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. Reality #2

    : (only for the new visitors to this blog)

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham (or Noah) i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e. the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni (or magic underwear) i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinker bells? etc.) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    February 3, 2014 at 8:01 am |
  2. Science Works

    Creating life ? without you know ?


    February 3, 2014 at 6:55 am |
  3. Observer

    Truth follower,

    I hope you don't mind me bringing this forward as a new thread since the old one is very long and it gets hard to find where to reply.

    "Rather, what was possible in that culture, was that he could sell himself into indentured servant hood and work for seven years to pay off his debts, and this enabled him to keep his family together, to preserve his dignity, to work off his debts, and get himself out of poverty and back on his feet. So, this was not slavery in the sense that we associate with the term. This was really an anti-poverty program that worked, I think, quite well in a system prior to the big government era."

    Let's deal with some of the half-truths here. Only Hebrews got a 7-year deal. For all others it was for LIFE. Guess he "forgot" that. The EXCUSES are sweetly worded. It only mentions men selling themselves and NEVER talks about men SELLING their daughters. Not ONE WORD in the Bible about whether the daughters WANTED to be sold.

    Another glaring likely INTENTIONAL omission was God's words saying that you can BEAT your SLAVE with a ROD without punishment in some cases. Sure looks like the Old South to most thinking people.

    So do you SUPPORT SLAVERY like the Bible says or do you have "BETTER MORALS" that find it repulsive?

    February 3, 2014 at 12:24 am |
  4. Observer

    Why are any believers trying to prove that the flood story is factual?

    It would seem far more sensible for them if believers would try their best to prove it's all fiction and write it off like an Aesop's fable.

    February 2, 2014 at 11:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Not all believers have done. The early church father thought some of it was allegory. Many now believe that all scripture is "God-breathed" and that God expects all of it to be taken as literal truth. That is their starting point. They must believe. They may fail at justifying belief, but they believe as they feel they must in order to please God.

      February 2, 2014 at 11:28 pm |
      • Dandintac

        Tom, it would indeed be more sensible for Christians to take the "you don't take it literally" approach. At least this way, they can cherry-pick their Bible and dismiss that which is ludicrous or immoral, or known to be false, as "metaphor" and so on. There are at least problems I can think of to this approach.

        1) There is no authority or guide in the Bible wherein lie instructions for how each chapter and book should be interpreted. Some churches, most notably the RCC, set themselves up in this role, though it's unclear to me why we should accept them in this role.

        2) If someone tries to use the Bible in a way they want, it makes it easier for someone in opposition to declare that it's just "poetry" or "symbolism", undercutting any authority in the Bible.

        3) Once you go down the road where this book is "proverbs", this one is "saga", this passage here is just a "metaphor", this book is "allegory", and so on, eventually at the end you are left holding a work of fiction as a whole, perhaps with a few tiny, but questionable historical references, and the entire thing open to doubt as any sort of reference to reality.

        So I think fundies are trying to draw a line in the sand–and hold fast to the claim of total nonfiction, total reality and authority. The problem there is that they become more and more divorced from reality, and have to make up all sorts of tales in response to the reasonable questions asked–adding more and more baseless assertions to prop the whole edifice up.

        So it's a lose-lose situation.

        February 2, 2014 at 11:41 pm |
        • doobzz

          @Cherilyn B

          When I was a fundie, I taught in a K-12 fundie school. The students in grades 9-12 were expressly told that they should not read Song of Solomon, which they had all read and giggled over in about grades 2-3.

          7 How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
          O noble daughter!
          Your rounded thighs are like jewels,
          the work of a master hand.
          2 Your navel is a rounded bowl
          that never lacks mixed wine.
          Your belly is a heap of wheat,
          encircled with lilies.
          3 Your two breasts are like two fawns,
          twins of a gazelle.
          4 Your neck is like an ivory tower.
          Your eyes are pools in Heshbon,
          by the gate of Bath-rabbim.
          Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon,
          which looks toward Damascus.
          5 Your head crowns you like Carmel,
          and your flowing locks are like purple;
          a king is held captive in the tresses.
          6 How beautiful and pleasant you are,
          O loved one, with all your delights!
          7 Your stature is like a palm tree,
          and your breasts are like its clusters.
          8 I say I will climb the palm tree
          and lay hold of its fruit.
          Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine,
          and the scent of your breath like apples,
          9 and your mouth like the best wine.

