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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. bob

    Meanwhile, they can go on arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, and why they have yet to dig up the skeletal remains of giants, dragons or unicorns. There is no shortage, of course, of the remains of witches, although some of them are rather badly charred.

    January 28, 2014 at 10:50 pm |
  2. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    So Joel Baden gives us a nice 1,000 word essay on this Mesopotamian myth discovery but never even once mentions Gilgamesh, lest the devout Google it and realize that their precious Noah story is naught but a retold yarn, carried from ancient Ur along with the rest of Abraham's baggage.

    January 28, 2014 at 10:48 pm |
  3. dodobrain

    Bdbbfb

    January 28, 2014 at 10:44 pm |
  4. Des

    King James obviously knew the truth. As did all rich white men of the Dark Ages. Out of this same Church of England that produced the Bible as we know it, came imperialism and colonization around the world 🙂

    Yay. The Bible of course could not possibly have anything mistranslated, misconstrued or just plain wrong. Ironically, even the Bible attests that no man is perfect :O

    January 28, 2014 at 10:29 pm |
  5. brianP

    If the Ark was in Israel or thereabouts, how did it pick up animals in Africa, Australia, Alaska, or the Galapagos 's Islands? And after the flood, how did it get them back there? Did it teleport from one place on Earth to another? Just another tall tale from the book of fiction named bible.

    January 28, 2014 at 10:22 pm |
    • Joe Haventon

      They left out that it flew.

      January 28, 2014 at 10:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Yes it's a fable. The only people who believe otherwise are the ones willing to believe, or say they believe, anything, no matter how foolish, if they think their God wants them to believe it.

      January 28, 2014 at 10:40 pm |
    • Dandintac

      Brian, it's all magic! Didn't you know?

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I225Vcs3X0g&w=640&h=390]

      January 29, 2014 at 1:08 am |
  6. jdoe

    This is the same as asking, "How big is Santa's sleigh?"

    January 28, 2014 at 10:17 pm |
  7. devin

    The questions have always been the same. The objections have always been the same. How is it possible that a flood could be universal and cover the entire earth? How could all those animals survive on the ark for that length of time? How could a man be swallowed and live in the belly of a fish? How could a ser pent talk? How could a man turn water into wine, walk on water, give sight to the blind, heal the lame, and raise the dead? How could this man himself be resurrected from the grave?

    What I've always loved about the bible is that you get to lay your cards on the table with the very first verse. The acceptance or rejection of this verse establishes your framework. " In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." When you embrace this idea that there is a being infinitely superior to ourselves, who has created ( ex ni h ilo- out of nothing) this entire universe, then the possibility of preserving animals on an ark or making a blind man see is child's play.

    January 28, 2014 at 10:12 pm |
    • Observer

      Yes. If you believe that science, math, logic, and everything that you know to be true is actually optional, then you can believe ANYTHING. Not much of an endorsement for religion, but some buy it.

      January 28, 2014 at 10:21 pm |
    • Des

      King James and John Whycliffe translated the Bible to the best of their Church of England, biased abilities. The fact that people don't even question that these two could have
      A) gotten anything wrong
      B) had a conflict of interest or two
      C) been just fallible human beings who were taking a shot in the dark

      just perplexes me. Just 40 years ago people believed blacks and whites shouldn't go to the same schools in America, but oh in the Middle Ages of England, the folks had all of the answers!

      January 28, 2014 at 10:23 pm |
      • devin

        The issues of biblical inerrancy and infallibility have never been in reference to any given translation, it is always within the context of the original Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek autographs.

        January 28, 2014 at 10:42 pm |
        • Observer

          The SAME version of the Bible can't even be consistent about the ages of men when they became kings.

          January 28, 2014 at 10:44 pm |
        • G to the T

          " context of the original Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek autographs" And those no longer exist so... they aren't much good to us are they?

          January 29, 2014 at 11:57 am |
    • Petyr

      Do not ever question. God did it. Gotcha.

      January 28, 2014 at 10:27 pm |
    • Name*

      Anyone who looks at this world and doesn't see the absolute beauty and complexity and thinks it is just by chance – isn't looking beyond the tip of their nose. Believe or not, that is your choice. To condemn those in either camp, is to belittle those of faith or those without.

      January 28, 2014 at 10:28 pm |
      • Petyr

        Asking questions is not belittling or condemning.

        January 28, 2014 at 10:38 pm |
        • JimboCombo

          The purity of so-called people asking questions is pathetic.

          January 28, 2014 at 10:54 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I have no problem accepting the logical possibility that being who could make the blind see and have powers outside our knowledge could exist. But if they exist they aren't the going to be the inconsistant and unfriendly folks in the abrahamic texts.

      Think of it as the cure for cancer. Such a cure may exist, but I'm willing to bet in won't involve drinking engine oil and yodelling in death valley.

