November 22, 2017

The Ark Encounter- A Ship to Nowhere

The Ark Encounter- A Ship to Nowhere
By Mike the Geologist

The Ark Encounter and Answers in Genesis have been in the news recently.  Jim Kidder reports :

The Ark Encounter opened on July 7, 2016 to much fanfare.  Ken Ham declared that he expects over two million visitors the first year.  Ticket prices are set at $40 for adults, $28 for children 5-12.  Instead of 2 million visitors for the first year, the Ark Encounter has drawn only 1.1 million visitors (Ken Ham blames the lack of hotel space for this problem rather than, say, really high ticket prices).  After a year, the city of Williamstown complains that the Ark Encounter has brought in little to no business for local establishments.  Faced with growing infrastructure costs due to increased traffic because of the Ark Encounter, the Mayor of Williamstown, Rick Skinner, informed Ark Encounter, LLC that it will be imposing a 50-cents per ticket tax to help pay for the upkeep of the town.  One day prior to the tax going into effect, Ken Ham sells the land on which the Ark Encounter sits to Crosswater Canyon, a non-profit organization owed by the Creation Museum, for $10.  Arguing that they are now a religious organization, Ark Encounter, LLC refuses to pay this tax, amounting to $700,000.

Well, if that wasn’t devious enough, Linda Blackford of the Lexington Herald leader reports:

Three days after state tourism officials suspended an $18 million tax incentive, officials at a Noah’s Ark theme park have sold their main parcel back to their for-profit entity for $10.  The issue started in late June after Ark Encounter LLC sold the parcel to its non-profit affiliate, Crosswater Canyon for $10. The deed continues to describe the property as worth $18 million even though the Grant County PVA has assessed the land for $48 million.  Ark Encounter officials have declined to say why they sold the property in the first place, but the move in June coincided with their refusal to pay a safety assessment tax levied by the city of Williamstown. City officials worried that the sale might be the first step in the ark park claiming non-profit status, which would exempt it from property taxes.  But on July 18, state tourism officials said the land sale breached the sales tax rebate incentive agreement, which was with Ark Encounter LLC, not Crosswater Canyon.

Kidder comments:

Of course Ark officials have declined to say why they sold the land back.  I am quite sure it had nothing to do with the fact that Ken Ham and company somewhat nakedly tried to get out of paying $700,000 in infrastructure taxes to the city of Williamstown by executing an ethically questionable business deal and then, discovering that the $700,000 was a paltry sum compared to the $18 million in tax incentives over the next ten years and seeing how the sale played out in the media, went back on it.

Can you follow the pea in this shell game?

Kentucky: Hey, since you are a for-profit organization, you owe us $700,000 in infrastructure taxes.

Ark, Ham, Whoever: Oh no, we’re not a for-profit, as of today we are a non-profit ministry.

Kentucky: Ok, if you are a non-profit, you are not eligible for $18 million in tax incentives over the next ten years.

Ark, Ham, Whoever: (Does the math and compares $18 million to $700,000 and decides $18 million is the bigger number) No, presto-chango, we are a for-profit again.

This is supposed to be the face of “believing God’s Word”, the presentation to the world that it should take “the Word of God literally”.  What happened to Matthew 22:21 “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”  What is the literal meaning of that?

To me, there is no surprise that the Ark Encounter should deal fraudulently with the state of Kentucky and the city of Williamstown, because the whole concept of the ark itself is a fraud.  I don’t mean the concept of the ancient bible authors taking a story of a catastrophic flood somewhere that involved a notable righteous man, his immediate family, and his livestock escaping by boat, and making a parable of it for Israel’s instruction.  After all, catastrophic floods do occur, just ask the survivors of Katrina, or Banda Aceh.  I mean the ark itself, the symbol and focus of this fraud is, itself a fraud.

According to the website:

Ark Encounter is the largest timber frame structure in the world, built from standing dead timber, in part by skilled Amish craftsmen. The Ark is an architectural and engineering wonder containing three decks of world-class exhibits… The real Noah’s Ark, the one described in the Bible, was huge. It was amazingly seaworthy—a ship that kept the occupants safe during a worldwide flood.

Except it wasn’t.  It wouldn’t have lasted a day on a calm ocean.  In fact, there’s no precedent for a wooden ship the size of Noah’s Ark being seaworthy, and plenty of naval engineering experience telling us that it wouldn’t be expected to work. Even if pumps had been installed and all hands worked round the clock pumping, the Ark certainly would have leaked catastrophically, filled with water, and capsized.

If there was even the gentlest of currents, sufficient pressure would be put on the hull to open its seams. Currents are not a complete, perfectly even flow. They consist of eddies and slow-moving turbulence. This puts uneven pressure on the hull, and Noah’s Ark would bend with those eddies like a snake. Even if the water itself was perfectly still, wind would expose the flat-sided Ark’s tremendous windage, exerting a shearing force that might well crumple it.  How do we know that?  Well, once upon a time people built large wooden ships.

There was an “upper limit, in the region of 300 feet, on the length of a wooden ship; beyond such a length the deformation due to the differing distributions of weight and buoyancy becomes excessive, with consequent difficulty in maintaining the hull watertight.  The largest wooden ships ever built were the six-masted schooners, nine of which were launched between 1900 and 1909. These ships were so long that they required diagonal iron strapping for support; they “snaked,” or visibly undulated, as they passed through the waves, they leaked so badly that they had to be pumped constantly, and they were only used on short coastal hauls because they were unsafe in deep water.

