Today, we begin a five part series looking at the events of the Flood which is recorded in the account of Noah in the Book of Genesis (chapter 6). In this chapter, God tells Noah to build an ark because the people are wicked and that he, his family and animals will be spared when the Great Flood comes upon them. Now, aside from other flood accounts that hail from this region at varying points in time – most notably, the Epic of Gilgamesh – more recent geological investigation suggests the the Black/Caspian Sea(?) tipped into the Mediterranean around this time that resulted in flooding in the outlying regions.
Now, we will go deeper into the passage in future posts but for today, I would like to discuss the anomaly of how the animals found their way to the ark.
For those of us who have ever read the story of ‘Noah and the Ark’ or bought a toy in which pairs of giraffes, brown bears, kangaroos (etc) fit into the dimensions of the plastic container (that doubles as an ark), we are immediately drawn to a problem in the scenario of Noah and the animals. Namely, how did these pairs of animals – female and male – from other continents, manage to find their way to the ark?
I need to add here that many times what I hear from well intentioned christians who think I am missing a trick is the adage that ‘God can do anything,’ Well, ‘yes’ – God can do anything. However, for the sake of the stability in our world, God does not usurp the rules he has set in place to achieve his goals. And herein lies the problem:
‘How did animals from the continents of Americas, Australia, Greenland, Antartica find their way to Noah’s Ark?’
A few poorly thought out explanations I sometimes hear in response to this question are:
- The Flood event occurred at a time while all the continents of the earth were locked together – thus the animals did not have the problem of having to cross a large body of water in making their way to the Ark.
- God equipped the animals so they were able to swim across the body of water to facilitate them making the rest of the journey under their own steam.
- Somehow God teleported (Star Trek-like) polar bears from the North Pole and other animals to Noah’s Ark because God can do anything He wants.
Okay, hold on to your hats! A few simplistic ideas are about to be knocked for six.
Firstly, geological surveys predict that the plates of the earth separated long before human existence – there’s a very good reason why this is so because the energy, gases and eruptions caused by this colossal event would have destroyed all life on earth. Had it happened while humans were alive (and they had somehow survived), there would be evidence of humans artefacts at different layers of the geological strata – but they’re aren’t!
Secondly, the idea that God would equip koala bears with the ability to swim makes little sense. If these marsupials can manage a hundred day swim from Perth to Johannesburg without one of them being consumed by a shark – remember, there is a need for them to arrive in pairs – then why do they need to travel at all? If koalas – and other animals – are able to stay afloat in a choppy ocean with gusts and gales, then why do they even need to travel there to get onboard the Ark?
Lastly, God cannot create a world in which freewill is established, then transgress these outcomes by interfering within it. With the exception of Star Trek IV ‘The Voyage Home’ in which Captain Kirk and the team return to earth in the 1980s to save the planet by transporting two whales to avert an incident (long story), the reality is that God does not intervene in the way we think He should.
What are we to make of God’s instruction to Noah to make ready the Ark and take two of every kind of animal with him?
Well, if you believe the Flood to be global, it makes no sense at all as the Ark’s dimensions cannot contain two of every species.
However, if the Flood is localised to a region and Noah and his family will have to resettle after they find dry land, then having two of every animal (goats, hens, cows, etc) is providential for the fresh start that awaits them.
Til the next instalment, live long and prosper!