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January 28th, 2014
10:37 AM ET

Noah's Ark discovery raises flood of questions

Opinion by Joel Baden, Special to CNN

(CNN) - That faint humming sound you’ve heard recently is the scholarly world of the Bible and archaeology abuzz over the discovery of the oldest known Mesopotamian version of the famous Flood story.

A British scholar has found that a 4,000-year-old cuneiform tablet from what is now Iraq contains a story similar to the biblical account of Noah’s Ark.

The newly decoded cuneiform tells of a divinely sent flood and a sole survivor on an ark, who takes all the animals on board to preserve them. It even includes the famous phrase “two by two,” describing how the animals came onto the ark.

But there is one apparently major difference: The ark in this version is round.

We have known for well over a century that there are flood stories from the ancient Near East that long predate the biblical account (even the most conservative biblical scholars wouldn’t date any earlier than the ninth century B.C).

What’s really intriguing scholars is the description of the ark itself.

The Bible presents a standard boat shape - long and narrow. The length being six times the measure of the width, with three decks and an entrance on the side.

The newly discovered Mesopotamian text describes a large round vessel, made of woven rope, and coated (like the biblical ark) in pitch to keep it waterproof.

Archaeologists are planning to design a prototype of the ark, built to the specifications of this text, to see if it would actually float. Good luck to them in trying to estimate the weight of its cargo.

So, why does this new discovery matter? It matters because it serves as a reminder that the story of the Flood wasn’t set in stone from its earliest version all the way through to its latest incarnation.

The people who wrote down the Flood narrative, in any of its manifestations, weren’t reporting on a historical event for which they had to get their facts straight (like what shape the ark was).

Everyone reshapes the Flood story, and the ark itself, according to the norms of their own time and place.

In ancient Mesopotamia, a round vessel would have been perfectly reasonable - in fact, we know that this type of boat was in use, though perhaps not to such a gigantic scale, on the Mesopotamian rivers.

The ancient Israelites, on the other hand, would naturally have pictured a boat like those they were familiar with: which is to say, the boats that navigated not the rivers of Mesopotamia but the Mediterranean Sea.

This detail of engineering can and should stand for a larger array of themes and features in the flood stories. The Mesopotamian versions feature many gods; the biblical account, of course, only one.

The Mesopotamian versions tell us that the Flood came because humans were too noisy for the gods; the biblical account says it was because violence had spread over the Earth.

Neither version is right or wrong; they are, rather, both appropriate to the culture that produced them. Neither is history; both are theology.

What, then, of the most striking parallel between this newly discovered text and Genesis: the phrase “two by two”? Here, it would seem, we have an identical conception of the animals entering the ark. But not so fast.

Although most people, steeped in Sunday school tradition, will tell you without even thinking about it that “the animals, they came on, they came on by twosies twosies,” that’s not exactly what the Bible says.

More accurately, it’s one thing that the Bible says - but a few verses later, Noah is instructed to bring not one pair of each species, but seven pairs of all the “clean” animals and the birds, and one pair of the “unclean” animals.

(This is important because at the end of the story, Noah offers sacrifices - which, if he only brought one pair of each animal, would mean that, after saving them all from the Flood, he then proceeded to relegate some of those species to extinction immediately thereafter.)

This isn’t news - already in the 17th century scholars recognized that there must be two versions of the Flood intertwined in the canonical Bible.

There are plenty of significant differences between the two Flood stories in the Bible, which are easily spotted if you try to read the narrative as it stands.

One version says the Flood lasted 40 days; the other says 150. One says the waters came from rain. Another says it came from the opening of primordial floodgates both above and below the Earth. One version says Noah sent out a dove, three times. The other says he sent out a raven, once.

And yes: In one of those stories, the animals come on “two by two.”

Does this mean that the author of that version was following the ancient Mesopotamian account that was just discovered? Certainly not.

If the goal of the ark is the preservation of the animals, then having a male and female of each is just common sense. And, of course, it’s a quite reasonable space-saving measure.

Likewise, the relative age of the Mesopotamian and biblical accounts tells us nothing about their relative authority.

Even if we acknowledge, as we probably should, that the biblical authors learned the Flood story from their neighbors - after all, flooding isn’t, and never was, really a pressing concern in Israel - this doesn’t make the Bible any less authoritative.

The Bible gets its authority from us, who treat it as such, not from it being either the first or the most reliable witness to history.

There is no doubt that the discovery of this new ancient Mesopotamian text is important. But from a biblical perspective, its importance resides mostly in the way it serves to remind us that the Flood story is a malleable one.

There are multiple different Mesopotamian versions, and there are multiple different biblical versions. They share a basic outline, and some central themes. But they each relate the story in their own way.

The power of the Flood story, for us the canonical biblical version, is in what it tells us about humanity’s relationship with God. But, as always, the devil is in the details.

Joel S. Baden is the author of "The Historical David: The Real Life of an Invented Hero" and an associate professor of Old Testament at Yale Divinity School. The views expressed in this column belong to Baden. 