 

Schooner Wyoming in 1917

The final irony for today’s post is that, according to Genesis 6:14, Noah’s ark was make of gopher (גפר).  That is to say: reeds, not wood.  The King James says “gopher wood” but “gopher” is the same word used in Exodus 2:3 to describe the “ark” that Moses’ mother put him to save him:

 And when she could no longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes (gopher), and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink.

As biblical anthropologist, Alice C. Linsley, points out:

The marsh Arabs of Iraq also build boats out of reeds like this. The bundles of hollow reeds give considerable buoyancy to the vessel. Thor Heyerdahl learned from the Marsh Arabs that if the reeds are cut in August they retain their buoyancy rather than absorbing water. Reed boats of this type were about 60 feet long and were capable of carrying 50 tons of cargo when fully loaded.

So the Ark of the Ark Encounter, “the largest timber frame structure in the world”, doesn’t even represent the Bible “literally”, as it proclaims, but is, as is the whole “ministry” behind it, a pious fraud.

Comments

  1. Headless Unicorn Guy says:
  2. Susan Dumbrell says:

    Where is our current day Ark we wonder,
    some of the faith (evangelicals) will say in our faith in Jesus.

    Not so simple. Tumult threatened and averted by ‘you know who’.? Trump or Kim? I repeat who knows.
    The status of peace in our current time is so tenuous.
    I rather Noah had a new Ark and I had a ticket.
    The pomposity of Trump scares me many thousands of miles away.
    He thinks he rules the free world.

    My faith is simple but not evangelical, I am not sure where I fit!
    I gain strength from the topics and posts on IM.
    Well done all.
    I can only hope my morning and evening and in between prayers reach our Almighty Father.
    I do not know if they do but faith keeps me praying.

    Peace and Blessings be with us all.
    Susan

    • Susan Dumbrell says:

      waters overwhelm
      waters of baptism renew
      love abundant shown

    • Christiane says:

      “The pomposity of Trump scares me many thousands of miles away.
      He thinks he rules the free world.”

      Americans now consider Angela Merkel to be the leader of the free world. I think Europe does also.

      Susan, hopefully Trump will be impeached before the end of the year . . . . he’s not very stable, is he? It was good that our five Joint Chiefs of Staff (heads of our military sections) met together and stated that our military does not discriminate or tolerate racism . . . . that was somewhat reassuring to me and to many in our country here

      I fear we are dealing with a neo-Nazi resurgence of some force in our country, in union with the remnants of the KKK and other white supremacists groups . . . . . this is a worrysome time, you bet

      • Christiane said,

        Susan, hopefully Trump will be impeached before the end of the year . . . . he’s not very stable, is he?

        Interesting.

        You were never quite this forth-right at TWW blog and some of the other blogs you haunted with your political views.

        Are you aware that some of the people from other blogs you were or are trying to pull a snow job on are right wingers? (Some may have voted for Trump, too.)

        Do you think you can win them over to your liberalism and Roman Catholicism by running down their political views?

        Was the Democratic Senator (Sen. Claire McCaskill, Democrat) who tweeted earlier today that she hopes Trump get assassinated being stable?

        Christiane said,

        Americans now consider Angela Merkel to be the leader of the free world.

        I don’t consider the German politician the leader of the free world, no. And I’m American.

        • A minor correction to my post above.

          The Democratic Senator’s death threat, or death wish, against Trump was shared on her Facebook page, not on Twitter.

          Missouri Senator: ‘I Hope Trump Is Assassinated!’

          A Missouri state senator said in a now-deleted Facebook post that she hopes President Donald Trump is assassinated.

          Maria Chappelle-Nadal acknowledged on Thursday that she wrote a post which read: “I hope Trump is assassinated!”

        • Christiane says:

          Hello DAISY,
          I do hope DT gets impeached ASAP, actually, after his revelation of self in his comments following the incidents at Charlottesville. He is unstable and has given comfort to the ‘bad guyz’. The only present good is that General Kelly is holding the fort in the White House with a sane presence, and he, at least, is going to put country before Trump’s craziness. For all practical purposes, General Kelly remains on duty to serve the country and that is reassuring to many. I see him as the REAL adult in the White House these days.

          How are you doing? I LOVE Sen. MacCaskill and I can see her in higher office some day. I don’t think she is dumb enough to do what you accuse her of, no. Most Americans abhor violence and want a return to a nation of laws. I would think that anyone who did what you accused Sen. McCaskill of posting on line should be immediately investigated by the FBI. For better or for worse, DT holds the Office legitimately and until he is legitimately removed from office for treason or for high crimes and mis-demeanors, or because the other two branches of government term him to be too unstable to govern, I can’t picture any sane responsible person doing what you accused Sen. McCaskill of doing, no. God forbid.

          Have you seen the new Tina Fey ‘sheetcake’ advice on SNL? I highly recommend it. Very fun.
          And I hope you will come back to Imonk. Imonk is a great place with interesting people and Chaplain Mike is very well regarded here.

  3. Waiitaminute… the KJV translators just invented “gopher wood” out of thin air?!? And English bible translations have just gone along with it for the past 400 years?!?

