This post is part of an ongoing series. For more information on why I’m writing it, and for a listing of all posts in the series in chronological order, see An Atheist Reading the Bible: Prologue.
First of all, I would like to apologize for this post being a day late. There is a reason, and I want to explain it briefly.
On Friday, Amanda posted Jacob’s Story, an entreaty for help in raising money for a family member with an aggressive brain tumor. I beg any of you who haven’t read it to do so now, and to pass on the story in the hopes that somehow Jacob’s family can find a way to beat the odds. An 8-year-old boy deserves a chance at life.
Because I didn’t want to overshadow our attempts to help Jacob, I decided to postpone this post, leaving Jacob’s Story front-and-center on the Basic Humanity site for a few days. The response has been very encouraging (191 Facebook “Shares” as of this writing – we are overwhelmed with gratitude!), but Jacob still needs help, and his story will remain featured on our front page.
Discussing: The book of Genesis; Chapters 6 – 9.
The Biblical flood. Noah’s ark. The destruction of most of life on Earth. And before all of that… angels (or something) having sex with human women and making giants on the Earth. Yep. Did not know that.
These four chapters describe the calamitous flood with which God wiped his slate clean and started over, keeping only the family of Noah, whom he liked, and a pairing of male and female of every animal on the Earth alive in a boat together. I don’t know how they managed to keep enough fresh meat for all the predators, but I guess if you believe in God then you could believe in a walk-in freezer in the back of the ark or something.
The world right before the flood.
“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” (Gene 6.4)
I am not clear on who the “sons of God” were supposed to be, but that’s the second time they’re mentioned in Chapter 6. Apparently they liked Earth girls, too, because they took wives from among them. (Gene 6.1, 2) I have to be honest. I don’t even know what to do with that. God had sons, and they had sex with humans because they were fair. Not because of any really great mystical covenant like, “I’m going to leave a few demigods to look after you,” but because they were fair. They were pretty. Someone. Help me out.
But even more baffling than that is the reason that God destroyed 99/100ths of his created Earth, as stated in Genesis 6.6: “And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”
This God, I’m afraid, has a serious ego problem. He wiped out the planet because men – his own creation – were “evil”, and he was sorry he ever made them. This is equivalent to me having, say, one hundred children, and then just saying, “Oh wait, I’ve been raising them all wrong. I like this one (Noah), but I’m going to kill the rest of them.” I don’t care if you consider this literal or symbolic, this God sucks. I’m supposed to ask this bastard to forgive me for my sins? No matter how ‘wicked’ my son turns out to be (he’s not even close to being wicked, by the way, I’m just saying, you know, “What if?”), I would never abandon him with a swipe of my eraser like some piece of artwork I’m not satisfied with. I’ll not be taking moral lessons from this God, I assure you.
There are a lot of obvious problems with believing in the flood as a literal event. An ark big enough for two of every air-breathing animal on Earth? Storing enough food for all of them? Is there any geological evidence of this flood that covered the Earth?
According to my calculations, Noah was in the ark for 375 days. I can raise lots of objections, but I suppose people who are inclined to believe in this story can raise lots of answers to them. A researcher named John Woodmorappe, for example, has it all worked out so that even without divine assistance, Noah could have cared for the animals.2
None of that even matters. According to this story, God wiped us out like a collection of cheap toys he’d lost interest in. Rather than make efforts to redeem us (who were fallen, but only by his design), he decided it was more cost-effective to replace us.
After the flood.
Following the flood, Noah and his sons and their wives and all the animals climbed out onto a freshly scrubbed Earth to start again. What do they do first? They offer a sacrifice to the Lord “of every clean beast”. (Gene 8.20) Which sucks for life on Earth, because there was supposedly only one male and one female of each species, and Noah immediately kills one of each. Maybe that’s why the dinosaurs are extinct?
Then comes the rainbow – God’s promise never to destroy the Earth by flood again. (Gene 9.15) All seems well until Noah gets drunk, his son finds him naked, and in a seriously convoluted chain of events (well, convoluted for a story in Genesis anyway) the nation of Canaan is cursed by Noah because his son saw him naked. I didn’t know men had the power to curse nations, but this is not the only time it happens in Genesis.
I have been back and forth with people about whether the Bible is meant to be historical fact or merely allegory. Normally I would say it makes a huge difference. In the story of Noah, however, I find neither literal nor symbolic value. I dispute its historical accuracy. I also greatly dislike the ‘Deadbeat Dad’ characterization of God in this story. I can do without this God.
But what about the rest of you? Literal or symbolic? Good God or bad?
- International Bible Seminary (2011). SearchByVerse™ Holy Bible (KJV) [Kindle]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
- Answers In Genesis (2011). Caring for the Animals on the Ark. John Woodmorappe. Retrieved July 16, 2012, from http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v2/n2/caring-for-the-animals