Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blogging the Bible part 6

Getting to some of the good stuff now - get ready for Chapter 6 - The Flood. Wait, that's not right...

Men, we are told, began to increase in numbers on the earth. They even had daughters born to them. Which, if taken literally, makes things interesting. Verse 1 clearly states that daughters were born to men. So, apparently early man could become pregnant and give birth. Come on literalists, you are taking the Bible literally after all, aren't you? Bear in mind also the questions we had before - since Genesis refrains from mentioning daughters up until Naamah is mentioned in GEN 5:22, and makes a point of mentioning daughters being born here - who did the male descendants of Adam lay with and marry? Why make a point of mentioning daughters here but not elsewhere?

These daughters are all fine apparently, at least to the sons of God. Wait, who are these sons of God? Taken literally after all this means God had relations with at least one woman, right? Why aren't they mentioned until now? The first man was Adam, and he was made from dust wasn't he? And then subsequent men in the story are the sons of Adam and his sons etc. So, who are the sons of God? Anyway, these sons of God marry any of the daughters of men they choose to. It isn't clear here if these are forced marriages, but the implication is certainly that the sons of God get to marry who they want whether or not the women like it or desire it. I guess being the offspring of a deity has its benefits.

At this point clearly I could go off about the similarities between Christian mythology and most other mythologies - creation myths, floods, the big daddy god, humans and gods and all the laying together they do, sons of the big daddy god etc. Instead I'll just send you here as a starting point.

God now lays down the law on long lifespans saying:

My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years. (GEN 6:3)

Couple of problems here for your literalist. Couple of really BIG problems actually. First, in my Bible (NIV, Red Letter Edition, Zondervan 1984), the footnotes give two very different meanings for this proclamation. The footnotes could have this passage read like this:

My Spirit will not remain in man forever, for he is corrupt; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.

I think you will agree that this is a totally different passage. And how is your literalist to interpret a passage that can have such vastly different meanings? For that matter, how are we to take a text literally if the language it was written in can be translated in different ways in the language we read it in? If you can get two different translations in English from one passage in Greek how can you claim with authority to know which one is the word of God? How do literalists know which reading to take literally in these two very different passages translated from the same source text? My Bible is filled with footnotes that draw attention to other possible translations - how is that possible if the Bible is the word of God?

And that's just problems with the differing translations of the Bible. How about taking both of these versions literally? Starting with the easy part, then a man's day is one hundred and twenty years long. So much for twenty four hours. I did wonder why today seemed to be dragging, that last hour at work certainly felt like it was 5 long years. Literally, remember.

Then we have God's spirit contending with Man's in the first translation. Striving in rivalry, struggling in opposition. An interesting slant on Man's relationship with God, wouldn't you say? Please explain, literalists. Why were/are Man's and God's spirits in/used to be in contention? Is God in this passage now deliberately shortening Man's lifespan? Remember, in the previous chapter we had dudes living well into the nine hundreds - so does this verse give us a contradiction of the previous chapter's lifespans (i.e. God is here explaining that man is mortal because he only lives for 120 years) or does it show that God is responsible for shortening the human lifespan (i.e. God is now saying "That's it, I've had enough contending. You're mortal now - 120 years and that's your lot.")? I thought it was corruption, pollution and solar radiation that people claimed had actually shortened our lifespans. Are they contradicting the word of God? Wouldn't that make them heretics and not Christians?

You heard it here first folks - if anyone tries to explain the short human lifespan we have now compared to Adam and his offspring by citing anything other than "God did it" then you can officially ask them, "Are you really a Christian?" And make sure you load that 'really' with plenty of emphasis.

Is God really shortening our lifespan here because he doesn't like the competition? Cheating bastard...

Or, on to the second reading, is God withdrawing his spirit from Man because Man has become corrupted? Are we corrupted because our days are only 120 years now? Or are our days 120 years because we are corrupt and God's punishment is to shorten our lives and withdraw his spirit? Or is the passage saying that God's spirit is in us now but won't be forever because we only live to 120 years old because we are corrupt?

Are we seeing the problems with literalism and the Bible yet? And now look how much I've written and we are only at verse 3 of this chapter, one of the most important and well known pieces of text in the history of civilisation!

And then, out of nowhere and without even a brief introduction, we are told about the Nephilim. Apparently they were on the earth in those days - and afterwards. And, one might ask - who the chuff are they? And does it not strike you that the 'and afterwards' was added on by the crappy continuity editor we talked about last time? See for yourself:

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days - and also afterward - when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. (GEN 6:4)
Tell me that 'and also afterward' doesn't sound like Eric Idle's part (Loretta) in the opening exchanges of this scene. It reads like it was added in after someone at the storyboard meeting asked "So, the Nephilim die in the Flood then, right?"

We aren't told anything about the Nephilim here other than that they were the heroes of old, men of renown. (GEN 6:4) What heroes of old? Where are they in the first five chapters? Why no previous mention of them until now? Can anyone say "Added in by a later scribe to get the Romans and/or the Greeks to merge their old religious beliefs with the new Christian belief."? Why not just come right out and say that the Nephilim included Hercules and Achilles? Why so coy all of a sudden?

