Thanks to James McGrath’s blog, I recently came upon an interpretation of the story of Jonah and the whale that I had never heard before—namely, that the “whale” was some sort of technologically advanced submarine. Ancient Origins, the website promoting this idea, appears to be a website that deals in conspiracy theories about the origins of the earth, drawing on archeology and mythology to do so. Still, I found this interpretation fascinating—I’ll explain why in a moment.
Assuming that the references in the Bible are not ‘fairy tales’ and are based on true events, it is obvious that no one could survive inside a whale for three full days, causing many to assume the ‘whale’ was some kind of technologically advanced craft. Could it have been a spacecraft, even a submarine? Let us travel back thousands of years to a time when there was no technology and ask ourselves how an advanced, modern vehicle would have been perceived and described using the limited terms and references the civilization had. Is it not obvious that an airplane would have been perceived as a shiny, metallic bird, or a perhaps a chariot of fire? Similarly, isn’t it possible that a submarine would have been perceived as a whale, since whales, even then, were the largest mammals in the sea?
The author of the article posited not only that Jonah’s whale was an advanced technological submarine but also that the “chariot of fire” in which God took people up to heaven in the Old Testament was some sort of airplane.
Here’s whats fascinating: fundamentalist and conservative evangelical Christians would completely balk at these interpretations—Jonah’s whale was a whale and the chariot of fire was a chariot of fire—but the reality is that they do the same thing. They, too, read into obscure or odd passages the things that they want to see.
Consider the behemoth and the leviathan, for example. As explained by Answers in Genesis, a prominent young earth creationist organization:
Two great creatures, behemoth and leviathan, are described by God in Job. Some commentators have suggested behemoth was an elephant or hippo but the description simply doesn’t match (e.g. behemoth “moves his “tail like a cedar”). It’s appears God is describing a sauropod dinosaur and a fearsome now-extinct sea creature.
Have a look at Job’s description of the behemoth:
Job 40: 15-24
15 “Behold, Behemoth,
which I made as I made you;
he eats grass like an ox.
16 Behold, his strength in his loins,
and his power in the muscles of his belly.
17 He makes his tail stiff like a cedar;
the sinews of his thighs are knit together.
18 His bones are tubes of bronze,
his limbs like bars of iron.
19 “He is the first of the works of God;
let him who made him bring near his sword!
20 For the mountains yield food for him
where all the wild beasts play.
21 Under the lotus plants he lies,
in the shelter of the reeds and in the marsh.
22 For his shade the lotus trees cover him;
the willows of the brook surround him.
23 Behold, if the river is turbulent he is not frightened;
he is confident though Jordan rushes against his mouth.
24 Can one take him by his eyes,
or pierce his nose with a snare?
Young earth creationists read into the passage when they conclude that the behemoth was a sauropod. Why do they do this? They do this because they believe that dinosaurs and man coexisted. Because they believe that, they see dinosaurs even in passages that seemingly have nothing to do with dinosaurs, because they are looking for dinosaurs.
Like those at Answers in Genesis with their predisposition to believe in the coexistence of humans and dinosaurs, those at Ancient Origins and the History Channel (which also promoted the theory of whale as submarine) are often predisposed to believe in aliens, and in their possible interventions on earth both now and in earth’s history. The result is that when they look at ancient writings, including the books of the Old Testament, they see alien submarines and airplanes.
In some sense, each of these groups is peddling in science fiction—young earth creationists with their ideas about dinosaurs and humans coexisting, technologically advanced prehistoric civilizations, global floods, towers, and languages and so forth, and ancient history alien theory believers with their ideas about aliens communicating with ancient cultures.
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