      January 28, 2014 at 11:30 pm |
      • devin

        Glad to see you keep an open mind. Obviously we disagree on inconsistencies and the unfriendliness of said individuals.

        Not quite sure what to make of that analogy there at the end.

        January 28, 2014 at 11:41 pm |
    • Dandintac

      Devin,

      So the answer to all questions and objections is "God's magic." Let's just grant your magic defense for the sake of argument–just to move past it for a minute.

      If God's magic can account for all the illogic of the flood, like the lack of water, getting every species on the barge, etc., then why couldn't God just use his magic to smite down the bad people? Why kill off every innocent animal, baby, and so on? This is far worse than genocide, it's global biocide. Just smite, and be done with it. Smite down those bad humans.

      How can any rational person believe the literal Noah's Ark fable? It's far more rational and likely to just understand that these are all myths, like most of the rest of the Bible, and that ancient superst-itious people created them to make sense of their world and fill in the gaps of their ignorance.

      January 29, 2014 at 1:14 am |
  8. JW

    A question for my atheist friends:

    Your driving pass a deserted area, and as you drive you spot something simple as a house standing lonely. What would you think? Was the house projected and built by someone? Or it simply came to be out of nothing, or by evolution?

    January 28, 2014 at 10:09 pm |
    • Saraswati

      The fact that you even ask that question shows how frighteningly unaware you are of how people think. When you see a house you already have a lot of previous information to go on about where houses historically have come from. Your ideas are based on evidence and theories about how houses are built...

      Oh, never mind...what a waste of time.

      January 28, 2014 at 10:14 pm |
      • Truth follower

        It doesn't have to be a house. Let's say your walking through the woods and come upon an orb lying in the brush. The orb is the size of a basketball. Now what if the orb was the size of a house or the size of a planet or universe. You can probably see that size doesn't matter.

        January 28, 2014 at 10:19 pm |
        • breathe deep

          Well as soon as you present an 'orb' let us know.

          January 28, 2014 at 11:02 pm |
      • JW

        What guaranties you that something as complex as the universe or as living creatures come out of nothing or from evolution?

        January 28, 2014 at 10:22 pm |
    • devin

      And we will now get the list of objections to the argument from design.

      January 28, 2014 at 10:15 pm |
    • Observer

      JW,

      The logic is that for something to exist, something must have created it.

      That's why believers are so ILLOGICAL when they claim God came from nothing and created EVERYTHING from nothing.

      January 28, 2014 at 10:23 pm |
      • JW

        God never created everything from nothing... He is the source of "dynamic energy"!

        January 28, 2014 at 10:26 pm |
        • Observer

          JW,

          Yep. God came from NOTHING and then created EVERYTHING from NOTHING or was there things that existed without God making them?

          January 28, 2014 at 10:29 pm |
        • JW

          Observer- where do numbers start? Where do they end?

          January 28, 2014 at 10:41 pm |
        • Observer

          JW,

          Numbers are theoretical, maybe like God.

          Please show me a number.

          January 28, 2014 at 10:45 pm |
        • JW

          Gods life is not governed by time. That way the bible say that he has lived from time indefinite to time indefinite!

          January 28, 2014 at 10:51 pm |
        • Observer

          JW,

          You have ZERO PROOF that the same can't be true for matter.

          January 28, 2014 at 10:55 pm |
        • JW

          Science says they matter is not eternal.

          January 28, 2014 at 11:04 pm |
        • Observer

          JW,

          So you believe them when they say that, but don't believe them when they say the laws of physics are always valid, right?

          January 28, 2014 at 11:07 pm |
        • JW

          I believe in science, I just don't believe much in their predicting the future of telling how the past was if they were their. Hopefully one day the atheist scientists will stop their anti God campaigns and start look at science in a more neutral way!
          I'm not saying that they need to believe I a god, but just to look at it with neutrality.

          January 28, 2014 at 11:14 pm |
        • Observer

          JW,

          Why should scientists believe a book that claims that ALL the laws of science and physics are OPTIONAL?

          January 28, 2014 at 11:18 pm |
        • JW

          I'm not saying they should, just neutrality.

          January 28, 2014 at 11:25 pm |
      • Truth follower

        The Christian view of God is that He exists necessarily not contingently. His existent is not dependent on anyone or anything. It's like asking if there are any married bachelors. It's an incoherent question

        January 28, 2014 at 10:30 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Special pleading. You only have the bible as evidence of your god and the Genesis stories are disproved.

          January 28, 2014 at 10:35 pm |
        • Truth follower

          Don't forget about creation itself.

          January 28, 2014 at 10:41 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Are there necessary beings at all?

