Thursday, March 5, 2009

GENESIS: Chapters 6 & 7

Chapter 6
Summary:The beginning of the chapter starts off somewhat ambiguously. The King James version of the bible is written as such:
1: And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
2: That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
3: And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
Most biblical scholars interpret these verses to mean that "the sons of God" are referring to the lineage of Seth, while the "daughters of men"* are referring to the "corrupt" lineage of Cain. God is apparently stating that his chosen folk (Seth's "good lineage") will always be attracted to evil (Cain's "evil lineage") and stray from God. Out of frustration, he is now giving them 120 years to change their ways before he gets tired of them and kills them all*.

The chapter goes on to imply that the perversion of Seth's lineage mixing with Cain's caused freaks of nature (specifically mentions giants)
6:4 "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."
, sexual depravity, and that mankind had basically become wholly wicked and evil. God begins to regret having made humans and it "broke his heart", so he decides the best way to resolve the problem is by killing everyone and everything - animals, reptiles, and birds - on the planet, except for one person - Noah.

Noah apparently was the only person on the planet who tried to conduct his affairs according to God's will, so God decides to reveal his intentions to Noah about destroying mankind and instructs him to build a very large boat. By modern measurements, the boat he instructs Noah to build is about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high with three decks inside of it.

God tells Noah that he's going to cover the earth with a flood that will kill every living thing on the planet, but promises to keep Noah safe on the boat along with* his wife, his sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth) and their wives.

He then asks Noah to round up a pair - male and female - of every kind of animal, bird, and reptile along with food for Noah's family and for the animals.
Notes:1.) Again, referring to the "sons of God "as righteous and the "daughters of men" the bible is reinforcing sexism by aligning the evil with the women. Why can it not also be possible for the "sons of man" to infect the "daughters of God" with their wickedness?
2.) It is not mentioned or noted as to whether God makes his 120 year probation period known to the people or not.
3.) If we are to take God's word literally, that Noah was the only person who was not wicked, then is God not risking his plan to purge the planet of evil by sparing the lives of Noah's wife, his sons, and his son's wives - who going by God's declaration are most likely tainted with wickedness?
Thoughts:We begin this chapter with a nice helping of sexism by pitting the "sons of God" against the "daughters of man" implying and reinforcing male superiority once again. While God realizes that his chosen boys will always be attracted to the hot evil chicks across town, he goes ahead and puts his chosen boys on a 120 year probation - where if they can manage to stop breeding with the evil babes, stop producing giants(!) and freaks, and partaking in depravity, he'll reconsider his plan to kill them all.

I mentioned in one of my footnotes above that it isn't clear as to whether God let his 120 year probation scheme be known to the people or not, however upon further reflection, what exactly was the point of waiting 120 years? Was this for the people's benefit, or perhaps did God need 120 years to think things over before committing to mass genocide? It's a little difficult to discern why and what the wait is for.

I've always had major problems with the method of God's mass extermination as described here when God clearly has other means and methods to exterminate people without also destroying the animals and the children and infants that must have existed at the time depicted. God has used disease and plagues throughout the bible to decimate certain factions of people he doesn't like (such as the Egyptians) while sparing those who followed his rules. To me the story seems very senseless and not at all on par with the common attributes given to God as merciful, just, and loving.

The gathering of pairs of "every kind" of animal, bird, and reptile is also pretty absurd to think about in the context of the limited modes of transportation of the day, unless God somehow helped out in some way. Many animals are indigenous to certain areas of the world that would have proved difficult if not impossible for Noah to reach, much less keep the animals alive throughout the journey back to the Ark. It's hard to fathom how Noah managed to gather polar bears, koalas, penguins, amongst others unless we make exceptions to the story.

Among the exceptions I've heard from religious apologists are that: the flood was only a regional flood, and not a global flood; that God could have guided or brought these animals to Noah; and/or that these animals did not exist yet (not a popular choice amongst apologists as they would have to either concede that these animals evolved from other species, or that God made them at a later time - which there isn't any support for in biblical accounts).
Chapter 7
Summary:So the day comes when God's 120 year probation comes to an end. He tells Noah to get into the boat with his family, making it clear to Noah that he (Noah) alone is the only righteous person on the planet. He tells him to bring in all the pairs of animals too* and adds another provision - that Noah has to bring in seven pairs of animals of those God has deemed worthy for food and animal sacrifices, and seven pairs of every kind of bird.

7:4 "For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth."
He gives Noah one week to complete this task, as he will make it rain for 40 days and 40 nights at this time. Noah at the spry age of 600* years boards the boat with his family and the animals as the torrents of rain fell upon the earth. The waters rose higher and higher, lifting the boat high above the earth and finally over twenty feet above the highest mountain peaks.

Meanwhile every form of life on the planet that breathed air and lived on dry land* was eradicated, and water covered the earth for 150 days, almost five months.
Notes:1.) This begs the question as to whether these animals Noah had to gather were just lounging around Noah's property, or whether he somehow had to manage to gather them up in the seven day time span before the flood.
2.) Specifically, Noah's age is listed as 600 years, two months, and 17 days old.
3.) While marine life is apparently spared, no explanation is given to how both salt water and fresh water marine life managed to survive in a mixed water system.
Thoughts:Once again we're left with so many questions to this improbable event, it's necessity, and meaning. Over five months on a boat, manned by eight people, to care for and feed thousands of animals (not to mention to clean up after their waste products) and prevent the predators from eating the crew or their natural prey.

Even if God was dead-set on destroying all life except for Noah and his family, I really can't fathom how or why an omnipotent god would choose such an inefficient method of mass genocide, and why innocent creatures along with children, babies, and infants that must have existed were exterminated along with a bunch of people that God didn't like.

To me, it appears that this story was created more in regards to being powerful, riveting, and on a grand scale to wow the people ages ago rather than to be based in any sort of plausible historical event. Quite truthfully, it saddens me that there are still people who can believe this story has any sort of plausible actuality to it.


  1. About the women, in my Biology class last semester, I learned that it is the mitochondria that is passed from women and science says we are all descended from six women from a region of Africa? In fact, there is that DNA project going on that I'd really like to do before it ends. It sounds interesting!


  2. Actually, the study while still very fascinating, is about the descendants of Native American lineage. The study asserts that all Native Americans - from North, South, and Central America - can be traced back to six founding mothers:

    The other interesting thing about this theory is that it traces the lineage of those six women back 20,000(!) years which runs contrary to the bible's claims of The Flood occurring in approximately 2350 B.C.