient religious sources for “absolute truths” from beyond real time and space, are infact slowly but unawoidably reduced to ridiculous metaphorical level of gibberish and the god(s) just plain lied to the ancient people (and even some extremists today) who actually thought these stories not as metaphors at all, but descriptions of reality. Or these stories and scriptures are typical products of human cultures, in the sense of stories becoming myths, and myths becoming dogmas and no god(s) actually ever interfered in their creation.

  4. I am definitely going to reveal my own personal point-of-reference here: Geocentric humanist!

    The various ice ages this planet has experienced over several millennia, and this planet’s inhabitants — since being able to communicate orally & write — both give evidence of great flooding everywhere. Several ancient cultures and surviving manuscripts tell of a great flood(s), but the story is NOT exclusive to one culture, one belief system, located in one region (Judaea) of the world. To think or believe in (or “have faith”) or subjugate the latter, is a practice in elitism or perhaps bigotry. This is why I avoid at all costs discriminating religions.

    With that said, the western bible(s) is indeed one source supporting great floods, that likely happened on Earth in the past and will likely happen again in the future. Perhaps the more important question for humanity should be “How are we ALL going to work together harmoniously & resourcefully to avoid our species from being extinguished when and if it happens in our lifetime, our children’s lifetime, or grandchildren’s?” Return to the seas? Become amphibious creatures? Become astronauts/cosmonauts in orbit? Become Martians?

    I much prefer to spend time, effort, and resources creating pragmatic solutions than propagating a theocracy. :)

    • rautakyy says:

      I totally agree with you Professor Taboo, that we should spend time in resolving how to save the planet rather than argue about religious dogma. The problem is, that saving the planet is not the only problem we have. Religious dogma is causing havoc among people even today.

      I think the main issue about the flood story of the Abrahamic tradition is not about wether it is true or not. Rather the moral and social values it teaches people. The point of the story is depicted in the final image of the topic post. What is wrong with the people in the boat, that they do not help the people drowning outside? They are following the logic and morals given to them by an authority, that has just decided to destroy all life on earth exept what has been gathered into this ark.

      What is wrong with a modern theist, who looks at the final picture of the topic post and comes to the conclusion, that it was just OK for those people to drown, because the people in the boat thought, that is what a god wanted. That there exist authority wich can order genosides, but still be called “benevolent”. And that there are people who are able to weild that authority by admission of their god.

      • It’s easy to say, “Well, God probably doesn’t exist, so let’s just move on to more important issues,” but for people who grew up with religion, there’s often a part of you that continues to doubt and says… “What if I’m wrong? I could spend an ETERNITY in torment! I’d better make damn well sure I’m right about this!” It’s those lingering doubts that keep asking questions.

        If it turns out that God and hell do NOT exist, then this unfounded fear is just one example of the kind of mental damage that religion does to people. I could be out there doing something useful for mankind, instead of fretting over this ancient, made-up, religious nonsense. Unless it’s not nonsense…

        But back to Noah: As a practical matter, I have to wonder if drowning all those people was worth any point God was trying to make. We STILL have ungodly people today, so it’s not as if killing them all solved that problem, it just set God back a few centuries. Or perhaps this was God’s way of delivering a very important message to mankind: “I’ll spare those who believe in me… and the hell with everyone else.”

        • rautakyy says:

          Well, as I was born into an atheist family, I have no nagging questions at the back of my mind.

          However, to me religious moralism is a similar phenomenon as racism. Both are cultural constructs, that have their own inner logic, wich does not hold water, if it is scientifically researched and both cause terrible harm in human conduct. Both are very much unethical.

          The moderate religious person who does nothing evil as specified in the holy books is comparable to the person who does not own slaves, or attack people with different perplexion, but who neither condemns such acts and just simply obeys the rules and obidiently sits in the “whites only”, or “coloured only” buss seat. As such, that kind of person is not intentionally supporting a racistic system, but rather is the victim of one.

          The moderate religious person who condemns the unethical deeds practices and beliefs of her/his own religious tradition is like a racistic person who thinks the other races are inferior, but does not accept, that this inequality justifies their abuse. I guess there is some form of morals there, somewhere, but it still constitutes a misunderstanding of reality.

