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John Prytz (John Prytz)
Noah’s Ark & The Biblical Flood: Reality Or Nonsense?

Everyone loves a good end-of-the-world disaster story and the one about the global flood as related in The Bible is a case in point. The trouble is that like most of the Bible its pure mythology. Unfortunately, way too many people take the tale literally.

I find it quite amazing there are certain sincere, albeit misguided, individuals who spend thousands of dollars on expeditions chasing up, in search of, something and an event that doesn’t exist. Amazingly, every few years you’ll get a press report that the object (and thus the event) has been found. Alas, there’s never a follow-up story that confirms and authenticates the discovery. It’s always a case of ‘oops, goofed again’; ‘back to the drawing board’; ‘better luck next time’. Oh, what’s the object? The object in question is Noah’s Ark of course; and the event, the story of the Biblical flood.

In terms of Old Testament tales, the Biblical flood story makes for a great science fiction read, even makes a grand (but fictional) epic film spectacular, but that’s about as far as it goes. The accent here must be on the word ‘fiction’. In fact, this has just got be the greatest crock of bovine fertiliser I’ve ever read about. How any thinking person can swallow this fairy tale is beyond me. Just consider.

Where did all the water come from? There’s certainly not enough water vapour in the atmosphere to precipitate out for 40 days and nights! And would 40 days and nights of rain even be enough to cover the highest mountain peak? I doubt it. And where did all the water go after-the-fact?

Then there’s that minor detail of actually building the Ark. Given the size it would have to be (room for all those multi-tens-of-thousands of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and millions more invertebrates), just using a very few labourers without modern power tools, it would have to take decades, if not centuries to complete the task. And that’s after you have gathered all of the raw materials and transported them on site. From an engineering point of view, there is a limit to how big you can make a viable, sail-able wooden boat using only materials and technology available at the time. Too large, as the Ark would have to be, it would at best leak and slowly sink; at worst break apart and rapidly sink, sailing on a rough and stormy global sea. With no land masses to get in the way, can you imagine the force the winds could get to? Cape Horn would be a smooth pond comparatively speaking.

After taking mega-years to build the damn ship, your work isn’t finished. Somehow you have got to find, collect, gather together all the supplies needed as well as find, collect and gather all the animals required for the voyage. That would take quite some considerable time – as in more mega-years. How long would it take you to round up two of every animal species on Planet Earth along with all the resources required to keep them in the style of life to which they have become accustomed for forty days and nights? Don’t forget that many animals have very precise dietary, etc. requirements. I think most pet owners find it quite daunting enough to deal with the time and energy to look after just a few animals, far less several hundred thousand!

And just how did all those thousands of species of animals not native to the region happen to make it to the Ark if they weren’t collected by Noah and friends? I mean like polar bears and penguins and animals native to the Americas? I assume koalas and kangaroos went along for the ride. How did they get to the Holy Lands? How did these animals get returned to their native lands after-the-fact? Then too, there’s been lots of new species discovered since Noah’s time. Presumably they were unknown to Noah too back then, so how did they survive the Flood?

There are the logistical and manpower issues that need to be looked at after the building and gathering together aspects. There’s the need to load and store all those supplies for the adequate care and feeding of at minimum a hundred thousand animal species (times two – one of each sex), and that’s excluding all the insects and other invertebrates (so add several million more). What sort of manpower is needed to care for, feed, exercise, clean (especially clean) and dispose of the organic refuse of all those animals? Let’s just say that a typical zoo has way fewer animals and lots more staff. Noah and crew would never have gotten any sleep. Since there are only 86,400 seconds in a day, each animal would have rated less than a few seconds a day even multiplying allowable seconds in a day by all the available manpower for said care and feeding and exercise and cleaning. Perhaps Noah and crew were born on and came from Krypton!

Was Noah and crew (family) qualified in the care of wildlife? Were they certified veterinarians who could look after a sick animal? After all, if one of the two-by-two of a kind died, then it’s curtains for that species. It goes extinct! I’d guess they probably weren’t so qualified, which was a major oversight IMHO. How did Noah, etc. know the animals (and even plant seeds) were actually fertile?

