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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. Dyslexic doG

    JW

    Off the topic but ... if god's design was to have jesus crucified to die for our sins then why do Christians speak so badly of judas when he helped it all to happen. Shouldn't you all be thanking him for getting it done? Shouldn't he be a hero in the bible?

    January 28, 2014 at 6:21 pm |
    • Austin

      was Judas happy?

      January 28, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
      • Austin

        6 For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord: but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour's hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them.

        7 And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock.

        8 Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me.

        9 Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another.

        10 And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people.

        11 And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the Lord.

        12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.

        13 And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.

        14 Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.

        15 And the Lord said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd.

        16 For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.

        January 28, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
        • Austin

          Matthew 26:14-16 (New International Version)
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          Matthew 26:14-16

          New International Version (NIV)
          Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

          14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

          January 28, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
    • Vic

      Since the fall, this life realm is inevitable and abound, and the mortal man is tested and given "Free Will." God honors His grant of "Free Will" and Satan's challenge of the possibility of man believing in God at "Free Will." All of that is in motion until the end of time.

      Now, out of God's Love & Grace, He always turns the table on Satan and makes antidotes out of corruption. God turned the table on Satan — Satan thought he one the last round — when Jesus Christ was crucified and made an antidote out of it — God made the last call, Salvation for the world.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:43 pm |
      • G to the T

        All I'm trying to do is make an informed choice (i.e. properly exercise my free will).

        January 28, 2014 at 8:14 pm |
  2. JW

    The measurements of the ark in the bible, make it look like a rectangular vessel, not round nor looking like a ship!

    January 28, 2014 at 6:14 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      it's like listing how many reindeer pull santa's sleigh. Good details but in the end, all just part of a story.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
    • isolate

      You are absolutely correct. It was called an "ark," because, like the Ark of the Covenant, it was essentially a box, admittedly on a Carnival Cruise Lines scale. People who make things like blanket chests are still called "arkwrights," today.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
      • melwig

        With all of the poop that must have been on the ark, I would definitely say is was on a Carnival Lines scale.

        January 28, 2014 at 6:50 pm |
    • ME II

      @JW,
      Believe it or don't. The author addresses this in the article:

      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.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:40 pm |
      • JW

        Why in the bible it gives the measurements as if it were rectangular in shape?

        January 28, 2014 at 6:44 pm |
        • isolate

          Because it was? 🙂

          January 28, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
        • ME II

          @JW,
          "Why in the bible it gives the measurements as if it were rectangular in shape?"

          Are you just not reading, the author is saying:

          "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."

          January 28, 2014 at 6:55 pm |
        • JW

          ME- that is the authors opinion, though the bible presents it as a rectangular vessel!

          January 28, 2014 at 7:03 pm |
  3. JW

    Could the Ark Have Held All the Animals?

    It is true that encyclopedias refer to over a million species of animals. But Noah was instructed to preserve only representatives of every “kind” of land animal and flying creature. Some investigators have said that just 43 “kinds” of mammals, 74 “kinds” of birds, and 10 “kinds” of reptiles could have produced the great variety of species of these creatures that are known today. The ark had about 40,000 cu m (1,400,000 cu ft) of usable space—ample for the passenger list

    January 28, 2014 at 6:12 pm |
    • bostontola

      Was there another creation event by God after the deluge? That would explain a lot. I wonder why that part was left out of the bible.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
    • Observer

      JW,

      "Some investigators have said that just 43 “kinds” of mammals, 74 “kinds” of birds, and 10 “kinds” of reptiles could have produced the great variety of species of these creatures that are known today."

      So you support evolution, right?

      January 28, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
      • JW

        Not at all...Genetics can create diversity!

        January 28, 2014 at 6:34 pm |
        • Observer

          JW,

          Yes. It's part of the process called EVOLUTION.

          January 28, 2014 at 6:36 pm |
        • JW

          ...You are white, and your wife is white...your keep comes out black, or asian...is this EVOLUTION?

          January 28, 2014 at 6:39 pm |
        • JW

          ...You are white, and your wife is white...your keep comes out black, or asian...is this EVOLUTION??

          January 28, 2014 at 6:41 pm |
        • Observer

          JW,

          There are other different physical characteristics between races. The variety shows how evolution could happen.

          January 28, 2014 at 6:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      You didn't mention insects. But you are right that enough representative "kinds" could give rise to the diversity we see today – given a great deal of time, and evolutionary dynamics. Believers don't usually accept those things.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
      • JW

        Insects can produce easily from the soil.

        January 28, 2014 at 6:35 pm |
        • doobzz

          How? Spontaneous generation?

