Reading the Bible: Genesis - Noah's Flood Begins

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  • Discipulus_Didicit
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    It is an ancient tale told and retold in many mythologies for thousands of years. Mankind multiplies and spreads, mankind pisses off supernatural diety, supernatural diety saves a small portion of mankind while the rest get genocided by the primordial waters of creation and the world is made anew.

    The biblical version of this story is the one we will be reading today, starting with Genesis 6 and 7. As always, please do read along. It is much more fun that way.

    The story of Noah and the genocidal flood is another example of the popular culture versions of these stories differing from the story as told in the book itself. One example of this is the account of Noah being mocked by unbelievers over the course of the 100 years that it takes him to construct the ark. The Genesis account makes no mention of this or of any other human contact by Noah with anyone other than his family. However, we do know that this addition to the story is not a recent one due to the fact that it is found also in the Quran, making that addition to the story several hundreds of years old.

    The biblical version of this story is the one we will be reading today, starting at Genesis 6. Mankind has existed for a long time now and according to the third verse they have grown far from god and their lives are limited to no longer than 120 years as a result. Therefore our story begins, with 500 year old Noah as the main character.

    God notices that his creation is becoming corrupted and evil, not at all the way he hoped they would (I am not sure whether the authors of the Genesis account simply didn't realize how dumb that sounds given the idea of god as all-powerful and all-knowing, or whether they believed like the polytheists they stole the story from that their god was unimaginably super-powerful but not all-powerful) and decides that the best way to handle the situation is genocide. Noah is visited by god and given specific instructions on the construction of an ark to save his family and repopulate the world with after the genocide is complete.

    Noah is then given specific instructions to bring two pairs of each unclean and seven pairs of each clean animal onto the ark. The characteristics that differentiate clean from unclean animals are not given until later in the bible, but presumably Noah would have known what these characteristics are. One hundred years later Noah finishes building the ark and the flood begins. Note that while the time between Noah entering the ark and Noah leaving the ark was about one year, the phrase "forty days and forty nights" is used to describe how long the rain that contributed to the flood lasted. Because this phrase is used so often in the Bible it is useful to note that at the time these stories were put to paper this phrase was used to mean "a log time" in a similar way to how people in the modern day might say something like "a minute' to refer not necessarily to an actual minute but instead to mean "a short time"

    The flood that begins is able to cover the entire planet, because as mentioned before ancient people didn't understand a lot about cosmology and thought that the sky was blue because there was actual water held in the sky that could come down onto the Earth. So, with the ark complete and the genocide begun Noah and his family take what they can onto the ark and start their year-long wait for the flood waters to subside.
  • Tradesecret
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    --> @Discipulus_Didicit
    It is an ancient tale told and retold in many mythologies for thousands of years. Mankind multiplies and spreads, mankind pisses off supernatural diety, supernatural diety saves a small portion of mankind while the rest get genocided by the primordial waters of creation and the world is made anew.
    Would you please be so kind as to provide all of the other stories for us as well. A list will do in the short term. Oh by the way - is it possible that there might have been an original flood story that has been copied by others? 

    The story of Noah and the genocidal flood is another example of the popular culture versions of these stories differing from the story as told in the book itself. One example of this is the account of Noah being mocked by unbelievers over the course of the 100 years that it takes him to construct the ark. The Genesis account makes no mention of this or of any other human contact by Noah with anyone other than his family. However, we do know that this addition to the story is not a recent one due to the fact that it is found also in the Quran, making that addition to the story several hundreds of years old.
    I am pleased that you noticed that the Genesis story does not mention Noah being mocked. Additions to the story - from another culture is however not a reflection of the biblical story but a different culture. 

    The biblical version of this story is the one we will be reading today, starting at Genesis 6. Mankind has existed for a long time now and according to the third verse they have grown far from god and their lives are limited to no longer than 120 years as a result. Therefore our story begins, with 500 year old Noah as the main character.
    Yes, obviously man no longer had access to the tree of life and needed to die. How long they could live had to be limited by something. I take the view that God determines how long - "on average" men would live. It is not as though they would live to 120 and suddenly cark it. Or as later David reminds us - three score and 10 - and another 10 if you treated your parents well. People die - for a long time this age on average has decreased - and now ironically enough since Jesus was born and died and life was put inside us - humanity is living longer again. But not forever. Well not at least until we all become machines. 

