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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. NOEL ROBINSON

    I can't read all 5000 comments but somewhere in here should be mentioned the geologic proof of the great flood. How about the settlements under the Black Sea that were once on dry land. I'm talking about the undersea terrain. Notice the coastline of the united States. See how the trench of the Hudson River extends out into the Atlantic? Look at the Florida coast. Obviously the beaches were once 200 miles out further than where they are now, No need to argue religion.Geology clearly explains it, At the end of the last Ice Age the glaciers melted causing a great flood. There were witnesses.

    February 8, 2014 at 4:23 am |
    • heehee

      There were many great floods, but you can't just mash all the evidence together and assume there was one big one.
      – the most recent ice age ended over 10,000 years ago. There were various megaflood events associated with it, but they're all much older than the black sea flood.
      – the hypothesized black sea flood occurred around 5 1/2 thousand years ago.
      -there were yet other floods but
      – the Hudson river delta is just that; a river delta, and not a particularly unusual one
      – what you see around Florida is called "coastal shelf", and it's well known that the sea level has gone up and down over the last 500 million years. There have been no major sea level changes in historical times.

      February 8, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
    • halcyon0711

      Wow....

      I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that there is geologic evidence for "THE" great flood. While there is ample evidence to suggest many flooding events coinciding with fluctuations in climate and local weather events. In addition......Dude, really?!....You're suggestion that because ocean bottom topography looks similar to terrestrial topography that they must have formed under the same conditions is just wrong. Using that logic, you could argue that because there are mountain ranges under water, then all mountain ranges formed under water. The similarities in appearance between terrestrial and undersea topography are more than likely due to the fact that the same forces act upon both. Air and water being relatively similar mediums for erosion with differing viscosity. Gravity exists in both systems and the pressure difference is miniscule in relation to those needed for lithification.

      In summation, land on land looks like land underwater because things move the same underwater just more slowly.

      February 8, 2014 at 7:17 pm |
  2. pfosper

    Danny, you have no idea if the flood story is always adapted. Do you have a ghost writer Danny?

    February 8, 2014 at 2:39 am |
    • muon

      are her initials dmm?

      i am too good!

      February 8, 2014 at 3:10 am |
  3. District 9

    People used to believe the sun revolved around the dart. They believe the earth revolves around the sun. Which story should we believe. Does the fact that an older story exists make the newer one false?

    February 8, 2014 at 12:00 am |
    • MD

      That's not an accurate comparison. We incorrectly believed the sun revolved around the earth and readily admitted we were incorrect when we realized the error of our ways. That is called science.

      ... which wasn't the point of the article. Deluge myths are common in many ancient cultures and this discovery goes to show that the story depicted in the Bible is not all that different from the deluge myths present in other cultures. This is a fact. Scientists modify their theories based on experiment and observation – their ideas evolve as their understanding evolves. The opposite of this epistemology is called dogmatism and is frequently practiced by those who don't understand science.

      February 8, 2014 at 1:18 am |
      • Just The Facts

        You also once believed that God didn't exist. Yet, when Jesus Christ came to earth, you still didn't believe it (even though the very existence of Jesus Christ is irrefutable proof that God exists). So what does that say about your belief? It says it can't be relied upon. It says that you'll believe whatever you want to believe. And that you'll disbelieve whatever you don't want to believe. And it has nothing to do with the truth....

        February 8, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
        • Science Works

          He0y Jus0t the Facts ?

          Thomas S Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ordered to appear before British magistrates' court amid claims that the organisation's teaching amounts to 'fraud'

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10619538/Head-of-Mormon-church-Thomas-Monson-summoned-by-British-magistrates-court-over-Adam-and-Eve-teaching.html

          Dinosaurs – The Evidence for God"s Handiwok BY Douglas S. Jue Ph.D. ( Insti-tute for Creation research) ?

          OR

          [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_pDacFgWs0&w=640&h=390]

          February 9, 2014 at 10:06 am |
  4. Dandintac

    I find it astonishing, and also intensely discouraging, that here we are in the 21st century, and we we are still debating bronze-age myths that are patently absurd and obviously impossible to any rational mind not in the thrall of religious dogma.

    Even as a child, when I still thought of myself as a Christian and believed in a God, I knew the Noah's ark story could not possibly be literally true. I just assumed others thought the same way I did about it. After I found out otherwise, as a teenager, that people actually believed it was literally true, you could never have convinced me that we would be well into the 21st century, and still people would cling to such ridiculous notions. I thought we would be long past that by now.