          Yeah, that sounds like Christ's love for his bride the church and the church's love back. LOL.

          February 3, 2014 at 12:39 am |
        • Observer


          For some reason, Ron seems to miss those verses when he starts spouting out unrelated Bible quotes.

          February 3, 2014 at 12:54 am |
        • Cherilyn B

          Hi, Doobzz – Thank you! That brought back fond memories!

          "What about this part, Father B?" And then I would read it. "What does that mean? What's a gazelle got to do with breasts?"

          At age 8, I was very sincere.

          February 3, 2014 at 1:37 am |
        • Observer

          Cherilyn B,

          No, I wasn't ready for that. 🙂

          This is a belief blog and certainly he can comment along with anyone. My problem with him is that he just throws in irrelevant verses as if this was a church service. I often respond by quoting irrelevant verses concerning cannibalism, which strangely is a theme in the Bible. Maybe I'll add some Song of Solomon to try to get him back to the reality of what the Bible ALSO says.

          February 3, 2014 at 1:42 am |
        • Observer

          Cherilyn B,

          I sure hope it's not your brother. 🙂

          February 3, 2014 at 2:23 am |
        • Cherilyn B

          Observer – LOL! NO. NO. NO. LOL! LOL! LOL!

          But, of course, if we take the bible as literal truth then incest was (is) permissable. Afterall, if it was fine for Adam & Eve's children as well as Lot & his two daughters, well, then who are we to disobey GOD.

          February 3, 2014 at 4:02 am |
        • JustAPondering

          It is 3 min to midnight ... so tell me this Senor Dandintac ... in your thought process? ... do you have an opinion/preferred/gut belief? ... are you still just a pondering? ... is there a cosmos creator GOD? ... or just the 'Big Bang"? ... this is a serious question ... as the Philosopher says ... a question to which there is no confirmed (?) answer ... What are your thoughts ... I am looking forward to reading your perceptions. In the number 1 (one) is there anything more that one without adding to it? Cordially yours.

          February 4, 2014 at 2:08 am |
      • Cherilyn B

        Hi, Observer & Tom – What do think changed the Christian belief on Genesis from allegory to literal truth? Is it a product dating back to the Reformation or a modern evangelical stance? I would expect the latter but I have a gap in knowledge from 1650 til late 18th century. Don't the Catholics still see it as allegorical?

        February 2, 2014 at 11:42 pm |
        • Observer

          Hi Cherilyn,

          I could only guess that the mood of the people or pope changed. Without a clear cut answer for selling the flood story, it's possible it just keeps changing and may do so again..

          February 3, 2014 at 12:00 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Certainly Luther rejected the church father Augustine's interpretation of the creation story as allegory:

          With respect therefore to this opinion of Augustine, we conclude that Moses spoke literally and plainly and neither alleprically nor figuratively; that is he means that tlie world with all creatures was created in six days as he himself expresses it. If we cannot attain unto a coinpreliension of the reason why it was so, let us still remain scholars and leave all the preceptorship to the Holy Spirit!

          So, the Reformation certainly carried literalism along with it.

          February 3, 2014 at 12:01 am |
        • Cherilyn B

          Observer – The only thing you can count on with the Church; a change of mind when it suits it's purpose.

          Tom – Thanks! I need to read Luther and Calvin. I somehow lost interest after Henry VIII formed the Angelican Church (for selfish purposes). His son actual made an effort at sincere reform but then died young. The time of Queen "Bloody" Mary is fascinating down through Elizabeth's reign and then you have the very G A Y King James I who commissioned the KJV Bible. He was a very interesting man.

          After all that, religion as a study in history (which is my only interest in it) became very dull indeed. Those Puritans etc make my skin crawl much like these modern fundamentalists.

          February 3, 2014 at 12:24 am |
        • No Evidence

          "Observer – The only thing you can count on with the Church; a change of mind when it suits it's purpose"

          Amen to that!!!