          January 28, 2014 at 10:44 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          I wasn't. No evidence of a god. We may not know how the universe came to be but we do know that all religions describe the beginning in ways that have been disproved. If there is a god it is pre-Big Bang and not the personal god described by religions.

          January 28, 2014 at 10:47 pm |
        • Truth follower

          The God I am describing is pre Big Bang. He is the cause of the Big Bang. Modern science today agrees that the universe isn't eternal. It had to have a cause.

          January 28, 2014 at 10:51 pm |
      • Truth follower

        Also, you have the claim wrong. The claim is that everything that begins to exist has a cause. Please see my earlier post concerning the existence of God necessarily.

        January 28, 2014 at 10:32 pm |
        • Observer

          Truth follower,

          "The claim is that everything that begins to exist has a cause."

          No change. Or are you saying that God never began to exist, which most atheists will agree with?

          January 28, 2014 at 10:35 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Special pleading. If a god can just exist why can't the singularity pre-Big Bang?

          January 28, 2014 at 10:37 pm |
        • Truth follower

          I'm saying that God has always existed. He exists necessarily. This is the Christian view of God.

          January 28, 2014 at 10:38 pm |
        • Observer

          Truth follower,

          So matter exists necessarily for Big Bang proponents. No REAL difference. No proof for either side.

          January 28, 2014 at 10:41 pm |
        • Truth follower

          Big difference. Time space and matter came into existence at the Big Bang. Where is your evidence for your statement?

          January 28, 2014 at 10:48 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          follower, I could say that the singularity always existed – it makes at least as much sense as saying that a god always existed; at least know there was a Big Bang – we have no objective evidence of a god.

          January 28, 2014 at 10:49 pm |
        • Observer

          Truth follower

          "Time space and matter came into existence at the Big Bang."

          You have NO PROOF of that. Same for God's existence.

          January 28, 2014 at 10:50 pm |
        • Truth follower

          Observer, is that a serious objection? What do you think the Big Bang is? It's the beginning if time and as we know it

          January 28, 2014 at 10:58 pm |
        • Observer

          Truth follower,

          There could have been an infinite number of possibilities that led up to the Big Bang, which itself is just one of an infinite number of possibilities to explain life.

          January 28, 2014 at 11:03 pm |
        • OTOH

          @Truth follower,
          " It's the beginning if time and as we know it"

          Key phrase being "as we know it". We don't know what we don't know yet. It's presumptuous and illegitimate for you to say that you (god believers) do know.

          January 28, 2014 at 11:08 pm |
        • breathe deep

          "as we know it". Very true. We have no way of knowing if the previous universe had been contracting until that point.

          January 28, 2014 at 11:09 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      asinine

      January 28, 2014 at 10:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      JW, You are able to recognize houses. Perhaps you have taken part in the construction of houses. You know they are created things. But not every apparently complex thing was created by an intelligent agent.

      January 28, 2014 at 10:36 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      You're driving past a deserted area and you notice a cactus by the side of the road. This cactus looks just a little bit different from the catuses you saw on the other side of the mountains that you just crossed. What would you think? Have you ever wondered why they should be different?

      January 28, 2014 at 10:52 pm |
    • redzoa

      The inference of design is dependent on an understanding of mechanism. We infer the house was designed because we can recognize and replicate the mechanisms of human fabrication and construction. When we look at biological organisms, scientists infer evolution because we can recognize and replicate the underlying natural mechanisms. There is simply no evidence or means to analyze alleged supernatural mechanisms. Furthermore, there is no way to reliably distinguish between "actual" design (i.e. by god, aliens, etc) v. "apparent" design (i.e. via evolution) of biological organisms/structures; particularly when we have witnessed purely natural mechanisms yield highly complex and specialized biological functionality (e.g. RNA aptamers, Pod Mrcaru lizards, etc).

      Lastly, the principal distinction between science and ID/creationism is the ability to falsify the proposition. Evolution can be falsified via observation of a fossil in the wrong place (e.g. a rabbit in pre-Cambrian, human alongside dinosaur), a true chimeric organism, or the observation of a specially-created/designed organism/biological structure ex nihilo. ID/creationism, based upon an alleged supernatural mechanism, cannot be falsified because the alleged explanation can account for any and all possible observations (i.e. god just did it that way). An explanation which can explain any and every possible observation effectively explains nothing.

      January 28, 2014 at 11:35 pm |
    • Des

      Everyone, be careful of JW. He is back out here often, on recruiting missions for his deadly cult. This is well documented now. He must get cult brownie points for his doorknocking efforts here. He needs to engage you on his agenda to do that. Instead, keep pressing him on points like this, and watch him squirm:

      So, JW, are you opposed to blood transfusion in the case of an accident victim who has lost a lot of blood and will die without transfused blood? Yes or no answer please; none of your usual dodging will get you by. We are watching for you and your deadly ilk.