          If we can agree that racism is harmfull misunderstanding of reality, wich causes harm to humanity, then should we not evaluate the truth value of religions by the same scientific standards we use in evaluating racism? In that case the questions about religious dogma and beliefs are very important. Who can claim religions do not cause harm?

        • “We STILL have ungodly people today” after any world catastrophe; and that will undoubtedly be the case in all future catastrophes. The perceived purpose of the “Flood” is typically the debate from the Right. When the Aides virus erupted back in the 1980′s the Right used it as God’s wrath against homosexuality. Then when good religious people contracted the virus from blood transfusions, their clanking voices fell silent; suddenly their dogma wasn’t ‘favorably’ discriminatory against “sinful” people, ala Sodom & Gomorrah (if one believes in God’s wrath as such). World tragedies will continue to happen, but they do not belong in the debate of moral/immoral consequences.

          From AthiestRepublic.com: “You don’t need religion to have morals. If you can’t determine right from wrong, then you lack empathy, not religion.”

    • Anonymous says:

      What are you talking about? There isn’t going to be a worldwide flood we need to work together to survive.

      • For any upcoming catastrophic events, like the earthquake and tsunami of Japan two years ago, or the predicted eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera that if/when it blows will destroy much of middle America, or the very real reasons why NASA and other foreign space agencies are constantly monitoring Earth’s nearby space and our solar system for near-Earth or incoming large meteorites KNOWING the destruction they will cause for the entire world if they hit, or any other in Earth’s future (because all scientists agree unanimously that Earth and the Universe are constantly changing, sometimes violently), then it is indeed your choice to try and survive alone or with close family. But I would argue that your chances of survival are much much better if you’re organized with thousands, or millions of others working for a common goal of survival preparation; it’s much more efficient!

        Unfortunately, as 500Q points out directly and indirectly with his lines of questions, one major obstacle for a nation or a planet of beings needing to survive probable extinction is religiously-grounded discrimination and elitism that isn’t conducive to efficient teamwork. Unless of course one is a proponent of Armageddon or God’s massive wipe-out of “sinners and non-believers” as say many militant Islamist seek to usher in immediately by suicide-bombings. Or for that matter, what many Christians want and pray for….a rapture during ‘the end times’ and not really interested in others who are not like-minded. In my mind, those types are essentially people with death-wishes; nothing more.

        For me the choice(s) are simple and not rocket science. Are you an Earthling or are you an autonomous human being who only needs his/her “God/Savior”? The latter makes up no more than perhaps 1/3rd of the world population or less depending on which discriminatory pious group one subscribes. I prefer the title of human from planet Earth, period. Now, what can we all do together? Imagine and embrace that. I LIKE those chances much better! :)

  5. Randy curwen says:

    I was 6 years old when I heard about Noah’s Ark in my Methodist church. I lived on a farm and I loved animal books with all the strange animals from around the world. I asked my mother about this, since even to a 6 year old it didn’t seem sense, and she wisely explained what an allegory was (though she certainly didn’t use that word).
    She was/is (now 95) wise. Just don’t see the point of trying to turn this into something literal–and literally preposterous.

    • Hi Randy, thanks for your comment.

      If the story IS an allegory, then why do Jesus and others always describe it as a literal event? And why is Noah included in Jesus’ genealogy? If this didn’t happen to Noah, but Noah is a real person, then someone told a bold-faced lie about the events of his life.

      Check out these two Biblical descriptions of the event:

      “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
      ~ Matthew 24:37-38

      “if he [God] did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others …”
      ~ 2 Peter 2:5

      Jesus could’ve said, “For the coming of the Son of Man will be like the PARABLE of Noah,” but didn’t. He describes literal “days” before and after the flood.

      If there’s any doubt, 2 Peter describes a literal event that happened to people in the “ancient world,” not a parabolic people. These people literally died, and Noah was literally spared, and became the literal ancestor of Jesus.

      I think what’s most likely the truth is that we’ve only recently come to a better understanding of our world, and this has forced us to try and salvage this beloved story by saying “It was ALWAYS an allegory!” But this just doesn’t hold water (no pun intended).

  6. starandrock says:

    As usual, I your blog posting makes me laugh at its humor and also cringe. You and I have very different views on the Bible and it’s almost cute to see how you analyze the Bible even as a Pentecostal would though you are an athiest/agnostic I suppose. :) I disagree that the Noah’s Ark account is 100% meant to be understood literally.