    Either I was asleep in that lecture of OT interpretation, or I should sue to get my tuition back…

    • Or maybe, gopher wood is actually ironwood . Yeah, that would explain it…

    • Wouldn’t be the first time and won’t be the last time someone with an agenda blatantly mistranslates or alters the Bible to fit their own agenda. Josiah’s pogram was one of the earliest but I’m sure it definitely goes back even earlier.

      I’m so done with this nonsense. We’re at the point we need to call out the alt-right every single time they speak up, and we need to start doing the same with fundamentalists. This nonsense has gone on for a hundred years too long.

    • “Gopher” is a transliteration of the Hebrew word used in Genesis 6.14. It is used in construction with a word that does actually mean “tree” or “timber” not reeds like the article alleges. The only place it occurs in the entire OT is here and no one knows what it actually refers to; hence the transliteration. Most contemporary translations go with cypress.

      The word in Exodus 2.3 is different, not the same. It would be transliterated as Gome (Go-meh). Close, but not the same. This word is used 4 times in the OT (Isa 18.2; 35.7; Job 8.11) and does refer to reeds or papyrus.

      The most interesting thing for me is the word that is translated “ark” can also refer to a casket. Which, at least in the story of Noah seems to tie in nicely with the baptismal imagery used throughout the NT as a death and rebirth. If you really wanted to focus on something that Ham (and others in the “literal” camp) is missing I would propose this instead of whatever scientific inaccuracies his view has. The Bible is not a science book, it is a spiritual book. We are better contemplating and focusing on the spiritual significance of these passages and stories, not debating their scientific accuracy or inaccuracy.

  4. Susan Dumbrell says:

    Eeyore, you got up too early!
    Have a Camomile tea and go back to bed.
    Dream sweet dreams!!

    • I work night shift. I have to stay up, even on my days off, or it plays havoc with my sleep schedule… such as it is. :-/

  5. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    Ah ha! Materials Science, my favorite! Nobody appreciates Materials Science; I mean, its all “just wood” or “just metal”, right?

  6. Iain Lovejoy says:

    The ark isn’t even made of wood, it’s actually held together with steel. Follow the link to see it being built.
    http://www.coloradotimberframe.com/ark-encounter/

  7. senecagriggs says:

    Wikipedia
    The Greek Septuagint (3rd–1st centuries BC) translated it as xylon tetragonon, squared timber.[2] Similarly, the Latin Vulgate (5th century AD) rendered it as lignis levigatis (lævigatis, in the Clementine Vulgate), smoothed (possibly planed) wood.

    The Jewish Encyclopedia believes it was most likely a translation of the Babylonian gushure i? erini, cedar beams, or the Assyrian giparu, reeds.[3] The Aramaic Targum Onkelos, considered by many Jews to be an official translation of the Hebrew scripture renders this word as qadros, cedar. The Syriac Peshitta translates this word as arqa, box.[4]

    Many modern English translations tend to favor cypress (although otherwise the word for “cypress” in Biblical Hebrew is berosh). This was espoused (among others) by Adam Clarke, a Methodist theologian famous for his commentary on the Bible: Clarke cited the resemblance between Greek word for cypress, kuparisson and the Hebrew word gophar.

    Other suggestions include pine, cedar, fir, teak, sandalwood, ebony, wicker, juniper, acacia, boxwood, slimed bulrushes, and resinous wood.

    Others, noting the physical similarity between the Hebrew letters g and k, suggest that the word may actually be kopher, the Hebrew word meaning “pitch”; thus kopher wood would be “pitched wood”. Recent suggestions have included a lamination process (to strengthen the Ark), or a now-lost type of tree, but there is no consensus.[5]

    DOES WOOD FLOAT? Heck yes.

    • keil and delitzsch, along with JFB, say it likely refers to cypress.

      • For those interested, the United Bible Society guide for translators says this about the words “ark” and “gopher”:

        Ark translates a word of Egyptian origin that means “box,” or “coffin.” The word is used elsewhere in Exo 2:3, 5 of the small basket in which Moses was kept in hiding in the Nile. The English word ark is based on the Vulgate translation. (The “ark of the covenant,” which held the tablets of the Law, translates a different Hebrew word.) Most English translations use the word ark in this story; however, TEV says “boat,” and MFT has “barge.” “Boat” is a general word that includes many different kinds of water vessels that are smaller than large ships and have some means for steering. There is nothing in God’s instructions about a rudder or any other device that allows a person to apply power to the vessel or to steer it. A “barge” is usually a boat with a flat bottom used on rivers and canals that may or may not have its own power. Another English term that may be considered is “houseboat,” which refers to a boat especially built as a dwelling on water. Except when quoting RSV or some other version using ark or its equivalent in other languages, the Handbook will use the regular English word “boat.”

        In languages in which the only word for “boat” is something like a dugout canoe or a skin canoe, it may be necessary to use a descriptive phrase, or a loan word and a descriptive statement, and in some cases provide an illustration. FRCL says “Build yourself an ark, a kind of big boat.…”

        Gopher wood: gopher is a Hebrew word written in English. It is used nowhere else in the Old Testament, and no one knows exactly what kind of wood it may have been. Some scholars think it was cypress, others think it was pine or teak wood. For comments see Fauna and Flora of the Bible, page 123. Modern translations vary considerably: NEB has “ribs of cypress,” FRCL and NIV “cypress wood,” SPCL, NJB, and TOB “resinous wood,” TEV “good timber,” and GECL simply “wood.” Translators may wish to use the name of the local wood used in building boats, if this work is done in their area. Otherwise it will probably be best to use an expression such as “good wood” or “wood for building boats.” Some translations use expressions like “planks of good wood” to refer to timber that is used for construction, since in many languages the same term is used for both “wood” and “tree.”

