an atheist viewpoint

thoughts from a non-theist

The Flood

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Dear Fundamentalists
let’s explore the story of the Flood. 
As a fundamentalist you believe this to be true, a literal account of events on a real Earth effecting real people. You honestly and truly believe that your god, enraged at the way His creation had turned out, decided to wipe mankind off the face of the planet. You’d think an omnipotent, omniscient being, capable (by his own self assessment) of knowing all of history simultaneously, would have known from the start that things weren’t going to go to plan and maybe altered his original design (let’s not even get into the fact that he actively tempted Adam and Eve by putting the Tree of Knowledge in Eden, and then telling them where it was). The whole thing seems to have caught your god on the hop, He seems almost surprised that his perfect creation is less than perfect.

So, using his infinite power, combined with complete benevolence and endless love, he wipes out the whole world, with the exception of one righteous family. And how does he do this? Does he snap His celestial fingers, blinking all the unjust painlessly out of existence? Does he use His mind blowing strength to change the thoughts and morals of the people of the Earth? No, He unleashes a global flood, drowning the ‘wicked’ in a sudden torrent, condemning them to a painful, terrifying death, perhaps lasting several hours for many of them. So much for divine justice.

The story of Noah and the Flood is one of the first taught to very young children in Christian Sunday Schools. It involves bright pictures of a smiling Noah loading pairs of lions, giraffes, zebras and other exotic creatures onto the Ark. They then float merrily around for months in a big happy zoo before disembarking onto a green and flower strewn mountainside with a colourful rainbow filling the sky. It’s all very nice, a feel good story for young minds who are excited by the ideas of animals and rainbows.

But think about this as a literal event, really think about it. Consider how Noah would have gone about building his Ark, rounding up two (or seven, depending upon which verse of the Bible you pick) of every single animal that walked upon the earth, or flew in the sky. There are millions of different species of animals, insects and birds and new species are being discovered all the time. Do you honestly, in your heart, believe that Noah literally had such a vast menagerie on a wooden ship. How big did this boat need to be? Certainly far larger than the 450ft that Genesis 6:15 claims (also consider how terrible wood is for building large ships, even with our modern techniques the largest seagoing wooden vessels in the World are a third smaller than the Ark was meant to be).

And what about dinosaurs? After finally admitting that, yes, maybe they did exist, a lot of fundamentalists now claim they were wiped out in the Flood, with their fossilised remains being the result of that Flood. But didn’t God instruct Noah to collect two of every living thing? Why would he miss out dinosaurs? And why are there never any human remains found in the same rock layers as dinosaur fossils? And why do rock layers with dinosaur fossils in them appear below and above layers deposited by water? Or do you believe (as a small number of Creationists do) that there were dinosaurs on the Ark? If you do believe that you’ve just made it even more impossible for Noah to fit every living creature onto his ship!

Assuming for a moment that Noah did somehow manage to cram two (or seven) of everything onto the Ark then you have to wonder how he fed them. Many animals need specialist foods, for example a koala bear needs fresh eucalyptus every day, where would Noah have grown this produce? Obviously he’d have to keep it away from the swarms of insects he had on board, and prevent stored food from becoming mouldy….a task that would have been made very difficult in the sweltering humidity of a wooden ship filled with animals. There’s no mention in the Bible of large gardens on the top deck of the Ark….

What of the crew? 8 people, including the 600 year old Noah, to tend all those animals? To clean them out (imagine the tonnes of dung produced daily!), to water them, to feed them, to exercise them? How did they keep the carnivores away from their prey? It only takes one Lion to get a bit hungry and your antelopes are history. Animals need exercise, exercise they would not have been able to get on board a ship at sea. Consider modern zoos, they need hundreds of staff to keep only a few thousand animals, yet the Bible wants you to believe that a crew of 8, with no apparent training in animal care, looked after millions of creatures for almost a year!

You may counter that your god could easily miraculously feed the animals, and clean up after them (or alter their biology so that they didn’t need cleaning at all, I suppose he could have even made them not need to eat) but then your god could have also just ‘thought’ the whole ‘evil’ world dead in one go, and saved himself all the extra miracles – miracles that served no purpose whatsoever.

A real life Ark would have been a floating hell, stinking of dung and urine, riddled with infection, mould and damp, and crewed by a small family worked ragged with the 24 hour task of caring for the animals. There would be no smiling Noah here.

Even if they survived the year at sea what did they have to return to when the waters retreated? A land ravaged and destroyed, with the earth salted from the sea water meaning that it was incapable of growing anything, rotting carcasses, no fresh water that wasn’t full of debris or potential disease…. the pictures may show a green and pleasant land but the reality would be nearer to what faced rescuers after the Japanese Tsunami.

Then how did the animals get back to where they came from? How did creatures unique to specific islands or even continents make their way home? They would have had very little to eat on their journey following the near destruction of the planet’s ecosystems and the carnivores would have set about their natural food source the second they were released from their pens. Did Polar Bears make their way across areas of the World far too warm for them? Eating nothing but rotting plants? Did marsupials make their way back to Australia, making sure that not a single one of their number stopped anywhere else?

There are further problems. Many diseases that infect humans and animals cannot survive without a host. If (as Creationists claim) evolution never happened, then how do you explain the existence of gonorrhoea, syphilis, and any number of unpleasant ailments that infect us? For these to survive the Flood they had to have been present in the survivors of the Flood…. meaning that some or all of the crew had to be carrying these diseases.

What about racial diversity in humans? If Noah and his family were all of the same racial background (and there’s no reason to believe they weren’t) then everyone descended from them should be the same……unless different racial characteristics evolved, but 6000 years isn’t enough time for that to happen, even if evolution was a fact, which (according to you) it isn’t.

Ultimately the self stated goal of the Flood was to eradicate evil from the world once and for all. Look around you, did it work? If your god is able to see all of time simultaneously then he would have known the Flood wasn’t going to achieve his ends, so why go through with it? Consider how many innocent children would have been caught up in the deluge, children that weren’t old enough yet to even know what sin was…it’s infanticide on a global scale, an act of indescribable cruelty and malice…and yet the architect of this horror is meant to be a ‘loving’ god? Or think about all the animals wiped out, animals that hadn’t done anything wrong at all. Think about all the life destroyed by a god who knew that his actions wouldn’t succeed! god had no reason whatsoever to go through with the Flood, if he was set on destroying life on Earth He could have merely willed it to be and everything would have instantly vanished, why then use such a round about and cruel technique instead?

It is obvious to the enquiring mind that the Flood story cannot be literally true, even from a basic scratching of its surface yet you, as a believer, hold it to be fact! If one of the very first stories in the Bible can be so easily unpicked what hope does the rest of this ‘divinely inspired’ work have?

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