    Boy was I wrong. If anyone needs proof of why religion is harmful, I give you Noah's ark and the child-like fashion at which the Literalists believe it. This is SOCIAL RETARDATION. And it does far more harm to our society than a whole bunch of terrorist attacks each killing thousands. In order for this to work–this Literalism–a person must have to somehow shut down their cognitive functions in certain areas. Nothing good can come of that.

    If you are a person who is rational, and understand as I do that these stories are just parables with a large symbolic content, then don't come to us telling us how religion is benign, and doesn't hurt anything. It's simply not true. There's too much at stake.

    February 7, 2014 at 11:15 pm |
    • Sane Atheist

      Like everything, there is good and bad that comes from religion. We have evidence that lack of religion, or atheism, also has good and unbelievably horrible aspects to it.

      February 7, 2014 at 11:20 pm |
      • Dandintac

        What "horrible aspects" might you be thinking of in regards to Atheism? I'm open to that kind of argument generally, but I don't see how there could be anything bad related to atheism, because there's no doctrines. It's simply the absence of a belief in gods. It's like saying not believing in unicorns has horrible aspects to it.

        I think I know what you are alluding to though. You're threatening to trot out that canard about atheism and Stalin and Mao's crimes. But this it is unfair to blame the crimes and genocides of Stalin and Mao on atheism, just because they happened to be atheist. There is no logical connection between atheism and genocide, in other words, they did not do these things BECAUSE of their atheism. Would it be fair to blame the Holocaust on Christianity because Hitler was Roman Catholic?

        Ideologies, or lack thereof, should only be blamed if the bad result is directly traceable to them. In the case of the Holocaust for Hitler, or Stalin's crimes, and so on, it is not. In the case of social retardation due to fundamentalism, it clearly is traceable directly to religion.

        February 7, 2014 at 11:38 pm |
      • joshuaofoahu

        Hmm, lack of religion is not atheist. I am a total believer in God and after-world, but I do not identify with any religion. In my opinion, believing in God can be compared to being patriotic, and being religious (Christianity, Islam, you name it) can be compared to being political (D vs R). You can be patriotic without being political, and you can also believe in God without being religious.

        February 8, 2014 at 1:52 am |
        • Dandintac

          Lack of religion is PRECISELY what an atheist is. Look up atheism–Oxford English Dictionary. Or just google "definition of atheism". Also ask a number of atheists. In the vast majority of cases, they will tell you the same thing. I do not believe in gods. I am an atheist. Being an atheist means nothing else beyond that.

          As far as your analogy–I must say it's clever. But I have a few questions for you. Where did you get your belief in God and an afterworld from? If from a religion, how can you say you are not religious? If you made up your God and afterworld, then on what do you base these beliefs on? What evidence led you to create this claim? If you have evidence, would you care to share it? Is it testable? Do you insist this god and afterworld are real for all of us?

          Thanks

          February 8, 2014 at 2:04 am |
        • eprobono

          Dandintac,

          I am also atheist. Although I generally agree with most of what you've written here, I do take issue with your statement, "Lack of religion is PRECISELY what an atheist is". That is not an entirely accurate statement.

          The dictionary definition of atheist specifies nonbelief in any deity, not religion. As joshuaofoahu pointed out, religions and deities are related, but are not the same thing.

          To wit:

          Atheist: a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

          Religion: a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

          February 8, 2014 at 7:33 am |
        • dandintac

          Epro,

          I stand corrected.

          February 10, 2014 at 11:57 pm |
    • JustAPondering

      Humanistic ... of or pertaining to a philosophy asserting human dignity and man's capacity for fulfillment through reason and scientific method and often rejecting religion; "the humanist belief in continuous emergent evolution"- Wendell Thomas.
      You are a thinking man. Beware ... in your posts, do not tread toward a negative leaning to our present day political machinations for personal gain ... it appears the Blog Big Brother is watching, and you will be deleted. They have our email addresses. Do not be too harsh on those of us who choose to believe in God (not always exactly Biblical). Perhaps the bible stories are the simplest way he can instruct we simpletons. Human nature today remains the same during our short time under the 'Son'. We are continually developing to ??????? Jesus and Buda in their human/earthly forms were good guys. Beyond that it is all on faith founded in science or no. Keep up the good work.

      February 7, 2014 at 11:57 pm |
      • fyi

        JustAPondering,

        Not all (in fact probably not many) posts are deleted by actual CNN moderators. These days most disappear because of a nasty hacker-type person who signs in with several accounts and reports abuse the required number (?) of times to activate an automated deletion. He's a coward and I don't think anyone knows why he does it. He picks on all sides of the issues to target.