Now, the Lord saw how great man's wickedness had become, that everything man wanted to do or desired was evil (GEN 6:5). Given the standard that God himself has set so far, this would suggest things were pretty bad. He was grieved that he had made man and he's more than a little upset (GEN 6:6). Once again we are forced to ask - where went God's omnipotence? Did he not know that this was coming? If he did, why didn't he do something earlier? If he didn't, then why not? Did he not create man in his own image? So, isn't everything we do everything God would do? Or do we just look like him? Didn't we become as god's once Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Wasn't that why God was pissed?

So, and here's the big decision, God decides to wipe mankind from the face of the planet. That's right folks. He screwed up man's construction and upbringing and instead of admitting it was his fault and starting some much needed remedial work the loving and caring God of Christianity chooses genocide. What a guy. Where do I sign up to worship this exemplar of goodness from whom all morality stems?

And he doesn't even just choose to destroy mankind, he chooses to destroy everything on the face of the earth. Including the animals - who have done nothing. Not only does he decide to commit genocide, he decides to wipe out innocent animals which have done nothing wrong because they are incapable of good or evil - they're frigging animals. You just know that if God was around today no cat's arsehole would be safe on the 5th November. (GEN 6:7)

What a wanker.

Noah though, somehow finds favour in the eyes of the Lord. (GEN 6:8) It is not clear exactly why he finds favour other than the bull shit sounding 'was a righteous man' and him being 'blameless' among the people of his time. That, and he walked with God. Or, in other words, Noah was a kiss ass. At least, it may have been God's ass he was kissing, I guess we'll never know. I'm just saying that, you know, everyone was to die but Noah suddenly gets saved after walking with God. Might 'found favour in the eyes of the Lord' be a euphemism for something else? Why are you looking at me like that, what?

Anyway, this is the account of Noah. Because it says so right there in verse 9.

We're reminded in 10 that Noah has three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. It doesn't say if they found favour in the eyes of the Lord. The earth is apparently now corrupt in God's eyes and full of violence. Now, let's not forget who it was that was ultimately responsible for the first violent act on the earth - God. And let us not forget whose image man is made in - God's. And let us not forget who created everything as it is - God. So really, who is to blame? So God thinks that in the 1,656 years that have passed since he created everything, man has become corrupt in his ways. And that means everyone. Except Noah, obviously. No wait, hang on. It clearly says in verse 12 "for all the people had corrupted their ways". My my, literalists have more explaining to do. Noah really does seem to have 'found favour'.

God says to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them." Them being the people that God created in his image, remember. "I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth." (GEN 6:13) Which obviously makes a literal liar out of God because he doesn't destroy the earth, he destroys everything on it. The First Liar gets back to his old tricks.

Next we get the Haynes Ark manual (GEN 6:15-16). Made from cypress wood. Pitch inside and out. Rooms in it. 450 feet long. 75 feet wide. 45 feet high. Roof. Finished to within 18 inches of the top (whatever that means, again the footnotes here have a different version of this instruction - 'make an opening for light by finishing...'). Door in the side. Lower, middle and upper deck.

For those interested, that means the Ark was similar in size to the Royal Navy's new type 45 destroyer. Remind me to ask my seafaring younger brother if he thinks you can fit two of every kind of animal in one of those, along with food for all of them and Noah's family with their food and possessions on top of that.

Three decks give you 15 feet for each deck. Male Giraffe's grow to 18ft tall. Male elephants can grow to 11ft tall. Clearly Noah could have built the decks different heights, but it seems strange that God, whilst giving out specific measurements, forgot to give Noah the internal dimensions of the Ark, don't you think? Why? How come God didn't think it important to tell Noah what animals he would have to prepare and account for with the Ark?

Being hugely, massively, uncharacteristically generous to the Bible and assuming the Ark to be a completely unseaworthy rectangle, the volume of it would be 1,518,750 cubic feet. There are approximately 1,589,361 known animal and plant species. The probable number of all species falls somewhere between 2 and 50 million! You do the math. Sure, most of those species are insect and smaller as well as microscopic forms of life, but let's take into account the fact that food was needed for all the animals. One Hippo can eat up to 100lbs of vegetation in a single night. And did they keep prey animals on the Ark for those animals that won't eat carrion? And where did they keep the carrion for all those animals that would eat it? And the freshwater for everything was stored where?

And all of this fits into a ship no bigger than a modern (albeit large for its class) destroyer?


Unless the Bible forgets to mention that the Ark is in fact a TARDIS.

So, God tells Noah that he is going to bring flood waters onto the earth. These waters are going to destroy everything that draws breath. Everything will perish. (GEN 6:17) Luckily for Noah though, God establishes a covenant with him and he can go in the Ark with his wife, his sons and their wives. No mention of whether or not his grandchildren can go on board, or even if he has any yet. He is to bring two of every living creature, one male and one female to keep them alive.

Two of every living creature.

