Saturday, 20 August 2011

Noah - invented to scare the kids?

This is the first in a mini-series looking at the story of Noah in the Old Testament of the bible and the qu'ran.  Anyone growing up in an area dominated by one of the Abrahamic religions can hardy have escaped learning this story as a young child.

How sweet, Noah built a big boat and carefully saved two of each kind of animal and looked after them until the flood subsided.  Our young minds did not stop to consider whether the story was true - or even whether it could have possibly been true.

But now, looking on with adult eyes, with less credulous eyes, and (coincidentally) with atheist eyes, I can write about a week's worth of somewhat surprising blog posts on the topic without becoming repetitive.

I'll start off with a brief look at why some children find the story frightening if they have been interested enough to think about the beginning of the story carefully.  I believe it was Marcus Brigstock who told the tale of a conversation with his young son.  When he gently introduced the idea that 'Daddy doesn't really believe in God' his son was horrified and frightened.  "But Daddy, you have to believe in god or he will send another flood to kill us all!"

A bright kid.  I don't know how old he is now, but I'm sure that even he might be surprised by some of the other thoughts about the myth of the flood, concentrating on the version about Noah, but straying into other mythology from Old Testament times and earlier.  There are so many questions to be asked about this story, about the omniscience of god, about the physics of the flood, and about evolution or creation since that time.

One of the consequences for me is that Genesis again appears to be plagiarised from earlier stories, casting doubt about whether any of the words of the bible were revealed by god.  The more you examine the stories of the bible the more you wonder whether there is a shred of truth that can be believed.  Only the logical fallacy of 'special pleading' enables you to choose parts that seem more believable than the others.

Check back every day for the next installment (although I will probably interleave other topics too).

And . . . in case you were worried like Brigstock junior . . . try to remember the rainbow that god sent as his promise not to do it again.  But did he really mean it?  Or did he have his fingers crossed behind his back while he was saying it?  The picture of the Rainbow Warrior sunk in a harbour in New Zealand seems strangely representative of the state of Noah's ark - sunk and hopeless after a legendary career.

Related posts:
Was the flood the only way?
2 by 2 - but not only 2 of each
Where is all Noah's water now?
Was the Ark big enough?Evidence in the geology - cliffs and varves
Noah's aquaria?
Noah in Islam
Rafts of Baramins
Before Noah came Gilgamesh
Kangaroos - the final evidence against Noah?


Kenny Wyland said...

A "rational theist" friend of mine one sent me this podcast called "Conversations with Skeptic" which turned out to be a Christian preacher setting up a bunch of atheist strawmen and knocking them down. I posted a couple of times on my blog about it, one of them about a wild claim he made about how easy the math works out on housing 2 of every animal on the ark. Here's a link in case you are interested in a little bit of fun with math and skepticism.

Plasma Engineer said...

That's good. I liked it enough to post that blog post to reddit - now I'm banned, having been somewhat abused by a moderator of a different sub-reddit!

Still - I don't think I want to be associated with a peculiar organisation like Reddit anyway. The more I find out about it the more I'm amazed!