          January 28, 2014 at 6:39 pm |
        • JW

          Example- How do "worms" produce so fast in a dead body?

          January 28, 2014 at 6:45 pm |
        • ME II

          @JW,
          "Insects can produce easily from the soil."

          "Example- How do "worms" produce so fast in a dead body?"

          Wow... just wow!
          You really need a science class.

          January 28, 2014 at 6:48 pm |
        • ME II

          @JW
          "Example- How do "worms" produce so fast in a dead body?"

          One example: flies lay eggs that hatch as maggots.

          January 28, 2014 at 6:50 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      JW
      Yep, got it and 8 people produced the diversity of humans in the world in 4000 years or so, maybe less if you consider that all people were one at the tower of babble myth. How many languages did the old babbler myth produce and the different dialects of the same language? Have heard a Bostonian trying to figure out what a Creole Lousianians was trying to say and vice versa.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:24 pm |
      • bostontola

        Charm,
        This Bostonian likes Jambalaya.

        January 28, 2014 at 6:35 pm |
    • ME II

      @JW,
      "Some investigators have said that just 43 “kinds” of mammals, 74 “kinds” of birds, and 10 “kinds” of reptiles could have produced the great variety of species of these creatures that are known today. "

      I find it extremely interesting that creationist battle evolution to their dying breath, it seems, and yet when needed they themselves introduce "hyper" evolution.
      There is no known way all of today's species could have evolved from those numbers in the last ~4000 years.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:43 pm |
      • ME II

        @JW,
        "Some investigators have said that just 43 “kinds” of mammals,..." – you

        "According to Mammal Species of the World, 5,416 species were known in 2006." – wikipedia

        January 28, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
    • isolate

      Less investigators than apologists trying to fit a mythological event into Middle Eastern history, just as the Mesopotamians and Egyptians did before them, and the Mormons keep trying to do today with their own mythology. DNA evidence shows that extant species didn't suddenly spring from a tiny group of survivors from an event within recorded history. If modern humans had sprung from such an inbred group not so long ago, DNA markers would show it clearly.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:58 pm |
      • JW

        Isolate- Science is not exact, plus we dont know which methods God used to speed up the process if he even did so.

        January 28, 2014 at 7:08 pm |
    • G to the T

      "Kind" (from what I've been told) is approximately the same as the "family" level of classification.

      Couple of questions:
      That would mean you believe in evolution at the species and genus levels?
      Do you realize how FAST changes at the genus/species level woul have to happen to occur in such a short amount of time?

      January 28, 2014 at 8:30 pm |
  4. JW

    Where Did the Floodwaters Go?

    Evidently they are right here on earth. Today there is about 1.4 billion cu km (326 million cu mi) of water on the earth. It covers more than 70 percent of the globe’s surface. The average depth of the oceans is 4 km (2.5 mi); average elevation of the land is only 0.8 km (0.5 mi) above sea level. If the earth’s surface was smoothed out, it would all be covered with water to a depth of 2,400 m (8,000 ft)

    January 28, 2014 at 6:11 pm |
    • bostontola

      JW,
      You're right. If it wasn't for radioactivity in the earth's core, melting the iron, with a spinning earth, causing plate tectonics, making mountains form, the earth would be all water at the surface. In that case, no rain was required. Are you saying God just flattened out the earths crust? That is a cool theory.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:18 pm |
      • JW

        I wouldnt be able to know what exactly God did with the earth itself...but it seems that he wouldve used earthquakes to elevate dry land.

        January 28, 2014 at 6:24 pm |
        • bostontola

          JW,
          I give you points for creativity, I hadn't heard this one before. God used his power to move the earth's plates so that the crust was flat enough to submerge all the land. After 40 days (or 150 days) God pushed the plates again, creating the continents we have today. That is nifty. Now what was the rain for? I assume god had a giant Star Trek Inertial stabilizer to quiet the earth quakes, otherwise they would have been a bigger disaster than the flood.

          January 28, 2014 at 6:31 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Now factor Everest into your calculation. Geologists know what to look for and there's no evidence of a global flood.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:18 pm |
      • JW

        How come there are Worldwide stories in every nation and tribe regarding a "Deluge?

        January 28, 2014 at 6:25 pm |
        • saggyroy

          Keyword: "stories"

          January 28, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          I don't know that all tribes have flood stories, but perhaps there were local floods that were exaggerated over time. Certianly the Middle Eastern ones would have been known in the vicinity and they were probably inherited. Plus it makes a good cautionary tale – do as I (the priest) say or my god will drown you.

          January 28, 2014 at 6:32 pm |
        • JW

          What do these tribal stories include?

