And yes, there are plenty.
Next time you are out on the social cocktail circuit (that is what the young 'uns are still doing, isn't it?) and someone mentions the truth of the Flood story try this fun game - ask them 'Which one?". And point out that by 'Which one?' you mean which version of the Genesis flood story. Not which of the Jewish (Genesis), Sumerian, Babylonian, Greek, Hindu, Islamic, Chinese, Lao, Indian, Andaman Islands, Indonesian, Australian Aboriginal, Maori, Malaysian, Norse, Irish, Finnish, Aztec, Incan, Mayan, Hopi, Caddo, Menominee, Mi'kmaq, and Polynesian flood stories is true.
Anyway - Chapter 7.
The Lord tells Noah he should get in the Ark with his whole family because he had found Noah to be righteous in the generation he was living in (which, by the sounds of it, doesn't mean he is necessarily good, just not as bad). (GEN 7:1) And then, by verse 2, we are already into the contradictions:
Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. GEN 7:2-3Well. Where do we start here? Let's start with the obvious contradiction. In Chapter 7 verse 2 God commands Noah to take seven of every kind of clean animal and two of every kind of unclean animal, as well as seven of every kind of bird. Yet, in Chapter 6 verses 19 and 20 God clearly stated:
You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female...Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. GEN 7:19-20Oh dear. So, literalist - which is it? Two; or seven, two and seven? Or, as we'll soon see, seven pairs, two and seven pairs? Here, in two consecutive chapters, we have two different versions of what God apparently ordered Noah to do. Which is the correct version and how do literalists know? Why, in the version of the story that everybody knows, was the version in Chapter 6 chosen over Chapter 7? Surely people aren't dishonestly representing their faith and its myths to their children and other people? Are they? Because all these believers know that there are multiple versions of one of their most important myths, right?
Then let's look at the bad maths. Since when does a clean animal male and its clean animal mate add up to seven? And why seven of the clean but only two of the unclean? Could it be... No. But, maybe... Could it really be that this just shows where two different versions have been badly strung together and our incompetent continuity editor rears their ugly head again? But, the Bible is inerrant isn't it? So 1+1 must actually equal 7 I guess. Did someone just forget to edit the numbers of the two different versions they stuck together?
But it doesn't end there. My NIV Bible has a footnote, and in verse 2 'seven' can also be translated as 'seven pairs'. A significant difference. It also makes more sense given the reference to a male and its mate. So why does the NIV choose 'seven' and not 'seven pairs'? And if you thought the size of the Ark and two of each animal was a problem try seven or seven pairs on for size...
Remember though, the Bible is inerrant.
Anyway, onward. Verse 4 tells us that seven days from when Noah gets in the Ark (what is it with the number 7?) God promises to send rain that will last for forty days and forty nights and that will wipe every living thing off the face of the planet. So Noah does as commanded. Not that he had a lot of choice.
Now, we are told that Noah was six hundred years old when the floods came and once again Noah takes his sons, his wife and the wives of his sons on board (no mention of the grandkids though). (GEN 7:6)
Then we get back to the numbers of animals, and it is back to the Chapter 6 standard. Pairs of clean and unclean animals (which contradicts verses 2 and 3 in this very chapter), birds and all the creatures that move along the ground come to Noah and board the Ark. (GEN 7:8-9) So, in just seven days, a pair (or seven, or seven pair) of Koalas made it from the south western coast of Australia to the Middle East. In seven days. Nevermind the sloths that made it all the way from Brazil. In seven days. Go on literalists, give it your best shot. Don't forget to show your working.
Actually, now that I think about it - where does it mention which animals are clean or unclean in the first 6 Chapters of Genesis? If it doesn't, then how does Noah know which ones are? Or is this just bad story telling?
Now, true to his word, after seven days the flood comes. (GEN 7:10) And the Bible is pretty specific about this. Noah is 600 and it is the 17th February. Well, actually it says "seventeenth day of the second month". But taken literally by me now that means 17 February. We are taking this literally, remember. But then the story changes again, because then in verse 11 it says that on this day "all the springs of the greet deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened." Now, God never mentioned anything about springs bursting forth in verse 4 so why the embellishment? Was God showboating? Was it just rain or did the springs burst forth as well literalists? Then the rain falls for forty days and forty nights - Genesis is very clear on this. You can tell because the author/s keep mentioning it. It's just all the other numbers they get wrong.
And we see that they keep getting the other numbers wrong because in verses 13 through 16 we are given another rundown on the animals and this time it just says that on the Ark were every animal according to its kind, all livestock according to its kind, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind, every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. Oh wait, it does go back to pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them (GEN 7:15). What the Bible means by 'kind' is never mentioned. But you can bet your arse people have worked over time interpreting what it means. And by interpreting what I mean is "making up what they think it means with no Biblical basis and based purely on their own personal religious beliefs."
For forty days the flood keeps coming (very specific about that forty number so they are). And the Ark floats. Which is impressive I think you'll agree. And all of the mountains on the earth are covered with water. All the mountains. Including the 29,029 feet height of Mount Everest.
That's a lot of water.
In fact, even though the first measurements of Everest's height were not made until 1856, the Bible specifically states that all mountains were covered by a depth of more than twenty feet. (GEN 7:20) Of course, the footnotes in my NIV Bible say this can be translated as "the waters rose more than twenty feet, and the mountains were covered." Quite a big difference once again.
Everything that moved on the earth perished. (GEN 7:21) Everything that had the breath of life in it on dry land died. No mention is made of aquatic life - which as we know can generally (I'm sure this is enough to raise the ire of some but I am speaking in general terms) be seperated into fresh water and salt water. Fresh water fish can't survive in salt water and vice versa. Which does rather lead us to: How did anything in the salt water or fresh water systems of the world survive? Give it your best shot literalists.
In fact, no mention is made of aquatic life at all throughout the flood story. Why not? Could it be that the primitive people who dreamt up these stories didn't know that fish in a fresh water river couldn't survive in a salt water sea so didn't think to dream up an elaborate story explaining how they survived this flood sent by a wrathful God? An elaborate story created to scare us all into obeying 'his' rules? Or could it be that 'God did it'? Why didn't he 'do it' for everything else then? Literalists, have you ever heard of Occam's Razor?
Finally, we're told that the waters flooded the earth for 150 days. (GEN 7:24)
So, remember. When someone starts to tell you about the Biblical Flood story - ask them which one they mean and why they pick that version. Ask them if they are aware of the alternatives. Ask them if they are aware of how common flood myths are amongst different cultures. Ask them how they know it was their god that sent the flood.
Next week, "Land Ahoy!"