    I regard the Bible more along the lines of this quote:

    “….the Bible is not a natural science textbook, nor does it intend to be such. It is a religious book, and consequently one cannot obtain information about the natural sciences from it. One cannot get from it a scientific explanation of how the world arose; one can only glean religious experience from it. Anything else is an image and a way of describing things whose aim is to make profound realities graspable to human beings. One must distinguish between the form of portrayal and the content that is portrayed. The form would have been chosen from what was understandable at the time — from the images which surrounded the people who lived then, which they used in speaking and in thinking, and thanks to which they were able to understand the greater realities. And only the reality that shines through these images would be what was intended and what was truly enduring. Thus Scripture would not wish to inform us about how the different species of plant life gradually appeared or how the sun and the moon and the stars were established. Its purpose ultimately would be to say one thing: God created the world.”

    (I know that sounds more suited to the topic of Genesis, but you get the idea…) And I know you will see this viewpoint as… quite “convenient” ;)

    But this is just my two cents on a blog. What divides us is obviously who has a definitive interpretation of the Bible, if anybody. If everyone could come to a consensus on that, that would solve a lot of issues. I almost never debate Christians of different denominations with Bible quotes because of this–it’s almost pointless.

    Cheers!

    • Garbonzo says:

      If the Flood story wasn’t meant to be taken literally, then how was it meant to be taken? There’s no reason to believe otherwise. But since it’s proven wrong, you say it’s not literal, like *every other thing in the Bible that doesn’t make sense*. The excuse is always “it’s not literal” or “the Bible isn’t a science textbook”. Well, there shouldn’t be unscientific things in a book inspired by an Almighty being. It *can’t* be any more simpler than that. A loving God would not want to trick us.

      • starandrock says:

        Garbonzo: Thank you for your response. I do like to hear about other people’s viewpoints and how they reach their conclusions. Very much appreciated. I would love to engage in a friendly conversation with you, but I am emotionally drained at the moment. You can read my response below to 500Q to understand why. I am sorry.

    • Hi starandrock,

      Have you ever considered that the reason this viewpoint seems “convenient,” is because it actually IS?

      I can tell by your condescending tone that you believe you have superior knowledge on the subject, so I would ask the same as Garbonzo, please enlighten us, please explain to us EXACTLY how we should interpret the story of Noah, so that we too may be able to see and understand. Because all I’m seeing is a sweeping generalization about how the Bible contains NO actual facts, yet we should STILL consider it the word of God, simply because it might contain some deeper spiritual meaning. (Come now, anyone can write a book that contains no actual facts, and then claim it contains some deep spiritual or religious meaning.)

      According to Luke 3:36, Jesus descended from Noah. While it’s easy (and tempting for the modern believer) to write off Noah’s story as parabolic or allegorical, it DOESN’T make sense to write a genealogy this way. Are we to believe that Jesus descend from an allegory? No, that can’t be right, Noah MUST be a real person. So, if the story is NOT true, but Noah IS a real person, why then has God lied to us about the events of Noah’s life? The devil deceives, not God.

      I think the simplest truth is that the story was plagiarized from the Epic of Gilgamesh, it then came to be taken as literal history for thousands of years, and now that we’ve realized it’s complete bunk, Christianity is evolving once again to protect itself (because that’s how religions survive). Convenient.

      500Q

  7. starandrock says:

    500Q:

    My apologies, I did not expect this kind of response. I think something must have been misinterpreted as malice or condescension. For the sake of courteousness, let me review my posting:

