Genesis 6 – Now with more maths!
We return to our story with angels in our midst! It would seem that the sons of God (בני אלוהים (b’nai elohim) for the etymologically curious) have found the women of our species most comely and descended to the earthly plain to make some babies with them. Yes, this was the time of the nephilim! The half-human, half-angels walked the Earth and they were mighty indeed!
Does this remind anybody else of the demigods of Greek legend (i.e. Heracles)?
How this squares with the church teachings that angels are Yahweh’s servants who have no free will and therefore don’t share in mankind’s blanket condemnation because they had no original sin, or how that idea is even fair and just in this context, I leave for the discursively acrobatic apologists to stammer over. Angels get to be individually responsible for their actions, but human beings are all damned from birth? Does that seem right to you?
Yahweh also sets a limit on human lifespan to a more reasonable number, although this has recently been exceeded by a certain pot-smoking centenarian. The fact that people in the bible continue to exceed this limit after God puts it in place must certainly have Christian “scientists” ready with another reasonable explanation at hand that has nothing to do with the fact that the technology to keep records and verify their historical accuracy slowly improved over time.
Yahweh then claims that all of humanity’s thoughts (save Noah’s) were continually bent upon evil, which seems like a rather unfair sweeping generalization to make, but I guess we shouldn’t be arguing fairness with a god who’s about to wipe out the entire population of the earth because they made him sad.
Noah is also said to have “walked with God” (the same phrasing used to refer to Enoch), which makes me wonder if this is not just a metaphor for being faithful and obedient to god’s dictates (though we haven’t heard what they are yet).
“All flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth,” and Yahweh decides that “the end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them.” Horrific, but poetic. I wish we could take this verse to mean that Yahweh is a god of peace who abhors violence, but alas this is not the case. Utter genocide is the only solution.
The fact that Christians can assert with a straight face that Jesus was sent to redeem humankind from their sinful nature and an eternity of suffering but that the world had to be wiped out in a flood to cleanse humanity of it’s overwhelmingly corrupted population is astounding.
And from this chapter we learn that the best material for building vessels which are intended to save the species of the planet from extinction is gopher wood, a material so mystical and wondrous that we can’t even agree upon what it is. Bet the dinosaurs wish they had one!
But here’s the best part: measurements! Actual quantifiable data! Granted we can’t know them with a significant level of precision, given the imprecise nature of the unit of measurement itself, but they are measuements nonetheless.
A cubit is a little more than half a meter long, but for familiarity’s sake we’ll use 1.5 feet. The ark is 300X50X30 cubits, which works out to a volume of 450,000 cubits^3 or 1.5 million cubic feet. This is admittedly pretty freaking huge for an ancient boat. It’s a building about one and a half football fields long by half a football field wide and four stories tall.
It’s also assuming the ark was a perfect rectangle and ignoring the space occupied by the floors, walls of the rooms, and all the structural supports that would have been necessary to keep such a colossal construction from being shredded by a turbulent and violent flood. But, let’s be generous.
Noah must have also been a very rich man to fund such an undertaking, but the question must still be asked of where he got the labor to build such a thing. It never actually says how long it took him to build the ark, and the only measurement of time passing that we really have to go off of is the fact that chapter 5 ends saying that Noah was 500 years old, and chapter 7 asserts that the flood began on the 600th year of his life. So, even considering the fact that Noah’s labor supply was likely limited to that of his own immediate family, they had 100 years at maximum to build this, which possibly also makes moot the problem of deforestation that might have occurred.
Of course, the other option for the labor is that they hired some of the local populace to help them build and then refused them entry when the waters came. Cold.
Tune in next time for another exciting analysis of what this all means for physics and biodiversity!