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Judaism • Opinion

soundoff (5,820 Responses)
  1. Lisa

    In response to Observer on Judas' death...this is just an oberservation. Matthew and Luke (who wrote Acts of the Apostles), are an example of the saying, 'There's no such thing as reality, there's only your perception of reality." They both highlighted the point of Judas' death from their own perspectives. Matthew was a tax collector and the details in what and how it happened during Judas taking his own life were not what interested him. The fact that Judas attempted, and succeeded, in killing himself is what he was relating. It seems reasonable, since Luke was a doctor, that the paticulars about Judas' death would be of interest to him. So it wouldn't be strange that Luke would discribe what happened to Judas when he tried to hang himself, that instead of dying from the rope, the branch could have broken when he 'falling head long....' and whether he hit something that caused his entrails to gush out, or the fall itself caused the end result, it doesn't discredit either of the Bible's accounts. But issues such as this can be pointless to debate. A person that doesn't want to believe the Bible is credible will see things from their perspective, and the opposite is true of those who choose to believe what the Bible has to say. So, I was not trying to change your perspective, I was just offering a plausible reason for the seeming contratiction.

    February 4, 2014 at 6:38 pm |
    • Observer

      Lisa,

      "it doesn't discredit either of the Bible's accounts."

      Of course it does. There are TWO COMPLETELY different versions. Maybe a tornado came along and freed him from the noose and dumped him in a field. Maybe a UFO did. Possibilities? Yes. Almost anything is.

      Finding the possibility of an EXCUSE for what the Bible says does not make it a PROBABILITY. The Bible is loaded with errors and contradictions.

      February 4, 2014 at 6:55 pm |
      • Lisa

        I totally appreciate your right to your opinion. I have studied the seeming contradictions that many claim the Bible to have, and all of them can be explained away by a closer examination. I already stated that this debate could go on for decades more because everyone has reasons for their own precious views. Everyone needs the dignity of people accepting a person's right to believe what they want to believe without a bunch of non-bibcal threats heaved at them! What I found interesting in my research was that the things that appear to be contradictions didn't change the over-all theme of the Bible and the message God's Son had for mankind. I must say when people who claim to live by the Bible start using scare tactics for people who don't agree with them, it's really frustrating. They are a BIG reason many hate religion. I enjoy sharing different viewpoints, but I don't like angry debates. They only lead to more hatred and this world if full enough of that. I hope you have a nice day.

        February 4, 2014 at 7:13 pm |
        • Observer

          Lisa

          "I have studied the seeming contradictions that many claim the Bible to have, and all of them can be explained away by a closer examination"

          Why does the "closer examination" usually mean:
          (1) Words don't mean what we all know them to mean
          (2) The biblical scholars that translated the Bible don't know what they are doing (and probably should ask bloggers instead)
          (3) All of the laws of science (especially physics) are OPTIONAL
          (4) Some sort of magic occurred that we can't understand
          (5) We chose the WRONG version of the Bible
          (6) Logic and commons sense does not apply
          (7) As God says, those that we think are intelligent are actually stupid?

          February 4, 2014 at 7:23 pm |
        • Charlie

          Finally, someone with some common sense, good for you Lisa.

          February 5, 2014 at 1:51 am |
        • Observer

          Charlie,

          How many of the 7 EXCUSES do you use for the Bible?

          February 5, 2014 at 1:53 am |
      • Lisa

        I thought you might find this true life experience of a seeming contradiction of facts interesting: “Discrepancies” Do Not Have to Be Contradictions
        Kenneth S. Kantzer, a theologian, once illustrated how two reports of the same event can seem contradictory and yet both be true. He wrote: “Some time ago the mother of a dear friend of ours was killed. We first learned of her death through a trusted mutual friend who reported that our friend’s mother had been standing on the street corner waiting for a bus, had been hit by another bus passing by, was fatally injured, and died a few minutes later.”
        Soon after, he heard a very different report. He says: “We learned from the grandson of the dead woman that she had been involved in a collision, was thrown from the car in which she was riding, and was killed instantly. The boy was quite certain of his facts.
        “Much later . . . we probed for a harmonization. We learned that the grandmother had been waiting for a bus, was hit by another bus, and was critically injured. She had been picked up by a passing car and dashed to the hospital, but in the haste, the car in which she was being transported to the hospital collided with another car. She was thrown from the car and died instantly.”
        Yes, two accounts of the same event may both be true even though they seem to disagree with each other. This is sometimes the case with the Bible. Independent witnesses may describe different details about the same event. Instead of being contradictory, however, what they write is complementary, and if we take all accounts into consideration, we get a better understanding of what happened.

        February 4, 2014 at 7:30 pm |
        • Observer

          Lisa,

          That certainly doesn't do a thing to reconciling a person ripped apart in a field and a guy hanging himself.

          February 4, 2014 at 7:35 pm |
      • Eccoo

        There is no option to reply to your other statements, it only says report abuse. That is what she is saying.

        And in regards to Judas contradiction you posted, you have nothing to really stand on since eyewitness accounts vary from person to person and happens all the time. Anyone with a brain can see that this is what has taken place in this situation. If you don't want to believe it, no one is going to force you to, but we have given our answer and there is no contradiction.

        February 5, 2014 at 12:34 am |
        • Observer

          Eccoo,

          (Acts 1:18) “Now this man [Judas] purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out.”

          (Matt. 27:5) “And he [Judas] cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.”

          "Anyone with a brain can see that this is what has taken place in this situation." AMEN!