    “As usual, your blog posting makes me laugh at its humor..”
    –You have a gift for writing in a humorous way to keep your audience entertained while discussing your topics!
    “…and also cringe.”
    –Surprisingly, this is not so much about the content of each topic, but how you and I would go about different philosophical methods of coming to a conclusion or go about setting up a premise upon which to build an argument. It’s my gut reaction when I think, “Oooo! I wish he would have asked XYZ!” Or, “Did he set his premise on ABC?”
    And on a different note entirely, “Gah! Don’t lump me together with those people!” All just part of the ride of reading your blog and the comment sections. No malice intended.
    “You and I have very different views on the Bible…”
    –Just stating the obvious. I expect to encounter different views on this blog.
    “…and it’s almost cute to see how you analyze the Bible even as a Pentecostal would though you are an athiest/agnostic I suppose.”
    –I am a woman. I think lots of things are cute. Even your little gravatar “Simpson” image makes me think of you as been a cute friendly guy.
    But more specifically, it made me think of how past roots can still have an effect on how we go about things. Like when a son or daughter reflects traits of their parents because they’ve just been around them so long. I don’t claim to think you have Pentecostal viewpoints anymore, but like an Evangelical would (in general) I can see that you are still willing to debate Bible verses with others as an atheist instead of tossing the Bible out the window completely. I hope that sort of makes sense. I added a little smiley face at the end of that sentence to show I was being friendly. I am going to guess I screwed up here somewhere to make you upset.
    ”I disagree that the Noah’s Ark account is 100% meant to be understood literally.”
    –Just sharing my personal viewpoint along with others on this blog. I thought that was acceptable and encouraged here. Sharing my opinion doesn’t meant that I am forcing it on anybody.
    “I regard the Bible more along the lines of this quote:
    “….the Bible is not a natural science textbook, nor does it intend to be such. It is a religious book, and consequently one cannot obtain information about the natural sciences from it. One cannot get from it a scientific explanation of how the world arose; one can only glean religious experience from it. Anything else is an image and a way of describing things whose aim is to make profound realities graspable to human beings. One must distinguish between the form of portrayal and the content that is portrayed. The form would have been chosen from what was understandable at the time — from the images which surrounded the people who lived then, which they used in speaking and in thinking, and thanks to which they were able to understand the greater realities. And only the reality that shines through these images would be what was intended and what was truly enduring. Thus Scripture would not wish to inform us about how the different species of plant life gradually appeared or how the sun and the moon and the stars were established. Its purpose ultimately would be to say one thing: God created the world.”
    (I know that sounds more suited to the topic of Genesis, but you get the idea…)”
    –Since I am often not very good at expressing complex ideas, I decided to pull a quote from online to help better clarify my viewpoint. By sharing about myself, others can get a better picture of me and refer to this if they choose to start a discussion with me.
    And I know you will see this viewpoint as… quite “convenient” 
    This was a friendly jab–an attempt to laugh “with” you at the fact that I already know how you view allegorical interpretations. I added a smiley-winky face at the end of this sentence to try and make sure you knew I was being friendly.
    “But this is just my two cents on a blog.”
    –A way to say, “hey, it’s just me sharing my personal opinion”. Trying to keep a relaxed atmosphere while we share viewpoints.
    “What divides us is obviously who has a definitive interpretation of the Bible, if anybody.”
    –I really do think this is an issue that divides us, otherwise we would all see each verse the same way.
    “If everyone could come to a consensus on that, that would solve a lot of issues.”
    –I do think it would solve a lot of issues.
    “I almost never debate Christians of different denominations with Bible quotes because of this–it’s almost pointless.”
    –Just recounting how I personally go about things. Not saying you can’t do as you wish. In the past whenever I had tried to discuss a disagreement in the Bible with a friend or relative using scriptures, the answer in the end was always, “Well, you have your interpretation and I have mine.” It frustrated me because after all the dialogue, it always came back to this point and we never made any progress. It was like going in circles. So I started asking myself, and others: “Why do we have different interpretations in the first place?” “Does anyone have a fully correct view on the Bible?” “If so, who?” If not, what are the implications?””Is the answer to this something we can find out from history, study, or something else?” “Is the answer in the Bible or not?” These things roll around in my head.
    “Cheers!”
    –My way of trying to conclude my post in a friendly way.
    When I first read some of your blog posts, I immediately thought about how fascinating it would be to meet you in person and listen to your whole de-conversion story. I would love to ask you questions to better understand you and your chain of reasoning that has led you to where you are today. And to bring up questions of my own that we could discuss together. This is my first time creating a WordPress gravatar account. “StarandRock” was not my first choice of name. It was: “TheOpenEar”, but it was already taken. I wanted to convey how much I enjoy listening to the person across the table. After all, how can I engage someone in a relevant way without knowing about them first?
    I always tell my husband how much I would love to attend the religious services of others to see what they are like. Not from a need to convert, or that I am unhappy with my church, but from a need to understand what shapes others. I love listening to debates and to consider what might have shaped a person’s opinions from the past. Unfortunately, my time is completely consumed round the clock and I have no time to make such an visit.
    I am stuck at home all day with a baby and a toddler. For three years all I listen to is baby gibberish, screams, and silly toddler chatter. Feeding, changing, don’t touch that, stop it, let’s go to the potty, please just leave me alone so I can do the dishes, on and on and on… I barely get a shred of intellectual discussion that I am dying for. When I found your blog, I thought, “Ah! This place seems like it would be fun. The moderator seems nice and civil–even to Judy.”
    I broke down sobbing four times while composing this response to you. You have hurt my feelings immensely. I was just trying to be friendly. (That’s five times now.) I thought I was trying to be nice and drum up dialogue at the same time. I guess the smiley faces didn’t work as I hoped they would. I am too afraid to post anything else on your site for fear of being misunderstood and pushed down again. Now I feel like you hate me. These days, I am in a rough place and I was just searching for something… (six times)
    Bye.