      January 28, 2014 at 11:54 pm |
    • Dandintac

      JW, I answered your question, now I want you to take a crack at mine. I have one above, and one below–both with caps in the first sentence so that you can't miss them. Please choose one, although I'd like to hear from you on both if you are willing. If you want, you can post more questions and I'll take a look at those as well.

      Thanks

      January 29, 2014 at 1:16 am |
  9. Mike

    Good job promoting the upcoming Noah movie coming to a theater near you this coming Feb.

    January 28, 2014 at 10:03 pm |
    • JW

      I'm planning to see that movie. Though, it seems that the producer didn't read the Noah's account properly, it seems like one of those movies missing sections of the bible account... But we shall see!

      January 28, 2014 at 10:12 pm |
      • Truth follower

        Believers claim that everything that had a beginning had a cause, not that everything has a cause. God in the Christian worldview exists necessarily, not contingently. His existence isn't dependent on anyone or anything. It's like asking are there any married bachelors. It's a incoherent question.

        January 28, 2014 at 10:27 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Special pleading. One could make the same assertions about the pre-Big Bang singularity.

          January 28, 2014 at 10:55 pm |
  10. Joe Haventon

    So it doesnt bother you that tje same story has been told generations before Jesus lived? Does it bother you that the bible was written at least a generation after Jesus's death? How do most civilizations believe in many gods before these events then all of a sudden religions move to one God? Is it another control thing? I think the sooner we stop believing in myths and start believing in Science we as people will become better. Religion has been the worst for humanity. I think people think we will become a lot worst without religion. I dont think so. I believe we need to educate people better. Thats our problem with religion. Religion trys to keep people dumb.

    January 28, 2014 at 9:51 pm |
    • Colin

      Amen Joe. Very well said.

      January 28, 2014 at 9:55 pm |
    • dac

      Yeah those hundred or so people I see at church every weekend are full of hate and evil I'm sure. Especially the kids.

      January 28, 2014 at 9:57 pm |
      • Colin

        He never said "vile and evil". He said "dumb." Which they tend to be. Nice people, but not the sharpest tools in the shed.

        January 28, 2014 at 10:01 pm |
      • Joe Haventon

        Just go and check out war in the name of Christianity. Even todAY there are Christians killing people in Africa and they are a white group. Look at your history. Religion has killed more then anything.

        January 28, 2014 at 10:03 pm |
      • Petyr

        Now where did the OP say anything about hate and evil? Feeling guilty about something?

        January 28, 2014 at 10:12 pm |
    • mzh

      I am a Muslim and I do not agree with you entirely, I am not against education as education is one of the very important elements for a society / community...

      Peace!!!

      January 28, 2014 at 10:16 pm |
      • Joe Haventon

        Sorry didnt mean to bash Muslims. Just trying to show the Christian radicals that their views are messed up. I believe if we get rid of Muslim radicals the real side of being Muslim will be shown to all.

        January 28, 2014 at 10:27 pm |
        • mzh

          I do not like politics my friend... and I would not like to go further in this regard...

          January 28, 2014 at 10:43 pm |
        • pat

          So it's ok to bash Christians, but not ok to offend a Muslim? You are so politcally correct! And therefore lose credibility.

          January 28, 2014 at 11:17 pm |
        • Dandintac

          Both Islam and Christianity are sick, twisted ideologies/religions. They are both equally bad, but in the west Christianity has been constrained by secular traditions and governments. Our Enlightenment survived–theirs did not. Secularism came out on top for us, and religion came out on top for Muslims. We see the result today. If our Enlightenment had been snuffed out, Christian societies would be just as bad as Islam is. We would still have witch-burnings and inquisitions and so on, and our society would stagnate or backslide. This is how religion behaves when it's in charge.

          Neil deGrasse Tyson does a great job explaining this here:

          [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDAT98eEN5Q&w=640&h=390]

          January 28, 2014 at 11:31 pm |
    • mzh

      In the beginning of Islam, most of the Arabs who accepted Islam were totally illiterate and Muhammad (pbuh) actually released POW's who were educated and were told to educate those uneducated Muslim at that who were not educated... it shows that the education is very important for a nation, community and a family...

      He (pbuh) even said that education is an obligation to every single male and female Muslims...

      January 28, 2014 at 10:23 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        it's a shame that the education you mention all too often ends up with them strapping a bomb to their chests

        January 28, 2014 at 10:27 pm |
        • mzh

          I do not like politics my friend... and I would not like to go further in this regard...

          January 28, 2014 at 10:43 pm |
    • devin

      Well let's just have a little fun with this and take it one abstract thought at a time:

      1. " Does it bother you that the same story was told generations before Jesus lived?" Why on God's green earth would it when it HAPPENED generations before Jesus lived

      2".Does it bother you that the bible was written a generation after Jesus's death?" Well, in that the majority of it WASN'T written a generation after Jesus's death this has no relevance.