          February 5, 2014 at 12:45 am |
  2. Lisa

    It is always amusing to me that people who don't believe in the Bible and it's miraculous accounts of situations that happened during the early history of God's dealings with the Israelites, don't find the 'theory' of evolution to be beyond belief! Scientists even use the term, 'design', when speaking about things in nature. I know this has been debated to the extreme and I'm not saying anything that hasn't already been covered. However, the 'Big Bang' Theory, to me, seems to call for a lot more 'blind' faith than believing in a 'designer' who had the power to create the magnificant universe and could use that same power to control those elements as He saw fit. And evolution is based on 'blind faith' far more than the faith it requires to believe in a Supreme Designer with all the evidence of His handiwork surrounding us. Part of the reason that people don't trust the Bible accounts of creation, and other miracles, is partly due to the fact that many preach this universe was created in 6 literal days. A closer examination of what the Bible really says, shows that is unreasonable. But anyway, this debate will continue as long as this present system of things continues. And other false teachings spread by a misuse of the Bible have contributed to the majority of mankind blaming God for today's woes, and for the majority of people not trusting the Bible any longer. I hope anyone that would like to be reassured, will put a little of that 'blind faith' in action toward a heartfelt prayer to our Creator and ask Him to reveal Himself to them, and then start doing some research and see where you might be taken with just a little faith and effort. Good hunting!

    February 4, 2014 at 5:37 pm |
    • Observer

      "A closer examination of what the Bible really says, shows that is unreasonable."

      Finally we have a statement that both believers and non-believers can agree on.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:47 pm |
      • Lisa

        Observer

        Lisa,

        That certainly doesn't do a thing to reconciling a person ripped apart in a field and a guy hanging himself.

        Under this comment you made my only choice was to report it as abuse so I had to comment under an earlier statement you made...in response to this comment, if you find it reasonable that he just fell in a field and the outcome was that his insides burst out, that's your right to see it as a contradiction about him hanging himself. However, I feel it's just as reasonable, if not MORE so, to believe that in the field he bought, it probably had a cliff with a tree near it,(the topography in that area suggests that scenario is possible), or just a huge tree he attempted to hang himself on and the result was what Luke recorded in Acts. Two reports stating that Judas died. How he did it technically, either way he was a traitor and took his own life. Point 6 you made above, 'Logic and common sense don't count, when discussing contradictions in the Bible? Just as the logic in the explanation of the bus accident didn't seem to exist until further investigation, I personally have found reasonable, logical explanations to seeming contradictions in the Bible. If you are comforted by what you believe, and have a clear view of how and why you believe what you do, who cares what anyone else thinks? Have a nice evening.

        February 4, 2014 at 8:44 pm |
        • Observer

          Lisa,

          "Under this comment you made my only choice was to report it as abuse"

          What in the world did you report as "abuse"?

          I certainly have NOT made any abusive statements towards you.

          PLEASE explain because this makes ZERO SENSE..

          February 4, 2014 at 9:43 pm |
    • Kathy Kraft

      I always wonder about the faction of Christians who for some reason cannot understand the difference in and complimentary natures of science and faith. I am Christian and understand evolution as a scientific journey. Faith is a belief, a set of values, science is a study of fact. They are not mutually exclusive. I posit that your education may not have included some of the hard sciences, or the adventures and exhibits in our natural history museums. There is so much scientific reality of growth, change, the evolution of our very planet-to fail to adopt science and to see God in all of it, or vise versa is missing true wonders that we all can embrace. You comment about trusting the Bible- I assume this means that you take literally every word you read instead of taking in the nature of this book written over hundreds of years by ordinary men who also cherry picked which books to actually include. It is a phenomenal book; but it is a book..-the teachings of Jesus are what makes us Christian; the love of others, the lack of judgement of others, and the rejection of self-righteous indignation at those who may hold a different view.

      February 4, 2014 at 8:22 pm |
      • nev

        kathy ,you are one with us in our views,a panthrotheist in belief and philosophy

        February 5, 2014 at 7:02 am |
      • JustAPondering

        Kathy Kraft, you are well spoken. I love it, you post under your name. Today, I am just rejoining the continuing 'Flood' conversations. It is fun and educational to the nature of we human beings. What is so mysterious or illogical that life is a mystery? It is part of our nature to intuitively (for us with lower brain power), and with those us with some intellect to question the Holy Trinity, and the cosmos ... there aint "nothing new under this "son". Rah ra.

        February 5, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
      • Charlie

        How do you explain the indignation Christ had toward those who had a different view?

        February 5, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
  3. TheTruth

    "We have known for well over a century that there are flood stories from the ancient Near East that long predate the biblical account (even the most conservative biblical scholars wouldn’t date any earlier than the ninth century B.C)." No Biblical scholar dates the flood as late as the ninth century – ALL of them date it many centuries before. Your other Bible referrences are equally inaccurate.

    February 4, 2014 at 5:23 pm |
  4. david

    if anyone that read this article actually believes the story of noah's ark.... i commend you for having such a high reading level.

    February 4, 2014 at 4:21 pm |
  5. Juan-Solo

    Why believe in a book that's filled with so many contradictions? I'm sure someone will ask me to name some, and when I do they'll make an excuse for it as usual.

    The book of Mathew records that Judas hung himself, the book of Luke mentions Judas falling headlong and bursting open at his midsection. Big contradiction! Now someone is going to say, "well his body was decomposed and eventually came loose, so his mid-section ripped open spilling all of his guts."

    February 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
    • Ridge

      Jaun the bible was written by humans, some had various accounts.

      February 4, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
    • TheTruth

      The Bible records that Judas hung himself and when the rope broke he fell and his stomach split open, spilling his intestines out. Sorry, no contradiction here.