        Reyburn, W. D., & Fry, E. M. (1998). A handbook on Genesis (p. 157). New York: United Bible Societies.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Then if “ark” means “box”, why does it have a ram bow and quarterdeck/sternpost like an ANE ship?

          More likely it would be a raft hull with box superstructure; it would only need to float, not maneuver.

      • So, just to be clear: The word for “ark” is used only in the story of Noah and of Moses. The author of Exodus likely used the word deliberately for theological purposes. The “ark of the covenant” translates a different Hebrew word.

        The word describing the type of wood used in Noah’s ark is unique to that story. The ark of Moses was made a different material.

    • Does the fact that something can float negate any other relevant factors, like balance, stress engineering, watertight construction, etc? Any old sailor will tell you that a wood ship can and will sink if circumstances align against you.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “And then a Miracle happened…”
        — standard handwave

        “HOW DO YOU KNOW? WERE YOU THERE? HUH? HUH? HUH?”
        — standard Ken Hamite response

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      DOES WOOD FLOAT? Heck yes.

      Then no ship ever sank or disappeared before steel construction?

  8. Before we are too quick to say, “They couldn’t have done that”, we should remember that people in ancient times did accomplish some things that we still can’t figure out, and now that knowledge has been lost. And beyond that, if God is involved, He can keep it floating. This is not an argument for AIG, because I’m not a big fan of their way of demanding everyone agree with their interpretation or your a pagan. But I’m also not a big fan of arguing ancient people couldn’t have possibly done something because we can figure out a way to do it.

  9. Mike made a few points in this article: AIG is being underhanded in their business transactions, they don’t take the Bible as literally as they claim to, and the story of Noah’s Ark can’t be taken literal because a wooden boat that size couldn’t float. I have no issue with his first two points, but his evidence that a wooden boat that size can’t float is that in modern times we haven’t been able to do it. I find this argument unconvincing for two reasons. One, ancient people did do some amazing things that we are able to exactly replicate today. This doesn’t mean that Noah was necessarily able to construct such a boat, I just don’t think we can rule out the possibility. Two, God can make it float. I realize some here have adopted an almost deistic belief about God, that he doesn’t really involve himself in our lives in such a way. I don’t believe that. If God wants a boat to float he can make it float. There are a lot of arguments about why Noah’s flood should not be taken literally. The boat not being able to float argument, to me, is one of the least convincing.

    • Then, of course, there is the whole question of whether the story (stories, actually, edited together) of Noah and the ark and the Great Flood are meant to be read as “historically accurate,” as we understand that.

      • Absolutely

      • Christiane says:

        I think reading the story as ‘historically accurate’ is missing out on a lot of what we were meant to get from the narrative.

      • Noah and the Ark is a variation on a tale endemic to the Ancient Near East that goes back millennia. The best book about it I’ve read is THE ARK BEFORE NOAH by Irving Finkel.

        https://www.amazon.com/Ark-Before-Noah-Decoding-Story/dp/0385537115/ref=sr_1_37?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503008600&sr=1-37&keywords=noah+and+the+ark

        What I’ve always been fascinated by is why the story has been seized upon so enthusiastically by children’s book authors. There are dozens of them on Amazon. I’m sure it has to do with the animals of course but curious the creative ways they find to elide the deaths of the majority of humans (and animals) through divine vengeance.

        As absurd as Darren Aronofsky’s movie was (though entertaining), he didn’t flinch from depicting the horror of drowning people screaming and begging to get in after the doors of the Ark had been sealed and the waters began to rise.

        • No doubt similar to the horror of people clawing at doors to get out of the gas chambers at Auschwitz. When I read the stories in the Bible, whether Old or New Testament, I continually find myself wondering: How does this story depict the character of God? And is it commensurate with the character of the words reportedly spoken by Jesus from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”, or those other words he spoke to his disciples before and after his resurrection, “Fear not”?

    • Iain Lovejoy says:

      I think the point is more that Ken Ham’s boat can’t float, rather than the ark, whatever it was and whatever it was made of.

    • * Two, God can make it float.*

      Prove it.

      • J you and I both know that’s not “provable.” If you watch the video from last week with Tim Keller, you will hear an excellent point that, in the end we all exercise faith in things we can’t prove.

      • Christiane says:

        maybe Ham can turn that monstrosity into time shares or condos . . . . .
        for people, I mean

  10. Well, J Mac praises the Ark Encounter as a “monument to biblical truth”

    https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170508

    Ham’s shady financial dealings are conveniently omitted from the narrative. But hey, who am I to argue? 🙂

    Removing tongue from cheek.

    Seriously, I think the more conservative/fundamentalist people and institutions get, the more they have real problems handling finances honestly. This has been my consistent experience over 30+ years.