    God notices that his creation is becoming corrupted and evil, not at all the way he hoped they would (I am not sure whether the authors of the Genesis account simply didn't realize how dumb that sounds given the idea of god as all-powerful and all-knowing, or whether they believed like the polytheists they stole the story from that their god was unimaginably super-powerful but not all-powerful) and decides that the best way to handle the situation is genocide. Noah is visited by god and given specific instructions on the construction of an ark to save his family and repopulate the world with after the genocide is complete.
    It is recorded that humanity became more and more consistent with its nature. From Adam and Eve people were beginning to be evil. Cain killed his brother - and there are many others who did evil things. It is unrealistic to say that suddenly God noticed it. What the Bible does say is that God was sorry he had made man.  I think you are misrepresenting God here. Just because God is omnipotent and omniscient - does not mean that he must use his power to bring about what he hopes for. Evil entered the world - but this was not a surprise to God. God knew this was going to happen and he created humanity anyway. I think the bigger story has yet to be understood which will explain the why. Still, humanity had been told from the beginning that its sin would destroy itself. So God is completely fair and just when he wipes out the world. He is being merciful when he saves Noah and his family and a remnant of the animals. In my view - if God did not judge the world - it would show him to be a liar. You think it sounds dumb - perhaps you would prefer a God who lies? since God is the creator and the judge - he has the perfect, just and legitimate reason to wipe the slate clean and start again. humanity had chosen its own course - and now it was simply reaping what it sowed. God had in my view - delayed long enough in carrying out justice. The longer he left it, the more corrupt people would get - as they believed there were no consequences. It is a lot like that today. 

    Noah is then given specific instructions to bring two pairs of each unclean and seven pairs of each clean animal onto the ark. The characteristics that differentiate clean from unclean animals are not given until later in the bible, but presumably Noah would have known what these characteristics are. One hundred years later Noah finishes building the ark and the flood begins. Note that while the time between Noah entering the ark and Noah leaving the ark was about one year, the phrase "forty days and forty nights" is used to describe how long the rain that contributed to the flood lasted. Because this phrase is used so often in the Bible it is useful to note that at the time these stories were put to paper this phrase was used to mean "a log time" in a similar way to how people in the modern day might say something like "a minute' to refer not necessarily to an actual minute but instead to mean "a short time"
    I agree that God had already told Noah and his family the distinction between clean and unclean. It goes all the way back to the garden.  I have not heard anyone suggest that 40 days and nights might just mean long time. I am not opposed to that idea. 

  • Tradesecret
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    --> @Discipulus_Didicit
    The flood that begins is able to cover the entire planet, because as mentioned before ancient people didn't understand a lot about cosmology and thought that the sky was blue because there was actual water held in the sky that could come down onto the Earth. So, with the ark complete and the genocide begun Noah and his family take what they can onto the ark and start their year-long wait for the flood waters to subside.
    Yes. This is always an interesting part of the story. Is there enough water on our planet to cover it? I honestly don't know. When I see the damage that floods do around the world in our modern era, it is not unusual to observe that the geography often changes quite drastically. In fact entire valleys can be made very quickly  and the dirt and the rock from those places can turn up elsewhere as mounds /  small hills - where there was not before. It is interesting to note that our modern science talks of our moving continents, continental drift. The idea for this actually came from a creationist using the book of Genesis.  although he was mocked severely for such a theory - other scientists much later took this idea - changed it from happening really quickly to "millions of years" and hey presto - it is now part of all our school textbooks. My point is though - that what the land looked like prior to the flood may well look quite different later after the flood. If the land was much flatter than it is now - then perhaps - there may be enough water? I don't know. I do know that as the climate changes - that people are worried that much land - and islands around the world will be lost to the sea. And this is only due to the melting of the ice caps. It does not take into account the vast amounts of underground water that exists. 

    Genocide is something that humans do. God gives and he takes away. Genocide is not something that can be attributed to an all knowing, all powerful God.  Obviously, if an all powerful God created in the first place, he could create some more to replace those he took away. The morality that we place on humanity - does not and cannot apply to God - it really is an absurdity to suggest so. I would take the view that the only morality that we can judge God by is the standards that he applies to himself. Otherwise the notion of him being God really is just a man made thing. While ever humanity tries to judge God, he laughs at them. 

  • disgusted
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    --> @Tradesecret
    Yes. This is always an interesting part of the story. Is there enough water on our planet to cover it? I honestly don't know.
    If you get a computer and connect it to the internet all of that information is available to you, but I understand how wilful ignorance is a prerequisite for god belief. So you will never know.

  • keithprosser
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    --> @Tradesecret
    Is there enough water on our planet to cover it? I honestly don't know.
    God could create enough water and then make it go away again.  All the 'problems' with the flood story can be avoided by giving God enough power - which is one of the reasons I don't care to argue over it.