        It's shameful that an organization like CNN cannot or will not fix the problem.

        February 8, 2014 at 12:14 am |
        • JustAPondering

          Thank you for the moderating comment. I believe you.

          February 8, 2014 at 12:18 am |
    • Charlie

      Too bad you don't have any real proof in what your saying that Noah's ark wasn't real or that there is no real God, its just all your opinion. Look around at what you can see and observe, that should be enough proof of a real creator God, it's trying to say creation happened without a creator that's absurd. Believe it or don't believe it, it really doesn't matter, it's your choice, but one thing for sure, we'll all find out in the end and arguing about is is absolutely pointless.

      February 8, 2014 at 1:43 am |
      • Observer

        Charlie,

        The real proof is that there isn't enough water on this planet to flood 20 feet over the tallest mountain.

        That's just one of a load of reasons why the flood story is science fiction.

        February 8, 2014 at 1:52 am |
        • Just The Facts

          Luke 17:26 – (Jesus speaking) And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all...

          So you're calling Jesus Christ a liar then? Just know that all who call Jesus Christ a liar shall end up in the lake...

          February 8, 2014 at 11:56 am |
        • Observer

          Just The Facts,

          Where did all the water come from? Where did it go to afterwards?

          Get serious. Read some science books since you'll never learn anything about science from the Bible.

          February 8, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
        • Just The Facts

          Observer… You don't have to know where the water came from or went. All you have to do is believe God. If you can't believe God and that his words are true, then you are bound for the lake...

          However, if you insist, you'll find out where it went on Judgment Day...

          February 8, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
        • Observer

          Just The Facts

          "Observer… You don't have to know where the water came from or went."

          Proof that you have a completely CLOSED mind when it comes to being objective when reading the Bible. You'll apparently buy ANYTHING in it without questioning. Sad.

          February 8, 2014 at 9:13 pm |
      • Dandintac

        Wow–a lot to cover here. It might help to break it down.

        "Too bad you don’t have any real proof in what your saying that Noah’s ark wasn’t real or that there is no real God, its just all your opinion."

        Do you have any real proof that Peter Cottontail isn't real? Do you require proof if you reject the assertion of others who claim Peter Cottontail exists? There is very little that human beings say that is not some form of opinion, but not all opinions are equal. Some have evidence to support them, others do not. Noah's Ark falls into the latter category, and those opinions that can be asserted without evidence can be rejected without evidence. I am rejecting your apparent opinion that Noah's Ark is for real–because you have no evidence.

        "Look around at what you can see and observe, that should be enough proof of a real creator God, it’s trying to say creation happened without a creator that’s absurd."

        Nonsense. The observed existence of matter and energy is proof of the existence of matter and energy–nothing else. "Creation" is a word with an anthropomorphic bias. There is no "creation"–there is only the natural universe. If you wish to assert anything else, you need evidence.

        "Believe it or don’t believe it, it really doesn’t matter, it’s your choice, but one thing for sure, we’ll all find out in the end and arguing about is is absolutely pointless."

        Then why are you here arguing about it?

        February 8, 2014 at 1:56 am |
        • JustAPondering

          Mr. D. thanks for stirring to life my old thinking kup. All the 'isms" ... anthropomorphism, scientism, and the resulting schism ... reminds me of a book I read in an old dusty book store, located next to he best shoe shine parlor in Dallas, located on the north east corner of Lamar and Commerce in Dallas, TX in the year (1959) of my Lord. It was called the Cynics Dictionary, author unknown. This blog remind me of a short poem in the book which stayed in my mind, and has given me pause my 70+years. If I am allowed: "Life is a never ending struggle to foresee the unforeseen, to keep teeth and hair from falling out, and money coming in, differing from love, life is just one fool thing after another, while love is just two fool things after each other". I was a pre-law student at the time. Never became a lawyer. Expect to be too busy to participate in this FLOOD of commentary for a few days. Vaya con Dios.

          February 8, 2014 at 2:52 am |
      • JustAPondering

        Well said Charlie. You are a heck of guy (and Mr. D); ahhh, heck of a human being. Let those of us who choose to believe in a creator God live with you who do not in respect and peace. Hope to see both of you on the other side of the river.

        February 8, 2014 at 2:17 am |
        • Dandintac

          Ponderer,

          Thank you for your kinds words and your outstanding civility and good manners. You set a fine example for theists and atheists alike. Good night to you.