          February 3, 2014 at 10:27 am |
      • Observer

        The best solution might be if Christians wrote a "CORRECT" Bible with all the "mistranslations" fixed, errors corrected, and all verses color-coded in one of 3 colors: one color for "fable fiction"; another for "no longer valid" and a third for "these are the final truths after Jesus changed so much".

        February 2, 2014 at 11:55 pm |
        • Cherilyn B

          Hi, Observer – The Jewish religion has done just that! Which means a NEW Old Testament so to speak since the Torah and the Old Testament are one and the same (for anyone who doesn't realize that fact). The changes that they made are a reflection of years of archeological discoveries.  I will find the article on that and get back to you.

          February 3, 2014 at 12:37 am |
        • Observer

          Cherilyn B,

          Thanks, but I think that BOTH testaments must be included so ALL the differences can be reconciled. A Jewish version won't do much for Christians.

          February 3, 2014 at 12:49 am |
        • Dandintac

          But Observer, this would be a huge admission that the Bible is less than the perfect Word of a perfect God. And who is going to standard forth and claim they are the one who is being inspired by God and claim to be the new prophet? A hukster like Pat Robertson? A politician like Mike Huckabee? An apologist like William Lane Craig? I doubt the latter–I don't like his arguments, but I don't see him doing something like that.

          At least the Bible's original authors were largely anonymous, so that they don't have to expose themselves to scrutiny, public cross-examination and ridicule, and any new "text" would be lacking the glorious patina of age. Still, I guess it's possible could be done. The Book of Mormon is not all that old, and look at L. Ron Hubbard, who was able to create his own religion. Still, it would be a risky enterprise, but it would also surely be lucrative.

          February 3, 2014 at 1:27 am |
        • JustAPondering

          Directed to Observer, toguide, and Cherilyn B; great ideas ... with new word processing and dragon speak; a really good bible student or two could knock this out in ... ?a short time? I am waiting to 'a ponder it'. Should be thought provoking for us old senile, but 'still kickin' (google Texas country and western band).

          February 4, 2014 at 1:25 am |
        • Cherilyn B

          Hey, Just a Pondering – You don't sound senile to me! Juggling thoughts help keep the mind sharp.

          Just to be clear: I have a simple "live and let live" philosophy. To each his own beliefs true to his conscious so I bristle at those who want to impose their beliefs on others from religion to politics to lifestyle.

          The U.S. of A was founded on liberty. To maintain religious freedom for all, we have to keep religion in the heart & church where it belongs and out of the statehouse. What are your thoughts on the role religion should play in the public square?

          I do take issue with those who want to teach their kids "bible science". I've read the Bible through and can tell you that there is little science to be found between those covers. So, yes, I would like to see the Bible updated but I don't think it will happen.

          I will come back to hear your thoughts. I have a fine education and a sharp brain but wisdom is 30 – 40 years down the road so I keep an ear open to those who have been around the block.

          Take Care!

          February 4, 2014 at 2:44 am |
  5. toquide

    every time I read the entries or posts of the bloggers,I keep wondering how in this modern world an antiquated perception of reality is being revealed in the net.It seems that those ideas does not match the high technology of its medium.I cant help suspectin if are those people approaching senility.

    February 2, 2014 at 11:10 pm |
  6. cough

    I keep picturing Noah's ark with a skull and crossbones flag and a giraffe walking the plank. I don't know why.

    February 2, 2014 at 8:26 pm |
  7. neved

    the blogs of the believers of the reality of the Ark and the unbelievers are the obsolecent part of the discussion.wether it is true or not it is Gods Will because it affected human lives and history,it could just be a myth,but since it was concieved by humans and influenced faith for thousands of years and in fact inspired human progress through christianity.In an optimist perspective,it help modern humans to assess the anachronism of the present outgoing faith and ultimately replace it with Panthrotheism

    February 2, 2014 at 7:43 pm |
    • tony

      Panthrotheism. Breathing out rapidly during prayers.

      February 2, 2014 at 8:04 pm |
      • cough

        Tantric yoga anyone?

