Examining the Bible: Genesis, Part IV – The Wayward Willis Podcast

Examining the Bible: Genesis, Part IV

In Genesis 6:14-21, god details his plans for saving Noah and his family from the flood that he plans on using to destroy every living thing on the Earth.  As usual, I have several problems with this story and I’ll discuss them all in detail.  Let’s begin!

Problem 1: What’s An Ark?
The word “ark” has several meanings today.  Two of those meanings are directly tied to Biblical stories like Noah’s flood and the Hebrew exodus from Egypt.  Other meanings include “a place of refuge” or “a chest or coffer.”  It’s likely that Noah would have understood the word “ark” this way at the time so I often wonder why Noah didn’t set out to build a bunker in which to hide and wait out the storm.  These common definitions of the word hardly have me picturing a huge boat.  In fact, the first time a child is told this story you will always have to tell them that “ark” means a boat.

So if god intended to have Noah build a boat, why didn’t he just say, “boat?”  It seems rather straight-forward: “Noah, I want you to build a big-ass boat.”  Now there’s no question as to what god wants, is there?  I’ll admit this is a weak objection to the story, so let’s get on to something else.

Problem 2: Crash Course in Shipbuilding
If you (assuming you’re the average Joe who doesn’t build ships for a living) were told to build a massive ship out of wood and pitch, would you be able to?  Be honest, do you think you have what it takes to build a ship nearly the size of a WWII aircraft carrier with your three sons — who are also not shipbuilders?  No, most likely not.  It wouldn’t even matter if you were given very specific dimensions and instructions for decks, windows and doors, you wouldn’t be able to build that ship.  Heck, it’s not even that easy to build a raft!

Problem 3: Fabrication Nightmares
Unless god hired an army of beavers to gnaw down ten thousand cypress trees and craft them into planks, the story says that four men (OLD men) cut, hauled, and milled every single piece of wood that went into the ark.  This is a big problem, for obvious reasons.  As far as anyone knows, none of Noah’s family owned sawmills.

Army of Beavers
God's army of beavers.

Problem 4: Crushed Under Its Own Weight
The sheer mass of this boat would make wood a horrible building material.  The largest wooden ship ever built (Wyoming) was 50% smaller than Noah’s ark and it flexed so much from stress that it leaked constantly and couldn’t be taken out to sea.  Even the Wyoming used iron cross-braces to strengthen it but in 1924 it sank and killed everyone aboard.  Noah’s 100% wooden ark is said to have survived 150 days in a worldwide ocean deeper than the tallest mountain.  If that doesn’t raise your skeptical eyebrow, then you’re just not skeptical at all.

Problem 5: Occupants
Noah is told to take “Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground” with him on the ark along with “every kind of food that is to be eaten” which, for all the carnivorous animals, means a bunch of vegetarian animals.  Either that, or they needed to make sure most of the animals were preggers when they boarded so that they had a supply of meat for five months.  Regardless, the eight humans in the ark would have had an incredibly difficult time of taking care of all of these animals.  I can’t even imagine!

What have we learned from this story?  That Noah was a super-human 600-year-old man who knew more about shipbuilding than people in 1909 with the cumulative knowledge of 2,000 years?  No.  We’ve learned that god is once again choosing the ridiculously difficult, roundabout, inefficient and ineffective way to do things instead of just instantly poofing the evildoers out of existence like a kick-ass god would do.

Let’s just say that god, for some reason, had to use a flood to rid the world of the unrighteous.  Don’t you think that instead of waiting 100 years for Noah and his sons to build an improbable boat he could just magick some protective bubbles around the “good guys” and drown the rest in, oh I don’t know, a day or two?  I mean, we’re talking about a being who supposedly created an entire universe in six days!  If I were still a Christian (and I’m not one partly because stories like this insult my intelligence) I’d have a hard time reconciling “all-powerful, all-knowing, and loving” with “incompetent, jealous, and vengeful.”

What a dumb story.


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