          February 8, 2014 at 2:34 am |
      • Gavin

        Dear Charlie,

        When one says there is a living big foot they must prove that assertion. When one claims the entire earth was covered in water and all animals on the planet were saved in a large wooden ship 4500 years ago one must prove that assertion as well. You assert the flood from the Bible is real so it is your job to prove that happened, it is not my job to demonstrate the story is not plausible. But to make you happy I will give it a go.

        According to the laws of physics condensation is a heating process. Had the trillions of tons of water needed to cover the earth condensed from the atmosphere the earth would have been boiling for hundreds of years from the generated heat. Wood has a low tensile strength. A ship much longer than 200 feet is impossible to build as wood is too flexible and it would have leaked and sunk to the bottom. At 450 feet it is simple ridiculous to even discuss it.

        Fish require either salt or fresh water to survive. The existence of both types of fish today demonstrates the earth could NOT have been covered in water as both types of fish survived. The existence of plants that would have died off further proves no global flood existed. Try and grow a rose bush under 30,000 feet of water.

        The flood is estimated to have occurred according to the Bible 4500 years ago. There are tree's that are 6,500 years old still growing. There is a city in Turkey that is 7,500 years older than the flood. There are cave paintings in France that are 13,000 years older than the flood. How did they survive the deluge?

        While you say you cannot prove the flood never happened I believe that I just did. There re HUNDREDS of other problems but I don't have the time or space to point them all out. But as a FINAL point was not Noah commanded to take two or more of every kind of animal? As a dinosaur is an animal why did he miss them? As a mammoth is an animal where are they? What about Dire Wolves and saber toothed cats? Seems Noah missed quite a few species. AND please tell me how the Kangaroo hoped all the way from the middle east without leaving a single corpse behind and then traversed the Tasmanian sea to find its new home in Australia.

        Personally I am way more apt to believe in BIGFOOT then Noah.

        February 8, 2014 at 6:22 am |
        • Just The Facts

          Gavin… The following is your proof…

          Luke 17:26 – (Jesus speaking) And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all...

          Therefore, Jesus Christ has personally confirmed that the scriptures are true. And that is all the proof you need. And anyone who calls Jesus Christ is a liar will end up in the lake….

          As for your claims about dates, all of man's scientific dating methods are "wrong". They are wrong because they are based on a theory. And their theories are wrong…

          February 8, 2014 at 11:53 am |
        • OTOH

          JTF,

          1. Nobody knows if Jesus said that... Luke said it.

          2. Even if he did say it, he was a Jew and would have known those old stories.

          3. Even if he did say it, many people refer to old tales and sayings for emphasis:
          - Ever hear the song, "Just Like Romeo & Juliet"?
          - Ever hear someone say, "Just like the little boy who cried 'Wolf'"?
          - Ever hear someone say, "Just like George Washington and the cherry tree"?

          February 8, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
        • Just The Facts

          OTOH… And what proof do you have that he didn't say it? Answer: You have no proof at all, just a negative personal opinion and an unwillingness to believe it. Which don't mean a thing…

          February 8, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
        • OTOH

          JTF,

          I did not say (nor even imply) that I have proof that he didn't say it.

          When something has been neither proved nor disproved, the fall-back / default stance it to WITHHOLD belief.

          Your Jesus did a lousy job of leaving verified - or even verifiable - evidence.

          It seems as if believing gives you a thrill. Enjoy - just don't claim "Fact" about that stuff.

          February 8, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
        • Charlie

          Thank you I will enjoy, and I will claim fact, I cant help it if you are too blind to see?

          February 8, 2014 at 9:14 pm |
        • Just The Facts

          OTOH… If you have no proof to back up your argument, then you have no argument. All you're offering is your own personal opinion. Which don't mean a thing…

          In contrast, the word of Jesus Christ is infallible. Hebrews 6:8 states, it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, if Jesus Christ said it, then it is truth. You can either believe that truth or you can continue on to hell…

          Only a fool would attempt to challenge the validity of the word of God. And to do it without any proof is not only foolishness but is insanity...

          February 8, 2014 at 4:04 pm |
        • Observer

          Charlie,

          Speaking of too blind to see, Gavin just wiped out your argument and that is ALL you have for rebuttal? Get serious.

          February 8, 2014 at 9:20 pm |
        • Charlie

          I don't argue anything, believe whatever you want I really don't care. I know what I believe and have proven to myself it is true. Sometimes it is pointless to answer someone, ever hear the scripture "don't cast your pearls before swine", check it out and see what that means. Another one is "don't argue with a fool unless you become one". Otherwise, just wait until you die and see if you were right or wrong, but argue about it, pointless, I'll leave that to you to waste your time with.

