Noah's Ark - Biblical Backfire
Noah's Ark is a story usually told to children through story books with colorful animals depicted in a near endless chain marching into an ark two-by-two. These depictions often betray the simple fact that no boat could have held the sheer number of species needed for the flood to have truly been a historical fact. Yet there are grown adults who still cling to this myth not merely as a religious story of the wrath of a God and the world's rebirth from a handful of survivors but as literal historical truth.
In this hub I want to talk about how Creationists and Literalists who defend the Flood as a reality are unwittingly proposing a version of evolution that is far more radical than what actual scientists have proposed.
Kind, Kind, Everywhere a Kind
Probably the most common tactic Creationists use when dealing with the Ark story is pointing out the completely subjective and arbitrary distinction between KINDS and species. Noah didn't have to take every species on the Ark, they claim, because that would obviously not have worked out. Rather than invent something creative, like claiming the Ark was bigger on the inside like the Doctor's TARDIS from Doctor Who, Creationists will claim that Noah only had to take KINDS of animals and each Kind would then, in turn, differentiate into the various species we see today.
Even Creationists have to admit the existence of selective breeding and artificial selection because we see it and use it every day. And even, to some extent, there is often an admission to natural selection as well albeit with the caveat of an artificial and arbitrary limit to how far an organism's evolution can go.
Some mechanism of biology, the Creationists suggest, allows natural selection to give us both Indian Elephants and African Elephants, presumably descended from one pair of animals Noah had on the Ark (the Elephant “KIND”) but prevents natural selection from giving us anything that doesn't look like an elephant even after enough generations have gone by to get such results.
Dogs can diverge into different breeds after diverging from wolves but in the mind of the Creationist apes cannot diverge and eventually evolve into humans. The problem with this is the time frame in which most Creationists operate and the fact that rather than stand in opposition to Evolution this view actually forces Evolution to work at a far faster and more aggressive pace than is naturally feasible.
Gotta Catch'em All!
Noah's Flood, if you believe Young Earth Creationists, was only four thousand and some years ago. Currently science has documented roughly 3 Million species on this planet with the estimates for total species being well over 10 million. Even if we were to wrongly assume, for sake of argument, that the number of species on planet Earth were only 3 million Flood proponents would be faced with a big problem. How do we get from a few thousand KINDS that Noah took onto the Ark to save space, to a few MILLION species in just 4,000-5,000 years?
The answer, of course, has to be Evolution. After all the creationists admit that dogs and other artificially selected animals have evolved and many of them will even admit that speciation, or changing from one species into another, would also have to have taken place. Now, in their efforts to deny facts in favor of Fantasy, Creationists are arguing not AGAINST evolution but in favor of an implausibly fast version of Evolution that is neither evident in the fossil record or spoken of in the Biblical account of the Flood. That's an important point – what they are advocating is supported by neither evidence or the “Word of God”.
Not only must these few thousand KINDS evolve rapidly in true Pokémon fashion with at least a dozen new species emerging every week but they must also head back to isolated areas of the world that their species are native to. So Kangaroos must make it back to Australia and differentiate into Wallaby's and these adorable little guys called Pademelons who are about the size of a house cat.
All God's Children
It's not just a problem for the animals to have rapidly evolved it's also a problem for people. Noah didn't exactly bring a lot of people with him leaving some serious question as to how the Earth was repopulated without inbreeding collapsing the population. Even if we assume that inbreeding wasn't an issue we have to contend with how this handful of people managed to diverge into dozens of different ethnic groups and traversed the entire planet setting up far-flung civilizations with separate languages, cultures, religious beliefs and all of them possessing DNA that traces our species not back to Mount Ararat or the Middle-East but to Africa.
Within the time constraints of Young Earth Creationism such widespread changes simply aren't plausible whether they be the migration and differentiation of mankind or the absurd idea that several hundred animals would diverge into new separate species every year.
The Children of Other Gods?
To make matters worse each ancient human culture that must establish itself after the flood somehow has different religious beliefs, different gods and different rituals. Why would so many cultures arise worshiping other Gods if humanity was truly united beneath a rainbow of Yahweh's own forging atop Mount Ararat only a few centuries before these cultures made it to their final destination? If the Flood narrative embraced by young earth creationists were true it would mean that every deity mankind had ever worshiped was created post-Flood and that somehow in just a few thousand years everyone managed to forget about Yahweh, only to be gradually reminded of him when he decided to choose the Israelites as his chosen people.
The whole thing is such a confusing mess that it isn't surprising that most Christians reject the literalist interpretation.
Noah the Globe Trotting Gardener
There is a massive variety of plant-life here on planet Earth. The Biblical account of the Flood doesn't seem to address what would happen to Earth's vegetation in the wake of a Global catastrophic deluge. It may seem logical to assume that Noah brought some seeds onto the already impossibly crowded Ark however unlike the animals seeds for plants would not have gathered together for him, rather he would have had to send someone to retrieve them and bring them back from every corner of the world.
Maybe Noah could have hired the help to gather seeds while he was building the Ark? Well, how, then, did they return those plants to their native habitats after the Flood? Noah would not have had much help post-Flood to make sure that random exotic plants got to where they needed to be and there is no mention of any of it in the story. It's almost as if the authors were not aware of just how big the world was and how expansive the destruction in their story was – almost as if scientific accuracy and literal history were NOT THE INTENDED purpose of the authors of the Biblical story. Yet still there are adults who cling to this myth and claim it as a historical truth and who brainwash their children to accept the same beliefs.
Getting plants to the locations they are currently found in wouldn't have been possible when they had bigger fish to fry, repopulating a barren Earth where there was now no crops or livestock. Noah also doesn't have the work force he used to and so now, with limited animals to eat, limited people to help and limited seeds to begin anything resembling agriculture with Noah must find a way to get Guavas and clovers and Kentucky blue grass where they belong. Instead, as with animals, plants would have had to evolve and migrate at absurd rates post-flood so that by the time people reached the American continents there was vegetation and not just any vegetation, plants unique to that part of the world.
So why don't we see evidence of any of this worldwide Flood Creationists believe in? Why is there nothing resembling the rapid evolution we would need for the story to be true evident in the fossil record and what mechanism would have sped up or slowed down evolution in such a way? Why do we not see the remains of lengthy animal migrations back to their native homes coupled with speedy evolution? Where is the geological, paleontological and biological evidence of such a devastating and transforming event? Why do grown men and women still take an obvious myth as literal truth?
Such cherished fantasies are usually indoctrinated from a young age and reinforced constantly. During my time as an Old Earth creationist I spent a lot of time on creationist websites never suspecting that I was being lied to, always believing that my fellow Christians would do their best and never be intentionally dishonest like ordinary worldly scientists might. In short it was a coupled effect of being a naïve teenager taught from a young age to believe the Bible was the Word of God and a constant reinforcement, a cycle of self-delusion that I am happy to say I broke long ago.
Creationism has become an even smaller minority as scientific literacy and understanding have spread and religion has grown more tolerant and open to the idea that scripture need not be taken as literal historical truth. There are still those, however, who will defend stories like Noah's Ark as if they actually happened and though they usually do this in an effort to deny evolution and protect their ego from the idea of being related to apes they inadvertently open the door to an even more implausible and radical version of Evolution. Not to mention the other plot holes and the the obvious evil of such a genocidal act on the part of God.
Thanks for reading!