          Burma – Singpho
          Destruction by Water
          Humans Spared
          Animals Spared
          Preserved in a Vessel

          Canada – Cree
          Destruction by Water
          Divine Cause
          Humans Spared
          Animals Spared
          Preserved in a Vessel

          East Africa – Masai
          Destruction by Water
          Divine Cause
          Warning Given
          Humans Spared
          Animals Spared
          Preserved in a Vessel

          Fiji – Walavu-levu tradition
          Destruction by Water
          Divine Cause
          Humans Spared
          Preserved in a Vessel

          Peru – Indians of Huarochirí
          Destruction by Water
          Warning Given
          Humans Spared
          Animals Spared.

          January 28, 2014 at 6:37 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Is that a list of all tribes that have lived on earth?

          January 28, 2014 at 6:48 pm |
        • JW

          santa-there are many more...but i will not post...these are enough!

          January 28, 2014 at 6:51 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          As we need water to survive, it seems likely that our ancestors lived near water and would therefore have seen floods on various scales. I wasn't (and am still not) sure that all tribes have a flood story.

          January 28, 2014 at 7:12 pm |
        • JW

          Santa- ya there were minor floods...but how can you combine,Destruction by Water,Divine Cause,Warning Given,Humans Spared,Animals Spared,Preserved in a Vessel...all these together, in every culture of the world?

          January 28, 2014 at 7:17 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Every culture also had gods but you don't believe that it proves those gods exist.
          I presumed for example that desert dwellers probably wouldn't have a flood story, but as the majority of our ancestors probably stayed close to water they probably all had some experience of higher than normal water levels which of course in their ignorance they attributed to some god or other.

          January 28, 2014 at 8:55 pm |
    • Observer

      JW,

      "If the earth’s surface was smoothed out, it would all be covered with water to a depth of 2,400 m (8,000 ft)"

      Yep, still 21,029 feet short of Mount Everest. Not REMOTELY close.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:25 pm |
      • JW

        If you flatted out land there would still be some elevation in section... How would you know that mount Everest had the same height as it has now?

        January 28, 2014 at 6:27 pm |
        • Observer

          JW,

          So are you saying that Mount Everest formed after Noah lived?

          January 28, 2014 at 6:30 pm |
        • JW

          I wasnt there...but everest couldve been less high as it is today

          January 28, 2014 at 6:32 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Everest has been pretty high for a long time – million of years since the subduction of the Indian Plate.

          January 28, 2014 at 6:36 pm |
        • JW

          Santa- "Pretty high" how high?

          January 28, 2014 at 6:58 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Higher than the 8000 feet you suggest.

          January 28, 2014 at 7:02 pm |
        • JW

          Santa- I dont know...i wasnt there. Nor were you or the scientists that act like they know exactly what happened in the past!

          January 28, 2014 at 7:18 pm |
        • G to the T

          "Nor were you or the scientists that act like they know exactly what happened in the past!"

          Why not, you seem all to eager to and with weaker evidence to boot?

          January 28, 2014 at 8:34 pm |
    • saggyroy

      The flood waters were ejected to the moon when the earth split open at the tectonic plates and created the craters there. As per a creationist video about science in the Bible.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
    • isolate

      Sorry, you've got to come up with a lot more acre-feet to meet the Biblical description of waters 15 cubits over the top of the highest mountains, which are the Himalayan Range. The weight of that amount of water would have thrown Earth clean out of its orbit.

      January 28, 2014 at 7:02 pm |
      • saggyroy

        I know it seems far fetched....(sarcasm)

        January 28, 2014 at 7:13 pm |
      • JW

        How do you know the Himalaya where the same height as today?

        January 28, 2014 at 7:19 pm |
  5. Mark

    How many Easter bunnys were on board?

    January 28, 2014 at 6:11 pm |
    • saggyroy

      No one knows for sure, but they at least saved the marshmallow peeps.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
    • Trivia

      Easter = Ishtar (or Ashtar/Astar Diana)

      January 28, 2014 at 7:33 pm |
      • G to the T

        As I understand it, there's good evidence she was Yahweh/El's companion back when the jews were still polytheistic (and for quite some time after they were "officially" monalitristic).

        January 28, 2014 at 8:38 pm |
  6. JW

    Is there any evidence the Deluge was real?

