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Genesis 8 – 1.21 Gigawatts!

So we start out with Yahweh remembering Noah and the ark, which would sound reassuring if it didn’t also give the impression that his mind was wandering elsewhere, and that saving the ark was only slightly more important to him than playing his genocidal Fantasia routine with the flood waters. The language is slightly ambiguous, but I think the wind he sends is meant to calm the waves upon the water, not to cause the waters to recede.  After all, the gang is in for another six months of this business.

God turns off the water pumps and sky-spigots, which I think we hear about for the last time here.  I think it’s worth noting that “the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained.”  You could certainly bounce around with some mental gymnastics, but it seems clear to me that the author is referring to two different sources of water.

The boat comes to rest upon the mountains of Ararat, home of the tallest peak in Turkey, and it just kind of chills there while the mountains recede.  It chills there for seven months.  Can you imagine the agony, the frustration, of being trapped in that stinking boat for months eating the same crappy food, shoveling literally tonnes of waste, taking care of thousands of animals who would likely eat or at least seriously injure you if given the chance, all because you’re waiting for a God who flooded the planet to take his sweet time in draining all the water away?

And where exactly would he have drained this water to?  You couldn’t stuff it in the ground.  As I noted previously, only about 1.7% of the hydrosphere is in the ground, and we’re already talking about a volume of water that is several times the volume of the hydrosphere itself.  You couldn’t evaporate it either because the atmosphere holds even less water than the ground.

The only thing I can think of is that, since one can separate water into hydrogen and oxygen gases utilizing an electric current, Yahweh was channeling Zeus and cooking off the oceans with massive lightning storms.  This doesn’t seem unreasonable given that salinated water is highly conductive.  We’d end up with plenty of usable oxygen and hydrogen has escape velocity so we wouldn’t need to account for it.

(My earlier estimate of the volume of water necessary for this story was actually too low because I didn’t account for compression factors increasing the density of the deeper water, but I’ll continue to assume that the density of seawater is uniformly 1025 kg/m3)

Given that you need 237.1 kJ of electrical energy to dissociate one mole of water into oxygen and hydrogen gasses, it would take 237.1 kJ/mol(1.493 x 1023 moles)= 3.540 x 1025 kJ of electrical energy to get rid of all the excess water and bring sea level to what it is today.

As it turns out, there’s actually almost a name for this level of energy: the yottajoule!  It’s equal to 1024 joules and is approximately the amount of energy required to heat the entire hydrosphere by 1 °Celsius.  So we have 35400 yottajoules.  An average lightning bolt carries 500 megajoules of energy. No wonder it took so long to recede the waters!  This would take 70,000,000,000,000,000,000 lightning strikes!  (Fun fact: this is equal to 15 billion times the amount of energy of all nuclear weapons ever exploded of earth)

The waters started to recede after 150 days, so there were 3.6 trillion lightning bolts raging across the face of the planet at any given second until it was dry.  Where all this electrical potential came from is a mystery given that all the water was on the ground now.  The bigger problem would actually be, (aside from killing all the fish, of course) that hydrogen gas is highly flammable and would have created huge, Hindenburg-like explosions from the concentrations it must have been in, which would have recombined the gases back into water and made the tedious process even more lengthy.  All this would have had a profound effect upon the global temperature as well, likely steam-cooking the residents of the ark.

I’m sure there’s no mention of this because Yahweh kept all the storms and extreme heat away from Noah with that benevolent wind.

So the waters recede and Noah keeps tossing birds out the window after getting fed up at being used as their personal cage liner for the hundredth time, but they keep coming back!  Well, the doves do.  Who knows what happened to that raven?  But the dove comes back empty-taloned, then clutching an olive leaf seven days later.

Hold up.  So you’re either telling me that non-aquatic plants survived six months underwater with no ability to photosynthesize or respirate, or that an olive tree grew in the span of seven days.


The next few months seem to be occupied with Noah and his family largely sitting on their asses and twiddling thumbs, except we already know they’d have to spend (more than) every waking second taking care of those animals which must have made the waiting that much more excruciating.

No wonder the first thing they did when they got off the ark was to sacrifice of every clean animal and bird.  They must have been quite the zoophobiacs at that point.  Cathartic, I’m sure.

Also, I can only imagine that the only reason the predators didn’t immediately kill and extinguish several thousand species from existence right then and there is that their muscles were too atrophied for pursuit.  How this didn’t lead to their later starvation and subsequent extinction we can only speculate.