  • Ramshutu
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    --> @Tradesecret
    if God did not judge the world - it would show him to be a liar.
    Why would you conclude God is a liar in this case? Because a book written by humans, edited by humans and produced by humans said he did something? Why are you putting so much faith humans?
  • Polytheist-Witch
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    God lies about all kinds of crap. 
  • Mopac
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    Op claims to "just be readin" when really he's really making a critical commentary.





  • Discipulus_Didicit
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    --> @keithprosser
    God could magic the water in and out of existence, but that would not be necessary in the cosmology of the firmament that the authors would have accepted as true.

    More detail on this and other things in a few hours when I get off work.
  • Polytheist-Witch
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    It's just atheists Bible bashing. Which i guess is debate on this site. 
  • Mopac
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    --> @Discipulus_Didicit
    From the confession of Docitheus

    Question 1
    Should the Divine Scriptures be read in the vulgar tongue [common language] by all Christians?

    No. Because all Scripture is divinely-inspired and profitable {cf.2 Timothy 3:16}, we know, and necessarily so, that without [Scripture] it is impossible to be Orthodox at all. Nevertheless they should not be read by all, but only by those who with fitting research have inquired into the deep things of the Spirit, and who know in what manner the Divine Scriptures ought to be searched, and taught, and finally read. But to those who are not so disciplined, or who cannot distinguish, or who understand only literally, or in any other way contrary to Orthodoxy what is contained in the Scriptures, the Catholic Church, knowing by experience the damage that can cause, forbids them to read [Scripture]. Indeed, tt is permitted to every Orthodox to hear the Scriptures, that he may believe with the heart unto righteousness, and confess with the mouth unto salvation {Romans 10:10}. But to read some parts of the Scriptures, and especially of the Old [Testament], is forbidden for these and other similar reasons. For it is the same thing to prohibit undisciplined persons from reading all the Sacred Scriptures, as to require infants to abstain from strong meats.

    Question 2
    Are the Scriptures plain to all Christians that read them?

    If the Divine Scriptures were plain to all Christians that read them, the Lord would not have commanded such as desired to obtain salvation to search them; {John 5:39} and Paul would have said without reason that God had placed the gift of teaching in the Church; {1 Corinthians 13:28} and Peter would not have said of the Epistles of Paul that they contained some things hard to be understood. {2 Peter 3:16} It is evident, therefore, that the Scriptures are very profound, and their sense lofty; and that they need learned and divine men to search out their true meaning, and a sense that is right, and agreeable to all Scripture, and to its author the Holy Spirit.
    Certainly, those that are regenerated [in Baptism] must know the faith concerning the Trinity, the incarnation of the Son of God, His passion, resurrection, and ascension into the heavens. Yet what concerns regeneration and judgment — for which many have not hesitated to die — it is not necessary, indeed impossible, for them to know what the Holy Spirit has made apparent only to those who are disciplined in wisdom and holiness.

    ----------


    In other words, you doing it wrong.


  • keithprosser
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    --> @Discipulus_Didicit
    God could magic the water in and out of existence, but that would not be necessary in the cosmology of the firmament that the authors would have accepted as true.

    I think the writers of Genesis had no interest in where the water came from or went to.   From ch 1 v 1 the focus is on what yhWH does, not on how or why he does it.   Those questions are nugatory because YHWH - it was supposed - is a god.  Any lay Hebrew who had the balls to point out to the priests and scribes the logical flaws in their story would be asking for trouble!  Deut 13:10 "thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God".   Clearly it is not only Islam that commands death for apostasy! 

    I think a lot of this has to with the desire of Jewish nationalists to preserve jewish identity during the Babylonian exile.  It would have been easy for the exiled Jews to have been assimilated, but by fixing and defining a YHWHist jewish identity in writing the priests could avoid it being diluted by foreign ideas.  The truth of the genesis accounts of creation or the flood was not important to the scribes who wrote them; what mattered was the exiled jews identified with them rather than the Babylonian versions.
       
  • Polytheist-Witch
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    Lying bull shit. They explain where the water came from and that it need to recede. Live in a flood plain and you would get it 
  • Mopac
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    There isn't much room for rebellion when you and your entire people are wandering through the desert. 

    We Orthodox do not kill apostates. In fact, we even welcome back repentant ones.

  • keithprosser
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    They explain where the water came from and that it need to recede. Live in a flood plain and you would get it 

    The text runs: "11...all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights."  (gen 7:11-12)

    and

    (Gen 8:1-3) "He [yhwh] sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. 2 Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. 3 The water receded steadily from the earth."

    The writers of genesis could hardly have written any less in the way of detail!
  • Polytheist-Witch
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    --> @keithprosser
    So it rained, it flooded, it stopped raining and the water receded. Imagine. Noah was looking for land for significant time period. All that said it's still not a factual story.
  • keithprosser
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    I agree - its untrue nonsense.   Which prompts the question why did they write it down?