    My family member who is a devotee of the JMac cult is one example. We had to have our elderly family member’s attorney practically threaten them with elder abuse charges to get them to stop taking financial advantage of said elderly family member. All our pleading and appeals to morality, scripture, whatever — all had no effect.
    Seems like Ham did the same kind of thing until he bumped up against the law. The attitude seems to be that if the anointed do it then it is not illegal. At least until they get caught.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “ARE THEY GOD’S CHOSEN? ARE THEY GOD’S CHOSEN?”
      — Gordon Dickson, “Soldier, Ask Not” (both novella & novel)

  11. Burro [Mule] says:

    Are any Jesusite theme parks even remotely profitable? I mean, you have to market to a narrowing segment of the population, and not the most prosperous one at that. The Holy Land Experience in Orlando had a hard go of it, and they had the benefit of being the highest-trafficked tourist area in the world.

    I’m not surprised at the small businesses surrounding Hambone’s theme park not being able to turn a shekel on the park’s visitor stream. Jesusites are notoriously tight-fisted. Ask any wait staff who work the post-church traffic on Sunday afternoon.

    • I drove by Holy Land Experience once. Just from the outside, it made Geauga Lake (a rundown little regional park in OH) look fancy by comparison.

    • + 1 Burro. Tight-fisted is an understatement as they figure the tip and almost assuredly tithe

    • A discouragingly large number of people I know IRL (LCMS members) have actually gone to Ham’s Ark. They tell me about it with such excitement, I just smile and not. “It’s not worth it,” I say to myself. “They clearly can’t handle thinking critically about these things.”

  12. We know the fallback answer, when seaworthiness criteria or any other logical or practical objection indicates that the Ark could not have survived in the water: The Ark was made seaworthy by a continuous miracle performed by God. Deus ex machina..

    • Yes, and virgins don’t have babies, the paralyzed don’t just get up and walk, the sea can’t just be calmed with a word, and dead men don’t just rise from the grave. And yet Christians have always claimed that those things happened. In fact, one of those things must have happened for faith in Christ to be of any value. The Christian faith requires miracles

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Ah, yes. Levelling YEC/Arkology with the Resurrection; they stand or fall together.

        This is a standard shtick of both Ken Hamites and New Atheists.

        • I’m not doing any such thing HUG. I’m pointing out that it is no more ridiculous to believe that God could keep a boat floating than it is that he could raise the dead. If people don’t take the flood story literally I have no problem with that. But deriding the idea that God could have done such a miracle seems strange to me since miracles are a part of our faith.

          • The difference is in the character attributed to God by these different miraculous stories. The ark built by Noah is one that excludes most of the world, and humanity; the ark that is Jesus invites all inside. I deride the idea that God would perform a miracle of exclusion rather than inclusion; such a stingy (not to mention cruel) God seems incredible me. That the ark story seems so childish in contradistinction to the gravitas of the resurrection narratives perhaps should not matter to me, but it does, given the point I was making in my last three sentences.

            • None of your points here was in the comment you originally wrote. It seemed to be more of a comment on miracles in general. Sorry if I misread you.

              • My original comment was not nuanced. It seems to me that it’s impossible to have dialogue with people who make their theological fundamentalism airtight by simply asserting that, since God can do anything, nothing in the Biblical accounts is impossible for, or unworthy of, God. Something as absurd as Ham’s ark because not only watertight, but also impregnable to criticism on the basis of such an understanding of the miraculous. And questioning is interpreted as faithlessness. From there it’s not a far leap to say that, sure, there’s no geological evidence supporting YEC, but God miraculously made the world appear older than it actually is as a test of our faith in his word as adequate in all matters, historical and scientific included. Then we have gone over into fantasy land.

            • Robert, it seems that your problem here isn’t with which interpretation is the right one, but rather, with the story itself, wherein God kills everybody except for 8 people. Making the story an allegory doesn’t much help with that, if it’s meant to teach us about God.

              Your argument seems to boil down to “God has no right to kill all those people.” Does it not?

              • I had a feeling you would show up for this discussion, Miguel! Why? It seems like discussions involving the historicity of the Biblical accounts as they impinge on the moral character of its depictions of God conjure your presence. In any case, it’s good to see you.

                I’m not going to answer your question, because I don’t know how I could begin to talk about God in terms of what rights he might or might not possess. I can only say that I’m constitutionally unable to trust a God who could go punishingly homicidal on me, or anyone else, at any moment. If God is really that way, Jesus should never have said, “Fear not”, because there’s plenty to fear, now and in the future. He should’ve said, “Be afraid, be very afraid…. and make sure you get your doctrine right, or else….”

                • Wow Robert…. Nice to see you too Miguel…….. First, The way I was suggested by a teacher was that the Jewish people never did think too much of Noah because he never intervened till after the Flood which interceded the whole world of its day. Flat as it was and if you went too far you would just fall off.

                  Really who could make up a story of building an ark in Kentucky…….. The Simpsons……. Or wait South Park and the angry hand of God………….

                  It is very hard to believe and perplexing at best. Science trying to explain and all. Then Ham……did I say Ham ….sorry. One man of the human race dying on some timber to reconcile all the rest to Himself. Oh hell that’s just a dumb story……. Sorry everyone

                  • Oh just one more thing I believe that I will never die here as I now know this world and that any God who would make me isn’t worth my praise. C’mon man really…..Oh reality or just maybe one man could be capable of helping me live through timber that floats in the see of forgetfulness.

                    Maybe a promise from one who could not see any good in man anymore similar to myself yet instinctively felt love and remorse for actions that myself would have never felt.