      February 4, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
      • Observer

        "TheTruth",

        Please actually READ a Bible instead of JUST MAKING THINGS UP.

        (Acts 1:18) “Now this man [Judas] purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out.”
        (Matt. 27:5) “And he [Judas] cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.”

        February 4, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
        • yobec

          If the flood account is phony then so is Jesus because he speaks of the day of his second
          coming as beeing similar to the "days of Noah" ( Matthew Chapter 24)

          February 5, 2014 at 11:05 am |
        • Observer

          yobec,

          The flood story likely falls into the category of science fiction. You can make your own links from that.

          February 5, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
  6. Facebook/DebunkingEvolution

    Mr. Baden is quite the writer. Unfortunately, he has some grossly distorted facts. For example, he claims that no conservative scholar would date the Biblical story of the Flood before 900 B.C. Unfortunately, the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, would beg to differ with the esteemed Associate Professor. Jesus believed and quoted Moses as the author of the Pentateuch (first five book of the Old Testament). Moses lived about 1500 B.C. Evolutionists and atheist scholars consider Moses a real historical person, but date him as living in 1200 B.C. Therefore, even by fellow Bible-denier standards, Mr. Baden is still off by 3 centuries at best, and 6 centuries by worst. I will stick to the historical fact that the ancient Hebrew Scriptures were preserved and defended by the nation of Israel for 15 centuries, at the cost of their very lives, despite persecutions from numerous ancient empires. No one was willing to die for the Epic of Gilgamesh or the Egyptian texts in order to preserve their accuracy. Think about it. The reason they preserved them is because they knew it was the Word of God, the Creator, and the One who destroyed the ancient world with a global flood.

    February 4, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
    • Observer

      Why would anyone argue in favor of God torturously drowning EVERY pregnant woman, child, baby and fetus on the face of the earth?

      February 4, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
    • JustAPondering

      I am not up to speed ... who is Facebook/DebunkingEvolution? I would like to know who is dat.

      February 5, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
    • ri0088

      @Facebook/DebunkingEvolution

      Uh....completely FALSE. "Unfortunately, the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, would beg to differ"- Christianity developed far later and therefore would have no say on what happened in the past.

      "Moses lived about 1500 B.C. Evolutionists and atheist scholars consider Moses a real historical person, but date him as living in 1200 B.C." – FALSE. Evolution only deal biological lifeforms changing...not accounts of ancient human events that fall under the subject of history. Atheism simply reject unsupported religious assertions. That has nothing to do with finding historical records, tangible artifacts, & landmarks since neither the archeological nor historical record can affirm any supernatural claims. 1st, there is no evidence for Moses at all in the historical record. He isn't mentioned in the Egyptian records. Nothing contemporary corroborates the claims of the exodus story. The archeological record dismisses the tale. Only the bible is claiming such events occurred with nothing outside the bible to affirm it. 2nd- scholars place the earliest possible date at 1200BCE because that is the only earliest mention of Israel in the historical record – The Merneptah Stele from Egyptian sources proclaiming the Ancient Egyptian king Merneptah as having been conquered Israel during a military conquest campaign in Canaan and confirmed with Egyptian military outpost in excavations around the region. This mean an exodus couldn't have occurred before that date since Canaan was an Egyptian hegemony at the time. Some of the cities in Canaan claimed to have been invaded by Israel....weren't even inhabited at the time concerning traditional biblical dates for the story. Scholars agree on Israel's Canaanite origins since Israel at that time was indistinguishable from the Canaanites and the Hebrew language itself is a Canaanite dialect. Biblical chronological conflict is easily since it give a chronological data for time period and length of the exodus that don't match up to the dates in the historical record. The biblical story also give names that date only to the period of the Babylonian exile which is evidence that the story was composed at a much later time period. It describes a later geography of Egypt, not one in which the story is claimed to have taken place. The story is not contemporary nor historical.

      "The reason they preserved them is because they knew it was the Word of God, the Creator, and the One who destroyed the ancient world with a global flood"- There is no evidence for a global flood in the geological record. The biblical flood story is an adaptation of older flood myths from Mesopotamia that have already been found. The bible is a work of literature...a collection or anthology of books composed very long periods of time by many writers.....not the word of any god. It isn't a historiography.

      February 15, 2014 at 1:19 am |
  7. JustAPondering

    sam stone,
    And to think you know the mind of god is delusional.
    February 2, 2014 at 10:07 am | Report abuse | ... This is a long thread, and as recently stated ... hard to keep up with ... for a mere human.
    I agree with Sam Stone. The chicken or the egg? Hawkins vs. God? What a mismatch. Carlos Castaneda's final book about his studies with the brujo Don Juan discussing the Eagle, and a how we are all birthed, is a weird parallel to the cosmos string theories. A mind at play ... God gave it to me.

    February 3, 2014 at 7:09 pm |
    • V

      Looks like you played with the names "Hawking" and "Dawkins" there...!

      February 3, 2014 at 7:14 pm |
      • JustAPondering

        A Brief History of Time
        Book by Stephen Hawking
        A Brief History of Time is a popular-science book written by British physicist Stephen Hawking and first published by the Bantam Dell Publishing Group in 1988. It became a best-seller and has sold more than 10 million.

        February 3, 2014 at 7:47 pm |
      • JustAPondering

        Just operator failure.

        February 3, 2014 at 7:56 pm |
      • OTOH

        Oh. My. Zeupiter!