Relatively few life forms would have survived in a global ocean. That includes most fish as all that additional fresh water would have diluted the oceans enough, and the rising sea water levels contaminate fresh water lakes, etc. such that nearly all marine and fresh water fish would have died. Therefore, I guess the Ark had to have been a floating aquarium in addition to everything else.

And just how did all those dry land plants survive after being submerged for weeks on end? Well, I guess the Ark had to carry a lot of plants too! Of course fresh water for all the plants wouldn’t have been much of a problem, but what of sunlight since everything had to be stored below decks? Of course perhaps all plants were stored as seeds, but how do seeds (or the actual plants for that matter) native to Australia, New Zealand, or Hawaii say get to the Middle East?

And how could the Ark maintain all those proper environmental conditions on board to sustain the lives of such a diversity of wildlife? From polar to tropical, desert to rain-forest, how? And how could the Ark carry hundreds of thousands of animal species (including nearly all the birds), millions if you include insects (which you’d have to do), along with appropriate food for all, all for a minimum of 40 days and nights (plus additional time for the waters to entirely recede)? Do you realise how entirely inadequate the Biblical accounting of the Ark is for such a mission? It’s like trying to house and feed a human population of thousands in a bed-sitter flat!

Speaking of proper environmental conditions, you have got to pity the poor human occupants on board – the crew. I mean between the massive animal stink and animal noise and the constant wet and constant seasickness from the rolling global ocean, plus very poor ventilation and what with no electric lights, inhaling the smoke and fumes from whatever oil-based light source(s) they had – well there sure was no occupational health and safety back then!

There’s also a few other quirks. Actually in some cases you need more than two per species. You can’t have just two dogs or two cats, but two of every dog breed and two of every cat breed. Multiply that by all other species that have various distinctive breeds. Speaking of breeds, where did all our genetic racial diversity come from if there were only a few (Noah and crew) survivors of this Biblical (global) flood?

In fact, since some animals only eat live (animal) food, I guess more than two of some species had to be on board to serve as appropriate snacks. I mean there wasn’t any tinned or dry cat food available for the moggies, no means of refrigeration of raw meat or fish, so extra live mice had better be on hand. That sort of example could be multiplied many times over.

After-the-fact, when the flood waters receded, what food would the herbivores eat? It would take some time for the grasses and bushes and trees and forests to regenerate. Further, immediately after-the-fact, wouldn’t the predator-prey ratio be all screwed up? I mean in a healthy population, prey vastly outnumber predators. If there are 200 deer and 2 lions, both survive. If there are two deer and two lions, both go kaput pretty quickly, the deer killed for food, the lions then starve.

And isn’t it strange that there were no other boats in existence that would have carried other survivors? I mean apparently every other boat in Biblical time’s existence sank, apart from the Ark! Rather inadequate boat building skills back then apparently or perhaps the whole story has all the reality of a Twilight Zone episode.

Now God may have a bone to pick with humans, but not with innocent animals. Although God dos the right thing by ‘saving’ a pair of each species, God also exhibited extreme cruelty in murdering (drowning) untold multi-millions of innocent animals.

There’s that concept of murder which God perpetrated on the human race en mass despite his or her own commandment about not killing. Thou shall not kill is one of the Ten Commandments I believe. So you’d think that God would practice what he (or she) preaches, but doesn’t, according to the Old Testament. Because the Biblical flood was God’s flood, God was the greatest mass murderer in the history of the world, a murderer that puts tyrants the likes of Hitler to a status of rank amateur! I mean there are not only the Biblical flood story, but what about Sodom and Gomorrah? You can’t trust a god who basically says ‘do as I say, not as I do’.

The logic of it all is illogical in the extreme. And even if the Biblical flood were only a localised affair (which makes far more sense and explains some of the above problems), that still doesn’t absolve God from being a mass murderer.

If God – assuming a God exists and being all powerful and such – really wanted to wipe out all but a very few of his or her originally chosen people, those made in God’s image, humanity in other words (but please spare the innocent animals), he or she certainly picked a complicated way of doing it. A really all powerful God could have just snapped his or her fingers and instantaneously all of the humanity bar those very few special ones (Noah and company) would have become the dead dust of history. But why be quick and merciful (‘snap’) when you can drag it out and make them suffer!