                    • Every where you see God say I will in the BOOK there are promises being made to you….On the brighter side and to up lift you pay attention to them as the dearest thing you could ever have…………..Lord Have Mercy

                • Oh, but Robert, you DID answer my question, and the following two I was leading to!

                  It all impinges on our sense of revulsion and horror at the act of God uncreating life which He has given. His creative act was an expression of overflowing love, and to reverse that seems to therefore be an expression of the exact opposite.

                  Interesting that you would consider a God who kills man “homicidal,” and therefore something you cannot believe in. Because that basically rejects the entire Christian metanarrative where man was created for life, and was decreed mortal by God in response to man’s willful embrace of evil. So it’s not just random storyline extras who accidentally cross arbitrary lines that get swallowed up by the earth: It’s all mankind. You and I are going to die because God decreed it.

                  This seems harsh on the surface, but it is necessary in order to call a thing what it is. Worldviews which reject this ultimately deal with our mortality by calling it a part of nature, the onward march of the survival of the fittest, and ultimately a good thing.

                  Christianity stares down death and calls it what it is: A terrible thing. Not what we were meant for. The undoing and destruction of that which was made good.

                  To make distinctions between flood and Israeli conquest victims and you and I is like arguing over the method of execution while ignoring the moral dillema of capital punishment. Either death is the result of sin we were tricked into by the devil or not. One of these views leaves rom for a Messiah who overcomes sin, death, and the devil, and who, by embracing us in his own death, will also triumphantly lead us out of our very own grave.

                  I’m perfectly OK with a God who kills, because he is also a God who gives life, both initially, and again after we have destroyed ourselves. A pacifistic God is impotent to help me in my grave, because he was not even able to prevent me from dying in the first place.

                  Theodicy is a very important topic for me. I can’t really imagine any more relevant field in theology than wrestling with how to understand a powerful and benevolent deity as we live in the presence of demonstrable evil and suffering. It’s where the rubber of faith meets the road of life.

                  Your theodicy is far too narrow: You reject the possibility of any God who offends your own limited moral sensibilities. This is a fairly reasonable thing to do, since such a God who has taken time to communicate morality to us must be, at least to some extent, morally comprehensible.

                  However, when you limit all possible deities to only those who agree with the views you hold on morality, you have fashioned a God in your own image and closed your mind to a consideration of the transcendent.

                • Robert, my response got cot in mod, so I’m breaking it apart to see if I can sneak through:

                  You DID answer my question, and the following two I was leading to!

                  It all impinges on our sense of revulsion and horror at the act of God uncreating life which He had given. His creative act was an expression of overflowing love, and to reverse that seems to therefore be an expression of the exact opposite.

                  Interesting that you would consider a God who kills man “homicidal,” and therefore something you cannot believe in. Because that basically rejects the entire Christian metanarrative where man was created for life, and was decreed mortal by God in response to man’s willful embrace of evil. So it’s not just random storyline extras who accidentally cross arbitrary lines that get swallowed up by the earth: It’s all mankind. You and I are going to die because God decreed it.

                  This seems harsh on the surface, but it is necessary in order to call a thing what it is. Worldviews which reject this ultimately deal with our mortality by calling it a part of nature, the onward march of the survival of the fittest, and ultimately a good thing.

                  Christianity stares down death and calls it what it is: A terrible thing. Not what we were meant for. The undoing and destruction of that which was made good.

                  To make distinctions between flood and Israeli conquest victims and you and I is like arguing over the method of execution while ignoring the moral dillema of capital punishment. Either death is the result of sin we were tricked into by the devil or not. One of these views leaves rom for a Messiah who overcomes sin, death, and the devil, and who, by embracing us in his own death, will also triumphantly lead us out of our very own grave.

                  I’m perfectly OK with a God who kills, because he is also a God who gives life, both initially, and again after we have destroyed ourselves. A pacifistic God is impotent to help me in my grave, because he was not even able to prevent me from dying in the first place.

                  • A pacifistic God is impotent to help me in my grave, because he was not even able to prevent me from dying in the first place.

                    Who has the God of violence ever prevented from dying? Anyone you know?

                  • Interesting that you would consider a God who kills man “homicidal,” and therefore something you cannot believe in.

                    I said I can’t trust such a God. That means that I can’t even get as far as questions of belief with regard to him.

                    • Jesus is the one who said “It is appointed once for a man to die, and then to face judgement.”

                      Jesus says that God has chosen the death of all men, and to met out justice afterwards.

                      Does Jesus trust a homicidal God?

                    • I can’t speak to Jesus’ psychology, because I don’t know what it was, its specifics; but I can say that Jesus doesn’t trust a homicidal God, since God is not homicidal.

                      The OT, and some of the NT, depicts God as a killer who punishes sin with violence, that’s true. But Jesus himself, who is the living icon of God, the most accurate depiction of God, never punished sin with violence. Aside from what we call the Scourging of the Temple, which I don’t think can be understood as a violent punishment for sin, but as an acted out sign of the end of the corrupted Temple religious system’s authority, a kind of symbolic protest, there is not a single account in the NT of Jesus acting violent in any way. And his resurrection makes the nonviolent character of his transcendent presence a sign and realization of the forgiveness and restored and empowered relationship that he offers his disciples. A violent resurrected Jesus would be a contradiction in terms, and in the intention of his resurrection.

        • HUG that isn’t the argument being made. It’s simply a rejection of the view that “anything that seems to me like it would have to be miraculous didn’t happen, except for A, B, and C, based on such and so arbitrary criteria.”