        February 2, 2014 at 8:22 pm |
    • No Evidence

      "Panthrotheism" = no such word......

      schlockism, see?, I can make up words too!

      February 3, 2014 at 10:37 am |
      • Math and language

        Every word that is, someone made up once.

        February 6, 2014 at 7:05 am |
        • JustAPondering

          Hello Math and Language, I do smile at your humor. Having spent child hood years (1945) on the farm a chopin and a pickin cotton; and later I went to the city and worked in the modern day plantation fields of retaiI/wholesale (1950's-1980's, I love the humor in your post this am.

          Google world, the new knowledge God, recognizes the creation of 'isms' often attached to non-words.
          "www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/letters.../Content?...‎Chicago Reader.Oct 8, 2009 – His lone dissenting perspective stood in sharp contrast to the "rah-rah" schlockism of other local media's bid coverage. Those of us possessed ...".

          Having said I choose to believe in a creator God, I like the thought, am I now blasphemous? Answer me that?

          Now, for a few days, back to finding legitimate ways to pay taxes. Render unto Cesar. A lot of debate as to what that meant in the context of Jesus lifetime. However, most governments since have used the words as a hammer to keep collecting taxes. An attempt at humor, "Who say that God is not omnipotent ...almighty, supreme, all-powerful?"

          May you all vaya con dios. Allegedly also said by Arnold after the Super Bowl. I am obviously not a talented comic, but I get up everyday and go to work.

          February 6, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
  8. uc?

    whoever it was who concocted the silly flood story, that crackpot fool, went off the deep end

    February 2, 2014 at 7:16 pm |
    • cough

      Diving board joke?

      February 2, 2014 at 8:25 pm |
  9. JustAPondering

    Observer, you are a keen observer. Wish I had found the time and motivation to read the "Iliad" in my 20's. At 76 I am enjoying the read recently started. Human nature ... some writer's have hope that human nature is evolving to a higher plane a true love one another philosophy ... it appears, from where I am standing today, it sure is taking a long time ... more so than the evolution of the current humanoid species. Good luck to you and the future generations. At my age I am looking forward (but, no hurry) to discovering what is after death as we know it.

    February 2, 2014 at 5:59 pm |
    • Observer


      I can't help but believe that the process of human nature evolving to a higher plane for loving one another is taking a quantum leap forward because of the creation of the Internet. Atrocities get immediate coverage and often international condemnation. The days of hiding massive atrocities from the public are greatly diminishing. They certainly won't end, but the exposure can limit the possibilities.

      February 2, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
    • tony

      Oh Dear

      February 2, 2014 at 9:40 pm |
  10. bostontola

    The upcoming movie "Noah" is best categorized as:

    1. A true story.
    2. Based on a true story.
    3. Inspired by actual events.
    4. Fantasy/fiction.

    February 2, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
    • Observer

      5. Likely very bad fiction.

      February 2, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
      • bostontola

        I don't know, Aronofsky is a pretty good director and the bible account is very short so much of it will be original script.

        February 2, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
        • Observer

          Good point.

          February 2, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
        • bostontola

          Strangely enough, I am looking forward to the movie. I find the bible full of interesting allegories. They have very perceptive ideas about human and social behavior. Like Aesop's Fables, there are important lesson's to be learned. The bible is most fascinating to me in that it shows how little humans have changed as people over thousands of years. It is a gift that a written doc.ument has survived so intact after all those years.

          February 2, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
        • Observer

          There are so many HUGE holes in the story that it will be interesting to see how he handles the fiction. Will animals just appear abra cadabra or be teleported in. Where did the water come from and go to. Will all the animals come out with smiling faces like in the kid's coloring books and find total destruction and dead bodies everywhere.

          February 2, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
        • Observer


          "The bible is most fascinating to me in that it shows how little humans have changed as people over thousands of years"

          In some ways I agree, but in others I don't. It's fascinating to see how a book of morals contains so much that is clearly IMMORAL by today's (hopefully) more enlightened standards.

          "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey" are also interesting looks in the minds of men from thousands of years ago.