Yahweh caught the smell of burning animal flesh and it appeased him.  He says in Gen 8:21 that he “will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing.”

Pretty sweet to get that agricultural reprieve, but wouldn’t it have been nice for all those bloated corpses if Yahweh had decided that humans being evil was just natural for them (not that that’s not an insulting and degrading idea by itself) and shouldn’t be punished en masse before the global genocide?

Was he really that capricious and starved for worship that a simple barbecue would have changed his mind?  Couldn’t he have asked for that instead of an ark?

Yahweh needs to work on his communication abilities.


Genesis 7 – Through Him all things are implausible

So Yahweh’s being indecisive about how many of each animal he wants Noah to pick up from the grocery store and says this time (as opposed to Gen 6:20) that he should take seven pairs of each clean animal and only two of each of the dirty ones.  He doesn’t really specify which is which, but maybe Noah’s a smart guy.  He’s got good interior design sense, he’s got this frigid-temperate-torrid zone theme in mind that god will just LOVE!

He’s also supposed to get seven pairs of each kind of bird, and at around 10,000 species that would be a task in and of itself that would take more than the seven days he gets.  Add to this the million of species that biologists estimate to exist on the planet (estimate because we haven’t even found or categorized the majority of them), and we have a bit of a logistical problem.

Okay, lets be generous and throw out the plants and the fungi.  Let’s suspend disbelief and not ask the question of how non-aquatic plants and fungi could have survived a flood as extended as this one.  He got a bunch of seeds and spores or whatever.  We’ll count that as free space.  We’ll toss out all the insects, arachnids, and invertebrates too because fuck ’em.  Keep in mind however that they occupy the vast majority of the currently identified species on the planet at over 1.3 million.

This leaves us with 62,305 vertebrates that we’ve classified, but we’ll assume it’s the total number for the sake of argument.  After all, why should we believe that those unidentified species even exist if nobody’s seen them?  Anyway, half of which are fish so we don’t need those.  41% of these are freshwater fish, though, and live in environments at a salinity less than 0.05%.  Considering that the ocean is currently almost 100 times that concentration,  a global flood would have drastically changed the salt balance of the fresh water and killed off most of those species due to osmotic pressure, but that’s some cognitive dissonance that we’ll just have to suffer through for now.

Another 6,433 vertebrates are amphibians, so we’ll give them the old defenestration treatment because they can survive in aquatic environments sometimes, too!  This leaves us with 24,572 vertebrates, but we can toss out the 34 aquatic mammals and 128 marine mammals because they’d be fine too.  Except we’ll take back polar bears, because if you expect them to be doing the doggie paddle during the whole flood, then we might as well just throw all of science out the window!

So that leaves us with 24,411 species, but we’ll throw out the 328 turtles and 23 alligators/crocodiles, too.  Every species for themselves!  Sink or swim, bastards!

Okay!  So 24,060!  Now we’re at a reasonable number!  To present the best possible case, we’ll presume that only birds get seven pairs each since they’re the only ones explicitly mentioned.  So Noah and his three sons had to collect 98,120 animals in the space of seven days.

…I didn’t know Noah’s family was such a phenomenal group of hunters.

But suppose that Yahweh leads all the animals to the ark like the church likes to depict in all the Sunday School books for children.  Granted this has no textual basis whatsoever and was likely imagined as the only possible way Noah could have completed this task.  I would call it ironic that the only way people seem to accomplish any of the tasks that god sets them to is with some sort of divine intervention arguably cooked-up ex post facto by fervent believers desperately trying to figure out how these stories square with reason and science, but it’s really what I should have come to expect by now.

Anyway, we’ll assume that too!

Occam’s razor is shitting a brick right about now.

Let’s look at polar bears for a second since I called attention to them.  You can assume one of two things: that two polar bears migrated about 3,500 km at minimum across climates totally foreign and hostile to their biology, or that all the animals in the world lived in or closer to the Middle East in the antediluvian past, also in environments that would have been totally hostile towards their biology (not to mention the likelihood that many species would have gone extinct from predation due to poorly adapted camouflage and escape mechanisms).

This would also mean that you believe that land animals now considered indigenous to North America and Australia (and the Galapagos Islands, for that matter) either traveled even farther across vast oceans or that they somehow spread out after the flood across those oceans. distributing themselves to make it appear as if they evolved from a common ancestor.  The marsupials, for example, all had several planning meetings before deciding upon Australia as their base of operations for this grand conspiracy.