        February 4, 2014 at 11:59 am |
        • JustAPondering

          Mr. OTOH, .. Zeupiter, Zeus, Plato, Rome, Taxes ... what would the master Plato have said? In his discussions of democracy, he has a pungent conversation about how our leaders that promise all things that the citizens desire are usually elected. Later comes implosion then the cycle starts over again. Human Nature. Nothing new under the son. Rah ra!

          February 6, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
    • Philosophy

      Ok, here is what I don't understand.

      I always thought that the joy of philosophy was coming up with your own ideas. As long as an idea can not be proven true or false it fits. Philosophy is questions WITHOUT answers, as it should be.

      Therefore I don't see how anyone can be wrong, or better at someone else at philosophy, or even how a scientist would be a better philosopher because again the questions asked are not supposed to have answers.

      February 3, 2014 at 7:33 pm |
      • JustAPondering

        How true, we have the capacity for questions, but not much for answers of the unknowable ... as of today. Like Sam, I am amazed at the hubris in the nature of man, due to our ability to continually increase our knowable knowledge. Butttt .... growing knowledge proves us to be wrong as often as we are wrong,

        February 3, 2014 at 7:56 pm |
      • JustAPondering

        Philosophy ... would enjoy reading more comments from you, and others of like ilk.

        February 3, 2014 at 8:19 pm |
      • Saraswati

        Philosophy has a bit more to it than that. It's the field from which all other fields have spun off, and still acts as the 'gap' field, tying other studies together where a separate field has not yet developed.

        Philosophy is about both analysis and creation, and on both counts one person can do better than another, just as one is better at mathematics or architecture. Analytically you are bound by logic, and poor philosophy is that which does not define it's terms or which is logically inconsistent. On the creative side you are bound by the same rules, and if you are inconsistent or leave common observations out you have done a bad job.

        It is a common error to think there is no good or bad philosophy. Good philosophy is inclusive, well defined and logically consitent. And watching it done poorly is like a professional singer listening to someone off key or a mathematician watching a 10 year old struggle with long division.

        February 6, 2014 at 7:17 am |
  8. ME II

    ME II
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Completely unnecessary."

    LOL!! Toche

    February 3, 2014 at 5:02 pm |
    • ME II

      <- touche

      February 3, 2014 at 5:02 pm |
  9. Almighty3201

    For all of those of you who have repeatedly brought up the idea of incest and how it was ordained...... well first of all...... this might hurt...... Use Your Brain People!!!! IF evolution is true man was incestual as well. Evolution or evolutionary theory doesn't mistakenly obsolve the idea away of incest! The bible specifically makes it clear going through the geneologies when it became inappropriate to "be" with someone too close. Anomolies (retardation, deformities, etc...) occur incestually from a mutated genetic pool. Adam was "perfect" genetically and so were his "genes" but as man continued to abound and live in sin (which brought death into the world) his genetic makeup began to produce problems, and God corrected that. You see folks if you actually read the bible God's word tells you when it was no longer appropriate to "keep it in the family" Just remember IF evolution is true, which I believe it's a lie, than they did the same thing. It's not that hard to figure out.

    February 3, 2014 at 3:54 pm |
    • bostontola

      Your science is distorted, but your assertion that evolution produced incest is right. So what?

      February 3, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
      • Almighty3201

        No my friend my science is right on and logical. My argument regarding incest is that atheists and other anti God people always wanna hate on us Christians and point to incest when evolution too would have to produce the same outcome.

        February 3, 2014 at 5:13 pm |
        • JustAPondering

          Observer

          Truth follower,

          I hope you don't mind me bringing this forward as a new thread since the old one is very long and it gets hard to find where to reply............................................................................................
          Truth follower, you are right on. Hard to find a place to reply. It is like the cat chasing his tail. The chicken or the egg first (Hawkins theories vs. An all supreme Creator). Scientific advances continue to give us (mere humans, however we were created) simply more knowledge of the mechanics of life as we know it. EMPHASIS AS WE ARE PRESENTLY CAPABLE OF KNOWING IT. In 1996, I read one of the early articles regarding the 'string theory ' applied to the universe. Now, I will throw in a 'far out' observation that to my limited intellect made a strange relationship. (I choose to believe in a Creator God.) But, Carlos Castaneda wrote several books, over 10-15 years about the Brujo Don Juan. In the final book of this relationship, Don Juan describes the his vision of the Eagle (God) and something similar to a string theory and life at birth.
          Bunk, hypocrisy, BS ... possibly all of these things. Conversation to this long blog. Such is life. Man cannot understand the Creator God; he can only choose to a believe; HUMAN NATURE IS WHAT IT IS today..

          February 3, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          It would not produce the same outcome. Read my response (and Barcs') below.

          February 3, 2014 at 7:07 pm |
        • JustAPondering

          I am trying hard to apply human logic to a creator God, and the creation as a result of a non-beginning Big Bang. Interesting blog thoughts. Wow ... now close to 5000.

          February 3, 2014 at 8:12 pm |
    • Sungrazer

      No, you don't understand how evolution works. Let's say species A was geographically separated into two groups, and in time species B and C were "born". You don't just get from A to B or A to C in one generation. At no point in time would you be able to identify parents as species A and offspring as species B. Think of it as a gradual transition. Species B does not have to be propagated by incest.