    History of a "deluge" could be found in every nations tribe around the world:

    The Egyptians, the Greeks, the Chinese, the Druids of Britain, the Polynesians, the Eskimos and Greenlanders, the Africans, the Hindus, and the American Indians—all of these have their Flood stories. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Vol. 2, p. 319) states: “Flood stories have been discovered among nearly all nations and tribes. Though most common on the Asian mainland and the islands immediately south of it and on the North American continent, they have been found on all the continents. Totals of the number of stories known run as high as about 270 . . . The universality of the flood accounts is usually taken as evidence for the universal destruction of humanity by a flood and the spread of the human race from one locale and even from one family. Though the traditions may not all refer to the same flood, apparently the vast majority do. The assertion that many of these flood stories came from contacts with missionaries will not stand up because most of them were gathered by anthropologists not interested in vindicating the Bible, and they are filled with fanciful and pagan elements evidently the result of transmission for extended periods of time in a pagan society. Moreover, some of the ancient accounts were written by people very much in opposition to the Hebrew-Christian tradition.”—Edited by G. Bromiley, 1982.

    January 28, 2014 at 6:09 pm |
    • Get Real

      JW,
      "Though the traditions may not all refer to the same flood, apparently the vast majority do."

      What makes you (or Bromiley) think that? Just because they were all devastating and killed 'everyone' except for a thrilling legendary hero of one type or another? People seem to love to come up with heroes and their extraordinary feats.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
      • JW

        What do these tribal stories include?

        Burma – Singpho
        Destruction by Water
        Humans Spared
        Animals Spared
        Preserved in a Vessel

        Canada – Cree
        Destruction by Water
        Divine Cause
        Humans Spared
        Animals Spared
        Preserved in a Vessel

        East Africa – Masai
        Destruction by Water
        Divine Cause
        Warning Given
        Humans Spared
        Animals Spared
        Preserved in a Vessel

        Fiji – Walavu-levu tradition
        Destruction by Water
        Divine Cause
        Humans Spared
        Preserved in a Vessel

        Peru – Indians of Huarochirí
        Destruction by Water
        Warning Given
        Humans Spared
        Animals Spared

        January 28, 2014 at 6:31 pm |
        • Observer

          JW,

          LOTS and LOTS of Noahs all over the world. Of course, all the tribes that you mentioned apparently ALL ended up in hell since NONE of them ever heard of God.

          January 28, 2014 at 6:40 pm |
        • saggyroy

          All were written at a time when people didn't understand the causes of nature so they just blamed God(s)?

          January 28, 2014 at 6:41 pm |
        • Doh!

          Ahhhh, so the real ark landed in India (or Peru or Fiji or somewhere)? And some descendants of those survivors eventually made their way to the Middle East? The Hindu stories are much older - Vishnu & Co. have just got to be real!

          They've been searching in the wrong place for it all of these years! Doh!

          January 28, 2014 at 7:22 pm |
        • JW

          Doh- Vishnu in the Chaldean language means "the man Noah"

          January 28, 2014 at 7:28 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Flood stories are pervasive because human settlements have always necessarily been close to a source of fresh water. The more water, the bigger the civilization, the greater the inevitable catastrophe.
          Gods are also pervasive in human culture. Most gods seem to have the manners and morals of a petulant child, thus divine wrath is a common explanation for the va.garies of nature.
          Most gods also have favoured humans who they speak through and protect and are thus spared smiting.

          January 28, 2014 at 8:24 pm |
  7. bostontola

    Put in your order of likelihood, highest likelihood to lowest (of course there are many other possibilities, but order these):

    a) The biblical accounting of God and the universe.
    b) God exists but we don't. We're all in a Matrix like state of pure thought but with no real physical existence.
    c) No God(s), The universe and life came into being by purely natural processes.

    For me: c, b, a.

    January 28, 2014 at 6:08 pm |
    • Topher

      abc

      January 28, 2014 at 6:09 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        You haven't responded, Topher. Are you uniformed on biology or are you dishonest about it?

        January 28, 2014 at 6:15 pm |
        • bostontola

          I assumed Topher meant a is highest, b next, then c. Did I miss something?

          January 28, 2014 at 6:27 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          It's an issue Topher has chosen to avoid.

          January 28, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
        • Topher

          The "issue" I'm avoiding is childish. I said phones haven't evolved. You said yes they do ... I hope meaning in the figure of speech that things evolve as in we change the designs. You want to complain and attack. Typical.

          January 28, 2014 at 6:42 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          phones?

          January 28, 2014 at 6:45 pm |
        • Topher

          Was it not phones?

          January 28, 2014 at 6:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      We could play with words like "exist." Believers seem to say that our existence is different from God's. "God exists" doesn't mean quite the same thing as "I exist", they would say. Certainly "I exist" doesn't mean the same thing as "the idea exists" or "the solution to the equation exists".

      January 28, 2014 at 6:14 pm |
      • bostontola

        Interpret any way you like, then order them.