      3.How do most civilizations believe in many Gods before these events and then all of a sudden religions move to one God?" Huh? Polytheism was rampant throughout early Mesopotamia and was rampant in the time of Christ. Remember that little idol the Apostle Paul commented about while in Athens. They had an idol to the "unknown God" just in case they missed one.

      4. " Religion has been the worst for humanity"' Feel free to tell that to the countless numbers of orphans who have been given homes, sick taken care of, hungry fed, hospitals built all in the name of Jesus Christ.

      January 28, 2014 at 10:35 pm |
  11. TLORop

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

    I think that about sums it up.

    January 28, 2014 at 9:48 pm |
  12. Woody

    What happened after the flood waters receded? The Ark supposedly settled on solid ground. Anyone who's seen the aftermath of a flood knows that everything is covered with mud. The vegetation would have died off from lack of photosynthesis after being under water for so long. The herbivores, newly released from the Ark, would have nothing to eat. The carnivores would have easy pickings on the starving grass eaters to the point of quickly eliminating all of them. Once there was no more food for the carnivores, they would also starve, being there were no other animals on the entire planet for them to feed on. Noah's gang would probably quickly die off from starvation, once the food supply carried on the Ark was consumed and every animal that would normally be a food source was now eliminated. So if the biblical story of the flood were true, there would have been no one around to write the biblical story.

    January 28, 2014 at 9:40 pm |
    • dac

      Well if one is believe any of the story, the entire world was meant to be the world of these particular people of the region.

      January 28, 2014 at 9:59 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      And if the waters covered the earth, where did the water go when it receded?

      January 28, 2014 at 10:53 pm |
  13. Nameme

    Atheists are idiots.

    January 28, 2014 at 9:30 pm |
    • Moron troll here ^^^

      And you're a dick. Stalemate.

      January 28, 2014 at 9:34 pm |
    • Humanity

      Nameme is an idiot.

      January 28, 2014 at 9:40 pm |
    • lu

      Athiest people get me mad too. but you have to be careful when you're calling them idiots because that stuff that they could use against us. now they're going to say what Christian would call and anybody an idiot. and then I'll start picking through Christianity to say that it's not real.

      January 28, 2014 at 9:45 pm |
      • Petyr

        Why would "atheist people" get you angry? Why do you let anyone anger you?

        January 28, 2014 at 9:50 pm |
      • sam stone

        why do atheists get you mad?

        is it because you feel your views are not as valid unless everyone agrees with you?

        January 28, 2014 at 9:56 pm |
      • Joe Haventon

        The problem is Science to religious people is looked at crazy. If I came up with a fairy tail about a troll living in the woods you would call me crazy. But a story about a guy parting a sea or a guy dying and being resurrected from being hammered to a cross is believable. You tell me where is your proof that god did all the things he did only not so long ago in our civilization when we maybe millions years old. Why did he wait so long? Tell me another thing, why do you think Jesus was white? Fact is you are worshipping more of a tan/black man which most people depict as white. Not sayibg the color thing is wrong, I am telling you the whole bible is shaped to control people and the evidence is so true and right in front of all of you.

        January 28, 2014 at 10:00 pm |
    • Joe Haventon

      Well you pretty much proved my point nameme, religion keeps people dumb. People strap bombs to themselves and blow themselves up. Dobt tell me thats just Muslims because Christianity has done much worst and still do worst. How about your holy preists sweeping the child molestingvthing under the rug? When are those preists going to be charged? They wont because the Vatican is its own stste so they can do whatever they want. How convenient.

      January 28, 2014 at 10:11 pm |
      • Testament

        And Stalin the well known atheist was a better man. huh!

        January 28, 2014 at 10:27 pm |
        • Joe Haventon

          So I guess Hitler is your number one? Or how about the crusades? How about the Holy Roman Empire (when christianity) became the religion) How about White christianity missionaries murdering Africians because they dont believe?

          January 28, 2014 at 10:34 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Stalin did not kill for religious beliefs although I understand that priests became outcasts and some died as a result of that policy; most were killed for power and many died of starvation because of rigid adherence to failed agricultural policy.

          January 28, 2014 at 11:01 pm |
      • pat

        You can't blame Christians for bad things they did unless you also give them credit for all the good things they've done as well. Eg...orphanages, hospitals, schools and universities, helping the poor and sick. And most abolitionists were Christian. Im not saying that the bad things didn't happen, but very good things did too. Just as in every group of people, athiests included, their are good and bad contributions. Heck, Christians were the first scientists!

        January 28, 2014 at 11:26 pm |
        • Dandintac

          pat,

          This seems like a reasonable argument on the face of it, but I don't think it quite works. I'll do my best to do it justice.