          February 2, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
        • bostontola

          The bible is full of outdated morals, immoral by today's standard, I agree. I was referring to how people behave, the self centeredness, etc. I also agree that there are other ancient texts, but they are few and we are lucky to have the ones that survived.

          February 2, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
        • bostontola

          Yeah, I love a good guilty pleasure too.

          February 2, 2014 at 4:15 pm |
  11. Dave

    Although an interesting find, here is my problem with so called 'Biblical Archaeology'... it isn't science.

    Hear me out... the issue is that findings are approached fundamentally backwards. In science you gather data and form theories. Here, people 'know' what happened because of their beliefs and then go out to find data that supports what they already 'know' to have occurred.

    It's fundamentally backwards, and it makes it impossible to look at data with an open mind, you always have to try to make it conform to your beliefs.

    It's a non-christian, Mesopotamian account of a flood and a description of a boat... rather than looking at the data and forming a hypothesis... it's backwards. They KNOW it's 'Noah's Ark' and present it as evidence for what they already believe.

    It's an interesting find, but calling it 'Noah's Ark' is just silly. It does show that the flood legend was all over the region and independant of any one religion. I don't know if this account goes into Ziusudra and Gilgamesh and all that, but it certainly isn't talking about any Judeo-Christian god. So scientifically, all we have is a cool find confirming the widespread flood myth and a different boat design than usually depicted in biblical sources. That's it. Nothing about Noah or the Judeo-Christian version of events. But because the researchers already 'know' the 'truth', they have already decided that this all about Noah's Ark. The theory I like best is that the flood myth, whether Greek, Sumerian, Jewish etc. is really just oral history of an amazing event; the filling of the Black Sea, if you saw that happen, you'd be talking about it for a few thousand years too 😉

    Also, it's not surprising that the Sumerian version looks like a river boat of the era... in the Sumerian flood myth, it was a river flood.

    February 2, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
    • david

      in response, what you say makes sense and in terms of coming from a scientific viewpoint could be correct. But here is my real question the ancient cuniform stated that there was a "lone survivor" was there only one survivor of the sumerian flood?

      February 7, 2014 at 9:20 am |
  12. tony

    Round boats are at their best in whirlpools.

    February 2, 2014 at 11:18 am |
    • Akira

      And fun!

      February 2, 2014 at 11:57 am |
      • Salero21

        I'm sure anything round is fun for you Akira huh! Was is hard at Vivid Studios today?

        February 2, 2014 at 12:03 pm |
        • Akira


          February 2, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Some trolls are funny. Some are witty and some ironic. Not Salero. Salero is just boring.

          February 2, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
        • Akira

          And, apparently, a name thief. Shocking.

          February 2, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
      • Salero21

        hum!! Of all people, atheist Akira accuses me of being a name "thief"!! 😀 What did you know? This moniker is being in use and registered by yours truly, for more than 10 years here in CNN and in many other sites. So who's a thief here really? CNN knows that!! 😀 😀 So...then Akira the Vivid Studio star is again Lying and if you lied you failed. See... this is why I must keep saying and reminding all atheists that; Atheism is Total stupidity. 😉

        February 2, 2014 at 5:49 pm |
        • cough

          Akira is a department store. If you weren't being a misogynist you'd know that.

          February 2, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
        • No Evidence

          So saltshaker, you've been an ignorant troll for many years... wow.

          February 3, 2014 at 10:41 am |
  13. Reality #2

    : (only for the new visitors to this blog)

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham (or Noah) i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e. the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni (or magic underwear) i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinker bells? etc.) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    February 2, 2014 at 7:30 am |
  14. S-3B Viking

    TF says: "believe that you may have lost sight of the fact that God works with eternal purposes in mind, not finite. A Christian believes that this life is not the end destination for any human being."

    And this is justification for the atrocities...whether physical or spiritual...that Christians and other religions commit.

    Note, as I said earlier, that TF's response is also the standard Christian (and thoughtless and immoral answer):

    "My short answer to this is with God being the Author and Giver of life, He can take anyone one out of the world as He sees fit at any time. Who are we to argue with the One that gives us life in the first place?"