    The standard atheist answer is that they were stupid and ignorant, but I think there is more to it.  I think the writers of Genesis set out to write a vast saga of Hebrew/Jewish history, belief in which was required to be a 'good' Jew.  That is Jews would be taught that it was yhwh that reated the world (not any other god) and it was yhwh that sent the flood etc.   Once written down, what jews believed could not change so they would not be assimilated into Babyonian culture, as I wrote in #12. https://www.debateart.com/forum/topics/1277/post_links/53964

  • Polytheist-Witch
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    --> @keithprosser
    Same reason anyone writes a story. Sorry you are too stupid to get it. 
  • keithprosser
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    --> @Polytheist-Witch
    There is no one reason people write stories.

    In the case of the bible I believe we are dealing with propaganda.   In the OT it is nationalist propaganda, somewhat obscured by the way that 'nation/ethnicity/relgion' were barely seperated.  The NT is more straightforwardly religious propaganda.

  • Polytheist-Witch
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    --> @keithprosser
    That's because you are a bigot who hates theists and religion. 
  • keithprosser
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    I'm not sure anyone isn't a bigot according you!
  • Mopac
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    --> @keithprosser
    Your cynicism is misplaced.


    The Son of God is Wisdom, who you hate in your ignorance.

    The Holy Spirit is The Spirit of Truth, which is not in you because you deny The Son.


    And if you had Wisdom in Truth, you would have The Most Perfect Image of God The Father!


    Your are blind, but Christ can heal you of your blindness!



  • Polytheist-Witch
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    --> @keithprosser
    Yet you are one. 
  • Discipulus_Didicit
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    --> @Tradesecret
    Would you please be so kind as to provide all of the other stories for us as well. A list will do in the short term.
    If you do want a simple list of ancient flood myths Wikipedia is a pretty good source:


    Though I would recommend searching for other sites for a detailed account of any particular one due to the relatively small amount of information on the subject available on Wikipedia.

    The more relevant of these tales in this case would be the ones that share the most similarities with the Genesis account and are located geographically near enough to the authors of said account that they would be likely to have encountered these stories such as the Gilgamesh flood myth of Mesopotamia, the Manu flood myth of India, etc.

    Oh by the way - is it possible that there might have been an original flood story that has been copied by others? 
    That there was a single origin point for all the flood myths of the world seems unlikely due to the many differences in the stories and the geographical distances involved, though in the case of the stories that shared common themes, were recorded at roughly the same time (give or take just a few centuries) and were near enough geographically that the people of the cultures associated with said stories would have had contact with each other... Yes, in those cases what you describe seems quite likely.

    Looking less specifically, such as the simple theme of flood in general, I think many flood myths may have had their beginnings with the fact that agriculture was so important to the people of those times and the effect that localized floods would have had on society as a result was drastic enough to inspire such stories. Furthermore, there is the idea that the fact that many early civilizations arose so soon after the end of the most recent ice age could have contributed to this. Global mass melting of huge amounts of ice would have raised sea levels significantly around the world.

     Is there enough water on our planet to cover it? I honestly don't know.
    In real life the answer is no, however as I will cover below in my reply to keithprosser such a thing is possible in the cosmology the Genesis authors would have thought to be true.

    I am curious though as to whether you think the Genesis flood story was recorded as a literal account or a story created to convey a message.

    Genocide is something that humans do. God gives and he takes away. Genocide is not something that can be attributed to an all knowing, all powerful God.  
    Sorry, that is objectively wrong. The simple definition of genocide is "kill lots of people". That is what happened in this story. It is a story of genocide.

    Is it morally okay for God to commit genocide? that is a separate matter which I deliberately did not address in this OP. Notice how I did not once make any moral claims in the OP. That was very much intentional for a number of reasons.
  • Discipulus_Didicit
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    --> @Mopac
    Op claims to "just be readin" when really he's really making a critical commentary.
    As I have said before, my reading is guided by the following principals:

    1) I am not assuming the theology must be correct
    2) I am not assuming the theology must be incorrect
    3) I have no conclusion that I am trying to convince people of

    None of this precludes me from making commentary on any of the stories.

    I am curious as to why you call this specifically a "critical" commentary, however. So far the only moral judgement I recall making on any character was when I stated that Cain was "an asshole", something that I was under the impression that you agreed with me on. I have made no moral judgement on Noah or god in this OP, and have said nothing to indicate a dislike of the story itself.

    Please explain the reason for your characterization of my commentary as "critical".