    • Speaking as a former Christian myself, someone who actually found the courage to finally come out of the closet about my unbelief thanks to 500Q, I can say I get very irritated when talking with current Christians who dismiss my ideas as lacking because I do not have a special connection with God which allows for clarity of otherwise stupid ideas. Except, I do know what it’s like; I once thought I had a direct line to the creator of the universe as well, and it’s a very prideful claim to make. I think this is why we sometimes take things said by Christians as being derogatory. I’ve been told a number of times that if I reject the idea of God now, that I must have never been a true Christian, which is a very convenient way to avoid criticism.

      Anyway I’m not saying this is what you were doing, but before you provided your explanation, some of what you said seemed to come across as a little dismissive, especially when you didn’t really address the issue of whether or not the story of Noah is to be taken literally. It’s not like guessing whether or not there is life on other planets and if so, did Jesus die for them. The story of Noah has two very distinct possibilities: it is either literal or it is not. From there, one can use a little logic to determine if a loving God does indeed exist, base on either possibility.

      As for your hurt feelings, that does make me sad, because you actually seem very sweet and sincere and I believe your very genuine explanation. You actually sound a bit like me, in that I think with a little reasoning, some reflection, and the courage to tell your family and friends, you may actually break free yourself someday. If you want a true feeling of being born again, try going to the zoo or watching a political TV show or discussing gay marriage for the first time after admitting you are no longer a Christians. It’s exactly the freedom, joy, and love of life I was always promised I would have in Jesus, but almost never did.

      500Q does an incredible job of looking at important issues with the Bible in a very logical way, but if you ever want to talk about my own experience, or if you want to share with my your feelings on different religions and how you’d like to explore other perspectives, I’d be happy to talk to you myself.

      Please don’t leave. You have a good heart and I feel like sharing ideas with you isn’t the same as sharing ideas with many closed minded religious types.

    • Hi starandrock,

      Say no more, it was obviously just a misunderstanding. :-)

      But please allow me to explain that I see A LOT of comments from Christians who (understandably) wish to defend their beliefs. When they come here, there defenses are up, and they are looking for reasons to dismiss/discredit everything I’ve written. I see this regularly, and so I assumed your comment meant something along the lines of: “Oh, now isn’t that cute, the unbeliever is attempting to understand, but failing so much that it makes me cringe.” I now understand this is NOT what you meant, but I often do need to stand my ground and redirect the conversation back to the issue at hand. People are welcome to disagree with me, as long as they’re not rude about it (and most are not).

      Believe it or not, I’m a pretty thinned-skinned guy in real life; I HATE arguing with people, and I go out of my way to avoid confrontations. This kind of thing does NOT come easily or naturally for me, I ONLY do it because the topic is important to me. I still cringe whenever I see I have a new comment, because I’m afraid it’s going to be someone telling me how stupid I am, or another believer telling me how I’ve gotten it all wrong. But I believe it’s important to allow for people to comment, just in case I AM wrong (but that rarely ever happens, lol). And people usually have a lot of interesting things to add to the conversation.

      I HAVE gotten a handful of negative remarks, and they have hurt me to the point where I almost gave up. But most people are pretty friendly, like Garbonzo and Matthew here, and I have gotten some positive unsolicited feedback from places like Twitter, Reddit, and other blogs. These are the ones that make me think, “Eh, screw the negative folks, on to the next question.”