          February 8, 2014 at 9:35 pm |
        • Observer

          Charlie,

          With your very limited knowledge of it and blind adherence to the Bible, are you calling me a "fool" and "swine"?

          February 8, 2014 at 11:07 pm |
        • Charlie

          No, you obviously miss what I meant, I told you to check out the meaning of it, but no, not you, you just jump to conclusions.

          February 9, 2014 at 12:32 am |
        • Observer

          Charlie,

          If I had jumped to a conclusion, I wouldn't have asked the QUESTION.

          February 9, 2014 at 12:37 am |
    • Jason

      Oh my...

      We are not debating Bronze Age myths, this article was a work of HISTORY. Or are we not allowed to delve into Bronze Age history?

      February 9, 2014 at 10:14 am |
  5. Duskangels

    This is very biased journalism. I can't believe you would say "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." NO SIR!!!! THE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE COMES FROM GOD!!!. Get that straight. He is the Ultimate authority..... not lefty secularists like yourself.

    February 7, 2014 at 11:14 pm |
    • redzoa

      Note the word "opinion" before the author's name . . . much like your all caps claim . . .

      February 8, 2014 at 12:07 am |
    • MD

      The authority of the Bible comes from those who claim it is an authority. You do realize the Bible was written by humans, yes? If God wrote it, Genesis 1:1 would say, "The Beginning – in the beginning, I created the heavens and the earth." Maybe he had some psychological issue like "The Jimmy" episode of Seinfeld and constantly referred to himself in the third person so people would believe the tales of talking snakes.

      February 8, 2014 at 1:24 am |
    • Gavin

      As there IS not God and no way to prove there is one then I guess the author is correct. The Bible is a flawed book that is incorrect historically, scientifically, and morally. I will give one example of each.

      Historically: Joshua blew horns and the walls of Jericho fell. Actually Jericho was destroyed by an earthquake 100 years before Joshua was born.

      Scientifically: Genesis 30: 37-40: Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink,they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted.Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban's animals.

      Jacobs understanding of DNA was that a goats color was determined by what it looked at while copulating. WOW.

      Morally: 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

      So God LIES to people so they sin by MISTAKE allowing him to condemn them. That would be like Congress passing a law making heroin LEGAL and then arresting heroin users saying the law wasn't real and then executing those foolhardy enough to believe them.

      February 8, 2014 at 6:35 am |
      • eprobono

        Gavin,

        Those are three very good examples. But the Bible has so many inconsistencies and irrationalities I'm surprised you could limit yourself to just three.

        To paraphrase one of my favorite comedians, Scott Thompson, the Bible is so full of crap why bother wiping your @$$.

        February 8, 2014 at 7:58 am |
        • Just The Facts

          The bible has no inconsistencies. The only inconsistencies are in your understanding of it…

          February 8, 2014 at 11:27 am |
        • Observer

          Just The Facts,

          The Bible is full of inconsistencies.

          Please read one so you won't make such RIDICULOUS statements.

          February 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
        • Just The Facts

          I stated..."The bible has no inconsistencies. The only inconsistencies are in your understanding of it…"...

          So what part of that did you not understand?...

          February 8, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
        • Observer

          Just The Facts,

          (II Chron. 36:9) “Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king”
          (II Kings 24:8) “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king”

          Which number didn't you understand?

          February 8, 2014 at 9:17 pm |
      • Charlie

        The bible is true Gavin and you are proof of that when it says, "The fool has said in his heart there is no God". God gives people a small bit of truth at a time, but if they reject the truth he gives them, he won't give them any more, and it is only God that can open your mind to spiritual understanding. You rejected it and therefore that's why you have so little understanding of what is true, all you can lean on is your own thinking and reasoning which is far from any truth, the bible even tells us to lean not to our own understanding. You remind me of those who rejected Jesus and his teachings when he came to earth to teach them the truth, he proved he came from God the father at that time and they not only rejected him but they killed him. I would hate to be in your shoes. Those of us who believe in God and his way of life know what we believe and have proven it to ourselves that it is true, we don't have to try and prove it to you, that's your choice and decision. If you hate the fact that we believe in God, how bitter you have become. In your heart you have crucified Christ just as they did back then. You laugh mock and jeer him and God and those who believe in him, what an awful state of mind you must be in to hate those who have the hope of eternal life and believe in an Almighty creator and being. How horrible it must be to not have a hope of the truth.

