Following on from last week’s post about why the ‘Flood’ Noah experienced was not global, we continue today by looking at the evidence that suggests it was a localised event. And can I say here that I appreciate (that for some believers) I may be treading on cherished ideas of an ark full of rare and exotic animals gathered from the four corners of the earth. However, as you will see, the evidence for Noah’s Flood being a localised event is compelling so read on….
In the Flood epic, we are told that God instructs Noah to build an ark. While he does this, two of each animal – male and female – find their way to the Ark in readiness for the voyage. I think we can presume here that God did not intend the animals for eating otherwise he would have sent a lot more. Maybe fifty or sixty – enough that Noah, his family members and the wolf and coyote might have their fill. (Actually, I’m not going to venture into how you keep animals in an ark when some are predators and the others are prey).
Anyway, it rains, the waters rise and the good ship Noah’s Ark sets sail for who knows where. Soon, the crew find themselves in the middle of a vast expanse of water with no land in sight for days on end. Weeks pass – possibly months – until they become so used to the watery horizon that greets them every day, they stop looking out of the window.
Eventually, Noah sends out a raven from the ark which doesn’t return. Presumed missing-in-action (aka ‘drowned at sea’) there was probably quibbling between them as to why a seagull or albatross wasn’t sent out as these would be better birds to go on such a mission given that they could rest on the water when tired – however, a dove was chosen which went out, found nothing and returned. (note – need to add here that the ‘The Ancient Mariner’ had not been written so there were no qualms about having an albatross on board though clearly Noah thought the dove was a better choice until it didn’t return).
Undeterred, Noah sends the dove out again and this time it returns with a leafy green twig between its beak – Hurrah! The Flood was retreating! A week (or seventeen) later, the Ark runs aground on Terra firm, much to the rejoicing of Noah, his family and the animals who were desperate to get out and exercise.
This is where we encounter our first major problem with the Flood narrative because there is a presumption that the Ark runs aground on top of a mountain – and why not? After all, they have not seen land for months until the day they awoke to find the ark grounded on land from which water was receding – I need to add here that I am sitting on my hands as there is so much more to say about the implications of the extinction event but it will have to wait for the fourth part of this series!
Now, had the Ark ended up on top of Mount Kilimanjaro or Table Mountain or Mount McKinley or Mount Everest or Mount Blanc or whatever high place you want to name, Noah would be justified in believing the Flood had covered the whole world and an ‘extinction event’ had occurred which, as a result, had him, family and animals as the only living creatures left on earth. And let me add here, that there is no deception on Noah’s part as he actually believes the whole world had been flooded. Why? Because every day he looked out, all he saw was water, leading him to presume that he and his family are the only people left on earth.
I mean, how could others have survived without a vessel? Noah believed this because God had told him to prepare as a flood was coming. And of course the most obvious explanation (for us in the 21st century) is that a flood did indeed occur and the ark was swept out to sea and ended up circling the Mediterranean aimlessly for months on end until the water around it receded and they found ground a hundred or so miles down the road from where they built the ark. For Noah – a man who presumably believed (like so many of that time) that the world was flat and that the endless watery horizon surrounding them was evidence of how God had covered everything with water. Moreover, it’s quite possible that Noah may never have seen the sea prior to the Flood and sincerely believed that he and his family were the only one’s afloat and alive. A misconception that, as we shall see in next week’s post, will land both him and his son(s) in a heap of trouble.
Til then, man overboard!
ps could it be that the first dove that never returned to the ark, found land, weighed up its options and lived out the rest of his life on the rich pickings at the nearby Canaanite settlement? Hmmmm?