      By the way, if something ever came along to replace evolution, it would be because evolution was wrong, not a lie. Actually, the reality is that something might subsume evolution but it's unlikely it would be replaced, just like Einsteinian physics subsumed Newtonian physics.

      February 3, 2014 at 4:38 pm |
      • Atheist, me?

        As an amateur shepherd I can assure you that incest is very normal among animal populations whether it is harmful is another thing altogether!

        February 4, 2014 at 7:58 am |
    • Barcs

      Evolution doesn't require incest as creationism does because there was never just one man and woman. Evolution suggests a slowly changing population of people that never dipped below 1000. Incest does lead to birth defects and decreases the diversity of the gene pool so it's bad for evolution, and bad for well pretty much for anybody.

      February 3, 2014 at 6:24 pm |
    • Cherilyn B

      Through fossils we see the history of evolution which is defined as gradual genetic change in a population. Evolution occurs via gene mutation, natural selection and genetic drift. It is a very SLOW process.

      Humans did not suddenly appear but rather are the culmination of changes to the genotype (inherited genetic information) and, thus, phenotype

      February 3, 2014 at 11:31 pm |
    • Cherilyn B

      (Sorry for the interruption.)

      .......the genotype and, thus, the phenotype (visible physical expression) over many generations. Such speciation occurs when a group within a species becomes isolated. As times passes, the isolated group evolves to the point that they are unable to breed with the species they originated from and, thus, a new species is formed.

      As for incest (or inbreeding), it can occur in any group but it is not necessary for evolution.

      Please note that Sungrazer, Barcs and I are all in agreement. We are just using different words to communicate the same process.

      As for religion, you can believe whatever you choose as it is faith-based but the facts of science are established whether you believe them are not. Evolution is firmly established whereas Christianity has fractured into thousands of denominations due to disagreements on beliefs and practices.Wiki lists 41,000 denominations of Christianity worldwide but I do not have time to verify that.

      February 4, 2014 at 12:03 am |
      • Cherilyn B

        Typo: "believe them OR not".

        February 4, 2014 at 4:02 am |
  10. Science Works

    Topher and the links -you know ?

    Published on Jan 27, 2014

    Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham Debate – Answers in Genesis – 11 Tips for Bill
    Hemant Mehta (http://www.friendlyatheist.com)

    Bill Nye can use the Talk Origins website to find rebuttals:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/li...

    Join the conversation. Leave your questions and comments below and we'll try to address them in future videos. Don't forget to subscribe for more!

    Also, follow us at ...
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    February 3, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
  11. bostontola

    If the Abrahamic God is real, then he is not very good at the omniscience/omnipotent thing.

    He created humans with a broad range of characteristics, some are very empathetic, some very analytical, some tall, some fast, etc., etc. Some have a set of God given characteristics that make belief much easier. Scientific tests have shown strong relationships among certain characteristics and belief. The problem is, others have a set of characteristics that make belief extremely difficult or impossible. The same is true of upbringing. This would not be a big problem except that in the Abrahamic religions, non-compliance has dire consequences. You don't choose your DNA, parents, place of birth, etc., all can have a big effect on belief, yet the consequences are still imposed.

    I find this system unethical and not one I want any part of. God stacks the deck for some and against others.

    This God of yours says it's omnipotent and omniscient, yet the fundamental system of reward/punishment is unfair. This God had 2 failures right out of the gate. Adam and eve both defied God. I could understand a bit better if it was deep into the 100th generation when humans started to fail, but version 1.0? Omniscient means God knew this would happen (please don't give me the free will argument, you can have free will and god knows what will happen), and omnipotent means he could have created humans so this wouldn't happen.

    The original sin is not of humans but of God. He created us to sin, to all be sinners. Then you have the Abrahamic religion 2.0, enter Jesus. Dies for us to make square our debt as sinners (since god told Adam he would die if he ate the fruit from that tree). This is the ultimate version of the Poison/Cure gambit. You poison a person with a terminal substance that has an antidote. Then you sell them the antidote. God created us poisoned, buy the cure of spend eternity in hell. This stuff is unethical and immoral. I won't even bother with the slavery, subjugation of women, definition of certain harmless lifestyles as sin, etc. I am not compatible with these religions.

    February 3, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
    • Sungrazer

      It boils down to this: How can anything other than perfection result from a perfect god? It is logically impossible for something imperfect to come from something perfect.

      February 3, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
    • Barcs

      Agreed. The whole idea that he knows everything is ridiculous just based on the flood story. So he created humans knowing full well 99% of them would turn on him and he'd have to drown them all in a flood? Sounds logical. He told Adam not to eat the fruit, knowing full well they would disobey him and cause the fall of mankind. God is so mean he holds an entire population of people and all their future descendants responsible for one choice made by one man out of curiosity thousands of years ago? Why not just create them properly in the first place, with less curious minds that are less susceptible to emotions and evil thoughts? The whole thing doesn't make the least bit of sense.

      February 3, 2014 at 6:37 pm |
    • Eman Puedam

      Very well put! I am in 100% agreement and have often tried to articulate the same idea, but never as clearly as you have.

      February 3, 2014 at 7:20 pm |
    • Chris

      God created man to love Him but love requires choice, without freedom to choose to love God we are no more than mere robots programmed to simulate an outcome that isn't real.

      God may know our choices but that is not the same as making them for us.

      February 4, 2014 at 11:40 am |
  12. Reflections

    Topher, Austin and Live4Him recently attended the recent Pathways to a Christian Understanding of the Holy Bible Convention. Our photographers were able to capture them deep in study..