So, if we divide the total area of the ark by all the animals we have, then that leaves a little over 15 cubic feet per animal.  This actually seems quite spacious for a floating zoo.  This is like having your very own garbage can to live in!

Granted many of the animals didn’t need this much space as they were much smaller, but the reverse is also true.  One would need to gather 6 elephants for the existent 3 species, as well as 16 bears, 10 rhinos, 10 big cats (lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, and snow leopards), 8 gorillas, and 2 giraffes (who for that matter at an average of 18 feet tall would be too tall for any of the decks of the ark unless one was specifically designed for them, a potentially huge waste of space, or they spent the whole time kneeling which would surely have caused their muscles to atrophy and made them the perfect targets for hungry predators upon exiting the ark) .  Keep in mind that’s just scratching the surface of the larger mammals.

And let’s go to the other end of the spectrum and look at hummingbirds.  They’d need approximately 4,500 hummingbirds to account for seven pairs of each of the 325 species, and each bird eats between 1/2 and 12 times it’s body weight in nectar every day.  The smallest hummingbirds weigh 2 grams, the largest weigh 20 grams.  Assuming that all hummingbirds weigh 2 grams and need 1/2 their body weight in nectar a day, Noah would need 1,700 kg of nectar to feed the smallest family of animals he had.

Using similar math, we can estimate that since elephants eat on average 200 kg of plant matter a day, Noah would need 450,000 kg of food for the elephants alone.  How could eight people move around this kind of weight every day?  It boggles the mind to think about how they’d be able to carry the weight of all the food for the 100,000 animals (not to mention the colossal amount of excrement), let alone how the ark itself could bear it.

And speaking of caring for the animals, how the hell would they have time to do it?  With the eight people on the ark and 98,120 animals, they’d have about seven seconds a day to feed and care for each animal, which doesn’t even factor in the time they themselves would need to eat and sleep.

…….I think I’ve beaten that horse long enough, but I feel that it is a nut worth taking a sledgehammer to.

I’ve even heard some arguments that Noah didn’t need to bring that many species of animals on the ark because the bible only specifies that he find two of each “kind.”  What is that?  A genus?  A family?  How far back up the genetic tree are we going?  You expect me to believe that zebras and horses diverged and evolved from a common ancestor via natural selection as recently as 6,000 years ago, but you yourself say that evolution is a lie!?

Don’t we think that biologists would have noticed such an extreme population bottleneck among almost all species on earth converging at the same time period!?  Does the fact that they’ve found exactly the opposite mean nothing?  Apparently!   If we’re going to abandon all pretenses of conforming with the physical laws of reality, why don’t we just say that god used quantum mechanics to store all the animals in interdimensional space!?  What the fuck!?


In Gen 7:11 we get not only a start date for the flood, but also another great reference to that body of water god suspended in the sky.  Yahweh opened up the floodgates above and below to give the people of the earth the most excessive and overblown baptism in history.

It’s unclear if the 17th day of the 2nd month is referring to some calendar date or Noah’s age, but since it’s consistent with Gen 8:13 which says that Noah didn’t open up the ark and leave until the 27th day of the 2nd month of the following year, we can still deduce that they were trapped in that stinking boat for 375 days.  This is quite a bit longer than the 40 days and forty nights crap that the church tries to sell kids on.   Gen 7:12 only says that it rained for that long, and the church has deliberately misconstrued this passage to make it easier for this story to slip past the rational defenses of the mind, which are far less developed in the young who don’t yet understand all the physical laws of the world.

Genesis 7:19-20 notes that all the mountains under heaven were covered at a depth of (at least) 15 cubits.  The tallest mountain on earth is Mt. Everest at 8,848 meters, and so the water would need to be 7.5 meters higher than that.  Some quick and dirty math will tell us that the volume of water needed to cover the earth to this depth would be 510,072,000 km2(8.8555 km)=4,516,900,000 km3 of water.

To give some sort of comparison, that is more than three times the amount of water present in all of the oceans on earth.

Total groundwater stores only make up 23,400,000 km3, and there is even less water suspended in the atmosphere at just 12,900 km3?  Where would such a volume of water come from?  To where would it have receded?  Are we back to the flat earth model so that excess water could be drained off the edge?