    February 2, 2014 at 2:26 am |
    • Brian

      It's sad that you have abandon common sense to pursue your selfish desire to live forever. Clearly, this article proves that noah's ark is just a fable. You will waste your whole life waiting for a life that was never there to begin with.

      February 2, 2014 at 9:06 am |
      • Saraswati

        The question (if you as.sume life ends at death) is really whether or not this belief makes him happier? Unless you have evidence it doesn't, you have a hard case.

        The flip side, however, is whether the belief (as.sumed false) makes society happier. This is much more questionable, as the network of false beliefs are tied with views that limit the progress of medical and psychological treatment and impose outdated moralities. But the personal argument will be a very difficult one to win unless you have evidence Noah believers make themselves unhappy.

        February 2, 2014 at 9:20 am |
        • igaftr

          When the belief makes OTHERS unhappy, like when the belief is forced into law, or used to bring peer pressure, it is also harmful.
          If a belief in something causes friction, it can lead to animosity, dislike, hatred and escalate into violence.
          Simply saying I am an atheist has caused all of the aformentioned on me personally.

          I fail to see how teaching a belief that appears to be completely false is a good thing.

          February 2, 2014 at 9:40 am |
        • Saraswati

          igaftr, that was my point in my second paragraph.

          However, let's imagine everyone believes the same falsehood? Or more people believe it than not?

          February 2, 2014 at 5:22 pm |
      • Kat

        Brian, I agree with you. I want to know who herded all these animals from all over the world. Who built this ark, and how did they know all of the animals that are on the earth? Who went to Alaska and brought polar bears to the ark? Who went to South America to collect all of the tropical animals there? Was anyone attacked by any of these wild animals? How did they get all of the birds, snakes, lions, tigers snakes? Any answers??

        February 2, 2014 at 12:04 pm |
        • Akira

          I've seen it said that the animals came to Noah, not that he went and gathered them...

          February 2, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
        • SFC Mike

          The bigger question is who had to clean out all the poop.

          February 2, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
        • Fan2C

          All things are possible in a fantasy. Grand, innit?!

          There's a book by a creationist named Woodmorappe in which he tries to explain those things... and more (math, physics, humidity, where the water came from and went afterward). Interesting reading, but wow, way out there in many of the explanations proffered – just a few:

          - The Earth had only one continent at the time
          - "God" instilled a homing instinct so the animals all went to Noah's area
          - Noah trained all of the animals beforehand to eat sparingly, obey commands and poop in buckets (and installed poop chutes on the ark)
          - "God" altered the animals food preferences, so after they landed they all ate the bloated bodies of the victims until the predator/prey numbers and the vegetation got reestablished

          More on it here:

          February 2, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
        • igaftr

          I certain he didn't account for the ALL of the food chains to be destroyed and the MILLIONS of years for the plants to re-establish, since a flood of that nature not only would destroy everyplant but nearly every seed that existed would also be destroyed.

          And not to mention the water converyor in the oceans that would have been interupted, which controls how our atmosphere replenishes, throwing the world into an ice age that would have lasted millenia. (why do people say "and not to mention" and then mention something?)

          February 2, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
        • Fan2C


          You should see the stuff he came up with to explain it all! He supposedly spent 6 YEARS (*sigh*) on this stuff. On that talkorigins page there is even a link to his rebuttals to certain arguments.

          I saw a preview chapter of the book somewhere where he presents a whole bunch of math and physics formulas and his applications of them.

          February 2, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
        • Akira

          Wow. A lot of mental gymnastics are required for this....

          February 2, 2014 at 3:49 pm |
        • Akira

          I meant Fan's original article.

          February 2, 2014 at 3:55 pm |
        • No Evidence

          ""God" altered the animals food preferences, so after they landed they all ate the bloated bodies of the victims until the predator/prey numbers and the vegetation got reestablished"

          Wow, I like that one..... what an imagination!

          February 3, 2014 at 10:44 am |
  15. Dandintac


    Again, this is as good a place as any to ask. I'd like to hear from Devin, JW, LofA, and any other true believing Christians.

