In Genesis 7, god finally gets down to the killing. If you’re a Christian you view this as a story of love and compassion for a righteous family who trusted god with their lives and eternal souls. If you’re like me you view this as a horrific failure on the part of an inept, morally bankrupt deity. 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 Unclean Animal?
Remember we’re still in Genesis and Levitical Law hadn’t been passed down to Moses. Moses doesn’t even exist yet. So god tells Noah to gather seven of every “clean” animal and two of every “unclean” animal and put them in the ark and at this point I can only imagine that Noah was like, “Ummm, do you literally mean clean and dirty or am I missing something here?” and god was like, “Noah, you idiot, I’m talking about the law I handed down at Mount…oh, I mean, it’s hard living in all possible timelines at once. Let’s just go with animals who have bathed and animals who have not, OK? Easier that way.”
The result is that Noah and his family are on board a huge wooden boat with seven of every clean (whatever that is) kind (whatever that is) of animal and two of every unclean kind, along with the food every animal eats. As we all know, this means that some animals eat other animals but the way the instructions are laid out makes it seem like Noah’s stockpiling fruits, grains, and vegetables for the trip. What would have made more sense for this story would have been to load seven of every unclean animal and two of every clean animal and work on the assumption that unclean animals are food for the clean ones. Food crisis solved.
Also, just to revisit the debate over what a “kind” of animal is, I’d like to point out the inconsistency of this chapter wherein verse 3 states that Noah was taking “kinds” of animal in order to preserve their “kind.” However, in verse 16 it states that the animals in the ark represented the male and female of every living creature on Earth. This may seem like semantics but when you’re already using vague terms like “kind” that don’t correspond to anything we know (like species or breed) you have to be a little more specific with the rest of the details in order to compensate. Are rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters, and guinea pigs all considered the “scurrying, furry kind?” In addition, I’d like to point out that “kind” has been deemed synonymous with “species” and could rule out Ken Ham’s stupid argument about how many animals were on the ark.
Problem 2: Waterworld!
Once Noah and his family have been sealed inside the ark god opens the floodgates of the Earth, both in the sky and under the ground. This presumes that enough water has been stored in springs under the Earth’s crust (or that maybe the core of the Earth is water?) and suspended in the atmosphere to completely cover the entire face of the planet so that the tallest mountain had 23 feet of water atop its peak. It says the ark floated along on top of all of this water, which means that the occupants of the ark were at an altitude of 29,052 feet where the temperature is around -33 degrees Fahrenheit and there is about 33% of the oxygen as at sea level. Climbers on Mount Everest typically cannot take this altitude (with bottled oxygen) for more than 12 hours, but Noah and his family and all of these animals stayed there for five months.
First, we have really good ideas as to how much water there is on Earth and, when put into perspective, it’s not that much. Even though 71% of the planet’s surface is covered by water, it’s mostly sitting on and in the crust. Keep in mind that 96% of all the planet’s water is already covering the Earth in the form of oceans, seas, and bays. Furthermore, if every last drop suspended in the air were to fall as rain, all at once, it would cover the Earth at sea level with only one inch of water. Pretty unimpressive.
Problem 3: Floating Corpses
Almost immediately upon the rain starting, people, plants, and animals would have started dying and becoming floating debris. This includes birds, fish, aquatic mammals, and every living thing on dry ground, including trees that presumably would have been ripped from the ground by the massive pressure of the water. All over the world, people are finding out they’re not as good at swimming as they thought and birds are finding either that the rain is too strong for them to keep flying or they’re unable to fly high enough to stay ahead of the flood. Living creatures are flailing, drowning, and being battered by huge waves and floating objects as water pours down on top of them and swirls around them from below. Some of the people, upon realizing what’s happening, probably run to the ark to try and get in but there’s nobody listening to them. Some of the animals probably find logs or large corpses to ride around for a while but this proves to be futile either because they can’t stay on them long enough or god reaches down with his loving hand and holds their heads under water – because we’re told that every living thing died except for whatever was on the ark.
What about otters, though? They’re really good at floating.
Anyway, imagine being on the ark, doing your chores for five months, and hearing the constant *thump, thump, thump* of (bodies? trees?) knocking against the hull of this boat. For all you know, you could be hearing the skull of Jimmy, with whom you played hide-and-seek just a week ago, cracking against the wood as a monster wave mashes a dead elephant carcass against his lifeless body. That’s messed up. I mean, it’s not like dead bodies just disappear or sink and with all of the fresh water being dumped into the oceans none of the fish survived in order to clean it all up. That begs the question, of course, of why we have fish and aquatic mammals today. I’d venture a guess that the writers of the Bible didn’t have a clue how those “swimmy” kind of animals worked.
It’s disgusting enough to think about corpses floating around in a worldwide ocean of diluted brine, but wait until the flood recedes. Where do the bodies go then? How long does it take them to decompose?
What have we learned from this chapter? That god is the master of fool-proof, efficient, genius plans? That the 71% water figure applies to the entire mass of the planet rather than just surface coverage? That otters only pretend to be awesome floaters?
No, we learn, once again, that god is a monster who – even though he supposedly knows everything – can’t think far enough ahead to prevent problems from happening before they happen and thinks so little of human, animal, and plant life that he’s willing to almost literally flush it all down the toilet to cover up for his ineptitude. Spoiler alert: we’re going to learn later that this plan also fails and he has to come up with something even more ridiculous and prone to failure in order to “save” us all from the way he created us.
This god’s an asshole.