        February 8, 2014 at 10:13 pm |
        • Observer

          Charlie,

          "the bible even tells us to lean not to our own understanding."

          I wouldn't brag that the Bible puts such a negative spin on logic and intelligence. It is understandable, though.

          February 8, 2014 at 10:19 pm |
        • I Spy

          Charlie says his God gives the human a little bit of truth but if he rejects it he doesn't give any more....

          Hmmm...like a really good Father who gives his child a little bit of broccoli (because it's good for you) but if the kid rejects it he starves the little one...

          Someone else on here accused the Christian God of being immature...Charlie helps us to see that more clearly.

          Thanks, Chuck.

          You Christians...your God looks just like you...immature, unkind, uncaring...and quite pathetic.

          February 8, 2014 at 11:20 pm |
        • Charlie

          What is pathetic is your attempt at trying to make an analogy, that didn't work so good. Then you end up saying in your immature manner exactly what I pointed out, hating jeering and mocking God just like they did when Christ was here on earth, you poor poor man. Your problem is you believe what you read on the Internet instead of the bible. You hate God and Christians so much you reject truth, your bitterness controls you!, and bitterness is spiritual heroin .

          February 9, 2014 at 12:29 am |
      • Bob

        The Jericho evidence of its walls and embankments falling out and down, and the consistent evidence of Jericho being burnt precisely fit the Biblical account.
        As far as Jacob's understanding of DNA, well he didn't have any and neither did anyone else until the 20th century. What Jacob did have an understanding of was animal husbandry and selective breeding. Your quote from Genesis leaves out the rest of the story by the way. The account doesn't really state exactly what purpose the branches in the troughs served, for all we know it could have been simply to attract certain goats! Whatever the reason, the point is that this was JACOB's understanding, not God's. You're trying to claim that a narrative of how Jacob bred goats is a claim by the Bible of how biological reproduction works. It is clearly a narrative, not a treatise.
        As far as God sending a delusion, sending doesn't mean He is the author of it. It simply means that in His permissive will, with permissive being the key concept, He allows Satanic forces the freedom to operate in many instances. If people don't want to accept God, then He gives them the freedom to believe what they want. Quite frankly, that's a pretty good God by not forcing you to accept him, which makes knowing Him about relationship, not dictation or servitude.

        February 8, 2014 at 10:44 pm |
        • Observer

          Bob,

          "that's a pretty good God by not forcing you to accept him, which makes knowing Him about relationship, not dictation or servitude."

          That "pretty good God" not only supports SLAVERY, he supposedly "offers" the choice of doing EXACTLY what he says or else he will send you to an eternity in hell.

          It's a complete JOKE to claim that those options are real free CHOICE.

          February 8, 2014 at 10:50 pm |
  6. pfosper

    For the thinking atheist, it may suddenly dawn on him that the universe is here. For such a man, the thought, "Gosh, if the universe is bigger than a tiny little boat, maybe there's an argument for God." might sneak into his conscious awareness.

    February 7, 2014 at 10:52 pm |
    • Observer

      pfosper,

      But then again he might read what the Bible says and feel more certain than ever.

      February 7, 2014 at 10:54 pm |
    • the0g0to0the0t

      I would argue the opposite. That we are such an insignificant speck against the backdrop of the universe that believing in a personal god strikes me as arrogant to say the least.

      February 15, 2014 at 10:00 am |
      • dandintac

        At one time, man's universe was his immediate region. It was easy to imagine that this was the whole universe, it was obviously flat, and that everything revolved around it. Imagine a tribe of these men looking up at the night sky.

        What are those lights in the sky at night? Well they must be campfires like ours! What other explanation is there? How do they stay in the sky? When we throw anything at all up in the air, it falls down? They must have great powers!!! What word shall we use for these men in the sky? We will call them Gods. Then the floods came. The floods killed many of us. The floods destroyed our crops, killed our herds, destroyed our huts. The water came from the sky. The gods sent it because they are angry at us.

        Soon a vast industry of priests arose, whose job it was to explain all this. Sacrifices were demanded, because the priests needed to make a living, and these sacrifices were their livelihood. Some of the harvest and some of the herds were delivered unto the priests, because the priests assured everyone that the gods must be propitiated somehow.

        Religion was born in ignorance and fear, and guilt and wishful thinking quickly became to of its main tools. Rulers quickly learned that religion was useful, so they were happy to enforce it–under pain of death. To this day, religion thrives where there is ignorance, fear, suffering, privation. And it continues to use guilt, fear, coercion.