          I think the test on whether something good or bad can be laid at the feet of a religion or other ideology or philosophy depends on whether these good and bad things are directly caused by the ideology.

          For example, yes, religions have sponsored schools, hospitals and libraries. But these things do not depend on religion. They can and have been done through secular channels many times. However, would the suicide bombings be going on in the Middle East were it not for Islam? I don't think so. Would the 9/11/2001 Terrorist Attacks possibly have occurred without Islam? I doubt it.

          With regards to Christianity–would the witch-burnings have happened without Christianity? Or the Inquisition? Or the shooting of abortion doctors? I seriously doubt it. On the other hand, does it seem likely that people would find other channels to build schools and hospitals? Yes–we know this because we DO build schools and hospitals through secular channels.

          So, basically, ideologies should only be credited or blamed when there is a logical, demonstrable, causal link to the outcome under discussion.

          Thanks

          January 29, 2014 at 1:34 am |
    • Dandintac

      My what a slick argument you make there! That's sure to persuade everyone of the correctness of your position!

      January 29, 2014 at 1:20 am |
  14. Nameme

    Believe in God and cut the bulls***.

    January 28, 2014 at 9:26 pm |
    • Petyr

      Convincing. Thanks.

      January 28, 2014 at 9:31 pm |
    • Nameme

      Believe in bullshit and go to church.

      January 28, 2014 at 9:41 pm |
      • Petyr

        Compelling.

        January 28, 2014 at 9:46 pm |
    • sam stone

      which one?

      on a larger level, how is belief a choice?

      if you try really, really hard, can you believe in something you find unbelievable?

      if you can't, why do you believe others can?

      January 28, 2014 at 10:00 pm |
  15. Marsha

    The desperation of these people trying to confirm a myth like Noah's Ark is never ending. Will these people ever learn that it it all a fairy tale told to rationalize the world that these early men could not and did not understand.

    January 28, 2014 at 9:21 pm |
    • AGS

      I really hate it when people try to tell me that my beliefs are a "myth" or a "fairytale" – I don't tell you that your beliefs aren't real. (You being the general people like those in this article that try to tell me the reader that this, something that is part of my canonized religious text, a fairytale). I might not agree with or believe in what YOU believe in, but I don't try to insult you by saying what you believe is a blatant hoax. If I did, you would call me a bigot. But when people talk that way about Christianity, they're not bigots. Funny how one-sided that is.

      January 28, 2014 at 9:50 pm |
      • Observer

        AGS,

        It's not one-sided when Christian HYPOCRITES use the Bible as an EXCUSE to pick on gays or pro-choice supporters.

        January 28, 2014 at 10:09 pm |
      • Alonso

        Do you believe the Noachian flood story, which incorporates earlier Sumerian/Babylonian flood mythology is not a myth? Do you believe it is an accurate record of actual events? Do you really believe all the animals in the world, including kangaroos, moose, sloths, etc. traveled to Noah's place to board the ark and then disembarked after the flood and went back to where they once lived?

        You imply you are offended when the story is called a myth? Do you think it is offensive when Christians refer to Norse stories of Odin, Thor etc. as myths? Are Christians bigots when they refer to Greek stories, from which much of the New Testament miracle stories of Jesus are copied, of Asclepius raising the dead, Dionysius turning water into wine, etc. as myths?

        Many Christians seem to be able to recognize those other stories as myths, but they can't bring themselves to acknowledge the stories in the Old Testament, which borrow from Sumerian, Babylonian, and other religions of the time and place in which the early Jews lived are equally mythological. Nor can they recognize that Jesus is just one of many dying and rising gods whose stories borrow from Greek myths that existed before the creation of Christianity. Some, recognizing that the creation and flood stories of Genesis clearly can not be actual events try to label them as "metaphors", but then the whole structure of Christianity should collapse, since the New Testament stories of Jesus having to come to Earth to ameliorate an ancient curse put on all mankind down through untold generations because the first couple ate of the one forbidden thing is predicated on the "fall" being an actual historical event.

        January 29, 2014 at 5:55 pm |
  16. Angela

    A great big coracle.

    January 28, 2014 at 9:17 pm |
    • Petyr

      A GIGANTIC coracle.

      January 28, 2014 at 9:29 pm |
  17. Iohn

    The flood story tells the truth. The truth that you need to rely on God and not on man. Now is the story fictional based on a true event? Probably, there have been gigantic floods in areas from the Black Sea to the Persian gulf in the last 5,000 years. But the point of the story while having a imprint of events past tells all generations of the trust we must have in God.

    The Bible is a complex piece of literature and while some areas need to be taken more literally(the Gospels and Epistles) than others(Genesis-Revelations) the whole thing is truth. My opinion anyways.