        January 28, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          c, b, a

          January 28, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
    • fred

      It cannot be C because something or nothing must preexist the known physical (or natural). That is in itself a contradiction.
      It cannot be B or if you are speaking about God as described by A since A claims Jesus was God. If God exists only in his own mind there is no existence.
      This leaves A as the only possibility with odds we cannot measure as to probability.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:42 pm |
      • bostontola

        fred,
        You're one of the few people that I know that is so certain in their knowledge.

        January 28, 2014 at 6:52 pm |
        • fred

          bostontola
          It goes back to purpose. If there is no purpose for existence the purpose within that existence is meaningless. Even if someday we are able to prove or test M-theory, multiverse (regardless of limited or infinite possible universes) is simply a subset of existence. Any possible meaning or purpose we assign to our life is contained within an existence that is meaningless and without purpose.
          Mankind is driven to find its purpose and meaning. This pursuit is not empty or towards that which is non existent. There is something. That pursuit based on evidence is never ending and is not limited to our lifespan as it is generational. Evidence points towards purpose beyond our lifespan. I see no indication that pursuit is towards death or nothingness or nonexistence. It is something which implies substance. It has power as it attracts. It has direction without boundaries which implies eternal. Our pursuit implies God is.

          January 28, 2014 at 7:29 pm |
        • bostontola

          fred,
          All that is far from certain. It may be right, but far from the certainty used to dismiss c.

          January 28, 2014 at 8:14 pm |
      • fred

        bostontola
        Perhaps I did not understand option C. Did something or nothing exist before the purely natural processes ?

        January 28, 2014 at 9:10 pm |
  8. JW

    Evidence may not be put aside, but we all have to becareful with these type of evidences...we all have to investigate and see if these findings are true or not.

    “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps.”—Proverbs 14:15.

    January 28, 2014 at 6:03 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      JW
      Lord won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz, Jodi honey, I'm still driving an ancient Gremlin.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:06 pm |
      • Science Works

        Remember the Pacer ?

        January 28, 2014 at 6:08 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          SW
          Tricked out my Gremlin, had an unintentional sun roof at the end, case of beer crashed through the rusted out roof. Pacer, no sorry moved to Ford had to focus.

          January 28, 2014 at 6:14 pm |
        • Science Works

          The Pacer a glass Bubble ! the one that was suppose to save AMC .

          January 28, 2014 at 6:31 pm |
  9. Austin

    Topher, is that me?

    January 28, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
  10. Jesus' Beloved

    It was this Jesus who had "mercy which rejoiceth against judgment" when He broke down the gates of hell. Can we look in the mirror and see the same image of Christ within ourselves and then not forget that image as we minister to others?

    LUK 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest [El Elyon]: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
    36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

    The weapons of love and mercy never fail. They work with such explosive power that the gates and defenses of the enemy are completely wrecked. Even the gate keepers of hell are not immune to this explosive earthquake!

    January 28, 2014 at 5:51 pm |
    • Science Works

      And the comedy continues ?

      January 28, 2014 at 5:53 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      Do not pay any attention to JB, enough said.

      January 28, 2014 at 5:54 pm |
      • Madtown

        I'm with Science, in the interest of comedy pay full attention to him/her! 😉

        January 28, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Madtown
          My bad. Of course I should have specified that all should enjoy the comic relief provided by JB but to ignore his ramblings as some sort of truth. JB do not stop posting god and I would not like it, scary sh!t, right!!

          January 28, 2014 at 6:03 pm |
    • Bob

      Jesus' Dummy, again, your whole religion is based on absurd and false premises. How is it that your omnipotent being couldn't do his "salvation" bit without the whole silly Jesus hoopla, just to begin with? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers? Pretty pathetic "god" that you've made for yourself there.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      January 28, 2014 at 5:55 pm |
      • John Houston

        Bob, why did not God then just start all over without going through this at all? Just remove the rebel angel (Satan) and Adam and Eve? Then begin again, but there were more intelligent beings watching, what and how God was taking care of matters, was he in fact the God of perfect justice and also mercy. Remember we were involved, the unborn offspring in Adam's loins. Would any of us obey where these perfect parents did not? How would he find out if he started over, God showed love for us, and the "sacrifice" was more than being taught in religion today. Your questions are not fully thought out because it does not take in all the information on what the Bible truly teaches, but what you think or heard, on false teachings from the Bible.

        January 28, 2014 at 6:34 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      "The weapons of love and mercy never fail."
      But they have, and do, over and over and over.
      Refusing to see/admit this puts the onus of your ignorance on you.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:30 pm |
    • saggyroy

      So Jesus broke down the gates of hell? Wouldn't that let all the demons out? So Jesus is responsible for letting the demons loose on the earth.