      500Q :-)

      • Garbonzo says:

        “Believe it or not, I’m a pretty thinned-skinned guy in real life; I HATE arguing with people, and I go out of my way to avoid confrontations. This kind of thing does NOT come easily or naturally for me, I ONLY do it because the topic is important to me.”

        You explained me too! =P I definitely cringed every time I loaded up my “A challenge to atheists” thread to see what other things people who show me was wrong about my beliefs. =P Coming to terms with the truth and accepting it is hard. That thread was pretty much my first exposure to any type of formal debate. I didn’t know anything at all about logical fallacies and the such. 2 months from now will mark the 3rd anniversary (wow, so long?) of that thread, and needless to say, I’ve grown up and learned a lot since then. I now have countless debates under my belt ranging on many different topics mainly on Reddit.

        I don’t think debating comes naturally to anyone, and only after 3 years straight of checking my inbox everyday for new replies have I started feeling comfortable debating people. Well, you know what they say, practice makes perfect. =P

        Now, debating in real life on the other hand is basically an entirely different beast. You have to think faster, and REALLY know your stuff. Even the “expert” debaters have trouble against opponents. Because it’s really hard to think on your feet like that, and there are so many different ways to respond to a point, it’s hard to find that optimal one which you can usually find after lingering at your keyboard with your thinking cap on.

        Writing / text is really the only way a really intellectual debate can happen imo. We want people to put their best foot forward and people can get away with so much more in audible debates.

        More often than not I’d rather not debate someone audibly. If they want, maybe we can discuss things through email or Facebook….

        • I agree. I’ve seen Kent Hovind (creationist) debate university professors and he appears to nail it, but only because he’s done it HUNDREDS (if not thousands) of times and can rattle off 100 facts in his 15 minutes, leaving the other guy at a total loss (and making him appear “slow” to respond to these “amazing” facts). But watch a number of his debates, and you see he’s just regurgitating the same information (and jokes) every time. Just because you’re polished, doesn’t make you right, but it can create that illusion. Giving people ample time to respond and check their facts is a better way to go. (There are now a ton of YouTube videos that rebut his claims.)

          Believe it or not, when I first started out, I wanted to create YouTube videos that would help people see the logic in God, Christianity, and creationism. I wanted to win souls for Christ through the power of rational thinking. Needless to say, things didn’t go exactly as planned. But I do give the internet a lot of credit for creating ex-believers, because these truths and exposed fallacies are so much more available. I don’t think Christians would go out and buy a book by Richard Dawkins, but they might watch a video, or read a blog.

          500Q

          • Garbonzo says:

            “Believe it or not, when I first started out, I wanted to create YouTube videos that would help people see the logic in God, Christianity, and creationism.”

            I don’t know if this is what you were actually responding to in my comment, but it was the EXACT same way with me! As I’ve said with that “A challenge to atheists” thread I made. I made that thread totally EXPECTING to win over and convert atheists with rational thinking. I honestly thought that there was enough evidence for my religion that if these atheists only KNEW about it, they’d be convinced. I was pretty naive in a bunch of ways. First, that I had any evidence at all, and second, even if I had the evidence, that I could get anyone I wanted to easily convert and follow the evidence. Honestly, I thought everyone was like me! Everyone was relatively smart, and lead their life by reason and logic, and followed the evidence, wherever it may lead…. Basically, I thought the only reason dissenting views came up, like even Democratics vs. Republicans, was because one side or the other just didn’t do their research. And sometimes that’s partly true, but I had no idea of cognitive dissonance and denying evidence that is right in front of people’s eyes. I mean, this is actually something I had to learn in the past 3 years! And I’ll be 20 this year!

            I had a fantasy and better view of the world. And every day I live a bit longer, I keep seeing how DUMB people can actually be. I visit Reddit’s subreddit /r/TalesFromRetail, and someone who worked at a fast food restaurant was saying how they always used to get people that came in asking if it was Burger King or McDonalds, *even when the restaurant looked nothing like any of those restaurants!* They can’t even read the signs!!!! I can’t believe ANYONE would do that unless they have a mental learning disorder, much less this being somewhat COMMON!

            I can’t believe how many idiotic people there are in this world, truly. It boggles my mind. I would like to be humble and think that you, Matthew, and I, and the other regulars of this comment section are NOT that special in this world and everyone is like us deep down, but it’s getting harder and harder to believe that. =( I don’t know what it is.