        Today however, the ignorance is being pushed back by the light of science. What do we know now about our universe? It's no longer just our region. We know there is a huge planet we live on, that orbits a star we call the sun. We know those lights in the sky are other suns like our own. We have science to thank for this advance, certainly not religion. We know that these stars make up the Milky Way Galaxy, and that there are about 200 billion of them. We know that there are about another 500 billion galaxies other than our own.

        This is trillions and trillions of stars–and even if just a few of them have intelligent life, that still equates to billions. We know that there are supernovas, where a star ends its life in a stupendous explosion, that utterly destroys everything in its system and any nearby. We know that there are massive black holes, far more massive than the largest stars, that emit powerful jets of x-rays on their axes, that go shooting out for thousands of light years, frying anything in their path. These black holes gobble up anything that comes close, stars, planets, any beings on those planets.

        It is the epitome of conceit and arrogance, given the universe that we know of today, to believe there's an all-powerful being listening to your prayers asking for Denver to when the Superbowl, and who cares who you sleep with and how.

        Religion was born in fear and ignorance

        February 16, 2014 at 12:02 am |
  7. pfosper

    What a wonderful discussion. A bit like ants murmuring about man made mustard. He did so. He did not. I know he can make mustard. Man is capable of that kind of miraculous thing. No, he's not.

    As Apollo 17 makes its descent onto the lunar surface

    February 7, 2014 at 10:46 pm |
    • JustAPondering

      Good humor. May you have a long life.

      February 7, 2014 at 10:54 pm |
  8. Ajay

    Just another example of how monotheists appropriated other cultures and ideas to advance their agenda.

    February 7, 2014 at 7:58 pm |
  9. BBunsen

    You should have run this article past Ken Ham before you published it. It might have made a difference in how he approached his "debate" with Bill Nye. Naah, probably not.

    February 7, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
  10. E=MC2

    To even the least serious bible student, the word "all" obviously does not always mean "all" as defined in the broadest sense.

    February 7, 2014 at 4:04 pm |
  11. GENOLD

    4000 years old, Mesopotamian, story of the the arc. Doesn't sound Hebrew at all. Could it be the Hebrews stole a fairy tale from the Babylonians who didn't worship a Hebrew god? Doesn't it makes you wonder what other fairy tales were stolen by the Hebrews and their Christian intellectually challenged offshoot from cultures they later condemned and normally destroyed?

    February 7, 2014 at 3:31 pm |
    • jdun

      rAbraham was from Mesopotamia. The Tigris-Euphrates system has had serious flooding in its history- we can tell this by deposits left after floods. So, the flood probably took place in that local setting, which was their whole world. No big discovery here, just a flooded river basin. That's why some religions don't want science taught to impressionable kids. Reason and evidence can violate religious truths.

      February 7, 2014 at 9:25 pm |
  12. Major Frost

    Just because someone found an ancient version of a joke with the same punch line doesn't make it any less ridiculous.

    February 7, 2014 at 12:23 pm |
    • Blake

      Clearly you aren't much of an archaeologist/scientist. Maybe you should leave articles like this to people who actually know something about archaeology?

      February 7, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
  13. Science Works

    Evidence of a world-wide flood from a study of the dinosaurs by Mace Baker (ICR old stuff) ?

    Starts like this – Initially the theory of evolution rested upon the theory of uniformitarianism. (funny ism )

    February 7, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
    • JustAPondering

      "ISMS"? Man created, do you find any "ISMS" in GOD'S WORDS. I am computer challenged compared to most of the bloggers to this thread. But, willing to be instructed by more proficient bloggers. Cordially waiting a reply.

      February 7, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
      • Science Works

        JustAPondering- if you are talking about the god of the bible – there are to many contradictions really !

        Carbon Dating on Camel Bones Contradicts Bible's Accuracy

        http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/12695/20140206/carbon-dating-on-camel-bones-contradict-bibles-accuracy.htm

        Scientists discover 800,000-year-old "pioneer man" footprints in England

        http://www.cbsnews.com/news/scientists-discover-800000-year-old-pioneer-man-footprints-in-england/

        February 8, 2014 at 6:19 am |
      • Science Works

        But someone (or more) does not like funny -isms

        February 10, 2014 at 11:53 am |
  14. shallowHal

    "(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.)"
    ...which is exactly why we don't have any unicorns, today.

    February 7, 2014 at 9:09 am |
    • james

      why would you comment on a story you know nothing about. come on read the book or at least this story and get back , thanks, j

      February 7, 2014 at 11:45 am |
    • Marineway

      Well, I guess your username just about sums it up, eh?