      January 28, 2014 at 6:55 pm |
    • doobzz

      "The weapons of love and mercy never fail."

      But if you don't feel loving and merciful that day, commit genocide.

      January 28, 2014 at 8:20 pm |
  11. Bob

    fred, enough already. Stop your cowardly dodging and try instead to respond directly to what I have challenged you with.

    Answer the questions for a change, coward. (I doubt that you can).

    Again, how is it that your omnipotent being couldn't do his "salvation" bit without the whole silly Jesus hoopla, just to begin with? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers? Pretty pathetic "god" that you've made for yourself there.

    Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
    Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
    http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

    January 28, 2014 at 5:50 pm |
    • fred

      So Bob, God should be more like Q ?

      January 28, 2014 at 6:14 pm |
      • Fred Evil

        I don't know about Q, but it should be a LOT more like Xtians describe it, than the absentee father I've been witness to.

        January 28, 2014 at 6:32 pm |
        • fred

          Fred Evil
          The Bible is a record of Gods presence as seen through the eyes of thousands of generations. These peoples were not lying as they described their personal relationships with God and Jesus with the "Father" added a deeper understanding of relationship.
          Your absentee Father has never been absent according to Jesus and the Bible. Jesus was human and chose to be united with and do the will of the Father. He also had a physical father in Joseph. That was a simple model for us.

          January 28, 2014 at 6:56 pm |
  12. Rodents for Romney

    All this demonstrates, is YET AGAIN, the myth was ubiquitous in the ancient Near East. We already knew about Gilgamesh. This is nothing new, and upsets no one who is a scholar. It's a total myth. Every flood has a silt layer. There is no world-wide silt layer, AND the amount of water needed to bring a boat to Mt. Ararat is more water on the Earth. It simply did not hapen.

    January 28, 2014 at 5:50 pm |
  13. Jesus' Beloved

    But, according to my "church theology" those that have been consigned to hell are there for an eternity of torment and are never released. How so?
    Did not Jesus visit hell and tear down its gates and preach to the spirits of very wicked generation that was lodged there?

    GEN 6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. 5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

    1PE 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to
    death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
    20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark
    was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

    Well, OK, the scriptures do say that Jesus preached to the spirits in prison – but it doesn't say that he let them out – he probably just berated them and left them there because they really deserved it – the scriptures say that they were really, really wicked.
    The Bible says that the word does not return void, so if Jesus preached to them, it must have been for a purpose of redeeming them.

    OK, that sounds good, but where is the proof, can you give me a scripture that says that these wicked spirits of men before the flood could actually be converted?
    First, we know that the love of God never fails, but includes all men. (COL 1:20). Would He not redeem that divine part which He put in man that " lighteth every man that cometh into the world."? And if that isn't enough, how about the following scripture 1Pe 4:6.

    We know that these spirits were imprisoned for an age – until Jesus was crucified – not an eternity. We must be very careful to make a distinction between that which lives "according to God in the spirit." vs: salvation of the soul and body. Yes,
    these spirits were granted life, but they were not in the same company as the old testament saints who received not only a salvation of their spirit, but also that of their soul and body. These saints waited for the completion of the age before receiving the resurrection of their bodies.

    January 28, 2014 at 5:42 pm |
    • Bob

      Jesus' Moron, stuff your Jesus nonsense already. Your whole religion is based on absurd and false premises. How is it that your omnipotent being couldn't do his "salvation" bit without the whole silly Jesus hoopla, just to begin with? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers? Pretty pathetic "god" that you've made for yourself there.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      January 28, 2014 at 5:44 pm |
      • Jesus' Beloved

        Since (in your mind) you're the sum total of all wisdom in the universe, you should tell us.

        January 28, 2014 at 5:54 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          JB
          Learned my lesson, keep posting, let the dribble flow out, comic gold, thank you.

          January 28, 2014 at 6:09 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      Do not pay any attention to JB, enough said.

      January 28, 2014 at 5:53 pm |
    • Vic

      No one really fully understands the aspect of Heaven and hell and their logistics, so to speak. Some believe hell is literal, some believe it is metaphorical, and some are in between. Also, some believe that the condemned go to hell for eternity, so to speak, and some believe it is only for a little while and then the second death comes. That kind of uncertainty has always been aboard. For example, it is mentioned in the Apocalypse of Peter, which is part of the Apocrypha, that God revealed to Peter that He will indeed, eventually, grant forgiveness to all people, and that He (God) prohibited Peter from revealing it to anyone so that people be deterred and believe in Him.