            Are people born like this? Is it their education? Their upbringing? Has it to do with genetics? Or a mixture of everything? I can’t begin to say either way, and I don’t know whether to feel lucky about my upbringing (even though it was nowhere NEAR perfect) or lucky that I am special and not a bumbling idiot who goes into a sandwich shop thinking it’s BK. >.>

            And this all relates to other things in life too…how will I find a mate that is truly rational and always welcome to self improvement. There seems to be *such a small amount* of them out there. Like less than 0.01%. Maybe I’ll have to settle for less, and at least you, 500Q, prove that you can have a happy marriage without that quality, but that seems weird to me, to tell the truth.

            And also politics…. How can a truly democratic system work when the vast majority of people are so unaware and ignorant? I don’t even know where to begin on that one. Politics is such a complex subject, I don’t hold *very* strong views either way. I kind of just guess based on the evidence I have, but I can’t really say I’m anywhere near 100% confident on my views. And that’s kind of my point! We can’t trust many humans to make the right choices, so it’s hard.

            Welp, that’s the end of my rant. 500Q, I thank you for giving me an outlet to express my views on this crazy world I just seemed to have appeared in at random. =)

            • No problemo. By the way, you were a Jehovah’s Witness once, were you not? I’ve got a current JW trying to show me the error of my ways under question #24 (johnrosstar — just scroll to the bottom). Not sure if you’d like to add anything to that conversation, but you probably know more about the subject than I do.

              Take care,
              500Q

  8. Jim says:

    I have to say I’m surprised by your conclusion on this question. I would tell Christians that they should take it literally if it would hurt their faith to do otherwise, If that’s the approach taken then I don’t think it’s worth doubting. As history I doubt this version of the flood story is the “correct” one. I always tell Christians who start to doubt the bible, “God can do anything right? Well then don’t worry about it then, the story of Noah is a true story then.”

    Throughout ancient history there were many flood myths, it’s likely was some form of a great flood, but this is one of the latest written versions of all of them. This version is used to explain God’s covenant to all people. The narratives regarding the numbers of days and numbers in general in the bible are part of Assyrian/Babylonian numbering or as they call it today Gematria. From a logical perspective, I would say it’s a possibility that there was a flood, possibly that touched all over the earth. It’s just as possible tough that water (an important part to life) became a reason why life is here now to their understanding. Life from a life giving substance. As for the biblical version, it’s there to define an understanding, and to define a way of thought towards all mankind, and reading it like a history book I would say is problematic.

  9. veos says:

    Genesis: 06.07 07.03-04 07.14 07.20-23 08.17 08.21-22 09.11-17 10.05 10.10-15 10.20 10.22 10.31-32 (that verse -the32nd- alone would do!) THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT: Neither a local flood nor an allegory can be harmonized with the text. Dear Christians, ,just DO -please- read the text! And think: Between the sun that was created after the trees (….!!!) and a global flood that has been totally disproved is your (used to be mine too) “fall story” , the foundation of the christian worldview (why would we need a doctor -saviour- if we never had been sick, if we are still now as ever have been?)… A story that HAS to be taken at face value, otherwise Jesus would be a ransom (ΑΝΤΙΛΥΤΡΟΝ) for a fictional “mishappening”… Talk about peek and choose, double standards and creative exegetics…

    You know the story with the naked emperor… A boy is shouting, look the emperor is naked! But WE DO NOT WANT TO LOOK… AND WE DO NOT “BELIEVE” THIS BOY… After all, it’s just a boy shouting again the millennia-old holy institution of THE CHURCH….

    • markHisway says:

      Veos,
      I’d like to see the evidence of disproval of the global flood. There are many evidences in support: oceanic fossils on mountaintops, etc.. Also, trees before the sun yes, but not before light… Don’t you think if God has the power to create both, they could have been sustained for approximately 24 hours or less, since the third day was herb yielding fruits, and the 4th day were the two lights, the greater one to rule the day (sun), and the lesser to rule the night (moon)? Also, not sure of your references to Genesis, and what they are pertaining to, specifically “10.31-32 (that verse -the32nd- alone would do!)”. Just wanted some clarification, was all.

      Blessings.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s