Now the tale of the global flood is in fact global! Cultures from around the world tell similar tales to the Biblical flood. The argument is that therefore the story must be true as these diverse cultures had no contact with each other. My answer to that is related to bovine fertiliser! End of the world tales, or myths, the concept of Armageddon, punishing the wicked with total catastrophe was as common and popular then as now. We all love a good ‘end of the world’ story that has a moral attached. Alas, the choices or mechanisms available for said end of the world stories to myth makers’ way back then were rather limited. They had no knowledge of supernovae or gamma-ray bursts or massive solar flares or nuclear war and resulting holocausts or killer asteroids smacking into Planet Earth, etc. All they had to work with was the day-to-day sorts of routine natural events part and parcel of their daily lives. In fact, many tale-spinners might not have been familiar with, say, volcanoes, and while most relatively violent weather phenomena, like tornadoes, may be destructive, they aren’t destructive enough to wipe out the wicked that populate a wide area. However, everyone would have experienced rain, heavy rain, even torrential rain say from hurricanes, etc. that resulted in minor flooding, or say witnessed storm surges from the sea that inundated the land, and/or witnessed rivers, ponds and lakes overflowing. It doesn’t take that much imagination to notch up minor real events, in the guise of story telling, to mega disaster proportions. If it rains heavily for one day and there’s some local flooding, up the ante to 40 days. It’s difficult to imagine any story teller from 5000 years ago coming up with any other sort of end of the world scenario!

The one point to end-of-the-world, mega disaster stories is that there must be at least one survivor to tell the tale! I gather in this case that includes survivors such as Noah and kin.

Another possibility, perhaps complementary to the above or perhaps as a standalone in its own right is that many regions, high and dry, often arid, give rise to rock strata that contain fossilised sea shells, fossilised fish, and other marine organisms. Now natives seeing these anomalies, knowing nothing of historical geology and palaeontology, would obviously conclude that there must have been a massive body of water here at one time, which they interpret as a relatively recent giant flood, so gigantic that it must have been universal. Of course it was a ‘flood’ of sorts. As the configurations of the continents have changed, invasions of the sea have created vast oceans aeons ago where now stands dry land. The natives couldn’t have known that – the concept of deep (geological) time didn’t exist for them.

I have read of one other explanation for universal flood stories. If I recall correctly, a student of Freud came up with the idea that the tellers/inventors of flood tales got the idea from dreams in their sleep. And they dreamed the dream all because they were asleep with relatively full bladders. Personally, I think that’s a piss-weak explanation!

Is there another solution? Well, here’s one possibility. What if God, she, he or whatever, were in reality a very ‘flesh and blood’ extraterrestrial (E.T.) computer programmer, who has written a software package called, say “Planet Earth”. Maybe it’s a computer or interactive video game – maybe a homework assignment for a smart E.T. student. Anyway, computer software easily explains all the Biblical miracles (virgin births; the resurrection, etc.) or anomalies (like where did the entire Biblical flood’s rain come from; where did all the water go; how did Jonah survive inside a large fish, etc.) or inconsistencies (like Cain’s wife, the discrepancies between Biblical time and geological time). Regarding the Biblical flood, no humans actually died; no animals suffered and drowned, and so on, because the humans and animals were never real to start with, just as you and I aren’t real, just part of – for want of a better analogy – a computer game simulation. Now that’s pretty outlandish, but probably no more so that actually spending time, effort, energy and your hard earned dollars in search of the mythological and IMHO nonexistent Noah’s Ark.

But if you still believe in the physical reality of Noah’s Ark., then I guess it is logical to believe that the Ark must of carried unicorns, fairies-at-the-bottom-of-the-garden, dragons, centaurs, leprechauns, elves, sirens, Bigfoot, griffins, werewolves, trolls and just for good measure, the Cyclopes (plus a host of others).

The more obvious conclusion or implication is, if the Bible – the alleged word of God – gets this alleged event so wrong – it fails on any level of logic you care to apply – then how much faith can you put in the rest of the Biblical text? What sort of credibility does the Bible have? My belief is that it has absolutely none. So, potentially then the entire Bible, judging by the tale of the global flood, is a farce – just a collection of myths and fairy tales for grownups.