      Who knows?

      January 28, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
  14. L

    Disbelief in God is a fairy-tale atheists create to explain the world around them not knowing it's their belief. Fail atheists.

    January 28, 2014 at 5:41 pm |
    • Ted

      No, Lawrence of Arabia, disbelief is a reasonable position when evidence is lacking – for people much smarter than you, anyway.

      January 28, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
      • L

        Atheism lacks evidence thus it's not reasonable position. It's a dishonest position.

        January 28, 2014 at 5:44 pm |
        • bostontola

          Odin, Zeus, Osiris, etc, etc, no God. The "no God" position is one of thousands different than yours. Are they all dishonest if they aren't your God?

          January 28, 2014 at 5:50 pm |
        • Jen

          No, L. Ted is right. Skepticism should be the default. Feel free to keep believing in your delusion, but much of the world is leaving it behind, and fast. You aren't exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, either.

          January 28, 2014 at 5:54 pm |
    • Madtown

      Trolling comes easy for some. For others, not so much.

      January 28, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
    • ME II

      @L,
      What fairy-tale? It's is often one simple statement:

      "I don't believe you."

      January 28, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
    • bostontola

      False, I fully recognize that is my belief. I believe there is no God. The first half of your statement makes no sense in english, is it a second language for you?

      January 28, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
  15. bostontola

    The whole Noah story is supernatural, so water salinity, the DRASTIC thinning of all gene pools, etc, etc can always be tucked under omnipotence. God fixed the salinity with a snap of his fingers, God restored all the microorganisms and fungi with a snap of his finger. In fact, there never had to be a great deluge, God could have simply planted that memory into every person's head to make His point.

    Once you bring omnipotence and/or omniscience in, anything can be true, which also means none of it matters. In the context of all the religions/Gods man has made, omnipotence and omniscience sounded good at the time (my God is bigger than yours), but it creates a moral trap door where none of it matters because Truth becomes relative to each person's interpretation (which is exactly what has happened with 40,000 Christian denominations).

    January 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
  16. Ninpo

    Btw

    The author states the following:

    "One version says the Flood lasted 40 days; the other says 150."

    The flood during the first forty days:

    "For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.”" – Genesis 7:4

    "And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights."
    – Genesis 7:12

    "The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered."

    – Genesis 7:17–19

    The flood after the forty day deluge stops:

    Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days. "

    – Genesis 7:22–24

    Total period of the flood from start to finish (approx 1 year).

    In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights."

    – Genesis 7:11–12

    "In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth."

    – Genesis 8:13

    January 28, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
    • Madtown

      In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life
      ----
      Was Noah human? Humans don't typically live that long. What's the average lifespan today, 76ish years? And, it's increased over time, not decreased.

      January 28, 2014 at 5:17 pm |
      • Jesus' Beloved

        Will you give God or science the credit when life span goes back to 1000 yrs (read it in your Bible).

        The DNA of man changed after the flood.

        January 28, 2014 at 5:30 pm |
        • Mmmmmmm

          So...man evolved?

          January 28, 2014 at 5:36 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Do not pay any attention to JB he is a coward, it is surprising he has the audacity to keep posting on this blog without confronting his critics.

          January 28, 2014 at 5:37 pm |
        • Ted

          Jesus' pathetic loser: "the DNA of man changed after the flood"? Really? Evidence please, or retract that one.

          And how can you consider your god kind and loveydovey when you also claim that he murdered millions by drowning them? I think your god of your fairy tales can fairly be called a giant ass hole.

          January 28, 2014 at 5:39 pm |
        • ME II

          @Jesus' Beloved,
          "The DNA of man changed after the flood."

          This is based on what, exactly?

          January 28, 2014 at 5:41 pm |
        • Madtown

          Speaking of the bible, why not read Psalm 90:10? It references a 70-80 life span. "The DNA of man changed after the flood"? Shortening life span by 900 years?! LOL.

          January 28, 2014 at 5:42 pm |
        • Science Works

          JB might of had to much interbreeding to figure it out ?

          Neanderthal genome shows early human interbreeding, inbreeding
          Date:
          December 18, 2013
          Source:
          University of California – Berkeley

          January 28, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          JB
          You really have to love the number crunching the apologists do in the bible. In genesis a day can mean an unknown eon, Noah lived six to nine hundred years or maybe it was nine hundred months (75 years) or nine hundred weeks (17 years or so) It is all just so unbelievable at every level.