      February 7, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
  15. oneslydragon

    OOOOPS, another error in the bible, round, not rectangular.

    Rope, not wood...

    What esle did they get wrong?

    February 7, 2014 at 7:58 am |
    • Time For You To Grow Up...

      "What else did they get wrong?"

      Everything

      February 7, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
    • charles wong

      I have no problem with an intelligent critic of the bible, but snarky dismissive statement only betray a lack of thinking. We atheists must do better my friend.

      February 7, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
      • wildmountainbelle

        Agree. Just because one does not believe in God, does not mean that there is no value in the Bible. It is a historical text, and there are many things that can be learned from it in that context.

        February 11, 2014 at 9:45 pm |
  16. m.s.mohamed ansari

    HISTORY + 114 . MDCCLXXVI +114.UNITEDKING+114
    Please bring original HISTORY .Six thousand journalist are suppressing the truth of history but in one day it will come out
    Now we are in 21st century there were times former journalist exposed truth and sacrificed their precious life for the sake of truth, they unveiled the real history. Perhaps contradicting to their present power and money clouded their mind and our upcoming generation becomes a victim.
    We do not believe politicians as we used to, we do not believe the media, and whereas we believe each other”
    Thanking you
    Your’s sincerely
    M.S.MOHAMED ANSARI
    Pragmatism has now fallen foul of the continuing power of the press.

    February 7, 2014 at 7:54 am |
    • JustAPondering

      Like your thoughts. Today's media, and political oratories indicates some questions to your opinion.
      " We do not believe politicians as we used to, we do not believe the media, and whereas we believe each other”.
      Our presently elected leaders tend to prove this slightly inaccurate.
      Nothing new under the Son. Rah! Ra!

      February 7, 2014 at 5:38 pm |
  17. Nev

    Unless people shift their religious faith to panthrotheism ,this problem of religion and science will never be resolve,the normal process will take generations to accomplish and history will show this, but since God through His Will will guide this it will be done.

    February 6, 2014 at 11:06 pm |
    • JustAPondering

      You are an excellent believer. I am not making fun. These are serious thoughts. Humor makes life easier to live. In the mean time, this blip in time respects your idea of leave it to the will of God. In that context, we have no choice. In the mean time, I have to keep paying taxes, and work to survive in this world God dropped me into. Additionally, I recently read the government stats to determine poverty in these US; lo and behold, I discover that if I continue working, I am really more poor than many who do not work. A strange world.
      Cordially and Respectfully, JustAPondering, before I go back to work.

      February 7, 2014 at 5:56 pm |
  18. Scott Plavnick

    Sorry CNN author Joel Baden, but ALL true conservative scholars date the book of Genesis at closer to the 15th century BC, and believe it was writen by Moses, as Jesus said it was.

    February 6, 2014 at 10:51 pm |
    • Tim

      The jewish books were originally passed down as oral tradition then composed by multiple authors over time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaic_authorship. You assume it was written by Moses because it was attributed to Moses, just as there is no proof that Jesus ever wrote down anything nor did the disciples, the books were attributed to those indivduals. Look at any of the work from Biblical scholars, it will enlighten you.

      February 7, 2014 at 11:41 am |
      • JustAPondering

        Thanks for bringing back sanity to reality and chosen beliefs.

        February 7, 2014 at 6:52 pm |
  19. Red Ormiston

    The great pasta in the sky illuminates the world with its saucy tales of yummy meatballs flooding the lands. For countless days and nights the red sauce fell from the heavens, until a bird brought back a sprig of basil.

    February 6, 2014 at 10:29 pm |
    • jon

      May His Holy Noodliness bless you with his deliciousness

      February 7, 2014 at 10:05 am |
  20. Terrance

    "The Bible gets its authority from us" ...never heard any pastor say that. maybe a misguided pope or catholic official, but not a pastor

    February 6, 2014 at 3:54 pm |
    • LM

      Nope nope, remember, the Pope is the mouthpiece of God and cannot, therefore, be wrong. Period. According to Catholics. Which begs the question.... what if the Pope says he IS wrong? Then he must be right about it, yet he can't be wrong in the first place! Oh, the humanity!

      February 7, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
      • JustAPondering

        Your logic is excellent. I like logical thinking. Good logic has little to do with the concept of God. I have to depend on a somewhat unreliable source ... intuitively chosen belief. I do this everyday as I marvel at the sky, and nature, greeting me when I awaken. Am I still dreaming?

        February 7, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
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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.