    Also again–let me repeat that I am not seeking to anger or offend anyone. I am genuinely curious as to how you see the world.

    I know this is a long build-up, but please bear with me.

    You are surely familiar with the story of Abraham and Isaac. God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, and stayed his hand at the last second. Abraham is generally lauded by Christians for his strong faith in God. However, God has not always stayed his hand.

    There is also the story of Jephthah and his daughter, for example. And one can find other instances where God did not stay the hand. Indeed, God did not hesitate to wipe out the entire earth except for Noah and his family, and two of each "kind" of beast.

    So we know that God can test, and God need not stay the hand either.

    Given what we know about God from the Bible, let's suppose you strongly believe God has told you to blow up a building full of people. You are convinced without a doubt. You are certain that blowing up a building full of people–the local mall or the largest building in your home town–is God's will. You also know exactly how to do it whereby you will certainly succeed.

    Would you do it? Why or why not?

    February 2, 2014 at 2:10 am |
    • Earth

      I think they are smart enough to see that your question is little more than a deliberate antagonism. If you ask a sincere question you will probably get a sincere answer.

      If you understand Christianity you will understand that its premise is a quote that says, "One new commandment love one another" and in that religion it outweighs the old testament.

      It is why you don't see Amish suicide bombers.

      The way Christianity was explained to me was that Jesus allowed for not only immortality but also absolution of every possible religious obligation. So in short no one is turned away from an afterlife, no one.

      I found it to be a very appealing proposition. If only it were true.

      February 2, 2014 at 6:14 am |
      • Dandintac


        If you think it's antagonistic, then take a hike, but stop pretending to be able to read people's minds.

        I have asked this question on other forums, and it is in earnest. Some answered, and I received different answers. It goes toward the Christian theory of "divine command"–that which god commands is automatically good. Some Christians buy it, others don't, and there are many different answers.

        Is this mainly what you do? Who is really being antagonistic here? And if you yourself are not a believer, then who the hell are you to speak for them anyway?

        February 2, 2014 at 5:16 pm |
        • Earth

          "Is this mainly what you do? Who is really being antagonistic here? And if you yourself are not a believer, then who the hell are you to speak for them anyway?"

          People from all walks of life post here without clearing their right to do so with anyone. Each of them speaks their own mind, why would I be an exception?

          February 2, 2014 at 5:51 pm |
        • Dandintac

          Quite right. Sorry about that.
          My question to Christians was sincere, not deliberately antagonistic, but perhaps it would be better saved for a place where Christians invoked the Divine Command Theory of God's morality.

          February 4, 2014 at 1:20 am |
  16. redzoa

    @Truth Follower – Here's a fresh comment to pick-up where we left off. To summarize what I remember, I offered that objective aspects of the 11 witnesses to the golden plates provided greater inherent reliability than the gospels, i.e. there were more independent accounts, they were captured very close to the alleged event, and there is a substantial record from the time which indicates the witnesses were in the right place at the right time. If we look just at these factors, without moving into the substance of the claims, these objective aspects are stronger for the 11 witnesses than for the gospels, i.e. fewer captured accounts, likely captured as hearsay, captured well after the alleged event, and with no extrinsic record to support that they were actually there at the relevant time. Once we move into doctrine or the substance of the narratives, we're really moving beyond what any objective evidence can speak to, particularly when considering the pivotal supernatural claims.

    I believe regarding your point about "knowing" my response was that we cannot actually "know" what the apostles "knew," that it's not clear that they died for failing to renounce the resurrection (as opposed to some other philosophical, political, etc, objective), and that the entire argument is based on your a priori faith in the reliability of an allegedly divinely inspired record captured many years after the alleged event. I believe I'd also mentioned that with respect to some of the other martyrs, they too would have had direct contact with the leader and the ability to evaluate the leader's claims of divine or supernatural gifts. What we're left with is effectively that people are willing to die for strongly-held beliefs, there is no way to actually "know" what the martyrs may or may not have "known," and that a willingness to die for a belief (or alleged "knowledge") is not, in itself, objective evidence of the veracity of the beliefs (alleged "knowledge").

    February 2, 2014 at 12:20 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.