    January 28, 2014 at 9:13 pm |
    • Colin

      Complex my ar.se. It is actually very simplistic and easily understood in the context of prevailing Greo-Roman Jewish mythology.

      January 28, 2014 at 9:23 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Where is the guide to which parts are to taken more literally? How convenient that you add a little wiggle room where you need it.

      January 28, 2014 at 9:45 pm |
  18. CHAPLAIN

    This news is out of date. We've passed the mythical and theorizing stage on the Ark.

    The true Ark has since been found 20yrs ago. See video.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7iycpe16V0&w=640&h=390]

    January 28, 2014 at 9:12 pm |
    • Colin

      And there's a face on Mars, alien bodies in Area 51 and the Bushes were behind 9-11.....

      January 28, 2014 at 9:15 pm |
      • Petyr

        And do not forget that the moon landing was faked.

        January 28, 2014 at 9:17 pm |
    • Petyr

      The video is unavailable. Hmmm.

      January 28, 2014 at 9:20 pm |
  19. Colin

    Oh my creationist friends, proof of evolution is all around you. Now, before you declare me “stupid,” “evil” or part of a worldwide conspiracy to deny the truth of your “six days and a talking snake” theory of the origins of life on Earth, please take five minutes to read this.

    The classic definition of a species is that two members of the same species can breed and produce fertile offspring, but cannot mate with members of a different species. A human of any race can mate with a human of any other race, but none of us can mate with a chimpanzee, for example. So, all humans are in the same species, but we are all a different species to chimpanzees. Easy stuff.

    Indeed, it is often easy to tell that two organisms are of different species just by looking at them. Compare, for example, a dog to a horse. Where it gets a little complex, however, is where you have two organisms that look very similar, but are of different species, or two different species that look very similar. Dogs are a great example of both. Compare a lighter-coated German Shepherd to the wolf. They look very similar, but are of a different species (or sub-species, depending on the definition one uses). Likewise, a Great Dane looks very different to a Corgi, but they are of the same species Canis lupus familiaris, the domestic dog.

    Why are Great Danes and Corgis considered to be the same species (along with German Shepherds) but wolves and German Shepherds not? For the same reason as humans. Great Danes, German Shepherds and Corgis can and will mate and produce fertile offspring, but none of them will mate with a wolf, absent human intervention. However, and this is where evolution kicks in, all breeds of dog alive today descended from wolves. In fact, it is likely that they all descended, ultimately, from a small pack of wolves that were domesticated in the Middle East some 10,000 years ago. Some research suggests Manchuria as the location, but I digress.

    What happened was that humans noticed that certain, less aggressive wolves were handy to have around. They ate pests and garbage and alerted the camp when predators lurked nearby. So, humans began to intentionally feed and try to tame them. The tamer, less aggressive wolves were less afraid of human interaction and less likely to harm their human hosts. They, therefore, received more attention, food and protection, which gave them a breeding advantage, and they passed on this favorable trait, call it “tameness,” to their offspring.

    These tamer offspring were constantly chosen (probably unknowingly) for care and support and the wilder, more aggressive members of the litter discarded, perhaps for biting or avoiding humans. After hundreds or thousands of years of inadvertent selection for “tameness” the camp wolves started to become dependent on their human hosts and to even look different to their still wild ancestors. They lost the extreme aggressiveness that helped them in the wild, became less streamlined and tooled for the kill and contained less adrenaline, a principal hormone that causes aggression. In other words, they slowly became, in a sense, fat, dumb and happy. Doggie dough-boys. Girlie-men compared to their wild cousins, still red of fang and claw.

    These first domestic dogs were so popular with humans that their “use” spread and humans all over the globe – Australian Aboriginals, New Zealand Maoris and other Polynesians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans – all began to use dogs. Then something astounding happened. Humans actually noticed that, if there was a specific trait you liked about your, say male dog, you could breed it with a female with the same trait and the offspring would inherit that trait. If, for example, a hunter-gatherer only ever allowed the fastest male dogs to breed with the fastest female dogs, the litter they produced would be slightly faster than if either parent had randomly mated with a partner dog. The humans could repeat this process, generation after generation, allowing only the fastest members of the litters to breed. After many years of such selective breeding, the resultant dogs would differ so much in body shape, leg length and, perhaps, lung capacity to their ancestor as to be considered a separate breed.

    No one set of offspring would differ greatly from its parents, but it will differ a little more from its grandparents, and even a little more from its great-grandparents etc., until we go all the way back to the original dog, which will be quite different in appearance.

    Bang – dog breeding was born. Humans selected for speed, resulting in the Greyhound, smelling and tracking ability (Bloodhounds) ability to herd sheep (Collies and Australian Shepherds) appearance (Dalmatians and Pomeranians) size (Chihuahuas and Great Danes) and a host of other traits.

