As we all know from the Bible, God was quite wroth with mankind for being so nastily sinful and for completely disregarding His will, and so He flooded the whole Earth and killed everyone and everything that wasn’t on the ark, and…
(Chuckle. Snort. Heh he.)
*Ahem* And those folks repopulated the Earth to the level of species diversity we have today, and billions and billions of people, and this was some 6,000 or 7,000 years ago. And so…
And so this…
Hah ha. BWAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Heeeee. Whoo!
I don’t think so.
Look, I’m not saying God didn’t bring a flood. I’m not saying there wasn’t a Noah or an ark. What I’m saying is that while I don’t think the tale is metaphorical, given that Jesus actually preached Noah as a real person and wasn’t a person prone to lying, I don’t think it’s precisely as cut-and-dried as most fundamentalist folk would have you believe.
Look, there is just no way the ark that Noah built would have big enough for two of everything. Also, what about all the trees and bushes and stuff? I think 40 days of flooding would have done a number on the foliage, don’t you? And this very small sample of humanity and husbandry was able to spread across the world in several thousand years? Look, God can work big miracles. But this shit just doesn’t jibe with history and the archeological evidence of primitive people at all.
So, what did happen? I see two most-likely scenarios.
First, God did indeed flood the whole world, but it happened millions of years ago. That’s a nice simple answer. As I mentioned in the post for Old School, Part 1, the family trees laid out in the Bible likely skipped over untold numbers of generations to focus on the key predecessors to Jesus.
Second option is that God flooded the “known world” of Noah and the folks around him. That is, God flooded a very, very large region of land, most likely in the Middle East, and everything pretty much played out as described in the story. I still think this would have happened far more than 6,000 or 7,000 years ago, but way less than a million.
Frankly, I like the second option better. The thing about God is that while He can do very large, dramatic miracles, He doesn’t generally do that. God’s much more into subtlety and long-range planning. He prefers to put people and events into motion to create a chain, sort of like a huge bunch of dominoes that knock each other over across an unimaginably large landscape to form innumerable possibilities and eventually knock out certain results that God wants.
One of those results—the most important result of God’s planning in fact—was Jesus. God picked the Hebrews as His “Chosen People” for a number of reasons, but one of them was to define a specific group from which Jesus would be born. And it took a long time to get events to play out for the people and time and circumstances to be right for Jesus’ entry into the world.
What I believe is that Noah and his neighbors were one of the earliest precursors to the Hebrews. Way before Abraham and the first covenant and all that. God intended those people to keep on breeding and growing and eventually producing what would be his officially Chosen People when the time was ripe. But they were a foul bunch and not fit to bring forth Jesus at any point. People were just that bad. Seeing that there was only one really righteous man, Noah (and presumably his family was at least nominally righteous), God wiped out the rest of the folks in the region to start with a clean slate.
This makes the ark a plausible vehicle and the two-by-two crap no longer looks like crap. Yes, some repopulation was necessary because new entries of animals from other areas would take a while, but there was no need to repopulate an entire world—only the world of the pre-Hebrew folks that God had to mostly destroy to make the path to Jesus’ birth possible.