Sunday, January 17, 2010

Genesis Chapters 6-8

Given this is the whole flood story, it made sense to put it into one note, no?

Chapter 6

Women cannot catch a break in this book. So here people are starting to multiply, and some of that multiplication is naturally of the female persuasion. The sons of God (v.2), who, according to Jerry, are decidedly not angels, but the descendants of Seth, intermarry with the daughters of men. Somehow this displeases god, so he limits the human lifespan to 120 years. The resulting children have evil imaginations, so god decides humans weren't such a good idea after all, and to kill us all, along with the animals in a giant flood. Kind of like a 6 year old who loses at Monopoly and throws the board in the air, this particular god. Of course, Jerry is at great pains to point out this is not god admitting he made a mistake, his resetting the game from zero is a 'change of direction.'

There is one spark of hope: Noah has somehow stayed good through all of this, so god saves him and his family, and tells them to build an ark. He gives him very detailed instructions about its dimensions and then tells him to gather two of each kind of animal together, plus food for all of them, and he does.

Chapter 7

God gives Noah further instructions about the ark, telling im to take 14 of each of the 'clean' animals (according to the dietary rules set down in Leviticus, apparently) and 2 of each of the 'unclean' animals (v. 2). I don't see why the animals have to die in all of this, considering god started all this because of the evilness of the human imagination. Also, he wants to destroy every living creature, but in chapter 1, he creates whales and fishes, which probably like it better when there's more water, no?

Anyway, like an evil mastermind explaining his dastardly plan, he tells Noah he's going to make it rain for 40 days and 40 nights and destroy everything (v. 4).

So Noah takes everything in with him and the world starts filling up until the ark starts to float. The rain keeps going until it's 15 cubits (22.5 feet) above the highest mountain and everything drowns, except presumably the whales and fishes, who don't notice a thing, though the only survivors mentioned are Noah and his crew. The water stays for 150 days.

Chapter 8

Finally, the waters recede and the ark comes to rest somewhere in the mountains of Ararat (v. 4). Noah first sends out a raven to see if the water has retreated, but it hasn't. Next he sends out a dove, which also fails to find dry land. A week later, it goes out and this time, it comes back with an olive branch, which doesn't make any sense if god has killed every living thing, and which Jerry ignores.

Just to be safe Noah waits another week and takes the cover off the ark, and discovers the land is dry. God tells him to leave and take all the animals with him. He commands them all to be fruitful and multiply, though there doesn't seem to be anything for them to eat except each other, which would seem problematic. Again, Jerry has nothing to say.

Next on Noah's priority list is to build an alter and sacrifice all the 'clean' beasts, which would decimate their populations, no? But anyway, god likes this and promises not to destroy the planet anymore, because man's heart is evil from the get-go. So he caused a flood and killed everything because he saw man was evil, then promises not to do it again because man is evil?

I'm quite surprised at Jerry's lack of footnotes here. What I've read about young Earth creationists suggests that this singular episode is the defining geological moment for our planet: it is responsible for everything from the current absence of dinosaurs to the Grand Canyon. Considering how eager he was in chapter one to point out that the words leave no ambiguity as to the possibility of evolution, he has nary a word to say here about the significance of this event.

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