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1S1VhAF5lao&w=640&h=390]

    February 3, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
  13. toquide

    I find it difficult to understand why many bloggers who seems to be historically knowledgeble still focus in their critism of the traditional religions,they find satisfaction in downgrading the "truth" about the bible,the great flood,and many other doctrines of the monotheistic churches.Maybe their level of consciousnes is also similar to this faiths,Yes we have to transcend to the next higher of awareness in order for us not to dwell in this obsolescent arguments to the validity of this claims ,like the Noah's Ark.We have to look at this realities in a more advance higher level of historical perspective.we have to understand the reality of scientific evolution or change to religious reality.To be specific,we have to accept that even religion has to change and evolve to conform to humanities level of intellectual development,otherwise looking historically in the future of our todays arguments,will make most of us the laughfing stocks of the future generations.Maybe thats the inescapable legacy of this generation.

    February 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
    • Cherilyn B

      Hello, Toquide – You have made some excellent points along with asking questions that we should all consider.

      I would like to move beyond the juvenile arguements that basically come down to: "I am right!" "No, I am right!" Unfortunately, in the U.S., we are mired in wrangling over passages of the Bible such as Noah's flood because certain religious groups want Creationism taught instead of evolution; laws passed to curtail women's reproductive rights to abortion & birth control; and to deny equal rights to citizens based upon the s€xual orientation.

      To stand up and point out the impossibilities of Noah's flood is to show why the Bible cannot be taken literally and thus is NOT a valid educational tool. The debate today between Bill Nye and Ken Ham will showcase both sides to all who care to follow it.

      February 4, 2014 at 4:28 am |
  14. ME II

    (posted here due to prior thread being deleted)
    @Topher,
    "My only 'agenda' is that I trust God. And by the texts, it's pretty clear who the authors are."

    "By the texts," much of the NT is anonymous, is it not? Certainly, none of the text in the Gospels name authors, correct?

    "I'd agree there are things that have the appearance of contradictions on the surface. But if you do any kind of studying, you'll see that isn't the case. There are NO contradictions in the Bible."

    If by "any kind of studying", you mean rationalization, then you may be correct. For example, there is no rational reason to think that Luke 2 puts the Nativity near 6BCE and no rational reason to think that Matthew 2 puts it in 4CE, unless one is trying to rationalize an obvious contradiction.

    February 3, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
    • Alias

      I think you are trying too hard.
      Galileo was accused or heresy and put under house arrest.
      Clearly his science was in conflict with what the church was teaching.
      It seems obvious to me, you can either believe the earth moves anound the sun OR the bible is the perfect word of god; but you cannot have it both ways.

      February 3, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
  15. Reality #2

    And again and again and again and yet again, the bigger question is did Noah even exist? Other than the OT/Torah is there any other evidence?

    And did Abraham and Moses exist? From the information (and lack thereof) available, no they did not. Added details are available upon written request

    February 3, 2014 at 12:14 pm |
    • Jim

      Do you believe Jesus existed?

      February 3, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
      • igaftr

        As a man...likely. As a supernatural man-god with magical powers...no of course not. There were many "messiahs" running around at the time and many allegedly had magic power as well...stories that became legend that have no basis in reality.

        February 3, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
      • Pete

        AS the bible describes him, NO.

        February 3, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
        • Atheist, me?

          That is funny because following the teachings of Jesus as in the Bible is very enligghtening!

          February 4, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
  16. Alias

    Genesus 6:15 The size of Noah's Ark was such that there would be about one and a half cubic feet for each pair of the 2,000,000 species to be taken aboard.

    February 3, 2014 at 11:08 am |
    • igaftr

      That si just ONE of the myriad issues of the myth.

      It reminds me of the scene in Diehard 2, when Bruce Willis uses the ejector seat from the cargo airplane...lucky he found the ONLY cargo airplane in the world with an ejector seat AND the safety mechanism that prevents ejection while on the ground was broken...but otherwise it makes sense.

      February 3, 2014 at 11:22 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        You're taking that Die Hard scene out of context.
        It is obvious to all that Die Hard2 fulfills the prophecies from the original Die Hard.
        Anything you see as a plot hole is a translation error, a metaphor or you're not applying proper Die Hardian hermeneutics.
        However, you must beware the lies of the later sequels that do NOT come from the hand of Willis.

        February 3, 2014 at 11:42 am |
        • Dez

          *snerk*

          February 3, 2014 at 11:58 am |
        • igaftr

          Sorry Doc...all of my ACTUAL knowledge must be getting in the way of the Bruce Magic...all things are possible through Bruce.

          February 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm |
        • Dez

          They did make Bruce Almighty...

          February 3, 2014 at 12:23 pm |
        • Which God?

          @ Doc. I just picked myself up from the floor. Man, you had me laughing so hard the wife wanted to know if I had lost it. I did, for a bit. Thanks Doc, that was great!

          February 3, 2014 at 12:40 pm |
        • Cherilyn B

          Hi, Doc V – I always stop to read your posts as I scroll through the Belief Blog comment section. I have never responded before because I agree with 95% of your statements. The other 5% have expanded my knowledge.

          And now I find that my esteemed professor has a sense of humor. A true gem.