Even if we assume that the world is as small as this tribe of ancient Hebrews thought and take Mt. Ararat (the alleged landing place of the ark) as the highest peak on earth, we’d still need 510,072,000 km2(5.1445 km)=2,624,100,000 km3 of water,  which still exceeds the total hydrosphere of the planet.

My analysis of this particular myth leaned heavily on the numerical and physical side of things, but to get a good look at the cultural and historical records surrounding it, take a look at this article.  It’s a Christian website, but the author actually argues against the literal interpretation of the bible given the cultural context, which is quite frankly (and sadly) refreshing.

And I didn’t even talk about the idiotic idea that dinosaurs were still around.  Some people…

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!

Genesis 5 – Why don’t we just beat biology with a brick?

Thus we have the first of the myriad genealogical books of the bible, the existence of which are really only relevant to long-dead patriots of ancient tribes proud to see the long record of noble individuals among their heritage and young earth creationists trying to establish the age of the earth and the historical accuracy of the bible.

The only thing in this chapter more ludicrous than the ages that most of these descendants of Adam live to is the age at which most of them father children.  

Arguably, the only thing Christians are more certain of than Jesus’s infinite capacity to forgive even the most outrageous transgressions is humanity’s capacity to fall from God’s grace through the wicked opportunities of sin.  No sin preoccupies the mind of the modern American Christian more than of SEX.  It’s the most wicked and debasing thing in the world, and the veritable pink elephant in the room.

Certainly Adam and his progeny are supposed to represent the most righteous examples of nobility and virtue that humanity can muster up, but if you expect me to believe that Adam and his wife Eve were together for 130 years before they had sex enough times to have a third child, then you’re crazier than Abraham when he heard the voice of God telling him to kill his son.

After this, there are quite a few claims of nigh immortality as it lists off a dozen people who lived on the order of 900 years without being taken away by disease or wild animals.  We’ll just bypass the biological impossibility of such claims, because it seems pointless to bring them up now after already skipping by the fact that Eve was of post-menopausal age twice over when giving birth to Seth.  Perhaps most of these men’s wives were much younger than the men (not an impossibility especially considering the culture of arranged marriages of the ancient middle east), but I must admit that the ethical issues of a man 100 or more years older than his barely post-pubescent bride are far more disturbing to me to consider than anything else I’ve mentioned.

So, we get a bunch of admittedly cool-sounding names but not much else along with a woefully skeletal story about a man called Enoch.  There must undoubtedly be gobs of apocryphal stories surrounding this man because it is said that he “walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”  Notable certainly for having walked with God, a privilege that all the fervently religious in the modern world wish that God would bestow upon anyone so that all the non-believers could see he’s real, but also because the wording of this verse could be interpreted to mean that Yahweh took Enoch straight to heaven without him suffering death.

It could also mean any number of other things, such that God entirely erased his spiritual existence in an existential fit, or that Enoch got sick of all his family’s fanatical shit and wandered off into the desert where no one discovered his body so they assumed that God had whisked him away three-hundred-sixty-five years young for scotch and good company.

We also have the famous Methuselah notable entirely for his extraordinary ability to refrain from kicking the bucket for nine-hundred-sixty-nine years.  One has to admire his restraint.

Amid all the populating of the earth (which really still has yet to explain the population distribution of races on the various continents without invoking a rate of biological mutation that certainly would have killed off the entire species by now) Noah is born.  His father Lamech prophesies that Noah will relieve his people from the toil they’ve endured due to the cursed earth, which is rather a lot of responsibility to lay on an infant’s shoulder’s for a gut instinct.

And lastly, when Noah was five-hundred years old he begat three sons, but presumably not all at once.  That would be pretty unlikely.

(Your irony meters should be going off.)

Now, we all know what’s coming so I don’t think I need a spoiler alert to make a quick commentary on the chapters to come.  It says in Gen 9:28 that Noah lived to be 950 years old, which was 350 years after the flood.  That works out to make Noah (break out the calculators) 600 years old at the time of the flood.  Still with me?

Now, Methselah, Noah’s grandfather, was 187 years old when giving he fathered Lamech.  Lamech was 182 years old when he fathered Noah.  That means that Methuselah was 369 years old when Noah was born.  So Methuselah was 369+600=969 years old when the flood hit the earth.

This is exactly the age that Methuselah died.  This leaves one of two possibilities.  Yahweh waited until just after this man died to wipe away the pestilence of his own creation, or he killed Methuselah in the flood along with every other human being on the planet but Noah’s family, compassionate god that he is.

Just a thought.

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