          Why are we ok with divine intervention in some stories, and not in others?

  13. senecagriggs says:

    Regardless, given the growing threat of climate change, it’s comforting to know that that should rising sea levels engulf coastal cities, 2.15 million sheep can, in theory, float on a cypress wood ark the size of a small cargo ship.
    Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/could-noahs-ark-float-theory-yes-180950385/#zhg8ykPTWkKvs9hJ.99

  14. Boiling it down, I think there are two options. Noah did it and it worked and it was “super-natural” or, it was a metaphorical story (with some possible framework of historical accounts) from which we can gather great value. Neither option is a threat to my faith and I will never know until I ask God myself. However, Christians with financial shell games can reduce the validity of the Gospel as it appears to the world. Also, the great danger, which is especially harmful to the young, is being told that it MUST be as we say (the young earthers), because our faith is built upon that presupposition. Then, when they take a good geology course in college and see reality presented in a more believable and often more humble context, their entire Christian narrative crumbles into dust, . . . or gopher wood sawdust.

  15. If you’re telling me that a boat such as the ark would never float apart from a miracle of divine intervention….
    ….then I’m telling you that means it really IS the perfect analogy for the church.

    With all I’ve seen going on in HER, the fact that she hasn’t yet imploded in on herself kinda makes a giant floating superglued piece of tree bark seem like not so much of a stretch.

    On a serious note, “the ark would never float in real life” bears little significance to literalists, or to me. I mean, what the heck did Noah know about ship building anyways? And if it was, as you said, made of reeds, it kinda makes you begin to wonder: It almost seems as if the story is setting itself up to look as if a ridiculously unworkable construct actually became the vehicle through which man was saved. And thus the supernatural angle becomes quite possible the original intention of the story rather than a later interpretation to sidestep the developments of modern engineering. If they wanted to make the story “believable,” they might have “built” a boat that was easier to sell even to the original audience.

    I’d be more open to hearing how genetics, archaeology, or geology have a bearing on the interpretation of this story than the mechanics of the vehicle. The ark doesn’t represent a triumph of obedient craftsmanship, it was a miracle of divine grace. The story almost seems to demand a miraculous understanding. And I absolutely bristle at any explanation that begins with “God can’t.” If there isn’t room for the supernatural in our understanding of these things, I’m wasting my time with religion generally.

    I am, however, very open to any line of reasoning that begins, “It sure doesn’t look like God did it that way because….”

    • It almost seems as if the story is setting itself up to look as if a ridiculously unworkable construct actually became the vehicle through which man was saved. And thus the supernatural angle becomes quite possible the original intention of the story rather than a later interpretation to sidestep the developments of modern engineering.

      It seems like there is a kinship between your argument and the YEC argument that God made the world in such a way that it appears and tests old, but really isn’t. The two arguments are like cousins, maybe second cousins; they seem to have some of the same blood. They both imply that their very unlikeliness is part of the proof that they are true, if only we accept that God can and probably will do anything he wants. And they make power to effect material ends more determinative of God’s being and character than power to draw together in loving relationship.

      • I have never heard a YEC argue that the unlikeliness of their position is proof that it is true. Believing in miracles or God working in unusual ways does not make one a YEC or an unthinking fundamentalist. I don’t know why you keep trying to make that association. This has always been part of the faith. I’m pretty sure you believe in these things yourself, but due to your revulsion to this story you reject anything that would lend credence to it. I think Miguel’s point is much like mine; the reliability of the boat is the least troubling aspect of the story.

      • Robert, here is no reason to infer from what I said that unlikeness is proof of truth. That would be a ridiculous assertion, but apparently you are not getting me. You are pitting god’s creative power against his redemptive power, comparing two infinites, and you are making the argument to limit one of those infinites (his creative power in favor of the supremacy of his redemptive power).

        It’s very simple: The fact that something would have to be miraculous in order to be true is not a reason to believe or disbelieve that a miracle happened, unless you start with the presupposition that miracles do not happen at all. The miraculous claim must be evaluated separately by the criteria of what we should expect to see or not see if said miracle had indeed happened. For example (and not because they are intrinsically connected), somebody running around in the first century claiming to have the body of Christ would be considered evidence that the miracle of the resurrection did not happen. The absence thereof works in the opposite direction.

        Hypothetically, if a boat were found that met the exact specifications of the one in Genesis, it would be reasonable to think it may have been part of that story. If a boat meeting all descriptions except for proportions were found, measuring to about one half of Ham’s model, that would be a reason to suspect that the story had some exaggerations in it.

        Does this make any sense? Miracles cannot be necessarily proven due to their supernatural properties superseding the empirical realm of evidence, but they can be ruled out or allowed to be possible by the surrounding external factors.

        So as I said, it is one thing to say it would take a miracle to float that boat (which sounds reasonable). But to conclude therefore that it didn’t happen is to take a position of chronic skepticism towards the spiritual realm generally, and all Biblical accounts specifically. I prefer to take the opposite position: I assume something the scripture claims did in fact happen as described unless given reason (beyond the miraculous nature of the claimed story) to believe otherwise. Should such reason be given, I am happy to explore alternate understandings of the story and how it fits within the claims of Christian dogma. I just don’t find it very faithful to read the bible with one eyebrow constantly cocked, thinking, “nah, bro, really?” every time it describes something I’ve never seen before. I approach it as God himself telling the story. The genre he choses (history or allegory) is up to Him, but I don’t come in with restrictions on which genres me MUST be using to fit the story into my cramped little epistemological box.