Now, the distance from the north western tip of the Persian Gulf, where the Garden of Eden may have been according to Christians, to the north western edge of Australia is approximately 5,679 miles. Almost all of that trip is through the Indian Ocean. How did Noah collect two Koalas from the southern and eastern coastal areas of Australia, another 2,300 miles away across some of the most inhospitable land in the world? In 2348 BC (The Wife and I did the math for this and found the date we arrived at tallied with the year Christians think the flood occurred).

This I really want to see literalists explain.

But why stop there? Anyone else have another example of animals even further away? The Marine Iguana is found only on the Galápagos Islands, some 9,116 miles away from the alleged location of the Garden of Eden, across the Pacific Ocean. Literalists have to explain how a maximum of 8 people collected two of every living creature from all over the world and transported them back to the Ark, nevermind explain how all of these things fitted on the bloody boat and then lived on it for a lengthy time. How did Noah know where the animals were? How did he know he even had to go to the Galápagos Islands to find Marine Iguanas?

Oh wait, it says that the creatures will come to Noah. Yet another one of those strange out of place "this really looks like an addition from another version or by another author" pieces of text. Verse 19 has God telling Noah to, "bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female to keep them alive with you". Verse 20 then says, "Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive." Sound a little disjointed and repetitive to you? Sounds a little contradictory to, don't you think?

And what about the things that swim in the sea? Or in the freshwater systems of the world's continents? And what about all the plant life, vegetation and crops? Insects? Bacteria? Viruses? Did they really save at least one of every piece of fauna on the planet?

How the chuff did Noah know about species of animal or plant life that we still don't know about today? He did save examples of all living things after all.

Finally, in verse 21, God tells Noah that he also has to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for himself and for the animals. No mention of what the family are to eat. And in verse 22, we learn that Noah does everything he is told to. And the snivelling coward never once thinks to mention to his friends and their families that global genocide is imminent. Never once brings up the morality of what God is about to do. Don't tell me Noah was a blameless man. He will soon have the death of almost everything on his hands. He stood by and did nothing but save himself.

Where would we be without Biblical morality?

Literalists, you really have your work cut out for you on this one.


  1. There's some especially bizarre scholarship on this chapter. First off, no one seems to have noticed anything unusual with men having sex with each other and conceiving daughters.

    This site
    reckons the world's population increased to between 5 and 17 Billion.

    They link to this site
    which displays all the mathematics, and even pushes it higher to as much as 40 billion.

    As they quite reasonably note:

    If the population reached over a billion, there would tend to be some logistical problems in feeding and caring for the population (clothing, housing, jobs, etc). This indicates that they would have required a higher level of technology than what we currently give them credit for. Had their population reached over 10 billion, they would have required similar technology as we have today

    The reasoning goes that if Einstein or Edison lived to be 900 they'd invent all kinds of useful gadgets.

    The "sons of God" refers to all those who were directly created by God - Adam (but not Eve, apparently), Jesus, angels, and (wait for it) born again christians. So being "born again" puts you closer to god than Eve! No wonder they all look so smug.

    The Nephilim are fallen angels, and are giants - proof of their existence is the 3.2 meter tall skeletons which have been excavated in Palestine. (Must've missed that one, but then I don't read many archeological journals.)

    There does seem to be some serious concern about how Noah got all those animals on board.
    "Generation Word" calculates that he had to get each "type" - not species. So only two of each genus or family would need to be collected, which according to their calculations, would leave room for "109,280 more average sized animals".

    They reject the notion of some christians that dinosaurs didn't exist and God buried bones to test our faith. As they cogently argue, "This is wrong." Good that they cleared that up. Then they point out that few dinosaurs were really big, and that Noah would've taken baby t-rexes.

    Another site suggests simply that any difficulties in space, storage or food etc were simply overcome by God performing a miracle. Easy.

  2. The giant skeleton thing is hilarious, they are probably referring to this hoax:

    Giant skeleton in Saudi Arabia

    Do these people do any research?

    And the old "God fixed it." routine. Of course, if God could fix the internal dimensions of the Ark, why did he give explicit instructions for its external dimensions and make Noah build it? Why not just magically make the Ark appear at the right dimensions? So many contradictions.

    Oh, and if anyone wants to include links to pages use the following html tag:

    [A HREF="url"]label[/A] - just replace the square brackets with < for [ at the start and > for ] at the end.

    If you are linking to a woo site and don't want to up their Google ranking then post like this:

    [A rel="nofollow" HREF="url"]label[/A]

  3. Do we have to capitalize the A HREF part?

  4. Not entirely sure actually - but the link shows up correctly in preview so let me check...

    No, doesn't have to be capitalised.

  5. The giant skeleton reminded me of this.

    God only helped Noah, according to the interpretation, because Noah was really trying his best. God only stepped in at those moments where he really needed help.

    Thanks for linking advice. I tried like that already, but it didn't show up in the preview. The "no follow" function is good.

  6. Gotta love the Onion.

    When a link doesn't show up in the preview I have found it's usually because I missed one of the quotation marks out, so check that if it happens again.