          February 3, 2014 at 8:48 pm |
    • Almighty3201

      There weren't 2 million species on the ark. The bible says that Noah took animals based on their "kind" and although some "species" are not inter-fertile today, this does not prove they weren't at some point in the past. In simple terms, a cat, a cougar, a lion, a tiger, a leopard are all CATS... Making the supposition there were 2 million types of animals is ridiculous. The basic "kinds" of anilmals were on the ark.

      February 3, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
      • igaftr

        "kinds"....funny. So you agree with evolution then...at least that's a start.
        What about all of the other parts of the stroy that are absolutley impossible then...such as a stone age man ( just at the edge of metal working so maybe he had copper tools, but unlikely) making a boat of that size, using the materials available...that "ship" would sink...it would be the equivelant of the Wright Brothers building a 747 usiing the tools and materials of their day...absolutley impossible. Then you take all of the other problems, such as needing 5 times the water on the planet to make the flood happen, the ending of EVERY food chain on the planet, the FACT that if any seeds survived ( extremely unlikey given the salinity of the water) it would take MILLIONS of years to re-establish any food chains, the fact that we are not all descendants of this Noah or his family... I can go on all day.

        Simple conclusion...it is a myth...never happened.

        February 3, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
        • Almighty3201

          Well I would argue that it did happen, but that is neither here nor there. I love how us "modern" folk make a lot of assumptions about how deprived man was in the past and that he had no intellect etc. You could do yourself a favor and do a little history check and you would see man was probably more intelligent in the past than he is now. Now I understand that this would require you as the individual to do some research to which I know you never will, but hey you continue to go ahead and build all your foundation and knowledge and understanding on everyone elses plights and wonders and see where that gets you. Incidentally the bible uses the word "kinds". If man was so stupid and inept how were the pyramids and other such structure built? The exactness and cuts on those stones are closer and more "perfect" than anything possible today even with modern technology. Not to mention the size of the stones, their exact position to the 4 cardinal directions, or how about this, the fact that they line up perfectly to astrological features in the sky (stars). The pyramids are also exactly in the center of the earth as well. How could these stone age neanderthals do this? The fact is they couldn't. How is it we have clam and mollusk shells on top of the mountains all over the world? How about palm leaves at both poles?
          You should rethink your position and start thinking for yourself, because my God is more powerful more magnificent than any stupid evolutionary theory!

          February 3, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
      • Dez

        Lol. Sure, okay.

        February 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        If we limit our list of animals to those specifically mentioned in the Bible in one verse or another, that’s about 120 “kinds”. God said to snag 7 breeding pairs of clean animals, but only 1 set for the unclean critters, making for a bare minimum of 1320 animals..
        However, Noah would’ve also had to keep a good stock of animals to feed the carnivores.
        The Bible also mentions that Noah started slaughtering cows, sheep and goats as soon as he got out of the boat in order to thank God for His mercy, so he would’ve needed a few spares for that too.

        However, Noah must have dedicated a large portion of the Ark's square footage to food storage and a greenhouse of somekind – otherwise the animals along for the year long ride would die of starvation.
        How the 8 people on the boat found time to cultivate the plants, feed the animals and then deal with transporting and dumping overboard the endless piles of excrement isn't addressed in the Bible.
        Perhaps they prayed away the poop.

        February 3, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
        • Almighty3201

          The truth is my friend is that believing in God and his word is based on faith, and faith alone. If every single question you or anyone else proposed was answered in the bible, you still wouldnt be satisfied. It's our human nature to defy God. God's responsibility does not reside in you me or anyone to "prove" himself to anyone! It's your responsibility to seek him. No one can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that anything in the bible didn't happen so either way it still leaves the question. Like I said even if ALL the answers were there it still wouldn't be enough. The bottom line is IF there is a God then we better serve him, if not we are all doomed!

          February 3, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
        • Barcs

          ^Negative, Almighty. That's only if YOUR VERSION of god exists and considering there are thousands of belief systems out there, the odds are not in your favor. Pascal's wager is essentially succ.umbing to fear. It is completely illogical to blindly believe something just in case it might be true.

          February 3, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
        • JustAPondering

          Doc, you are good at construction/productivity/production scenarios. I like what you say. You and Doc Steven Hawking make good conversation companions on the net. Cherilyn B's devotion to science is obvious, and her acceptance to new archaeological discoveries is valid under today's perceptions. I believe it will be it will be interesting to discover my perception grounded (pun) in first hand knowledge of birth and death ... after death ... in no great hurry ... as my doc says, "...JustAPondering, you are of an age that you are on the down hill slide"; I will know soon enough. Not pessimistic ... reality ... or what I hope to be knowledge as reality after life ... no one to confirm this for me available in my neighborhood.

          February 4, 2014 at 1:51 am |
  17. Alias

    Topher and salero21 are here at te smae time again!
    god must be behind this.

    February 3, 2014 at 11:07 am |
  18. ME II

    @Topher,
    "No. If you write a letter to a friend, who gets credit for it? You or your pen?"

    Depends. Can the pen write by itself?

    February 3, 2014 at 10:58 am |
    • G to the T

      If you write a letter to a friend and use someone else's name, is that lying? Can a lie be sacred? Hmmmm....?

      February 3, 2014 at 11:10 am |
  19. tony

    Insert interpretation of your particular religious affiliation:-

    "God is too ...... to be true"

    February 3, 2014 at 9:34 am |
  20. Somebody's Attractive Cousin

    Nice beard.

    February 3, 2014 at 9:33 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.