          January 28, 2014 at 5:50 pm |
        • isolate

          And left no record whatsoever in mitochondrial DNA, which otherwise records human genetics way back beyond the Australopithecenes. That's the part that impresses me the most: a super-sized miracle in which all DNA was changed to meet the Biblical specifications. Zowie!

          January 28, 2014 at 7:17 pm |
      • isolate

        It was customary in that area and era to attribute huge lifespans to rulers and cultural heroes. The Sumerian King Lists put Biblical Methuselah in the shade. King Alulim ruled for 28,800 years, for instance. That doesn't include his childhood, teen years or retirement.

        January 28, 2014 at 7:10 pm |
    • Science Works

      Home school lesson needed -educational video !

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xsn3wpVAcjk&w=640&h=390]

      January 28, 2014 at 5:18 pm |
    • doobzz

      "Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth."

      The god of the bible is a psycho killer.
      Qu'est que c'est?
      Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
      Run run run run run run run away!

      January 28, 2014 at 5:23 pm |
      • Akira

        A tip of the hat to you for the Talking Heads reference.

        January 28, 2014 at 5:30 pm |
        • Ted

          Second that, Akira.

          January 28, 2014 at 5:40 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          It's on my Halloween playlist.

          January 28, 2014 at 6:18 pm |
  17. the definition of a cult

    the rejection of the Spirit and Truth

    Reality # 2

    Spirit Science? Those are two words that should never be used together.
    January 28, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    Science Works

    Wow Austin a little deceptive there !
    January 28, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    Pamela

    What Reality #2 said. Exactly. Right on.

    Don't sully science by putting it beside your woowoo words of your cult beliefs.

    January 28, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
    • Ted

      If your "truth" is that your god murdered millions of his own creations with a flood, well, no thanks. You can keep your ass hole in the sky story. To yourself. Preferably, silently.

      January 28, 2014 at 5:41 pm |
  18. R.M. Goodswell

    ".......he brought it back and it was full of new material!"

    yes..no doubt there:))

    January 28, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
  19. Vic

    I have been trying to post the following for over an hour now, in reply to G to the T:

    You are very much confusing the "Dispensation Of Grace" and the "Dispensation Of Law." Jesus Christ was born in the flesh under the Law and ministered as such during His Ministry on earth, and then, He died on the Holy Cross for the Remission of our sins, descended to hell and defeated death, rose from the dead on the third day as the First Fruits Of Resurrection bringing us Eternal Life and Reconciliation with God the Father, and then ascended to Heaven promising us the sending of the Holy Spirit and preparing a place for us.

    With that, the "Dispensation Of Law" ended and the "Dispensation Of Grace" reigned. As such, the Lord Jesus Christ commissioned Apostle Paul, then Saul, on the road to Damascus to deliver the Good News of Him. Apostle Paul did not speak of his own but of the Lord Jesus Christ's.

    As Christians, we have always been quoting the Lord Jesus Christ on the Greatest Commandment of all, on which lie all the prophets and the Law, that is the "Commandment Of Love."

    January 28, 2014 at 4:52 pm |
    • Vic

      No idea what the problem was; I did not change a word!

      January 28, 2014 at 4:53 pm |
    • Bob

      Vic, your whole religion and this Jesus nonsense that you keep spouting off about is based on absurd and false premises. How is it that your omnipotent being couldn't do his "salvation" bit without the whole silly Jesus hoopla, just to begin with? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers? Pretty pathetic "god" that you've made for yourself there.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      January 28, 2014 at 5:46 pm |
    • G to the T

      Well, firstly is was Paul/Saul. He didn't change his name. "Paul" was just the Greek version of Saul. It's used interchangabley in the bible anyways.

      2nd – You only believe that because you believe Paul was inspired by Yahweh/Jesus. That's a matter of faith. What I see when I study the history of those early centuries is that Paul's was only one voice and was at odd's with the "real" disciples. There were many, many different "flavors" of christianity, all with equal claim to sacred texts purported to be by sacred authories (mark, matthew, luke, john, peter, jesus, the mary's, etc.).

      But that's besides the point – You are correct that Paul forever shaped the nature of the religion that became "orothodox" (right way) and eventually catholic (universal). And I don't doubt his sincerity (in those works we're pretty sure were his).

      I just think he was wrong (about what Jesus preached/believed). As I said, he turned the religion OF Jesus into a religion ABOUT Jesus.

      January 28, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
      • G to the T

        PS – Thank you for taking the time to respond. I do appreciate your point of view, even if we do disagree.

        January 28, 2014 at 8:11 pm |
  20. zimaelessar

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_BzWUuZN5w&w=560&h=315]

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLr5vl-n0Bo&w=560&h=315]

    January 28, 2014 at 4:45 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.