        • I understand what you’re saying, Miguel, but I draw my lines in different places than you. I repeat: I could never trust a God who goes off on homicidal rampages every now and then, nor can I accept miracle stories supporting the existence of such a God. I do not believe God ordered Noah to build an ark, I do not believe that he caused a local or global flood as punishment for human sin.

          • Ok, so if I’m hearing you right, you don’t have a problem with a miraculous boat at all, just with the drowning of all humanity save 8? Ok, see response above for that.

            Are you ok with a God who punishes sin at all? Can God not forgive and punish sin, must it be all one or the other? If he does not punish sin, how does it mean anything to be the judge of all the earth?

            • I will repeat: I cannot trust a God who has a history of punishing human sin by flying into homicidal rages. For such a God to say to me, “Fear not,” is meaningless, because his character as testified to by past behavior cannot be relied on; he is untrustworthy, and the other shoe may drop at any moment. No telling what horrible thing he may do. He is all too human, in the worst sense. Your other questions are ones that I cannot respond to, because I cannot entertain them. I don’t believe God punishes sin with violence.

              • But you’re ok with death? Is that from God? Is it violent?

                • God has created a universe in which life and death are inseparable; where life comes into being, death follows. It may be that the act of creating life is itself constrained in such a way that living beings like us cannot come into existence without death occurring as a result. If that is the case, then God has elected to create a world where life arises despite the suffering that inevitably culminates in death, and he both bears the responsibility for that evil, and meets and transcends it in the Jesus Christ. But death, and the suffering and violence that are attached to it, is not a punishment from God. Death is not a thing, not a creature, which means God did not create death; it is a condition or state that negates his intention for creation, one which he overcomes in the life/death/resurrection of Jesus. Evil is a condition of wrong relationship involving the negation and diminishment, the imperfection, of being.

                • I’m not saying that God is not judge, or does not judge. I am saying that he does not punish guilt with violence. I’m aware that there are many texts in the Bible that seem to indicate otherwise, but I’m not a believer in Scriptural infallibility or inerrancy. I believe these texts get it wrong; I believe even some of the words attributed to Jesus get it wrong. I look to the overall shape and example of Jesus’ life, and the overall purport of his teaching as it intersects with his treatment of people, for the key to understanding how God then dealt with, and now and always deals with, guilt; and I look to the experience the disciples had in their encounter with the resurrected Christ. And what I find there is no condemnation, no violent punishment, for anyone. That’s what I trust.

                  • So in other words, You believe the Bible only when it agrees with you, and accept no higher authority than your own reason. The “overall shape of Jesus’ life” is the NT accounts minus the parts you don’t like, eh?

                    Sounds like you want a Gumby Jesus who will serve as a poster boy for your ideology. It’s too bad his disciples weren’t so smart. Their teacher must have sucked.

                    It bears mentioning that Christ appeared to the faithful post-resurrection. The fact that he doesn’t punish all sinners then doesn’t mean that he never does. What does it mean to “judge sin” if the consequences are non-existent? “That was bad, you shouldn’t have done it. Oh well!”

                    You seem real hung up on the violence thing. What exactly counts as this? Was the death of Ananias and Saphira violent, or peaceful and natural? Is it dependent upon the level of suffering or blunt trauma, or do are instantaneous deaths utterly inexcusable as well? You seem to have a specific type of human death that is acceptable.

                    Speaking in terms of theodicy, you haven’t gotten God off the hook for natural disasters just by saying he isn’t punishing sin. It kinda makes it look more callous, actually, assuming it isn’t from divine impotence.

                    • God is not off the hook for anything; that’s why Jesus was on the cross. But a God who inflicts violent death and suffering as punishment, and uses the threat of it as terrorism, is one I can’t live with. I don’t see that in Jesus at all, not in the least.

                      Was Thomas faithful?

                    • What does it mean to “judge sin” if the consequences are non-existent? “That was bad, you shouldn’t have done it. Oh well!”

                      The consequence of sin, of intentional pursuit of evil, is isolation, from others, from oneself, and from God. Sin/evil carries its own punishment, self-inflicted. God is not executioner of that punishment; the sinner is. Jesus saves; he doesn’t punish.

  16. I love this convoluted story with all kind of plot holes. Yeah, a platypus walked from Australia to the mideast to get on a boat… and all the trees survived under water for weeks… and on and on. The goatherders who wrote this could have just had the god say.. poof bad people disappear. But that wasn’t dramatic enough I guess. It’s amazing how blind people can be of the reeeeeealllly need someone to love them.

  17. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    The only thing that could make all this more surreal is if someone hung ten-meter “TRUMP!” portrait banners off the side of Ham’s Ark. (The scary part is I can actually see that happening.)

  18. Mike – you start out with legitimate issues with Ken Ham and his fundamentalist approach. Good enough. The whole mess makes for a rather large target.

    But you end with the hermeneutic of suspicion over the biblical text. And then the usual crowd of skeptics chimes in and you all start the process of deconstruction. And you seem to retire to the study to drink your port and smoke cigars satisfied that again you have shown your superiority over the fundies.

    To my mind you have traded Jack Chick for David Hume. Two sides of the same coin. It does get very tiring.