    As with most human activities, as our knowledge of evolution and genetics increased, dog breeding improved and exploded in the 1900s. There are now 600 or so breeds of dog, all of which descendent from the original wolf. Many breeds of dog alive today evolved over the past few decades and did not even exist as late as 1900. But, every last domestic dog, from the Teacup Chihuahua in Paris Hilton’s purse to the Great Danes of European car advertisements, are the end result of selective breeding down different paths from the original wolf.

    Most breeds of dog do not (and likely cannot) breed with wolves for a variety of reasons, including allopatric and/or human induced separation and mating rituals. Not only that, but put almost any domestic dog in the wild and it would not survive a month. A wolf is much more likely to eat a Shih Tzu than bonk it. They are separate species. In the struggle for life, the domestic dog species originated through means of selection as a favored race from the original wolf.

    If this last sentence sounds slightly familiar to you, that is because it is. It is essentially the full ti.tle of Charles Darwin’s seminal work: “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”. Now, in the example I gave you, humans were acting as the selective agent, selecting which dogs would breed and which wouldn’t. Now take humans out of the equation and parachute in a purely natural factor, such as a predator. Imagine if, instead of dogs, we are dealing with zebras on an African savannah. In this case, in lieu of humans, the predators – hyenas, lions and wild dogs – will be the agent (blindly, unintentionally) doing the selective breeding. They will tend to kill and eat the weaker, slower zebras, allowing the faster, or better camouflaged individuals to preferentially survive, breed and pass on their advantageous traits to their children.

    So there you have it, my Bible-cuddling friends. Evolution in motion. Undeniable; living in every suburb, licking our faces, fetching our sticks and messing on our sidewalks. Macro-evolution. A well recorded, understood, DNA mapped and uncontroversial case of the evolution of one species – Canis lupus lupus, the Eurasian wolf, into another, Canis lupus familiaris, the domestic dog.

    There are many, many others examples of evolution all around us by the way. Even the most cursory of research into any branch of horticulture or animal husbandry quickly reveals that the size, variety, health, longevity and resistance to disease of most of our domesticated plants and animals were the thing of dreams as recently as 100 years ago. Indeed, biotech companies like Monsanto would quickly fall behind the market if they did not spend millions each year on Darwinian selective breeding programs. Why do you think horse breeders spend thousands of dollars to have a fast male racehorse mate with their mare?

    Wheat is another great example, as are gra.pes. The species of wheat that we in the West use for bread only developed in the last few thousand years as a result of two instances of sympatric speciation (different to selective breeding, but an agent of evolution none the less). Likewise, the various Shiraz, Char.donnay and Pinot Noir gra.pes we enjoy today, in the form of wine, were all developed and perfected in the last 100 years or so.

    So, Adam or Eve, the next time you kneel down in your church and take your weekly dose of the body and blood of your dead Greco-Roman Jewish hippie, you might like to reflect on the fact that you are actually eating proof of evolution and washing it down with proof of evolution.

    “Body of Darwin?”

    Amen!

    January 28, 2014 at 9:07 pm |
    • lu

      science is constantly making theories and retracting them. the Bible has been the same and never retracted anything. remember this science is a THEORY. there was no evolution. in evolution there's a form of life that keeps changing. if evolution was true then it doesn't make sense how the form of life even started in the first place to evolve.

      January 28, 2014 at 9:54 pm |
      • sam stone

        "science is constantly making theories and retracting them. the Bible has been the same and never retracted anything"

        you consider this a positive thing?

        January 28, 2014 at 10:03 pm |
        • Joe Haventon

          The problem with the bible is it hasnt been the same. They keep updating it. The bible is based on the same stories 1000's of years before the bible was written. So that write there is proof that the bible is invalid. Go look up ancient Sumerian culture.

          January 28, 2014 at 10:20 pm |
      • Des

        Bible hasn't been the same. Go google a man named "King James"

        January 28, 2014 at 10:13 pm |
    • Joe Haventon

      I dont believe in yhe bible or evolution, but I believe we as humans had advanced civilizations that could be millions of years old. Think about it. Do you really think everything survives from that long ago? Just cause we dont find an object doesnt mean we didnt have advanced civilizations. We could be in an endless cycle in that we destroy ourselves over and over again.

      January 28, 2014 at 10:18 pm |
  20. AB

    I feel like this is going to cause another episode of ancient aliens. A round boat sounds an awful lot like a UFO!

    January 28, 2014 at 8:50 pm |
    • Petyr

      Oh NOES!!!

      January 28, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
    • History

      That show is on my favorite channel.

      January 28, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
      • Petyr

        I like History and H2, as well.

        January 28, 2014 at 9:01 pm |
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About this blog

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.