Sunday, July 31, 2005

Bible 4: Noah and the Flood

The next thing that appears after Cain and Abel in Genesis is a chronicle of the descendents of Seth, and these include many men who are stated to live long lifetimes, such as 600, 700 or even 969 years in the case of Methuselah. Even Noah is stated to be 500 years old. How do people get so old? I think it is a matter of units. I notice that one descendent lived only 65 years. None, it seemed, lived between 100 and 400 years old. So I think when Methuselah's age is given as 969, it is 969 moons, not years. That means he was 78 years 4 months when he died. Many people live longer than that. My mother has reached the age of 1000. Even I am 729 and hope to live to at least a thousand. Moons, that is.

But that's just number figuring. The next big tale is that of Noah and the Flood. Apparently God was not happy with his creation. So he told Noah that he was going to go back to the drawing board. He was going to wipe everyone out and start all over again. He chose Noah and his family because he felt that they were the only good ones. So Noah built an ark with two of every creature, and it rained for 40 days and nights. The entire Earth was flooded with water, and everyone else died. Afterwards, the ship came arest on Mount Ararat and when Noah sent out a dove, God responded with a rainbow, now a symbol of apology.

The story has numerous holes in it. For you fundamentalists who really think this happened, consider this. 40 days and nights of continuous rain would not flood the planet. That would require 29,000 feet of rain (height of Mt Everest), that would mean 7,250 inches of rain each day! Noah would have had a time getting all the millions of species aboard his boat, and he would have had to bring plants aboard as well. A flood of the entire planet is improbable. There is just not enough water there. The earth would have to be flattened for this to occur.

But did a flood of some kind occur in the past? You bet it did. Boy did it ever flood. Consider that the Earth was in an Ice Age 20,000 years ago. All that ice melted and it flooded all over the world. There must have been some humongous floods back then, and some did not go away, such as Lake Ontario, Chesapeake Bay and coastal Florida. The biggest kahunah of the floods must have been the one that created the Mediterranean and Black Seas, which are separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Straits of Gibraltar. So yes it did flood, and flood it did big. It's my feeling that these huge floods and tales of them over the ages resulted in the Noah and Flood legend.

And how about the rainbow? The ancients must have noticed that after a rainstorm, a rainbow appears, as though the heavens were feeling sorry for having stormed at the Earthlings. It appears in the eastern sky, where the rain is departing, while the sun is low in the west. The sun shines across the sky and is reflected off all those droplets of water and forms the rainbow. These occur in the evening; that is the time it normally storms. But rainbows can appear before storms as well. In the morning they can appear in the west, where a rainstorm is approaching.

And how about the story? I do not think it is a good one. It shows God as the Evil One, as Satan as you will, taking it out on humans because they don't behave right. How can you expect humans to behave right if their God doesn't? He apologized afterwards, but that is no comfort to those who were wiped out. Actually, I feel it was humans' best attempt to rationalize an event of nature they had no control over.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Bible Series 3: The Murder of Cain

The next major story in Genesis is that of the murder of Cain by Abel. This story is so short that it can fit on a sheet of paper. But it does have a definite plot. Cain tilled the ground; he was a farmer. Abel had a flock of sheep. Both offered to God, but God had no respect for Cain's offering. So Cain killed Abel. God asked where he was. When he found out, he forbade anyone from punishing Cain and made him farm for the rest of life. From that point on, he had a series of descendants; perhaps a dynasty.

There is something wrong with this story. First of all, it seems that not only was Cain involved in the death of Abel, but so was God, for favoring Cain. The world's first discrimination, according to Genesis, was by God Almighty Himself. Next, see what happens to Cain. He does not get punishment that some would say he deserved. Instead, he continued with his way of life and even had progeny. This starts the theme of the wicked being favored in the world, a theme that is revisited in Job. The one good thing in this sordid story was that God forbade Cain from being punished, thus becoming the world's first proponent of abolition of the death penalty, a theme that occurs in the New Testament with Jesus.

A story that somewhat resembles this one is Shakespeare's Macbeth, which involves a king killing someone to maintain his kingdom. Eventually things get worse and worse for him until he is overthrown and killed by his enemies. This differs from the Cain and Abel story, because Cain does not meet any clearcut downfall like this.

Since many people view discrimination as evil, one can view this story as a collusion between God and Satan against the people of the world, a theme that also occurs in Job. It brings up the triple paradox of God being good, God being almighty, and the existence of evil, and in this story, the second and third are true, but not the first. So in general this is a rather strange story, and I hope this story is not the cause of much discrimination, be it racial, religious, or anything else, in the world.