I’ve collected a few other ideas associated with the Noah story that were too good to pass up. I share them here for your amusement and edification. Part 1 of the critique is here.
Noah … or was it Enoch?
In The Reason-Driven Life (p. 103), Robert Price argues that the original flood story wasn’t about Noah at all.
First, a bit of background about the Old Testament prophet Elijah. Elijah may have initially been a sun god who gradually evolved into merely a great prophet as Judaism became monotheistic (more on Jewish polytheism here). Instead of dying, Elijah was taken into heaven on a fiery sun-like chariot. He was hairy, like the rays of the sun, while his disciple Elisha was bald, suggesting the moon.
There was only one other Old Testament figure taken into heaven without dying, and that was Enoch, great-grandfather to Noah and pictured above. Enoch also began as a sun god, and he lived 365 years (get it?). “Enoch walked with God, and then he disappeared because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24). Enoch made 365 circuits with God and then was taken up into heaven—sounds a bit like the sun.
Noah was originally just the bringer of wine, similar to the Greek Deucalion, who also survived a flood. Gen. 5:29 alludes to Noah’s discovery of wine bringing some comfort to the harsh life that God cursed humanity to. Perhaps the original story was about a sun god defeating a rain god’s flood, but the name of the protagonist was inadvertently switched (Noah instead of Enoch—the spelling is similar), giving us Noah as the hero.
What was going through God’s mind?
Here’s how God begins the project.
[Jehovah] regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So [Jehovah] said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” (Gen. 6:6–7)
God regrets? God changes his mind? As an omniscient being, why didn’t he see this coming? Speaking of which, why would omniscient God allow Noah’s son Ham to survive the flood since he would be progenitor of the Canaanites (Gen. 10:6–20) who would cause the Israelites so much trouble? Far easier and far more humane than killing the Canaanites tribe by tribe would’ve been to kill Ham.
But in the early days, of course, God was merely powerful, not omniscient. And not particularly benevolent either.
Rick Warren imagines God saying this about Noah, “This guy brings me pleasure. He makes me smile. I’ll start over with his family.” And of course “start over” to this cheerful and genial God means to drown every human outside of Noah’s family—adults, children, and unborn. I wonder what the children could have done to deserve this slow death. Perhaps you can buy drowning people to go with the Noah action figure. Warren’s article is titled, “May God Smile On You,” but for the millions in the Noah story who die, it might as well be titled, “May God Smite You.”
Robert Price says that Warren takes the Bible literally but not seriously. Warren says that the Noah story literally happened, but he’s not about to take it seriously enough to worry about or even consider the consequences.
This reminds me of a Sherman’s Lagoon comic. A guy finds what he thinks is a piece of Noah’s Ark. He’s excited until his friend spots “Made in China” stamped on it. The guy is disappointed, but not because this is devastating counterevidence to his hypothesis. He’s just disappointed to discover that Noah outsourced construction. Like Rick Warren, he won’t let the facts get in the way of his happy hypothesis.
Other Christians aren’t caught in this trap, and they laugh at the Bible literalists. Of course the Noah story isn’t literally true, they’ll say, but it’s still true anyway. But then in what sense is it “true anyway” without being true a literal sense?
The beautiful, benign rainbow
At the end of the flood story, God says, “I will place my bow in the clouds, and it will become a guarantee of the covenant between me and the earth” (Gen. 9:13). Never again will God destroy all living things—by flood, anyway. The “bow in the clouds” is obviously a rainbow, but the word refers to the kind that shoots arrows. This explains why the rainbow looks like a war bow—God has hung up his bow and will no longer use it against mankind.
What started this off in the first place?
What got God so hot under the collar anyway? Why did he insist on drowning everyone and starting over? One pastor has it all figured out.
The last straw for God before He brought the flood was when they started writing wedding songs to homosexual marriage and Jesus said that you’ll know the end times because it will be like the days of Noah. There’s never been a time in the history of the world since before the flood when homosexual marriage has been open and celebrated, and that’s another sign that I believe that we’re close to the end.
As you guessed, like most everything else bad in the world, it’s all the gays’ fault.
[God’s] not good at design,
he’s not good at execution.
He’d be out of business
if there was any competition.
— Sol Hadden in Carl Sagan’s Contact
(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 7/4/13.)
Photo credit: Wikipedia